The Hidden Threat: Too much GM railroading?


I have a conundrum:
Whilst tossing some general campaign ideas around, based on a hidden enemy for the PCs who thwarts most if not all their plans… thusly revealed to be either a trusted friend (one explicitly written as such on the PC’s sheet), or their mentor (a Senior Artisan; betcha didn’t see that coming from miles away - lol!), I found myself getting weary of GM abuse. What I am wondering if this is not the GM ruthlessly taking a PC’s asset (a friendly NPC - created by the player under the “friends” slot on the MG sheet) & breaking the game for them.

So the question is: are Friends, explicitly written as such by the player on the PC’s sheet, “fair game” once the campaign starts - to be possibly twisted by the GM into something else - or are they truly steadfast till they die?


Does this betrayal address one their belief or instinct in some meaningful way?

It still feels like a dick move to me, gotta say. If a betrayal happened in play, just the way it worked out, that’d be one thing, but to take the resources points they spent on a loyal friend and turn 'em right from the start feels off.

I’m not fond of the idea of the GM just springing it on a PC that their once trusted friend is now an enemy, without any kind of build-up. However, if my GM came to me and said, “hey, how would you feel if <friend> turns out to be an enemy?” I might be up for that, and I could really play up my trust of that Mouse since they’re supposed to be a friend.

On the other hand, I think if a PC is consistently abusing a friend and not really giving anything back then you have a good case for turning that friend to an enemy, but it shouldn’t just be thrown out. There should be a discussion, “hey, you’re treating this mouse like crap. He may be a friend now, but continue down this road and that may change.”

That seems acceptable, because in the book it specifically mentions being able to turn an enemy into a friend, so I don’t see why it couldn’t go the other way.

A friend is a friend and an enemy an enemy. That can only change in play, not out of GM fiat (in my opinion). After all, that’s what the enemy is for: start-of-play, personal conflict.

There is also a Circles question to do with powerful enemies, which (if answered in the affirmative) can be used. For instance, my “powerful enemies” are the guards (not Guardmice) of Sprucetuck. They hate my guts for various things perceived as having been done during the Weasel Wars. They, and my Enemy, are fair game. My Friend is not, unless events in game, shaped by rolls and roleplaying, change that.

Patrick’s got it. A character selected as a friend during character creation can turn against you, but it has to be as a result of play. It’s definitely a no-no to turn that relationship before play begins.

Note that an enemy can become a friend as a result of play too.

Not to pile on, but your wording here concerns me. A “hidden enemy for the PCs who thwarts most if not all their plans,” whether a trusted friend or not, feels against the spirit of Mouse Guard.

Oh, I don’t necessarily know about that. It’s essentially the role Midnight played in the Fall series of the comics.

The key point to me is that if you want a “hidden enemy” sort of thing going on, you should introduce the character as a friend (not one of the friends selected by the players) early on in your series.

This is a variant of the old saw about how the gun used in the third act should be introduced in the first act.

That’s the feeling I was gunning for - whilst they are on missions, the trap slowly but certainly closes on them, till at the end of the campaign they realise they’ve been duped & have to do something!

Thanks for the input

That’s fine and dandy, but what’s being said is that, unless through play the Friend changes to an enemy, he/she is still a friend. It’s GM abuse, in my opinion, to screw the player out of that.

Play through and see what happens. It’s amazing what can happen over the course of a few games. :slight_smile: Keep bringing that friend back, and have them unwillingly be a part of something greater and diabolical happening. They want to help their friend, the guardmouse, but perhaps they’ve been threatened and need to be convinced. Then keep upping the ante.

Just because he’s a friend doesn’t mean he’s not planning something diabolical, it could mean that he’ll want you to be a part of it!

Exactly. All I’m saying is that any behaviour or disposition changes have to come through play, in my eyes. Anything less is GM abuse.

Like Ozymandias…