1160- Something happens, common superstition holds that a mouse child with oddly colored fur and eyes was born and the following winter lasts nearly a full year and devastates the mice population. Six months into the “Winter-hell” the Guard ventures out and gathers the survivors of the various settlements and brings them to Lockhaven. Survivors assume family names based on their settlement names, these families become prominent for the professions their former towns were known for, Sprucetuck scientists and Barkstone Carpenters, etc. For the next 66 years winters are continuously brutal and unnaturally long. Lockhaven remains the only standing mouse settlement.
Due to superstition, black and white mice are viewed with suspicion, red more so and albinos are thought to be cursed.
1226- Winters return to normal. Fear prevents the Mice from truly venturing out to reestablish the territories but Lockhaven grows. Prominent families fission over money or ideaologies and begin competing for business creating a host of lesser families and a sort of Nobility.
1240- The Mice finally begin to slowly reexpand and reclaim their fallen settlements, rediscovering certain disciplines, like fishing, slow efforts.
1249- An attempt to expand Lockhaven’s depths strike’s gold making the home of the Mouseguard one of the richest settlements.
1251- Darkheather is rediscovered and Weasels within. The Mouse Archivist Malthus cites Lockhaven’s records and convinces the current Matriarch, Testarossa to form an army and strike first. She agrees, however the Mouse army is met with an immediate surrender. The Weasels sue for peace and beg for aid. An accord is reached. The Weasels argue well and a hostage exchange is established to insure peace. The children of prominent mice and weasels are exchanged for 15 years.
1252- For the first time winter consists of temperate weather and heavy rains. The comparative warmth keep predators active year round and the heavy rains wash away the scent border faster than normal requiring 2 extra applications during winter alone. The Mouse Guard becomes stretched thin.
1267- Winter proper has not yet returned and as a result the mouse population has exploded. The only thing keeping the guard alive is the vein of gold beneath Lockhaven and the continued enlistment of disowned or unclaimed black, white and redfurs.
The Weasel treaty is up, most of the weasel pups that were exchanged have returned to Darkheather where most mice think they will immediately reveal any secrets they ferretted out during their “imprisonment” while most of the Weasel-Wards have returned to their families where they are viewed with suspicion as possible subversives. The treaty is being renegotiated but most prominent mice look greedily toward weasel lands. They want new land to establish new settlements to house the growing numbers of mice.
Testarossa, at a staggering 98 years old, is adamantly against expansion. The soft winters have already made it nearly impossible to maintain the scentborder around the land they have and the average Guardmouse is run ragged fending off the perpetually active predators. The past generation hasn’t had a winter, they don’t recognize the need to prepare. She is one of a handful still alive that remembers the Winter-hells. It was only through proper planning and conservative living Lockhaven saved as many Mice as they had, should another Winter-hell strike them as they are now the Guard won’t even be able to save themselves.
Most prominent families think of the Guard as corrupt, due in no small part to the prevalence of “witchfurs” and convicts (the only other reliable source of conscripts are prisons), living off the work of the settlements. Testarossa has made no secret of her willingness to buy what the Guard needs with gold but she’s been called out for “bribing her way past any dissenting opinion” and there’s no telling when that vein will run dry…
Enter the players given the simple task of delivering the mail with the warning:
“Winter is coming, I can feel it in my bones…”
I’m going to throw some plays on biblical catastrophes in their (plague of mosquitos) a Zombie mission that will actually show up during the players turn since it happens in town (hah it’s just Rabies!).
Nobility in this setting is really just a name with a reputation, a player could turn it into an inborn quality no problem.
I also have a special Trait called “Weasel-Ward” available to Tenderpaws that gives them bonuses for being weasely and social drawbacks.
If anyone has any more recommendations let me hear them! I’d love some takes on an iconic scene from one of the books turned into a mission, Thanks!