[Tinkering] Pulling Out the Core Mechanics?

Hey there. Let me start by saying that I really like Mouse Guard, particularly the core mechanical side of Conflict. And that’s why I want to pull it apart, chop and change things around. I think MG does a great job at using peripheral systems to emphasize the ideology behind the setting: a group of people fighting against a hostile world and their own overarching nature. However, I would really like to see how the mechanics (particularly some of the core ones) stand up to being pulled, bent and stitched into some horrible abomination unto God.

Basically, while I like the mechanical angle it gives to a group who are purely part of an organized patrol (or squad, or team, or what have you), I would like to see what would be necessary to make this a game about an ensemble who aren’t necessarily on the same page. I know it’s going against the edict of what Mouse Guard is about, but at the same time, this wouldn’t be Mouse Guard by the end of it.

In the end, I just want to see if people, here, would be interested in seeing how I do. If people aren’t (or in the unlikely event that people a vehemently against it), I’ll just keep doing it and won’t record it on the boards.

Would you guys like to know more?

Welcome to the forums, Et Tu Brute.

Are you talking about a hack of MG in terms of setting/style, or a rules hack? I wasn’t quite sure which you’re looking to tackle.

Frankly, I’m thinking a little of column A, a little of column B, as the real style of the setting is integral to sections of the rules, I feel, but I’d like to make it a bit more towards the generic ensemble fantasy. Sort of like your Realm Guard, but leaning more towards the Fellowship end of Tolkien

Sounds interesting. MG does already have a bit of this, in the “Each player has their own goal” portion. You’re talking something even more dramatic, such as different Natures?

Now, that’s something I’m currently struggling with. On the one hand, Nature is one of the strongest mechanics for emphasizing the ‘us against the world’ attitude and style of the game, so it would be better just to flat out ditch it. On the other hand, it gives an interesting drive and, perhaps more importantly, leash for the characters, so I’d like to keep it in. Now offering multiple Natures for the characters does straddle the middle ground nicely, but it does potentially open up a couple of problems

Firstly, giving multiple paths could potentially make characters opt for the one that most benefits their particular character concept, which means that they can keep using it and it will rarely be taxed or challenged. This means characters will have to metagame taxing their Nature so they don’t go off the deep end.

Secondly it slightly downplays the core drive of the mechanics - most of the Mouse Guard system is about choices, following your Goals, Beliefs, Instincts and Nature. There should be some sort of internal struggle in regards to choosing whether to use your Nature or not, particularly for inappropriate actions.

My first instinct is to put the ‘Nature’ (though whether I keep the term or not is still debatable) of the characters into looser, more generic terms. Let’s have a quick think about this in fantasy RPG terms. The core archetypal characters in fantasy RPGs (and, to a lesser extent, literature) are, of course, Fighter, Rogue, Wizard and Cleric. If we spin those out into the basis of Nature…

Fighter becomes Perseverance: The willingness and drive to take things on head-on, sword to sword
Rogue becomes Gather Wealth: Greed and ruthlessness, combined with a natural cunning
Wizard becomes Knowledgeable: Gather knowledge, both mystical and mundane
Cleric becomes Faithful: Abiding by the tenants of their devoted deity

This is nice, but it doesn’t necessarily go against the points I made before. There’s no drive to really go against it, and what’s the real problem if they do? If you go to Nature 0 or 7 in Mouse Guard, you’re too ‘far gone’ in one direction or the other to really be a member of the Guard anymore. So what happens if the people with this Nature go over the metaphorical edge? I could have them become become amoral, power-hungry, war mongering crusaders at Nature 7, but that somehow rings hollow. Having Nature 7 doesn’t mean you’re bad, it just means you’re very in tune with what you naturally are.

Hmmmm… Let me think on this, and I’ll get back to you. Any suggestions from people are, of course, welcome

If you’re just looking for a “slimmed down” BW to capture a typical fantasy RPG feel (warrior, rogue, cleric, wizard), why not just strip Nature out of MG? After all, you probably aren’t looking for a balance between “not very human” and “too human to adventure.” Personally, I think your idea could work without much messing around. You’d need a new Recruitment section, hazards section, etc., but there’s really not too much you need to mess with, based on my understanding of what you’re trying to accomplish.

I know you’re leaning towards keeping some sort of Nature(s), but without really solid Nature descriptors (which are in the archetype’s/race’s nature, but lie somewhat contrary to game play goings-on), it may be best to simply dump the mechanic.

I’m mostly just tinkering with the mechanics along with the setting and style to see how far they can be stretched. I like the idea of Nature, and I think there is a way to incorporate it into a more (or maybe less) generic setting, I just haven’t thought of it, yet

The big thing about Nature? It’s the pull towards security and safety, towards complacency. You have to venture against Nature in order to be a hero, yet not so far against Nature that you lose touch with who you are. I could see this working in a lot of places.

Cleric: Devoted Soul–being so devoted to your deity that you stay back and preach to your flock. Against Nature? Having to venture out and leave your flock.
Wizard: Sage–you seek knowledge for your own benefit. You don’t necessarily care about anyone else; what you want is arcane power. (Think Vaarsavius’ “Ultimate Arcane Power” kick from Order of the Stick) Against Nature? Leaving your studies to take on “less important” adventures.
Rogue: Hoarder–you want to gather as much wealth as you can. Against Nature? Well, you can’t keep much wealth when adventuring. Plus, the rest of the party wants wealth too.
Fighter: Lord–you have a bit of land, a person, a country to protect. Against Nature? Leaving that thing for adventures.

Very nice, CarpeGuitarrem. So, in your guy’s opinions, should the character stop when they reach Nature 0 or 7?

Well, in MG, reaching Nature 7 means you settle down, gaining a trait like Oldfur or Settled. Reaching Nature 0 means the character drops out. I think that’s a good precedent to follow.

Ah, I must have misread that, or misremembered it, or some other lame excuse. Thanks for clearing that up. Hmm… I have a couple other things I need to think over