Turns...Deemphasizing Roleplaying?

Hello all. Keep in mind that I have not yet had an opportunity to PLAY/RUN a game, so this is coming from a reading of the text only.

Okay, this assumes one is trying to follow the rules as written. I realize a GM can run his game however he wishes.

I am…I’ll say concerned…that the strict GM Turn/Player Turn set-up would restrict roleplaying. It seems that the GM’s Turn would end up railroading the PCs to some degree.

How free have you been in what you let the players do during the GM’s Turn?

Here’s a for instance: You cannot heal in the game unless you are in the Player’s Turn. The group travels, has a encoutner and gets wounded. Instead of pressing on the players want to stop, hide and try to see to their wounds. But in the GM’s Turn they can’t do that. At this point, no the GM is basically saying NOPE. Move on to the next challenge.


(Keep in mind I am coming at this with the hope that MG can be fun and exciting for the players and myself.)

Actually, you can recover in the GM’s turn, but it costs 2 checks.

Where do you see that, please?

Nevermind, found it.

My rule of thumb is that any action that is reactive and in relation to the situation the GM is presenting may be done in the GM’s Turn (with the exception of alleviating conditions without spending 2 checks). Any action that is independent and proactive, so to speak, is done on the Player Turn.

A good rule to follow is to have two obstacles in the GM’s turn, plus any twists, then switch to the Player Turn. There’s nothing (if I remember correctly) that states that a session cannot have more than one GM Turn and Player Turn. If you’re running a 3-4 hour game, feel free to have two of each. In fact, you might have a hard time otherwise.

I don’t find it hinders roleplaying at all. It simply sets the tone for how the game is played. GM Turn: “Go go go!” (often) vs Player Turn: “Alright, let’s see here. What does my character want/need to do…”

I’m strict and by the book when it’s my GM turn.

But here’s the thing: sometimes it’s really hard to figure out where the GM’s turn ends and the player’s begins. Did they accomplish the goal? If not, how are they dealing with the twist?

PS And that’s to say, we (player and GM) keep the rules in mind and usually come up with a mutually satisfying reasons for why we can’t stop rest and heal: it’s getting too dark, the weather looks bad, they feel like they need to press on, etc. Whatever works and keeps everyone happy, but stays within the rules.
So I don’t find it any different than any other game where the players look toward the GM and ask if they can do something.

To be slightly pendantic – the GM isn’t saying anything. That a player can’t freely recover in the GM’s Turn is a rule in the game.

In addition to what’s been said, keep in mind that:

a) By sitting down to play MG, the players are, by definition, on-board with the idea of tackling the mission the GM sets before them;

b) Players are the ones who define their goals, beliefs, and instincts, not to mention traits during chargen (or template selection), and these are the prime drivers used by the GM for twists and conflicts and such;

c) The dice determine who gets what when;

d) The player’s turn forces the GM into a reactive role as the players take the reins, something that is fairly unique in RPGs.

So, yeah, the GM gets to push pretty hard during his turn. However, he can’t railroad; he can only complicate. On the Player’s turn, they get to push, and the GM has to take a back seat.

I agree. If everyone at the table has agreed to play MouseGuard, why is the GM taking this flak?

FWIW the use of turns is a method of ensuring that the players (as well as the GM) get narrative control over story as different points. Without them the GM would need to resume this control at all times and restrict the greater player authority that MG gives to them. As such, the turns help coordinate greater freedom in RPGs to some extent.

I’ve been handing out my $0.02 all day – at this rate I’ll be broke at the end of the day! But my thoughts:

  • Yes, the turn structure restricts roleplaying.

  • All rules in an RPG restrict roleplaying. That’s what they’re there for. Probably what feels weird is that turn-based RPing isn’t something you’ve ever done before, so that particular restriction feels…more restrictive than, say, the fact that an untrained fighter can’t cast a spell, or that you can’t break initiative order and roll your attack just whenever.

Your players will have to decide if they like the impact on play the MG turn system produces. But don’t discount it out of hand just because it’s novel.


Allright Paul, stop blowing my f*#king mind. :slight_smile:

FWIW (this is a tangent) but I disagree. RPGs use rules to promote roleplaying in many cases. Roleplaying is a group activity. RPG rules cooridnate the involvement of each player and actually provide certainty, methods of sharing narrative, inspire drama and even creating tension through the use of rules.

To give a concrete example, many games of Let’s Pretend will devolve into arguments as each person involved tries to assert what they want whilst playing a role. RPGs use to rules to avoid these base issues.

Returning to the topic, the Turns do restrict freedom but IMO they promote roleplaying.

Thanks for being the tangent-guy so I didn’t have to. :slight_smile:

Mike Mearls once said something like, “A good rule is one that helps you have more fun that you would have without it.” I tend to agree. RPGs (good ones, at least) don’t restrict; they facilitate.

Also, setting limits != restrict, if that makes sense.


Limitations facilitate creativity. They’re not ‘bad’ or anything.

(And this really is very tangential to this thread – and pursuing probably would result in nothing more than a silly argument about what I mean by “limitation.” :rolleyes: Let’s just say I’m totally on board with what you guys are saying, and that my personal definition of “limitation” is anything that puts boundaries on behavior – the very definition of a “rule” IMO.)

No need to continue. We’re all right.


But, I wanna fling poo! C’mon!

Wanna fling poo in the Chatterer? Or there’s always S-G, except that in there everyone thinks their poo smells like chamomile…


I’m good.