Two contests? TWO HOURS?

So, something I’ve always struggled with is how in god’s name do I milk 2 hours of play out of two measly obstacles.

How much free play are we expecting?

And along the same line, with only two contests, how are Players expected to accumulate enough (any?) checks to do anything during the player turn?

Well, open the view a bit on the mission design. I tend to look at the design first with simple terms, then build upon those any additional complexity I need.

Consider the big pieces are the Hazards of Mice, Animals, Weather, and Wilderness. Each of those hazards alone might create many obstacles to manage. Aside, I treat the hazards as interruptions, disruptions, interferences, or distractions from the assigned mission. For example, it is not a wilderness hazard because they are told to trek from point A to point B; it is a trek they are assigned, and the wilderness as a hazard is making it harder to complete.

Any given hazard can generate one or more obstacles. Let’s use the wilderness. It might be terrain changes over a lengthy trek: barren land, soggy marsh, overgrown meadow, ominous wood. In each of the obstacles, the GM has a reasonable idea of the test needed to overcome that obstacle.

  • Crossing barren land exposes the patrol to overhead threats; a test of Mouse Nature (hiding, escaping) is needed
  • Crossing the soggy marsh is best with a hasty boat; a test of Boatcrafter is needed, but perhaps an alternative of Pathfinder would suffice for a good route
  • Cutting a path through the overgrown meadow calls for a test of Laborer, but an alternative test of Health might suffice (stamina and endurance clearing a path)
  • Sorting the way through an ominous wood might be resolved with a test of Scout, but an alternative test of Will might suffice (courage and acuity remaining safe and calm)

Then, table chatter might allow the patrol some potential for different resolutions. Maybe they suggest something that works really well for their PCs’ stats or another point of view on the story.

  • Barren land would be eroded dangerously if there were a storm; better have a test of Weather Watcher to ensure safe travels
  • Soggy marsh could have valuable herbs, if we’re allowed to search; perhaps a test of Harvester permits the patrol to move slowly and gather medicinal herbs along the route
  • Overgrown meadow invites snakes to take shelter; we should test Hunter to drive off potential threats to other traveling mice
  • Ominous wood is probably home to many sorts of birds; we should test Loremouse to call a friendly beast of feather to guide us safely

The GM can use the table chatter advantageously or stick with the initial plan. In either case, you’ll need to have a few reasonable ideas for the outcome of a test.

  • Barren ground will have no food or drink, so a failed test is likely to create Success w/ Hungry/Thirsty
  • Soggy marsh will create fatigue, so a failed test is likely Success w/ Tired
  • Overgrown meadow provides cover for many unknowns, so a failed test is a good candidate for an animal twist (like a snake, as suggested by the table chatter)
  • Ominous wood generates frightening reminders of childhood fables, so a failed test might lead to Success w/ Angry (disturbed by fear)

Each hazard can generate one or more obstacles, and some obstacles will be complex enough to create more than a simple test. So, this gives more tests for the players to gain checks, and probably drives longer GM Turns. So, find a balance that works for your group over time, and change from time to time to keep things a bit unpredictable.

@kendesign – YES, a 1000x yes.

What surprises me is that there’s nothing within the mission structure content that indicates that this is how it’s meant to be done. There’s a lot about the GM setting the obstacle for the one test, though…

Is this just a case of “the real way to do it” didn’t make it into the rules?

I think this has grown as an extension of the existing content as the community has discussed over time. I think the rules-as-written leave too much enrichment out of the text for GMs and/or players to discover through play. And, in that sense, learning through play can be loads of fun, but the rules as-is could be richer in the area of describing mission design.

Thanks everyone. Unless Luke wanders in, I think I’ve got what I need from this thread, so am totally ok with considering it closed.

Take a look at some games on youtube and you will see that sometimes even two hours is not enough. Introduce twists if they fail the first obstacle, explain to them that they will possibly need checks in the Player Turn. Mouse Guard is a narrative game, enjoy describing the world and encourage your players to describe their actions as if it were a movie or comic book, two hours will fly by, and use the conflict system in your games for at least one of the obstacles, be it a chase, a fight, an argument or a boat ride in the middle of a storm.

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