My group and I are considering using the Mouse Guard rules for two upcoming mini-campaigns:
This game is meant to be a mashup up The Wire, Pulp Fiction, and Hobbits. The players are hobbit Bounders and Shirriffs in our own canon-breaking (none of us are die-hard Tolkien fanatics) early Fourth Age game in The Shire. Their responsibilities include not only protecting the borders from wolves and other threats, but also tending to the internal matters and investigations.
“Answer me: Does Mundo Sackville-Baggins look like a bitch?”
I’m looking at the Dunedain Rangers hack, and I think the suggested nature ideas there are very appropriate here too: Tradition, Family… maybe Eating/Cooking? Gossiping?
We’re all also huge Dragon Age fans, and think the idea of a team of Grey Wardens wandering the world fighting the Blight would be awesome. As far as Nature goes, there is already an innate facet of the Wardens at play here. In order to become a Warden, they have to drink a special brew made from Darkspawn blood. Afterwards (if they even survive the very dangerous first drink) they can sense Darkspawn and are better at hunting them and fighting them. But as they grow older, they feel the doom welling up within their blood, and eventually they heed their Final Call and go off alone to die fighting them in the Deep Roads.
Thus in this case, I’m thinking maybe high Nature is closer to being Human, and low Nature is closer to being at one with the Darkspawn curse? Or maybe the other way around? I’m completely new to MG, so I’m not 100% down with the flow of the rules yet.
EDIT: Hahahah I just realized I horribly misspelled my intended title.
Yeah! HOBBITS! As much as Guardmice remind me of Jedi, the humble Mice also remind me of Hobbits. Mouse Nature is almost the same as Hobbit Nature, I think, but eating (or some such) should replace Foraging, as you say. Burrowing or something instead of Climbing. I love Escaping almost as much as the BW trait Running (Away).
Dunedain Nature is just radically different from Hobbits. I wouldn’t take those ideas from Rafe’s hack, IMO.
There was an old Fighting Fantasy-style book about the Hobbits, with a whole hex map thing & everything. I’m sure I’ve got it somewhere…
You think so? As far as I could tell from the books and movies, the Hobbits were all about staying home, eating huge meals, gossiping with each other, getting fat, and being completely lazy with their enormous families. Mice seem to be far more naturally inclined to all those survival aspects of their Nature than hobbits, as far as I can figure. Maybe. Not sure. Eating, yes. Home-making, perhaps? Party-hosting?
Everything you say about Hobbits, I think that’s what Mice want to do. Stay out of the way, stay off the road of life. Hide & forage. The Guard do everything that Mice do not.
Hobbits do farm, do have simple & honest industry (contrast: the works of Man are often mixed up with ambition & lust for coin). Rather than being Lazy, they are rather self-sufficient & surprising little folk. The fact that Hobbits farm (including pipe weed) means that Hobbits may even be harder-working than Mice! And organizing parties… why, that’s incredibly difficult work, of the highest order & caliber!
If you have the time to go through the prologue to the Lord of the Rings, it’s a fine essay on hobbits.
From my understanding, the Nature mechanic is in place to give the characters all an innate unilateral internal conflict to work against. In Mouse Guard, the heroes overcome their desire to run away, climb into a tree, and hide. Working against that, they can perform great feats of heroism. While constantly running away and hiding is easy to do, and a perfectly mechanically acceptable option, I gather it really isn’t the primary intention of the game.
So for an Adventure-Crime Drama on a home-brew ripoff of the Shire, I need to pick a thing that should be innately easy for the characters to do, but at the same time be the opposite of what the players should want to do. Intended Themes: Protecting the borders, fighting wolves, investigating crimes, connecting the communities, etc. Then again, do I want to run this as a multi-perspective game (from both sides of the law), or keep it focused on just the “good” guys?
So… yeah. I guess it does make a lot more sense to use the basic Mouse nature aspects as the primary inspiration, but with some tweaks. I’m thinking gossiping or eavesdropping (problem: loose lips sink ships), skulking, “making merriment,” and something along the lines of “maintaining the status quo.”
I haven’t checked out the Wire hack yet… but your premise is sound.
Escaping & hiding are great concepts for the Guard, where the motto is about “what you fight for” & right over the border are bands of giant wolves. These are not necessarily the things that interfere with an investigation.
In the manner of Gandalf raving about “keeping it secret/safe”, I kinda like Gossiping, especially as a way to spoil an ongoing investigation. Celebrating (making merriment?) before the final piece of the investigation is wrapped up… that sounds like a nice direction.
“Mouse Guard” isn’t “Weasel Guard”, or “False Black Axe F*ckers”… so just go with one idea, build that one, and then decide if the other idea (good or bad, whatever is left) is a good idea.
And others can chime in about the nature of Nature, but I think you’ve got it summed up there. I see Nature like a quantified group of Burning Wheel Instincts that you have to deal with… and sometimes your Instincts help you, but mostly they’re just another aspect of you… neither good nor bad, but part of who you are and what you deal with to achieve something greater than the sum of your parts.