Understanding the 'No Weasels' rule

Hi all,
I want to begin with a sincere apology about some behavior years ago when I was asking a question regarding the rule: No Weasels. I was behaving as a bully and allowed my frustration to turn into anger.

After several years serving as a GM in Mouse Guard. I really understand more fully the difficulty in describing this rule. I’m not certain I could answer my question from years ago; in fact, I’m fairly certain I cannot provide a very complete answer to my question.

I certainly do not have actual play examples of the rule impacting decisions or rulings.

Sorry to everyone for my rudeness years ago. I was just reflecting recently on past behavior, and felt it would be worthwhile to offer this apology.

In response to the rule, I think I have a description of how it can be implemented, despite that I have never seen an example in actual play.

There is a specific rule to avoid players debating the determination of the GM once the ability, skill or wise has been announced; players may consider alternate strategies which would require a different test, but should not attempt to redirect the stated plan towards another ability, skill, or wise. That is what the, “No Weasels!” rule means. First, the players agree on the strategy; then, the GM decides the test. That’s the final decision.

That is my description. If the group has made the plan, then the GM determines the test. Once that is fulfilled, the players cannot try to test other attributes in place of the ruling (aside from using Nature for skills not yet learned).

I think the appropriate moment for this rule is when a player wants to substitute a skill they have, rather than a skill they lack.

I believe I have not seen this in actual play; because, I have always had a good group of players. They realize and embrace that failure, and the complications of failure, will drive the story forward in exciting and fun ways. Rather than fear anything less than the highest advantage, they tolerate difficulty and risk.

First off: I don’t recall you doing anything that required an apology, Kenneth, but if you feel better for giving one, I’ll gladly join with others in accepting. :slight_smile:

Not only have I seen No Weasels in play in Mouse Guard, but I’ve seen it often. Once the rule was initially described to my players, they took it upon themselves to shout “No weasels!” during the game any time another player recommended a course of action in the “I draw my sword and charge at the snake!.. No, no, just kidding.” kind of way. A way that is common in our group, or at least was common prior to Mouse Guard.

Not only have I seen the rule regularly used in Mouse Guard, but one of the players in my MG game who runs Star Wars: EotE decided that there are also No Weasels in the Star Wars universe, so we need to be careful with what we say (and how we say it) in his game now, in addition to mine.

So, it would seem that No Weasels is a viral move.

The spirit of this rule, as I understand it, not only allows but demands that the characters act impulsively when it seems that it would be natural (fitting within their Nature and BIGs, as well as the current situation as set by the game’s fiction), rather than the power-gaming approach of having each character always use their signature skill or ability based on collective decision-making by the players. In short, it gives life to the characters and dissuades the “just say the name of a move from your sheet” style of play common to so many “RPGs” we’ve all seen in the last decade or more.

The thing I will definitely maintain has to happen in order for this to work is that the GM needs to be open with information. In essence, the GM shouldn’t be a Weasel either. “You said you wanted to try climbing across the ceiling of the crab-filled cave, and No Weasels! Roll a Scout test, Ob 10!” There’s some things that should be obviously impossibly difficult to the character, but that the GM hasn’t sufficiently described.

The idea is not to play ‘gotcha’ with the players. When you get right down to it, it’s a spotlight-sharing mechanic. It’s to make sure that the player who states they undertake a course of action is the player that rolls for that action. You can’t swap out to make sure that the person with the highest skill is always the one making the roll.

It’s also there to make sure that players don’t suggest a dangerous course of action that some other player’s character​ has to perform. You own your ideas.

Now, if the group encounters something, makes a plan and the Patrol Leader orders someone to do something, that’s different. That’s something that comes with being a Patrol Leader.

I love the way Torchbearer puts this…as I recall, it’s something like “If you’re suggesting a dangerous course of action that your character has absolutely no part in, you’re on the spot.”

We arrive at much the same place in Torchbearer, but through a slightly different route. In Torchbearer you have to describe your character’s action before the GM calls for a test. Since your character is already performing the action, you can’t just back out or suggest someone else test in your stead.