Using Trait Checks during the GM Turn

Hello to all,

First time poster here ! I have been playing Mouse Guard for a little more than a year here in France a really loving it.
Please forgive me if the following has already been addressed here, I couldn’t find any reference using a quick search.

I’d like to know how game-breaking it would be to allow Players to retain their Checks once the Player Turn ends (the checks are supposed to disappear if not used) and allow these checks to be used during the next GM turn, at “downtime” moments (such as when the mice sit around the fire in the night), for instance for arguing with other Patrol members.

I’ve had an interesting opportunity of Player Conflict arising in the middle of the GM turn, and felt it would have been natural if one player was ready to spend a check to allow the conflict to be played at that time, rather than later in the Players’ turn. I also considered to turn the opportunity into a “mini-Player turn” but I wasn’t sure if we had sufficiently progressed in the adventure to grant the “free check” they are supposed to get.

So any advice on the flexibility of the system on these matters would be appreciated (the book says each GM should find their “pace” in the split between GM Turn and Player Turn, so I interpret that it’s not as rigidly defined as it first looks).

Thanks !

The hypothesis seems fine, and not too big a deal, but begins to mix the GM turn and Player Turn during a session, which will probably lead to far more Player Turn time than GM Turn time. That’s difficult to determine without some play-test results to inform the hypothesis.

… interesting opportunity of Player Conflict arising in the middle of the GM turn, … advice on the flexibility of the system on these matters …

The portion of actual play here is a good example of how the session could shatter. So, I’ve totally used PC-vs-PC contention in the GM Turn. I’d allow a conflict if it seemed fully warranted, but I don’t think I’ve ever done a full conflict off PC disagreement.

So, here’s one example that worked out really neat.

The patrol of three was starting in Grasslake with a need to complete travel to reach Rustleaf, but they also knew the town was having a massive impact from Grasslake Flu. Two Guardmice patrol mates wanted to stay and manage a free clinic for a while before travelling; the Patrol Leader wanted to leave Grasslake to their own challenges (and was already Sick, so felt a desire to get away from other ill mice). The disagreement also leaned heavily on the session Goal of the Ptl Ldr: something like, “Honey-mouse don’t care; I’m leaving Grasslake to finish the mission.” So, she tried ordering the patrol mates to follow her command and prepare to leave for Rustleaf. The patrol mates joined to test Persuader Vs Persuader–they won. So, the pair of patrol mates got their win: we stay to offer free clinic service while Ptl Ldr must rest from being Sick (not meant as a twist, but sorta natural reaction to having lost the argument).

It was fairly simple, and easily handled by a single Vs test, but all participants were willing to use Argument Conflict to lay out their philosophies and support the claim of serving Grasslake.

First advice is to ensure that a PC-vs-PC disagreement connects with or relies on the BIGs in some way. In my example, it was connected to a Goal and a Belief. Next advice is to envision how this connects with a relationship. I don’t recall well if they had a relationship in Grasslake, but I think not. Also, measure whether the disagreement relates to the mission which must be completed. For example, a disagreement about how to accomplish a (mission-required or obstacle-required) task / solution is a good candidate for the single Vs test between the PCs–in that case, you should hash out the risks of loss before rolling dice just as a foreshadow of how it might shake out (it might change some later, but give some clues about who could be the winner and what the risk might be of coward dice). Now, these can be a bit fake if you know the obstacle-related task must be faced, but sometimes the drama isn’t in the actual doing, but in the how of doing.

In contrast, a disagreement about why to attempt a (mission-required or obstacle-required) task / solution is a poor candidate for PC-vs-PC contest. In that case, let them continue to table chatter until the patrol mates have agreed on a plan to get things done. Running away from an obstacle is acceptable! For example, if the group suddenly faces a threatening predator, like snake, and a patrol member wants to stand and fight while others want to run from the threat, that’s not a moment for the patrol to test one against another, just allow the patrol to run, and ask if the single patrol mate wants to face the predator alone or run with the patrol. Similarly, facing an obstacle like hazardous weather or trackless wilderness is something the patrol might turn down and want to refuse even when just one patrol mate feels up to the challenge; that’s not going to feel good as a PC-vs-PC test. It will feel better as table chatter.

Later, the Player Turn can allow for the discussion about why of Guard service, bravery, endurance, obedience, etc.

I also feel that a disagreement about who takes lead, when to make an attempt, where to find materials or place a trap, etc., and what to prioritize or solve is a good candidate for PC-vs-PC drama during the GM Turn. So, in those sorts of cases, the obstacle may remain, and the PCs have their test, then the GM narrates the success following the discussion settlement. So, like in the example above, I could have said, “Great, you place the Ptl Ldr in her bed and take care of her while also opening and managing the free clinic; everyone starts to feel better. You’re ready to travel after 10 nights in Grasslake.” The test may have seemed a test of the Healer Vs Grasslake Flu, but the disagreement turned it into Patrol Mates against moral irresponsibility. However, in that actual case, I followed it with a special Conflict of Healer against Grasslake Flu which was also really fun.

So, that’s kinda the last advice: you don’t have to give them success simply because they’ve now had a test, but you could give them success for simply having the disagreement and testing for a solution among themselves. That decision may depend on the story-telling you most want. That internal drama can be a really good game.

Many thanks for this detailed example. I think I’ll stay with the normal GM turn / Player turn breakdown and use only roleplay for PvP conflicts during the GM turn.