What are the cards for?

This one post (the checklist) was helpful. As a new GM learning what the steps are to conduct the game was critical(ly missing) from the text.

The quesitons I have are:

(a) What do I use the cards for? I could not find their use in the book.

(b) Do I misunderstand the use of the mouse-tokens? They seem so un-MG-ish…

© How to play this …

Are there missions with more details (think D&D modules from the 70s and 80s…) If I had to create a worthwhile mission, it takes time to think through many variables. I’m starting out with MG with younger players. It’s not impossible to think up new kinds of mission goals. However, in getting started I am feeling really disconnected between what the MG universe is and what the RPG potential is. Said another way – I wouldn’t know in the BW context how the BW game mechanics work. I could not figure out the game mechanics from the book in the MG-set.

The game is geared towards younger beginner RPG players, right? So, I’m sort of confused why there path through an actual game is so difficult to understand. Am I just not read-in to the BW system? MG is my first BW game system, but not first RPG system.

I want to make sure the reader understands that I love MG the comic, and enjoy the story (comic). I’m trying to apply my love of MG to RPG-MG and I feel like I’m missing something important.

(a) The cards are not required to play the game. Their use is not required, but can help to streamline the game a little. How to use them is covered in pp. 43-44 of the New Rules, New Missions book.

(b) Again, see pp. 43-44, New Rules, New Missions.

© The best way to get started, and learn by playing is to start with the example adventures (using the pre-generated characters for those adventures), and just play through them. Mouse Guard is a different roleplaying experience for many than other games or systems such as D&D. The design of the game allows you to accomplish a full mission in a single 2-4 hour gaming session, unlike many more “traditional” systems, and to also mimic the “feel” of the comics.

A “mission with more details” of the kind I believe you’re asking about is easily accomplished by just having more missions (in other words, a campaign). In Mouse Guard, a mission usually defines the scope of what the players will try to accomplish in a single play session, even if they have larger goals to accomplish. If you’re wanting to run a larger campaign, then just make sure that each subsequent mission should allow the players to accomplish a mission goal, as well as get a step closer to the bigger “campaign” goal (which will probably end up being the mission goal for the final session of the campaign).

If you want to do a “large dungeon” kind of experience during a single session of play, this is doable just by having the dungeon itself be a single obstacle which must be overcome as a Complex Obstacle (MG p. 92). Just remember: that Complex Obstacle is still just one of the two major obstacles you’re supposed to put in front of your players for a session. You still have one more obstacle (a fight conflict against the “boss monster”, perhaps?), as well as twists and conditions to deal with. And that’s all before the Players’ Turn even happens. I see plenty of room for lots of details in this format.

I don’t believe that Mouse Guard is designed for younger players. It is a great game for younger players, but it does not necessarily lean toward them. I don’t think that anyone in my group is younger than 20’ish, and most are in their mid- to late 30’s and early 40’s. Your difficulties with understanding Mouse Guard may come from the “baggage” of having played other systems, expecting Mouse Guard to be “just another set of rules to play the same game I’ve played before”. I know that this was the case for me when I first read the MG rules. The thing that helped me was to read through the rules again, trying to approach it as if it was a completely new thing to me, and to listen to a few podcasts and read lots of posts on these forums.


I see now the New Rules has mentioned the cards and play tokens. I just missed it because I didn’t pick up the New Rules until I thought I was ready.

My son, who plays MG told me that indeed this is in the story line (tokens) as mentioned in the New Rules text.

We just finished part 1 of our first session. I ad-lib’d much of the “Find the Grain Peddler” since I had made a few errors previously in generating a new character. Luckily, my son’s character was home based in Ivydale so this put us near the route needed. He likes Saxon so I changed the roles around a bit and put different Guardmice in different roles; but in general we’re sticking to the plan (mission) of finding the wherebouts of the grain peddler, what he knew, and who he was going to contact (his handler). I still have a very fuzzy idea on how to generate braids of chance in the game – when players search, confront choices, etc… and we roll dice… How many dice to roll, and what is the criteria for the GM to use when success is made (I know the snake/knife icons) in general.

And, the tempo of turns and so on… What is considered a reasonable amount of game-wall-clock time per each Player/GM turn cycle?

The “baggage” comment in the reply made to my first question is right on. I carry baggage from D&D, GammaWorld, Traveller, etc… BW, to be honest, caught me by surprise. I am now curious of the pedigree of MG-RPG knowing now it is derived from BW. I’ll need to read up more to get bearings and level set my background knowledge.

I see a market for new missions, companion texts and all the rest that goes with a fully fleshed out RPG construct. Dear Mr. Petersen, et.al. you’ve done a great thing. We look forward to the next chapter in MG.

Thanks again for your response.

If you’re ad-libbing, you’re probably doing something right. This is a roleplaying game after all, not an assembly manual. :slight_smile:

Regarding tempo: The average game session goes between two and four hours. My opinion (which has been disputed, so decide for yourself after you play a few times), is that “short Mouse Guard sessions are boring”. In other words: sessions in which the players accomplish their goals with little or no failure tend to go very quickly (closer to the one to two hour mark than three to four), and are generally far less interesting both for the GM and the other players than a game involving a fair amount of failed rolls, leading to finding interesting ways to deal with the results of those failures. This is counter to the “D&D mentality”, in which failure by the players can often lead to dead story lines, or (maybe) worse, dead characters. If your players are actually playing their character’s Beliefs, Instincts and Goals (their “BIGs”), even if it goes against trying to “just win” the mission, then something is going right. Part of your job as the GM is to make sure that the things that need to be done to complete missions are not always in line with the characters’ BIGs. This kind of conflict is what makes Mouse Guard sessions far more interesting (in my opinion) than most games of D&D, GammaWorld, etc., that I’ve played in.

A “standard” session of Mouse Guard (in my experience) will vary somewhere between two to three hours of GM’s Turn, and one to two hours of Players’ Turn time. A small group of players may make a session go quicker. If your sessions end up going shorter than that, you might want to step back and think about some things, such as whether or not you’re making it too easy for the players to make their decisions during the GM’s Turn, and whether or not you’re planting appropriate story hooks in the GM’s Turn for the players to willingly follow up on in the Players’ Turn. If you feel like you’re properly challenging your players’ BIGs and the sessions are still running short, then be prepared to run more than one session in a single sitting.

Like you, I’m also hoping that Luke and David kick out some new Mouse Guard RPG material for us sometime soon… but I’m not holding my breath (I mean, other than the Black Axe comics as source material – have you seen them? Amazing stuff.). The next chapter is up to us. Play the game, have fun with it, and please share your experiences here.

I split the thread. Thanks.