Winter 1892: Gaslight and Ghouls

I’m working on my event for 11.11.11. It’s a Mouse Guard / Victorian adventure hack. Here are some early thoughts:

So, I’m taking the Mouse Territories and pushing them three hundred some years into the future, into the growing pains of the industrial revolution. I’m drawing inspiration from Victorian adventure fiction: stuff like Sherlock Holmes, Dracula, Jules Verne, H.G. Wells. Essentially all the inspirations for The League of Extraordinary Gentleman layered on top of Mouse Guard.

Lockhaven has grown to a sprawling metropolis, build of brick and wrought iron. Factories belch smoke into the air. Old Lockhaven is a looming citadel above the labyrinth of tenements and workshops.

Deep, deep underground, the mice have found a pocket of natural gas. Not only do they power gaslamps and heat throughout the city, but the city walls have iron pipes built into them with steel nozzles pointing out. When the gas is turned on, huge jets of flame shoot from the walls, repelling even the most curious bear or moose. All animals fear fire.

The metropolis is also defined by huge stumps, where trees once grew. In a huge, treeless area like this, birds of prey would be a major threat. I think every few blocks, there is a huge four (mouse) story tall iron spike that rises above the city, creating a deadly barrier for the birds above.

Lockhaven has absorbed many of the smaller settlements around it. Although these neighborhoods are, in theory, still governed by their local borough chief, there is constant tension between the local leaders and the privy council at Lockhaven.

I’ll be updating the skill list to better fit the setting. Less wilderness skills, more urban ones. I was going to hack Nature, to add some element of the stifling pressure to conform to social norms that pervades Victorian literature, but I’m not sure how much it would add. The hacking Nature thread does have me thinking, though.


In the standard setting, the Weasels seem to be a stand in for the Asiatic “other”, the despots of the exotic East that enslave and sacrifice the European stand-in mice. Do I want to carry that forward? Do I want to deal with its implications?

If I carry it forward, then by 1892, the mice have essentially conquered the Weasels through superior technology and economic development. Where does that put Weasels in Lockhaven society? Are they the coal miners and manual laborers? Have some of them adopted Mouse ways and Mouse attitudes to aspire to something higher in Mouse society?

Most importantly, are there Weasel members of the Guard?

If I break with the whole “Weasel as non-Western “other” stand-in” thing, then do I just write Weasels out of the setting entirely? Did the Mouse Guard eventually wipe them out? Having statues and museums and stuff around that feature the vanquished enemy could be cool. Do they only live in zoos?

What are your thoughts on the issue of Weasels?

Someone must have a hack with guns. Could someone point me to threads with good ideas about how to model firearms in Mouse Guard? I know I want them to be dangerous without being overpowering.

Any and all other comments welcome.

I think martial weapons would be deemphasized in this setting, so you could reduce it down:

Inaccurate: -1D Attack
Quick to Hand: +1s Feint

Bobby Pin: +1D to Attack against unarmed opponent.
Outgunned: -1D to Attack against Musket, Fowling Pieces and Rifles

Outgunned: -1D to Attack against Musket, Fowling Pieces and Rifles
Short and Quick: Any successful Maneuver counts as a Disarm against opponent’s weapon.

Awesome, gun stats. Thanks Luke. I’m sure people will find this useful for other hacks.

Oops. Didn’t really think about the date. Those weapons are thoroughly outdated for this period. Edited.

This is good stuff. It makes me want to deconstruct Mouse Guard using an Ethnic Studies framework

I think the Other is this setting would become trading partners and a source of income for Lockhaven. Trading partners who usually get the short end of the stick. Maybe this culture isn’t the Weasels. An analogy for other-ness of Weasels in MG could be Muslim kingdoms in medieval Europe. In this setting a new species could represent the Asiatic other.


i allow weasels to continue as a key rival for tech, industry, and growth. Perhaps even give weasels the upper hand by having them represent the advancing tech that mice stole, borrowed, bought, or aspired to.

In this sense, the weasels, martens, ferrets, and others of similar specie have perhaps lost a bit of the feral urge to eat mice, and instead focus on economic superiority. They offer a high price but have been the architects of a future for the mice, such as providing gunpowder, steel, and access to resources far beyond the limits of the scent border.

These creatures have continued to thrive, but never integrated into the mouse territory, nor wanted to. They have maintained an autonomous existence beyond the safety of the scent border. They may in fact still be a danger of unspeakable terror for mice, but have toned that down from violent warfare into a cold war arms race and tech race that forces the mice to be innovative.

I can also see a larger niche for groups that believe in a return to nature and abandonment of the (for lack of a better term) mice with low nature scores. These internal conflicts drive more of the stories than any sort of external conflicts. So, Animals is diminished, Wilderness is diminished, Mice is increased, and Weather is increased (the weather could be far more detrimental in a large population center). You might also consider the strain to food resources; while in 1150s each settlement was self sufficient, now the combined sprawl has formed countless scars on the natural habitat which are threatening food production and heightening mice mortality rates, average old age, and popoulation growth rates.

Personally, i don’t think i’d be sold on the idea of weasels being integrated and downtrodden by the mice. I think it defangs a key rival, sentient, anthropomorphic subset of characters in the stories. In addition, as such a popoulation center grew, safety was handled by technology, and needs were met through industrialization, I expect the Guard is now a waning group of old tradition mice that receive little to no recognition. The aging and aged group rarely receives recruits, no longer appears the heroes of the territories, and is less frequently given the opportunity to display authority in the territory. The reduced scarcity of goods has bred leisure into the mice along with complacency about safety.

i noticed no on eelse has responded, but I want to add another point in my mind.

The average Nature(mouse) of any average mouse in the territories would probably need to be far lower than the average shown in MG. While MG during 1150s the average nature score might be 5 and the typical range might be 4-6, I would make a change to the typical range to 0-2 and make the average 1 for any given average mouse in the territories during MG 1890s.

Subsequently, I would make a change in the recruitment that showed tenderpaws coming in with a far lower Nature (mouse) and each rank above also starting with a lower score as well. In addition, I think that while Hunter could remain as a skill, I would make Duelist as a skill related to pistols or swords a far more frequently used skill. Fighting would still include weapons of all sorts, but I might also include Brawling, Boxing, Wrestling, or something of that nature as a far more typical skill than just Fighting. To further deepen the meaning, you could say that fighting is rather uncouth, undignified, and dirty while brawling, boxing, or wrestling is more academic, collegiate, refined, gentlemousely, and clean. (okay, maybe brawling wouldn’t fit that description)

I’d like to know why you gave your hack the subtitle of Gaslights and Ghouls? Had you intended to include undead as a thematic creature in the list of denizens?

Good thoughts, Ken. Much to ponder and not much time to do so.

I had originally intended a bit of Victorian horror motif, like in Dracula. That’s when I was considering jettisoning the mice entirely, and just using the rules for Victorian adventure. Now that I’ve kept to the Mouse Guard setting, fast forwarding the clock, I’m not sure if I’m going to be able to include the horror now.

I would make the time period more urban. The weasels would be replace by more domestic threats… like crows and house cats… and mouse traps! I would have the time period shift include more human elements as well. Rather than living in trees and holes in the ground, they could live in abandon sewers or attics, in the shadows of large public buildings, train stations, etc. I think of all the places in giant, old houses mice can be living… a whole secret world behind our human stuff. Human structures presents opportunities for a different mouse society, but also a good deal of giant mechanical dangers as well.

THAT sounds really fun. I would totally play it.

Not only would I play it, I did play it, and it was amazing! Great work on this one, Michael. I really enjoyed how you used Friends and Enemies in this game. Or, perhaps, how they used us.

Hey, I’ve started a new thread for playtest feedback: