Winter Session

I just did our first Winter Session. I think it went well. There was high energy. And now that it’s over, I have a few questions.

First of all, one problem I’ve had is that my 2 daughters play different characters each time (characters are so much fun to make!). SO, I did something probably unheard of. I had them each pick their 2 favorite characters, the ones they might most want to play next mouse year, and they got to act out two characters each for this winter session. Plus, Daddy played his character. Even though Daddy doesn’t play often with us, he’s got a great imagination and I gave him freedom to make up experiences as necessary. That made for 5 characters, which explains why the GM Turn took just over 2 hours. The Unfinished Business (Player’s Turn) took just under 1 1/2 hours though, because Daddy had to leave and 2 characters didn’t have much they wanted to accomplish.

I read about Winter Session in the book and then typed it up in a format I could easily follow. We started with each mouse seeing Gwendolyn individually to report about their last mission. A couple characters came in together when they had been on the same last mission. We Rested and Recovered. I had each person roleplay how they wanted to celebrate their birthdays (or not), practiced the 3 skills and gave a second report to Gwendolyn about what they had learned in the past year (thus earning or increasing a wise). If I did any of this wrong, or if it is better done another way, please tell me :).

Then I gave them 10 minutes or so to discuss with each other the past mouse year in preparation for Reflection time. We have gone months in people time between missions sometimes and some of our characters had never served together, so they had to get their stories straight in order to properly “represent” each other. I had the impression that while representing someone was mostly bragging on them, there was also some ribbing and maybe pointed truth telling too?? Am I right? Plus, other characters can join in, right?

When it came to changing or increasing a trait as the GM, 2 I did nothing to because I just did not feel they had advanced the 1 trait that was free to me to change. One person I did advance because she is really a leader, but she is turning out to be the fastest rising star in all of mousedom. One I changed to a trait we all agreed suited him. One wanted me to change a particular trait, but he had used it earlier so, I decided that was proof he still had it and he would have to work on not using it if he wanted to see it dwindle and disappear.

We discussed promotions, but neither patrol leader wants to be promoted and my three Guardsmice have only served 1 year each so we decided that they should all have to have at least another year before promotion, even though one is already highly recommended. No one wanted to retire and there were no deaths so no need for memorials.

Then it was the Player’s Turn. Now, even in regular missions we have trouble with Player’s Turns, so I’d like feedback. In Winter Session, you don’t earn checks. I wasn’t clear though about how much they can accomplish during Unfinished Business. Is it just one thing? I gave leeway because I wasn’t certain. Here’s what happened…

Forsythe is determined to finish the last mission (see previous post - Mail Mouse mission). He wanted to find Tedd, the missing scoundrel mouse. He rolled significant circles (5 or 6) to ask around about a suspicious mouse, but the dice failed him. I thought he’d need a 4 to find a single mouse who did not want to be found and was used to hiding. Forsythe’s failure led him close (he heard maybe the guy had visited the Apiarist), but the Apiarist insisted he had not seen him. Frustrated, he returned to his room where he found a note from Gwendolyn telling him she thought they had found the significant letter from the mailbag. (However, Forsythe will have to wait until the next session to follow up. I planned it this way as this is going to be our next mission. Poor Forsythe. He didn’t stand a chance ;).

Canyon mailed a letter to his sister asking for advice in wooing the mouse he is infatuated with. He didn’t want to do anything else. He’s lonely and lovesick and mopey.

Pico had to leave before the Unfinished Business.

Acantha and Xena (played by the same daughter), both had multiple desires and I let her do them all, but I’m not sure if I should have.

Xena had to roll to haggle for needles to mail to a tailor best friend. She also wanted to test her armorer skills. She joined her artisan and helped him work on armor for hares. I didn’t know what difficulty to make that so I told her to just mark a pass. In retrospect, I guess she should have rolled her armorer skill against a 3 or 4 difficulty? And she wanted to find someone. She only had a circle of 1, but the person she wanted to find (another one of her sister’s characters) apparently was easy to find and was not hiding so we all agreed there was no need to roll. They conversed and that was that.

Acantha wanted to buy Christmas presents for 3 people and buy herself a birthday present (its her tradition). She haggled hard for some lined paper to give to the boy (Canyon) who has a crush on her. She doesn’t want to encourage him, but he gave her a gift and she felt she should respond. She haggled for sand for her glazier artisan. I didn’t let her haggle much though this time, because I pointed out that she is rich and has low haggling skills. She probably would not haggle much and not worry about spending money. She rolled for this and won her prize. She wanted to buy throwing stars for her mentor. She chose to go to her friend Xena’s (the same daughter’s other character’s) mentor who is an armorer. She chose not to haggle out of respect for her friend’s mentor, though Xena whispered that she could have gotten her a better deal. We didn’t make her roll for this because everyone knew each other so very well it was bound to happen. Lastly, she bought herself a timepiece for her bag. Another resources roll. I guess if you are rolling resources, you are buying and haggling does not come in to play? And if you are haggling, you are testing haggling and your resources might (or might not ?) give you a helping die? I don’t remember reading that resources could be a helping die though. Is it just one or the other?

So, should Xena and Acantha only have been able to do one of those things? Could Acantha have said she wanted to buy Christmas presents as her one thing and then still done it for 3 people? I know that doing multiple things in the player’s turn is the reason to have checks, but you don’t earn checks in winter session.

When playing a winter session, how long (in mouse time) does all this take, the first report, rest and recovery, practicing of skills, second report, reflection stories? And, sometimes the lines between roleplaying and table chatter seemed to blur. Especially when they were making a case for a trait. Is that the mouse making a case? Surely not, unless you are appealing to the GM as God to change your character. Or is it the player making a case to the other players on behalf of his character?

I was most pleased with Xena. She was a very frustrating character to play with last mouse year. She’s headstrong and egotistical and slightly rude. Her respect for authority is precarious, mostly because she doesn’t respect position so much as what you can prove to her. The trait she argued to have removed or changed was “Scarred”. She argued that she had learned a lot this last year about her past and present and was deciding to let go of the past. She made a good argument and gave great examples and while we were dubious, we decided to let her have it because she argued it well. However, as the GM I cautioned her that I would be watching this next year to see if she was indeed changed. If not, next winter session I would give it back as the result of a failed attempt at maturity. But, at the end of unfinished business, she made a visit to someone which surprised the rest of us, quite uncharacteristic of her. Maybe she has changed :).

Also, I took notes to help guide me for next year. Canyon is lonely. I need to see about getting him some friends. His sister is his penpal. I think he needs to visit his home. He is also attempting to be a better communicator. I need to give him more opportunities. Acantha specifically used Unfinished Business to speak to Gwendolyn and request leadership opportunities this next year. She is really shaping up and true to character. Xena obviously needs chances to prove she is maturing and not scarred by her past.

I asked my daughters to each choose one mouse to use, creating a patrol that will not change from mission to mission (unless more happen to join) and carry it through for a mouse year. I am considering playing 1 season per session so that they can rotate characters after 4 sessions. Maybe 2 sessions per season. Does anyone do that? Really many of their characters have become real to us :). In fact, some of their least favorite characters are some of my most favorite. And apparently, some of my NPC’s are some of their favorite characters (and I’ve already forgotten who they were! Yikes!

Any feedback on all of this would be welcome.

Also, a couple times it came up to wonder how to “practice” hunting or scouting skills if they aren’t going out on patrol. Ideas?