First, I’d say to the player, “So what? What’s that got to do with you, with your service in the Guard, and your relationships?”
Beliefs are the statements of personal moral definition which should be indicative of the mouse’s attitudes, interests, and core values. In fact, the Belief statement is improved when they include a statement about the self, rather than a statement about others or about a thing. (Experiments and Knowledge are things)
Instincts are the mannerisms, reactions, and habits that protect, assist, and support which should indicate a mouse’s experiences, successes, and failures. In fact, the Instinct statement is best when players and GM can cause the trigger such that everyone is involved and helping to play the Instincts–no one gets points for playing against, and no one gets points for simply having an interesting (unused) instinct.
Goals are the statements of short-ish-term objectives to fulfill Guard duties/missions or personal objectives and desires.
But, you already know all of that from the book.
What’s this got to do with you?!
A mouse with Scientist as a trained skill may well understand the impressive value of both observational and experimental research–in fact observational research frequently is easier, more accurate, and more easily repeated with accuracy. It is possibly more valuable to gather observational research notes than to generate a hypothesis, design an experiment with a variable and control group, and properly conduct the experiment for results as well as repeat-ability. Therein may lie some challenges to the B: can you develop a hypothesis, design an experiment, conduct an experiment, and perform analysis of results before having peer review, and can peer reviewers reproduce the results of the experiment with similar analysis? Those are pretty huge things.
Perhaps an improved way to connect the B to self is not a statement of scientific objective, but instead that of personal knowledge and wisdom, “Knowledge is gained with research, but wisdom is obtained in expertise,” “Knowledge of a matter is lesser than wisdom over the affair,” “What is known has little meaning without wisdom to know the right choice.”
What’s this got to do with Guard service?!
A Guard member who would prefer to be conducting experiments and making discoveries seems an impressive addition; however, many of the duties require less of observation, note-taking, and analysis in light of the action needed to overcome the forces of wilderness and weather and settle the forces of mice and animals. The hazards of mice life requires the willing heart and an attentive mind. Those Guard members distracted by science are probably far less suited to the service than those with alert vigilance and active diligence. Therein may lie some challenges to the B: can you set aside the notebook to take action, ignore the potential experiment to solve problems, place emphasis on empathy instead of mere observations, develop understanding before seeking knowledge? Those are pretty meaningful things.
Perhaps an improved way to connect the B to service and duty is not a statement of detached scientific observation, but instead that of empathy and problem solving, “Knowing what to do is far better than knowing what is true,” “Shared emotions bind mice more than shared books,” “A nose in a book is a terrible waste of good insights,” “Best efforts to solve a problem will be more welcome than a list of solutions.”
What’s this got to do with relationships?!
A mouse’s relationships (hopefully) are present in the sessions frequently and mostly due to problems they face which the Guard should support or resolve. This is one of the best ways to ensure the player’s stay engaged on their own story. A GM does well when the relationships abuse the BIGs by interfering, interrupting, and being irresponsible. Relationships who are in need of Guard intervention will bring the PC mice into center-stage and ask of them many of the challenging topics of BIGs. This is especially a good place to inject NPC mice with wholly opposing BIGs and engaging players to respond or interact. Therein may lie some challenges to the B: are parents in need of new scientific knowledge rather than love, will an artisan be served by new methods or helping hands, can a mentor be refuted with knowledge or respected by discipleship, should friends and enemies contradict the scientific aims or enable them, have friends and enemies seen knowledge as power or as too much power? These are confrontational things.
Perhaps an improved way to connect the B to relationships is not a statement of passionate scientific pursuits, but instead that of tradition and honor, “The old ways are improved one step at a time,” “Those who’ve gone before may be more wise than I know,” “Those whom I know are worth more than that which I know,” “Responsibility and authority are only supported with good knowledge,” “Ill-gotten power is best refuted with good relationships,” “The best form of success is knowing good mice rather than mice knowing good things.”
Building a Belief:
While generating PC BIGs, I’d suggest that your first clue about this is that it wasn’t immediately apparent how to provide a challenge–that’s a red flag to take immediate action as GM. The team should have Beliefs which are apparent to each other and the GM how this is subject to challenge. The Belief statement should clearly be connected to self, related to duties, and supportive of relationships.
It is fine for an NPC mouse to be consumed with scientific research via experimental activities; also worthy is an NPC mouse so consumed with the pursuit of knowledge via scientific research they are lacking in wisdom. Further, an NPC mouse irresponsibly placing others at great risk while conducting poorly designed experiments is a good foil for PC mice who value both scientific truths as well as public safety.
Be firm that the player shoulders the burden of writing a Belief which is fitting for the game and campaign theme(s). Use the text of the rules to emphasize the pattern for writing BIGs.
If this Belief about experiments and knowledge cannot be rewritten to connect to self, relate to duties, and support relationships, the best choice will be to set aside that Belief concept until future. There will be chances to built toward an organic Belief statement developed over a few sessions of play.
I’d like to offer an example from the rules text: Sadie’s Belief - A guardmouse must be able to think with her head and act with her heart. Clearly, the self is connected–she states this is about a guardmouse (I write Guard member) which is not referring to rank but to Guard service member; Sadie is a Guard, so this is connected with self. The statement is closely related to duties and service; those who ask for support will need fast thinking or open courage. She says to live wholehearted and mindful in her Belief. In addition, the relationships are immediately supported by a mouse who can think objectively as well as act empathetically. The wholehearted and mindful mouse is a support to not just close relationships, but also to those who are brought into the story as relationships to other PC mice. For many players and GMs the challenges to this Belief come into bloom with ease and a GM can include these challenges in every session with ease.