Mouse Guard first time tips?

edited January 2012 in Story Games
I'm planning on FINALLY running Mouse Guard as my one-shot of the month (the first indie RPG I got into, the last I actually play). Any tips or lessons learned from other first-time experiences? I'm thinking of using Deliver the Mail with the pre-gen characters, and I do have the box, natch. At least one or two players have read the comic, and I'm going to circulate the first issue to everyone.
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  • It's always great to see more people playing Mouse Guard. It's a wonderful game!

    Here's an older thread with lots of Mouse Guard advice for the beginner.
  • Let us know how the game goes!

    It's pretty great right out of the box. I would suggest:

    - Keep GM turns short.

    - Aim to get 2 GM and 2 Player turns in 4 hours.

    - Don't worry about explaining Traits and earning checks in detail till you start playing. Often players don't get why checks are important till they've suffered conditions and played 1 GM and 1 Player turn.

    - People love the map. Put it in the middle of the table and show it off. If you have the comics, it can be fun to leave them on the table open to a particularly cool scene.

    - I like to tempt people to use their Traits against themselves. I see you want to work with this mouse who may say is untrustworthy and you have the Skeptical Trait, you know if you roleplay that out and subtract a single die, you get to earn checks!

    - Remember, helping each other is great, but if someone fails a roll and gain a Condition, the people who helped also gain a lesser Condition.

    - I like to deal out Conditions in the first GM turn (makes the GM turn shorter, gives players Conditions to work off in the Player Turn) and Twists in the second GM turn.

    - The conflict cards are great! Definitely use them. If players seem confused by the Conflict system, tell them it is like Rock Paper Scissors. At the start using Attack and Maneuver is pretty safe. Defend is great if you are hurt. Feint is the most risky maneuver (great when used successfully, disastrous if not). If they are nervous, tell them to hold on using Feint till they understand the game more.

    - Remember, you roll your Skill and can help yourself with 1 Wise, 1 Gear, and 1 Trait. You can't use your other Skills to help yourself and you can't use multiple Wises, Gear, or Traits. Each other player can only give you 1 Helping die each.

    - Helping can get out of hand if we get lazy with roleplaying. Helping doesn't equal free dice for no work. My general rule is if it takes you more than 10 seconds to think of how you can Help, you probably can't Help. And all Help must be roleplayed. Also don't forget, Help has consequences so sometimes not helping is ok.

    That all said, it's a great game. Let yourself make mistakes. Have fun!
  • edited January 2012
    Oh, and one thing to add: if I were running a one-shot, I think I'd de-emphasize Conflict. There's tons of goodness in MG without touching Conflict.

    Conflict takes awhile to explain and has a much different flavor than the rest of the game. In the rest of the game, you're hustling for opportunities to earn checks and to generate helper dice and figuring out how to push your mouse's personal agenda, but in Conflict, you're making tactical guesses that can have sudden, unforgiving and definitive outcomes.
  • If you hit them too hard with Conditions, the players drain their whole turn healing, not initiating stuff they find interesting. That can take away a lot of the fun of the game.

    Also what Johnzo said re less Conflict.
  • Thanks everyone! Super helpful (the older thread too).
    Posted By: jenskot
    - Keep GM turns short.

    - Aim to get 2 GM and 2 Player turns in 4 hours.
    This intrigues me - two full "rounds" would be a much better way to preview the system, for sure. But could you elaborate? Should I play the whole GM turn dictated in the pre-generated scenario and then improvise the second GM turn, or divide it up differently?
  • Maybe don't have a conflict in the first GM turn. Just have two challenges where the group tackles an obstacle (ideally one that's not too easy), and maybe a follow-up one if they fail. And then Player Turn! You should be able to do that in an hour or close to it.

    Then, in the second GM turn, have a full blown conflict of some kind. That's how I'd run it nowadays.
  • Any tips on when exactly to pause and begin the Players' turn? Like, is it okay to do it when they're in the middle of a mission, or is it better to let them hit a milestone of some kind?
  • edited January 2012
    Posted By: J. WaltonMaybe don't have a conflict in the first GM turn. Just have two challenges where the group tackles an obstacle (ideally one that's not too easy), and maybe a follow-up one if they fail. And then Player Turn! You should be able to do that in an hour or close to it.

    Then, in the second GM turn, have a full blown conflict of some kind. That's how I'd run it nowadays.
    +1 (and to what johnzo said)

    I would avoid conflict till they get the basic rolling down, how they can help themselves, and how they can help each other. Usually 1 GM turn is all it takes.

    Ultimately it depends on the players, their tastes, and experience. My friends who love the The Fury of Dracula boardgame were used to Rock Paper Scissor mechanics and they were comfortable starting with a conflict right away.

    I would reserve conflicts for situations where:

    1. Multiple players are involved.
    2. Both sides want something different.

    To elaborate on "want something different". "I kill you" vs. "no you don't" can work but it's more fun to have "I kill you" vs. "I show everyone watching how weak you are."
    Posted By: Ben RobbinsIf you hit them too hard with Conditions, the players drain their whole turn healing, not initiating stuff they find interesting. That can take away a lot of the fun of the game..
    +1

    Great point!

    You can probably load players up with the Hungry, Angry, and Tired conditions without too much trouble. They only give you a penalty in conflicts and they don't stack. So if 2 people are Angry in a conflict, only 1 Angry counts. Also if you have access to family, they can heal your Hungry and Tired conditions for free (no checks needed).
  • Posted By: FelanThanks everyone! Super helpful (the older thread too).

    Posted By: jenskot
    - Keep GM turns short.

    - Aim to get 2 GM and 2 Player turns in 4 hours.
    This intrigues me - two full "rounds" would be a much better way to preview the system, for sure. But could you elaborate? Should I play the whole GM turn dictated in the pre-generated scenario and then improvise the second GM turn, or divide it up differently?

    Page 288 for Deliver the Mail has a section on "Continuing the Adventure." You can also mine the suggested "Player Turn" section for ideas. And use failed rolls to create Twists that you need to deal with in the second GM Turn. Also follow closely what the players do on their turn. Player Turns are great for inspiring future GM Turns.

    Some players have difficulty with the Player Turn. They are used to the GM driving the plot or just don't have any ideas. It can be helpful to inspire them with examples. On the Player Turn you can:

    - Use Resources to buy things.
    - Use Circles to make friends or find mice.
    - Use Skills to build things.
    - Practice your Skills.
    - Go after your Enemies!
    - Your family can heal your Hungry or Tired conditions for free.
    - Your Friends and Senior Artisans can provide help and tools.
    - Your Mentor will only help in times of great danger.
    - Recover from conditions.

    Also remember, after the Player Turn, you have a chance to earn Fate and Persona points.

    Look at your Belief, Goal, and Instinct. Did you play them yet? If not, how can you use your Player Turn to play these so you can earn Fate and Persona points after the Player Turn is done.

    Also, give everyone a chance to rewrite their Belief and Instinct at the start of the game and after the first Player Turn.

    For new Goals, it helps to play out a very quick scene where you lay down the mission for the GM Turn, then create Goals.
  • Posted By: FelanAny tips on when exactly to pause and begin the Players' turn? Like, is it okay to do it when they're in the middle of a mission, or is it better to let them hit a milestone of some kind?
    I would suggest ending the GM Turn when:

    - 2 Obstacles have been overcome.
    - Obstacles are failed and they succeeded or failed at dealing with the Twists.
    - When the Players are somewhere they are safe and can rest.
    - 60-90 minutes of real time have passed.

    What I highly suggest not doing (especially for new players):

    - End the GM Turn where the players can't rest, build things, find other mice, pursue their personal interests.
    - Forcing players to spend their hard earned and rare checks to do GM Turn actions in the Player Turn.
    - Forcing players to spend checks in the Player Turn to get to safety.

    Sometimes (but in rare circumstances) the above can be ignored for drama. Time is running out... will you sacrifice your own interests to rush back to Lockhaven to save it from war or will you follow your heart and risk leaving Lockhaven to its fate? I suggest not doing this until you've played the game for a while.

    I would also play with time loosely in the Player Turn. Jump back and forward as is appropriate.

    Some players have a hard time understanding checks. Sometimes I will refer to them as "scenes" or "spotlight".
  • I just played a little Mouse Guard for the first time and I was flabbergasted about what I couldn't do as a player during the GM's turn. Get out in front of this by explaining ahead of time to the players that the game starts with a hurried mission and that they are only reacting during the GM's turn. They may make suggestions about other skills to roll during a challenge, but that is about it. They'll get their chance during the Player's turn.
  • This is great stuff, thanks again everyone. Playing next Thursday, will report back.
  • Posted By: FelanThis is great stuff, thanks again everyone. Playing next Thursday, will report back.
    Looking forward to it!
    Posted By: MathalusI just played a little Mouse Guard for the first time and I was flabbergasted about what I couldn't do as a player during the GM's turn. Get out in front of this by explaining ahead of time to the players that the game starts with a hurried mission and that they are only reacting during the GM's turn. They may make suggestions about other skills to roll during a challenge, but that is about it. They'll get their chance during the Player's turn.
    These are great points. Set expectations strongly and early. The GM Turn is "time is working against us" and "if we don't push forward now we will fail the mission". Under that pretense, it makes more sense that we don't have time to heal. Generally, a mark of a great mission is that "time is running out fast".
  • This is funny, I actually read through my copy of mouse guard last night and resolved never to play it. The system is very... whatever the opposite of elegant is. I've now resolved to give it a shot though before it ends up on ebay.
  • On the Player's Turn: My biggest objection to Mouse Guard, as written, is that the players don't get enough checks to spend on non-condition-healing things like following up threads and getting into trouble. I'm not exactly sure what to do about this, but giving everyone an extra check that they can't spend removing a condition would be a good start.

    Ross: Mouse Guard is the greatest semi-trad RPG of this generation, alongside Apocalypse World. I agree that some aspects of the way it's presented can be... just not as accessible as we might ideally want, but the game itself rocks in no uncertain terms. Play it with someone who loves it and you'll see! (The new GM play sheets lay it out in a more elegant fashion too! Look at how the turns are structured!)
  • Posted By: J. WaltonOn the Player's Turn: My biggest objection to Mouse Guard, as written, is that the players don't get enough checks to spend on non-condition-healing things like following up threads and getting into trouble. I'm not exactly sure what to do about this, but giving everyone an extra check that they can't spend removing a condition would be a good start.
    My strokes are different. :) I actually really like the scarcity of player turn checks because I really like games where limited resources force prioritization.

    When I played Mouse Guard my mouse would often be too busy chasing his own rainbows to bother getting un-angry or rested during the player turn. Showing up for the GM turn with bags under my mouse's eyes felt ... real. Sure, it made the other patrol mice grumpy, but this friction between selfishness and selflessness is the heart of Mouse Guard for me.
  • Posted By: Ross CowmanThis is funny, I actually read through my copy of mouse guard last night and resolved never to play it. The system is very... whatever the opposite of elegant is. I've now resolved to give it a shot though before it ends up on ebay.
    Although on my first read-through I was thrilled, I know what you mean - it seems pretty clunky on the surface. I'll let you know if this holds true once I play next week, but my general sense is that it's a system that has to be played to be appreciated (hence its surprisingly widespread popularity).
  • edited January 2012
    I know people keep telling me, "there's gold in them thar hills!" I'll try not to be a curmudgeon.
  • It's a "different learning styles" thing, maybe. Mouse Guard is, to me, the definition of elegance in game design and presentation. But I know several people for whom Luke's design/writing style is entirely opaque and frustrating. I don't get it, but I believe them. :)

    That said, RPGs are about play. You won't really know until you try it out.
  • edited January 2012
    Ross, it could also be that 1 person's gold is another person's copper piece!

    I have friends who LOVE Mouse Guard and I have friends who gave it a fair try and wouldn't go out of their way to play it again.

    I like it but it has a tight structure, tactical components, metagaming, a strong reward system, some fiddly parts, rewards longer term play, encourages failure (although failure never stops the game's forward momentum), and has rules that aren't easily ignored or faded into the background. That's going to turn off some people and that's totally cool. For other people, those details add up to an experience they love. Others not so much.
  • Posted By: John HarperIt's a "different learning styles" thing, maybe. Mouse Guard is, to me, the definition of elegance in game design and presentation.
    Me too. But I also generally run 1 GM and 1 player turn in a night, and I like to throw one or two conflicts in my session.
  • Cool, it is good to hear these things from people who love the game. I really would like to be there with you. Maybe. Someday.
  • The strictness of the GM Turn concept is the most elegant way I can imagine to drive home the "you are on a mission and goddammit you will complete it" element of the game. MG isn't a toolbox game like BW. It's about a group, tied together by duty, doing a job. And the interesting drama in the game arises from the tension between duty and responsibility. If there was no player turn the guards could all be mindless automatons. And then there would be no tension.

    Trying to play MG like a toolbox game will surely not work because that isn't what it's built for.
  • edited January 2012
    Posted By: jenskotI like it but it (..) encourages failure (although failure never stops the game's forward momentum)
    While I think the rules are awesome, I dislike talking about failed tests/failures. Let me explain.

    What failed tests actually are, more often than not, is a confrontation with reality where nothing ever is perfect. A successful test in Mouseguard generally means things go according to the plan and no external influences manifest to get in your way. If you think about it, is that common in real life? Not really. One of the eyeballing rules when estimating software project deadlines is: estimate the time reallistically, then multiply it by two because there will be unforeseen interference. In other words: SNAFU.

    Now, a rose by any other name does not smell as sweet. If you hear that your hero "fails" constantly, this doesn't feel very heroic. Conversely, when your hero "encounters opposition", that sounds better, doesn't it? Battling opposition is what heroes do all the time.

    I'm not sure what a better terminology would be for failure, just throwing this out there :)
  • Jane, thanks for throwing it out! That helped me conceptualize it and, I believe, sell it to my future players. I'm hoping to start a game soon.

    (I tried to say something constructive here, but I'm just awestruck by the simplicity of what it's about.)
  • Posted By: John HarperIt's a "different learning styles" thing, maybe. Mouse Guard is, to me, the definition of elegance in game design and presentation.
    I believe you too, John! For me, really lengthy explanatory texts like Mouse Guard and Apocalypse World can be fun to read, but I wish they were more accessible, because they can be really intimidating to approach and contain so many nuggets of brilliance and important things to remember that I wish there were better short summaries that succinctly presented the most important bits, because it can be hard to digest all at once. Apocalypse World does that nice thing by having memorably named principles and moves that are easy to reference and the new Mouse Guard GM sheets/screen are hugely helpful, but I feel like it would be useful to have short chapter summaries or some place where all the necessary bits were listed in a few pages. That would make it easier for folks like me to understand the big picture rather than trying to absorb it piece by piece, after heavy investment. Sometimes, you don't even know whether a game is "your thing" or not until you've invested many hours in attempting to understand it, and it would be nice to be able to jump right in and have some sense of what it's about and how it does those things.
  • Yeah, that's a great point, Jonathan.
  • Is this an issue that could be solved with some high quality, double-sided, player aids?
  • That's sort of what the character sheets are. But giving them an extra page of rules is more likely to distract than anything else. What I think would be more welcome would be a chart that shows how checks are earned during the GM turn and how that affects pacing in the Player turn. If it could somehow incorporate advancement, I think that would be much more useful for grasping the big picture of the rules and the benefits they give towards long-term play.
  • I think there's always room in the world for a well-rendered cheat sheet.
  • Posted By: Paul BI think there's always room in the world for a well-rendered cheat sheet.
    But will one solve the issue that Johns were talking about?
  • As a beginner, the one thing that I'd like is a list of specifically Mouse Guard-y rules in the vein of Apocalypse World. MG already has them named - "No weasels!" - but I'd like them in one place. Other than that, I find Luke's style extremely easy to follow.
  • What would also be useful in more meaty games such as MG is a process of learning by doing. Like in most digital games where you have tutorials, and new rules & mechanisms added step by step. For example, I read on Vincent's blog about the four layers of AW and immediately thought that the game could be introduced to new groups - in play - layer by layer. I also like Silver & White's tutorial, but I think it's less suitable to Mouse Guard.
  • Funny: Burning Wheel does just that. Some have called Mouse Guard "Burning Wheel Light" but it seems to be much less of an onion game than the more baroque sibling.
  • edited January 2012
    Okay! I played Mouse Guard tonight at last. We had a really good time, bumps and all. A big part of that is the people I play with - my group kicks ass, even when confronted with an unfamiliar system.

    Spent the first hour or so running through the character sheet and the rules bit by bit (except for the conflict rules). It seems daunting at first but once you've they had it all laid out I think it was beginning to make sense. I talked them through Gwendolyn assigning the mission and the first two cities on the mail route pretty quickly, and then threw in the Pathfinder test. The impetuous tenderpaw took the lead to impress his mentor and (naturally) failed - they're forced to shelter in a hollowed-out stump, and a raven swoops in to steal the mailbag! (I tried to avoid having a conflict in the first GM turn, but I couldn't really see a way around it). The rest of the session was spent fighting the raven, and I can see how much fun the conflict system can be (I would love to play a large scale military conflict). The patrol divided into two teams of two, one with the goal of distracting and scaring off the Raven, and one with the goal of retrieving the mailbag. Team Mailbag took a medium compromise, retrieving half of the mail and sitting out the rest of the conflict while Team Distraction took the raven down to zero disposition and retrieved the rest of the mail - they also ended up with a medium compromise, and so I said they ended up angry (the tenderfoot was trying but failing to impress, the mentor was disappointed). We were running out of time, so rather than pressing on to the next down, I decided to give them a player turn in the hollowed out log, so they spent their checks trying (and failing) to get less angry, trying (and failing) to fashion a new, more durable mailbag, trying (and succeeding!) at carving a wooden flute, and accurately predicting the weather. Then we did the rewards (a bit pointless for a one-shot, but I wanted to see how it went) and called it a night.

    I would love, love, love to play a longer campaign after this experience, and I think the players were intrigued too - maybe somewhere down the line, or just as an occasional thing. One thing that I noticed (and sort of discerned from the rules) is that it really demands and encourages a LOT of flavour and colour on the part of the GM and players, otherwise it just becomes a series of tests. This isn't a bad thing really, but you need to keep in mind that unlike other games, where you present some flavour and then the players react, as a GM you really need to narrate extended sequences in between tests, presumably with help from the players (for example, describing the uneventful journey delivering mail to the first two towns). But it's not going to be, "Okay, you're in Sprucetuck, WHAT DO YOU DO?" in the D&D sense, it's more, "Okay, as you're distributing the mail in Sprucetuck, do you say hello to anyone in passing?" or something along those lines (because, after all, they're mice on a mission with no time to spare). The map and the mouse tokens from the boxed set, as well as the artwork on all the game materials, help with this a lot.

    I have a few questions about rules we didn't quite grok that I'll be looking up, but I'll post 'em here too in case any other first-time players are interested:

    - Do helpers mark down a pass or fail? If I help a Pathfinder test with my Scout skill and it succeeds, to I mark a pass for Scout?
    - Can you help with the same skill? Can I help a Pathfinder test with my Pathfinder skill, or does it have to be something different?
    - Can you use Instructor to help the person you're instructing do something? If my tenderfoot is fighting a raven, can I use Instruct to help by calling out advice?
    - When a team's disposition is reduced to zero but the other team keeps on fighting, can they give helper dice to the other team? And if they can, do they do so as a team or individually?
    - I think I may have screwed up the outcome for Team Distraction. Team Mailbag partially achieved their goal of retrieving the mail - but once they're out of the fight, Team Distraction doesn't get a new goal, so when they win the fight their compromise should only concern their original goal of "distract or scare away the raven." So, I don't think I should have let them take back the rest of the mail in their compromise, since that wasn't stated on their original goal. Or is that okay in this situation? It just seems weird that once one team is out of the fight, the other team's goal might be rendered moot.
    - We were a bit confused by the "Charge a trait" thing. First, can you charge a trait from 1 to 2 if it's been exhausted? Second, how long does the "charge" last? It says "until the end of the session," but that doesn't seem to make sense if the players' turn is often going to be at the end of the session.
  • Thanks for the write up!
    - Do helpers mark down a pass or fail? If I help a Pathfinder test with my Scout skill and it succeeds, to I mark a pass for Scout?
    Helpers do not mark a pass or fail. But they do suffer a lesser Condition if the test is failed and Conditions are awarded.
    - Can you help with the same skill? Can I help a Pathfinder test with my Pathfinder skill, or does it have to be something different?
    It may depend on the situation but generally yes. The skill chapter I believe (don't have the book in front of me) lists some example skills you can also help with.
    - Can you use Instructor to help the person you're instructing do something? If my tenderfoot is fighting a raven, can I use Instruct to help by calling out advice?
    I don't believe so, although that sounds like a cool scene. You could describe a regular Instructor skill test as the tenderpaw learning to fight an animal.
    - When a team's disposition is reduced to zero but the other team keeps on fighting, can they give helper dice to the other team? And if they can, do they do so as a team or individually?
    That's a good question. It first would depend on the situation. In the story, is the other team in a position to help? My guess would be that they no longer count as a team (especially if the teams had separate goals and objectives) and the normal helping rules apply if the situation in the story makes sense. But I could be very wrong here. I would suggest asking on the Mouse Guard forums: http://www.burningwheel.org/forum/forumdisplay.php?41-Mouse-Guard-RPG
    - I think I may have screwed up the outcome for Team Distraction. Team Mailbag partially achieved their goal of retrieving the mail - but once they're out of the fight, Team Distraction doesn't get a new goal, so when they win the fight their compromise should only concern their original goal of "distract or scare away the raven." So, I don't think I should have let them take back the rest of the mail in their compromise, since that wasn't stated on their original goal. Or is that okay in this situation? It just seems weird that once one team is out of the fight, the other team's goal might be rendered moot.
    I'm a little unclear on the situation (probably my fault as I'm running around and can't spent too much focusing on this thread at the moment. I would say in general, when you have 2 simultaneous teams, their goals should be distinct so that the success and failure of each team is independent. A lot is also going to depend on the story specifics.
    - We were a bit confused by the "Charge a trait" thing. First, can you charge a trait from 1 to 2 if it's been exhausted? Second, how long does the "charge" last? It says "until the end of the session," but that doesn't seem to make sense if the players' turn is often going to be at the end of the session.
    I would rule, but could be wrong, that you can't charge an exhausted Trait. Mainly because there is a different check cost for re-using exhausted Traits. End of the session probably means end of the GM and Player Turn. But the book might say otherwise.
  • Felan,

    Looks like you had a great time! I think John covered most of your questions. The only thing I would add is that I wouldn't have allowed the second team to get back the stolen mail. Instead, that's a perfect choice to hand over to the players in a Player's Turn: they can focus on recovering from their conditions, or they can spend one of their precious checks to go back out in an attempt to recover the stolen mail.
  • edited January 2012
    Awesome! Sounds like fun. One question that I didn't see addressed. When they failed When making a new mailbag did you give them a condition or a Twist?
  • Thanks for your answers, John! Very helpful. I'll bring some of the more difficult ones over the MG forums.

    Thor: I think you're right in saying that I shouldn't have allowed Team Distraction to retrieve any of the mail, but it makes the rest of the combat seem unnecessary - the patrol's overall goal is to retrieve the mail, so if that goal is no longer possible, why is the other team still fighting the raven? Shouldn't they just run away before risking any more losses (which isn't an option so far as I can see in Mouse Guard, once you're in a conflict, you're in for the duration)? I suppose their continued fight could be rationalized within the fiction as the raven continuing to harass the patrol, and the remaining team needing to scare it off before it does any more damage.

    Noclue: I flubbed that one a bit too, but not as badly. The mouse who was weaving the new mailbag was already angry, so I gave him a choice, Dungeon World style: either he fails to complete the bag completely, or he stays up all night to finish the bag and ends up tired. The player chose complete failure, which meant that there was neither a twist nor a condition due to the failure. What I should have done is just told him that he stayed up all night to finish the bag, and imposed the Tired condition. (Alternatively, I could have used a weather twist and said he fails to make the bag because it starts to rain.) Hard moves!
  • Hi Felan,

    I think the conceptual problem you're having is probably due the one mouse team not quite having its own goal. The text probably could have been slightly clearer on this issue.

    I'm assuming the Raven's goal was "Steal the mailbag!" One of the mice teams had a perfectly valid goal: "Distract and drive off the raven." The other team's goal was the somewhat problematic one because it was the direct inverse of the raven's goal: "Retrieve the mailbag."

    When you engage with the conflict system, you are by default assumed to be in opposition to your opponent's goal. So the first team's goal could actually have been written as so: "Stop the raven from stealing the mailbag AND distract and drive off the raven."

    In effect, the second team didn't have its own goal. It simply wanted to oppose the raven's goal. In such a case, I would encourage the second team to come up with its own goal--injure the raven, trap it, track it to its nest, etc. If they simply couldn't think of a second goal, I'd encourage them to form a single team with the first team instead.

    Incidentally, I don't know how well we got this across in the text, but ravens are HUGE. Up to a five foot wing span and 4.5 lbs. And they prey on rodents in addition to their scavenging activities.
  • Hmm, that does make sense actually. Each side has a general goal, and then additionally each team has a sub-goal (similar to how the Patrol has a mission, and each mouse has a personal goal within that mission). A goal for Team Mailbag could have been "Climb up the raven's body and onto its head to grab the mailbag," which is what the ended up doing anyway.

    And yeah, we definitely factored in the dragon-esque scale of the raven, and its potential deadliness to mice - luckily, as written in the Deliver the Mail sample mission, the raven is really just messing around with the bag and not currently interested in eating mice.
  • edited January 2012
    I agree that driving off the raven with half the mail was probably your best play. And, I agree you should have just told him how tired he was and given him the bag.

    But all and all, a great first run. Better than my first attempt, which was okay, but full of floundering and trying to remember rules.
  • I re-posted some of the more finicky questions on the MG forums, and Luke actually said that letting Team Distraction retrieve some mail (but perhaps not all) as part of their compromise is fine, which suggests that anything is fair game in a compromise (even if it isn't related to the goals) as long as the players and GM agree to it. So I guess it's going to vary depending on the specific situation - now that I think about it, I think I told them that they retrieved all the remaining mail except for one letter, which probably isn't too much of a rules flub after all.

    He also said that a team loses its conflict cannot help any teams that are still in the fight, and that "charged" traits only last until the end of the current session.
  • I'm having trouble with challenging beliefs. For the most part I think I could do it, but there are some in the character templates at the end of the book that make me go, huh? How do I challenge that?

    Like:
    I am superior to all other mice in the territories. I don't know, give them the opportunity to enter an archery contest or duel?
    I must embody the true ideals of the Guard. I don't know - some kind of temptation away from the Guard? What could possibly tempt someone?
    One day I’ll be done with this, but for now, once more into the fray. "Wouldn't you rather just retire and go to bed?" I don't know.
  • Jamie--

    Look at all the other stuff on the mouse's character sheet and try to create a situation where that element is orthogonal to the Belief. If you can't find an Instinct, Goal or Trait, then use an NPC.

    For instance, to challenge the "embody the true ideals of the Guard" belief, you could create a situation where the guardmouse's impoverished dad is mortally sick. Coincidentally (!) the patrol is escorting a rich merchant from Elmoss and his medicine caravan. Show that there is ample opportunity for the guardmouse to steal the medicine. If you want to really wag it in their whiskers, then say they don't even have to make a test to steal the medicine!
    One day I’ll be done with this, but for now, once more into the fray. "Wouldn't you rather just retire and go to bed?" I don't know.
    Maybe you could social engineer the other PC guard mice to put some pressure on this goal? Maybe Gwendolyn starts giving the patrol cheesy milk-run missions because she doesn't want to tax the old guardmouse. Anyone who is hungry for honor and glory will resent this. It does kind of shackle the patrol's story to the story of the retiring guardmouse, but maybe that's not a big deal.
  • I ran it tonight.

    It might be the most complicated game I've ever run ... I know it's the most complicated thing I've played since Pathfinder.

    I was hoping to avoid conflict but somehow ended up with 3 - also did the mail run, and managed to nerf the raven conflict into just an obstacle - ("He's trying to get your mail bag, what do you do?") - but when I got to the guy convincing them to go past the scent border I was like, "Crap, this is an argument, I wanted to stay away from this," and one of my players was like, "Well, you gotta do it now, let's go." So we puzzled our way through.

    Then in the player turn it actually got pretty awesome. I reminded them about the checks plenty, so they each had the free one and an earned one, and the tenderpaw went to convince his enemy NPC, recently promoted to guardmouse, to go get the carpenter's wedding present. So I turned it back on him "Okay, but he's trying to convince *you* that you should be the one who goes." - and they ended up knocking each other's disposition to 0 simultaneously. So they're both going together! Awesome!

    (Is that the way Arguments really work, by the way? If you lose an Argument are you honor-bound to role-play it?)

    So then the patrol leader had to convince them not to go, and yet a third argument ensued. The patrol leader had adage-wise, so he made up this adage for the extra die: "When you face a cat to save your family, you're labeled a hero. When you face a cat to get some cheese, you're labeled a fool." He won handily, and that ended the player turn, so they all got a beer together.


    Conflicts ... are weird. Seems like it's not much of an advantage to be on a team - you can add ~1/2 a point to your team's disposition? And a helper die each action? Is that it?
    Is the reason you team up simply because the rules require it?

    We didn't use the advancement rules. (One of our players nearly got an aneurysm from the burning wheel advancement rules, so he didn't want to touch these.) I gather that means you don't advance at all? Or is there another rules-lite way to advance? (Pick a skill at the end of the mission and advance it or something like that?)
  • You can do arguments with versus tests, not just with the conflict system.

    I don't think both of them going was the only compromise option, but you are bound to whatever compromise you negotiate.

    Why did the patrol leader not just participate in the first argument? If there are fictional reasons (he wasn't there) that's fine, but it feels weird to do two conflicts back to back about the same thing.

    You team up mostly because that's the rules, but a couple extra dice to most rolls? That's pretty awesome. Also, maybe I have high Nature, but you have high Fighter. I can Defend, and you can Attack.

    Advancement is 100 times easier in Mouse Guard than in Burning Wheel. Just check off if you pass or fail a test. You need passes = skill rank, and failures = skill rank - 1. It's even all right on the bottom of the sheet there.
  • Yeah, I think judicious use of conflict is probably the key to success. Simple/vs tests are good most of the time.
  • Posted By: timonkeyYou can do arguments with versus tests, not just with the conflict system.

    I don't think both of them going was the only compromise option, but you are bound to whatever compromise you negotiate.

    Why did the patrol leader not just participate in the first argument? If there are fictional reasons (he wasn't there) that's fine, but it feels weird to do two conflicts back to back about the same thing.

    You team up mostly because that's the rules, but a couple extra dice to most rolls? That's pretty awesome. Also, maybe I have high Nature, but you have high Fighter. I can Defend, and you can Attack.

    Advancement is 100 times easier in Mouse Guard than in Burning Wheel. Just check off if you pass or fail a test. You need passes = skill rank, and failures = skill rank - 1. It's even all right on the bottom of the sheet there.
    Cool on the argument thing - that would have sped things up. Is it dirty pool for me to have a persuasive NPC initiate a persuade vs. test on a PC? I could use some stronger guidelines on 'when to use conflict' and 'when to use a vs test'

    It wasn't a compromise - they both knocked each other's disposition to 0 on the same frame. According to the rules, they both get their goals. (Which was awesome - and wouldn't have happened with a simple vs test.)

    Yeah, the patrol leader wasn't there in the fiction. (He was recovering from sick.)

    Good to know about the advancement, maybe we'll try it the next time.
  • Posted By: jdfristrom
    Cool on the argument thing - that would have sped things up. Is it dirty pool for me to have a persuasive NPC initiate a persuade vs. test on a PC? I could use some stronger guidelines on 'when to use conflict' and 'when to use a vs test'
    I think you use conflict when:
    1) You want to engage more "game"
    2) It's really important to player(s)' BIGs
    3) You want to be able to compromise

    (1) is really just about preference, and how much you like trying to outsmart the other guy, possibly to a better outcome than your numbers alone can afford
    (2) can go either way too. You use it to make a scene longer and more important. You can also do that by simply roleplaying more, but the mechanics enforce it a bit.
    (3) is the biggest difference in terms of the fiction I think. If you have a versus test, then there are only two "failure" outcomes: success with a condition, and a twist. You can get a lot more nuance and surprising results out of compromises in conflicts.

    This is where I'm a little less clear. If Martin is trying to convince you to go past the scent border to get his chair, is having him convince you a valid Twist? It doesn't feel right, since that seems like straight-up failure (although not a stop-the-action failure).
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