[Mouse Guard] The Player's Turn

edited March 2013 in Play Advice
Morning Brain Trust!

I've been running MG, and I've noticed that the player's turn (in which the player's 'drive' - according to the rulebook) actually is more work for me as a GM - mainly because I cannot prepare for what the player's decide to do.

Sometimes I feel tongue tied and I'm frantically flicking through the rules as I try to wing through something I simply hadn't envisioned the players doing.

Is there any way to minimise this mayhem? Or do I suck it up as it's part of the deal?

Also, are other games, such as AW, like this? I don't mind winging it, but it's out of my comfort zone when I just want to have a laugh and relax with my mates.

Cheers lads and lasses.

Alan.

Comments

  • edited March 2013
    The rules pretty well cover the things that the players choose to do. You've got to pay attention to when there is an obstacle in the way of the players, if one wants to visit their wife in Barkstone and they aren't there you are fine to ask for a roll to get there or choose not to. I don't believe there would be more flicking through the rules than looking up the factors of the skills the players spend their checks on. Keep the book open on that chapter perhaps.

    I was playing Mouse Guard at a convention at the weekend and someone at the table described the game as being much more traditional than the games she regularly played. This surprised me as I've always thought that Mouse Guard is a textbook example of an indie game with rules that demonstrate a particular play experience. But really the game is pretty strong on the GM setting the direction during his turn.

    When it is the players turn you've got to react to those things. Yeah, it might take you out of that comfort zone but you've got to let the game take responsibility for what happens then, it's not on you.

    To compare it to the Apocalypse World games it's almost like it has a similar GM's turn and Player's turn dynamic. It's the GM's turn whenever the players fail a roll, present a golden opportunity or look to the GM and it's the Player's turn whenever the GM asks "What do you do?".

  • Remember that stats are pretty easy to pull on the fly: you have varying challenge levels for the Obs. Think about what they want to achieve, and think about how they're going to achieve it. If something could go wrong, have them roll a skill.

    Also, ask questions. Ask lots of questions. Players should love providing detail about these things which matter to their characters, and that takes a bit of a load off of you.
  • edited March 2013
    If you don't like improvisation, you can either learn it, or you can cheat.

    First, there's a tool that was designed to be an 'auto-GM' (so much so that it can be used for solo RPG play): Mythic GM Emulator (available on dtrpg). I'd recommend the whole book; but if you find the Yes/No table to be too involved, there's a smaller version using Fate dice: http://www.story-games.com/forums/discussion/17857/fate-core-gm-emulator/p1 and an even shorter here: http://tinysolitarysoldiers.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/solo-rpg.html
    For each question, roll a d6 and read the following result (If your Hero has a significant advantage, roll a second d6 along with it and choose the result. If a significant disadvantage, roll the second D6 but take the worst result for the hero):

    1-No and
    2-No
    3-No But
    4-Yes But
    5- Yes
    6-Yes And
    Here's a nice example of generating stuff with Mythic GM:
    http://black-vulmea.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/random-encounters-mythic-role-playing.html (with some more examples at the same blog).

    He's also got examples of using Rory's Story Cubes, which you can get as either actual dice or a phone app, and which are nice for generating new ideas:
    http://black-vulmea.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/random-encounters-rorys-story-cubes.html

    Also iirc the magical universal Obstacle for Mouseguard is 3; if you don't know how hard something is, just say Ob 3 and it should be enough of a random challenge. (I may be mixing it up with Burning Wheel though, because I'm more familiar with it, so can someone double check?)
  • edited March 2013
    If you don't like improvisation, you can either learn it, or you can cheat.
    Absolutely. Making up random tables is your friend. Even something as simple as having complications tables for different possible spheres of action (for instance, "Circles Complications", "Wilderness Complications", "Trade Complications") can help you think up ideas. Just roll, and that gives you an idea of what might go wrong--and therefore, what skill they can use to avoid it.
    Also iirc the magical universal Obstacle for Mouseguard is 3; if you don't know how hard something is, just say Ob 3 and it should be enough of a random challenge. (I may be mixing it up with Burning Wheel though, because I'm more familiar with it, so can someone double check?)
    I think this is just BW.
  • The magical Ob 3 is Burning Wheel - but I tend to use it for Mouse Guard as well. Thing is, the player's turn is hard at a one-shot, or at a convention (as TotallyGuy will know, as I ran a pretty flat Player's Turn for him last Conpulsion...) ... but it really sings after a couple of sessions.

    My current trick for the Player's Turn for cons is to play hard to make sure the player's are pretty hosed by conditions by the time the GM's Turn finishes, and/or make them all feel like they've something to prove - which makes them grab the Player's Turn off me. It also helps to encourage them to whore around for checks by screwing themselves over, so they have plenty to make up but lots of chances to do it.

    And MG is super-easy to wing - I personally think Story Cubes or Mythic over-complicate it. All you have to do is say yes or call for a check, Set an obstacle (could easily just be 3) and then introduce a Twist if they fail - have one for each of Weather, Wilderness, Mice, Animals and you're golden.

    Player's Turn is hard when they just look at each other and don't do anything, in my experience. And I totally dig the comparison with *W games.
  • Thanks for your responses! :-)

    Having analysed what you've said and my previous GM-ing sessions, I've decided to overhaul the way I GM - gone are the masses of prep and "in" is two sides of A4 paper covered in scribbled notes (so maybe the word I use should be 'underhaul').

    It will be more 'winging it' than normal during the GM's turn, therefore (according to my theory) making the transition from GM's turn to player's turn less of a jolt for me.

    I am taking Millsy's recommendation to hose the patrol in order for them to want 'revenge' in the player's turn.

    I am also modifying CarpeGuitarrem's recommendation to have random complications tables. The modification will be to remove the word 'random'; I feel it will be random enough as it is with these players as they won't want for things to do. Also, I have a few complications in mind that will help flesh out the overall story arc.

    We're playing tonight, I'll let you know how it goes.

    Thanks again.

    Alan.
  • Good luck!! Let us know how it goes--going more improv can be scary, but rewarding.
  • End the players turn with the Mice having to choose between dealing with their conditions and that thing they really, really want to do.
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