Preparing for a new campaign. This time, Mouse Guard.

Next Game Idea: Mouse Guard

You might have remembered many moons ago, I shared my character story for Paenkoi Kiirnodel, my Holy Paladin and Knight of the Spires. It was to be my first 5th Edition character I had created and played in another’s campaign. Normally I am the DM, so it was nice to be invited to another game.

Well, that character died. Three sessions in to be exact.

So then I created a new character, Talo Inkwells, a Halfling Wizard. However I never went through and created a back story for this character as I had less time to prepare. Now the campaign with Talo is about to wrap up as we are drawing near to the end of our goal. Our group has had a few discussions about what will happen next and I offered to run a campaign of Mouse Guard.

For anyone unfamiliar with this game, it was first released in 2008. A few years ago they released a revised 2nd Edition that cleans up some game mechanics. The game is based on the comic series with the same title created by David Petersen. The setting takes place in your typical medieval world, so don’t expect a high fantasy game if you want to give it a shot.

In Mouse Guard, you play, hey you guessed it, a Mouse that is in the Guard. The Guard are sworn to protect all mice and the territories they live in. The territories are made up of several mice ran cities. From trade ports, to metal working or farming communities, to science dominant towns looking to create new technologies. While the Guard isn’t the absolute power in the territories, that doesn’t change their mission to protect and aid all mice. The Guard was established to help allow all mice to prosper and live out the way they want, with each city acting as their own kingdom/nation. They each have their own governments, rules, trades, and laws.

One of the things I really enjoy about Mouse Guard is the character creation process. It is its own session where everyone gathers to discuss and create their characters. In the back of the book within the Recruitment Chapter, you’ll find a series of questions, a little over 20 individual choices. Now I like to take the lead as the Story Teller and go step by step with everyone. I present their question, allow them time to talk and answer any questions they might have. As you go through this process, you’ll acquire skills, connections, background ideas and your character will start to form organically.

A Mini Breakdown Of The Rules

The game itself is pretty simple. A typical game session takes place of a GM’s turn, where it’s the GMs job to beat the crap out of the players. They are assigned a mission or goal at the start of the session, and then they have to work toward achieving it. They’ll have to make Individual checks: (Rolls to defeat a target number, i.e. “I want to build a leaf boat with oars” “That will be an objective 3 to achieve”), Versus checks: where they are rolling against another player/npc/some other obstacle such as the weather), complex rolls (Multiple rolls to achieve something the GM feels requires more than a single roll. i.e. “I want to build a leaf boat with oars” / “Well it’s a pretty dry season, so I want you to make a scout roll to see if you can find the proper materials, a boat-crafting roll for the boat and then let’s go ahead and make a pathfinder roll to navigate down the stream”), and finally Conflicts.

Conflicts are used when a scene feels so important, it needs more than just a single roll to decide. During a conflict you’ll have at least two teams (typically the players vs the npc/obstacle such as nature itself) and you play over rounds attempting to lower the others Disposition Score (Basically a Health Score) Now Conflicts are probably one the hardest things for new players to get a grasp on, so I won’t go into too much detail here because I feel just reading about it doesn’t do Conflicts justice. But they are fun!

Now during any of those rolls mentioned above, players can succeed and they get to take control of the scene for a bit and describe how they achieved their task. Then there are the failed rolls. This is when the GM has to make a choice, they either say you failed at your task and introduces a Twist to the story. To use the example from the book, one of the characters was looking for a grain peddler mouse but failed their scout check. The GM says you don’t see the mouse, but you find his overturned grain cart, still full and the mouse is missing. Little do the players  know, the grain peddler has been devoured by a snake, who is still nearby.

The other option is the GM can allow the player to achieve their goal, but applies a condition to the player’s mouse. Again, taking an example from the book, “The player succeeds at locating the mouse, but unfortunately it took longer than expected and you are now hungry do to the extra time wasted.”

The game has five conditions and each one of them has a negative impact on your mouse.  But that’s okay, it helps to create the story. After the GM’s turn comes the Player’s turn, during which time they can do whatever they wish to accomplish, as long as they have the checks to achieve it. Every player receives one free check each Player’s Turn, and may earn more during the GM’s Turn through Roleplaying. These checks can be used to attempt to alleviate those conditions, find gear to help, find a certain npc. Pretty much anything the player can think of that they want to attempt to do, they can spend a check and try to accomplish it. It’s typically a very fun and interesting part of the game as you get to watch the players explore their characters.

Now I’m unsure if we’ll be recording the game session. I also am unsure if we’ll be playing at their place or mine. We’re still a few weeks away from ending our current D&D campaign, but that hasn’t stopped me from working on campaign ideas. So I wanted to take some time to share my love of Mouse Guard with others here on the web.

We’ll see what happens! Until then, may your rolls be high!

All images found above are borrowed from the Mouse Guard Comics and RPG Books.

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