Actual Play: Mouse Guard
This is the first session of Mouse Guard in solo play. The Mouse Guard comics were written by David Petersen, the game mechanics were created by Luke Crane. It is a Burning Wheel game adapted to the setting, the rules are not the same but similar.
Taryn, female young tenderpaw
- has never fit in her hometown, loner type, wallflower
- wants to find her place, wants to belong, thus joining the Mouse Guard
- fighter 4, hunter 3, survivalist 2, loremouse 2, armorer 4, deceiver 2, predator-wise 1
- inquisitive 1, tough 1, natural bearings 1
- Belief: In the end, it’s everymouse for herself.
- Instinct: When in doubt, take aggressive action.
- Goal: I want to impress Eliv.
Eliv, male patrol guard
- kind leader, experienced member of the Mouse Guard
- heroic feat: once defended a breach in the scent border for days
- fighter 3, healer 5, instructor 3, weather watcher 3, harvester 3, persuader 2, medicine-wise 3
- Belief: A fight is a lost conflict.
- Instinct: Always search for herbs.
- Goal: I want to deliver the mail without losing any letters.
season: spring (6)
weather: unseasonably cold - weather conditions for winter (7) apply Gwendolyn’s instructions: “Travel to Copperwood and deliver this bag of mail. Don’t lose any of them if possible.”
Taryn and Eliv are handed a big knapsack full of mail. As Taryn is the sturdier of the two it’s decided that she’ll carry the bag. Additionally, the mice equip themselves with snow gear - just in case… Then they begin their trip to Copperwood.
random mission obstacle: weather
Is it snowing?
Yes. Because of the snow it is difficult to find the route to Copperwood. Eliv tries to find the right path using Taryn’s cues on how the wildlife has traveled through (Pathfinder test). However, the two mice get lost. While Eliv clears a path he suddenly realizes that his bag of medical herbs is missing.
“Shoot! Have you seen my bag, Taryn?”
Taryn doesn’t find the bag but she spots trails that weren’t there before (Scout test). “These look like chipmunk. We should check this!” They find a tunnel in a nearby tree. Both mice take off their snow shoes, unsheathe their weapons and enter the tunnel.
Is the chipmunk alone?
Yes but.. it seems angry that the mice have invaded its territory and chatters furiously. It clutches the medicine bag in its paws.
“Hey, I know something about chipmunks. I’ll try to talk to him.” Using spech and paws Taryn makes up a wild story about how the bag belongs to some monstrous critter and if the chipmunks doesn’t give it back, baaaad things will happen. However, the chipmunk is not convinced. “Ah screw this!” Taryn attacks the chipmunk.
Can Eliv stop Taryn before she strikes the chipmunk?
Yes and… he can do so without harming the tenderpaw. “You dishonor the Mouse Guard by fighting with this creature!” - “You’re wrong. He has stolen your bag and won’t give it back!”
(Both PCs roll a Persuader vs. Persuader test.) Eliv says: “Yes, he has taken the bag but you didn’t tell the truth. And we shouldn’t use force if someone doesn’t agree with us. Let’s go!” Grudgingly, Taryn follows, throwing the chipmunk an angry look.
random mission obstacle: wilderness
The snow stops falling but the mice still have to wade through the thick snow. Suddenly they hear a loud crashing sound.
“What was that?” Eliv asks suspiciously. The thundering sound comes nearer. “Oh no, I think the dam broke!” (There’s a dam between Lockhaven and Copperwood which was made by some beavers several years ago.)
Can they find shelter before the water crashes into them? (Scout test)
Taryn has spotted a hole up in a tree to which they flee. While climbing into the tree she slips and injures her right leg. Without his medicine bag all Eliv can do for her is to make a crude bandage. He claps her on her shoulder. “Don’t worry, you will do fine. As soon as we arrive in Copperwood I can treat you properly.”
Outside they hear the wave of water crashing into the trees.
Is the water retreating?
No. Eliv wants to build a make-shift float and then navigate the stream. The tree’s branches provide enough wood. Eliv takes his time to craft the float to make it as stable as possible. Finally, he carries his masterpiece down the tree (Taryn is of no big help here because she is injured). The they set sail, so to speak.
They manage to cross the waterway although it’s a close call. The float almost overturned.
Are they able to reach Copperwood without further incidents?
random mission obstacle: mice
Are there mice in danger?
No but… the PCs are in danger of a group of mice.
The snow has finally melted after several days of travel. It’s still
very cold though. Taryn and Eliv march on a muddy trail on a meadow.
Copperwood is not far away. Eliv is on the look-out for medical herbs
but the weather is still too frosty.
Both hear a rustling sound and then some mice emerge from the tall grass on the side of the trail. They wear worn-out capes. Two have shovels and pitchforks, two have swords.
One mice steps forward. He looks battered and is missing his left eye.
He sneers. “Guard mice. Just my luck. Well, ladies, would you be so kind and give us all your belongings.”
“My my, what a friendly welcome…” Eliv says when Taryn begins to unsheathe her weapons and to prepare for attacking.
The bandit leader looks at them and shouts: “Fine, we can talk that way, too!”
Conflict: The guard mice manage to disarm the bandits but at a high
cost. They were outnumbered and fighting has taken it’s toll.
“We will bring you to Copperwood to stand trial, bandits.”
Are they able to bring in all of the bandits?
Taryn and Eliv finally arrive at Copperwood. The town’s citizen are pleasantly surprised when they see the captives. This particular group of bandits has harassed Copperwood for some time. The governor has sent a message to Lockhaven some days ago and is happy to see that help has arrived earlier than anticipated.
The winter was harsh and the unseasonably cold weather this spring had made life hard for the mouse population. The mail the two mice bring is a welcomed gift.
The population is so grateful for the heroic deeds of the two PCs that they throw a party and offer the PCs and a bed for the night. (PCs may erase the Angry and Tired condition on their character sheet.)
Taryn rests and tries to recover from her injury. Unfortunately, it seems that the wound on her leg has festered. It still hurts and she decides that getting help from a healer is necessary.
Eliv decides to buy new medical supplies. He wanders around town looking for a merchant who has what he needs. Because he is medicine-wise he knows exactly what he wants and how much it is worth. He leaves the shop with a new bag of medical herbs and some gauze.
End of Session
Playing an Instinct: 1 fate point
Playing an Instinct: 1 fate point
Accomplishing a Goal: 1 persona point
Creating characters was much fun! I just love the setting and the skills
are very interesting.
However, the system is quite complex and there’s so much rule stuff you have to keep in mind. It’s kinda clunky in play. Well, it is only my 3rd time playing it (the last two times were in 2010) and it was a solo play.
The conflict just plain sucked. It was boring and I didn’t like the strange random rock-paper-scissors-mechanic. (I can remember that this was one of the complaints of my players, too.)
So, there’s good stuff in the mechanics, like:
- GM’s Turn and Players' Turn
- GM prep is easy (2 main obstacles, some twists)
- the setting is great!
- Beliefs, Instincts, Goals
- easy dice mechanics
but most of the cool stuff doesn’t work out in solo play. The next session will be Mouse Guard with another rule set.