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Great Wyrm
 
Joined: Fri Apr 20, 2007 11:12 pm
Posts: 2317
Location: Albuquerque, NM
 Post subject: Mouse Guard Intro
PostPosted: Thu Mar 24, 2011 12:18 am 
Played Mouse Guard Intro... We used A Fiasco inspired token die solution to physically roll the D6s as tokens. It worked quite well initially and since you're comparing successes etc, moving the dice around proved to be quite useful. I have some ideas on how to expand it, but we just had a google doc with relevant character sheet information. Also used Skype. MapTool as always was flawless.

Mouse Guard
I should've used some pregens as that's usually a good way to get a feel for a setting, but the character creation is just too darned good for me to pass up playing with it. I sent out some relevant information via email a week in advance - basically the world (based on the comic of medieval mice civilization growing in the middle of nature, skill and trait lists, and some basic info about the guard to get them started. They all had solid character concepts prior to play night.

Character Creation
Character creation is a series of questions that raise/lower some basic attributes based on answers while restricting some choices or giving some options. The game is designed I think best for 1-3 players and has characters of varied age/rank built into the system with apparent balance. The questions all helped define characters a little more, and rather than give a skill list and points to apply, they were varied enough to give a little different experience. For instance, questions about the characters parents' trade led the youngest character (a tenderpaw) to select mostly trade skills, whereas older characters (guard leader) had more skills related to experience in the Mouse Guard.

Best of all, you not only name and describe your parents and their location in creation, but also your mentor, an artisan you worked under, an ally, and an enemy! As a GM you have all sorts to draw on, and as a group the players had a blast really discussing the ideas of the who what and when of these side characters.

You also select Traits and establish a one sentence Belief, Instinct, and (after the mission has been given a mission specific) Goal. These really help narrow down your character and using these to hurt your character (either by giving the other side a tie break in their favor OR subtracting die) encourages you to cause problems.

System
It's a d6 successes based system where 4+ is a success. Most of the time you roll against an obstacle number (number of successes needed) but sometimes it's a verses test that compares net successes. Your skills and abilities are the number of dice you roll... that aspect was super easy to pick up and get going. A lot of it isn't crunchy but GM directed as options "You can use one of these skills" and the shared google doc helped here.

Combat turned out to be run in a "Conflict" which is pretty interesting. You choose from Attack/Defend/Feint/Maneuver and the enemy secrectly chooses too... except you do 3 in a row. It's designed for teams, so when the characters met a snake all three of them fought as one team (each picking one action to roll) against the snake (who ran all three actions, but choose each of the three ahead of the time). There's a table that lets you choose how it works out, but as you can imagine your choice and their choice changes how things work.

The same system can be used to run arguments, chases, or even wars just using different skills but the same concepts. Instead of using HP for combat, all four types of conflicts use "Disposition" which is either health or will based and the side that succeeds in reducing the other's to 0 wins. At the start of combat you choose your goal, so winning might be death, might be chasing them off, might be convincing someone to do something, or might be winning a war! We dug this aspect and the winner describing in detail what happened was particularly fun.

The Bad - Not bad, but just... hard. There's three consumable types of points you can earn and spend - Persona, Fate, and Checks. I understand how you can use them when you get them, but there's something like 5, 3, and 3 ways to gain each of them. I'm sure a strong GM can make up for the players not quite understanding, but I still am not 100% sure how they all work and when to give each of them. Since they work closer to Action Points or Bennies it seems like it makes things important and fun allowing extra dice and rerolls, etc... but I didn't grok it the first session and reading it. I will have to make up a little chart and cheat sheet for us all before we play cause as of now it just seemed like too much! I know it will click, but definitely the tough part of an otherwise really straightforward system.

Also - the Nature (Mouse) had some funky rules with Taxing, Tapping, and using Nature in place of other things that was a little tough to grasp. I got it well enough to run the game and tell players when it was important but I don't think anybody got it player wise by the end of the session. It doesn't make as much obvious sense as what's going on in the game with it as it was easy to pick up the crunch... but I will have to explore it a bit more.

GM point of view
Both the system (traits, allies, enemies) and the universe (mice problems like weather, a giant forest and many animals to attack, food, medieval problems and evils) make it easy to throw together a cool little adventure with no work. Unlike most other systems, I feel I could run this with no prep now that I have an OKAY understanding of the game... and draw in the players using THEIR choices and really easy pull at heartstrings or make them angry by pulling their allies or enemies.

The other neat thing is the system isn't about a bunch of random checks. on the GM side, it is very directed what the problem is, and some suggestions on skills to use to get out of it. If you succeed - great! Move on the story. IF you fail, either you fail and a twist shows up (in the case of our adventure, a snake showed up to attack them getting them off track of their ultimate goal) OR you still succeed but you get a condition applied (it makes you angry, you get tired, injured, sick, etc). Seems good to keep story moving and not have the night be 100 checks and really only 90 mattered. Every check mattered and if they had succeeded they wouldn't have the twists or conditions... just story moving along. They never would get too far caught from the story, just run into problems.

I really loved this and I think this system is a good lesson in both group character creating and making adventures that work really well. At no point did I feel like I couldn't handle a twist, nor did I feel like I was at risk of having my story ruined by bad rolls. The players also didn't feel railroaded because their advancement through the story was related to their checks... it presented this really well. Having played a lot of 4E, played a lot of GUMSHOE, I think this is a good middle ground in terms of creating stories but also allowing for failures.

Verdict
I will play this again - right now we have a player that prefers to play Mutant City Blues if one of the players is gone, another prefers Fiasco if another is gone, and finally Fiasco to our toolkit. Makes our weekly D&D game still able to be a good time w/o leaving someone out who can't make it to our 2 1/2 year campaign about to wrap up!

I also see this as something I could hack very quickly and easily for Star Wars Jedi themed campaign... in fact, honestly an hour of prep resetting some skills and I think we could be playable and fun. Also see other small groups 1-3 as a ton of fun... though I don't think 4 players would work well with this system unless all were experts and even then I'd wonder if it offers enough to experts to keep with it.

And of course, MapTool did nicely - I saw one macro that also gave individual dice results but we ended up using the tokens instead. I might suggest that MapTool more obviously include some "physical" token-dice as an option since we enjoyed it so much.

Happy to answer questions about the system for those interested!


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Demigod
 
Joined: Mon Jun 29, 2009 9:37 am
Posts: 3108
Location: Germany
 Post subject: Re: Mouse Guard Intro
PostPosted: Thu Mar 24, 2011 12:33 pm 
Thanks for the report. I always wondered about mouse guard.

Hawke wrote:
And of course, MapTool did nicely - I saw one macro that also gave individual dice results but we ended up using the tokens instead. I might suggest that MapTool more obviously include some "physical" token-dice as an option since we enjoyed it so much.

You might want to check out my "token bag"-project, its wip - but useable - and I'd really like more feedback for it. You find it here. IIRC its a real drop in (you'd probably have to click "oncampaignload" once), but I have a version here that requires 2 states to lock rolling and lock rotation of individual dice, so maybe thats the latest...

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