[Mouse Guard] The Siege of Sprucetuck

edited August 2012 in Story Games
This is a Mouse Guard mission I'm going to run at PAX Games on Demand.

It's intended to do 2 GM turns and 1+ Player turns in a four-hour slot, including teaching time. There are 4-6 obstacles, one of which is a Conflict.

@J_Walton and @jenskot, I know you guys have run a lot of Mouse Guard, so I'd love to hear any input you have on it!

Comments

  • edited August 2012
    Looks like a pretty badass adventure to me, Johnzo. My main worry is that it seems really long for a convention game, in terms of the number of obstacles. In my experience running Mouse Guard, we often get through 1 conflict and a handful of obstacles (say 3-4 max, combining ones created by the GM and ones the players ask to attempt) in a single session, with time for a player turn at the end if they're lucky (otherwise, we have to do it at the start of the next session).

    Right now I see:

    A. Pass out characters
    B. Go over premise / stuff on sheet
    C. Intro/ Mission Briefing
    1. Fire obstacle
    2. Mice on the road obstacle, which could become 3. fight conflict
    4. Possible player turn
    5. Wasps obstacle or wasps conflict
    6. Raiders obstacle or raiders conflict
    7. Flash flood obstacle
    D. Return to Lockhaven

    So that's 7 possible obstacles/conflicts, and if any 2 of them don't work out (or even if they succeed but take too much time), Gwendolyn is dead? That's pretty harsh, even for Mouse Guard.

    My instinct is to cut this whole thing in half, more or less, keeping the rest as possible complications. I'd do roadblock or raiders but not both, since they're more or less the same. Likewise with flash flood and fire.

    Then again, I'm not sure I'd try to shove two sessions worth of content into a single convention one-shot, but it's an interesting idea. Anyway, just my initial reaction. I like most of the obstacles/conflicts themselves, except for flash flood, which seems a bit tacked-on and overkill, given how much they'll have already been through.
  • Yeah, I agree with J. Badarse adventure John! Cutting it in half is a great idea, in effect it gives you twice the options for each obstacle now, which you can choose appropraitely as it follows on from the fiction, or use as twists for failed rolls.

    Maybe make a reminder in the Obstacle sections to yourself to encourage trait play in the fiction to generate player checks. That way, If you feel like there will be lots of time 'left over', you can encourage all sorts of player authored shenanigans at Sprucetuck during the potential player turn. I mean, there are some juicy hooks in the mission!

    I wouldn't compromise Gwendolyn's life so harshly, but maybe one of the mice's relationships?Mayhap a bee with a missive about Gwendolyn's / Relationship's condition is dispatched and the wasps target the bee? Or if one of the player's suffers the sick condition, you can advance it to 'fevered' on a subsequent complication, meaning that without the medicine they cannot be healed?

    I love the wasp seige concept combined with the hot hot summer vibe. Very atmospheric indeed. I think thirsty is a rather appropriate condition!
  • Guys, thanks so much for reading and responding. My first drafts are almost always fat so I hear ya about it needing to be cut down to fit in four hours and I bet I do need to go a bit easier on Gwendolyn.

    Just to clarify: the only conflict in the mission will be the wasps. Everything else, including the mouse-on-mouse fighty stuff will be simple tests.

    My favorite stuff is frontloaded in the mission so I think I'll keep everything up to the wasp conflict and then throw in the other stuff as time allows.
  • Johnzo, in the group fights and stuff, does everyone roll tests individually or (more likely) the mouse with the best skill rolls and everyone else helps? I'm just asking because it can potentially make a difference in terms of mice getting conditions.
  • I was intending the latter.

    One patrol mouse is the roller and the others can help out (and take lesser conditions than the roller)
  • edited August 2012
    Obstacle 1 and 2 can both be done with a Pathfinder check. Just rolling PF twice doesn't seem that interesting to me - it's close to "fun once, let's not do this again"

    Having the "Twist" there be, that for each one, Gwendolynn is half dead doesn't really makes sense to me. It's neither a condition nor a proper twist ( a twist generates a new test you have to pass)

    Also check what number you use for the Fighter Ob. in Obstacle 2.
    Bandits have a Fighter of 4 and Soldiers of 5.
    They still can use their weapon for a helping die and help each other. You could get to a much higher number than 5.
  • There are places where you are going against the rules, which may not be best for a con game with new players.

    E.g., your failure Twist on the first obstacle is really a Twist AND a Condition by having them lose supplies and get Injured/Hungry. (Also, I think a delay is Twist not a Condition.)

    Also, you let the players choose whether to have a Players' Turn or not. That's really weird. Especially coupling this with your delay mechanics. BTW, are you being explicit about that? Because the rules seem pretty focused that during the GM's turn the patrol would not consider delaying at all, but when a Players' Turn comes up that they may. I'd at least pull the delay inside the Players' Turn. That is, give them their turn, but if they're running behind schedule, make them use their checks to make more progress.

    I agree that everything past the Wasps seems a bit much for GM turn stuff in 4 hours.
  • Having the "Twist" there be, that for each one, Gwendolynn is half dead doesn't really makes sense to me. It's neither a condition nor a proper twist ( a twist generates a new test you have to pass)
    I don't really like it either, but a Twist doesn't have to give a new test, it can be something that just happens. Alternatively, it could lead to a Health test or something to race double-time to make sure it's not too late, failure granting the Tired Condition.

  • Guys, thanks very much for reading and reacting. This is super useful.
    E.g., your failure Twist on the first obstacle is really a Twist AND a Condition by having them lose supplies and get Injured/Hungry.
    Good catch, that should read "Failure Condition." The fictional effect is the loss of supplies, the mechanical effect is Injured / Hungry. No twist there at all.

    If I go with delaying meaning Gwendolyn's death then I'll make the delays be explicit and make the stakes more apparent up front that Gwendolyn is in dire straits.

    I'm digging the idea of making one Obstacle be "you need to go faster to save Gwendolyn." That is hyper-explicit and could have many interesting resolutions.

    thanks again!
  • Also, you let the players choose whether to have a Players' Turn or not. That's really weird. Especially coupling this with your delay mechanics.
    Yes. Penalizing the patrol for opting to take a player turn feels very wrong. The player turn is the chance for the them to take control of the story and initiate things they're interested in. Having the GM set fictional penalties if they do it feels like crossing a line. You're saying "well you *can* use your narrative authority, but if you do I'll kill this mouse."
  • Great point, Ben, when you put it that way it sounds like a dick move.

    I'm anticipating that when the players are passing Elmoss, they may want to take a break and recover from some conditions. What's the right GM move there if they ask?

    Is it "no, you can't take a break because your orders say go directly to Springtuck?"

    My thinking was to offer them the opportunity but tell them the cost. Maybe an inappropriate approach here!
  • You say, "at this point, you take a break and try to recover your conditions, but you only get one check per player because you have to press on with your mission."
  • If you want them to learn Mouse Guard, then whenever you have the first player phase do it just like normal. Fictionally they might be under pressure to hurry, but that doesn't mean you need to mechanically limit them. The camera can linger as we see them use checks to argue amongst themselves over how to proceed, etc.

    I suspect that no one will have thought to use their traits against themselves to get more checks, so they'll all have only one check anyway. That's a good chance to say "see, if you use your traits against yourself next time you'll get more checks in the player phase" and they go "a ha! I get it!"
  • I suspect that no one will have thought to use their traits against themselves to get more checks, so they'll all have only one check anyway. That's a good chance to say "see, if you use your traits against yourself next time you'll get more checks in the player phase" and they go "a ha! I get it!"
    This. If you're trying to fit two turn cycles in four hours, maybe do a really short first GM's turn two simple obstacle's where failure gives conditions. Just enough for them to realize that they want to do stuff to get more checks.
  • Fictionally they might be under pressure to hurry, but that doesn't mean you need to mechanically limit them.
    That was what I was trying to say above. They'll only have one check anyway, so just play the turn as normal. But you can put whatever fictional wrap on it that you like. The fiction and rules are in service to each other. It's not a trap.
  • edited August 2012
    Here is an Alpha 2 of this mission, prepared with this feedback in mind. Thanks again, this has been super helpful.

    The Delay mechanic is fully explained up front. Many obstacle failures will award Delays. A final obstacle allows the patrol to make up for Delays as they race back to Lockhaven.

    The outline is now:

    GM1: Wildfire obstacle
    GM1: Ivydale quarantine obstacle

    P1 @ Elmoss

    GM2: Elmoss refugee obstacle (marked Optional, will add time limit suggestions after Weds playtest)
    GM2: Wasp nest conflict

    P2: @ Sprucetuck

    GM3: Race back to Lockhaven at Ob 2 + number of Delays (Health). Not required if the party has suffered no Delays.

    I'm also going to limit this one to three players to bring it in on time.
  • Better! Three players is good because you don't have to split them into groups or make someone sit out every round in conflicts.
  • Yeah, and it'll cut down on the length of the player turns too.
  • It works as designed! I ran Siege twice today at PAX, both runs came in under 2:15 and the second was with an all-rookie patrol.

    Thanks again to all for their help!
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