Mouse Guard Chronicles, Session 2, Players’ Turn: The Spurce Connection

You can see this session’s GM’s turn here.

Player’s Turn Summary

The successful but banged-up patrol hobbled back to Lockhaven to recuperate from their injuries under the ministrations of the Guard’s healers.  On their way, they stumbled upon 2 surviving Scent thugs caught in the Flashflood and Jasper ran to their help, rescuing  Garrow the Merchant and the huge Thug otherwise known as The Big Cheese.

Once in Lockhaven, Edgar delivered a report to one of his guard captain uncles and asked about his enemy’s recurring involvement with Scent smuggling.  Finn tapped into many of his war buddies, now turned Inn keepers to try to find a contact involved in storage and transport of Scent and he found one in Sprucetuck.

Malcolm also tapped into his contacts to to find his old friend the Tavernkeeper, known for his many shady dealing.  As luck would have it, that contact was last seen in Sprucetuck too.

And so was Edgar’s enemy…

Table Chatter and GMing highlights

Retcon for great justice!

As we set up and started to roll for condition recoveries in the player’s turn, I realized that there were restrictions about the order of conditions a PC could recover from. Thus, a mice must recover from Hunger/Thirst before Anger before Tired and so on for Injury and Sickness.  So a player can’t decide to keep the less problematic Anger to focus on healing an injury.

That meant that all my players had to spend 2 checks each to attempt to recover from their more serious conditions and success was NOT guaranteed.  I could see that some of them wanted to take the story in new directions and were disappointed with that state of event.

So I invoked rule 1 of RPGs (fun over rules) and retconned my earlier call, making Edgar/Finn Injured and Malcolm/Jasper Angry. I dropped the second imposed condition and the group’s mood instantly bounced back! (I even got some positive feedback for that call the next day over IM).


Northland thawing

You might recall I mentioned that Maze froze up a few times during the GM’s turn.  Well he thawed up nicely during the player’s turn where he set up a great scene and got to rescue 2 of the NPCs who bullied them to spew out the positions of other guard patrols during the GM’s turn. This, along with a discussion I had with blogger Sarah Darkmagic about agile and comfortable DMs who freeze up when they become players gave me an insight.

In the Players’ turn, the only problems to resolve are mostly created by the players, who likely have the solution worked out,  much like if the player was his own GM.  I’m beginning to suspect that what really breaks minds in Mouse Guard is that constant dichotomy between being a classic player (choose a skill, roll for success) and being co-GM (describe the scene, including the elements needed to make the skill you use make sense) at the same time.

I’ll be watching Maze’s journey as it unfolds over the next few session. He’ll likely post his thoughts on his blog as well.

When the GM gets Fiasco-ed.

As the turn unfolded and players told me about the scenes they were setting up, it became evident that they were pushing to send the game toward a new plot.  Alex sought his friend out, an old tavern keeper with the same criminal background as his.  He tried to locate him on the map of the territories and I asked for a Circles test to allow Alex to set where he was. I also explained the Enmity Clause of circle tests where a failed test allows the GM to create a new enemy instead!

Yan: Really? Oh man I wanna roll a Circles test too!

Malcolm located his friend and placed him in Sprucetuck, home of Scent manufacturing.  We had a potential ex-con in the city laying the first brick of my players’ fiendish plans.

PM played out a scene in Lockhaven where Edgar informed his uncle about the Scent dealings (thus accomplishing his goal).  He then totally pulled an awesome, plot-defining quote on us that blew my brains out:

Edgar: Uncle, have you had news of that weather watcher scum (Edgar’s enemy) we’ve been chasing for so long?  I think he’s once more involved with Scent smuggling!


When PM tried to place his enemy in Spructuck, I decided to gently stop him, judging he’d held to the narrative long enough for his turn.

Of course, that’s when Yan made the finishing move.  After moving the party to Sprucetuck (I allowed liberal moving over the whole territories during the player turn) he had Finn and the patrol go tavern-diving through his old war contacts to find someone important involved with the shipping and storing of the Scent chemical.  His circles test provided him with one such mouse, a mid-power mouse in charge of overseeing shipping of the Scent to Lockhaven and other guard patrols .

Phil: According to the rules, you get to name him now.

Yan (Making a very French “I have no fucking idea” facial expression): I don’t know… huh, Liam I guess.

PM: No way! That’s my enemy’s name.

Chatty: You guys are shitting me!

Yan: Absolutely not, I had no idea!

Chatty: Well then it’s settled, Finn’s new contact is Edgar’s enemy, that ought to be interesting!

So that the next adventure is obviously going to be about elucidating who’s stealing the Scent powder and why. I’d be a complete jerk to do otherwise.  But that doesn’t mean I have to play it as straight as they are driving things to be now, right?

All in all, that was a great Players’ turn and an awesome game.  Once again, a 10 minute prep session delivered a very satisfying 4 hours adventure.

We should pick the game up again after Gen Con.  Chances are this Summer campaign will become the monthly geekout day game once fall rolls back and I settle on a new RPG/campaign with the new gaming group.

Thanks for reading.


  1. Aw MAN! That is one fun plot twist. And entirely unintentional. Those are the moments that make for great gaming.

  2. Sigh… I love this game.
    Mouse Guard is just so… elegant in its simplicity, but has the complexity to really make the game shine.

  3. I really enjoyed my player turn. I had been planning it for a few minutes when we discovered the rule about removing debilitating statuses and I was less than thrilled at the perspective of not being able to tell my part of the story. Good call on retconning it.

    My enemy also happens to be a cousin of mine. I expect that some family tension are bound to surface in the coming games. Especially if I have to put him in jail, AGAIN!. 🙂

    It really is the ‘again’ that makes it so much fun. I’m building this bit of story forward and backward. Yay for shared narrative control.

  4. That ended up being some pretty cool story crafting, indeed!

  5. Men what where the odds… I’m still baffled by the shear stroke of luck that produce the final touch. 😉

  6. Mistrlittlejeans says:

    @Chatty: Glad to see your players are starting to take interest in telling the story. I hope to get my group there soon.

    “So that the next adventure is obviously going to be about elucidating who’s stealing the Scent powder and why. I’d be a complete jerk to do otherwise. But that doesn’t mean I have to play it as straight as they are driving things to be now, right?”

    Of course not! That would be selling your DM skills short. Can’t wait to see the train fly off the tracks!

  7. “This, along with a discussion I had with blogger Sarah Darkmagic about agile and comfortable DMs who freeze up when they become players gave me an insight.”

    Is this discussion online somewhere? We have the issue with comfortable DM’s becoming frozen up players twofold at the moment (funnily enough, they both recognize it in eachother, but less so in themselves) and we would LOVE to have some advise for them.

  8. Sadly it wasn’t, but I could definitively ask her to do a feature he said/she said piece on freezing up as a player and not as a DM…

  9. I’ll keep an eye out for it 😉

  10. Do I smell a potential podcast?

  11. @Maze: Yes, I was thinking about getting you and Sarah together to discuss it! 🙂 Seriously!

  12. @Chatty: That might actually be cool 🙂