Monday, June 1, 2009

Mouse Guard: Everything From Small Stuff To Warfare

Last night I ran the most excellent Mouse Guard hack called Realm Guard and it was incredible. There was only one player so she was running both a recruit and the recruit's mentor. There was also a captain character that both of us played when required.

So much ground was covered and so much story told in such a short amount of time (about 2.5 hours) that it was stunning.

Here's the ground that we covered:

Recruit Gayle is on a simple mission to deliver a sealed letter to a hermit who is known for his eclectic wisdom. It was part of her endeavor to prove herself to the guard. A pathfinder roll is unexpectedly failed so a twist is introduced. A bandit ambushes the recruit within sight of the hermit's abode and demands her cloak. As well as some loot the bandit is out for blood while the recruit simply wants to drive him off.

With the stakes set we enter into a conflict. The recruit successfully drives off the bandit (losing only 1 die from her disposition) and immediately heads toward the hermit's home. She knocks and gets no answer. She looks through a window and sees someone lying on the floor. The cottage has been ransacked. So she rushes in with tender foot abandon. Luckily there was no immediate danger lurking inside.

Gayle kneels to perform aid the best aid she can but it is obvious that her abilities are inadequate. The hermit points and whispers "The lamp." Under the lamp is a hidden compartment with a map and other intel including a list of names some of which are known rangers. She packs the intel and carries through a wicked spring thunderstorm to the her mentor Merrick who was busy resolving a livestock dispute between not two but three farmers.

Merrick looks at the map and list of names and locations and correctly deduces that a war host is on its way into ranger territory, most likely led by current and former rangers. The closest ranger group that could possibly deal with this is less than a day away on a construction/repair project. Luckily.

Merrick and his recruit Gayle dodge enemy outriders. The encounter reinforces the imperative nature of their mission but luckily for them they don't run into any other potential trouble on the way and in time they find Captain Ulfric's group. Immediately they make their way to the captain and present the evidence of danger.

Ulfric takes one look at the list of names and denies that it could be a possibility. This is our second conflict of the session. Both sides roll for disposition. While Captain Ulfric is more geared for this kind of conflict he only rolls one higher than Merrick for disposition. Back and forth they argue. Verbal feint and maneuver. Gayle steps in and declares on her ranger oath that what she saw was real. At the same time Merrick thrusts forth the map and the list as evidence.

Reality sets in and cracks Ulfric's denial. His eyes well up with tears as he calls for his men to break camp and to prepare for war.

Merrick lost a disposition die but gained it back during the conflict while Ulfric went all the way to zero.

Ulfric and his command look over the intelligence delivered by Merrick and Gayle and form a battle plan. Ulfric will ride in the front while Merrick organizes the archers. Gayle runs as messenger.

Using foreknowledge of the enemy's intent Ulfric positions his forces. He uses the map to prepare so the rangers' disposition was quite high. I as GM rolled for the enemy, an ad-hoc bunch of hillmen tribes with rangers acting as unit commanders. At the head of the enemy host riding in black armor is Ulfric's best friend. The enemy's disposition is also as high but falls a few dice short.

Battle is met and the sides clash like two tides smashing into the other. The impact of the Rangers of the North causes a bulge in the enemy's lines and the momentum surges through to the enemy's rear units causing confusion. The man in the black armor raises his sword and works to rally his men into order. Just as he begins to regain control, waves of arrows from the high ground flurry into hillmen flank. They begin to break.

Ulfric calls his men forward for victory.

The peal of battle is replaced with the soft cacophny of the dying. Ulfric walks over to the man in the black armor who is now lying dead crushed beneath his own horse and orders the body to be burned.

Merrick is happy to survive another one. Gayle rejoices in surviving her first.

The dice rolling for the rangers was incredibly good. I was rolling poorly for the enemy. I also have to note that timing is everything. Just as I was getting the bad guys back into order and ready to deliver a giant blow I got out maneuvered and on the next action got utterly annihilated as I tried to feint.

All in all, I am highly impressed by both the Ranger Guard hack and Mouse Guard itself. I ran 3 conflicts all of differing types with the same resolution system. I must declare Mouse Guard to be elegant gaming genius.

Oh, I almost forgot. This was the first session where I used the Mouse Guard conflict cards. They are a great addition to the game.


  1. I'm glad you enjoyed the hack and the conflict cards. Sounds like you guys covered a lot of ground and had a great time! Great stuff!

    -- Rafe

  2. Frakin awesome. Thanks so much for running the hack. Are you planning more?

  3. I am indeed planning on more. Mouse Guard is my wife's favorite system these days. And I gotta say, I'm hooked as well.

  4. I really agree, both Mouse Guard and The Ranger hack is nice (although I only have played Mouse Guard original). Probably I will finish a Mouse Guard Ancient Mediterranean style one day since I'm really getting hooked by this system.

  5. Illern, I would absolutely love to see what you come up with regarding an Ancient Mediterranean MG hack.

  6. You can have a look already
    click on ''stuff'' at the top of the page.

    If you're interested I also have an english mouse guard blog at the same web site, click on ''webblogg'' at the top of the page. There are some swedish post too but all mouse guard stuff are in english.

    If you have any thoughts or ideas I'd be happy to hear from you, illern (a)

  7. By the way, the characters in the Mouse Guard campaign are here:

    and the first meeting are here:

    ''Gå till arkivet'' means ''Go to the archive''

    We're also introducing a new player next meeting, will do a post about that character too.

  8. I realised that I had a broken index.html att but that's fixed now.