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 Post subject: Re: New games on way
PostPosted: Sun Jun 07, 2009 7:42 pm 
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Mouse Guard is definately my flavour of the month.

First of all, I should make it clear that I've not played it yet - first game (GMing) should be Tuesday night. I'll definately add more to this once I've had actual hands-on experience and feedback from my players.

Why have I not shut up about Mouse Guard in the last month? Because it's like no other roleplaying game I've ever come across in nearly thirty years of roleplaying.

How is it different? It's different in three ways. Firstly the GM turn/Player Turn structure. Secondly, scripted conflict resolution. Thirdly, Disposition and conditions instead of Hit Points.

Let me explain and expand:

The GM turn/Player turn setup.

Ordinarily in most games, the Gm sets up a scene and the players get to do what they want. The way Mouse Guard is structured is this: The GM turn begins. The GM sets up the 'mission' and the only thing the players are allowed to do is decide how they are going to tackle it. The GM throws two obstacles (from four options: Animal, Mouse, Weather, Terrain) at them and the players must react and overcome as a team. If you fail, the GM can throw in one of the other two obstacles as a 'twist' or he can award 'conditions' (see later). The objective of the GM's turn is for the GM to beat the crap out of you as much as possible. Once he's finished (usually once you've reached a safe haven), it's the Player's turn. It's a bit like a D&D DM starting a scenario with the words, 'Roll inititative.'

In the Player's Turn, the players now get to do whatever they like - usually heal first - and it's now the GM's turn to react. There is, however a limit on what you can do in the player's turn. The limit is set by the amount of 'checks' you have. Each player gets one free check in the Player's turn but must earn the others in the GM's turn by playing to and against their character traits. This is the bit I love about Mouse Guard. There are built-in mechanical rewards for roleplaying, for playing in character and for challenging and obstructing yourself with your character's traits.

Scripted conflict resolution.

There are three ways of overcoming obstacles in Mouse Guard. For simple challenges you roll your relevant skill against the obstacle's difficulty rating. This can be improved by help from your friends.
More complex obstacles might require a series of connected skill tests.
For the biggies like combat or an indepth philosophical debate with the uber villain, there's the scripted system.

Wether it's fighting, arguing, chasing, brewing or leading whole armies into battle, the same mechanic is used.
The players band together into teams of (optimally) three to oppose the GM.
Before you begin you decide what sort of conflict this will be and then use a relevant skill to generate your Disposition. Disposition is a sort of temporary hit point score that lasts only for the duration of the conflict.
Each side draws up goals. This will be the reward for victory.

Next, comes a series of turns. During each turn, each team secretly selects three actions to perform in this turn. There are four actions to choose from: Attack, Feint, Maneuvre and Defend. The three actions you choose can be all the same, all different or any combination of three of those four. The GM does likewise and then the teams and the GM simultaneously reveal and resolve their actions one at a time. The resolution is a Scissors/Paper/Stone style setup where each action has different benefits and weaknesses against other actions.
Once one side is reduced to zero disposition, they lose. However (and this is another bit I love), if the winning side has also lost some disposition they must award the loser a compromise based on the amount that they lost.

Conditions:

Compromises, like much else in the game may be conditions. There are five conditions beyond 'Healthy' and they are: 'Hungry and Thirsty', 'Angry', 'Tired', 'Injured' and 'Ill'. They are basically penalties that remove dice from certain tests and it's one of the coolest, narrative driven alternatives to HP I've come across.

The only thing that really bothers me so far about the game and I'm really quite eager to see how it pans out in play, is the Gm Turn/Player turn dynamic. It took me a while to fully understand how this works and I'm convinced that I still haven't quite got it. I think it can only work with something like Mouse Guard because you are part of an organisation that has a duty to perform. The GM gives you a mission and you set off and do it. You can't decide not to go or haggle over the price.

Well, that's a bit of a mini-review which I didn't intend but I can't describe how much I love the idea of this system. I just hope it isn't a crashing dissapointment when we play.

Crow


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 Post subject: Re: New games on way
PostPosted: Sun Jun 07, 2009 10:43 pm 
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Scarecrow wrote:
Well, that's a bit of a mini-review which I didn't intend but I can't describe how much I love the idea of this system. I just hope it isn't a crashing dissapointment when we play.


This may concern you, but that's what BW sounded like to me before I actually tried to play it, and you know how that turned out :( .

Ta for the review though, I was a bit curious about it myself... unfortunately it sounds too much like BW for me want to go anywhere near it. And also like Burning Empires in that it's very focussed toward a specific kind of play and nothing else.

I think that's what annoys me most about Crane's stuff - he does have some interesting ideas in what he does (especially on the character development side), it's just buried in this "different for the sake of it, but it's COOL and EDGY and INDIE and BETTER" approach, and that just makes it unapproachable for me.

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 Post subject: Re: New games on way
PostPosted: Mon Jun 08, 2009 12:48 am 
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To me that sounds like several different miniature/table top games that I have played.

Though that sounds neat and such, could you please elaborate how Mouse Guard is as a Role Playing Game.

Thanks.

Dave Chase

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 Post subject: Re: New games on way
PostPosted: Mon Jun 08, 2009 4:39 am 
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Gallowglacht wrote:
David wrote:
For the Google impaired.



Actually, I was interested in your thoughts on it.
Not so much anymore.

??? A little confused...

That post was simply meant to give everyone the best links to info on mouse guard.


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 Post subject: Re: New games on way
PostPosted: Mon Jun 08, 2009 7:14 am 
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Dave Chase wrote:
Though that sounds neat and such, could you please elaborate how Mouse Guard is as a Role Playing Game.


Sure. As I say, as soon as we've played tomorrow night I'll be sure to write up my thoughts on the session and how the rules work in actual play.

What I can tell you now is that beyond cold, hard skill stats, your character has a Belief, a Goal, an Instinct and a collection of Traits. All of which are chosen arbitrarily by the player.
Your Belief is a broad brush stroke that defines your character's outlook, his psychology, his attitude. It's something for him to live up to in his behaviour.
His goal is usually broad and short term. Something that he hopes to achieve either by the end of the session or very shortly thereafter. Goals change all the time based on the mission.
His instinct, like his belief is a shorthand descriptor of his personality. It's simply a statement of what he does when confronted. For example, 'I draw my sword.' or 'I try to disarm them by acting like an idiot.'
Your traits are also personality descriptors, but less broad than your belief and your instinct. You are encouraged to play to them and behave according to them. You are also encouraged to use them against yourself and complicating the narrative. You are rewarded with a 'check' for the former. Two 'checks' for the latter.

So you have a number of character descriptors and you are encouraged and rewarded for acting and behaving in character according to those descriptors. On top of this, there is an end of session reward for the person who best embodied their character in game.

I also forgot to mention Nature.
Your nature is a group of descriptors that define mice, so all mice have the same nature: Climbing, Escaping, Hiding and Foraging. If you perform an act that fits one of these four descriptions you may use your Nature score instead of your skill. You are also allowed to use it for an act that is against your nature but the score becomes depleted, more so if you fail. If your nature reaches 0 you have to rest for a season as your mouse has begun to behave rather 'oddly'.

I am still deeply concerned that Doc might be right. As much as I love the parts of this game, I'm still concerned about their sum. I guess tomorrow night will reveal all. :)

Crow


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 Post subject: Re: New games on way
PostPosted: Wed Jun 10, 2009 1:12 pm 
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Okay, so we played Mouseguard last night and the reaction was mixed, but on the whole, I think, positive.

Actual Play writeup here

First off it was a confused mess, but only because I didn't know the rules half as well as I thought I did.
It was, however exactly what I was expecting from reading the Actual Play accounts I've read so far.

Only one player remains unconvinced. he's our tactical combat D&D guy and so it wasn't really a surprise. He was skeptical about it before we went in.
To be fair to him, his main concern is something that I can't really disagree with. Teamwork and helping is one of the key elements of the game. Also, in order to help in a roll, you are required to explain exactly how you are helping. However, inspite of this, it's only the character making the roll that gets rewarded. They recieve the check for passing or failing their test in order to advance their skill rating, and it is their success that may well be rewarded at the end of the session.

Multi-team combat is still confusing. It really isn't explained very well in the book. I'm trying to get it sorted on the Burning Wheel boards (again).

There was some confusion over how the GM turn and Player turn works and the concept of the 'checks' as scene currency for use in the Player's Turn. However people quickly got it and got on board with it.

One player seemed indifferent towards it. Another seemed to enjoy it, even though he found the rules a might odd. The remaining two seemed to really enjoy it. One of them was a real surprise. Up till now he's come along for D&D and he seemed as if he was only coming to the group for something to do. He really surprised me last night as he really got into his character and was checking rules in the book. It was amazing to see.

We're giving it another go next week. I'll make sure that rules we had trouble with are clarified and hopefully this time it'll be tighter and smoother. I'm planning on running three sessions in total. I think that'll be a fair crack of the whip. If we don't all totally hate it, I'll definately come back to it.

Crow


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