Friday, April 8, 2011

G is for Guard- Mouse Guard

Mouse Guard is an Eisner Award winning bi-monthly comic book series by David Petersen.  An excellent official Mouse Guard rpg game was created by Luke Crane- it uses a simpler version of the Burning Wheel system. Oh yeah; It won Best Role-Playing Game at the 2009 Origins Awards (beating D&D 4th ed!).

As I've said before, Mouse Guard is pimp as hell.  It's like Lord of the Rings meets Stewart Little.  Its about tiny medieval mice living in a properly scaled world.  Its not like Redwall where badgers and mice hangout together in castles- in Mouse Guard a badger could eat a whole mouse town in less than half an hour.  Mice are pretty much the most advanced species, the bigger an animal gets the more it acts like a real animal, thus a wolf or bear is probably scarier to your Mouse Guard character than a red Dragon would be to your D&D character.  The only other creature to use tools is weasels, they are about three times bigger than a mouse and are essentially bloodthirsty barbarians.  I really love Mouse Guard, the comics and the rpg.

Mouse Guard rpg features diceless character generation, instead you sit down as a group and each answer a lengthy questioniare.  Its an d6 system, 1-3 being failures, 4-6 being sucesses, the better you are at something the more dice you roll.  Evey part of the game just drips with atmosphere, you feel 100% like you are in the Mouse Guard world, its very immersive.

Probably the best thing though is the adventure layout.  You are given a clear mission,and the GM puts a few obstacles in the way - if you successfully overcome all the obstacles than you can complete the mission, good job. -Heres where it gets good, if the party fails the game doesnt stop- the GM can impose ethier a twist or a condition on the party. Heres an example:

The Mission - take a road that got washed out during the spring rains and deliver mail to the town of Barkstone.

The Challenge - take a pathfinder check to find your way safely to Barkstone. (Success: you get to Barkstone safe with mail. Failure: GM chooses one of the options below.)

  • Twist - a curious Raven spots the shiny buckle on the mail bag and swoops in to try to steal it, -combat. 
  • Twist -you drop the mailbag in a fast flowing creek swollen with snow thaw. The bag is sealed with wax and it should be possible to recover it, but the creek runs close to the weasel kingdom downstream.
  • Condition- the party makes it to Barkstone with the mail but they had to trail blaze through wet spring mud most of the way, the party has the tired condition for the rest of the adventure.
  This works great, failure = adventure in Mouse Guard. Its a very interesting approach and really fun to play, actually I think it works particularly well as a family game. I played it with my family and had a really good time, its a bit lighter theme wise than games like D&D, and yet still totally badass and heroic.
Yeah, Mouse dueling Owl. Hardcore...


  1. I've read the books (well, the first two) and love them. I've read up on the rpg, but haven't played. Hopefully one day I'll run into someone who knows how to run it. I'd give it a whirl. :)

    - Ark

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  3. Mouse Guard is pretty pimp, you should play the rpg with some cool people you know.