Actual Play – Mouse Guarded! (05/02/2009)

GM: Sean Nittner
Players: My wife and daughter
System: Mouse Guard

Today marks my first Mouse Guard game and my first game with my wife and daughter as players.

The little one (A) had read some of the comics and immediately said “I want to be Sadie”. Since she was taking a canon character her mom (J) opted to as well, so she took Kenzie.

I started with a brief introduction to the Mouse Guard setting (A already new some but J hasn’t read the comic) and what they would be doing as members of the guard.

As an exercise for A, I gave them blank character sheets and read off the values to have them fill in. She did a great job filling in all the numbers, writing her skills and talents but had a little trouble writing beliefs, goals and instincts. The character sheet is adorable!

We started with a brief description of Lockhaven and then zoomed into the patrol getting their orders from Gwendolyn. I think both A and J were happy that a girl mouse was in charge. I started them of on the Grain Peddler adventure from the back of the book.

After their mission was given I asked them both to come up with a goal. J used Kenzie’s stock “I will find out if the peddler is a spy” goal but A thought up a nice one for Sadie. As she didn’t know Kezie very well yet she wrote “I will make friends with Kenzie”. Something she had to work for later in the game.

I read the little blurb from the book and left them with the question, who will scout for the missing grain merchant. Sadie opted to try it with some help from Kenzie using the “path-wise” skill to point out likely paths and show where grain had fallen out of the cart on the way.

From there the game proceeded much like the comic. Nearly all rolls were failed resulting in some twists and a condition. The snake ambushed them and was fended off by Kenzie. Later when Kenzie found the map of Lockhaven and was reading it the snake attacked again. To protect her distracted patrol leader Sadie leapt to her rescue, getting hungry for her effort but earning the appreciation of Kenzie.

On the players turn Sadie opted to travel to Barkstone and Kenzie said she wanted to find someone who might know the grain peddler. She failed a circles roll so I invoked the enmity clause and lead her to the cartographer who the map was to be delivered to. Just as Kenzie realized that the cartographer was up to know good the trap was sprung and Kenzie was dragged into the shadows by two burly mice.

We left the game like that, a nice cliff hanger and ripe for a GM turn next session.

What rocked

I got to play with my 6 year old daughter. How cool is that!

The failures all made for interesting twists and complications, a very nice system for pushing things forward regardless of dice rolls.

We played mice with swords! Sorry, still pretty excited about the whole Mouse Guard concept.

We left with a cliffhanger, that was fun.

It took some work but we had some good descriptions form A on her scouting attempt and fighting the snake.

They both liked having poker chips for fate and persona (oops almost called it Artha). It was the only thing that kept A paying attention during the rewards portion of the game.

What could have been improved

A was very worried about doing the wrong thing. Many times when she was helping I’d ask her how she was going to help and she kept trying to hand J a die. A couple times I just slid the dice away from her and said “what will Sadie do to help her friend Kenzie?” I think there is a big fear of “doing the wrong thing” that she is still figuring out.

The players seemed discouraged that the dice were always against them. In that entire session there were no easy rolls and only one succeeded. I think this was somewhat disheartening.

Attention span is tough. Almost more so with J that with A! She kept getting up and walking away from the table when not doing anything. A was getting really antsy, especially at the end. But she’s 6, I get that.

In the end they both want to play again, which means the game was a success. Not sure if I’ll use another adventure from the book (and say that Kenzie was rescued) or if I want to continue the Fall 1152 storyline that we’ve started.

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