Pathfinder Session 2- Behind the Scenes- Mouseguarding

One Pissed Off Mouse

I’ve been excited to write this post all week. Quite a bit happened in our Pathfinder Session (Post 1, Post 2, and Post 3).

Today I’m going to focus on the behind the scenes info today (which is something I will be doing regularly now that I’m posting the session recaps on Obsidian Portal).

Last week I talked at length about “Mouseguarding” in DnD/Pathfinder (Hell or any game for that matter), and was able to try it out in my Sunday Pathfinder game. It went remarkably well and I am excited to try it again.

So not only did I incorporate the Twist/Complication/Condition Mechanic from Mouse Guard, but also the Goals Mechanic.

I have to say that this was awesome! Something really cool happened. Normally when I give my players a free “sandbox” like moment, some of them don’t really know what to do, or really don’t have the desire to stray from the main storyline very much.

I explained every player needed to choose a goal that complimented the main story goal and gave my players few minutes to think.

Yet this mechanic allowed them to add a goal to the adventure that was theirs and that they wanted to accomplish. This is something I will use every session now and I think it is something my players will enjoy and become better at more detailed goals once they get more accustomed to the mechanic.

Here is what they came up with:

After a few more minutes discussion it is decided that the 2 Rangers left, and the town guard will tighten security at the gates and two guards will go circle the outside wall. G-4683 offers to accompany them.

Leo is going to write a letter to his father, explaining the fate of James, and to Armoren Byranthos informing him of the situation.

Pharmakia wants to see Yessa Chen, the villages local Sooth-Sayer, and see if she can aid in shedding any light on the towns dreams.

Herger decides that the best course of action is to take a nap and see if he himself can experience one of the dreams the people have been having.

Laila decides to scout around the town and see if there is anything particularly useful that will be helpful (or valuable to steal).

You can read it in depth in Part 2 of the Recap. All of this was unplanned and improv and went really smoothly. It seemed everyone had quite a bit o’ fun.

Now moving on to Complications/Twists/Conditions.

This is from Laila’s adventure in Part 2-

She moved around the room and found that one of the pictures on the wall was hiding a safe. She began to pick at the lock when her pin broke. She started at the nub of the metal when the door opened. She whirled around and saw a female scooting in backwards quietly and closed the door slowly. When the woman turned around, she cried out, “What are you doing in here?!”

“Your father sent me in here to look for something. He said there was something important in the study.” Laila muttered unconvincingly.

This was really hilarious because when Sam (Laila) was sneaking about the room Elmer (Leo) said, oh if she fails a good twist would be the Mayor’s daughter walked in. Everyone laughed and Sam kept saying, “That’s not funny! Don’t jinx me!”

So when Laila attempted to pick the lock of the safe hidden behind the portrait, she rolled a 1. I cracked an evil smile and explained what is posted above. Sam just looked at everyone, “I hate you. I hate all of you.” It was good fun!

When Herger set to accomplish his goal of attempting to experience the dreams that the people of Iyopen were having he failed and I naturally started telling him that he was unable to have a dream and to try again. Then I caught myself mid sentence and realized that I was being a naughty GM and not in a good whips and chains and paddles sort of way…

I was keeping John (Herger) from having fun and accomplishing something cool. So I decided that he would indeed have his dream, but I would give him the tired (Fatigued) condition.

With a start Herger woke up groggy and disorientated.

Which he cursed me for, since it was -2 Dex/Str and it pretty much hindered his fighting ability as a sorcerer. Oh well can’t win em all.

Going for Fun and Cool

Pharmakia walks over to the wishing well and looks at the coins in the water. She looks back at the group, while unfastening her prayer blanket from around her shoulders. “I’m going to see the fountain.” She lays out her blanket, her gris-gris, and lights some incense. She bows her head and goes silent as the group gathers around her. She lifts her head up and her eyes fly open, milky white and unseeing.

The sound of wind and rushing water fills Pharmakia’s ears. Everything appears blurred and moving slow. She sees silhouette figures appearing in front of the fountain, dropping in a coin and wishing for something; “I wish my daddy would play with me.”, “Please let me wife get better.”

A figure walks up to the fountain and seems to stop for a few moments, head bowed. “Please let my husband return safely.” Then she tosses three coins in the fountain. Suddenly Pharmakia’s vision lifts her up and she is looking down into the fountain at the three coins tossed in by the woman, they glitter for a moment and then blood starts to leak from them, coloring all the water red.

Pharmakia’s eyes suddenly return to normal, “Something bad has happened,” she whispers quietly.

When Angie (Pharmakia) came up with this idea, pretty much everyone said that it was a really cool idea. However they are all level 1 and it isn’t like a Witch or any other class has any powers for this sort of thing. I caught myself before I said it, but I almost said, “Well you aren’t strong enough, so there isn’t really anything you can do.”

Instead I told her to make a Spellcraft Roll DC 15 to see if anything happened and started planning contingencies for if she failed her roll. Angie passed her roll however and the adventure moved along smoothly.

The session was quite a bit of fun. Everyone did something really creative and accomplished their goals.

Coming up tomorrow: Mouseguarding Pathfinder- Beliefs and Instincts.

Author: Mike Evans

I am a History major attending a community college until I can get more financial aid and attend a four year school. I am living in NJ with my girlfriend who is currently wrapping up on obtaining her PhD in Toxicology. I love Star Wars, Role-playing, video games, working out, reading, writing, and hanging with my girlfriend, dog (Perfect), and two kittens (Birch and Brambles). My main focus on this site will be my discussion of Role-playing games and ideas and hopefully contribute something worth a damn.

10 thoughts

  1. I love it when players suggest story or scene ideas! Using the Chatty DM’s “rule of cool” and saying “yes” to player input has helped my DMing. It’s worthwhile to involve players this way, and makes DMing easier.

    Great ideas on using Mouse Guard mechanics! Thanks for sharing your experiences.

  2. @wrathofzombie: How do you allow the PC’s to recover from conditions? In MG the player has to spend a check to make a recovery test or use a check to seek help from an ally or other NPC. I don’t know the Pathfinder rules, but I would assume there is some sort of rest a PC can take, or they could simply pull rations or a waterskin from their pack, right? That would defeat the purpose and fun (at least for the DM 😉 of such conditions as Hungry, Thirsty, and Tired. I’m curious to know how you plan to handle this, as I’m trying to figure out how I will use these conditions for 4e. While not the same game, I think solutions may be applicable to both.

    1. For conditions I honestly play it on a situation basis.

      To use your example: I would deny the player the ability to use rations or water to get rid of hungry/thirsty status just like that.. That is too easy, and I explain that if it is something they push then I will reverse the situation and we can go with a complication and twist.

      I would instead offer another skill challege, per say. The thirsty character(s) must now forage in the wilds for a water hole, beseech a villager for use of their well, etc that would invoke more of a role-playing opportunity.

      For something like Bleed I would do something that the character themselves cannot perform a healing check to heal it, but another player can. What if they fail? What situation are they going to be in now? Maybe the target gets an infection from it or the like.

      There will always be “quick” fixes and short cuts in games like DnD and Pathfinder where characters can move mountains and erase history with a spell.
      I feel it is more for the players and GM/DM to come to the understanding that this is all in an effort for more fun so to let little things go. The whole point of Mouse Guard mechanics is to further situations, role-playing, and character development and not bone the players.

      That is something I think players AND the GM/DM need to keep in mind. Some of the Mouse Guard elements are so alien to DnDers that they will automatically raise a stink because they way DnD is played. Failure=negative/death.

      I feel that once that is covered by the GM, “Hey I’m not gonna screw you over with these. It is to add challenges, etc” and everyone sees how they work, it should be fine.

      The last thing I’ll add on conditions is that players should be happy because they are allowed to still succeed at what they set out to do, but they failed the roll, so the challenge has to cost them something.

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