Sunday, October 18, 2009

AP: Mouse Guard - Tales from the Shiver Bank

The Mice:

Connor - a tough white-furred patrol guard, known for his rugged adventures and scarred, with only one eye. Earmarked for promotion but still an untested quality with a team, he has been allocated some tenderpaws to train and nurture.

Casper: a very young tenderpaw, straight out of his apprenticeship and filled with curiosity and energy. Finding it almost impossible to stand still and think, he is ready to embark on his career in the Guard.

Tander: A fat tenderpaw trained as a cook, accused of the crime he didn't commit and paroled to the Mouse Guard until his trial could be arranged. A hearty fellow with a shady past.

The Mission:

Spring has come - or has it? Word has reached Lockhaven that the walls around Copperwood have crumbled due to the severe frosts of the winter and the town lies with its defences open. Auxilliary stonemasons - a young apprentice and two Oldfurs - are being sent to help with the rebuilding effort. The Guardmice are tasked with escorting them and ensuring their safe arrival.

GMs Turn

Obstacle One: The Clouds Darken.

As the progress along the muddy pathways the oldest Oldfur warns that the last bite of winter may not have passed yet, just as the winds begin to rise. Conner tries to predict the weather (Failed Weather Watcher test) and suddenly the skies open in a horrific ice storm, bleaching freezing rain across the mice. Thinking on his feet, Casper decides he will find a hidey-hole in an old hollow tree-base to weather the storm. Tander complicated matters by saying that they will have to did out the entrance to accommodate his 'Fat' trait. Conner stands back and watches, exercising his goal of 'Test out the Tenderpaws'. The roll ... fails and whilst the freezing and sodden mice finally get into the hole, Casper is Tired from his exertions.

Twist One: The Sleeping Weasel

As the Oldfurs dried out, Casper, despite his tiredness, decided to have a hunt around in the hollow tree and discovered a passage down to a hidden hole (successful Scout test) where he stumbled upon a sleeping Weasel Soldier! Aghast at this discovery he quietly made his way back and told his comrades, causing Connor to lead his young charges against the enemy! As massive 14 disposition was rolled for the mice against the Weasel's 8 but some cunning ploys by the agile aggressor soon saw that wittled away. In the end, the mice succeeded by the skin of their teeth, slaying the Weasel with a major concession. I decided that as the Weasel was going to try to escape with the smallest mouse, Casper, he would have been picked up in its teeth during the fight and was therefore puncutured and 'Injured'.

One further investigation Tander discovered a medallion from Pebblebrook, a town bordering the Weasel territories that looked suspiciously like a town councillors. Was it a spy or had the weasel stolen it? Test here for Tander which he failed - took too much effort to get back up from the hiding hole with his Fat behind, so I gave him 'Hungry & Thirsty' for his efforts.

Obstacle Two: Snowdrifts and Mudfields

The mice had to press on and and get these stonemasons to their place of work. Jasper's goal was 'Ensure that all the stonemasons make it to Copperwood' (his home town) so he took the lead with a little Scout action, backed up by some digging by Tander (heloing with Labourer) and hindered by the aggressive driving of the 'Tough' Connor. Despite the ravages of the weather, a Persona point helped the mice through the snow and finally they made it to Copperwood. Thus ended the GMs turn.

The Players Turn

Casper: Decided to heal his Tired by seeking out his family home and resting there (succeeded)

Tander : Offered his help in the preperation of a feast to celebrate the arrival of the Guard and the Stonemasons in the town. Healed his 'Hungry & Thirsty' with Baker.

Connor: Wanted to send a message back to Lockhaven noting his suspicions regarding the Weasel. I spiced it up by placing what appeared to be a Weasel sympathiser as the Insectrist that would send the message-insect. Connor tested Nature (his suspicious Mouse ways) and succeeded, realising that the young mouse, Bella, smelled of Weasel! He whipped out his sword (as per both his Belief and his Instinct), bested her in a quick Fighting test and dragged her before the local Administator. Another Conflict, this time social, developed as the Administrator tried to defend the young woman against Connor's evidence (a plaited band of weasel hair used to misdirect the insects was found on her). It was, again, nip and tuck but the Guard Mouse won the day and whilst she was not locked away, she was under further investigation.

Casper: Attempted to find a healer who could mend his Weasel wounds, but failed.

Tander: (Having been given a 'nut' by Connor): Met a Patrol Leader Valmont with Jasper and discussed the performance of Connor on the trek to Copperwood. We decided that Valmont was infact the former mentor of Connor's brother Garalan who is part of 'the rebellion' and Conner's stated enemy. This scene was a little wishy washy and I don't feel we got to the nub of the issue - if there was an issue to start with - but Valmont went away convinced by the young mice that Connor had done nothing to constitute reason to report him - either to Garalan or Gwendolyn.

And thus ended the Players Turn. We discussed Beliefs, Goals and Instincts with some people earning fate and persona points and others admitting that they didn't deserve them. Jasper was voted the MVP and the concensus at the table was that there was no Workhorse etc. award to be given out.

Feedback was pretty positive, especially for a first run of a game. It took just over three hours to chat, generate characters and play out the single round of the game. It looks like something that would fit our timescales for gaming perfectly. I went into it pretty dry regarding story and just made it up on the fly (hey, who would have thought?) but it pretty much told itself in the end. The addition of the little condition and conflict cards made it so much easier and is a genius idea. I was very pleased and with a little bit more planning, some better attention to the wording of some of the Instincts and Beliefs and a deeper plot, I think it could be a great little game.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Best Laid Plans of Mice

Printers Hate Me.

Which is funny, considering I used to run a print shop! (Almost as funny as my near phobia about cold calling and my long years in ... phone sales. Go figure.) No, it can be virtually guaranteed that if I really need to use a printer, something will go very, very wrong.

I'm on the verge of running Mouse Guard as an off-week game alongside D&D. After playing it Furnace last weekend I have finally understood it as a whole, rather than as fragmented parts and it was excellent. One of the things that made it excellent was the little cards the GM had prepared with some of the rules on them. Thats far to simplistic to explain the awesome of these things - so I decided to make my own. The pics are downloadable on t'interweb.

Right, so I decided to try to print them in colour. Not wanting to tackle the Prontaprint around the corner and its extortionate prices, I thought I would try my father, who has a colour printer. Of course, his new colour cartridge and his new black cartridge refused to print in anything other than grainy black and white. The Gow Curse had hit this printer. Put me within 5 feet of a printer and it becomes nothing more than a rather unwieldy paperweight.

So I will use my printer at home, in black and white. That won't be a problem. I bought some card and splashed out on a laminater. I've been gagging for one for ages and at £9 from ASDA it was an absolute bargain. OK, so I set the printer to 'card' and upped the quality and ... greyscale. Greys, not blacks. Oh for fecks sake! Right, thats fine, that will do. Oh, and the ink wasn't fixing properly to the card. Wonderful. And then it starts smudging and smearing and ... really, why do I bother.

The cards are made. They look ... OK, but clearly shite. Considering my history with printers, I should have known really. It was never going to work well....

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Facebook Thoughts

Some random stuff:

1. Facebook is cool, but I am finding a sticking point when it comes to my different 'faces' in public. What would be really cool would be being able to have a facebook to address my close friends, one to interact with the wider gaming community and one to interact with my students. As it is, the assumption that my interests are shared equally amongst all of my friends is annoying. Its like a living example of the old Geek Fallacies thing.

2. One of my students was astounded that I didn't have my profile on lockdown on Facebook? I was curious as to why I should do that. After all, the information there is for people to read isn't it? Oh, don't tell me - you write stuff on Facebook status updates that you don't want some people to read? Pretty silly putting it on the internet eh? I've learned my lesson.

3. Farmville. Could it be used as a teaching tool for simple resource management? There is very definitely a number of strategies that you can pursue depending on the time you have and the willingness you have to click squares continuously. I doubt it would ever get accepted but I reckon you could do something regarding costs and returns on investment!