This week I did significantly less prep work than previously. I had the vague idea for this session's game and I was going to play it by ear by then. I knew I wanted to do more with the wilderness and animals and settled on the following premise:
The remote settlement of Cooperstown hasn't given word since last year. Nestled past the Caspian Mountains, Cooperstown loses touch, but Spring is here and the thaws are in full stride, but no one has seen or heard from Cooperstown. Caspian pass, dangerous on a good day, should be open, yet any attempt by mice to reach the people of Cooperstown fail and go missing. Find out why.
Luke Noblepaw, Patrol Guard
b to serve mice, the guard must also serve other animals as well -- especially the smallest and weakest
i When in doubt, refer to notes
g uncover the fate of Cooperstown
t inquisitive, fearless, wolf's snout
Garrow Gurney, Patrol Captain
b the Border must be maintained
i always use my discretion when given an order
g make sure no harm comes to his party members
t tough, fearless, fat, clever
b The Guard must prove to the frontiersmice that we are trustworthy and honorable
i When traveling, always look for places to hide and shelter.
g Reach Cooperstown
t independent, impetuous, nimble
Now there's two parts to this adventure I have in mind-- the first part is the journey through Caspian Pass to Cooperstown, going by an old destroyed monastery with it's church tower (and bell) perched above some of the last remaining ruins still standing.
The second part is why Cooperstown hasn't contacted the rest of the frontier-- an ongoing problem between an Owl and a Crow. An owl has taken the nest of a crow and killed the Crow's mate and has been looming over the tiny, hole of Cooperstown. The enraged Crow now maliciously attacks any creature it sees with blind fury-- especially mice.
My target is that the Mice will have to deal with the Crow one way or another. They can either fight it and end it's fury or attempt to reason with the angry crow and placate it with something shiny--- the Bell of the Monastery.
How It Went
This follow up mission after Sickness at Sun Break started with a group effort to navigate the treacherous Caspian Pass. This narrow switchback pass through the rough mountainous terrain is grueling, with only the sights of the ruins of an old Monastery to guide them. This is an Ob 6 pathfinder test.
Garrow says he's been through here before back in the war, and takes up the test. He asks Luke if his notes about odds and ends can help him redraw a map. (Luke succeeds on the test to make a map for supplies to this pathfinder test). With everyone helping and Garrow spending BOTH persona on this roll (1 for nature to the pool, 1 on an Of Course with his wise), they make it to Cooperstown.
At Cooperstown, the small band of mice appreciate the site of the Guard. They tell them about the Owl that haunts them Day and Night (Not knowing it's the Crow during the day) and how they're running low on supplies.
Then the sounds of an Owl (during the day) are heard, but I tell the party its suspicious and that it sounds like no Owl you've ever heard before. (It's the Crow being angry and taunting the mice!). Well Luke, Mist, and Garrow make it up to see what's going on, and Luke fails the hunter test to identify the sounds before it's too late-- the crow swoops down and tries to attack him only ending up stealing his glasses and flying off with them.
The party isn't keen on fighting the crow, but are determined to get to the bottom of this. They go out in the wilds in search of answers, where they met an old Ferret hermit-- too old to attack them. He still has his old crusades armor, The Ferret tells them the story of the Crow and the Owl in exchange for a story of their own -- Garrow providing a story from his war days, but the day is getting short and it's almost night. The party can't stay with the Ferret, but also don't want to risk getting attacked by the Owl at night, so they scout out a safe camping spot (Mist's specialty). End of GM turn.
The party spends some checks recouping their injuries and proceed back to Cooperstown to tell the people there how screwed they are. The people of Cooperstown are proud and resilient and do not like hearing they need to leave for their own safety. Many choose to stay knowing the circumstances, so Mist offers to help gather fresh supplies and maybe wait out this owl siege. I describe how risky this is, but she understands the risks and is determined to prove to these other mice her duties as a Guard.
Garrow, Mist, and Luke help 2 other mice leave heading back through Caspian pass, only to be set upon by the Crow. Which is where we'll pick up on session 3.
What Went Well
You know sometimes you have days like this one where things weren't firing right. It was a weird day. Writing this up, the session seems pretty dope, but in play it felt awkward all the time. I don't have a lot to say here.
What Could Have Been Improved
Our game of Mouseguard did not succeed at what I was setting out to do with it today. One big item I had a problem with was that today's session was very roleplay light. Today's session had a Fiction-Last approach, where we'd spend a lot of time figuring out the best way to get the most for our rolls. To be fair-- this was a very challenging day with everyone blowing all their fate and persona again to make it to the end. The fiction suffered for it though. I should have demanded more "yeah but what does that LOOK like?"
That problem was compounded by this other problem -- failing to create a proper mission. After Garrow solved my pathfinder obstacle through the pass, I kind of have to move my entire planned mission from the Pass to over Cooperstown. Originally I was thinking the Crow was stopping anyone from going through the Pass, so I had to improvise which led me to not focus on the other duties as Gamemaster.
The party was afraid to confront the Crow and decompressing, they realized that they need to be more heroic. They felt the same as I did that this session was awkward and thought that was a big problem. Speaking of which, I should have started a conflict with the Crow after the failed Hunter test by Luke, but I missed that chance! So it goes.
Lastly, I think I was afraid of stepping on the toes of my previous mission. My first mission had so many themes in play, I was afraid to repeat myself so I really shied away from more Mouse vs Mouse conflicts and themes which was a HUGE mistake. The game felt flat.
The next session will be much better.