Sunday, 23 September 2012

Vargr Moon - a Mouse Guard RPG Blog

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Share it Please

It's been far too long since I wrote about anything Mouse Guard related on this blog. It was almost a year ago since we last played it as it unfortunately didn't really take off with the group I played with. I don't think it was that they didn't enjoy themselves, but I do think it was hard for them to get into the Burning Wheel mindset. As well as perhaps a general roleplaying game fatigue after our long WFRP3 campaign. Sooner or later I will get back into Mouse Guard though, of that you can be sure.

Anyway, to remedy the lack of Mouse Guard and to promote a blog that really deserves it I wanted to talk a little bit about Vargr Moon by Komorigumo. It's a blog that started earlier this year (partly thanks to my session report I would like to think. Hehe!) chronicling the adventures of a patrol of Guardmice and talking about roleplaying in the Mouse Guard setting in general, as well as the specific conditions of this particular campaign. Small things, like these assumptions, might differ from the "official" Mouse Guard comics but they make perfect sense and the freedom of creating or modifying your own world is what makes roleplaying so great in the first place!

The actual play posts are very detailed and effortlessly switch between immersive storyteller mode and actual games jargong. In fact they are so well told that they could easily work as pre-written adventures for your own Mouse Guard campaign. There's information available for all the different obstacles (with little stat boxes!) and all the challenges tossed at the Guardmice are typed out. Now, Mouse Guard is not a game that need much prepp in the first place, but still... there's an awful lot of work put into these session reports and I think they form the meat of the blog. Love 'em!

There are posts devoted to fleshing out the cities of the Territories as well. So far Port Sumac and Wolfepoint have received the treatment and they include descriptions of both the cities themselves as well as what Guardmice hailing from them might be like. Again this are Komorigumo's vision of what they are like but it's just as inspiring as reading anything put forward by Luke Crane himself and I'll likely incorporate them into my own game when we get around to playing again.

All in all Vargr Moon is a smashing piece of bloggery and I always feel the urge to get back to adventuring in the Territories when reading it! If you are interested in Mouse Guard I definitely think you should check it out. Even for roleplayers in general it's a great read that can provide you with ideas for your own games as well as giving you a taste of what playing Mouse Guard can be like.

Vargr Moon recently celebrated 1,000 hits, let's bump that number up a bit, shall we? :)

8 kommentarer :

  1. We had similar issues with Burning Wheel, which is too bad because it's a great game and such a unique genre.

    Now Savage Worlds Mouse Guard on the other hand...

  2. thanks for sharing.

  3. @Mik - Yeah, I think it's largely due to us being veteran roleplayers and used to how a rpg "should" be. Burning Wheel works differently and is probably best approached with a fresh pair of eyes. I think it'll work for us old boneheads as well, you might just have to thump a little harder though.

    @Anonymous - You're welcome! :)

  4. Wow! Martin! Thank you for the very kind words! Your session report was absolutely an inspiration, very much so. I'm at a loss for words: I keep typing and deleting and typing and deleting... So let me just say that I am flattered. You've made my day.

  5. I think Mouse Guard (I can't speak to Burning Wheel or Burning Empires) works really well as written. I think there is a playing curve in addition to a learning curve, and it has taken our group four or five sessions to get a feel for how it plays. That said, ultimately we are not a fan of the Rules As Written style of GM turn/Player turn. I don't like how it meta-games itself, and how Luke advocates that all any Player really wants out of an RPG is "go, go, go, action, conflict, fight!". So after playing by the book, I've slowly broken away from the RAW GM/Player structure to suit our gaming table's preferences. All that aside, the actual system of the game are a thing of beauty, and are the reason why I don't think the setting ported over to another system would be as enjoyable at all.

  6. @Komorigumo - You absolutely deserve it, mate! It's a great blog and although 1,000 hits is a nice milestone I thought I would try to bring some new readers to your corner of the web. I'm happy to have made your day. ;)

    There is definitely a playing curve. After reading through the book, going back to re-read large parts of it and reading about the game on the Burning Wheel forums it started clicking for me. But the rest of the group were only exposed to it for as long as our sessions went and we would have needed two or three more to really make it work for them I think. However, I would love to run it for some non-roleplayers as I think they'd take to it a lot quicker!

    I agree that it wouldn't feel "right" to play Mouse Guard with a different system. For some reason the setting and the system are intrinsically linked in my mind and I'm not sure how to take them apart. Using another system I'm worried it would just feel like playing any other fantasy rpg... except you are mice. Hmm...

    I'll most likely stick pretty much to the RAW for quite some time as I want to really see it in action. The GM/player turn is an interesting concept but can also feel artificial and gamey. Guess it depends on how well the turns "flow". More hmm...

    I've also wanted to run Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay using the true Burning Wheel system. That's probably a bit further off though.

    By the way, for some reason Google thought your comments were spam, that's why they didn't show up at first. :)

  7. I'd wondered what happened to my posts. I'm happy they were salvageable. I posted from work and we use an outdated version of IE and are behind a pretty thick firewall, so maybe that had something to do with it.

    The game's mechanics are really tied to the setting, and really complement it. From the intrinsic Nature mechanics, the Conflict! subsystem, Conditions, Fate and Persona points, Belief, Instincts, and how Checks work, all the way to how Skills are learned and rolled. Everything is tied together in such a complex way that all work so well together. You are absolutely right - to reimage Mouse Guard with another system would just feel like playing another low Fantasy rpg... except you are mice.

    Our group has had games where the GM/Player turns have flowed very smoothly, but at the end of the day it still felt gamey, and very artificial. I call it meta-game, but its the same idea. So as I mentioned, I've slowly added to the GM/Player turn in terms of pacing and opportunity for more traditional roleplay. It has helped a lot - but it took 6 sessions to find that sweet spot - and even so I think the game is still evolving.

    Thank you for the extra traffic, my friend. Already since your post I have more pageviews in two days than I had all last month, and the number of people following the blog has almost doubled. =)

  8. It's definitely meta-gaming, which I think to a veteran roleplayer immediately feels like something bad. Especially if you are coming from the simulationist branch of rpgs (like myself and most Swedes). However, in the "indie" games of recent years I think I've seen an increasing trend of meta-gaming included in the system. Often the aim is to further the story or character development using outside factors.

    For example, in the recent Swedish game Svavelvinter (Sulphur Winter) you write down a prophecy at the start of the campaign and you play until it has been fulfilled. Then the campaign ends and you can actually name a winner. A very different take on "traditional" roleplaying. There are also other interesting stuff like different levels of play (character level and shadow level). You can read more about it, in English, at Wilper's Blog.

    Anyway, games like this have made me start thinking about meta-gaming in roleplaying games and about accepting them if they further the story along. Now this is all me theorizing still, but after playing through The Gathering Storm I really felt that I needed a shift in the way we roleplay. Exploring new directions might be the way to do it.

    But then of course, if it doesn't feel right it doesn't feel right. It's your game, do whatever you want with it of course. In the end we might go back to what we're used to anyway.

    Glad you got some extra traffic and a bunch more followers! Hopefully the blog will grow and the exploration of the Territories will continue. :)


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