Scrap alignment: use this instead

Big Lebowski Alignment

From the current playtest package for D&D Next:

Instead of having players choose their alignment from the usual list, have them use this:

Please choose your preferred reward structure:

  • Gold
  • Equipment
  • Weird Equipment
  • XP
  • Prestige

Please choose your preferred method of conflict resolution:

  • Direct Violence
  • Indirect Violence
  • Diplomacy
  • Deception
  • Adventure Game Logic

Mouse Guard

(This wonderful summary is thanks to Something Awful Forums user Kestral. thanks for this, buddy!)

Mouse Guard is a game by Luke Crane based on David Petersen’s award-winning graphic novel series of the same name. In Mouse Guard, players take on the role of anthropomorphic mice who live in an enchanted forest in perfect harmony with –

Oh god what –

What is this I don’t even –

… All right, let me start over.

It’s Not What You Fight, It’s What You Fight For

Mouse Guard is Luke Crane and David Petersen’s game about mice with swords, how the world tries to exterminate them, and how they simply refuse to die. It is essentially the NORDIC BLACK METAL version of Redwall, replacing most of the loving descriptions of food and singing with vicious animals killing mice while even more vicious politicking does essentially the same thing. You can tone this down a bit if you’re playing with a younger audience – and Mouse Guard has become a big hit for the “gaming with kids” crowd – but it’s a serious game at heart.

The setting of Mouse Guard is what you might call “low fantasy.” There is no magic, few if any traditional fantasy elements, and the world operates according to well-understood natural laws. The exception, of course, is that there are sapient mice, and they’ve established what amounts to a medieval society in the middle of the forest known as the Territories. The mice of the Territories have created a quasi-military force – the titular Mouse Guard – to elevate themselves from their place at the bottom of the food chain and overcome the forces of nature. The Guard exists in an ambiguous social area somewhere between knights,Tolkien-esque rangers, and FEMA agents. They are thankless heroes who exist outside of mouse society to better serve it. When something has gone seriously wrong in the Territories and time is of the essence,members of the Guard are dispatched to put it right – even at the cost of their lives.

But despite their technology and fledgling civilization, they’re still mice: when you’re three inches tall a snake is a creeping horror out of Lovecraft, hawks are nigh-invincible dragon-like predators, a swollen stream is a deadly impassable torrent, and a good rain storm can annihilate farms and wreak enough havoc on your communities to put Katrina to shame. One of the distinctive features of both the comics and the game is the sense of scale they impart. You are playing small creatures in a huge and hostile world, but highly motivated ones. With swords.

Mouse Guard is a d6 dice pool system with success counting. Tests involves rolling a number of dice equal to a Skill or Ability and counting the number of dice that come up 4, 5 or 6 as successes, attempting to meet or beat an obstacle number either set by the GM or by the successes of another character. What it doesn’t tell you is that most obstacles are too high to be met by a single mouse unless they’re a serious expert: teamwork is one of Mouse Guard’s big themes, so you’re going to need a little help from your friends.

Make combat interesting

Make Combat Interesting

three-musketeers1

Here are some useful tips on ensuring that fight scenes are more exciting and fun.

  1. Make it more about the conflict itself and less about number crunching.
  2. Use morale for enemies. Rarely do people fight to the death. They’ll probably just turn tail and run or surrender. Those who fight to the death should be SERIOUS BUSINESS.
  3. Allow clever use of non-combat skills. Let social and mental skills be put to good effect. Perhaps instead of just punching people, let a character use manipulation to “dodge” through trickery and feints. Let someone use Athletics / Acrobatics to swing around and hurt people. Allow someone to use empathy to “predict” where the enemy is going to move/attack.
  4. Dish out conditions and status effects instead of damage if appropriate or cool.
  5. Don’t get bogged down with “realistic physics”. Use cinematic short-hand to keep things flowing.
  6. Use enemies that inflict HIGH damage, but who have very few Hit points.
  7. Always plan for interesting terrain. Always give the characters things to work with, like improvised props for weapons, defense and distraction.
  8. If the party is split up, allow players to run the enemies for you and roll their attacks. Less book keeping and keeps everyone involved.
  9. High Stakes! The fight has to be over quickly before the police arrive. They’re inside a burning building or sinking ship! Getting knocked over means you fall off the bridge! The monster has a poisoning/disease attack! Have the fight become a chase scene!
  10. Use a tracker to manage the ebb and flow of a fight instead of tracking HP. When it reaches key milestones, have something important happen (terrain changes, environmental effects, the bad guy changes form, allies come in, extra minions appear etc…).