(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 –
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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.