Last night, I swapped out normal bedtime activities for a little RPG fun with Sean and Kaylee, as I have been known to do.
For some reason, I always seem to ‘find the time’ to do this sort of thing on a night when I have a hard stop looming (in this case, a Star Wars game at 8pm), but we did manage to get the evening sorted out pretty quickly, giving us close to an hour to play.
Since we’d last played Mouse Guard (using a variant of the Risus rules set), I’d done a little shopping, and picked up a couple cool, custom Mouse Guard lego figs from crazy bricks – mix them together with a some weapons from Brick Arms, and we had pretty good minis for Conner and Laurel.
Do I need minis for this game? I do not. Not at all.
Did I want them for the kids to play with anyway, so they can gave Mouse adventures whenever they want? Yes I do.
So we grabbed our dice-rolling frisbee (hot tip: have smaller kids roll their dice in a frisbee or something similar – it really keeps the dice-chasing down to a minimum), the index cards on which we’d scribbled character sheets last time and, with Zoe tucked in and Momma running some evening errands, sat down to play.
“So, in case you don’t remember…” I began.
“We really need to figure out what happened to that postmaster mouse from last time,” said Sean, fiddling with his minifig. “If we can’t find him, there’s no way for Elmoss to get mail.”
I mean, seriously: the kid is five, and we haven’t played in two weeks. He can’t remember where he left the socks he had on five minutes ago, but this… this he remembered.
“I’m impressed, Seanie,” Kaylee said. She looked at me. “All I remember from last time was talking to those robins.”
“Right?” I said. “Okay, let’s investigate that house where the postmaster was attacked.”
Laurel (redfur, purple cloak)
Experienced scout guard mouse (4)
Animal spirit-talker (4)
((Falcon, my monarch butterfly companion (3))
Lucky shots: 0 0 0
Laurel travels light, with a narrow-bladed sword, a few daggers, and small pack of supplies.
Conner (brownfur, red cloak)
Sneaky guard mouse (4)
Heavily armed fighter (4)
(Buzzer, my dragonfly buddy (3))
Lucky Shots: 0 0 0
The two guardmice, with the assistant post-mouse in tow, went to the head postmouse’s home and started investigating. Windows were damaged. The front door was torn off the hinges, and the inside was in worse shape.
“I think I know what it is,” intoned Sean, as Conner. He looked at me, face serious. “Blood-eyed owl!”
“Please no,” Kaylee whispered.
“Well, I said,” something like an owl couldn’t get into Elmoss without people seeing it, and probably couldn’t get inside the house. It was definitely something bigger than a mouse, but not huge. What do you want to check out?“
The mice did some digging, and discovered some footprints in the flour scattered around the kitchen. Laurel (Kaylee) was able to identify the prints as weasel tracks, and Conner (Sean) realized they led down into the cellar.
Right about here, Zoe (two and a half) decided she wasn’t ready for bedtime, and showed up at the edge of the table, staring wide-eyed at the dice.
“Can I play? Pleaaase?”
Yeah, I’m not going to say no to that.
“Zoe, do you want to play a butterfly?” Kaylee asked, pointing out her sidekick to me.
“It’s okay,” I said, pulling my youngest onto my lap, “I’ve got an idea. Zoe, what do you want your mouse to be named?”
Emilie (brownfur, blue cloak)
Jumpy tenderfoot (4)
Assistant Postmouse (3)
(Stinkystripey, my bumblebee friend (3))
Lucky Shots: 0 0 0 0 0 0
“I- I’m c-coming with you,” said the assistant postmouse as the two guards headed down into the cellar.
The three mice got into the basement (some confusion here, as Zoe thought we were supposed to pick up all our things and go down into our real basement), and found a tunnel dug through the side of the cellar, behind a big shelf.
“What would a weasel want with a postmouse?” Laurel wondered. “It’s just strange.”
They followed the winding tunnel (hand-dug, but seemingly not that new) until the air began to change, becoming dustier and more mildewy… then it opened into a much broader space: the many-pillared spaces of Darkheather!
Laurel was astonished – she had no idea Darkheather extended so far under the Territories.
The mice looked for more tracks and, while they found none, spotted a light in the distance and crept toward it as quietly as possible (something Conner excelled at and the other two… well…)
As soon as they could make out voices and the sound of flowing water, they stopped. The weasel and the mouse where talking, and they didn’t sound like enemies.
“This bag is full of nothing but papers!” the weasel hissed.
“Those ‘papers’ are every message Lockhaven’s sent through my offices in the past year,” the postmouse explained. “With that, you’ll know everything they’re planning.”
“RRRRrrrgg,” the weasel growled. “I’ll take this to my masters, but if it isn’t as you say, I’ll be back here for our gold, and the next attack won’t be false.”
“Fine,” said the mouse. “I’ll be gone, in any case. I’m dead here – off to a new town and a new name. I’ll be in touch once I’ve settled in.”
“Can we grab that mouse?” asked Kaylee.
“Sure,” I said, “but the weasel’s in a kind of canoe in the waterway, and he’s already got the letters, so…”
Her eyes went wide. She turned to Sean. “Get. That. Weasel.”
Laurel moved to pin down the postmouse (working with her companion), while Conner charged straight at the weasel.
“What are you doing?” I asked.
“I’m going to jump right at him and chop his nose into pieces!” announced Sean, and he did… something with his mouse figure that snapped the blade right off his little plastic sword. Oops.
Kaylee rolled enough successes (we’re counting 4, 5, 6 as successes – part of the Risus Guard rules I’m using) to pin down the postmouse, and Zoe had her bumblebee buzz right at the weasel’s head to distract him.
Sean came in, rolling his four dice, and got two sixes and a five.
Now, in this system, sixes explode, so he can roll two more dice and count them.
Two more sixes.
Six and a two. The kids are howling with glee.
“So… that’s… seven success… on four dice.”
“Daddy,” said my wife, who’d been listening in from the next room. “I think he got him.”
Taking Sean’s minifig mishap as inspiration, I described Conner leaping out at the weasel and chopping the sword down into the weasel’s nose so hard it went right into his head and stuck, breaking the blade off before the weasel tumbled into the water. It was a real “Lieam versus the snake” moment.
Flawless victory. The mice retrieved the letter satchel, turned the traitor postmaster over to the locals, and prepared to head back to Lockhaven to report to Gwendolyn.
Zoe did great! She loved rolling however many dice I asked her to roll, and could even sort the successes from failures easily by focusing on pulling out the 1s, 2s, and 3s. Time to order a third mouse guard minifig…
Sean’s ability to keep track of everything from session to session impresses me, especially because he never seems to be paying attention until right when he needs to roll dice (don’t know where he gets that from…)
Kaylee, at 10, is much more interested in the larger mystery, and she’s so supportive of her siblings, even though it slows things down a lot and means we don’t get as much covered. She said something like “all I did was pin a mouse down in the fight, but… Sean’s roll was so awesome, it made up for it.”
And, just to reiterate: Roll dice in a frisbee or something similar – it really keeps the dice-chasing down to a minimum.
So: good game, good fight, good night!