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Personal anecdotes

Bad play or bad player?

This is a purely personal experience that I wanted to share. The game Mouse Guard is a Luke Crane game and therefore it definitely has reward structures and game mechanics.

As a player therefore you can often choose to do things that are extremely beneficial to your character and detrimental to NPCs and even the rest of your squad if they choose to ignore the the logic of the game.

Take boss fights for example, if you get involved in a boss fight then there is a real possibility that your character can be killed and the mission failed. If you decide to pass on a boss fight you might lose the mission but you are able to fight another day. In fact mechanically you suffer no real penalty for failing in a mission since the reward system works in another way (it is based on penalising your skill checks).

Mechanically speaking then when you come to a boss fight you need to understand how well or badly you are doing and what the chances are that you will be able to win. If you’ve taken too many licks then you decide to duck out and instead play out your character’s reaction to the failure to protect their charges.

In my most recent game though the rest of the players were horrified that I would duck the final confrontation and potentially let a village starve. Despite the fact that such differences of opinion are what the game is about.

D&D is the game where the group sticks together no matter what. Play that instead of this indie crap.

Of course I was fine with their approbrium until it came to the play end phase when another player decided to “punish” me by refusing to lend spare dice and collapsing the post-game actions phase. Of course the irony is that I wasn’t being punished as I had suffered less than other people and therefore the people who had collaborated were punished.

At the end of the session which consisted of two missions my character had lost a mentor, saved a friend and the village had been saved and then enslaved by weasels. My character was in possession of weapons, armour and no negative conditions (having started the game with a negative condition). I had enjoyed the game and by sticking to the rule reward mechanism my character was manifestly better than the other fleeing, hungry and enslaved members of the patrol.

However in doing so I had pissed off the other players for whom heroic defeat had some cachet that I can only really place on their expectation of how roleplaying characters are meant to be: somewhere between the Three Musketeers and the Fellowship of the Ring combined with the traditional D&D party.

So was I bad player for refusing to align myself with the other player’s expectations of behaviour? Or were they all indulging in bad play and refusing to engage in the dilemmia of being a mouse in a dangerous world?

Well predictably both accusations are true. There’s no fun to be had in being the unaligned player in a group and frankly there is no fun to be had in bashing your head against a brick rule system. Players and rules need to come together in a synergy.

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