Game: A-
From 763 reviews

Mouse Guard

Second Edition


Publisher Description

Based on the award-winning Mouse Guard comic book and graphic novel series by David Petersen, this pen-and-paper traditional RPG designed by Luke Crane contains everything players need to know about the world of the Guard including rules for forming patrols and heading up missions into the Territories. Features artwork and extensive background material from series creator David Petersen.

An RPG Where You Play as Medieval Mice [ edit ]

The game Mouse Guard is based on the comic with the same name, started in 2006 by David Petersen, about a brotherhood of medieval mice with human-level intelligence.  The game was first released in 2008 as a single book, and then an expanded boxed set (which included extras such as action cards) was released in 2011.  In 2015 a second edition of the game was released, with a revised version of the boxed set coming in 2016.

Loosely based on the Burning Wheel RPG rules, both editions of the game were incredibly well-received by critics: the game won three Ennies, several Indie RPG Awards, and even took home the 2008 Origins Award for best roleplaying game!  The game's fans gave it strong support online also, resulting in the game ranking extremely high on sites like RPG Geek.

However, in spite of all that the game didn't manage to achieve major commercial success, and soon went out of print.  Unfortunately that means that if you want a print copy of the rules you'll have to buy it from sites that specialize in used/older games (like EBay or Noble Knight ) ... and because of the game's popularity you'll likely have to pay a premium (>$100).  If you want the game's (also extremely well-reviewed) boxed set instead, expect to pay even more.

But don't worry: even if you don't have $200+ to throw at an out-of-print medieval mice RPG, there's still a way to experience this great game, because it's available on Drive Thru RPG, as a PDF download, for a much more reasonable price.  That PDF doesn't come with the boxed set's cards, but it's easy enough to make your own if you want.

Mouse Guard, Second Edition - Rules SummaryCollapse

Character Creation [ edit ]

Character creation in Mouse Guard is accomplished through a sort of quiz, with the player answering various questions about their character.  Each answer both reveals the character's background (eg. how old they are, where they are from, what their parents were like), and provides their in-game statistics.

The first choice a player must make in Mouse Guard is their mouse's rank (eg. Tenderpaw, for a new recruit, or Patrol Leader for the team's captain).  After that they decide where in the world of Mouse Guard the character hails from, with different areas providing access to different skills (eg. a mouse from Grasslake could choose between Insectrist or Militarist, while one from Sandmason could instead choose Glazier or Weather Watcher).

Next the player picks a skill, as well as a trait, such as Bold or Independent (that choice is also limited by location).  The player then picks a natural talent, which is essentially their "class" (eg. Baker, Cartographer, Scout).  You then pick your parent's trade, style of convincing others (eg. Manipulator, Orator), your senior artisan, and what that mentor stressed in training (another talent).  After that the character picks another specialty (ie. another talent).

After all that the character determines their "nature" score, which refers to how human-like the mouse is.  A mouse with a nature of 0 is extremely human-like, while one with a 7 is extremely mouse-like.  Each mouse starts with a Nature score of 3, and then answers three questions (do you save for winder, do you run ror fight, and do you fear predatory animals).  The answer chosen both impacts their Nature score, and can also provide other benefits.

Finally the player gets to pick two topics that they are "wise" about (eg. "Nut-wise", "Path-wise", or "Wolf-wise"), and they get one more trait (that they were born with).  After that all that's left is to define the mouse's personality, details (eg. their fur color or beliefs) and their name.

Core Mechanics [ edit ]

There are two ways of resolving things in Mouse Guard: tests and conflicts.  Depending on the obstacle faced, one or more tests (ie. rolls) may be required, and if an entire "scene" is being run then the conflict rules are used instead.  Mouse Guard uses d6s exclusively, for all rolls.

To complete a skill test the player rolls a number of d6's equal to their rank in the applicable skill (ie. their "dice pool"), and for each 4 or higher rolled they gain a success.  Different tasks will require one or more successes (as determined by the GM), known as the "Ob" (ie. obstacle difficulty), and if the player gets "extra" successes then they succeed at the action by a greater margin.

Combat [ edit ]

Mouse Guard's combat rules actually aren't just for combat.  Instead, they can be used to cover any sort of conflict, from  physical battles to tense negotiations, and from chase scenes to noble speeches.

In conflicts each player plans their action, which will be one of four options: Attack, Feint, Defend, or Maneuver.  If you own the game's boxed set version, it comes with cards that can be placed face down for this purpose.  The DM also chooses actions, and then both sides reveal their choice, one player at a time.  The player then consults a 4x4 table, combining their action with the GM's to determine the outcome (which likely involves making a test).  There are also rules for players working together, as teamwork was a key part of the Mouse Guard comic.

When it come sto injuries, instead of using "hit points" (like Dungeons and Dragons), Mouse Guard has a condition-based system.  A character can have the  following conditions: Healthy, Hungry & Thirsty, Angry, Tired, Injured, or Sick.  Different conditions can be combined, so an unlucky mouse could at once be Sick, Tired, and Injured.  Each condition has its own description and associated rules.

Extremely Highly Rated, Mouse Guard is THE Mouse RPG [ edit ]

As mentioned before, Mouse Guard took home a lot of trophies from various gaming awards, but I'd argue there's an even stronger sign of the game's quality: at the time of writing Mouse Guard currently ranks #24th on RPG  It's important to keep that number in perspective: it's out of every RPG on RPG Geek!  That ranking is more than 50 ranks ahead of The Burning Wheel (the game its rules are based on), and it's also ahead of industry titans like Vampire: The Masquerade, GURPS, and even some editions of Dungeons and Dragons!

In other words, both critics and fans agree: if the idea of playing as mice (with human intelligence) in a medieval setting appeals to you, Mouse Guard is a game you need to try.  The only problem is that, being out of print, it can be expensive to acquire the original hard copies of the game (especially it's high quality boxed set) ... but thanks to Drive Thru RPG it's still possible to experience this great game, at a much more reasonable price point.