safety and prosperity.
Let it be your conviction, your pride, your home.”
—Dedication recited by all Mouse Guard Matriarchs to new guardmice upon entering Lockhaven
This section describes how to create a character for the Mouse Guard roleplaying game. It isn’t necessary to play the game. It’s for advanced or curious players only. The templates provided in the Mouse Guard section of the book should provide plenty of fodder for play until you’re comfortable enough with the game to create your own characters.
Creating a character is done in 21 easy steps. In these steps, the player makes choices and answers questions about his character’s concept, rank, age, Nature, hometown, life experience, Resources, Circles, traits, name, fur color, parents, senior artisan, mentor, friend, enemy, cloak color, Belief, Goal, Instinct, and gear. It sounds like a lot, but it’s not. Most of the steps are very short.
All Together Now
When creating characters, read each step and its instructions aloud to the players. Take the process question by question. We do it this way for two reasons: It’s faster, and it creates a full-fledged patrol rather than a collection of oddballs.
Before we start, think about what kind of character you want to play in the world of Mouse Guard: A grizzled veteran, a young upstart or something in between. What’s his personality like? What’s his specialty?
Chris wants to make a tough guardmouse. He’s a fighter, but he doesn’t like fighting.
What level of experience or rank would you like to play? There are five ranks for the Mouse Guard: tenderpaw, guardmouse, patrol guard, patrol leader, and guard captain. All have their benefits and drawbacks.
Tenderpaws are fresh recruits. Guardmice are the foot soldiers of the Guard. Patrol guard are veteran guardmice responsible for complicated or independent missions. Patrol leaders are Patrol guard who have demonstrated they can think independently and guide other mice. Guard captains are powerful mice appointed to the highest rank in the Guard due to their longstanding service and exemplary valor.
Except for special circumstances, there can only be one patrol leader player in your group. Guard captains are rare and may only be played at the discretion of the group. If a guard captain is allowed, there may only be one per group. If a tenderpaw is played, one of the other players must be his mentor.
Chris decides his character will be guardmouse rank. He wants to keep it simple.
Two Patrol Leaders in a Patrol
In groups of four players, there can be two patrol leaders if the other two players wish to take on the roles of tenderpaws.
Mouse Age and Ability
Your starting Will and Health scores are determined by your Guard rank. Choose an age based on your rank.
Chris decides his guardmouse is a young 22 years old. His Will is 3. His Health is 5.
All characters have a base Nature of 3.
Answer the following three questions to determine your final starting Nature score. The choices will limit some of your skill and trait choices later. Note any restricted items on your character sheet list for now.
- Do you save for winter even if it means going without something now? Or do you use what you have when you need it?
If you save for winter, increase your Nature by 1. You may not take the Bold or Generous traits.
- When confronted, do you stand your ground and fight or do you run and hide?
If you run and hide, increase your Nature by 1. Decrease your starting Fighter skill, if you take it, by 1.
- Do you fear owls, weasels and wolves?
If you do, increase your Nature by 1. You may not take the Fearless trait.
Chris decides that his character does not save for winter. He stands his ground when confronted, but he does fear owls, weasels and wolves. His starting Nature is 4.
Where Were You Born?
Choose a mouse town or city in which your character was born. Each city has its own culture as represented by the skills and traits it provides.
A busy working-class town.
Skills: Carpenter, Potter, Glazier
Traits: Steady Paw
One of the oldest cities and home to one of the two mines in the Territories.
Skills: Smith, Haggler
A once prosperous city, known for its medicinal moss.
Skills: Carpenter, Harvester
Renowned for its bakers and bread.
Skills: Harvester, Baker
Traits: Hard Worker
The home of the Mouse Guard.
Skills: Weaver, Armorer
Traits: Generous, Guard’s Honor
A busy little port town between Darkwater and Rustleaf.
Skills: Boatcrafter, Weather Watcher
Traits: Tough, Weather Sense
A simple town known for its delicious drinks!
Skills: Mason, Harvester, Miller
Known for its scientists, medicine and scent concoctions.
Skills: Scientist, Loremouse
Traits: Inquisitive, Rational
Choose one trait and one skill from the city in which your character was born. Note them on your character sheet and put a check next to them.
Chris decides that his guardmouse is from Elmoss. He notes the Carpenter skill and Alert trait on his character sheet in the appropriate spaces. He puts a check next to them both.
You will be given a number of choices in each of the following sections. Each time you choose a skill, check it off or note it on your character sheet. You may choose or check a skill multiple times, either using multiple choices from one section or from various sections.
Each time you check a skill, you’re making your character more experienced in that area.
Starting Skill Ratings
To determine your starting ratings in the skills and wises you chose, count up the number of times you checked each one and add 1. That total is your starting rating for that skill. Note the rating on your character sheet next to the skill.
Checking a skill three times gives a starting rating of 4 — three checks plus one.
The maximum starting rating for a skill is 6.
The character sheet lists a number of skills that are most common to guardmice. Your character probably won’t start with ratings in all of those skills. Most likely, you’ll choose to focus on a handful of skills. That’s okay. You can learn those others during play, or rely on your patrolmates to pick up your slack.
If you want to choose a skill that’s not listed on your sheet, write it in an available space and place the appropriate number of check marks next to it: one, two, three, or whatever.
Pick an area in which you’re naturally talented.
Tenderpaws and guard captains choose two. Guardmice, patrol guard and patrol leaders choose one.
Chris chooses Deceiver. He puts a check next to it on his character sheet.
What was your parents’ trade?
Tenderpaws choose two; all others choose one. Also, note this skill next to your Parents on the character sheet.
Chris chooses carpenters for his parents. He puts a check next to the Carpenter skill on his character sheet. He already wrote it in when he decided he was from Elmoss.
How do you convince people that you’re right or to do what you need?
Patrol leaders and guard captains choose two; all others choose one:
Chris chooses Deceiver again. He wants his character to be able to intimidate people. He puts another check next to it on his sheet.
With whom did you apprentice for the Guard? What was that mouse’s trade?
A young mouse seeking to join the Guard applies in either the spring or fall. They meet with a guardmouse in charge of new recruits and are welcomed into Lockhaven. These raw recruits are then distributed among the various tradesmice in Lockhaven to act as assistants, laborers and apprentices. For their first two seasons of service, they are apprenticed to these senior artisans. In this capacity, they help see to the material needs of the Guard.
Check one skill from the list below. In addition to checking a skill, note the choice next to the Senior Artisan.
Chris’s character’s senior in Lockhaven was a Carpenter. He checks the skill again.
What did your mentor stress in training?
After his apprenticeship, the recruit is assigned a mentor. This guardmouse slowly introduces the tenderpaw to patrolling and other Guard duties. The tenderpaw’s job is to do the labor and grunt work so the mentor’s paws and mind are free for facing the dangers they encounter. After a few seasons of tutelage, the mentor will recommend the mouse recruit to Gwendolyn for promotion to full guardmouse status.
It is the mentor’s role to train the recruit as he sees fit. Some mentors may have more rigorous training methods or requirements than others. Some may focus on different aspects of Guard life — some may emphasize Weather Watching as one of the most important ways to stay free of danger, while others may focus on Fighting and some stress Scouting and Pathfinding.
Each guardmouse is trained by a mentor. Tenderpaws and patrol leaders choose two; all others choose one:
Chris’s character’s mentor stressed the Survivalist skill during training.
What kind of experience do you have in the Guard?
All guardmice have a range of training and experience in skills important to their role. Within that training, some mice specialize in just one or two areas while some try to keep a broad skill base.
You may choose from the following skill list based on your experience with the Guard. You may make a number of checks based on your ranking as follows: tenderpaw 3, guardmouse 6, patrol guard 8, patrol leader 9, guard captain 12.
Tenderpaws may consider Laborer part of the above list.
Guardmice may consider Haggler part of the above list.
Patrol guard may consider Cook part of the above list.
Patrol leaders consider Persuader and Loremouse part of the above list.
Guard captains may also consider Orator, Militarist and Administrator part of the above list.
As a guardmouse, Chris has six checks to spend. He puts three checks next to Fighter, two next to Hunter and one next to Scout.
What’s Your Specialty?
Each player, except for tenderpaws, may add one check to a skill from the list below. Each player must choose a unique specialty — no two players can have the same skill as their specialty.
Chris chooses Survivalist for his specialty. He places another check next to it on his character sheet, for a total of two checks.
Count check marks made for each skill and add 1. That total is your starting rating for that skill.
The maximum rating for a skill is 6.
When everyone has tallied their skills, continue on with the next set of questions.
Chris’s skills look like this: Fighter 4, Hunter 3, Survivalist 3, Scout 2, Deceiver 3, Carpenter 4.
What are you particularly knowledgeable about?
There is a special subset of skills known as wises. These skills represent pure knowledge and experience.
You start with a number of checks in wises in proportion to your rank. You may only spend these checks on wises. Tally your wises checks when you’re done — count the checks and add one to determine the starting rating.
|Rank||Checks for Wises|
Mouse Guard Wises
Choose from the alphabetized list below or read the Specific Wises headings for guidelines on creating your own wises:
Apiary-wise, Armor-wise, Autumn stormwise
Badger-wise, Barkstone-wise, Bird-wise, Blizzard-wise, Bramble-wise, Brush fire-wise, Burrow-wise
Celebrations-wise, Clear and warm weatherwise, Coast-wise, Cold rain-wise, Cold snap-wise, Copperwood-wise, Coyote-wise, Craft-wise, Crime-wise
Darkheather-wise, Deer-wise, Drought-wise
Elmoss-wise, Epidemic-wise, Escort-wise
Famine-wise, Flash flood-wise, Forest firewise, Forest-wise, Fox-wise, Freezing-wise, Frog-wise
Governor-wise, Grain-wise, Guard captainwise, Guardmouse-wise
Harvest-wise, Hawk-wise, Heat wave-wise, Herb-wise, Hidey hole-wise
Ice storm-wise, Ice-wise
Lake-wise, Leaf cover-wise, Lockhaven-wise
Mail-wise, Medicine-wise, Moose-wise, Mosswise, Mouse Guard-wise, Mud-wise
Open ground-wise, Owl-wise
Path-wise, Patrol guard-wise, Patrol leaderwise, Planting-wise, Poison-wise, Pond-wise, Predator-wise
Raccoon-wise, Rain-wise, Raven-wise, Rebellion-wise, Recipe-wise, Road-wise, Rocky terrain-wise
Scent Border-wise, Shaleburrow-wise, Shieldwise, Shore-wise, Shortages-wise, Snake-wise, Snow-wise, Sprucetuck-wise, Squirrel-wise, Star-wise, Stream-wise, Swamps-wise
Tall grass-wise, Tenderpaw-wise, Thorn-wise, Thunderstorm-wise, Tide-wise, Tradesmousewise, Trail-wise, Transport-wise, Trap-wise, Tunnel-wise, Turtle-wise
Unseasonably cold-wise, Unseasonably warm-wise
War-wise, Weasel-wise, Widget-wise, Wild country-wise, Wild mouse-wise, Wolf-wise
Specific Town Wises
The wises list provides examples of wises for towns — Lockhaven-wise, Elmoss-wise, etc. If you wish to take a wise for an unlisted settlement, you may. Note the settlement and add “-wise” to it. You’re done.
Specific Animal Wises
The wises list provides example wises for animals — Raccoon-wise, Owl-wise, etc. If you wish to take a wise for an unlisted animal, Turkey Vulture for example, you may. Note the wise on your character sheet as Turkey Vulture-wise or whatever animal you wish.
Specific Mouse Wise
You may take specific wises for types or groups of mice—Mouse Guard-wise, Governor-wise, Wild Mouse-wise, etc. If you do not see the group of mice listed in the wises, you may develop your own wise to represent the group. For example, Armorer-wise, Apiarist-wise, Bandit-wise and so on.
For his character, Chris chooses Lockhaven-wise 2 and Governor-wise 2.
Resources represent the Guard’s pay, but also how resourceful and clever the mouse is with his possessions and material goods.
Your character’s base Resources rating is determined by his rank: tenderpaw 1, guardmouse 2, patrol guard 3, patrol leader 4, guard captain 5.
The following six questions can modify that score:
- In winter, do you still practice a trade like weaving, smithing, or pottery for the Guard?
If so, increase Resources by 1. You must have the skill for the trade in question. You may not take the Leader trait to start. You’re too busy.
- Are your parents smiths, politicians, merchants or apiarists?
If so, increase your Resources by 1. Your parents must be of the noted trade and may not be in the Guard.
- Do you like to buy gifts for yourself and your friends?
If so, decrease your Resources by 1.
- Are you thrifty?
If so, increase your Resources by 1. You may not take the Generous trait to start.
- Have you ever been in debt? Or are you generally bad with money?
If so, decrease your Resources by 1.
- Do you always pack carefully for a journey, ensuring you have everything you need?
If so, increase your Resources by 1. You may not take the Bold or Fiery traits to start.
Chris decides that his character practices Carpentry in the winter at Lockhaven ( + 1). His parents aren’t any of the indicated types (±0). His guardmouse is not particularly generous (±0). He’s not thrifty (±0). But he’s been in debt (-1). Being a survivalist, he does pack carefully for long journeys ( + 1). This is a net of + 1 added to his base of 2. His character starts with a Resources rating of 3.
The Circles ability represents how well-connected your character is.
Tenderpaws start with a Circles rating of 1. Guardmice start with a Circles rating of 2. Patrol guard and patrol leaders start with a Circles rating of 3. Guard captains start with a Circles rating of 4.
Answer the following questions and modify your starting rating accordingly. The minimum starting rating is 1.
- Is your mouse gregarious? Does he have lots of friends? Does he make friends easily?
If you answered yes to 1 or more of these, increase Circles by 1. You may not take the Bitter or Jaded traits.
- Do you have strong ties to the Guard? Perhaps a family tradition or allies within the Guard?
If so, increase Circles by 1. Either your parents must be in the Guard or your mentor must be family.
- Has your character accomplished some great task in the Guard? Does he already have a reputation?
If so, increase Circles by 1.
- Does your character have powerful enemies in the Territories?
If so, reduce Circles by 1.
- Has your character been convicted of a crime?
If so, reduce Circles by 1.
- Is your character a loner, tough and cool?
If so, reduce Circles by 1. You may not take the Extrovert trait.
As guardmouse, Chris’s character starts with a Circles rating of 2. He’s not gregarious, but he does have an easy disposition (+1). He has no family tradition with the Guard (±0). He doesn’t want his character to have accomplished anything great yet (±0). He decides that he has a powerful enemy — a patrol leader of another patrol (-1). He’s not been convicted of a crime (±0), nor is he a loner (±0).
That’s a net of ±0. He starts with a Circles rating of 2.
Traits describe the personality quirks and special qualities that all of the guardmice possess.
Trait selection is similar to skill selection. You can choose a variety of traits or choose one or two traits multiple times. Each time you choose a trait you increase its value. There are three ranks of traits.
The first rank of a trait gives you + 1D once per session in a situation where the trait would be useful to the task at hand. The second rank gives you + 1D for every roll of that ability when appropriate to the trait. The third rank of a trait allows you to reroll all of the failed dice (cowards!) from one roll appropriate to the trait once per session.
Choose a quality you were born with
All players get one check from this list. They can reinforce their hometown trait if it’s available, or pick something new.
At this point, Chris has a good feel for his character. He built his skills to be tough and capable. He’s not rich, but neither is he poor. He doesn’ t know a lot of mice, and has made some enemies. Now he wants to pick a trait to give him an unexpected softer edge. He chooses Compassionate. He writes that on his character sheet and marks the first level of the trait.
Choose something you learned or inherited from your parents
This is for tenderpaws only. Take one check on this list.
Life on the Road
Patrol leaders and guard captains may also choose a trait that represents a lesson learned during their tenure in the Guard. Guardmice and tenderpaws may not make this selection.
Choose a name for your character.
Common Mouse Names
Chris decides to name his character Baron. It’s not on the list, but he likes the sound of it. And the name is similar in spirit to Saxon.
Choose a fur color for your mouse. Brown is most common, followed by blonde and gray. Black and white are uncommon and red is rare.
Chris decides that Baron’s fur is light brown.
You decided where you were born, what you learned and inherited from your parents. Now it’s time to name them. Choose appropriate names and write them on your character sheet.
Chris names his folks Ma and Pa Twistwood.
What is the name of the senior artisan whom you apprenticed with? Name him now and note him on your character sheet.
His senior is named Feris the Carpenter.
Who was your Guard mentor? In the case of tenderpaw characters, this must be a current player character, preferably a patrol leader. If not, then the mentor must be an older mouse. For other, more experienced characters, the mentor must be either an NPC or a player character with the Oldfur trait.
Baron’s mentor is a patrol leader named Gavin. He frequents the forests near Baron’s home, Elmoss.
Invent a character who is a friend to your guardmouse, someone who would help your character without hesitation. Choose a name for him, pick his profession or specialty and place him in or near one of the towns or cities on the map.
In an effort to make his character even more interesting, Chris decides that Baron’s friend is a mouse named Tuk. They grew up together in Elmoss. Baron went on to join the Guard, while Tuk fell on hard times and became a bandit. Even so, Baron never faulted his friend and still tries to remain close to him.
Invent a character who is an enemy to your guardmouse. It is preferable that the enemy be a mouse and not another animal. Choose a name for him, pick his profession or specialty and place him in or near one of the towns or cities on the map.
Your enemy can be from before your days in the Guard or from your time in service. It is permissible for the players to choose a common enemy.
When he was answering his Circles questions, Chris thought it would be cool for Baron to have an enemy in the Guard. He decides that Baron has run afoul of another patrol leader early on in his career. A mission went wrong and now these two mice do not like each other at all. Chris names him Paul.
Your mentor gave you your cloak on the day you were formally inducted into the Guard. What color is it and why? What part of your personality made your mentor decide on that particular color? Tenderpaws do not start with a cloak and therefore do not make this choice.
For Baron, Chris chooses a gold cloak. He tells the group that his mentor chose it to reflect Baron’s compassionate core.
Stop and discuss what’s going on in your game before going any further. Check out The Mission if you need to and then come back to writing your Belief, Goal, and Instinct.
Write a Belief for your character based on how he views his role in the Guard. A Belief is an overarching ethical or moral stance.
Chris writes the following Belief for Baron: “I’ ll build a good name for the Mouse Guard.” He bases this Belief on Baron’s compassionate side. He knows that Baron is going to be called on to fight and hunt, but perhaps he can use his talents to demonstrate that the Guard is a force for good.
Writing Beliefs is discussed in The Mouse Guard wiki.
Write a Goal for your character based on the mission you’ve been assigned. A Goal is an objective you could feasibly accomplish in the near future via the actions of your character.
For the Deliver the Mail mission, Chris chooses, “I will ensure that none of my patrolmates come to harm on this mission,” for Baron’s Goal.
Writing Goals is discussed in The Mouse Guard wiki.
How does your character react? What has your guardmouse been trained to do? Write an Instinct for your character.
In order to play off of some of the history that he built for his character, Chris writes the following Instinct: “Anticipate what the patrol leader needs.”
Chris tells the group, “This is for two reasons. First, Baron really likes Dain, our patrol leader. Second, Baron remembers the bad blood between himself and his last patrol leader. He wants to try to head that off this time around.”
Writing Instincts is discussed in The Mouse Guard wiki.
What weapon does your mouse carry? Common choices include: shield, knife, sword, staff, spear, hook and line, halberd, sling and bow.
Does he have any other tools or devices for his job? Note your choice down on your character sheet.
Trying to keep it simple, Chris chooses a halberd for Baron’s weapon and a carving knife as an additional piece of equipment. If he needs anything else, he’ ll make it on the fly using his
All characters begin the game with one fate point and one persona point. Write them in on your character sheet now.
Chris notes these on his character sheet in the appropriate spot.