The benefits of playing mice with swords

One blog, that I enjoy reading is the ChattyDMs, and in one part it is because he plays both classic RPGs in the shape of D&D and indie-games such as Mouse Guard and 3:16, and it is interesting to follow his explorations of different types of roleplaying games – there his Mouse Guard-reports are fun reading, and in part because he includes descriptions of his and his players reactions, when they play, thus his reports are not glorified summaries of everything, that we wanted to happen in the game.

So go read his summaries on Mouse Guard (round 2: GM’s turn, players’ turn), while I prepare the other half of this post.

Oh, you might also want to take a look at this post, which is written by one of Chatty’s players to further expand on people’s experience trying new ways to play.

In praise of indie-games

One thing that truly caught my interest in indie-games a few years back, were their ability to create new and different stories, and their ability to support the player’s in expressing their characters. Playing My Life with Master just isn’t the same thing using GURPS or d20 as the core system, as it is using the story game-mechanics employed in the MLwM.

You could more readily play Mouse Guard with the GURPS-rules, just as you can use the MG-rules for other settings, but MG in my opinion (naturally) allows the players to express various aspects of their characters and rewards them for doing it. In GURPS you would usually buy a disadvantage and do your best to avoid it entering the game, as it would usually disrupt the game or just make things more difficult – even though the disadvantage might just be the thing, that makes your character interesting. In indie-games such as MG you have traits, that can be used – as chosen by the player – both in a negative and in a positive manner, and even if it is used in a negative manner, it rewards the player for doing so. In other words whereas the players’ best option in GURPS is to avoid having their character’s disadvantages from entering the game (thus making it the DM’s job of using them against the characters), MG rewards the players for doing so.

The other positive thing about games such as MG, is that they remind us, that describing things does not have to be the GM’s domain. It can easily be part of the players, and often players know better to describe their characters’ actions, than the GM, since they after all know their characters better. The good thing about all this is, that some of these delightful ideas can easily be imported into other RPGs, and we make use of several of these concepts in my D&D 3,5 and 4,0-campaigns – and it is fun.


  1. Thank you kindly for the link. I must say that we are all under Mouse Guard’s charm at the moment as all players seem to enjoy it in equal parts.

    I plan to explore a few other RPGs between now and Christmas so we can settle down for a full blown campaign. So far Mouse Guard is ahead but I’m leaning toward Burning Wheels and Savage Worlds too.

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