Ok, I’m coming at this from the angle of someone who has never read the comic. The Geek Husband What Rules has, in fact we have both graphic novels. He describes it as very Redwall-esque, only with mice and weasels as the only sentient characters. Other animals are still animals. However, I haven’t gotten around to it as of yet. That said, I am really, really enjoying playing the Mouse Guard rpg.
I’ve played Burning Wheel before, and reviewed it here. Mouse Guard seems to have taken most of what annoyed me about Burning Wheel, and eliminated it. What Luke Crane’s done here is to streamline and simplify the Burning Wheel engine to make it more accessible to people who may not have played a role playing game before. This makes sense since the game is being marketed to fans of the comic, who may well be younger and into comics, but not into RPGs as of yet. Character creation is shorter and more simple than with Burning Wheel. Granted, you still script out combat in three attack rounds, but it seems to work more smoothly with this “lighter” system.*
In Mouse Guard, you play mice in the Guard, striving to protect mousedom from the evil weasels, ferrets, stoats that would victimize and eat them. Your character creation includes choosing your mouse’s fur color, cloak color, parents, friends and role in the Guard. Much as with Burning Wheel’s lifepaths, you decide what your parents did which gives you a skill and a trait. Then you choose your mentor in the guard and what he did (and therefore taught you). You also choose other skills based on your role in the guard. By answering questions, you decide your mouse’s resources and circles, which is how renowned your mouse is.
As with Burning Wheel, you choose an Instinct and a Belief, that drive your mouse. A Belief is your tell to the GM as to what you want your part of the story to be about. An Instinct is an “always” statement. “I always look up every few feet,” or “Life is short, play hard, fight harder.” You are encouraged to change your Belief and Instinct as your character develops in the game. Also, the way our GM runs it, your Beliefs and Instinct may change, but your Goals do change from session to session.
I’ve had a lot of fun with it so far. The system works well with the changes that have been made to simplify it for a less gaming savvy audience. It’s a much cleaner, more streamlined version of Burning Wheel, and I think it will be very accessible to younger or newer players.
*I had to include a “Burning Wheel-lite comment in here, because the distant sound of Luke Crane’s grinding teeth warms the cockles of my coal black little heart.