Hark! Hear the Mouse-wise.
We are among you! We will
prevail! If able.
toughlad has been pushing this. I've seen it at Compleat Strategist, & sort of knew it existed & was big on Google Wave, but hadn't looked to hard at it. Well, now I have, & I like what I see, but there are pluses & minuses. First-- I think James nailed it as to why Mouse Guard is so effective. Once you buy into the core premise-- anthropomorphic mice-- the rest of the set-up has no additional burden on you to suspend your disbelief. Say for instance: "a chimera has moved into the forest near your town; you must dispatch it, brave sir Knight." In Mouse Guard that becomes "a snapping turtle has moved into the pond near your burrow; you must dispatch it, Guardmouse!" Just the whole range of nature becomes some sincere menace. Oh & I really like that weasels are the "dark reflection" of the mice, rather than rats.
As for the system itself, well. The best thing about it are the traits. You take a trait-- "Clever." Whenever you can use it positively, go right ahead! "Oh, well maybe I can figure out this weasel puzzle door, I'm Clever!" Ah, but in the vein of some of White Wolf's products, you are also rewarded when you use that trait against yourself. "Ah, I know I shouldn't mess with the Matriarch's cryptogram, but I'm Clever, & I want to see what it says!" That nets you in-game rewards; I'm sweet on that mechanic. In general the system is elegant & character generation is easy...but rather narrow. You can make a guardmouse-- anything else, not so much. Conflict resolution has a sort of rock, paper, scissors mechanic on top of the dice rolling, which I'm not too hot for: seems needlessly complex? & there is a lot of back & forth between Narrator & Player control of the story-- which I am interested in-- but I worry that the level of abstraction could take away from the little moments? Some of my favorite memories of gaming are the little vignettes, the little scenes that sort of spiral out of control into their own side-quest. I worry that too easy resolution might make that less likely. I'm not saying it will, but it is a concern I had. I do really like that resolution is not absolute-- so you might "win" a fight, but that doesn't necessarily mean your enemy is dead. & you might have to "compromise." So maybe you win but maybe the bad guy burns down your home. Or kills your pet cricket. Interesting quirks.