Spring is a busy time for the mice, and dangerous. The whole of the Territories—both animals and mice—emerge from their winter retreats and search for food and warmth.
- Spring Weather (6)
Spring in the Mouse Territories is short and cool. It snows in the early spring and then rains as spring turns to summer. Wedged between the snow and rain are days of sunshine.
- Clear and Warm
While the spring weather is often harsh and unpredictable, the season gently fades into a calm warmth that grows into summer’s heat. These clear, balmy days of spring are some of the most beautiful weather in the Territories.
- Spring Snow
After a month of calm, dry, cold weather at the end of winter, spring is typically ushered in with a spate of snow storms. Snowfall can factor into any outdoor skill or ability tests. Failed tests taken in the snow should grant the Tired, or if appropriate, Sick condition if the GM opts not to use a twist.The GM may demand the players pass an Ob 3 Health test for spending extended time in the snow. Failure imposes the Sick condition.
- Spring Rain
As the weather warms, spring snow turns to spring rain. The rain is usually cold and heavy, but it doesn’t last for more than a day or two.Spring rain is a factor in any test involving outdoor activity. If the patrol travels, fights or works in the rain, the GM may demand Ob 3 Health tests. Failure imposes the Tired condition.
- Spring Storms
Late in the spring, as the cool air begins to collide with warm winds moving up from the south, the Territories are rocked by volatile thunderstorms. While the forests and fields of the Territories are still too wet with snow for lightning strikes to be a fire hazard, errant strikes can sunder trees, damaging mouse settlements. Spring storms also carry the risk of flash flooding. The sudden influx of rain over stillfrozen ground that can’t absorb the water is very dangerous to mousekind. Flash floods can damage or destroy entire towns; they wash out bridges and destroy trails. In the wake of such flooding, there’s always work for the Guard.Storm weather factors into any skill test made while outdoors. Injury can be imposed as the condition for failure for any skill.
- Unseasonably Cold
Unseasonably cold temperatures keep rivers frozen and snow on the ground. Harvest and forage are all but impossible to find. Use the weather as a factor for these tests. During an unseasonably cold period, the weather conditions for winter apply instead of those for spring.
- Unseasonably Warm
On occasion, the spring will warm early and suddenly. While it’s a welcome respite to the frigid temperatures of winter, spring rain and quickly melting snow combine to cause viscous mud, dangerously swollen rivers and widespread floods. During such flood conditions, the mice require alternate modes of transport, such as rafts or boats, in order to traverse what they could typically walk. Crossing floodwaters is dangerous. Conditions of failure always include the possibility of drowning,
Sickness or Injury.
- Clear and Warm
- Spring Animals
Springtime is a riot of activity. Animals who have been hibernating emerge from their dens with insatiable appetites. Predators who have gone hungry all winter are on the prowl. Many animals
are in search of mates—and are therefore quite dangerous! Animals who mated in the fall or winter are now tending to their young. Wolves, foxes and coyote have young to feed. This makes them territorial and defensive, as the presence of their weak and vulnerable young attracts predators as well.Later in the spring, birds return in flocks, migrating back to their northern homes. They come in force and swarm available food sources. A flock of birds will devour all of the seeds and harvest in an area, leaving little behind for mice and other grazers.
- Spring Wilderness
The spring wilderness is treacherous, especially in the early part of the season. Mice must navigate the remnants of winter—ice and snow—while contending with explosive plant growth, sucking mud and swollen, frigid streams.Plant growth destroys trails. Beating or clearing new trails requires Pathfinding. Clearing shoots and roots from the foundations of outposts, towns and cities requires Laborer. Traversing swollen streams requires Boatcrafter or very difficult Pathfinding tests. Navigating half-frozen swamps can be done with Pathfinding or Nature, but the conditions of failure (if chosen by the GM) always include the risk of Injury or Sickness.
- Spring Duties and Tasks
For the mice, spring is a time for maintenance of both the exterior and interior of their homes. The settlements must also resupply themselves with wood and early growth like buds and shoots. There are many more specific duties:
- Scent Border
Over the winter, the scientists of Sprucetuck brew the next year’s batch of scent for the border. In the spring, Gwendolyn dispatches patrols to retrieve the barrels of scent and pour it at the proper locations along the border.This is a vital mission. It must be done at the proper time during the season or large predators will invade the Territories soon after. Pouring the border requires Pathfinder test to identify the proper locations and a Scientist test, helped with Loremouse and Hunter, to properly distribute the stinky stuff.
As the bees start a new colony, the hive needs attending by the Apiarist.
The soil of the Territories is inhospitable to crop plants. However, some settlements are home to determined mice who plant and tend crops despite the difficulty. Planting a field of seeds for later harvesting is an Ob 6 Harvester test. Scientist and Laborer may help.
Winter weather takes its toll on the mouse settlements. During the spring, the tradesmice and laborers emerge to repair the damage. Use Carpenter, Stonemason and Scientist to repair structural damage. More importantly, these work crews must be watched and protected from the hungry predators and scavengers ranging the Territories.
- Replenishing Stores
Those mice who aren’t repairing and rebuilding are out on a feverish hunt to scavenge all of the seeds, shoots and soft bark they can find. Once again, it is the Guard’s job to protect these mice.
If one settlement fared better than another during the winter, stocks will be traded for services and money. The Guard are often called upon to mind these caravans as they make their way through the snowy, muddy trails.
- Rescue Operations
Between all the work that must be done, the volatile weather, the floods and aggressive depredation, sometimes mice simply get trapped or stranded. It’s not uncommon for a patrol on another mission to stumble upon a group of civilians stranded on a root in the middle of a rising stream, or to find a furious skunk trying to burrow its way under a fallen log to get at some trapped mice. And, of course, it’s the Guard’s duty to rescue those in need!
- Mail Delivery
Over the winter, mice write letters to their loved ones in faraway cities. Businesses accrue logs of transactions that must be submitted to investors or partners. And birthday presents for nieces and nephews born over winter in far-off cities pile up. It often falls on the Guard to deliver the mail in the spring time. As Gwendolyn dispatches patrols to their spring missions, she’ll often give them a bag of mail to take to their destination.
- Scent Border
- Spring Celebrations
Throughout the Territories, mice await the coming of spring. They celebrate the rebirth of the land and its promise of bounty. It is the first time since the first frost that many mice are able to travel or visit friends and family in other settlements. It’s a time of looking forward and making resolutions. Every settlement welcomes travelers and offers open doors to mice from throughout the territories. The first fresh brews and soups are the taste of the celebration. Its coming is marked by the Vernalstar rising in the south.
After the hectic energy of spring, the summer season is when life is as normal as it can be for the mice. Days are long and warm. There’s plenty to do, but there’s also an unhurried attitude in the Territories.The official first day of summer is the summer solstice.
- Summer Weather (4)
Summers are warm and short, with an intense heat spell at the very peak.
- Warm and Humid
Most summer days in the Territories are warm and humid without a cloud in the sky.You may use the warm weather to impose the Hungry and Thirsty and Tired conditions as a result of failure.
- Summer Rain
Summer rain is common in the early part of the season. It grows more sparse as summer wanes toward autumn. Summer rain factors into Pathfinding and Scout tests, but it is otherwise mild and warm enough not to cause any other adverse effects.
Spectacular thunderstorms crash across the Territories in the late summer. They are sudden and fierce. They dissipate as quickly as they come. Lightning strikes from thunderstorms can touch off brush fires if the summer has been unseasonably dry. Thunderstorms can also cause flash floods if the conditions have been dry and the storm is sufficiently severe.
See Summer Wildernessfor more on brush fires and flash floods.Thunderstorms factor into any activity performed during the storm. They’re loud, windy and wet. Mice can literally be blown away. The conditions of failure for activity during a thunderstorm can always include Injury.
- Heat Waves
The Territories are usually hit with at least one heat wave during the summer. If mice perform strenuous activity during the day in a heat wave, the GM may force an Ob 3 Health test. Failure imposes the Sick condition.
- Warm and Humid
- Summer Wilderness
During the summer, the underbrush grows thick. It becomes a heavy, low-hanging canopy, impassable to larger creatures. Mice have no problem traversing it, but landmarks vanish in all the growth and it is easy to get disoriented. The GM may invoke heavy undergrowth as a factor in a Scout or Pathfinder test. On the other hand, the GM may grant bonus dice for mice using the underbrush to stay undetected for Nature, Scout and Hunter tests. This acts like the bonus dice from gear.
A summer without rain can cause droughts. The earth becomes dry and hard, and plants become brown and brittle. Droughts are a factor in Harvester and Nature foraging tests.
- Flash Floods
Thunderstorms can bring flash floods with them. If the rain falls faster than the ground can absorb it, the runoff flows to low-lying areas. As the volume of water grows, it picks up speed and force, carrying branches and debris with it. Flash floods are so named because of the suddenness of their onset. They usually come and go in an afternoon, with the bulk of the water sweeping through an area in a matter of minutes. There’s no fighting a flash flood. Mice caught in one must pass an Ob 4 Nature test. Failure can impose the Tired or Injured conditions, or in a twist, the GM can sweep the patrol away.Brush Fires and Forest Fires Brush fires in the Territories are devastating—they can consume a whole town in a matter of minutes. Brush fires can be set off by lightning strikes from thunderstorms, or as part of a twist from a failed Survivalist, Cook, Scientist or Militarist test involving fire in the outdoors. Any activity spent fighting or traversing a burning area forces a Health test at Ob 4. Failure imposes the Sick or Injured condition.
- Summer Animals
The summer is an active time for animals in the Territories. Owls and hawks are hunting for mice to eat. Coyotes and foxes are always on the prowl for easy pickings, though wolves are off after bigger game. Bears are active and causing trouble, but there is plenty of forage in the summer so they don’t specifically target mouse stores. Flying squirrels and ground squirrels are not above stealing away a few baby mice to eat as they forage for nuts. Wolverines and badgers are always a problem.
In the summer they can be encountered prowling around looking for new hunting grounds. And, of course, snakes and bullfrogs are always hungry and mice are at the top of their list of prey.
- Summer Duties and Tasks
Mice take advantage of the warm, clear weather to travel to other settlements and visit family and friends. Caravans frequently make runs between the cities. It’s common for these civilians to be accompanied by guardmice who are en route to, or returning from, other missions.
Stone, sand, wood, clay and metal are all gathered during the summer. Carpenters, stonemasons, millers and smiths are very busy. Town officials will request aid from visiting patrol leaders, asking them to guard their crews out in the wild.
Large-scale projects, like building bridges and outposts, and major settlement repairs are started at the beginning of the summer. Gwendolyn has been known to assign patrols to watch over certain key projects.
- Transport Escorts
Trade goods are shipped between the larger settlements during the summer. Huge, tottering, overloaded caravans are easier to transport during the mild summer months, but these shipments make ripe targets for scavengers and predators alike. Birds will descend en masse and attempt to raid grain carts. Squirrels will dash out of hiding and attempt to steal from the seed carts. Raccoons and skunks will bully their way into the lines and try to steal the whole thing. Shipments across water are at risk from otters, pike and snapping turtles. It is up to the Guard to protect these shipments and the mice who haul them, and to make sure everything and everyone arrives safely at their destination.
- Summer Celebrations
The long warm days of summer beg to be enjoyed. The mice of Copperwood, Lillygrove and Elmwood celebrate with four-daylong festivals. Merriment is the focus of the activities; with the harvest season coming, it provides a wonderful distraction.Competitive games and tournaments for swordmouseship, archery, climbing and boating are common. The end of each day is marked with a bonfire lit outside the city’s doors, where high achievers in competitions are fêted.
Fall sweeps away summer with cold rain and gray skies that quickly turn to frost and snow. Fall is one of the busiest times in the Territories. The mice must quickly harvest all of the supplies they can and prepare for winter before the snow comes and blankets the land.
- Fall Weather (5)
Fall starts off very pleasantly. The summer heat dissipates and the air turns crisp rather than cold, but this is quickly followed by tempestuous rains, frost and snow.
- Autumn Storms
Autumn storms are longer and more severe than their summer counterparts. Storm weather factors into all outdoor obstacles. The GM may force an Ob 3 Health test on any character traveling or working outside during a storm. Failure brings on the Tired or Sick conditions.
- Cold Rain
Cold autumn rain hinders travel and generally drives mice indoors. Factor the rain into Pathfinding and Scout tests. If the patrol travels for an extended time in the rain, the Survivalist skill must be
tested to ensure the mice do not become demoralized or sick. If the Survivalist fails to provide for his patrol, the GM may force Ob 2 Health tests for all of the mice in the patrol. Failure brings on the Angry or Sick conditions.
- Unseasonably Warm
Some years, the fall is unseasonably warm. It’s nice at first, but extended periods of unseasonable warmth increase the insect pest population and can cause sickness in whole settlements and blight harvests. During unseasonably warm fall conditions, use the weather and conditions for summer.
- Unseasonably Cold
Sometimes winter comes early. It is devastating. Early frost and snow kills the harvest before it can be taken in. During unseasonably cold periods, autumn storms and cold rain become snow storms and snow flurries.
- Autumn Storms
- Fall Animals
Fall is a dangerous and trying time for the mice. They are in competition with scavengers, like squirrels and birds, and grazers, like deer, for scarce resources. The Guard may be called in to clear an area of birds or squirrels so that harvesters and foragers may move in and gather from the area.Clever squirrels will follow mice to their settlements and watch how they store their grain. Later, they’ll come back and try to break into the stores and steal all those delicious nuts and dried berries. Predators are also on the prowl, looking to build up their fat stores for winter. Foxes, badgers, and wolves are all hungry and willing to eat mice!Owls and hawks still patrol the forest. Snakes, bullfrogs and snapping turtles are winding down and looking to hibernate through the cold.
- Fall Wilderness
As the leaves turn and fall in the autumn, the world of the mice changes. On one hand, it’s a simple matter to use the leaves as cover to get from one location to another undetected. That works for one mouse or small groups, but travel for caravans or large groups becomes very difficult. The leaves are slippery and noisy when traveled over. Mice on that surface are easy targets for predators. Grant an advantage to mice who are using the leaf cover to their benefit. But factor the leaves into Scout or Nature tests to move undetected acrossthe surface.
Fall brings the first frost. Mostly frost and temperature are part of the weather, but frost also affects how the mice deal with the wilderness. A sudden cold snap can be deadly. Frost can be used by the GM to invoke Survivalist tests. Failure conditions can include being Sick or Injured. Frost can also make food and water scarce. Frozen lakes or puddles are difficult to get adequate water from. Ice has to be melted or chipped away. Survivalist covers this process, but it should be tested in these circumstances.
- Fall Duties
The duties of the Guard in the fall are focused on protecting the mice who are vital to the Territory’s winter survival—harvesters, laborers, carpenters, stonemasons—and preparing themselves for winter.
- Guard Business
In addition to all its myriad duties, the Guard has its own business and problems. The fall is the last chance to take care of loose ends before returning to Lockhaven for the winter. Gwendolyn will often send patrols out on special, secret missions of vital importance during the fall months.
Mice are quickly harvesting, storing and curing their hauls. The Territories depend on them for the winter months!
Last-minute trade and distribution are undertaken, despite the difficulty of travel. Sometimes, due to the ground conditions, water travel will be risked—barges full of supplies sent downstream, watched over by fearless members of the Guard.Refresh the Scent BorderGwendolyn usually dispatches a handful of patrols to replenish and reinforce the Scent Border before winter settles in.
- Guard Business
- Fall Celebrations
All mice celebrate the autumnal equinox with a large multiday festival. This is the largest and longest holiday in the Territories. The MortenHarvest celebration focuses on the land’s offerings. Every grain store, larder, mill, stock house and cask is replenished. As a reward for their hard work, and to take joy in the bounty they collected, mice in every settlement feast on a sampling of their efforts. Thanks is given to the mice who work in the trades that make living possible.The week-long event is named after Morten, a harvestmouse who always shared his bounty with all the mice of his village. His generosity is now linked with the gifts that grow from the land. Gifts are exchanged as tokens of friendship and generosity.
Winter is long, cold and snowy. It is the hardest season for the Mouse Territories. The towns, cities and settlements must hold together during the cold, ice and snow and try to persevere until spring. If a disaster strikes during winter, its effects are magnified by the cold and lack of easy access to fresh food and supplies.Typically, Gwendolyn does not send patrols out in the winter. Most guardmice are called home to Lockhaven to rest and prepare for spring. In the game, this is represented by the Winter Session. If need demands it, Gwendolyn will dispatch patrols for vital missions in the winter. Rather than issuing orders for a mission, she calls for volunteers. Despite the danger, there are never a lack of paws raised.If you choose to play a winter mission, play out the season and mission as per the normal rules. Use the winter season write up to help flesh out the situation. If you decide not to play a winter mission, skip to the Winter Sessionsection. I recommend doing a Winter Session over playing the winter season.
- Winter Weather (7)
Winter is cold and snowy. It’s very harsh weather. Long trips in the winter should be undertaken using the journey conflict mechanics. The GM can set his objective to: freeze the patrol to death, get them caught in a snow drift, get them lost or any number of evil things. Also, Harvester tests cannot be made to acquire food from the land during the winter.
- Clear and Cold
Some winter days are simply clear and cold. It’s brisk weather that makes a mouse feel alive. There’s no hazard associated with traveling when it’s clear and cold.
It snows a lot in the Territories during the winter. Factor snow into Pathfinding, Scout, Nature and Health tests.
Once or twice a winter, there’s a massive blizzard that blankets the Territories in a couple of feet of snow. A blizzard factors into any testmade outdoors during or immediately after the storm.
Going anywhere in a blizzard requires a Pathfinder test. Failure is bad; twists should be catastrophic. The GM may also force Ob 4 Health tests on the patrol. Failure indicates the character is Sick or Injured.
- Cold Snap
It’s possible for the Territories to get wrapped up in a blast of arctic cold. This extreme cold is dangerous. Failure conditions for any outdoor activity should be disastrous—Sick or Injured. Use the extreme cold as a factor in any test that requires delicate use of the paws—they go numb!
- Ice Storm
Ice storms are the most deadly of all winter weather. They count as a factor for every test made while out and about. Also, if a journey conflict is undertaken during an ice storm, the GM may include the death of the patrol in his goal.
- Unseasonably Warm
Perhaps once a winter, the Territories will experience an unseasonably warm period of weather. These warm spells are welcome breaks from the harsh winter. However, during these periods, any precipitation counts as rain rather than snow. And any rain causes flooding and thick mud.
- Clear and Cold
- Winter Wilderness
The wilderness is deceptively peaceful in the winter. Snow cover blankets the land and makes it all seem so simple and beautiful.
- Snow Cover
Mice can walk on the surface of the snow with shoes—Celanawe uses acorn caps, for example—or burrow below the snow surface using Nature, Pathfinder and Scientist (for elaborate structures). Tunneling makes them less visible to predators, but it is slow, tiring, dangerous work. If a tunnel collapses, mice could be trapped. Traveling on the surface makes them vulnerable to depredation. Mice without proper snow gear—shoes, skis, cloaks, snow goggles—must count snow cover as a factor in tests surrounding travel. If you’ve got proper gear, this isn’t a factor.
Ice is generally not a hazard for mice. They are light enough that even thin ice won’t crack under their weight. Heavier predators do not have this luxury, so mice can flee across icy
areas to escape capture and let the predators break through the ice. On the other hand, a dunk in frigid water is much worse for a small mouse than it is for a hungry wolverine. Any mouse that gets submerged in frozen water must pass an Ob 4 Health test or become Sick.
- Snow Cover
- Winter Animals
Animal encounters are more rare in winter, but also fraught with more danger. The stakes are higher. Everyone’s hungry and there’s not enough to go around.In the Territories, if the Scent Border wasn’t properly maintained, wolves will range in looking to eat anything they can find. They prefer bigger game like moose, deer or even foxes, but they are not above easy prey like mice. Be wary!
Foxes, badgers and wolverines also prowl the winter forests. Foxes and wolverines in particular seem to enjoy the winter months. The forest is quiet and they can be kings for a little while.However, winter is when the scavengers like raccoons and skunks are the biggest threat. These creatures are persistent and intelligent—at least about food. They’ll stake out a mouse settlement and look for ways to break in and steal the stores. A settlement ripped open and robbed like that will not survive the winter months.
- Winter Duties
Most mice hunker down for the winter. While there’s little commerce and communication between settlements, the individual cities and towns are internally bustling with life.Weavers, potters and glaziers ply their trade, preparing for next spring. Laborers pick up odd jobs where they can, spending their meager earnings at the local tavern. Tradesmice like smiths, stonemasons and carpenters content themselves with small jobs until the spring comes and the big work projects start up again.Even the Guard gets a little rest, provided there’s no trouble that winter.
If a settlement is attacked by a scavenger like a raccoon or skunk, the refugees will often flee to Lockhaven for solace. If news of the disaster reaches Gwendolyn, she will dispatch patrols to aid the survivors as best they can.
- Message Running
On occasion, urgent business must be conducted over the winter. Patrols are dispatched to ensure these messages get to where they need to go.
Once in a while, visiting officials will find themselves trapped by early snows in a foreign city at the beginning of winter. When the weather settles into being cold and clear, these officials need to be escorted back to their home cities.
- Emergency Shipments
Lockhaven contains reserve stores of food and water in case of emergency. If disaster strikes another city, and it doesn’t have enough supplies to make it through the winter, Gwendolyn and her captains will negotiate a shipment to be dispatched to the ailing city. And, of course, it’s up to the Guard to get it there!
- Winter Celebrations
Yulefrost is a time for mouse families to gather and feast on warm foods in spite of the weather’s harsh offerings. All mice celebrate this holiday, but full-fledged festivals are held in Barkstone, Ivydale, and Burl. The spirit of the celebration is at the heart of mouse culture: not merely surviving, but overcoming seemingly impassable obstacles.This is also a time when mice honor their dead by sharing recollections of them in tales and songs, or in quiet reflection.