A reader of this blog might have noticed I like to make things. So even my recent obsession - TTRPG games - leans towards making things. Let me share how I made a small Mausritter supplement based on content I created for my Mausritter campaign.
I have been running a Mausritter campaign for a party of two people for several months. I have already briefly mentioned it in “My personal renaissance of pen and paper games” and I also explained how I run the campaign in “low-lethal” mode.
We play a campaign based on The Estate. The players (and characters) went through most of the adventures in the collection and their campaign is getting to the end game, and they are soon going to enter into conflict with the most powerful factions. The characters are already quite a high level for Mausritter (4) and have several loyal hirelings and several overpowered items.
I created The Whites to be a group of antagonists that would pose a serious challenge to them, they would have to be creative in defeating them. The resulting NPC group and their hideout - a dungeon which had been built a long time ago by bat cultists - are now published as “pay what you want” on ithch.io. My by my beloved partner Anna made all the illustrations apart from the maps which are hand-drawn by me in a lousy attempt to follow an amazing guide on Paths Peculiar. We published only the part that didn’t depend on The Estate (the only thing left is the well) and on our campaign.
The Whites and The Estate campaign
This section is going to contain spoilers for The Estate adventure collection. It could also require some knowledge of The Estate to be really understood.
Let me give you a partial rundown of what happened in our campaign. I’ll focus only on the events that relate to The Whites and the way how I integrated them into our story. I have been playing the faction mini-game between adventures and all of them were slowly advancing their goals. Furthermore, I kept projecting those advancements together with character actions to all the tables (rumours, encounters and events in Brickport) as we went through. I am skipping many details which are not important for introduction of The Whites. Maybe I’ll write the “full” breakdown of our campaign once the players finish it.
- Characters arrived at Brickport. Their first hook was for Chapel of eternal peace. They were asked to find a lost mouse and bring her back to her parents. They had a short skirmish with Reverend Goldenfur, during which they stole his magical amulet and got away. They also got enough evidence to destroy his reputation (and the reputation of the cult) in Brickport.
- At this point, I added Reverend Goldenfur as a proper faction. His first goal was to get back the amulet. Note that there already was another faction (Magpies) that wanted to get the amulet as well.
- The information about the fact there are multiple buyers for the amulet spreads through the underground in The Estate (represented by Goadholm).
- Their next adventure was the Ember tree. The adventure went well and when they summoned an elemental, their last wish was to harass Goldenfur more and steal more of his valuables.
- The room they had in the inn in Brickport got broken into and searched. Thankfully, they have everything valuable in a bank, including the amulet.
- The next adventure was Fruit of the Orchard.
- One of the characters starts a romantic relationship with Butter Grant (NPC hireling).
- The next adventure is Snake in the sewers. They save Ursula the witch. Ursula invited them to visit her.
- They take the amulet from the bank and go to visit Ursula. I placed her on the north edge of the map (they stumble upon the Workers work, rulers rule adventure on the way there). Eventually, they arrive at Ursula’s place, and she explains to them how the amulet works. I had to detail this myself, together with a history of the amulet. I must admit I might have made the amulet too powerful.
- PCs are bothered by the burglaries in Brickport, so they decide to investigate them to make sure their possessions are safe. This leads them to Goadholm. I detailed the settlement and also the Bone Gang a little bit, so they had a nice opportunity to meet part of the criminal underworld of the Estate. They were ambushed by two thugs who tried to steal the amulet from them.
- The next adventure was Mush Rush, quickly followed by Frogacle race. They win and can ask very clever questions about the agendas of Sabrina, Zipporah and “two-headed rat”. They are learning a lot of important information for their endgame.
At this point, an interesting thing happened when I played the factions mini-game. Two of the factions (Magpies and Goldenfur) achieved their goal “get the amulet” at the same time. I didn’t want to take the amulet from the player characters without any agency so I came up with a small adventure where “losing the amulet” would be a possible outcome.
This is where The Whites come in.
The Whites came to The Estate because they were hired by Goldenfur to get the amulet back. They followed the trail of the amulet and eventually found the player characters. They learned about them, and their dear ones, and plotted a plan. Furthermore, they also learned there are multiple buyers and didn’t hesitate to take advance from all of them while still planning to run a surprise auction and sell to the highest bidder because that’s the kind of scoundrels they are.
Their plan ended up being as follows:
- They’ll enter Brickport, wearing common clothes, and pretending to be merchants.
- Percival, Erin and Balthazaar would enter with their cart dragged by Krflaf (a Rhinoceros beetle). They would check if PCs left the inn and park it below a balcony of one of the rooms. Percival waits outside.
- Erin and Balthazaar hire a room in the Inn but instead of going to their room, they would break into the room of one of the PCs where they would kidnap Butter Grant - lover of the PC. They would stun him and put him in a bag and drop him from the balcony to the cart.
- Balthazaar and Percival would leave with Butter Grant. Erin would stay and spy on PCs.
- Once Percival and Balthazaar had enough time to get away from Brickport, Erin would hire a mouse kid to deliver a letter: “If you ever want to see your beloved again, bring the stolen amulet to the old well by midnight on the nigh of the full moon. Don’t try any funny stuff.” and she would leave the town as well.
- They would hide in their hideout, which is located in an old ruin of an underground bat-cultist temple. The temple is hidden in the walls of the old well in The Estate.
- After two days or so they would set up the handover place neither far nor close to their hideout. They would put a few torches there and a letter for PCs to leave the amulet there and go back home to wait for the kidnapped to return. They would be hidden around to make sure everything goes as they want, but they wouldn’t give PCs any opportunity to negotiate or demand.
- They would release Butter Grant somewhere far away from their hideout, making sure he doesn’t know the way back, and they would initiate the auction.
Their plan worked well until it interacted with PCs.
- I started the game by narrating how one of the PCs came to the room and Butter Grant wasn’t there and and described some signs of struggle. She quickly realized something happened and gathered the party.
- PCs know the gate guards in Brickport pretty well, so they got the information about an unusual group of merchants with a cart and beetle who came and left. They even got info that there was one mouse less when the cart left.
- They left some of their hirelings by the gate to stop anyone who would match the description of Erin in a cheap cloak.
- When they asked around, they found someone who told them it was parked under their balcony.
- They got some info from the innkeeper.
- A mouse kid approached them and gave them the letter. They tried to catch and interrogate the kid, but it got scared and managed to run away.
- Erin chose to wait a bit until things de-escalate and didn’t leave the city immediately.
- One of the players introduced an amazing story twist with a bit of world-building included. She remembered an old guard who was watching some goods in the port and their cockroach, Jim. She explained that her character knows that cockroaches are very good at tracking, and she knows that because her boyfriend (the kidnapped Butter Grant) was a nerd about insects, and he kept talking about them and sharing all the interesting facts all the time. I really loved how she connected facts which I established (the NPC was their “insect interpreter” and “sharing details about insect life all the time” was a quirk the NPC had) together and added a bit that would help them to proceed with the story. So I did let them have it, even though it meant they’ll skip part of the adventure.
- Before leaving, they convinced the Mayor to give orders to the guards to stop and hold anyone suspicious. This delayed Erin even more.
- They convinced the old guard to help them and started under the balcony, where the beetle stood for a longer time. They eventually tracked the beetle all the way to their hideout.
- They entered the dungeon, carefully sneaked around, killed ghostly Juniper, saved the hostage and had an encounter with resurrected Juniper and the rest of the party except Erin. The players managed to defeat them in their non-violent way: freed Juniper from the artefact, befriended Balthazaar and captured Percival, Riff and Raff. Later, they also captured Erin when she finally got back to the hideout.
What was left
You can see, that all the details about the amulet and the connection to Goldenfur and Magpies wouldn’t make sense in most of the other campaigns. Even those which actually take place in The Estate can have different development, and the Goldenfur’s amulet does not have to be an important element at all.
Therefore, I stripped all those details down. What was left was the NPCs, their backstory, the location in the walls of the old well and some hints on how to incorporate this into other campaigns.
I didn’t really think it was worth publishing, but my players kept telling me I should, so I took it as an opportunity to try to learn something new. Working with my partner on shared projects is always fun, and when she started painting the illustration, I just had to put the thing together.
We enjoyed the process, and we are already working on another one. This time it’s going to be a proper adventure, for the Winter has come Mausritter Jam. We have a nice pile of ideas, let’s just hope we finish it.