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So the Mouse Guard source book has entries on some wild animals people can use for their encounters. Here is a sample entry:

Green Snake

The green snake is a beautiful snake named for its brilliant scales. It hunts insects, but is otherwise harmless. They grow to about three mouse lengths, so it can be frightening to wake up and find one curled around your campfire!

Green Snake Nature 4

Insect Hunting, Hiding, Slithering

So it has a set of actions that are within its nature to do. That's fine, but what if the players want to try and talk to it? Naturally, its considered a Conflict, but if it's, say an argument, shouldn't the snake, being a snake, have some points in Deceiver? or maybe Persuader?

What should I, as a GM, do? Put my own points into those skills, keeping in mind the balance of the game and the nature of the creature, or just default anything not included in the book to Nature, as the book itself suggests? I feel some animals should have some skills they don't, like, say, the snake and Deceiver/Persuader.

Or is the book trying to tell me "Since I don't include some skills in the creature entry, that means those skills are outside the creatures Nature, so if it tries to do those skills, it should roll against Nature"? (I think that's what you do when you do something against your Nature anyway)

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

Animals always substitute their nature. If it's in their nature, just use their nature.

If it's outside their nature, however, they shouldn't be doing it... usually. Luke Crane has told me I was wrong to let a fox do something outside its nature... but the rules themselves don't bear that out.

Fleeing after injury (pathfinder) or finding a hidey-hole (pathfinder or scout) would be outside a wolf's nature, but would reasonably be doable, so just substitute nature, tapping it by a point if failed, as usual.

You Can, if it's dramatically or thematically appropriate, just give them the relevant skill at nature or lower, and not break the system.

A couple more edge cases:

  • anything which is based upon communication: the mice need to make loremouse rolls to understand it. So the sneering comments by the Fox are usually just "Yip Yap Yip Yap Grrr" to the mice
  • Predators generally don't bother intimidating prey. They only do so when both full and bored. So social interaction is unlikely.
  • If mice manage to coerce predators to flee, they've also earned the tapping of the predator's Nature.
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How about social skills? Would a wolf/fox/squirrel/snake not converse, and use Persuader/Deceiver? –  OddCore Jan 5 '12 at 9:12
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A wolf, fox, or snake, not with a mouse unless given no option. Further, the mouse would need to make a Loremouse roll to understand the wolf, fox, or snake. Squirrels require a pretty easy one; beginner's luck might suffice for it. –  aramis Jan 5 '12 at 9:17
    
Cheers friend, that makes sense : ) –  OddCore Jan 5 '12 at 9:30
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