Mouse Guard FATE – Skills & Animals

The last post about Mouse Guard for the FATE system concentrated on making characters. This time I’m focusing on the other inhabitants of the Mouse Territories: wild animals.

First, though, I want to present my list of skills for Mouse Guard FATE. It’s mostly the same as in the FATE core rulebook but with a few adjustments, including a new stunt that’s flexible for any skill.


Skills are assigned according to the standard pyramid in FATE Core (page 46) with a starting-character skill cap of Great (+4).





















This works as described in the FATE Core book, but it doesn’t necessarily involve machinery. Instead, Crafts is used for making anything that you can do with your hands and simple tools including baking, brewing, milling, pottery, and weaving. You can use it to overcome obstacles with a new creation and create advantages, but it isn’t used for attacking or defending except in extraordinary circumstances (although the tools made with Crafts might be).


Mice are too small to ride horses, but they ride many other animals when those creatures agree. In summer, the pheasant cavalry is a fast-moving force keeping the Territories safe while in fall and winter the hare-mounted rescuemice search out travelers lost in storms. Those familiar with FATE Core can think of this as the mouse equivalent of Drive.

Overcome: Ride is used in place of Athletics when you’re mounted, using it to overcome obstacles like rough terrain, fleeing an enemy, and leaping a gap. It can also be used for contests like chases and races. The scale and performance one can expect depends greatly on the creature you’re riding: a bluejay can’t run all that fast but it can fly a lot better than a hare.

Create an Advantage: You can use Ride to determine the best way to get somewhere overland, estimating the terrain that your mount finds easiest and thinking in unorthodox ways from how mice usually move. A good enough roll might let you declare an aspect like Fly Over It. You can also use advantages mentioned under Athletics including positioning, maneuvers, or putting your opponent in a bad spot.

Attack: Ride isn’t used for attack (see Animals as Mounts later).

Defend: You can use Ride to try to evade an attack, possibly helped by your mount’s nature aspects if they are applicable (see Animals as Mounts later).



Whereas the Crafts skill is used with items that are made with simple materials, smithing involves the heating and shaping of metal. Smiths are very important to the wellfare of the Territories, making items that allow mice to survive and thrive in a hostile world. Like Crafts it can be used for overcoming and creating advantages, but not for attacking or defending. Metal objects are often used in combat, but that involves other Skills.


Wises are a particular type of stunt that can be designed for specific topics. Generally, these topics are animals, cities, locations, or the environment but what’s allowed in your game is between you and your GM. Wise stunts can be chosen for any Skill and it’s certainly possible to have the same Wise in multiple Skills (although it’s usually more fun to have abilities in multiple areas).

Wises all have the same benefit: +2 when making overcome or create an advantage rolls regarding the subject. For animals, this can be used to track, find, recall information about, and communicate with that particular animal. For locations, this can be used for recalling information, looking for someone or something in the location, or finding information while there. For environmental topics, this might mean looking for dangers, remembering information, and making equipment relevant to that topic.

Sample Wises: Bear-Wise, Copperwood-Wise, Darkheather-Wise, Coast-Wise, Hare-Wise, Herb-Wise, Lockhaven-Wise, Owl-Wise, Path-Wise, Scent-Border-Wise, Snow-Wise, Star-Wise, Weather-Wise, Wolf-Wise.


Wild Animals

Making wild animals is different than making mouse or weasel characters since many of the Skills used by mice are not useful to a skunk or bullfrog. Instead use the following Approaches to represent the many different skills they utilize to move, hunt, and eat. A creature gets one of these at Good (+3), two at Fair (+2), two at Average (+1), and one at Mediocre (+0).


  • Careful: Guarded Approaches and defensive positioning as well as building up protections.
  • Clever: Finding intelligent solutions and overcoming obstacles as well as outsmarting enemies.
  • Flashy: Creating diversions, drawing attention, and attracting mates.
  • Forceful: Raw strength and barrelling through obstacles as well as dragging down prey.
  • Quick: Sprinting, darting, and evading predators as well as snatching up prey.
  • Sneaky:  Cautious stalking and testing boundaries, as well as hiding from predators.


All Approaches can be used for Attacking, Defending, Overcoming Obstacles, and Creating Advantages given the right circumstances. Most wild animals will be nameless NPCs but no matter what their NPC type they will have assets normal for their type and Approaches equal to the Skills. Player characters with pets, allies, or mounts can come up with their own Approaches and assets or they can leave this up to the GM.

Communicating with Other Animals

Most wild animals have no culture to speak of but it is possible for mice to communicate with them. To do so, they need to make a Lore check to get their point across. Each animal speaks its own “foreign tongue” (though the weasel family shares a common language) and the closer to mice the creature is the easier it is to understand. Suggested penalties for creatures are given in the table below.

Other Mammal

Large Mammal


Reptile / Amphibian








Animals and Scale

Mice have an advantage in sophistication and courage but they are some of the smallest creatures in the woods. Larger creatures have an advantage and the whole ecosystem operates along a hierarchy that mouse scientists call the Natural Order.Natural Order Chart

  • Animals may kill other animals the same rank as them, one rank higher, or any lower rank.
  • Animals of ranks lower than mice have one fewer Physical stress boxes (though they still gain extra from Physique).
  • Animals one rank higher than mice have an extra Physical stress box automatically (in addition to any extras from Physique).
  • Animals two or more ranks larger than you automatically overcome any attack actions using Fight or Shoot. They also will fill your Physical stress boxe with each hit meaning that a large opponent can quickly kill you if you try and stand in its way.
  • Animals one or two steps larger than you may be captured, injured, or run off using advantages created with Fight or Shoot.
  • Animals more than two ranks larger than you may not be affected at all by Fight or Shoot.

The only hope of driving off an animal larger than two ranks more than a mouse is through other advantages (such as the Lore Skill being used to make the Scent Border) or through an army of mice attacking. The army must be of the correct minimum size, however, according to the following chart:

Ranks Higher Size of Army
Two 20
Three 200
Four 2,000
Five 20,000

Animals as Mounts

It’s possible for mice to ride animals, but often mice find it more trouble than it’s worth. Animals need to be at least two steps larger than a mouse to serve as a mount and animals that big rarely have much time for mice. On the other hand, riding another animal can offer speed and safety to mice who need to cover vast distances. In some cases, such as when a mouse needs to cover a body of water, riding an animal can get them someplace they wouldn’t otherwise be able to reach. There are a few different steps to gaining a mount if a mouse is so inclined.


  • Capture the Mount: First you need to get a hold of the animal and the most direct way is to fight the animal (using the rules above) and subdue it. Because animals suitable for riding are automatically too big to fight directly, they require assets created using Fight, Shoot, or other skills. Sometimes, young animals are a size smaller than adults and easier to subdue.
  • Taming a Mount: Animals that are subdued can be made to respect and serve a mouse with a Fight, Physique, or Will test in a contested check. This should be an extended project if it happens during the game and it is up to the GM to establish the specifics. Animals can invoke their nature aspects for free when resisting this contest.
  • Negotiate a Ride: Although it is less direct and often more time-consuming, knowledgeable mice can also talk to an animal using the Lore skill (see above) and convince them to help with riding. Some animals that have pre-existing relationships with mice (such as the hares that work with the Guard or ravens that become associated with a community) will be easier to negotiate with and mice can get bonuses to rolls with them.


If a mouse is successful in forcing or convincing an animal to carry it, they get a few different benefits.

  • The mouse can invoke their own aspects as well as the aspects of their mount.
  • Speed (including flight or swim) is dependent on the mount instead of the rider.
  • When taking an action, they can have their mount attack instead of them. This uses the mount’s skills instead of the rider’s and makes use of any benefits from the mount’s natural weapons.
  • Mounts can fight other animals (using the option above) and potentially be affected by attacks instead of automatically overcoming. When a mount attacks another animal, consider the mount’s size when looking at the chart above. Predatory mounts can be considered one size larger at the GM’s discretion.
  • Most mice weapons can’t be used while mounted, but a mouse can use bows, spears, slings or other ranged weapons while mounted. Additionally, they gain a +2 to defense from ranged attacks as their mount’s size and movement can make them a harder target.

Example Animals

Below are just a few animals from the Mouse Guard book to give you a sense of how this works.


Larger and ornery, badgers are tough and voracious predators. When one gets beyond the Scent Border it is a major crisis and they are active all year round. A badger’s nature asset is Badgers are Powerful, Nocturnal, Keen Smellers, and Predators and they have scythe-like claws (Weapon:2).



There are many different types of bats in the Territories and all of them are quite different from mice despite the superficial similarities. A bat’s nature asset is Bats are Nocturnal Flyers and Insect Hunters. Unlike other animals, some bats can be made using Skills instead of Approaches.

Blue Jay

These intelligent and flashy birds are clever predators, though they only hunt insects. Some are befriended by mice but mostly they are just loud and obnoxious residents of the forest. A blue jay’s nature asset is Blue Jays are Screeching, Intelligent, and Talkative Flyers.


These small, inquisitive animals dig many tunnels and chambers to live in. They are much like mice, more so than their cousins the squirrels, and will compete for food supplies in the sparse months. If they had any sort of society at all they might compete for space in the Mouse Territories as well. A chipmunk’s nature aspect is Chipmunks are Foraging Burrowers with Cheek Pouches.

Flying Squirrel

While their name might seem innocuous, flying squirrels are very dangerous predators for mice. They steal and devour mice babies, swooping out of the night to snatch them up. When mouse pups won’t sleep, their parents frighten them with scary stories about ravenous flying squirrels. A flying squirrel’s nature asset is Flying Squirrels are Gliding, Climbing Stealers of Baby Mice.


Although they mostly subsist on insects or other amphibians, frogs will eagerly eat up a community’s livestock. A frog’s nature asset is Frogs are Leaping, Croaking, Swimming Eaters of Beetles.

Great Horned Owl

One of the deadliest enemies in the Mouse Territories, great horned owls are big, strong, and silent killing machines. Few have faced one of these birds and lived, and most don’t even hear the silent killers coming before they are caught and devoured. A great horned owl’s nature asset is Great Horned Owls are Silent, Flying Predators with Excellent Hearing and they have hooked beaks (Weapon:2) and sharp talons (Weapon:2).


Wading through the shallows along the coast, herons hunt fish with their long, spear-like beaks. They are beautiful birds but opportunistic and any who think these stalking giants are as harmless as geese or ducks will soon get a dangerous awakening. A heron’s nature asset is Herons are Stalking, Flying, Barking Waders. They have sharp beaks (Weapon:2).

Milk Snake

One of the most terrifying predators in the Territories, milk snakes are fast, strong, and silent killers. They choke victims to death with their powerful coils and can squeeze through holes to attack mice even in their underground cities and towns. A milk snake’s nature asset is Milk Snakes are Secretive, Slithering Predators that Hunt by Constricting. They have fangs (Weapon:1) and constricting coils (Weapon:2).



Amphibious like frogs, newts grow from an aquatic tadpole to a land-dwelling eft. In their final adult form some remain on the land while others adapt back to living permanently in the water. A newt’s nature asset is Newt’s are Swimming, Hiding Mosquito-Eaters. They secrete a toxin that can inflict poisoning Complications.


Though related to weasels, otters normally leave mice alone. There is little reason for mice to wander into an otter’s home on the banks of rivers but if they do then otters usually have little hesitation before eating this surprise meal. An otter’s nature asset is Otters are Playful, Whistling Swimmers who Eat Fish.


Exceedingly smart and curious birds, ravens are bigger than crows and the two birds are often mistaken for each other. Ravens tend to pay less attention to mice, though: they are after larger prey or dead animals to scavenge. Some that live near mouse towns can become local fixtures and might even have some sort of relationship with the town and cooperate if mice offer it tribute. Others befriend packs of wolves or coyotes and help them in their hunt in exchange for a share of the spoils. A raven’s nature asset is Ravens are Tricky, Acrobatic Flyers who Scavenge. They have strong beaks (Weapon:2) for picking apart food.


While they look like drab, grey songbirds, shrikes are actually cunning predators. They hide in the upper branches of trees until they see prey down below when they quickly dive and snatch up their victims in their talons, carrying them to a sharp branch or thorn bush to be impaled. A shrike’s nature asset is Shrikes are Flying Predators who Impale Victims. They have hooked beaks (Weapon:1) to dispatch their prey once impaled.

Star-Nosed Mole

These strange creatures have fleshy tendrils on their snouts instead of nostrils. They are nearly blind and have little interaction with mice, although sometimes moles will burrow into farms and devour the earthworms and beetles being raised by mice. A star-nosed mole’s nature asset is Moles are Tunneling Insect-Eaters with Sensitive Noses. They have digging claws to use in a fight, though they aren’t particularly effective.



4 thoughts on “Mouse Guard FATE – Skills & Animals

  1. Hi, I’m looking to run Mouse Guard using FATE core and love the detail that you’ve put up on your site. I’m curious about something you said under ‘animals and scale’. Quoted below.
    Animals two or more ranks larger than you automatically overcome any attack actions using Fight or Shoot. They also will fill your Physical stress boxe with each hit meaning that a large opponent can quickly kill you if you try and stand in its way.
    What do you mean by these two statements? I’m newish to FATE, but can’t figure out what you are trying to say here.


    1. I meant basically that if you use Fight or Shoot on something really big like a deer or a bear that it will just shrug the attack off. Mechanically, this means that you can’t use these skills to apply consequences to large creatures; fire all the arrows you like, they won’t be too bothered. The second sentence is about the larger animals’ attacks against mice. The idea there is that a successful attack against a mouse by a large creature can’t result in a consequence: if they hit, it’s going to go into your stress boxes. They’re just too powerful to trade blows so every time you are hit by the large creature it’s a “last-second save.”

      I’ll be honest that really large scale differences is my least favorite part of this adaptation. If you find something better at your table, please share back!


      1. Okay, here’s my thoughts…
        Keep all the stuff you wrote about scale, but allow mice to kill two sizes bigger and get rid of the point that I quoted last post.
        Replace it with some things from here:
        We’re going to take ‘lethal damage’ and give it to animals three sizes bigger and above. We’re also going to take ‘weight’ and modify it so that animals one size larger always get the double bonus and sizes two and above always get the quad bonus.
        Finally we’ll take the weapon rules and give them to some animals based on feel and how deadly you want them to feel (eg. Owls get weapon: 1)… Wait, I see that you’ve already done that. 😊

        I know I’m a fate rookie, but I think that might work while making fights with larger beats feel super epic and scary…


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