Put simply, it's creator David Petersen who wards over Guard members Saxon, Lieam and Kenzie. In a sense, he's in charge of protecting the whole of Mouse Guard civilization itself. I recently got a chance to chat with David about how that world is expanding.
The Mouse Guard members have been seen fighting numerous foes like snakes, crabs and bats. Any chance we'll see the sworn enemy of mice, a cat, anytime soon? Petersen says no, "Seems too cliche for me. Besides, Mouse Guard is all about the medieval and natural world. I think if something that resembled a domestic house-cat wandered in, it would seem too modern." Seeing as how MG is set in that realm and with the many unique characters we've seen so far in the books it seems an obvious choice to take it to the next level: The Mouse Guard role-playing game.
The game was written by Luke Crane who has an already established role-playing system called Burning Wheel. It's familiar territory for him to turn a comic into a RPG, he created Burning Empires out of Christopher Moeller's two Iron Empires graphic novels. Petersen himself is no stranger to RPG's either. "My friends and I played a lot of games; D&D, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Rifts, Gurps, Robotech, Heroes Unlimited, Champions, Shadowrun, Amber. We even made a few or played storytelling games without dice," he said. Due to everyone's schedules Petersen says they opt for board games that can be finished in one sitting now, "Though the old crew has asked me to run a Mouse Guard adventure for them when the book comes out."
As to the actual game play for MG, Petersen says, "You still have a character sheet, roll dice to determine conflicts, act as a party and work towards a goal." The difference between MG and other RPG's is a large emphasis on not just stats, but developing your character to include as many details as possible. "Through a series of questions you answer as you create your characters, you develop who their parents were and what they did for a living, what your Guard mentor focused on in training, what all their names are, who you have good relations with, who you have poor relations with," he explained. Similar to having an alignment in D&D, in MG you have a belief. "Saxon's could easily be 'the best answer to any problem is found at the tip of my sword,'" commented Petersen, "Throughout the game you have to play your character that way. If not, there are mechanical rules to punish your behavior." Basically it's harder to do a task that's against your inner belief.
Now that you're thoroughly excited to play the MG RPG (like me!), when and where can you get it? "We are really hoping the printing can be done and in stock for Gen Con in August," said Petersen. Diamond has solicited the book so it will be easy to order it from your local comic shop. There's already a bit of MG merchandise out there already including the PVC set of Saxon, Lieam and Kenzie (who guard me from spiders at night), a statue of the trio and a plush Lieam. An oversized, slipcased, black-and-white version of Fall 1152 is in the works as well. "Unfortunately, the printing/proofing issues for the vellum inserts, embossed cover and slipcase have hurt the production turn around," said Petersen. It's aimed for a fall release. More regular issues of MG and a soft-cover of Fall 1152 are on the way following a restructuring at Archaia Studios Press.
Possibly the most exciting answer to come out of my chat with David was the news that Mouse Guard is going to be made into a movie. "We have a producer attached and we are working with a screenwriter to adapt the Fall story and elaborate on it to make a film," said Petersen. The producer he's referring to is none other than David Kirschner. Besides producing all of the Chucky horror movies and one of my favorite films, Hocus Pocus, Kirschner has been involved in numerous animated features during his career such as Curious George, Titan A.E., and The Pagemaster. Coincidentally enough, Kirschner got his big break producing another film about mice; An American Tail. The MG movie is still in it's very early stages and so far there's no timetable for a release.
Besides being focused on all things Mouse Guard, Petersen has a children's book deal with Harper Collins. "[It's] about a rabbit who has to search for a Valentine's Day gift on a very snowy Valentine's Day morning," he explained. He said the release date for that probably won't be until 2011.
I don't just love Mouse Guard because it's adorable (very!), I love Mouse Guard for it's wonderful storytelling. It's my favorite non-superhero comic out there. Above is the delightful little sketch David drew for me at Wizard World Philly that I told you about earlier last week. He whipped this up for me in no time and I'll treasure it forever. He's a truly gifted artist and an all-around nice guy. If you've never read MG, do yourself a favor and pick up Fall 1152 for starters, you won't be disappointed.