Neither Sacred nor Profane.
One interesting thing about Mouse Guard is that it seems to have no religion whatsoever, as far as I can tell. No priests, churches, etc. The bats some some kind of belief in "souls" (at least for bats) but I haven't found any mousy beliefs in the supernatural.
A second interesting thing is that, no matter how evil, or alternatively, no matter how crude, mice never use words that would turn into something like "*********" on many message boards. The closest to profanity or even political incorrectness I have found in the comic is "oldfur" and even that could simply be descriptive.
Or am I wrong in my observations? I only have read Fall 1152 and issue #4 of Winter 1152, so for all I know Saxon swears like a sailor.
Mouse Guard is intended for all audiences...
I get no sense of a deep overriding religion, but I do sense a touch of spirituality, in how they deal with the dead peddlar.
I've felt that no religion or spirituality that we have could really translate to Mice. The concept of merciful dieties cannot possibly be founded by a race that gets eaten by everything on a regular basis.
Maybe having pagan-like traditions in regards to the seasons, but nothing that would really deal with spirits or gods.
And owls as being death incarnate, with cult-style worshippers. Well, worshippers is probably the wrong word.
Originally Posted by Speargrass
I was actually thinking of introducing a revered turtle character much like a friendlier version of Morla (Neverending Story). Actually, think Morla's worldly detachment mixed with Ugui's (Kung Fu Panda) friendly ambiguity. If you can find this turtle, he/she/it will answer questions but in riddles. And you have to keep it on track or it will grow bored and simply start talking about how the willows seem sad this season or how the wind whispers strongly, etc. All dealings with Morgui (heh) would be complex obstacles or possibly negotiation conflicts, depending on the importance of the answers to the questions asked.
Realm Guard: Rangers of the North (v1.6), a MG hack for Lord of the Rings (hack concept by Saint&Sinner).
"Main thing the game needs? More balrogs. Could be balroggier." -- Chris Gardiner
I would think that they'd have hero worship more than a religion. Something akin to the one in Watership Down.
I noticed the same thing. I'm not sure I agree, Speargrass; beings whose lives are fraught with danger might find a great deal of solace in supernatural appeals.
The owl cult is a cool idea.
Some ideas -
Given that just a trip to the next town is fraught with danger, there could be quite a good trade in talismans or other luck charms.
In pre-settlement times (perhaps when mice rarely lived longer than 4 or 5 years), old age itself might be have been seen as mystical. The oldest and most experienced mice could have been enormous assets for a small clan.
I imagine an oral tradition containing myths of the 'fast mice' or 'lucky mice' who could outwit foxes, or who first brought fire, or writing - or who first tamed bees - to other mice.
Perhaps (given their place in the ecology), stealing is a sacred activity, despite being officially illegal. Though a millennium of settlement has made it unfashionable, reverence for Bart the Narrow is still popular among foragers and others who must face danger to find food. Many a follower will turn a blind eye to minor theft, particularly if it's out of apparent necessity.
I imagine beliefs about the unseen mice. With so many deaths unexplained (lost, fallen into holes, snapped up by birds, swept away by water) mice revere the unseen mice who have disappeared.
Mice sing songs about the unseen dancing in the moonlight, or curled up eternally in Bart's burrow - or dallying with nubile field mice in a field of grain.
Mice occasionally honour one another by inviting them to be 'seen as' a cherished unseen relative. At family functions like weddings, in times of calamity it can be necessary for stand-ins to represent whole households.
Ivydale concludes their week of Morten-Harvest celebrations with the chirping of three score crickets arranged by the forage-master, symbolically calling home that year's unseen before winter's snows make their return impossible.
The whole phenomenon is made more excruciating by the fact that some do return, weeks or months later. Special markers are used for the graves whose deaths are unexplained. "Once was Tuck the Lucky, thrice unseen and come home to me. No more."
I actually posted about this a while back on the ASP forums for MG. I can see there beings two primary deities, and by "deities" I mean important but nebulous concepts captured in images and stories--i.e., paganism. One would be the "goddess" mouse, associated with giving: fertility, plenty, harvest, growth, earth, home, insects of burden, progress, material society, towns, warmth. Her avatar (appearance in art; I don't think overt appearances of the supernatural works for MG) would be a plump matron of a mouse. The other would be the "god" mouse, associated with taking: death, hunger, weather, dearth, fear, survival, the wild, cold, etc. His avatar would be a pristine mouse skeleton, although he could often appear as a skeleton of other species (notably weasels). Neither is "good" or "evil" in a clear sense. The Mother Mouse is associated with many good things, but also excess and greed. The Hungry One is associated with many frightening things, but also with making it through hard times and getting out of dangerous situations.
I really like Fuseboy's "Unseen"--I would think of them as folk heroes/villains credited with otherwise unexplainable turns of luck.
I think the Unseen is a great idea!