Ahoy, ye landlubbers and salty sea dogs!
As you may or may not know, I’m a big fan of Pugmire. I’ve also done some work for the property, specifically for Adventures for Curious Cats and Roll of Good Dogs and Excellent Cats, both available on DriveThruRPG as we speak. Now, the folks that don’t know me might also be like, “what the heck is Pugmire anyway?” Well, the Realms of Pugmire is a fantasy world setting for a D&D 5e OGL game of uplifted dogs, cats, and more where humanity has only left remnants of their society and technology. In that world, those animal people remember humanity, Man, or The Old Ones very vaguely. It’s a great mash-up of the science fantasy tropes of ages past. The setting is family friendly but deep enough for several layers of play.
Currently, Onyx Path Publishing and Pugsteady, the two companies behind Pugmire have launched a Kickstarter for their newest supplement, Pirates of Pugmire. I’m going to list the things I love about this new book below.
While I have never had a bird as a pet, I do have an affinity for birds, particularly corvids (crows, ravens, bluejays, etc) and penguins. Birds have been hinted at in previous Pugmire books, so to have the chance to finally get playable rules for them is very exciting for me. The birds include Parrots (Pirates, duh), Crows, and Sparrows. And, because not all birds have been uplifted, you can have a parrot pirate with a parrot on his shoulder… I’ll let that visual sink in. Birds appropriately have a different religious vision than dogs or cats, and their focus on the Sky Kingdom is really intriguing.
2) Gunpowder And Gunpowder Fear
Guns are often one of those things that gamers want in their D&D or similar games but they frequently destabilize a game, just like they did warfare. Gunpowder weapons are integral to piratical play though, and in Pirates of Pugmire Eddy Webb and team have created a clever way to introduce these elements. Gunpowder weapons are in their early stages of development, but also cats, dogs and others are very prone to reacting poorly to loud noises. The mechanic used to justify why gunpowder weapons are rare is Gunpowder Fear, which gives disadvantage to those who are frightened by blasts. There are Callings, classes for Realms of Pugmire, that negate this effect for themselves, but means if they fight in mixed company they need to be very careful. I think it’s an elegant design element that fits the setting well.
3) Lizards, Turtles, Snakes
Lizards get an NPC stat block in Monarchies of Mau, and are discussed in the last of the three adventures in Adventures for Curious Cats. However, Pirates of Pugmire is the first full treatment we are getting on these very interesting folks. While I’m not fond of lizards or snakes as pets, the idea that they would be uplifted alongside dogs and cats is intriguing. Like birds, their society is very different than cats and dogs and they take advantage of their cold blooded nature in very interesting ways. Lizards are traders and societally they are a mix of Eastern Slavic culture and Middle Eastern human cultures. That’s a broad brushstroke, but you can see the influences on the way they dress and act and their families are very interesting.
4) Sail the Seas
This is a book about pirates, and while the non-pirate elements are great the core conceit is well-developed and has just a bit of a comical edge. This allows for really interesting story fodder. Islands appear and disappear, treasure can be uncovered and looted, and adventure can be had. Because Pugmire is designed to be more family friendly, some of the more horrible things that pirates have done and do are left in the subtext, or are just not present altogether, but I think this makes the type of pirates presented much more palatable. There is a lot of adventure to be had on the Acid Sea, and Pirates of Pugmire offers a grand voyage for those willing to step upon the deck of the ship.
You can find Pirates of Pugmire here! Pirates of Pugmire is a fantastic extension to the Realms of Pugmire world, and I’m excited to sail the seas. This project takes some of the best elements of the 5e ruleset and makes them easy to access and fun to play. If you don’t, I’ll be makin ye walk the plank!
Josh is the intrepid Chief Operations Officer of High Level Games and he organized the first HLG Con. With 20 years of playing rpgs, Josh started with Mind's Eye Theater LARPs and loves the World of Darkness. He runs, www.keepontheheathlands.com to support his gaming projects. Josh is the administrator of the Inclusive Gaming Network on Facebook. He’s a serious advocate for inclusive gaming spaces, a father, and a graduate from the International Peace and Conflict Resolution graduate program at American University in Washington, D.C. You can also find Josh’s other published adventures here and here.
Picture provided by the author.
Pugmire is out for backers of their PDF, and I have to tell you, the game is amazing. I wrote a review of it over on Keep On the Heathlands, and I think you should check it out. Monarchies of Mau, a companion setting book for Pugmire is currently in Kickstarter. Backing the kickstarter gives you a chance to play using the Early Access rules! I recommend backing it. Also, we had a quick discussion with Eddy Webb and Richard Thomas about the inclusive elements of the Pugmire and Mau world. If Pugmire is any indication, Monarchies of Mau will be equally amazing. For those that don’t know, and would like a little background here are some basic details. Pugmire is a game using a version of D&D 5th Edition rules, set in a world of uplifted/anthropomorphic animals. Humanity has disappeared, and our presence is only felt in the remains of our once great society. It’s a great mesh of fantasy and far-futurism, with Man’s best friends as the heroes of this new world. Here are 5 Story Hooks to help you get started!
1) The Stray Cat
Recently, a Cat has been hanging around the tavern your friends frequent. He appears thin, uncomfortable, yet very bright. Traveling through the market today, you overheard a pair of Cats provide a description of him to a shopkeep. The pair are dressed in well-worn traveling gear, and they have the look of bounty hunters about them. The thick manacles and rope hooked on their belts gives it away. You have a choice now, do you help them? Do you try and find the Stray yourself? Are you going to help him? Do you ask the bounty hunters questions to try and decide what to do? Regardless, you have a decision to make.
2) Dogs and Cats Living Together??!
On your last walk you were handed a pamphlet. On the front was a picture of a Cat and a Dog chatting together amiably. The top line reads, “Yes, we can get along,” and continues, ”Join us at the Revival of Man tomorrow night at 7.” Initially you smile to yourself, thinking it is a great thing that Cats and Dogs have put the past behind them. However, something about the pamphlet causes you to worry. In the back of your mind you feel a strange, uncomfortable tug to attend the event. You sense magic is influencing your decision. You shake off the effect, and you realize something dangerous is imminent. Thankfully you have a few friends who you know can help you check out this meeting.
3) Oh, Rats!
The pier is no place for a Cat, you think to yourself mournfully. Before you is a well crafted ship, its plastic hull protecting the vessel from the acidic water of the river. Rats are climbing up and down the lines, they are professionals. You are too, but not the type of professional that is comfortable around boats usually. However, you know that something is making it’s way into Pugmire, and then the Monarchies from this port. The bodies you’ve been finding have markings of Labo Tor on them, and sample analysis has shown an acidic quality that could only be from boats such as these. Out of the corner of your eye, you see a Rat watching you, and he grins as you look directly at him.
4) King of the Castle
You’ve been invited to Pugmire by King Puckington Pug. This has caused some concern, because you are no official ambassador of House Rex. Instead, you’ve been lucky to find the things you’ve found. You have made some plastic, and won a name for yourself. The King has invited you, and your associates, to visit the Castle. Rumor has it he has a proposition, or a favor to ask. What he doesn’t know, and you don’t really want to explain, is how you’ve gotten so lucky. It's not bad, per se, but you don’t think the King will call you a Good Cat if he finds out.
5) Schemes Within Schemes
As a Good Dog, you’ve been hired by the Royal Pioneers to assist with the excavation of a ruin to the far east of the Monarchies. What the Pioneers don’t know, is that you have also been hired by some shadowy Cats to help them with another task. The excavation has been moving on schedule, and you’ve been able to squirrel away some of the things your Cat patrons have asked you to set aside. Something, or someone, is watching you though. The hair on the back of your neck makes you think it is a servant of The Unseen. You are sure of it. You have a good crew, but not all of them are in the know. Will you bring them into your conspiracy to save them? Or, will you try and hide the truth until you must reveal what you’ve been doing?
Please enjoy these story starter ideas. Most of them hinge on a single character, but they can easily be altered to fit the backstory of a small group. If you have your own, I encourage you to share them on our Pugmire Group.
With 18 years of playing rpgs, Josh started with Mind's Eye Theater LARPs and loves the World of Darkness. He recently launched,www.keepontheheathlands.com to support his gaming projects. Josh is the administrator of the Inclusive Gaming Network on Facebook. He’s a player in Underground Theatre LARPs and is running a Mage game and a D&D 5th Edition campaign. He’s a serious advocate for inclusive gaming spaces, a father, and a graduate from the International Peace and Conflict Resolution graduate program at American University in Washington, D.C.
With 2016 now firmly lodged in the past, we turn our attention to a new year, full of new hopes and new joys to discover. To that end, I’ve compiled a list of a few games that I’m looking forward to, so that I may share some of that excitement with you. These games are in no particular order, and I cannot guarantee that the final products will be any good. Nevertheless, these games and new editions of old games are certainly worth a look and perhaps a bit of your attention as we move into 2017.
1 . Pugmire
This one’s going to be a blast. We’ve all been waiting for a great game about anthropomorphic dogs defending king and country in a fantasy setting, even if we didn’t know it. Luckily, the wait is nearly over. The good folks at Onyx Path Publishing (creators of the newest Exalted edition, Chronicles of Darkness etc.) bring to us a world after humanity, wherein the noble dogs of Pugmire follow the Code of Man, striving to “Be a Good Dog” and “Fetch What Has Been Left Behind,” among other tenants. I’m particularly excited to see how the enemies of Pugmire, the Cats of the Monarchies of Mau, are fleshed out, especially considering my propensity for GMing conniving villains (and my love of cats, of course). What’s more, Onyx Path is using a variant on the open d20 system and is striving to get the game onto store shelves. The game will therefore be extremely accessible, in both senses of the word, to new and veteran gamers.
2 . Monsterhearts 2
A new edition of a lesser-known RPG about teen monsters, Monsterhearts 2 stands to improve upon a game that breaks the mold for traditional games in both tone and mechanics. Here, players will put on different “skins” of creepy horror tropes, each trying to make it in high school without being slain by the popular kids. The new edition promises revisions to some of the skins, new skins co-developed by particularly affluent Kickstarter backers, and a bevy of art and writing updates. If you think like I do, and you wish to relive your “gory days” in high school (commence the eye rolling), or get back at the cool kids who spurned you, then you owe it to yourself to check out this interesting and now updated table-top experience.
3 . Cthulhutech V2
Anyone who’s familiar with the original version of this Anime/Cthulhu mishmash may be surprised to see it on this list. The original game is somewhat renowned for its mishandling of certain sensitive subjects, its clunky dice system, and its bizarrely strict canon. However, many also know it to be a game with wonderful artwork, fun and detailed combat, and intriguing character designs. With the development of a second edition, gamers such as myself are hopeful that the previously mentioned issues will be fixed, while retaining the spirit and art that in which we saw so much potential. An open beta exists on DriveThruRPG, so if you’d like to see a better Cthulhutech this year, check it out and leave them your thoughts!
4 . Mekton Zero
Perhaps you’ve never heard of Mekton but you’re a big fan of Cyberpunk 2020. Maybe you just like giant robots beating the crap out of each other. Or, just maybe, you’re a big fan and veteran of Mekton or its descendant, Mekton Zeta, like I am. Whatever the case, the newest version of Mekton is worth a look. It’s been in development for years, and the creators at R. Talsorian games have been working hard, whilst co-developing Cyberpunk 2077, to deliver a giant anime robot table-top game for the ages. The Mekton series is known for its customizability. You want to build your favorite Gundam, or something you saw in Pacific Rim? Maybe you’ve got your own awesome design you want to try out. Mekton has a comprehensive mech-building system that allows you to create any robot you can imagine. The newest version promises a revamped setting and polished rules, and should be a breakout hit as soon as it releases. Keep your eye on this one.
5 . Blades in the Dark
Set in a dark, mysterious city of old industry, this title has players create characters that work together as a crew, with the GM fleshing out the group with other gang members. Your crew will thieve, assassinate, and discover hidden truths on the shadowy streets of Duskwall. The creator, John Harper, describes the game as a mix of games like Dishonored and Thief, along with novels such as Lies of Locke Lamora. It therefore promises to be a fast paced, industrial-steampunk game of dirty deeds and dark revelation. As a counterpoint to the first game in this list, this seems like it will be a far grittier experience, yet one worth digging your fingernails into.
These are only a few examples of the new and revised titles that we can expect to see in the coming year, and there are many I didn’t list that I’m certain you’re excited about. Share them with us! Leave a comment or contact me at my website listed below. Let’s have a great year in 2017, and happy gaming to you and your merry band of players.
David Horwitz is a gamer and freelance writer with an obsession for exploring new forms of leisure. If you’re looking for an inquisitive mind and a deft hand, or just want to chat about gaming, contact him at www.davidhorwitzwrites.com/contact . He’s looking forward to GMing Pugmire and bringing the might of the Cats of Mau down upon the party of unsuspecting do-gooding doggos.
All blog materials created and developed by the staff here at High Level Games