Pugmire, and its accompanying setting, The Monarchies of Mau, are vibrant tabletop settings where you get to take on the roles of anthropomorphic dogs and cats going on quests and adventure. Want to be a Pomeranian Barbarian? You got it! An adorable Pug Pugilist? Sure thing! It's...super cute, but not everything is fluffy and cuddly.
See, the world of Pugmire and its sister kingdoms rest in a world without humans. It's our world, but with a very different future. We're all dead.
That's right. This is a post-apocalyptic scenario. Ruins of our modern cities dot the landscape and echoes of our technology become great relics of the past to be uncovered by those left behind. There are only a few animals that "Man" uplifted before their mysterious demise, leaving the rest to either remain beasts of burden or swell to gigantic size and danger. Dogs, cats, rats, mice, lizards, birds, and badgers all claim the enlightened states of language, skill, and commerce. There's even a religion in this! For the noble Dogs of Pugmire, they follow the Code Of Man.
There Are Layers To This
Again, even with the obvious pulls toward dog punnery, there is great depth below these tenets. This is a world of secrets and great mystery. It is the Dogs's belief that The Master uplifted them for a reason; maybe to discover the truth about their end, or ensure their return, and not to betray one another as you do so.
There is a dark evil in the land of Pugmire and the lands beyond it known only as The Unseen - invisible demons and corruption that plague the ruins of Man and forbidden realms that encircle the planet. No matter their allegiances, all creatures must be protected against The Unseen and the nightmares they spin...
Let's Make A Good Dog
On the surface, Pugmire borrows heavily from 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons. You can clearly see the influence from the public SRD and basic rules. But it's much more than D&D with Dogs.
Knowledge of how D&D functions will get you through the mechanics just fine, though. D20 system, modifiers, 3 death saves, advantage and disadvantage, spell casting, even rage!
But let's map out what we'll need.
FIRST - CALCULATE ABILITY SCORES
You can roll using any technique you would normally use to generate attributes in 5th Edition D&D, so for our benefit today, we will err on the side of even playing fields and use a Heroic Array. For those uninitiated, that comes out as: 17, 15, 14, 13, 11, 9.
SECOND - CHOOSE A CALLING
This is what the game counts as a "class," for those looking for transferable terms. There aren't the same plethora of options here as with D&D, but once you take into account that this game banks hard toward exploration and social interaction over number-crunchy combat (there's still combat, mind you, but we'll get there), you begin to recognize the goal of this game. It's about story-telling and immersion. Most of the rules end at Level 10 (not 20; you can keep going, and there have been supplements to expand this, but "leveling" in the traditional sense isn't the target here).
So let's break down our options.
Artisans (Wizards) - sages and scholars, these are the protectors of knowledge and the arcane. They are one of two callings with access to magic. Stamina (Hit Points) = 6 + Con modifier, and they count Charisma and Intelligence as their primary abilities. Simple Weapons, Light Armor, and (choose 1) Encouragement or Focus Magic.
Guardians (Fighters/Knight) - elite warriors with a code, strong and stalwart. Stamina = 10 + Con, and they value Charisma and Strength. Simple Weapons, Martial Weapons, Light-Medium-Heavy Armor, Shields, and (choose 1) Fighting Style or Inspiring Word.
Hunters (Rangers) - intelligent trackers and woodsmen, Hunters are quick and perceptive. Stamina = 10 + Con, and they use Dexterity and Wisdom. Simple and Martial Weapons, Light-Medium Armor, Shields, and (choose 1) Archery or Natural Explorer.
Ratters (Rogues) - swashbucklers, thieves, and stealthy specialists. Stamina = 8 + Con, and they use Constitution and Dexterity. Simple Weapons, Light Armor, and (choose 1) Precise Attack or Second Wind.
Shepherds (Clerics) - divine casters who live the Code of Man. Stamina = 8 + Con, and you better assume they're using Wisdom and Intelligence. Simple Weapons, Light-Medium Armor, Shields, and (choose 1) Good Memory or Prayers to Man (magic).
Strays (Barbarians) - just as the nomadic tribes of D&D do not mean stupid or savage, a Stray can be articulate and intelligent. The defining characteristic is its separation from the civilized society of the kingdom. Stamina = 12 + Con, and we're rocking Strength and Constitution. Simple-Martial Weapons, Light Armor, Shields, and (choose 1) Rage or Unarmored Defense.
THIRD - CHOOSE A BREED
This is the game's version of Race, but you're not tied to a high level of specificity here. You'll gain an ability score bonus (usually a +2 somewhere) and a Trick (a special ability indicative of the Breed). As the game progresses, you'll pick up new Tricks, but your Breed grants your first one. I'll give you each Breed, some examples of dog Families (the specific type of dog), the Ability Score Bonus, and the name of your First Trick.
Note about about Family Names: The exact dog that you are is your "family". So, Yosha Pug's family is "Pug", and that's also her last name.
Companions | Chihuahua, Pomeranian, Pug, Shihtzu.
First Trick: Puppy Dog Eyes (advantage on Charisma checks to make friends or be polite)
Fettles | Bulldog, Dalmation, Doberman, Mastiff.
First Trick: Hardy Constitution (add 1d4 to all Constitution Saving Throws)
Herders | Canaan, Collie, Sheepdog.
First Trick: Keen Observer (advantage on all checks involving hearing, sight, or smell)
Pointers | Bloodhound, Labrador, Rat-Terrier.
First Trick: Voracious Learner (advantage on Intelligence checks to remember read knowledge)
Runners | Borzoi, Greyhound, Whippet.
First Trick: Speedy Runner (advantage on skill checks to run or chase; also increase walking speed to 35 feet, and all-fours running to 50)
Workers | Akita, Husky, Malamute, Salish.
First Trick: Brute Strength (advantage on Strength checks to pull, push, or lift)
+1 to any two ability scores
First Trick: pick one from any other Breed.
Backgrounds and Gear
A dog's background details what he did before becoming a hero. It awards two skills they are Proficient in (so they get to add that sweet Proficiency Bonus to rolls for it), a Rucksack of equipment that fits into the background, and a Background Trick. In this blog, I'll give you the name of your possible backgrounds, their skills, and the name of their Trick
Note about skills and custom backgrounds: If you don't like any of the listed Backgrounds here, you can always make a Custom Background by picking two skills to be proficient in, and selecting one of the Background Tricks found on page 79 in the core rulebook. All of the available skills are:
STRENGTH - Intimidation
DEXTERITY - Balance, Sneak, Steal
CONSTITUTION - Traverse (like athletics)
INTELLIGENCE - Know (Arcana, Culture, History, Nature, Religion)
WISDOM - Handle Animal, Heal, Notice, Search, Sense Motive, Survive
CHARISMA - Bluff, Perform, Persuade
Skills: Know Religion, Sense Motive
Trick: Acolyte Of Man
Skills: Handle Animal, Survive
Trick: Folk Hero
Skills: Bluff, Sneak
Trick: Friend In Low Places
Skills: Know Nature, Survive
Trick: Respected By Strays
Skills: Bluff, Sense Motive
Trick: Odds and Ends
Skills: Know History, Persuade
Trick: Good Breeding
Skills: Know Arcana, Know History
Trick: Nearby Expert
Skills: Intimidate, Traverse
Trick: Rank Has Its Privileges
The contents of your Rucksack denote your starting equipment.
Learning New Tricks
A dog's Calling and Breed each have First Tricks, but every level a dog can choose a new Trick as part of their improvement or refine one, if it has that option.
Defense, Initiative, and Speed
Without armor = 10 + Dexterity Modifier
Light Armor = 11 + Dexterity Modifier (padded armor, leather, or studded leather)
Medium Armor = 13 + Dexterity Modifier with Disadvantage on Dexterity skill checks (hide, chain shirt, scale mail, half plate)
Heavy Armor = 16, with Disadvantage on Dexterity skill checks and movement is reduced by 5 feet (ring mail, chain mail, splint mail, and plate mail)
Shields = +2 Defense when out.
+ Dexterity OR Intelligence modifier (Adamus House Rule)
Most dogs move at a speed of 30 feet. If they drop to all fours to run, that speed is 40 feet.
You should have your:
Ability Scores distributed, with modifiers (as per D&D)
Your Calling, Two Skills, and its First Tricks (some give a choice between two, so make that choice)
Your Breed and its First Trick
A Background, Two Skills, a Rucksack of equipment, and another Trick
Your Proficiency Bonus (+2, and increases by 1 at 3rd, 5th, 7th, and 9th levels (to a maximum of +6)
Spells, if you have a Trick for magic.
Now all you need is a name and a backstory, and you'll have the bestest puppy in the land.
In case it wasn't obvious, this post does not replace the core rulebook. There's a lot I'm leaving out, and if you have the chance to score the book from Onyx Path Publishing, I highly recommend it.
We're building a CAT!
See you at the table.
Professional Game Master musician, music teacher, game designer, and aspiring fiction author.