Pugmire by Kurieg
IntroOriginal SA post
Let's talk about Onyx Path's other original product. Sort of.
Sort of in the sense that it's sort of Onyx Path's. Pugmire is Eddy Webb's
baby puppy, though Rich and Rose provided some help with the design.
So what is Pugmire? Well, it's a d20 game based on the 5e OGL, set on earth several centuries in the future. Humanity is long since dead, no one knows how or why. Most buildings have crumbled to dust and the roads have been reclaimed by forest. But we did leave behind inheritors. At some point before our downfall we uplifted several animals to sentience, some on purpose(dogs, cats, rats, pet lizards), others presumably by accident or contaminated runoff(I'm not sure who's bright idea it was to uplift Wolverines) But even though we left behind the gift of language and intelligence, we didn't leave behind a roadmap on how to run a functioning culture. So they've regressed/progressed to a roughly mid-1400's level of advancement. I say roughly because there's some things that are a little bit out of whack. (Dogs are able to mine and smelt plastic, and it's treated as their most valuable commodity).
Their culture, however, is a little more confused. As all of the uplifted animals have mythologized humans to an unhealthy degree. All dogs subscribe, in one form or another, to the Church of Man. The Church is based on half-remembered and distorted teachings of the first generation of dogs left behind by humanity. Truly mankind was divine if they lifted up dogs to stand at their side. And their chief commandment is to Be A Good Dog. Some are even able to cast miracles through the power of their belief(and an injection of a divine elixir that is almost certainly naonmachines). Others are able to unlock magic through their link with divine artifacts left behind by mankind.
Cats, on the other hand, think that we lifted them up, literally, onto pedestals so that it would be easier for us to worship them. But there is a bit of superstition to that as well, for if they stop acting like beings worthy of worship, they believe their intelligence and magics will fade away. Rats have their own issues.Their own very insane issues
Theme: Companionship as Salvation
The first Tenet of the Code of Man is "Be A Good Dog", but it doesn't really provide a strict definition of what it is to be "Good". In fact I'm pretty sure Three Panel Soul put it better than I ever could.
Good is subjective. A good dog can do bad things, a bad dog can do good things. They are only ever as good or bad as their peers judge them to be. So dogs strive to be good, to follow the code of man, to work together, and trust that everything will work out.
At some point in our future, something of immense magnitude happened that removed mankind from earth. Did we leave for the stars? Did we shed our corporeal bodies? Did we die? The reason is unclear. All Dogs have to go on is what we left behind, and what we left behind is incomplete. This mystery is of central concern to many dogs and it leads to more questions. Some will never be answered, most lead to more questions. In the end, the Old Ones can't be understood by objective facts. The Humanity that Was is more akin go a pantheon of dead gods to the Dogs, and there's not much on which they can agree.
That isn't to say they haven't learned anything, they have, but it's incomplete and half-understood in ways that make sense to them, but are probably silly to us(The police officers wear blue vests because they're the Boys in Blue, and they have to wear blue) The characters take the knowledge seriously, some with scholarly skepticism, others with religious reverence.
There are the classic fantasy RPG-ish Things to do, rout monsters, rescue relics, right injustices, feed the needy, etc. But more than that they Explore. The dogs of Pugmire haven't seen much beyond the valley in which they've established themselves. They've only figured out how to make boats that can survive the Acid Sea within the past century, and most of that century was spent in War with the Monarchies of Mau.
The stated inspirations for Pugmire are basically what you'd expect. Mouse Guard, Redwall, Nimh, Watership Down, Gamma World, Thundarr the Barbarian. Perhaps most hilariously for Me is Ginga: Nagareboshi Gin. AKA: The anime with the dogs that fight bears and do this.
The game spends some time going over the basics of D20, but I assume that you've been exposed to a D&D campaign at some point in your lifetimes.
The next chapter is a long in-character journal going over the backstory of the realm so that's where we'll pick up next time.
Yosha Pug's JournalOriginal SA post
Chapter 1: Yosha Pug's Journal
The first chapter of the book is an in character journal written by Princess Yosha Pug, daughter of King Puckington Pug, King of Pugmire. Because your breed is your last name in this world and dogs don't like making "mutts". There's also asides from "Pan Dachshund" who lives outside of the kingdom hunting monsters. Honestly it's rather believably in character as "A somewhat cloistered scholar gushes about a topic that they love" meaning that it's rambling, disorganized, and long winded.
The Founding of Pugmire
Several hundred years ago King Vinsen Pug founded the Kingdom of Pugmire. He became king because he was one of the first dogs to re-discover the ability dogs possess to sense the invisible demons that used to plague mankind. The area he chose for his kingdom was ignored by the cats and rats because it was a swamp (hence the mire), and many years after Vinsen's death the city was finished and named in his family's honor. Over the course of the years other families have held the throne but the pugs more than most.
Anyone can found a noble family, so long as they recover and protect a powerful artifact from the age of man. The Duke or Duchess of the house attends the king's court and has the potential to become the new king or queen when the need arises. If a family loses their artifact they lose their standing. There are plenty of non-noble dogs in the town as well, and some cats and rats in the Riverwall district, which dogs call "the Backyard" because in ancient times that's where dogs went to shit. Pan Dachshund interjects here to point out that you should never ever ever trust a cat. And that the idea of any family being able to climb the social ladder to nobility is a better ideal than it is a reality, and since most nobles are corrupt he prefers sleeping out under the stars and blah blah blah he's a ranger archetype what did you expect?
Here's a map of the area around Pugmire. The text also mentions the "Royal Pioneers of Pugmire" that were founded by Queen Lilly Springer II, they're basically the Pathfinder Society and an excuse to make parties of disparate characters. And that the area surrounding the town is filled with all sorts of hidden and lost dangers in inscrutable structures that were surely "built by Man to test the daring, intelligent, and pure of heart."
There's two kinds of magic, Shepherds are injected with a holy elixir that transubstantiates their blood into the blessing of man and allows them to pray to the old ones to invoke their glory. It's almost 100% nanomachines though. Artisans, on the other hand, find Focuses that man left behind and can use them to harness and project magical energy. Foci, by the way, are things like cell phones, ipads, any number of handheld devices that might come up later on in humanity's development. Cats, by the way, have necromancers and what are functionally 'bards'.
Pariahs and Strays
Pariahs are dogs that have been cast out of Pugmire either for being "bad Dogs", or because they weren't accepted by their families for being of mixed breed or ignoble birth. They prefer to call themselves "Strays" or "Free Dogs". Any dog that prefers to live outside of the walls of pugmire somtimes gets lumped in with the Pariahs. Some dogs that have been outcast have taken the family name "Mutt" and travel together for protection. Or live in "Mutt Town" on the edge of the fearful forest. Of course the nobles in Pugmire are afraid that the horrible mixed bloods will overrun the town or try to become nobles!
Honestly the way that "breed" is your "Race" and the way that the culture of Pugmire has serious issues with miscegenation is one of the issues I have with this game. But I'll have a whole chapter to go over that later.
The Monarchies of Mau
The "Cat Kingdoms", though they don't really have 'kings'. They were at war with Pugmire about four generations ago. Most dogs treat the cats with contempt because they're all backstabbing assholes. "Stray" cats are apparently called "Moggies".
Badgers, Lizards, and Rats
Of course there's Badgers and Rats, Redwall was listed as an inspiration wasn't it? Badgers are all barbarian raiders. Rats used to have a kingdom but it's been gone for centuries now, and there are rat cults that have their own ideas about man (We'll get into those later too). Lizards on the other hand, are roaming traders(Sorta Romani-ish?) that claim to come from a desert kingdom across the sea.
Monsters and the Unseen
So there are, in fact, invisible demons of some kind (they have a statline and everything). But dogs also associate other maladies to them as well. Rabies, for instance, are believed to be caused by the Unseen.
Sorry that this one took so long, work's been... busy.
Next Time: Character Creation
Character CreationOriginal SA post
Chapter 2:Character Creation
So, classes. In our first major divergence from 5e, and d20 as a whole. Other than some baseline starting features. Classes don't give you anything by default as you level up. Every time you level up you can pick one available
Except this isn't entirely true.
When you level up you choose one of the following.
- Increase an ability score by one and gain proficiency in a new skill
- Take a new Trick (As a note:increasing the level of spells you have access to is a trick)
- Improve an existing Trick
Anyways. This is my major criticism of the system. I hate that you need to pick between mutually exclusive avenues of character advancement. The limited number of levels and the sheer number of race/class features mean that if you want all your fun tools, you're going to be shitty at all of them. Alternately you can be good at a single thing. This also means that at every level you need to make a choice that has a wrong answer, and required system mastery should not extend to character creation. Also the ability to cast max level spells takes 5 of your advancements. Thankfully this is an easy fix, just give everyone an ASI and a Trick at every level.
The other major divergence from 5e is how spells work. Casters have "Spell Slots" equal to 2x their level plus their Constitution Mod. Casting a 1st level spell takes 1 spell slot. Casting a 5th level spell takes 5. A Caster can spend one of their hit dice (or as Pugmire calls them, stamina dice) to instead 'heal' their spell slots rather than their stamina points. In addition, most of the class features that allow you to heal someone (Lay on hands, inspiring word, etc) allow the target to restore spell slots instead. No you can't use Cure Spells to heal spell slots, they thought of that. And this I like. It gives casters an opportunity cost to casting spells, it reigns them in somewhat, but also makes it so that you can either be a powerful caster (boost your casting stat) or a stamina caster. and be able to cast weaker spells for days because of how swole you are. So let's get into the classes.
The artisan is somewhere inbetween a Wizard and a Bard. One of their tricks is the Intelligence based spell list (Fireball. elemental ray, etc) but they also have the Bard's fast talk ability(which they can refine into letting them use charisma for weapon attacks so long as they can talk), inspiration dice(that they can turn into healing dice), and bardic knowledge. To cast their spells they need an Artisan Focus, which can be a runic staff, a non-functional iPhone, anything. Foci aren't indestructable, and they can be lost. Without their focus an Artisan can't cast their spells, so be careful with it.
Guardians are halfway between a Fighter and a 4e Warlord. When leveling up they can pick between the Cleave tree (Which isn't that good, you could theoretically dump 6 advancements into it which would allow you to make 2 additional tacks with advantage if you kill someone with each attack), Fighting Styles (The 5e fighter fighting styles, more or less), Inspiring Word(Let someone spend their stamina die mid-combat, can be refined to increase the amount of points/slots restored or to do it outside of your turn), or the Lazylord's ability to give up your action to give one to your ally(can be refined to make the actions always have advantage). The specter of 4e design is alive and well and it apparently looks like a heavily armored corgi.
It's the archer ranger. They Arch and are in tune with nature. The archery combat style gives them a +2 bonus to attack rolls with ranged weapons, and can be refined to let them make extra attacks, reroll damage, or gain advantage on ammunition saving throws (You carry "ammo" as an abstract, at the end of any combat where you use ammo you need to make a dc10 dex save or you're out of ammo. You can carry multiple "ammos" but they cost money and take up space). They can also gain the ability to speak with animals (refine into an animal companion), favored terrain, and "Quick Draw"(Advantage on initiative, never be surprised, switch weapons without an action) as tricks.
Rogues, they're Rogues. They get Sneak Attack(and with it the ability to hide mid combat without actually using the hide skill for some reason?) they can refine it to increase the damage or use it with ranged attacks. They can also trick into the archery combat style (like hunters). They can also trick into Trap/lock Sense, or the ability to spend their stamina dice mid combat.
They're the rogue, What's more to say?
...dear lord that art. Is it smuggling a 2x4 on it's shoulders?
Shepherds are the Clerics/Priests of pugmire. They have the same bardic knowledge ability of Artisans. But they also have Lay on Hands(Spend their stamina dice to heal others, can be refined to increase all their sources of healing and/or cure diseases), 'repel demons' (read: Turn undead except not, also it's int based, it frankly has too many refinements, just like Cleave), and the wisdom based spellcasting of the game. Classic heal/clericy spells. To gain this ability they need to partake of the "elixir of man", "Sacred Blood of the Old Ones", whatever they call it it's probably nanomachines. They also need to touch a symbol of the church of man (That hand thing there). No symbol, no casting, but it's easier to get a replacement than it is for an artisan to replace their focus.
These are the "Free Dogs", which means they're Barbarians. They can get Unarmored defense, Cleave, Rage(With another frankly obscene number of refinements), and Indomitable Will(which is just a large bonus against compulsion effects). Honestly I would have also given them the ability to pick up Fighting Styles like Guardians as well. Cause as it stands they don't have nearly as many fun things to do compared to the other classes and some very deep feat trees to chew through.
Breeds are the races of this game, each breed gives you a +2 bonus to one ability score and a starting trick.
(Chokes on vomit) Oh god that's terrible art.
(Example family names, Affenpinscher, chihuahua, Papillon, Pomeranian, Pug, Shitzu)
Ugh.. okay, companions are cute so they get +2 to charisma. Their breed tricks involve puppy dog eyes(Advantage on checks to make friends or be polite), they can also smell the unseen(Which is apparently why chihuahuas bark at literally anything), charm people into being their friend unless they make an int save, or do a funny trick which makes a target incapacitated for a turn..
(Family Names: Bernese, Bulldog, Dalmatian, Doberman, Mastiff, Pyrenees)
Fettles get +2 to Con, and they're robust, tough, and stalwart.
Fettle tricks include basically anything you could imagine a 'hardy' race having. Burst of Energy gives them advantage on attack rolls and con saving throws for a round. Hardy Constitution gives them +1d4 on constitution saving throws, Iron Resolve gives them advantage on any saving throw against something they don't want to do, and Thick Coat gives them +2 defense against one attack.
(Family Names; Briard, Canaan, Collie, Corgi, German, Sheepdog)
Herders get +2 to Wisdom, and are known for their wisdom and deep insight. They're confidants and advisors.
Herder tricks involve "Wise" things. Animal Friends lets them charm animals like Druids. Keen Observer gives them advantage on wisdom checks involving senses. Quick Suggestion gives someone a floating +1d4 to a roll of their choice, and they can also Smell the Unseen like Companions.
(Family Names: Bloodhound, Dachshund, Labrador, Rat-Terrier, Saffordshire, Weimaraner)
Pointers get +2 to Intelligence. Because they are smart. And thus gravitate towards magic careers.
Deductive Strike lets them observe a target as a bonus action and then make an attack in the next round using Intelligence instead of Str or Dex, and add Int tot he damage. Masterwork Knowledge is "Identify magic Item", Smell Magic is what it says on the tin. and Voracious Learner gives a pointer advantage on intelligence checks involving anything the pointer may have heard or read about in the past.
(Family Names: Afghan, Borzoi, Greyhound, Shibainu, Whippit, Wolfhound)
Runners are Fast, +2 dex.
Inherent Grace gives them +1d4 to all dex saving throws. Instinctive Dodge is +2 defense just like the Fettle trick. Speedy Runner gives them +5 land speed and advantage on all dexterity checks, and Lightning Speed lets them increase their land speed by 30.. yes you heard that right. They can also run for (DEX) hours before needing to sleep.
(Family names: Akita, Chow, Husky, Laika, Malamute, Salish)
Workers are strong, +2 Strength.
Brute Strength gives them advantage on Strength checks when lifting or pulling. Frightening Countenance lets them intimidate people by being big and strong. Huge Paws gives them +1d4 damage when unarmed. and Mighty Thews gives them advantage on all attack and strength checks for a round.
Mutts aren't so much a Breed as much as an absence of one. Some mutts live inside the established families, most of them are outcasts who reject or were rejected by the established family lines.
Mutts get +1 to any two ability scores and can pick any breed's starting trick. They can choose additional breed tricks from that breed.
So yeah, let me get this out there. The breeds are incredibly dumb. I've been pithily summarizing these but only just barely. There are apparently entire noble family lines of Dockworkers who are strong and lift things. And entire family lines of "SMART PEOPLE" who are smart and know things. Each Breed save the Fettle's have one, maybe two classes that they functionally slot into, and that's it. And that's allowing for Strays existing as a class separate from the vastly superior Guardians which is two functional classes stapled together. And then you have Mutts that just break the system over their knee by being able to cherrypick from up to 3 different Breeds, meaning that you can thankfully ignore it entirely.
Next time: Worldbuilding
World of PugmireOriginal SA post
World of Pugmire
The GM's chapter opens up in a welcome out-of-character and rather frank way.
At some point between now and when Pugmire starts. Humanity dies out. We don't know how, the dogs don't know how, and it doesn't really matter. We left behind nanotechnology, quantum computers, artificial life forms, and other more bizarre things. Animals evolved to human-like intelligence either through our direct guidance or by being exposed to our leftovers. These are called "Uplifted" animals.
Uplifted dogs were not only given new abilities, but they also had medical problems like hip dysplasia, diabetes, and collapsed tracheas removed to make their lives more comfortable.
There are still non-uplifted animals, and dogs, but "Dogs" just call them "canines". to differentiate. And yes, the Dogs have dogs as pets.
But the uplifted animals don't live in the post-apocalyptic ruins of old new york. What's been left behind is hazy and indistinct. There are zombies and ruins but they're removed from a 21st century context. They do know that the Old Ones existed in a variety of times, and technological advancement. But they don't know about the Bronze Age or the Renaissance, instead they just have the "Ages of Man" in a sort of vague sense. They're aware that Newspapers are from "an earlier age" than e-readers but don't know who invented the printing press. They uncover concepts like democracy and medicine and try to reverse engineer the concepts but they don't have context for these terms.
So dogs have rebuilt to a roughly mideval level of technology mixed in with several anachronisms. Anything they can't understand is simply 'magic' and treated with a mixture of religious reverence and intellectual curiosity. Also, dogs refer to the whole of mankind as "Man" not out of any sort of gender implication. but because the term "Mans Best Friend" has achieved a sort of deific context for them. They use "man" in phrases where we would use "God" (I swear to Man, Man damn it, etc) Though in other contexts they also use "Old Ones" if necessary.
Dogs know that they were uplifted, but since they view Mankind as a sort of god-figure, they believe that this is literal. They were lifted up and placed at the side of the divine. The Church of Man believes that all species that were uplifted(though it gets a bit more vague as to how the other species were uplifted) are worthy of respect because the old ones have blessed them all. But dogs are "Mans Best Friend" and thus the holiest of the uplifted.
Physically dogs are about the size of humans with some variance, between four and 7 feet tall. Since the ancient texts state that humans were bigger than dogs, some scholars have extrapolated this to believe that humans were 12 or 20 feet tall. They're more like humans than they are canines. They're bipedal, though they can run on four legs to go faster they're not as good at it as canines, and they have fingers. They can see in full color, still have fur and tails, etc. They live to be around 40-50 years old. They're a puppy till 10, young adult till 15, adult till 25, mature adult until 35, and an old dog after that.
The book goes into some more detail on "Families" here. Dog families are huge and sprawling, and usually dogs marry distant relatives. Sometimes dogs marry into other families, or adopt. So you'll sometimes see a Large muscular malamute looking "Papillion". Dogs don't recognize the "Breeds", those are purely a game mechanic, but they'll say things like "Small chatty dogs like the Pugs bother me." If a family finds a relic of the old ones, they're declared a noble breed.
Buuuuut ignoring the sentence from earlier "Some dogs that find love outside their families are cast out to become pariahs." Because sure.
The book namedrops uplifted fish and birds that rule the waters and skies before immediately mentioning that they are both Sir Not Appearing In This Book. Instead we get Cats, Rats, Badgers, and Lizards.
While there is a bit of historical animosity and inherited stereotype from their time at the foot of Man. Dogs and Cats were literally at war just a few decades ago, so there's some real tension here.
The Monarchies of Mau are a loos confederation of independent city-states. They're autonomous groups that work against each other as much as they do other species. Over the centuries six main monarchies have formed out of a coalition of houses that work together in a complex political web. So cats have a surname and a house name.
And if you're thinking "Wait, six monarchies? Does that mean there's a Strength City and a Dex City and a Con City..." Then congratulations, you have pattern recognition.
Outside of the war there are other reasons dogs might not trust cats. For one, cats see spirits and have ties to the dead that extend to literal actual necromancy.
This has led dogs to believe that cats are unwholesome and defile the dead for their own fiendish purposes. Also many cats who have left the Monarchies ("Moggies" are the equivilent of "Strays") have difficulty finding legitimate work in Pugmire, and are forced into less savory occupations. So dogs naturally assume ALL cats are like that, and the cycle repeats.
Rats are equal parts dismissed and vilified.
Dogs and Rats have had conflicts for as long as either can remember, but Rats don't have a city or empire that can be attacked or negotiated with(anymore, they may have had an old city but if they did it was long overrun by monsters). So they live in old ruins, mines, caves, heaps of garbage, etc, in search of "Shinies" that they can trade to other species in exchange for food or shelter. Some rats who manage to live in pugmire create criminal empires because they know they'll never get fair treatment from a dog, which enforces the stereotype, cycle repeats.
Some of the rat's negative reputation comes from the Cult of Labo Tor, sect of rats that worship Man's 100 Theories. The White Mice wear white robes and bleach patches of their fur white, and believe that the 100 Theories can only be discovered through the science of Man. Though "Science" to them means "Capture other people and subject them to horrific and deadly experiments". Most rats reject the White Mice but they're almost impossible to root out.
And otters and polecats and weasels and ferrets and wolverines(oh god there's 6 of those too...). They don't seek to build a civilization as much as they want to take it from other people. The various factions don't cooperate very well, and there's tales of a legendary Ferret assault against a dog city that had just been conquered by Polecats. But rumors are circulating about a badger king, Kibu the Red, that's seeking to bring the various settlements and armies together in unison against the other species.
Nomad tribes that roam the more aird parts of the world in colorful caravans, acting as traders and messengers. Some lizard tribes settled in cities built on the small areas of green between the deserts and civilization, many however are content to simply move from location to location as a collection of tent cities, making thier living through barter, scavenging, and ad hoc work. Most lizards cover their faces when speaking outside their community and use strange magic to defend themselves.
Demons and The Unseen
Dogs attribute things like Rabies, Cannibalism, and Mange to invisible Demons. They might be right, the book doesn't say. But demons are a constant threat to Pugmire.
History of Pugmire
Centuries ago, dogs lived as small families taking up residence wherever they could. Whenever larger groups would try to build a city, dogs would start to perish by unseen hands and the survivors would flee in terror. Eventually a Pug re-awakened his ability to sense the unseen and started travelling between encampments flushing out and killing the demons. It wasn't long before dozens of families were following him. But all the good land was claimed by the cats of the Monarchy of Korat. The unclaimed land by the Acid sea was difficult to grow crops on, and a river poured tainted water into the nearby plains, creating a thick boggy mire. But they had no other choice so they settled the mire.
Soon after they settled in, a dog named Anastasia Akita uncovered strange writings in a nearby cave that spoke of ancient gods called Man, as well as information on how to drain the mire and clean up the river. She believed the discovery of such knowledge to be a miracle and gathered other dogs to her cause. The Pug found out that Anastasia had this information and decided to work with her. In return for her help in building his kingdom he declared her growing collection of followers to be the kingdom's official church.
The Rise and Fall of the Hounds
For years the Pug family ruled Pugmire, supported by the Church of Man. However other families felt that they would be best suited to rule the kingdom and should have equal say in government. The queen at the time instituted a royal court and the leaders of each family could act as advisors to the crown, but this wasn't enough for the Hounds.
The Duke of the Hound family went to the church and argued that rather than having a single family rule by royal decree, each family needed to do something to further the cause of the Kingdom and the Church. Any family that found and presented a relic of Man would be considered a noble house. Since the church would have final say on who would become nobility they leapt at the chance to become a political power, and the queen saw the way the wind was blowing. Rather than subject her descendants to a long and bloody civil war, she abdicated and asked the dukes and duchesses to decide amongst themselves who would rule. Of course the Hound won.
However, the other various hound families thought that they would get preferential treatment under his rule. But he was fair and even handed. Some of the branch families found their own relics and became their own houses, by the time the King was too old to carry on his duties his house had diminished to a fraction of it's size. Over a dozen different hound families vied for the throne but the nobles threw their support behind the Papillons. Outraged, most of the Hound branch families left Pugmire to build Houndton to the south. For years the two kingdoms had economic and political conflicts until the Queen worked out an agreement with the ruler of Houndton. He would swear fealty to Pugmire and become Lord Mayor. Pugmire became an empire.
Imperial Exploration and the War
That settled, Pugmire cast their eyes to the Acid sea.
Many artisans and engineers, seeking new challenges, struggled to make a ship that would survive the intensity of the waters in the Acid Sea. Eventually, the answer was found in Pugmire’s most valuable resource: The Man-given miracle mineral of plastic.
Making ships out of plastic was incredibly expensive, but Pugmire was becoming a rich kingdom, and so a handful of plastic ships were created. The area south of Houndton was used for the construction of the fleet, and thus Waterdog Port was created.
The monarchy of Korat bargained for access to Waterdog Port, but they were unwilling or unable to contribute the cost of building more ships. Tensions flared and brawls between dogs and cats at Waterdog port became increasingly common. The Queen banned all cats from Waterdog Port until Korat could control it's citizens, but the insult was too great to bear. They used the incident as the key to their ongoing negotiations with the other 5 kingdoms and they unified to force the dogs to give up Waterdog Port entirely, and cripple pugmire.
Long story short, the dogs lost control of Waterdog Port, which the cats renamed "Mau's Glorious Waters", but then the cats relinquished control over it since the natives were fighting them tooth and claw. Now Waterdog port is independent. The queen died in her sleep, and her successor negotated a peace treaty.
What the shit is this.
The Word and Code of Man
The Word of Man is the ideology man laid down for dogs, according to the church. The full word is massive, volume upon volume compiled by the Shepherds of the Church from what they've learned and feel is right. But since no one memorizes the entire bible, they came up with their own Commandments. The Code of Man.
Be a Good Dog
You know, someone else put this far better than I can.
"Good" is a nebulous concept, and basically the church uses this as a beating stick, any violation of the other Tenets of the Code means you aren't a good dog.
Obey the Master
Obey those who are in charge. This is how a Kingdom functions. Some dogs rankle under this tenet, believing that they are their own Masters, or that only Man can be called Master.
Bite only those who endanger you
"Bite" isn't literal, but basically don't attack someone who isn't a threat. What constitutes a "Threat" is hotly debated.
Defend your home
Almost no one debates this one, except on what you can call a home. But if someone's threatening your family you can probably "bite" them.
Stay loyal to those that are true
If you betray a friend to save your family, are you still true? Are you loyal? are you a good dog?
Protect all from the Unseen
Fetch what has been left behind
Find Masterworks, Bring them to the Church.
Then there's 7 paragraphs on how dogs consider eachother friend and how dogs marry and that the nobility of pugmire tries to encourage people to marry along family lines or for reasons of political gain... but then this pops up.
I mean on the one hand, yes. But on the other hand you're in a medieval level culture that rather harshly punishes those who stray outside of their gene pools. I'm all for this but there's other problems that need fixing first, Yosha.
Technology and Magic
ARTHUR C CLARKE! SUFFICIENTLY ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY!
There's a blurry spectrum between what the dogs consider Technology and what they consider Magic. If a dog achieves a real scientific breakthrough they're probably lauded for "Unearthing a Secret of the Old Ones". A piece of magic that the dogs can replicate and make commonplace becomes Technology. There's also blurring of the lines in other ways. A suit of armor that's lighter and stronger than metal is "magical" even if it's not really Magical.
Time and Money
Dogs use Plastic as currency. 10 shards make up a Chunk, and 10 Chunks make up a Coin. Any particular shard, chunk, or coin might be different than another shard because Dogs are kind of new at the whole Currency thing, and prices can vary based on time, location, scarcity or whim.
Dogs sort of inherited the idea of a 24 hour day but they haven't figured out how to actually keep time. So a Day is the time from one sunrise to the next. an "Hour" is any length of time where the sun or moon moves in the sky but doesn't change from morning to night. a "Wag" is however long it takes a dog to wag their tail, and is used in parlance as we would "Second".
Yes, dogs drink. "from bowls and waterskins (mugs were briefly fashionable, back when the Pugs were first in power but dogs with long muzzles couldn't drink from them without making a mess)"
I don't know why this paragraph is here other than as an excuse to include this artwork
and really they just could have not.
There's not much here worth repeating other than that the Pugmire police force wears blue tabards (Because they're the Good Boys in Blue), and there's a Dog KKK Called the "Friends of Man" who lynch cats and the leaders of the Friends of Man are actually possessed by demons and are trying to get a possessed dog onto the throne of Pugmire. Because... sure?
The City of Pugmire
This mostly just a section of adventure hooks for storytellers. But it boils down to Westwall Quarter = Religious District, Northgate Quarter=Laborers District, Southgate Quarter=Merchants District, Riverwall Quarter=Cat Slums. The one thing i noted that actually made me laugh was the section on Mr. Meow's Grooming. Which is the best groomers in all of Pugmire, such that nobles will sometimes disguise themselves and sneak into Riverwall to get their fur done. The constabulary is absolutely convinced that he's up to some nefarious deed, and he definitely puts up pretenses that he is. But he's not a criminal. He's a patriot. He's an old spy from the Dog/Cat war and he puts all his profits into helping the poor and downtrodden cat families living in Riverwall while he acts up a big scheme so that the police are spending more time hassling him than poor people. He's waiting/praying every day for the bug out order so he can scoop up the families he's rescued and take them back to Mau.
There is however this great 2 page art spread, which I share with you now
The boundary between Pugmire and the Monarchies. No sane cat or dog chooses to cross it alone. There's all sorts of strange things living in the forest, sentient trees being the least of it. A few roads have been cut through it during the war but even the army doesn't like using them.
Houndton is a collection of Castles and their surrounding peasant housing. One for each of the nascent hound families. Whichever the ruling Hound is, their castle becomes the seat of government. Some families are well equipped for this as they have held power several times. However the Transylvanian-Hound family was financially devastated by their brief rule as they tried to build a long winding road to their castle which was on the tallest crag in town. and Castle Transylvanian-Hound stands empty, mouldering and looming over all of houndton because OF COURSE IT'S A FUCKING DRACULA CASTLE THERE'S FUCKING TRANSYLVANIAN HOUNDS AND FFFfffffff...
Right on the edge of the fearful forest because no one else wants to live there, but no one will bother them there. They've created an industry out of exploring and harvesting the forest and provide wood and rare plants to Pugmire.
"Primarily governed by finance, as well as spite" Coin rules the day in waterdog port. It's not completely lawless, but if a thriving contraband industry ruffles the fur of those in Pugmire and Mau well all the better. Pugmire and Mau let them exist in this state because they have the only shipbuilding industry around and it's cheaper and safer to sail from Waterdog than it is to brave the forest.
Masterworks are the magic items of Pugmire. And most of them are exactly the same as they would be in 5e... except not. Because not only do magic items need to be attuned, they need to be "refined" to bring them up to snuff. A Baseline Amulet of Health sets your constitution to 18, a refined one sets it to 20. How do you refine magic items?
Spending your level up advancement, of course.
Those things you only get 9 of.
Masterwork weapons start off as normal +1 weapons, but can be refined a whopping 4 times. That's quite a bit of an investment, but if you do..
•The bonus the weapon provides is increased
ºº If this refinement is taken again, the bonus
the weapon provides is increased to +3.
ºº If this refinement is taken a third time,
the weapon adds a number of damage
dice equal to the user’s proficiency bonus.
For example, if the user’s proficiency
bonus is +2, then successful attacks roll
three damage dice instead of one.
• The weapon now does an additional damage type.
This seems very powerful, but a very large investment for a character that's probably already starved for feats or ability score increases... which is why I'm now going to pull these sidebars out of the "How to run a game" chapter.
An alternative to continuing to play after level 10 is to have interconnected chronicles. In dynastic play, once the player characters have reached level 10 and played through a story or two, they settle down and have or train puppies. The players create new characters that are the puppies related to or mentored by their original party. If the original character had a masterwork, that could be passed down to the new character as an inheritance or gift, and any improvements to the artifacts are kept by the new characters — a clever way to “power up” your new puppy characters! Then you can start a new chronicle detailing the adventures of the next generation of explorers, and you can reference events and characters from the previous chronicle.
Playing Beyond Level 10
Sometimes, you just don’t want the game to end. All of the player characters have reached level 10, but the players want to keep playing and, more specifically, keep improving their characters. On the surface, there’s nothing stopping this — it’s easy enough to allow players to keep taking improvements for their characters, and to keep increasing their proficiency bonus every two levels. However, in my experience the game tends to break down after level 10: Enemies become easier and easier to defeat, and characters end up with so many different tricks and abilities that it can be hard to keep track of them all. But if your group is eager to play a group of old, grizzled veterans ready to take on the most dangerous and powerful things in the world, enjoy!
Yes, 5e's math is kind of broken, there's a reason why most 5e games don't go past level 10... but compressing 20 levels down to 10 doesn't actually fix that problem.
The Masterwork chapter also introduces Exotic Weapons... which aren't Exotic Weapons, they're wands and Staves, except not really. They're just really powerful ranged weapons that deal strange types of damage, can only be fired every other round, and if you fail the ammunition saving throw they crumble into dust. And since they're exotic weapons you need to spend one or two advancements progressing through the Weapon Aptitude tree to use them, so only Archery Hunters can really use them without the fear of a d20 roll just rendering your levelups pointless.
After this is the Bestiary but there's nothing really groundbreaking here beyond some decent art I've already peppered through the review.
Pugmire has some really good worldbuilding, but they keep making rather painful sacrifices at the altar of OGL. The spellcasting system is a somewhat unique take on trying to balance the martial/caster divide, I like the way most of the classes are built. I just don't like that your level-up decisions are a massive logic tree with several failure points that wouldn't otherwise need to be there.
But that's all there is of this book, so Remember: Be a good Dog.