|RPG published by
Onyx Path Publishing
|Rule System||OGL (Fifth Edition SRD)|
|No. of Players||2-5|
|Session Time||2-4 hours|
|Essential Books||Pugmire Core Rulebook|
Pugmire is a fantasy roleplaying game based on Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition. Players are adventurers from the small city-state of Pugmire who fight to defend their city and explore the ruins left behind by an earlier, more advanced age. And oh yeah, everyone's a talking animal. Humanity died out at some point in the indeterminate past, but they left their uplifted pets behind to pick up what's left; plastic mining is a key industry, you can cast spells from a broken iPhone and the first commandment of the dog religion is literally to "Be a Good Dog."
Pugmire runs on a weird system that can be best described as some feverish nightmare vision of how Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition could be twisted into emulation of the Storyteller System. Fundamentally, the game is intended to be played at low levels - 1st through to 10th level - and uses entirely unique class & race systems.
The world of Pugmire is home to two major races of uplifted animals; Dogs and Cats. Dogs rule the kingdom of Pugmire, which is covered in the Pugmire splatbook, and cats belong to the Monarchies of Mau, and are presented as a PC race in the splatbook of the same name.
Additionally, three other races of uplifted animals exist, although they lack the national level power of the dogs and cats.
Rats & Mice exist on the fringes of civilization, carving out an existence as scavengers, thieves, guides, explorers and criminals. It is believed they once had an empire, but it was destroyed in some manner ages ago. They are regarded with distrust, mostly because of the Cult of Labo Tor, a dark science-religion that worships the 100 Theories of Man through acts of deadly science and vile experimentation upon the other sapient races of their world. Though the White Mice (as they are called) are shunned by the majority of rodentdom, their existence is too great a threat to be ignored.
Mustelids (called Badgers in-universe, but the race encompasses the entire mustelid family; otters, polecats, weasels, stoats, ferrets and wolverines are all "badgers" in this world) are essentially the orcs of the Pugmire/Mau world. They are lawless roving nomads who randomly attack cat fortresses and dog kingdoms, fortifying what they manage to take over for as long as they can and then moving on again.
Lizards are nomadic tribes of different reptiles who wander the world, frequently entering both Pugmirre and the Monarchies of Mau to trade goods and messages. They are considered strange and exotic - for example, most cover their faces when dealing with outsiders - but harmless.
Technology and Magic
The world of Pugmire exists in a nebulous post-post-apocalyptic version of Earth that could be thousands of years after a hyper-advanced humanity simply up and vanished, leaving behind their accumulated creations and history for their heirs to stumble over and discuss. For all of the sapient races, this forms the foundation of their perception of the world; rather than inventing their own stuff, they have learned to emulate and mimic the stuff humanity left behind, and without an understanding of the greater context, they're left to piece together the world as they can understand it.
The result is that the world of Pugmire and Mau sits on a base technological level roughly around the 14th to 15th century, but littered with anachronisms - plastic smelting/moulding (although they have to dig the stuff up out of the the ruins) and advanced irrigation and farming techniques. And then there's magic.
Magic, in this world, is a catch-all phrase for any of humanity's more advanced technological crap that they just frankly don't understand. This can vary from actually magical-level tech like nanites to just apocalypse-proofed tablet computers. Even if there's an actual scientific principle behind it, if the local beastfolk can't decipher it, then it's magic - "technology" is their term for anything which they do understand and can reliably recreate; chairs aren't magic, hoes aren't magic, swords aren't magic, armor isn't magic, and so forth.
It's best to think of magic and technology as a spectrum, with a very blurry middle zone.
Beasts, Monsters, and the Unseen
In addition to fighting with each other - the setting's "present day" takes place decades after the end of the War of Cats and Dogs, when Pugmire and the Monarchies of Mau battled over rights to the known world's only port city - the races of this world face dangerous threats. Many kinds of animals still exist in their world, even non-uplifted versions of the sapient races. But ancient experiments, or the lingerings of festered science, can cause all manner of weirdness.
Even mere animals can display bizarre traits - there have even been sightings of what cats & dogs call "half-lifted"; animals that possess a sapient mind in an otherwise bestial form. But the main danger comes from Monsters and the Unseen.
Monster refers to any of a wide variety of terrible abominations; experiments gone wrong, those corrupted by damaged relics of Man, and stranger things beside. They do not have a culture, or even share the common language that all other species use. They are wild, lurking in the world to spread fear, hunt innocents, or destroy civilizations. They range from the bestial to the hyperintelligent, from feral beasts to incomprehensible horrors. Even if they can communicate or coordinate, they often don’t have a goal or an agenda dogs or cats can understand. The only thing that gets through to a monster is a good sword and a sturdy arm.
The Unseen, also known as Demons, refers to any of a variety of insidious and invisible enemies that lurk amongst the civilized races of the world, seeking to destroy them. Dogs revile them, and the cat religion preaches that destroying them is their race's sworn duty.
Dogs of Pugmire
The dog Empire of Pugmire is based out of the city of Pugmire. In contrast to its older rival, the Monarchies of Mau, they are a more stolid people, but also much more organized than the relatively fractious felines. Pugmire is ruled by a collection of noble houses, each of whom descend from a dog that discovered what the Church of Man verified as a masterwork relic - an authentic artifact of the Old Ones. These artifacts are the source of each noble house's legitimacy, and should they be stolen or destroyed, that house immediately loses all noble privileges.
Pugmire is an elective monarchy, a compromise born after the original dog civil war over a dispute about inheritance of the crown. When the current king or queen either dies or abdicates, the royal court selects a new king or queen from Pugmire's assembled nobles.
The Church, Word & Code of Man
Whilst the dogs of Pugmire aren't a true theocracy, the Church of Man is a very powerful influence over theri culture. It was founded when a dog named Anastasia Akita discovered ancient writings in a cave that contained advanced environmental manipulation techniques, allowing the fledgling kingdom of Pugmire to transform a tainted river and a noxious bog into a place where they could create the first dog city. To this day, its purpose is to help dogkind, to further learn about and understand the Old Ones, and to follow what they believe is the ideology that Man laid down for all dogs to follow.
The Church's full ideology is the Word of Man, a sprawling litany of observations and preachings compiled in a massive library of volumes. The Code of Man is the simple set of religious tenents that the Church boils it all down to, and uses to instruct and guide the lay-persons of Pugmire:
- Be a good dog.
- Obey the master.
- Bite only those who endanger you.
- Defend your home.
- Stay loyal to those that are true.
- Protect all from the Unseen.
- Fetch what has been left behind.
The Church of Man is so powerful it even has its own Inquisition... except that Pugmire Inquisitors are more a combination of detective, street judge, and specialized hunter of the Unseen. Kind of like if Sherlock Holmes was a church-trained demon-slayer.
Callings are the Pugmire equivalent of classes, and consist of the following.
Artisans are the Pugmire version of wizards, using a "focus" to draw "magical energy" and shape it to their will. However, their abilities key off of Charisma, which also makes them similar to sorcerers.
Hunters are Pugmire's rangers; explorers of the wilderness and dedicated monster-killers who walk the borders between civilization and the wilderness.
Ratters are Pugmire's rogues, using their speed, deft hands, stealth and guile to triumph over all obstacles in their way, be they traps, locks or enemies.
Shepherds are Pugmire's clerics, who gain the ability to perform miraculous magic after being ordained by undergoing the Ritual of Transubstantiation, wherein they are injected with the sacred blood of the Old Ones (yes, it's probasbly nanites). Outside of their miraculous magic, they are advisors, philosophers, sages and luminaries.
Strays are the barbarians of Pugmire; dogs who forsake the comfort of civilization to instead pursue a life in the wilderness, surviving on their own strength, tenacity and fury.
Breeds are Pugmire's equivalent of races, representing "archetypal" collectives of different dog strains that are lumped together based on common traits.
Companions descend from dog breeds specifically selected for their companionable nature, usually lapdogs such as Chihuahuas, Pomeranians, Pugs and Shihtzus. Highly sociable and naturally charismatic, Companions excel as diplomats, politicians, educators and conversationalists.
Fettles are descended from dogs bred for toughness and hardiness - Bulldogs, Dalmations, Dobermans and Mastiffs. Hardy, stubborn and stoic, Fettles don't make friends easily, but their loyalty is unquestionabloe.
Herders descend from the various herding breeds of dog; Collies, Corgis, German Shepherds and English Sheepdogs. They are natural leaders with deep-rooted insight and a wisdom that helps them excel as confidants and advisors, diplomats or priests.
Pointers are the distant descendants of dogs bred for hunting and tracking; the Bloodhound, the Dachsund, the Labrador and the Rat-Terrier. They are best characterized by their intelligence, and naturally gravitate to the roles of researchers, storytellers and sages.
Runners, obviously, are descendants of dogs bred for speed, from professional racers like Greyhounds and Whippets to speedy hunting dogs like Wolfhounds. Filled with boundless energy and with incredible reflexes, runners gravitate to roles such as messenger, racer, and combat trainer.
Workers descend from large, powerful working dogs such as Akitas, Huskys and Malamutes. Strong, stubborn and not afraid to get their paws dirty, Workers tend to be blunt and direct, even the ones who belong to the nobility.
Mutts are, obviously, the myriad dogs who haven't got a clear lineage; crossbreeds and mongrels whose ancestry crosses two or more distinct species. They're not all bastards - many are in fact recognized and accepted members of the established Pugmire noble families - but they do tend to be more common amongst the lower ranks.
Cats of the Monarchies
Living further inland from Pugmire, with their northernmost border separated from Pugmire by the monster-infested Fearful Forest, the cats of this world exist in a collection of six Houses, or city-states, that are collectively known as the Monarchies of Mau. They are a fractious breed; it was only within living memory that the city-states were truly united, and the monarch who achieved that has been dead for a year.
In fact, there was once a seventh House - House Smilodon - but they went on a great expedition and... something happened to them, something so terrible that the remaining cats have expunged all memory of them.
Such is the importance of House to a cat's general lot in life that cat naming style goes (Personal Name) (Family Name) von (House Name).
Cats who reject membership in a House are known as "Moggies", and are analogous to the "Strays" of Pugmire.
The Precepts of Mau
Unlike their canine counterparts, cats are not inherently spiritual. In particular, they have formed quite the opposite picture of the Old Ones to dogs: whereas the dogs of Pugmire believe they were created to serve Man, the cats believe that Man was their servant! There is no equivalent to the Church of Man amongst the Monarchies... but there is an analogue to the Code of Man.
These are the Precepts of Mau; a set of commandments, one part spiritual and one part secular, that form the basis for the newly unified monarchies when it comes to conduct and discipline. There are four Accepted Precepts, which represent the guiding rules of all catkind:
- Always trust your instincts.
- Always pounce upon minions of the unseen.
- Always reward loyalty.
- Always respect an honor duel.
However, each House also has its own defining Precept that it follows as a personal philosophy, but which was rejected by the Ruling Council from becoming part of the Accepted Precepts. These are what the cats call the Disputed Precepts, and consist of the following:
- Always pursue knowledge (House Angora)
- Always operate with discretion (House Cymric)
- Always strike when least expected (House Korat)
- Always act with honor (House Mau)
- Always push boundaries (House Rex)
- Always revere the past (House Siberian)
- Always Seek Vengeance (The Shadow Bloc)
Feline Spirituality & Magic
Catkind, like dogkind, has no great context for the true technological nature of the relics they unearth. But whereas dogs are generally more content to place such items in church-controlled museums, cats seek to actively study and replicate this "magic", even if it means destroying an artifact in the process of unearthing its secrets. Thusly, whereas dogs wield magic through their Artisans and Shepherds, cats do so through Mancers and Ministers. Dogs focus on improving relics, whilst cats destroy them to absorb their magical energies.
Whilst they lack a powerful church like dogkind, cats do have a sense of spirituality. Their religion is centered around the concept of reincarnation, with the central belief being that each cat is born to live nine lives, and must strive in each life to prove worthy of past life legacies and for the lives they will be reborn into. Because of this belief, cats have no aversion to necromancers, instead viewing their magic as a kind of blessing that allows a cat to extend and augment each individual life. This is a sticking point with the dogs of Pugmire, who find necromancy to be scary and unnatural.
One strange thing about cat magic is that, whilst cat "spells" are more powerful than those used by dogs, it's less stable.
As with the dogs of Pugmire, Callings are the cat equivalent of classes in a Monarchies of Mau game.
Champions are the Fighters of the game. There's little else to say about them.
Footpads are the cat equivalent to Rogues, and much more respected than their canine Ratter counterparts. They represent everything from acrobats and scouts to investigators, assassins and thieves.
Mancers are the cat equivalent of wizards, using bone focuses to draw out magical energy they have absorbed from ancient relics they've dissected.
Ministers are the cat eqivalent of bards, using their voices to channel inherent magical energies, although their focus on ministering to the mental and spiritual health of their fellows means they fill a social role equivalent to clerics.
Trackers are the cat equivalent of rangers, although culturally they are closer to demon slayers. Membership in this calling requires following a new oath: Murder the Unseen. They are the warriors of the wilderness, dedicated to purging the land of monsters and demons, one kill at a time.
Wanderers are cat martial artists, the equivalent of monks, who hone their unarmed combat skills as part of pursuing their personal spiritual enlightenment. They are natural nomads, constantly roaming the known world in pursuit of opportunities to hone their skills and to simply sate their desire for spiritual growth.
Such is the importance of House membership in a cat's life that it replaces the Breed aspect from Pugmire in a Monarchies of Mau game. Thusly, "House" is analogous to D&D's "Race".
House Angora is a house of scholars and intellectuals, dedicated to the finding and preservation of knowledge and magic, maintaining the libraries throughout the Monarchies. Secretly, their hunger to know things means they will readily delve into topics that other Houses view as too dark or sinister - even the summoning and controlling of the Unseen.
House Cymric is a house of diplomats, negotiators and entertainers - a weird mix, until you realize that the charming tongue and pleasing form of a minstrel or actor can ferret out secrets as well as any diplomat. Secretly, they yearn to oust House Mau as the de facto leaders of the Monarchies.
House Korat is the military House of the Monarchies; a proud and warlike clan who champion strength, combat skills, and force. Life is tough in this House, where the physically frail are unwelcome. Whilst stereotyped as thick-limbed and thick-headed, their cunning and tactical skills should not be underestimated. Secretly, they yearn for a second War with Pugmire, in order to prove their superiority to all other races on the battlefield.
House Mau is a House of leaders and judges, known for their honor and their diplomatic skill. It was a member of House Mau who united the Monarchies into their present form, and to this day they openly seek to preserve the current form of the united nation. Secretly, they actually hope to consolidate power in their own paws, building up their popularity with the lower classes until they can openly topple the other Houses and become the sole rulers of all catkind.
House Rex are the most open-minded and individualistic of all the cat Houses, and can be seen as the most liberal of them all. They are a clan of explorers and outsiders; the first cats to explore beyond their borders, and the first to encourage peace amongst races. They are the one cat House to be on good terms with the dogs of Pugmire, and openly speak in support of strengthening ties. To the aggravation of the other Houses, especially the ever-scheming House Cymric, House Rex doesn't seem to have any secrets. With these cats, what you see may actually be what you get.
House Siberian is the conservative bloc within the Monarchies, championing tradionalism above all other things and carefully measuring progress, striving to direct it into utility above all else. The other Monarchies mostly tolerate them for their skil as medics, but they underestimate the Siberians' capacity for destructive ferocity. Secretly, House Siberian wants to dissolve the Treaty of Unification and return to being a self-sufficient monarchy like they were before.
The Shadow Bloc represents the unified voting power and standing of catkind's minor houses, organizations and so forth on the great Ruling Council. This conglomerate nature makes them naturally anarchic and hard to predict or manipulate by the other Houses. Secretly, remnants of House Smilodon have infiltrated the Shadow Bloc and hope to use it as a way to pursue vengeance.