Character Creation: Pugmire


As part of our continuing Character Creation series, Bill returns to discuss Pugmire.

I love the concept of creating an anthropomorphic dog in a post-apocalyptic, D&D-like setting, and am looking forward to the chance to play Pugmire. Since I wrote part of the Pan’s Guide For New Pioneers, I was already familiar with the rules, but I wanted to create a character for my upcoming game.

Step One: Choose a Calling

First order of business: what kind of job does my dog have? Pages 41-53 of the Pugmire Core Rulebook describe the Callings—think character classes from D&D—and gives six examples of character types for each. Since I often play fighter types, I opt to build a mage this time and choose the Artisan Class. To be an Artisan is to unlock the secrets of the Old Ones through masterwork relics. Then, once a dog finds their focus, they use that knowledge to create miraculous effects.

Step Two: Choose a Breed

If you’ve spent time with dogs like I have, you probably have a favorite breed (or two). I love Dachshunds—especially the way their foreheads wrinkle up when they’re concerned about something. I also love Corgis, Pugs, Great Danes, Black Labs, Rottweilers, Pitties… Come to think of it I just like dogs, so settling on “a” breed is a challenge. In the end, I decided to pick Corgi, because friends of mine have a pair I adore. Corgis are in the Herder group of dogs and gain a +2 bonus to their Wisdom. Breeds are discussed on pp. 54-61.

Step Three: Choose a Background

Backgrounds in Pugmire, found on pp. 62-63, are an interesting way to add a few skills and a cool backstory. While my dog is interested in the arcane, I don’t want his background to be scholarly or magical in nature. So, I opt for Merchant: that background gives him a few practical skills, some nice equipment, and potential access to a different set of contacts than he would normally have as an Artisan.

Step Four: Assign Ability Scores and Designate Primary Scores

Instead of rolling dice, Pugmire uses an assigned value system for Ability Scores found on pp. 63-66. Players have 15, 14, 13, 12, 10, and 8 to assign to their six Abilities.

As an Artisan, my dog will need to emphasize Intelligence and Charisma as these are his Primary Ability scores. I therefore put my 15 into Intelligence. However, knowing that Artisans aren’t very tough, I opt to give Constitution the second-highest score of 14. This will give him +2 Stamina points and better chances to save against health-related threats. Giving him a Charisma of 13 is a good fit for his Calling. Wrapping things up, I assigned 12 to Dexterity (+1 to Dexterity saving throws), 10 to Strength (no bonus), and 10 to Wisdom (8 +2 from the Herder bonus, for a total of 10). My dog is both intelligent and agile and, thanks to his Breed group, his Wisdom score is not as much of a concern as it’d be if I only had 8.

Step Five: Calculate Ability Modifiers, Choose Skills and Tricks

I’ve already mentioned some of my dog’s Ability Modifiers: +2 to both Intelligence and Constitution; +1 to Charisma and Dexterity, and no bonuses for Strength or Wisdom.

Skills in Pugmire are nicely broken up to make them less intimidating. You choose two Skills from a group customized for your Calling, and you get extra Skills depending on your Background. For Artisans, I’ll choose two from the list on page 43: Handle Animal, Heal, Know Arcana, Know Culture, Know History, Know Nature, Know Religion, Notice, Perform Search, and Sense Motive. Being an Artisan means my dog should be familiar with the arcane, so Know Arcana seems like a no-brainer. I also want my dog to be able to support the other players, so Heal and Notice are two other great options for me. Since I can only pick two total, I’m going with Know Arcana and Heal. Even if there’s a Shepherd from the Church of Man in the party, it never hurts to have extra healing power—life in the wilds can be dangerous! As a Merchant, my dog is also entitled to Bluff and Sense Motive as extra skills per the Merchant Background on page 63. My Skills are: Know Arcana, Heal, Bluff, and Sense Motive.

Tricks provide extra abilities and/or powers, and new Tricks can be earned with experience. Artisans (p. 53) earn the following First Tricks as starting characters: Simple Weapon Aptitude and Light Armor Aptitude. Dogs also gain a Trick as beginning characters based on their Breed (p. 57), so I get Keen Observer for that, which gives my dog advantage in all Wisdom checks relating to sight, hearing, or smell. I also gain the Odds and Ends Trick for my Background (p. 63).

Odds and Ends gives my character an advantage to Wisdom checks when I need to find out if I have exactly what a potential client or customer needs. I may also spend fortune to declare a new, non-player character is my former customer, and I trade with them on friendly—or at least non-hostile—terms. I really like how advantage gives my character an edge without breaking the game. It still all boils down to luck, but since I can choose the better of two die rolls, this could help my dog avoid failing in a crucial moment.

My dog also gains either Encouragement or Focus Magic as a Trick for my Artisan Calling. Focus Magic seems like another obvious choice, so that’s what I select. Choosing Focus Magic gives my dog three basic spells to start with—Elemental Ray, Mage Paw, and Smell Magic—for free, plus I can choose two other first-level spells. Magic Missile and Shield seem like good choices: Magic Missile give me a ranged attack AND a magical attack, and Shield gives a +5 bonus to Armor Class. Both will prove useful in town or in the wilderness.

Proficiency Bonus reflects how my dog’s knowledge and experience grows over time. At first-level, all dogs gain a +2 Proficiency Bonus.

Step Six: Choose Equipment

Beginning level characters gain equipment packages tied to both their Calling and Background. Players are then prompted to make additional choices, depending upon the item listed.

For my Artisan Calling, I get a rucksack containing a simple weapon of my choice (quarterstaff, p. 81), a suit of light armor of my choice (leather armor, p. 69), a masterwork artisan focus, a bottle of ink, a pen, some sheets of parchment, and small collection of books.

My dog acquired his masterwork artisan focus in an unusual way. During a trip outside the capital city of Pugmire, my character found a small cylindrical object half-buried in mud by the side of the road. After he dug it out, he noticed a small button-like protrusion on top and lightning bolts stamped into the sides. Over time, this relic became my dog’s reliable focus.

Next, I’ll add a set of scales, a fine set of clothes, and some plastic coins from my Merchant Background to round out my starting equipment. In Pugmire, the money characters have is listed in their Backgrounds. The dogs of Pugmire mine plastic from great deposits and mint them into coins used as currency. They might have a few, some, or many plastic coins in a purse, and cash only becomes an issue when it is important to the story.

Step Seven: Calculate Defense, Initiative, and Speed

Per page 83, my dog’s Defense is equal to his armor plus his Dexterity bonus. Leather armor confers an 11 Defense and my Dexterity bonus is one, bringing my total to 12.

Initiative is equal to my dog’s Dexterity modifier; in my case, that’s +1. Any time I roll Dexterity for Initiative, I’d add a one.

My dog’s Speed is 30 feet per turn; 40 feet if he drops to all fours and runs.

Step Eight: Choose Personality Traits

To add personality traits, starting players can refer to pages 83-84 and roll a six-sided die to obtain them. I have opted to flesh out my character by using those tables.

My dog’s Ideal, the concept that drives the dog, is to find the secrets of the old ones. As an Artisan, that makes a great deal of sense, since Artisans are the ones most likely to deal with artifacts from the Time of Man. He is inspired by his Bond to the group’s leader, which I decide refers to the leader of his adventuring party. It’s a great way to create a relationship with another character and add interesting touches to allow for greater roleplaying opportunities. My character’s Flaw is that no matter what he does, he can’t seem to keep his anger in check. I imagine this is either a result of some betrayal, or because he didn’t learn any anger management skills in his youth.

Step Nine: Name and Story

Tralfaz Corgi was the third child of a prosperous merchant family. One day, while moving a wagonload of goods from Houndton to Pugmire, Tralfaz stumbled over a small object, half-buried in the muddy roadside. It was a cylindrical object with lightning bolts stamped into its sides. Tralfaz found that, after keeping the strange object in his pocket for a time, it would warm to the touch of his paw. He became obsessed with learning the ways of the artisans, masters of ancient lore who deciphered the workings of artifacts from the days of Man many ages ago.

Tralfaz’s father realized his son wouldn’t be learning the family business after all. With a sigh, he enrolled him in classes to become an artisan. Tralfaz studied diligently under his tutor, learning many secrets, until his teacher (while packing his bags to stay one step ahead of the Inquisitors) proclaimed Tralfaz was ready to set out on his own.

Now I have a fully fleshed-out character, ready to seek adventure and glory in the world of Pugmire. Time to be a good dog!

If you enjoy Pugmire, keep an eye on the Fetch Quest card game, currently on Kickstarter!