Claws and Effect: Long-Term Play [Realms of Pugmire]

Realms of Pugmire

Via Eddy:

As written, Pugmire and Mau chronicles can be reasonably swift. It’s possible to go from a starting character to a retired one in ten game sessions. For some people (like me), that’s a feature — I rarely have time for sprawling weekly epics that last for years and years anymore. Knowing that I can play an entire chronicle from start to finish in a reasonably short time is compelling.

That said, some people do have time for sprawling weekly epics, but are struggling with how to use Pugmire or Mau for such long-term play. The books do provide information on both pacing of levels and how to play beyond level 10, but I have some more thoughts on how you can create epics.

Mini-Advancement with Artifacts

One way is to change the scope of advancements. As Guide, you might award a level only after the end of a series of adventures instead of just one story. Maybe this is the end of a long novel, or a season of a television series. But players like to have new things to play with and use, so consider artifacts and relics as “mini-advancements.”

There are some advantages to this. Many artifacts have powers that emulate advancements, such as improving ability scores and providing trick-like abilities. Fixes are particularly nice, because such powers are only used a few times before being depleted, but even full-blown relics can be helpful. Objects can be taken away, lost, neutralized, or otherwise taken out of play for brief periods of time, unlike advancements. Plus, they usually come with story hooks — maybe that cat necromancer will want his magic ax back one day.

Troupe Play

Pugmire has the idea of playing the puppies of old characters, carrying on the past PC’s missions (and with invested objects to boot). Monarchies of Mau explicitly states that reincarnation isn’t real, but you can make it real to play the “future lives” of old PCs in new ways… and perhaps getting a small boost of magic or skill to boot. I personally love the idea of soft reboots where the past chronicle informs a new one.

You can take this one step further and play a game more in an “anthology” style. Instead of one group of cohesive characters that hand off to another distinct group, have players make up a few characters each (perhaps even from different games!). Then, each adventure focuses on one of the characters in the pool, while the other players choose appropriate characters to support the spotlight person’s story. Advancements are only handed out at the end of such spotlight tales, which means that not all characters will be the same level. But it allows for groups to explore a lot more of the world, while also keeping the game fresh and interesting.


One variation on troupe play would be to institute flashbacks. For example, in the jumpstart “Secret of Vinsen’s Tomb,” the players are left with a lot of questions about King Vinsen and what happened in his tomb. It was meant to, well, jumpstart some chronicle ideas of exploring those mysteries, but another option would be to play through Vinsen’s fall. And what if the game jumps back a couple hundred years, with the players all taking the roles of King Vinsen’s retinue?

These kinds of flashback games are nice because it allows the Guide to communicate background information without spending a long time just telling the players information. They also break up the flow of the chronicle, offering a nice palette cleanser before heading back into the main story. Finally, it’s a great way to introduce new players to the game in a low-stakes way — no matter what happens, that’s all history now!

In conclusion, just because Pugmire and Monarchies of Mau are intentionally designed to end at a specific level, that doesn’t mean you can’t find new ways to play and expand your chronicle. At the end of the day, as long as you’re having fun, that’s all that matters!

  3 comments for “Claws and Effect: Long-Term Play [Realms of Pugmire]

  1. Jason Inczauskis
    September 27, 2018 at 2:27 pm

    Out of curiosity, what led to the decision to explicitly deny reincarnation rather than leaving it ambiguous? It’s a simple thing to ignore, but I’m still curious.

    • October 2, 2018 at 9:11 am

      Because if I left it ambiguous, players and Guides would assume it was explicitly true. And if it was explicitly true, then “cat faith” would be inherently more accurate than “dog faith.” In order to keep each species’ ideology on equal out-of-game footing, I needed to make it clear.

      • Jason Inczauskis
        October 6, 2018 at 9:39 am

        Okay, that makes a lot of sense. Thank you for letting me know.

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