Claws & Effect: Pirate Callings [Realms of Pugmire]

Realms of Pugmire

In the third part of this essay series, I wanted to talk a little about the design decisions that went into the Pirates of Pugmire callings.

This was an interesting challenge, because I had a new set of conditions I needed to fulfill. Specifically, I needed two dog-specific callings, two cat-specific callings, and one calling each for lizards and birds. Early on I made it easier for characters to share those callings, but that was still my initial design idea.

This time, though, I also gave more room to the writer (who was Dixie Cochran), so it was even more of a team effort than the Mau callings.

  • Crusader (dog; Charisma and Constitution). In my tweaking of the Guardian calling in Pugmire, I realized that I never really got a chance to do a proper “paladin” calling. So this was a chance to do that, with a dash of Spanish conquistador tossed in.
  • Gundog (dog; Constitution and Dexterity). When I knew I needed two gun-wielding callings, this one was pretty easy. I mean, gundogs are a thing, so the name pretty much sells the concept. Like with most areas where I want to distinguish cats and dogs, this calling errs on the side of Constitution.
  • Torpedo (cat; Dexterity and Strength). That said, I wanted the cat version to be tough, too. “Torpedo” is an old criminal term for a thug or brute, someone who beats people up for a living. Pairing that with naval torpedos gave the cats a fun, gun-wielding, brutal calling to play with.
  • Mystic (cat; Intelligence and Strength). I knew I wanted to do some kind of druid-like “sea witch.” They seemed to make more sense as a cat. That said, I also knew I wanted the class to have only a smattering of spell-related knacks, which is why it has a decent chunk of tracker in it as well.
  • Alkalist (lizard; Intelligence and Wisdom). Early on in the art phase of Pugmire, I wanted to lean lizards away from being purely desert-dwelling. That’s where the idea of salt magic came from, so I knew I needed to add this calling. It also tied well to the “sea salt” vibe of the book. The biggest challenge was making the calling distinctive within a very small wordcount allotted to me in the book, which is why it ended up being more alchemist than wizard.
  • Rimer (bird; Charisma and Wisdom). This one was a struggle in design. Originally I wanted what was essentially a serious jester, as jester classes are a bizarre but neat little trend in D&D subclasses over the decades. And I felt the colorful nature of birds worked well with the aesthetics of the jester class. But the jester class isn’t great, and we actually worked on a few different approaches in both the flavor and mechanics to get what I wanted out of this. In the end, we just gave them one solid knack around performance, some spells, and then mixed in some rogue/thief elements to make it all work.

  1 comment for “Claws & Effect: Pirate Callings [Realms of Pugmire]

  1. WuseMajor
    January 6, 2020 at 2:33 pm

    These were pretty cool. You guys did a nice job with them.

    We are going to get some other Lizard classes eventually, right? The writing magic that the example lizard in Mau has was very evocative and I’d love to know more about it.

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