Claws & Effect: The Monarchies’ Callings [Realms of Pugmire]

Realms of Pugmire

Last time, I talked a bit about my reasoning and intent behind the design of the Pugmire callings. Now I want to talk a bit about doing the same for Monarchies of Mau.

Since it was a companion game, I knew the callings had to be equivalent yet distinct. In other words, they needed to feel like they were cool and interesting to play in their own right, but they could also fill roughly equivalent roles that Pugmire callings do.

It was a tricky balance, and honestly, I didn’t do a great job when the book originally went to Kickstarter. A few people pointed out that some of the callings were actually quite similar. I knew I wanted to hire a full team to write Mau (instead of writing most of it myself, like I did for Pugmire), and that observation reinforced that it was a good instinct to have. (Get it? Instinct? Because Mau? I’ll see myself out.)

That said, even when working with Matthew Dawkins on the updates callings, I still have a good idea what I wanted to see, to hit that right balance.

  • Champions (Charisma and Strength): I wanted this to be less “charismatic leader” and more “roguish swashbuckler with a dash of samurai.” But there’s a lot of overlap, and the first pass was pretty much like a Guardian. Adding a secret like Barbed Heckle and making that one of the first secrets you learn helped shift the balance, along with some great flavor text.
  • Footpads (Dexterity and Intelligence): Like I mentioned in the Pugmire essay, I knew I wanted the “classic” thief/rogue to be on the cat side, so this was fairly easy to nail down. The swap from Constitution to Intelligence was enough to distinguish. Fun fact: This was actually called “burglar” for a very long time (cat burglar? eh?) but we felt it ended up feeling too much like Lord of the Rings, and the pun was just on the wrong side of funny.
  • Mancers (Intelligence and Wisdom): This was a happy accident. I knew immediately that I wanted necromancers for Mau, but beyond that, I didn’t have a strong idea for them. When Rich was researching art ideas, he noticed a lot of cats in wizard and witches hats, which reminded me that I hadn’t really done a “classic wizard” in Pugmire! The concept functionally wrote itself after that.
  • Ministers (Charisma and Constitution): Minsters were something that made complete sense to me, but I struggled to articulate for a long time. Since Mau didn’t have a state religion like Pugmire, I wanted something that was more secular. The name “minister” is both a governmental position and a spiritual one, and I really wanted to play in that space of someone to preaches to magical effect. In a lot of ways, it’s a bard with a little more magical oomph. But it took a few tries before we landed on a presentation and set of mechanics that made all that clear.
  • Trackers (Constitution and Wisdom): This was the other calling that felt very close to its Pugmire counterpart, the Hunter. I actually had quite a lot of problems figuring out a way to make it work, until we hit on the idea of moving Smite from the Champion to here. Both callings became much clearer as a result: the Champion solidified as that swashbuckler concept I wanted, and the Trackers became careful but deadly demon hunters.
  • Wanderers (Dexterity and Strength): I knew immediately I wanted the Stray parallel to be a monk, but without the religious trappings. Martial arts cats are a cool concept, and there’s a reason it ended up on the cover! A lot of the thoughts I had to make the Strays work helped me nail the Wanderers pretty quickly.

In the last of this series, I’ll talk about Pirates of Pugmire!