Not Just Pugs [Pugmire]

The past few weeks, in between a variety of other projects, I’ve written up what I call a “vertical slice” of Pugmire. It’s a document in which all of the key systems are fleshed out just enough to test them. That’s led to a number of revision passes as things break when I try to use them, but I should have enough in place to put it in front of live humans at Midwinter. Things are still in too muddy of a state to really share widely — there’s a potential chance that I’ll toss it all and start again, for example — but I have enough that I can see if the overall feel and flow of the game works as I envision it.

Of course, since this is a project I own, I don’t have to worry about NDAs, and I’ve been chatting about it on social media because that’s a thing I can do. In general people have been very excited, particularly when I was talking about it during the release party of “Winter of Man” in Sojourn, Volume 2, a story set in an earlier version of the Pugmire universe. And since the name of the game has “Pug” in it and I talk about pugs a lot (since I own one and foster a second), a few people have assumed that the game is all about Pugs.

That’s not true. It’s a game about dogs, not just about Pugs. Pugs are one of the noble families, but they are not the center of the universe. In fact, there aren’t any Pugs in the pre-generated characters for my first playtest slice, specifically because I want to make sure the setting and the game holds up outside of one particular breed. The breeds live, work, and exist together. To give an example of this cosmopolitan mix, here’s a short excerpt from “Winter of Man”:

“It’s been snowing for more than a year,” Yosha Pug said. “I have a manuscript here that explains what we need to do.” She shuffled the books in her paws to get a particular one, and nearly dropped them all onto the keep’s stone floor.

Sister Picassa Collie adjusted her shepherd’s robes to free her paws, and plucked the errant tome from the middle of the young pug’s burden. “Is it this one with the glass screen, my lady?” she asked.

Yosha nodded, her ears bouncing on the side of her head. “Yes, thank you. In there is a legend about the Weather Tower. I think we’ll find something there that will end this long winter.”

Pan Daschund tried to snatch the book out of Picassa’s hand, but she raised it out of the hunter’s reach, touching the glass front of the book with her paw to advance the text. He huffed in annoyance and went back to adjusting his shortbow. “It’s weather, Yosha. You can’t…”

Rex Pyrenees crossed his arms across his massive chest as he stood behind the diminutive hunter. “It’s Lady Yosha to you, old hunter.”

Here you’re introduced to four characters. Their breeds act as surnames, their families and social units inside the kingdom (and indeed, inside their society as a whole). Lady Yosha Pug is a noble, and she’s certainly one of the key protagonists in that story, but she is just one dog, and part of just one noble family (albeit the noble family currently on the throne). In my playtest notes, I have another noble named Kingston Hound, part of the prolific Hound family. The Hounds have a number of branch families (such as Blood-Hound and Fox-Hound), making them a significant political power in the game. The society is feudal, so the various families have bits of land that they control at the leisure of King Puckington Pug, although over time a couple have broken off to form their own kingdoms — something I haven’t quite figured out the details of yet, but I know I do want more dog kingdoms that aren’t necessarily run by Pugs.

Can the game be just about Pugs? Sure, if you wanted to run it that way. In the same way that Vampire can be run to focus on just one clan or covenant, Pugmire could focus on a single breed or collection of breeds. But the default assumption is that the players will play a mix of breeds, even including mutts.

27 thoughts on “Not Just Pugs [Pugmire]”

  1. What’s the naming convention going to be like for mixed breeds? Will they use hyphenized surnames or would the offspring take the name of the more prominent of their parents? Do they take common ‘bastard’ surnames ala Game of Thrones?

  2. I had a pug named Yoshi growing up (I was really into Super Mario World as a kid), so the pug in that little excerpt gave me a big smile.

  3. Will you be using the AKC or UKC for breed lists? Is there a difference socially between sight hounds & scent hounds? What about retrievers? Are they hunters or something else?

    • I’m using a blend of AKC, UKC, and antiquated breed lists — whatever sounds interesting and inspires me. I also want people to have the ability to make their own breeds, so they don’t feel that their favorite dog breed isn’t playable.

      Aside from that, the “jobs” of various breeds are now “callings,” which act as a kind of PC class. Any breed can be any calling, although certain breeds are better suited for them. So if you really wanted to have a Pomeranian hunter, for example, you could — but Hounds are generally better suited for the calling.

  4. Sorry if this is a stupid question, but will you be using the Storyteller system for this? If so, I’d love to see the sheet designs when you release them!

  5. This sounds pretty cool, but I’m a still little unclear on something. What shape are the Dogs, Cats, and other Animals in Pugmire?

    Are they still normal sized and shaped but with full sentience and tool using paws (akin to Bunnies and burrows), full on anime anthro, or something more middle-ish like Mouseguard or Redwall? Or something else I haven’t considered?


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