I’m pretty excited about Onyx Path’s latest Kickstarter, the family-friendly game of Pugmire. As a recent dad, I’m already collecting up games to play with my son when he’s old enough, and this definitely makes the list. Besides, the setting is just fun and works for adult games in the same way that Mouse Guard and Dinotopia are rife with adventure for all ages. Onyx Path has already put out an early access edition for people to try out so today I’m going to do just that.
Usually, I have an idea of what character I want to make based on the campaign world, often drawing from real life for inspiration. This time, it’s the opposite. My parents’ dog is an awesome girl and she’s obviously going to be my first foray into the world of Pugmire.
Though it’s produced by Onyx Path, Pugmire is a d20-based game. There are six ability scores (Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Wisdom, Intelligence, and Charisma), skills, and tricks (somewhat like feats). There are a few elements of the Storyteller splats, but if you’re familiar with D&D 3e you can jump right into this game.
Step 12: Name Your Dog
I’m starting at the end with this one because I already know something about the dog I’m making. Molly is older but she still thinks she’s a puppy. She loves running around the yard and is always looking for more attention… qualities that are typical of labs, I think.
In Pugmire, dogs’ last name are the breed of dog, sometimes with a twist to make it more quasi-medieval. In this world, my dog is going to be Molly Labradour-Noire, a cousin of the large Labradour family including the Labradour-Jaune and Labradour-Brune branches.
Step 1: Choose a Calling
There are many different Callings a dog can have in Pugmire: artisan, guardian, hunter, ratter, shepherd, and stray. Molly is a totally loyal dog but also sort of a pushover. She’s not a good fit for the combative callings and she isn’t always interested in other dogs. I think the best fit is the artisan calling: social dogs that are focused on the Code of Man and their own individual studies.
Step 2: Choose a Breed
Labradors aren’t listed as a breed, but based on my experience with them they are a best fit for the Fettles. From the breeder’s handbooks you might think of them as pointers since they were bred to retrieve ducks and other game in wet environments. The labs my family has had (although I love them to death) are full of energy and pretty clueless. Pointers are Intelligence-focused breeds but Fettles are more Constitution-focused which fits with the times I’ve taken Molly out for walks.
Step 3: Choose a Background
Backgrounds fill the same role in Pugmire as they do in D&D Next: filling in some of the gaps that aren’t covered by class (calling) or race (breed). Out of the backgrounds listed, I think Common Folk works best. Molly’s a simple dog with a simple, loyal heart. Plus she lives in the country, though she stays close to the house and likes being near other people.
Step 4: Ability Scores
Molly gets ability scores just like in D&D, assigned from an array. She’s pretty alert and also very friendly so I’m going to give her highest scores in Wisdom (14) and Charisma (15). She’s pretty hardy and coordinated as well so I’ll give her a moderate Dexterity (13) and Constitution (12). Her lowest scores are going to be in Strength (10) and Intelligence (8) since she’s not super-big or particularly clever.
Being a Fettle breed, Molly gets a +2 to Con which brings that up to 14. Her primary abilities (determined by her calling) are Charisma and Intelligence, the scores that get used for her tricks. Since her Intelligence isn’t too high (sorry, girl) she’ll be leaning on the Charisma tricks more.
Step 5: Calculate Modifiers
At this point, we look through charts to fill in some of the details determined by the decisions I’ve already made. Ability score modifiers are the same as D&D 3e so that’s easy, and stamina (like hit points) are determined by calling so Molly has 1d6 + Con points there. I rolled a 5 and her high Con score gives her a total of 7 stamina points.
First-level dogs have an aptitude bonus of +2, which is similar to the proficiency bonus in D&D 4e and D&D Next. It’s applied to attack rolls for weapons she has an aptitude for, skill rolls she has an aptitude for, saving throws she… well you get the idea.
Step 6: Item Aptitudes
In order to know what she has an aptitude in, we have to look at Molly’s calling. Artisans have an aptitude in light armor, simple weapons, small crossbows, longswords, rapiers, and shortswords. Sounds like enough to get started to me.
Step 7: Skill Aptitudes
Skill aptitudes come from calling and also background. Artisans get two skills out of the calling’s list and I’m going to pick ones that represent the skill she’s honed the most over the years: finding the weakest will in the room and seeking out the food they’ve dropped. From her calling, Molly has an aptitude in Sense Motive and Search.
From her background as one of the Common Folk, she’s also got an aptitude in Handle Animal and Survive.
Step 8: Tricks
Starting characters get three Tricks, one each from calling, breed, and background. For being from the Common Folk, she’s a Folk Hero and well known among the other dogs in the country. She might not be the most social dog, but I also can’t think of a dog that didn’t love Molly when they met her.
Like I said before, Molly is not going to excel with the Intelligence Tricks so instead she’s going to pick the Encouragement Trick from her artisan calling. This works much like bardic music, allowing Molly to give allies within sixty feet an encouragement die (d4) to roll and add to any d20 roll.
Lastly, Fettles have the Hardy Constitution Trick which gives her an edge (like advantage in D&D Next) on saving throws against mundane or magical disease or poison. This fits, she’s eaten some pretty gross stuff and come out alright.
Step 9: Equipment
Molly’s background also gives her a full rucksack of things: an iron pot, a set of common clothes (sensible pants and shoes if I know her), and a belt pouch containing a few plastic coins (probably well-chewed).
The artisan calling also gives her one weapon (I’m going with a shortsword), one set of light armor, one masterwork artisan focus for spellcasting (we’ll see about that), a bottle of ink, an ink pen, a few sheets of parchment, and a small collection of books (probably pulled off our bookshelf and squirreled away).
Step 10: Personality Traits
As with D&D Next, characters get an Ideal, a Bond, and a Flaw. I can roll for these, but knowing Molly I’m just going to pick. Her Ideal is Protecting My Home, by which I mean making sure she knows everyone in her home and what’s going on. She’s not going to just charge in should someone show up, she’s not stupid, but she keeps an eye on everything.
Her Bond is The Bond to My Family, just like in real life. She has cousins and uncles that she’d do anything for, part of the relationships that have led to her reputation as a Folk Hero. The Flaw is a simple choice: no matter what, Molly can’t Resist Her Insatiable Curiosity. True story.
Well, that’s Molly Labradour-Noire, loyal and simple dog. She grew up in the farm country of Massachews, part of a big family spread throughout the region. She has a knack for leading people and her reputation carries her far in the region and beyond (including the neighboring lands of New Bark and Vermutt). She’s a very Good Dog, although that belief has never really been challenged. That might change, however, when she’s thrust into a world of adventure.
Here’s her character sheet!