First of all, I would like to point out that the PDF I am reviewing is a beta version and is subject to changes and alterations. Pugmire is an RPG where the players take on the roles of sentient, anthropomorphic dogs in a fantasy world of adventure. Consider Dungeons and Dragons meet’s planet of the apes. Except where there would be apes, there are instead dogs! The dog’s worship man as a lost god and try to please their former masters with the code of man: a 7 commandment rule set to govern a dog’s everyday life.
EDIT: There is a forum on the Onyx Path site with errata and updates. The Backer PDF is unfinished and there are more great updates incoming and you can get the news as it happens there!
This book is not only amazing by virtue of letting you play as ANTHROPOMORPHIC DOGS, but it is also very well written and laid out. The artwork is very good, even if there are pieces missing (beta). The changes made using the OGL are significant enough for me to look at Pugmire as a standalone game, while still retaining the familiarity of D&D5. The book does something I appreciate in RPGs as well: It includes a GM section, magic items, and monsters. Given that it’s a D&D5 ruleset, you could use the monsters from the Monster Manual, but adding in the monsters in the core book helps me get off on the right paw when running games.
The lore behind Pugmire is vast and very helpful in setting the stage. Especially the 7 tenants of the church of man:
Be a good dog
Obey the master
Bite only those who endanger you
Defend your home
Stay Loyal to those that are true
Protect all from the unseen
Fetch what has been left behind
Every dog interprets that in his or her own way, but the theme remains the same with “be a good dog” at the helm of play. This game is definitely written for a “good” campaign. It’s also written to be much shorter than a normal D&D campaign capping out at 10th level. A solemn reminder that we always outlive our canine companions. In any other game, I might have been upset to play such a short game, but it really does make sense here.
Each time a player levels up they may choose how their dog advances. They will always gain HP but they may choose to take “tricks” or skill/weapon proficiencies or bump their stats. Of course, once a dog reaches level 10 they become an old dog and cannot learn new tricks (get it?). This means that your dog doesn’t follow a formatted ability chart and can be built a little differently. This also opens the door for custom tricks and makes customization much easier on both the Guide and the Players.
The artwork is very good in almost every piece. There are a couple of pieces that are better than others but that’s to be expected. Overall I really like it, even if I don’t consider it jaw-dropping. The biggest hope I have is for monster art. There are monsters in the back of the book and a couple I had to look up to see what they were. Most of the other monsters either had good descriptions or there was space formatted to expect some artwork in the future.
Reading this book has been a treat and I very much look forward to having my players get their hands on it as well when we play this weekend. Using all the tools, from the sotry lines, to the monster creation tables will definitely be on my to-do list.