This 'quickstart' introduction to Pugmire comes in three parts: a rules and setting overview, an adventure, and a collection of pre-generated characters. It opens by explaining the core concept of the game. In a distant future, human beings have vanished and the place has been taken over by anthropomorphic dogs. They live in the ruins of the world human beings have left behind, now having evolved to walk upright on their hind legs, talk, and have developed opposable thumbs so that they can manipulate items and wield weapons. Despite wearing clothes they are still furry, though!
Many dogs deify the long-lost human beings and are driven by the desire to be adjudged a 'Good Dog' by their peers. They scavenge amongst the ruins for the legendary material 'plastic' and attempt to learn to use the things that human beings left behind - even if they consider them to be magic rather than understanding the underlying technology. These are the player-characters of this world.
The first section moves on to discuss the rules. These are based closely on Dungeons & Dragons 5e, with the standard abilities (Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma), with Skills and Tricks defining what each character is good at doing. Everything is explained in very basic terms, making this an excellent introductory game for children. Task resolution is by rolling a D20, adding apposite Skills and other bonuses and trying to exceed a target number. There's information about time in the game and about what happens when a fight breaks out, too; and the section ends with some notes on magic and spell use.
Next comes the adventure itself, The Secret of Vinsen's Tomb. This starts with a list of the primary NPCs, then there is a synopsis or overview of the entire adventure. Basically, the tomb in question is that of Vinsen Pug I, the very first king of Pugmire, and the plot concerns the retrieval (or looting if you prefer) of certain artefacts supposedly buried with him. It all starts with an assignment to find a cat who is an informant with criminal connections who has recently vanished. Where has she gone and what was she doing? Rumours hath it she was on the trail of ancient artefacts.
Once you have the information to get the party involved, the various scenes that can take place are laid out in detail. There are loads of helpful hints and tips for the first-time GM, too, so even if this is your first time it should flow smoothly. There's a clear plan of the tomb with atmospheric room descriptions coupled with notes on who is to be found there and what they are likely to do when the party wanders in. It all ends with a few ideas for further stories...
Finally, the pre-generated characters, complete with loads of background and even portraits to bring them to life. With a two-page character sheet, the entire package for each character runs to four pages. There are six of them in total, all nicely put together and - if you study the backgrounds - ready to work as a team.
Overall it makes a good introduction to the game, and should give you sufficient information and experience to be in a position to decide if Pugmire is for you and your group (or not). Presentation is to a high standard unless you use the PDF bookmarks, which start well in the first section but fail thereafter. The internal hyperlinks are a little hit and miss too. So, are you a Good Dog? Play this and find out!
Update: Within 24 hours of this review being posted, the bookmarks were sorted out!
Return to The Secret of Vinsen's Tomb page.
Reviewed: 22 February 2018