Tag Archives: pugmire

It’s Pugmire Time!

At long last, Pugmire is available to everyone to buy! Here’s a handy list of where to get it right now, and in the very near future.

DriveThruRPG. If you want the PDF, this is where you get it from. In a few weeks the print-on-demand version will be available as well. Also, the support decks will become available through DriveThruCards.

Studio2. This is where you can direct order the physical book, if you don’t want to wait for the print-on-demand version. You can also get the Guide screen and the official dice set!

Indie Press Revolution. Very soon IPR will also offer physical Pugmire products!

Your Local Hobby Store. If your local store uses Studio2 as a distributor, you can order from your store!

If you like Pugmire, please spread the word, and leave a review at any of these outlets that allow for ratings. Reviews really help sales!

40 Days and 40 Nights of Pugmire

Yesterday, the work of over two years reached a new level, as Onyx Path launched the Kickstarter for Pugmire.  I spent 10 hours at my computer, doing last-minute preparations and then talking to lots and lots of excited people as the game funded in an hour. As I’m writing this, 24 hours later, it’s passed 300% funding, and it’s still climbing. I’m a little stunned at the whole thing, when I’m not smiling so much it hurts.

Typically in these kinds of situations, I would say that I’ll try not to talk too much about my current project. I would beg forgiveness for the amount of discussion that I’ll have for the duration of the Kickstarter, and plead tolerance as my friends are awash in forty days and forty nights of Pugmire.

But I don’t want to apologize, because I’m excited. For once, I’m not shackled to NDAs. I don’t have to check with a committee of people on what I can and can’t say. I can make decisions, try new things, make horrible mistakes, and ultimately enjoy the hell out of this because it’s mine. And it’s clear that lots of other people not only want to talk about it with me, but also want me to do more with it.

So, this is a thing you’re going to hear a lot about in the coming months, but not necessarily in my personal spaces (like this one). If you want constant, up-to-the-minute updates, follow the Kickstarter, check out the Pugmire Facebook group, or follow Onyx Path or Pugsteady on Twitter. And if all goes well, there will be another huge thing coming that I won’t shut up about. I understand that self-promotion can bug some people. Personally, I love it when people are enthusiastic about something they’ve made, even if it’s not my cup of tea, but I understand when it feels like they only talk about the latest thing they’re shilling.

However, this world of dogs and cats means a lot to me. It’s not just a silly little game I’m knocking out to make some cash — I’ve never worked that way, and many folks can attest to the blood and soul I’ve poured into the World of Darkness. Rather, Pugmire is about proving that all of my plans and ideas and partnerships and opinions on how a world can be built and presented to a community can work. It proves that when I have total control, I can pull together a plan that is creative, exciting, and sustainable. It demonstrates to the world — and more importantly, to me — that I can build something from scratch.

There’s a lot more of me in this than normal, and a lot more of me to come. It’s a flood: 40 days and 40 nights of me grinning like a mad fool as I build the ark I’m floating on, all while watching more and more people falling in love with a piece of my soul.

… lost the metaphor there. So, yeah. I’m going to babble about dogs and cats for a while. Sorry, but not sorry.

Pugmire Crowdfunding News!

Hey all! I know things have been quiet on the Pugmire front lately, but I wanted to take a moment to give you an update on the Pugmirecrowdfunding campaign.

First off, back at Gen Con we said that we would have the crowdfunding campaign by the end of the year, but that isn’t going to happen. Partially, it’s because Rich and I have been keeping a careful eye on milestones, and we made that decision that we didn’t want the excitement for Pugmire — which is Onyx Path’s first creator-owned game — to be eclipsed by the Changeling Kickstarter and Onyx Path’s other announcements. But mostly it’s because we’ve been looking into some amazingly cool opportunities to show that Pugmire can be something really special. We both want this to be more than just a game, but a world that people all over can enjoy. It’s still up in the air how many of these opportunities will end up being a part of the campaign, but all in all I think the wait will be worth it.

And the good news is, the wait won’t be very long! Once the Changeling Kickstarter ends, we’ll take some time to get things ready for Pugmire, and then we’re hoping to have it active in the third or fourth week of January. After some debate, Rich and I decided that we’ll stick with the Kickstarter platform for the campaign, although we both want to try some new things this time around to get as many people as possible excited about Pugmire.

One of the things we’re trying is making a playable game available the day the campaign launches. I’m calling it Pugmire Early Access, and it’ll be more than just a manuscript tossed up for review. It’ll have some art and layout work done, to give you an idea of what the full game will look like. If all goes well, then backers will be able to start playing Pugmire as soon as they pledge, so everyone will know if it’s the right game for them.

In addition, part of the goal of the Kickstarter is to get Pugmire into retail. I’m a big believer in buying and selling games online, but I also know that many people get their first taste of games from their local stores or from retail booths at conventions, and we want to try and support that.

Those are just a couple of the ideas we’re exploring for this campaign. We’ll make more announcements as the date gets closer, but for now keep an eye out in the second half of January. And until then, remember to be a good dog!

Pugmire: Being a Good Dog, One Year Later

Spike Mutt (Poster 6)
Spike Mutt (Poster 6)

I’m at Gen Con! Today I’m cross-posting a blog about Pugmire here on my site that’s also up on the Onyx Path website. If you like the attached image, you can get a poster of it from DriveThruRPG, or pick it up from our booth (#1103) if you’re at the show!


Around this time last year, I was finishing up a pitch to Rich for what was then called “The Fall of Pugmire.” I figured he’d be interested in my doggie fantasy world as an RPG, but in my mind it was a fun side project, something that I would enjoy making, and that might also interest a few people.

Since then, just about everyone who hears about it tells me that Pugmire is so much more than that. As you’re reading this, I’m at Gen Con. I have Pugmire promo cards, posters, and shirts in hand, all based on gorgeous art from some highly talented artists. I’ll be showing a slice of the game off for short 5-10 minute demos at the booth, while the Wrecking Crew will run full sessions of the game at the Gen Con tables. It’s still early, but signs point to Pugmire being something much bigger than I expected.

The point where it really hit me (and Rich, although he always thought the game would connect with people) was during the very first game of Pugmire I ran at Midwinter, six months ago. I had introduced the idea of the Code of Man, and the tenet “Be A Good Dog.” The players were having fun roleplaying after I gave them a small amount of world detail, as they explored an abandoned necromancer’s lair in search of an ancient relic — all typical adventure fantasy stuff. The fact that the rules were based on a familiar fantasy RPG structure helped them dive into rolling dice and casting spells like old pros. As they were in the middle of the final, climactic battle with the spirits of the dead, the battle-hardened guardian (Sgt. Leo Bulldog) fell. The shepherd quickly ran to heal him, and when Leo got back up, his player cried out “I am a good dog!”

In that moment, I got tingles. What had been a half-serious religious code had turned into a battle cry, and soon into a guiding statement for the game. The players sincerely wanted to be good dogs (and many of them were experienced Vampire LARPers, so they were quite used to playing “morally flexible” characters). The rough edges in the system, the lack of setting detail, the cobbled-together nature of the playtest — none of it mattered in that moment. Something magical had happened.

Here at Gen Con, I hope it happens again. If even one player walks away thinking that they want to explore the world of Pugmire, that they want to proactively work with other characters, that they want to be a good dog, then I will feel like I’m doing what I set out to do.

Pugmire: Is This A Joke?

Until Gen Con, I’ll be blogging about Pugmire here on my site. These posts are slightly updated from the ones I’ve made on the Onyx Path website over the past year, containing more accurate and new information. If you like the attached image, you can get a poster of it from DriveThruRPG!


One question I get regularly is whether Pugmire is a joke. Given that I’ve been responsible for some pranks in the past when I worked with White Wolf, it’s somewhat of a fair question. The short answer is obviously “it isn’t,” but there are nuances to the question that are more complex beyond the obvious “this is a real game that is being made.”

For example, it isn’t a typical Onyx Path game on the surface. It’s not using pools of d10s, it isn’t gritty and dark, and it’s not geared to an adult audience. Over the past nine years I’ve gotten pretty good at working on those kinds of games, and I’m happy to keep doing so, but part of the reason for developing Pugmire is that I wanted to try something different. (That’s one of the great points of working with Onyx Path over White Wolf for me — Rich is able and willing to try new ideas that wouldn’t fit in the original company’s structure or business plan, and I have ownership over this thing I created to boot.) Given that this game doesn’t fit that established mold, I can see why some folks would assume it’s a joke.

Similarly, the game does have humor in it, but I maintain that it isn’t a funny game. We as players laugh at the idea that there’s a religious tenet of “Be A Good Dog,” but the characters in the world take it very seriously. It’s somewhat like the humor in Paranoia.1 Again, if some folks see funny bits, it’s easy to mistake that the game is a joke.

One of the trickiest parts as I work on the game is allowing humor without making the game “funny.” So far I’ve used the term “light-hearted” to explain the nuance, but it’s something that you really only get once you dive in. Some of the playtest groups were nice enough to post quotes or anecdotes on social media so I can read them, and most of those posts are gags. I take that as encouraging — people are excited and having fun with the game, even at this early stage. When I’ve run the game myself the level of humor changes depending on the group, but there’s always at least some laughs.

The reason it isn’t a joke, and why I’m adamant on that point, is because a “funny game” can really only be funny. A light-hearted game, however, can include more depth and options. One of the images I keep in my mind is something Rich mentioned during one of our many chats about the game: the dog who mourns the passing of their owner by lying down outside their room or their bed. That’s the overall tone of how dogs feel about the loss of Man. In fact, the very first version of the game was much darker. It was closer to the so-called “normal Onyx Path game” in ethos, and that elegiac tone was a central focus (as an example, the original title was “The Fall of Pugmire”). In one of my first playtests, some of the players at the end remarked at how the game can be “dark as shit.” So, paradoxically, I feel it’s very important to keep that so-called “Onyx Path flavor,” even though the surface of the game obscures it. But if I wrote Pugmire to be nothing but gags and jokes, it would be hard to get to that spectrum of emotion.

Is it a “serious” game? Hell no: it’s a game where you play dogs wielding magic and swords to rescue iPads from ancient ruins. I not only accept that, but I want to make that a feature. I don’t know about other people’s gaming groups, but mine generally tend to joke around during the session anyhow, so it’s nice to write a game that leans into that. But it’s also a game that addresses dealing with loss, ethics and religious dogma, casual racism, and nationalism. None of that is necessary to play and enjoy the game, but it’s there if you want to dig into it.

Is Pugmire a joke? No. Because it can be so much more.

  1. Although over the years its parody meta-humor has bled into the game itself.

Pugmire: The Rules of Being A Dog

Jack Rat-Terrier (Poster 4)
Jack Rat-Terrier (Poster 4)

Until Gen Con, I’ll be blogging about Pugmire here on my site. These posts are slightly updated from the ones I’ve made on the Onyx Path website over the past year, containing more accurate and new information. If you like the attached image, you can get a poster of it from DriveThruRPG!


I recently passed another milestone on Pugmire. I took the material I sent during my closed alpha playtest and started rewriting it all, based on the feedback I got. From that, I’m planning to have an early access document at some point later this year, because I definitely want people who are interested in Pugmire to be able to give it a whirl.

Which leads me to answer one of the most commonly asked questions since we announced the game: what system will the game use? After a lot of debate, exploration, and testing, I’ve decided to base the game on the d20 OGL. It’s inspired by the design of 5th edition D&D, as well as the recent wave of “old school” retroclones, with a dash of Onyx Path/White Wolf design ideology.

So what about using pools of d10s? In chatting with some of the team making the upcoming  Onyx Path house system (codenamed “Sardonyx”), I’m convinced that it also could be a good fit for the game, and for a while it was my Plan B. Rich and I have seriously talked about the possibility of putting out a parallel version of the core game in the Onyx Path system, if things go well. I’m also considering doing a translation guide that allows conversions to other open systems such as Fate Core, Savage Worlds, Pathfinder, and the like. But in the end, a lot of the language I and others have used to talk about the game is heavily based in old-school fantasy gaming, and my playtests reinforced to me that this is the best way to go with the game.

But it’s not just filing off the serial numbers of an existing system. I’ve spent a lot of time challenging core assumptions, adapting new ideas, and seeing how each piece impacts the others. For example, rather than having a pre-constructed set of abilities, I want to present a series of options so players can pick the “tricks” that make sense to them. I also needed to find ways of mechanically representing some of the concepts unique to Pugmire, such as the artisans. Here’s a quote from my current draft to illustrate:

Last year, I discovered how I could use my focus to create fire! Unfortunately, I accidentally burned down the trees in front of Mr. Hound’s house, but I apologized for that. I know I have it under control now! — Lady Yosha Pug

Artisans are social dogs that love to study masterwork relics and the magic they create. Because it requires a lot of time to master such relics, many such dogs come from the middle and upper class: the puppies of merchants, shop owners, nobility, and the like. As such, many of them also love culture and society, and they find that working with other dogs helps them in their understanding of magic.

Artisans are something between a wizard, a sorcerer, and a bard. I redesigned and moved a lot of pieces around until I got the right feel from the mechanics. Similarly, guardians are more than just “fighters,” but also have some leadership abilities as well — more like warlords or fighting generals.

Another piece are breeds. There are far more dog breeds than fantasy races, and I knew very early on that there was no way I could give mechanics for all the dog breeds that people were excited about — covering them all would take a whole book (and that may be a book I make someday). So I had to find a way to allow people to create their own breeds, but still give them some differentiation. I think the current system (bundling them into distinct groups) works pretty well, but I need to hammer on it a bit more.

So that’s where I’m at, seeing if the dozens of small tweaks and changes make sense. Does a Corgi barbarian work? Do games end up feeling like the fiction bits I’ve put together? Is it the right balance of “classic fantasy RPG” and “lightweight adventure game”? I think we’re getting to the point that people who are early fans can bring their own hammers, or at least play around in the world while the full game continues developing.

Pugmire: Not Just Pugs

Sgt. Leo Bulldog (Poster 3)
Sgt. Leo Bulldog (Poster 3)

Until Gen Con, I’ll be blogging about Pugmire here on my site. These posts are slightly updated from the ones I’ve made on the Onyx Path website over the past year, containing more accurate and new information. If you like the attached image, you can get a poster of it from DriveThruRPG!


Since Pugmire is a project I own, I don’t have to worry about NDAs, and I’ve chatted 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 Pugmire (and actually the story that inspired the creation of the RPG). Since the name of the game has “Pug” in it and I talk about pugs a lot, 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 weren’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 now on the throne). In my playtest notes, I had 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, including mutts.