One of the most unique games using the OGL at the moment, though, is Pugmire from Onyx Path Publishing.
|Or Dungeons and Doggos, as some folks might call it.|
Right off the bat, one of the first things that makes Pugmire so unique is its setting. It's a game where man has shuffled off the Earth, and many of the things we left behind have risen to claim it over the lost ages. Thanks to genetic tampering several species, like dogs, cats, lizards, badgers, and a few others, have evolved. And they have tried to build a society out of the wreckage of what was left behind.
Our protagonists are part o the Kingdom of Pugmire, a place for all good dogs. They have formed a simple religion based on the tenets man left behind (to be a Good Dog, to only bite when threatened, etc., etc.), and their society is ever-changing and growing. Though still recovering from a war with the Monarchies of Mau (the cat kingdom, for those who couldn't guess), Pugmire is a place that tries to be welcoming. Additionally, the Pioneers Guild offer opportunities for adventure! Groups are sent out to deal with monsters, find lost treasures, etc., and those who return often do so to praise, glory, and the potential of social advancement.
While the setting is relatively small (especially for players who are used to having entire continents of world to explore), it's so unique that I think keeping things small was really the smart way to go. That way we get to learn the main city, the surrounding area, and we get familiar with the customs, slang, and the threats of this new, strange world where man's best friend has moved into his old house, and is trying to make sense of all the things we left behind.
Whether you want to explore old tombs, fight monsters, or get involved in palace intrigues and politics, you can easily do all of those things on the stage that Pugmire sets for you. And you get to do it while being a Great Dane with a battle ax, if that's what makes you happy.
For a game based on the foundation of 5th Edition, Pugmire did something that really surprised me... it gives players a lot of options.
If you're a DND player, then you're likely used to just taking a class and advancing as you go up in level, maybe multiclassing for some bonus abilities. But Pugmire is by Onyx Path, so you have a setup that's a lot more familiar to players of World of Darkness games than those who stick with traditional, level-based RPGs. Which is to say that at creation, you pick your calling and your breed. Calling is like class, in that it's your shepherd (cleric), ratter (rogue), etc., while your breed is more like your race, though your options are things like Workers (strong), Runners (fast), Pointers (wise), etc. These things give you your hit die, your basic abilities (called tricks, because of course they are), and they modify your starting attributes.
When you gain a level, though, you don't get a new level of your calling, or get a chance to take a level in a different calling. Instead, you increase your number of hit die, your number of spell slots (if you had the ability to cast spells), the spells you know, and you may select a new trick from either your breed, or your calling. You can also refine tricks you already know, increasing their power and effectiveness.
All right, let's put that in perspective. Say you're playing a shepherd. You cast spells off of wisdom, and you get cleric spells. If you gain a level, you then get to choose which ability you add to your character sheet. For example, you could gain the Healing trick, which allows you to spend your own hit dice to heal others with a touch. Alternatively, you could gain access to 2nd level shepherd spells. Or you could choose to gain one of your breed tricks, instead. Or just get a new skill proficiency, and bump your stats up higher.
This gives players a lot of options, and they can advance their characters down whatever path they see fit. This ensures that even if you have two characters with the same calling, they probably aren't gaining the exact same abilities as they advance. Put another way, it's like you have a leveling buffet instead of a set box meal that you get whenever you hear that ping.
There are other, minor mechanical differences as well. There are fewer callings than classes, for example, and only two types of spellcasters. However, given that Pugmire is pretty explicitly running on the rule of, "Any technology, sufficiently advanced, is indistinguishable from magic," it wouldn't really make sense for sorcerers, warlocks, and others in this setting. All the magic we see is simply super-science, which comes with its own, unique rules.
Overall: Highly Recommended
Whether you just want to do something different, you're really intrigued by the setting, or you're a fan of what Onyx Path has put out in the past, all of these are great reasons to give Pugmire a try. You'll still need to read the book to find out what's changed from the base 5E, but if you're familiar with that edition's rules then Pugmire will take fairly minimal adjustment.
That's all for this Moon Pope Monday. If folks have played Pugmire before, feel free to leave your thoughts on it in the comments! For more by yours truly, check out my Vocal archive (or to see just my gaming stuff, go to my Gamers author page). Or you could head over to the YouTube channel Dungeon Keeper Radio, where I work with other gamers to make fun, insightful episodes all about gaming. To stay on top of all my new releases, follow me on Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter. Lastly, if you want to help support Improved Initiative you can either give me a one-time tip by Buying Me A Ko-Fi, or you could become a patron over on The Literary Mercenary's Patreon page. Either way, free stuff and my eternal gratitude shall be yours!