Be a Good Dog: Eddy Webb talks about the Pugmire RPG
Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Pugs in Game of Thrones outfits?”
Yes! Dogs with swords!
Today, I’m interviewing game designer, short fiction writer, Sherlockian, and all-around cool guy, Eddy “with a Y” Webb. At this year’s GenCon, he announced that he’ll be working with Onyx Path Publishing to create a new roleplaying game entirely populated by domestic animals. Dogs and cats, living together – mass hysteria! It’s going to be totally awesome, and I can’t wait to beta test it (hinthint). But you don’t have to take my word for it.
Without further ado, here’s Eddy to tell you allllll about it.
Let’s begin at the beginning with the most clichéd possible question: Where did you get the idea for Pugmire?
Bits of it have been rolling around in my brain for years: the name “Pugmire” was something Rose used in her D&D game years back, and I had a desire to work on a fantasy game that was different from the traditional “elves and dwarves and orcs” tropes. But it really came into place when we were moving between houses. The house we wanted to move to wasn’t ready before the house we sold needed to be vacated. The company I used to work for (CCP, hf.) had a company apartment in town, and they let us use it for the week or so we were between houses. This meant that I was stuck in a one-room apartment with two pugs and a cat. On top of this, my laptop met with a fatal beer accident, so all I had was a Chromebook to keep my occupied. So I’m spending a lot of time observing my pets, and since I couldn’t get to any of my writing projects, I started a new one, just thinking about the mindset of dogs. At one point I was reading up on AKC breed groups, and was struck by how well they matched up with D&D classes. At that point a lot of those ideas coalesced in my brain, and Pugmire was born.
I have to admit that I laughed when you told me the original idea for the game. I mean, come on – dogs in armor fighting evil cats? But it’s done straight where it could be cutesy, and it totally works. Tell me about that decision. Are there serious ideas you’re trying to get across with the game?
There are. The first is that there isn’t a pure Good or Evil in the game — even the Cats are just another race that the Dogs don’t trust. It really revolves around a commandment: Be a Good Dog. It sounds so simple, and it’s something we can connect to because we want to have good dogs in our lives (if we’re dog people). But if you take it as a religious tenet, it becomes more interesting. Who is a Good Dog? Who gets to decide that? What does that entail? Also, since this is a game about dogs, I can also explore some other ideas that would be harder to address in a more human-centric setting, like racism, sexism, and ethics. The game isn’t all about that — if you want to play a badass Great Pyrenees with a battle-axe, you absolutely can — but it’s more than just a silly action-adventure game about cute animals. Books like Maus, Mouse Guard, and the Nimh series have been inspirations.
You’ve written across a broad spectrum of genres and styles—gaming books, short stories, fan-based non-fiction—both as collaborations and solo. What have you found most rewarding and/or most difficult about developing and writing Pugmire?
It’s the same — developing my own world, for me, from scratch. A lot of my work has been in other people’s sandboxes, or are projects set at least partially in the modern world. This is the first time I’m building something purely speculative from the ground up. That’s extremely challenging, but it’s also incredibly freeing. A lot of times I’m just tossing out ideas because they sound good, and then I discover they actually work extremely well. It’s even better when I pitch them to some of my friends, and they get even more excited. I’m loving the process, but it’s very new to me.
Having been privileged to peek behind the curtain of Pugmire’s development, I’m struck by its massive possibilities. Because you’re creating a world with a history rather than a set of rules with story crammed around it, it seems easy to branch out into other media (novels, video games, film). What are your grand plans and big dreams for this project?
Indeed! I’ve already written a short story (which will be in the Sojourn Anthology, volume 2), and I’m working next on the game, but I have lots of ideas. I plan to chat with an established comic writer about ideas for a comic book, and I’ve got enough friends in the video game industry to kick around a potential video game. I also live in Atlanta, which is a hub for cartoon companies, so even a cartoon is possible. The sky’s the limit!
And just to wrap it up for those folks with short attention spans, what’s the Too Long; Didn’t Read version of everything you want to say about Pugmire? Let’s shoot for a tweetable – 140 characters, max.
Augh! Only 140 characters?! Uh… let’s try this: Dogs have inherited our world in the far future. They explore this strange and dangerous world, while always trying to be Good Dogs.
Eddy Webb (with a “y,” thank you) is an award-winning writer, game designer, and lifelong Sherlockian. Since 2002, he has worked on over 100 products, including Lead Developer and writer for Vampire: The Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition and five years as Content Designer on the World of Darkness MMO. Today he is a freelance writer, designer, and consultant for video and role-playing games, but he cranks out words for other things in his spare time. He lives a sitcom life with his wife, his roommate, a supervillain cat, and an affably stupid pug. He can be found at eddyfate.com.