Cats And Dice – Let’s Roll, Monarchies of Mau
There are two things in this world that I couldn’t do with out; cats and tabletop gaming. Boards, dice, cards and rulebooks can be found in nearly every room in my house. The same goes for cats! While I don’t collect them as avidly as I do games, my home is part-owned by Cake and Fionna, two monsters with personalities bigger than my own. So when we found out earlier this year that the makers of Pugmire were preparing a Kickstarter for a feline themed game I nearly lost it.
Monarchies of Mau is brought to us by Pugsteady and Onyx Path Publishing. Putting my sheer joy and over-excitedness to one side, I reached out to Eddy Webb of Pugsteady and Richard Thomas of Onyx Path Publishing to chat about their latest work.
Firstly congratulations on the success of the Kickstarter campaign; were you expecting such a quick response for Monarchies of Mau?
Eddy: Thank you! I am continually surprised by the Pugmire/Mau community. When the Pugmire Kickstarter launched, I thought it would fund in a week, and we’d maybe get a little over our goal. Since Pugmire did so well, I revised my expectations: Maybe we’d hit our goal in a day! Instead this one funded faster (less than an hour!) and with a higher initial goal. That’s heartening, and shows that people are genuinely excited about the world.
RichT: Thanks! No, I never even expect our Kickstarters to fund, nevermind fund quickly like with Monarchies of Mau. It was really satisfying, though, since we could tell from the comments that we had a lot of returning backers from Pugmire. We have a lot of ideas for the overall setting that Pugmire and Monarchies are a part of, and having an interested and engaged community is key for us to keep going.
Was the plan always to develop Monarchies of Mau after Pugmire? Can you tell us a little about the process behind creating the companion game?
Eddy: It wasn’t always the plan, but I did build Pugmire to have companion games early on. A lot of my design skills were honed on working on multi-line projects like the World of Darkness, so that was in my head at the time. However, I wasn’t sure Pugmire would be anything more than a one-off game. Hearing “can I play a cat?” so much during the Pugmire Kickstarter solidified that I needed to work on Mau, and that it was big enough to be its own game.
RichT: We had naturally talked about having cats along with the dogs in Pugmire as NPCs. Cats vs dogs is just the classic pairing of contrasting ways of behaving. But as Eddy mentions, as much as we had already expected a bit of a cry for equal time for cats, we never expected quite the response we got. Monarchies got a pretty big creative lift during the Pugmire KS.
This is your second successful crowdfunded campaign. Has crowdfunding become the only way that creators can get projects like Pugmire and Monarchies of Mau funded?
RichT: Well, Monarchies of Mau is actually Onyx Path’s 24th successful crowdfunding campaign, so we have a fair bit of experience using crowdfunding for different purposes. A super Deluxe book that would be a huge risk just to go to press with guessing at sales, or which would be too expensive to even do without a bank loan, are some of our previous reasons for utilizing crowdfunding.
For Pugmire and now Monarchies of Mau, and also our Scion 2nd Edition campaign, the goal of crowdfunding is to enable a run of traditionally printed books that we’ll get into stores. By having our backers’ books as a base amount and then adding on more books to get into stores for the print run, we bring down a lot of the risks. Plus, after many, many, campaigns, we’ve learned that the energy and fun of them in terms of creating a community even before the game is available is invaluable.
Eddy: I don’t think it’s the only way, but it was certainly the best way for me. I don’t have any liquid capital to invest in a new game, particularly one as untested (at the time) as Pugmire. The fact that Kickstarter works as investment capital, marketing campaign, and prototype exploration all at once makes it attractive for cash-poor folks like me.
As for the game itself, is it more action oriented or focused on the story telling and character development?
Eddy: It’s a little of both, but it’s certainly skewed more to storytelling. For example, concepts like experience points and treasure tables have been cut, because I didn’t want killing monsters and taking their stuff to be the primary form of advancement. But if you mainly want to play a tabby swordswoman who beats up rodent cultists, you can do that.
RichT: I’d say that calling it “action oriented” is actually really accurate, as opposed say to “violence oriented”. Like Eddy says, it’s not so much about the killing and plunder as about action and adventure. The illustration of Halo leaping through the air and about to kick one of the rats in the chops accurately shows how the game encourages action, but isn’t about depicting the moment of impact.
Eddy: That’s a fair point. It’s really about interesting action, not indulging in violence.
What can you tell us about the mechanics of the game? Is the game geared more towards experienced rpg players?
Eddy: It’s a modified, streamlined version of the 5th edition of Dungeons & Dragons. As I mentioned earlier, I’ve cut and revised some things to expand the focus beyond combat. Originally I didn’t expect folks beyond experienced RPG players to be interested in it, so I didn’t necessarily design it to bring new people to the fold. That said, I’ve heard many people saying that it’s a great introductory RPG for families, and I’ve certainly had positive experiences in teaching new players.
RichT: You’re underestimating yourself, Eddy. The rule set was honed after every playtest to simplify it and evolve it into a very fluid and even intuitively understandable system to deliver the kinds of adventuresome gaming and stories that both Pugmire and Monarchies of Mau excel at delivering.
It’s early days yet but do you have an idea where the series will go next?
RichT: Just like with after Pugmire, we have a rough road map that we’re expecting to redraw a tad with new ideas that come out of discussions during Monarchies’ Kickstarter campaign.
Eddy: I have a ton of ideas! We’re getting close to launching a Pugmire interactive audio drama for a wide variety of devices, and I’ve already done some playtesting on a cooperative card game. I’ve also been talking to some licensors who want to do their own Pugmire projects. But I want to make sure everything grows in a sustained way.
Have you got an ideal character in mind if you were to kick off a campaign right now?
Eddy: I have so many, but I admit I have a soft spot for Blayze Rex von Rex. She’s a snarky footpad that wants to be friends with dogs… as long as they understand how awesome she is, of course. 🙂
RichT: Although I playtested Halo, I’d really like to play Sabian Sphynx von Angora. A (necro)Mancer who just loves his vocation a bit more than dealing with the living just sounds like a lot of fun to play.
Lastly, cats or dogs?
Eddy: Cats! No, wait, dogs. Can I change my answer?
RichT: Eddy! What would Murray Pug say?
Eddy: Shh. Don’t tell him.
For more information on the Kickstarter and to throw your name into the hat in the last few hours click here. To see what Eddy and Pugsteady are getting up to make sure you check out the official website. You can see more from Rich and the team at Onyx Path Publishing on their official site here.
Editor-in-Chief, part-time super villain and hoarder of cats. If you can’t find me writing, I’m probably in the kitchen!