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The Secret of Vinsen's Tomb: A Pugmire Jumpstart €1,84
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The Secret of Vinsen's Tomb: A Pugmire Jumpstart
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/01/2021 13:14:35
Introduction to a world of dogs and dungeons - a Mephisto review

The Secret of Vinsens Tomb

The Secret of Vinsens Tomb is the starter book for the Pugmire role-playing game, containing the reduced rules, sample characters, and a short adventure. The role-playing game presents itself as a typical fantasy role-playing game based on the classic D&D. Accordingly, character development focuses on attributes, and there are the typical rolls such as ability rolls, saving throws, and attack rolls. Besides, characters can get bonuses based on their level, and there is also a mechanic for luck (which is a common pool that players can use to reroll dice rolls). Furthermore, in addition to these basic rules, the combat rules are presented in a compact form, and there is a brief look at spells. Thus, the rules section takes up just under 20 pages.

What makes The Secret of Vinsens Tomb unusual, however, is the approach that in this fantasy world, players take on the role of dogs, which have apparently evolved after the disappearance of humanity and now rule the world along with cats and other animals. Even though the various breeds of dogs play a role here - at least in the atmosphere - the animals have evolved to the point where they can walk upright and speak, making them very humanized. While the rule base of the role-playing game is classic, the player background is thus special.

The second part of the book is made up of the adventure, where the players have to follow the trail to a tomb in a few scenes, where the showdown takes place. In this respect, the scenario is also classically structured and leads beginners with detailed explanations through the story. The book concludes with several sample characters connected by their background to form an immediately playable group.

The Secret of Vinsens Tomb does a good job of introducing the basic rules and general setting of the role-playing game and making it immediately tangible in the form of a playable adventure with sample characters. Even though the approach with dogs as player characters is unusual, this setting does not meet my personal taste at all. However, it is conceivable that young beginner gamers - i.e. children - will find an interesting incentive here.

(Björn Lippold)

[3 of 5 Stars!]
The Secret of Vinsen's Tomb: A Pugmire Jumpstart
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/23/2018 04:10:47

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: The bookmarking error has now been fixed (less than 24 hours after this review was posted) - Well done, Onyx Path!

[4 of 5 Stars!]
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