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Tabletop Game / Monarchies of Mau

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Monarchies of Mau is a roleplaying game published in 2018 by Onyx Path Publishing with Pugsteady. Like its sister game Pugmire it takes place in a distant future where humanity has mysteriously disappeared, leaving a variety of Uplifted Animals to fill the void they left behind. In this case, the game focuses on the cats of the titular Monarchies of Mau amid their rivalry with the dog kingdom of Pugmire and their own inter-house scheming.

The rule system is heavily influenced by Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition, with the six major houses (plus the up-and-coming Shadow Bloc) acting like "races" and six "callings" (like Mancers who study human relics to claim their power for their own, Champions who defend their house's honor with sword in paw, and sneaky little Footpads dedicated to ferreting out secrets) filling in for classes. Stories can involve good-old-fashioned dungeon delving and protecting the weak from monsters, but there's a distinct emphasis on noble intrigue here.

Tropes found in Monarchies of Mau include:

  • Adventure Guild: Trillani's Trailblazers; comparisons to the Pugmire Pioneers are not appreciated.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Sabian Sphynx von Angora and Blayze Rex von Rex, the example Mancer and Footpad characters in the core rulebook, address the reader in sidebars throughout the book to provide commentary on various subjects or further explain certain concepts. When they're not arguing with one another.
  • Cats Are Magic: Not naturally, but they have the ability to absorb powers from human masterworks they've studied and broken, and then refine those powers much like dogs refine their use of masterworks. The initiation ritual for a Mancer involves the breaking of a masterwork implied to be of the same types that Artisans use as foci, while Ministers are initiated in a ritual where at least three existing Ministers chant power into them.
  • Cats Are Superior: Most cats think they are at least, they have this idea that the Old Ones worshiped them and uplifted them as a show of their devotion.
  • Cats Have Nine Lives: The common cat religion of the Nine teaches that their souls are reincarnated eight times; it's a matter of theological dispute whether reanimation as one of the undead counts against that count.
  • Clarke's Third Law: Quoted in the Guide Advice chapter, with the implication that "magic" is just technology the user doesn't understand yet. As in Pugmire, "Magic" and "Technology" are just different ends of a spectrum of perception.
  • Code of Honour: The Precepts of Mau, which has four common precepts ("Always trust your instincts. Always pounce upon the minions of the Unseen. Always reward loyalty. Always respect an honest duel.") and one additional precept added on depending on the House (the four common precepts are the precepts the cats were able to agree on).
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance:
    • In-universe, dog and cat values are extremely different, leading to their cultural clashing and the resultant distrust. To cats, dogs seem to be dim-witted, incapable of thinking for themselves, overly religious, lacking in guile, and brutish. There's also some major religious divides. Cats believe that Man's relics must be dissected to further understanding, whilst dogs believe they should be gathered and kept in safety to be venerated. Dogs loathe necromancers as workers of evil in league with the Unseen, whilst cats admire and respect them as priestly figures who make the miracle of reincarnation manifest. And then there's the fact that dogs worship Man as their creator, whilst Cats believe that Man was their loyal vassal.
    • It's even more extreme with rodents; besides the fact that rats and mice fear cats instinctively, rodents are a Proud Scholar Race who are obsessed with deconstructing relics of Man to understand them and are secretive and paranoid by nature. The fact that the primary point of contact cats have with rodents is the Cult of Labor Tor doesn't help matters.
  • Elective Monarchy: Trillani Persian von Mau managed to get herself unanimously elected the first Monarch of the united Monarchies by the Dynasts of the great houses, but since her death a year ago the ruling council has been too busy to hold an election (supposedly).
  • Elves vs. Dwarves: Pugmire's group-minded, loyal-to-a-fault dogs versus the Monarchies of Mau's individualistic, intrigue-obsessed cats. They get along like, well, cats and dogs. Despite this, there are ongoing negotiations to attempt to form an alliance between the Monarchies and Pugmire, with many cats seeing them as a genuine effort founded on common ideals and interests.
  • Fantastic Naming Convention: Cat names are formatted [given name] [surname] von [sworn house name]; the surname and house name typically only match for nobles, but it's not unknown for a scion of one house's founding family to defect to another house, i.e. Bina Korat von Siberian. And since cats value family ties less than personal loyalties they often drop the surname in casual conversation.
  • The Federation: The six Monarchies only united recently in order to present a united front against Pugmire.
  • Good Republic, Evil Empire: Cats will be the first to admit that the Monarchies are more of a backstabbing oligarchy than democratic, but they still think it's better than Pugmire's Empire.
  • Klingon Promotion: Explicitly mentioned as a means of advancement within House Mau, and mentioned to be a reason for the low average age of its current membership.
  • Magic Knight: Wanderers are martial artists who can add elemental damage to their unarmed strikes, while any cat can pick up a few spells with the "Magical Aptitude" secret.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Subverted. The Unseen are firmly believed in-universe to be demonic forces, but there are subtle implications that at least some of the Unseen may actually just be diseases given a coat of religious anthropomorphing. The Rage Demon description, for example, reads a lot like a case of rabies - however, Squeaks in the Deep, about playing rodents, clarified that a rat's Psychic Powers are capable of communicating with Unseen, revealing that there is far too much of a sentient mind to be just diseases.
  • No Social Skills: Sabian von Angora has his flaw explicitly spelled out as "no matter what, I just can't manipulate people." His habit of dressing in dark robes bedecked with bronze rodent skulls and casually talking about the undead don't help.
  • Our Sphinxes Are Different: The Sphinx is the highest CR monster in the rulebook, said to have the body of a feline, wings of a bird, and a strange featureless head. If you solve one of its' riddles it'll answer any question you pose of it
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: In the IC opening section, the two commentators repeatedly and often vehemently disagree with the official narrative- Sabine by pointing out what was left out of the official history, Blayze by pointing out how self-serving the noble house's perspective is. However, when the official guide calls the Unseen the evilest and most dangerous creatures known to cats, both just give a simple and unqualified "agreed".
  • Rare Candy: Cats can destroy some masterworks they've studied in order to absorb their powers, often gaining a new Secret (feat) for free, which they can then refine as they level up.
  • Rebellious Princess: Blayze Rex von Rex, the sarcastic thrill-seeking Footpad, is a daughter of House Rex's founding family, but she prefers slumming it with commoners.
  • Riddling Sphinx: The Sphinx may answer any question asked of one who solves its riddles.
  • The Sacred Darkness: Unlike dogs, cats view necromancy as an almost holy, priest-like profession, since reincarnation is the foundation of their personal theology and thusly animating the bodies of the dead is seen as merely an expression of reincarnation in action.
  • Sufficiently Analyzed Magic: Unlike dogs, who will at most use human masterworks and more often stash them in a museum, cats prefer to study and dismantle masterworks to gain their secrets.
  • Unperson: The demon-corrupted House Smilodon, whose anonymous descendants are slowly infiltrating the Shadow Bloc. The same happened to Caesar von Rex, inventor of the plastic-hulled ships that can sail the acid sea, after Smilodon corrupted him.
  • Wild Magic: Cat magic, since it's internalized rather than stemming from external devices like dogs, is a little unstable. When a cat caster critically fails a roll or their target crit succeeds bad things happen.
  • Whatevermancy: Cat arcane spellcasters are actually known generically as "Mancers", and Necromancers are not uncommon.