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Claws & Effect 12: Where is Humanity? [Realms of Pugmire]

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One thing I’ve been clear on — or rather, one thing I’ve consistently REFUSED to be clear on — is the fate of humanity in the Realms of Pugmire setting. Both Pugmire and Monarchies of Mau mention several possibilities:

  • Died out from an outside threat
  • Obliterated by some hostile technology rampaging across the globe
  • Colonizing other worlds
  • Evolved into creatures of pure energy
  • Stepped into a new dimension
  • A plague ravaged the world
  • A natural or technological disaster made the planet uninhabitable for us
  • Fought a war that brought about the end of everything
  • Explored distant galaxies in generation ships
  • Uploaded our brains into a virtual world

But I have a secret, one of the True Secrets of the setting. I don’t talk about it much, but I’m going to talk about it here, right now, to you. And the secret is this:

Q: Where did humanity go?

A: I have no idea.

Seriously. No clue. There’s nothing lurking in a document somewhere hidden in my Dropbox. I’m not holding back some grand reveal as part of a future product. I simply don’t know. And even more importantly, I plan never to determine an “official” answer to that question.

And I think this, more than anything else, confuses a lot of people when they write for me or work on Canis Minor products. There’s an assumption that every detail of the setting is either worked out in my head, or that I have some plan. For most of the setting, that’s true, but not on this case. So why? Why would I not have an answer for such an important question?

Let me take you into the world of designing games for existing properties. When you work on something like, say, Futurama or Walking Dead or Firefly, you get a “bible” of things you can and cannot do in the property. There are often bits that are marked something like SUPER SECRET DO NOT TELL ANYONE ON PAIN OF OBLITERATION. It’s exciting, it’s juicy, and it’s fun to learn the secrets of a popular universe. But I’ve found two things to be true when you finally learn them:

  1. They’re never as interesting as you’d hope they would be.
  2. They always get out.

In the end, what happened to humanity doesn’t really matter. It’s more important that SOMETHING happened than WHAT happened. Because once you know absolutely, 100%, for certain what the mystery is, it stops being interesting.

And you can’t spoil an ending that doesn’t exist. *taps temple*

So, for Guides who want to play with this thread, feel free to come up with your own “true” answer for what happened to humanity. That might be the answer for your chronicle, and you can absolutely enjoy that. But I personally find it’s more fun to seed CONTRADICTORY answers, and let the characters argue about it. Because what happened thousands or millions of years ago isn’t nearly as much fun as what’s happening at your table, right now.

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