The Legend of Murlynd

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Dragonhelm
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The Legend of Murlynd

Post by Dragonhelm » Sun Feb 18, 2018 5:50 pm

I've been reading up on Murlynd lately, and I came across this fascinating excerpt from apost on EN World.
Gygax explains in his interview with Lynch that Kaye was invested in D&D from the start:

...when I came up with fantasy medievals, Don knew I had something special going. In late November of 1972 I wrote the first draft of the D&D game, and Don was one of the small group of initial players: son Ernie, daughter Elsie, and two teenage boys, Rob and Terry Kuntz, forming that whole.

Kaye played in the second round of playtesting, creating the character Murlynd alongside Rob Kuntz's Robilar and Terry Kuntz's Terik. Gygax explained how character names tended to be variants of their own names, but Kaye took a different approach:

Don Kaye was a semi-exception with Murlynd. As I became a bit more engaged in the broader possibility spectrum of the game I did a more seriously considered PC, as already mentioned. That became common with most of the veterans in our group around that time.

Murlynd was not a simple character either. Kaye played a magic-user:

He was well known for using his boots of levitation to rise above an ongoing outdoors battle only to become a floating target (Gary and I used to say, "barrage balloon") for missile wielding monsters at ground level. He also wielded a staff of power and owned a small house in the City of Greyhawk.

Kaye's passion for Westerns spilled over into his gaming as well:

Don was a great fan of the Western and an avid supporter of the Boot Hill rules. He designed several scenarios for the LGTSA to play the rules in, including one which involved the 'Black Bart' gang. otherwise, this is another remembrance added to the super-characterization he became via EGG.

Murlynd visited a Wild West world and returned with a Stetson hat and six-shooters; the universe of Greyhawk specifically prohibited gunpowder from working, but Gygax made an exception for his friend by turning the six-shooters into magical weapons, as described by Gygax in "Greyhawk's World" in Dragon Magazine #71:

As noted, Murlynd is prone to carry technological weapons (variously called “45s”, “six shooters”, and “hog legs”) which he is able to employ in both his left and right hands. His special aura enables these devices to function even on Oerth, for instance.

Kaye's interest in Westerns went beyond Murlynd. His passion built the foundation for a Wild West role-playing game:

...Don began to look forward eagerly to doing a Wild West RPG. He planned to draft rules as soon as he could quit his job to work for TSR. We projected that would be possible in about a year or so. Don was very happy.

Gygax would publish the wild Boot Hill posthumously in honor of Kaye.
Murlynd sounds like a lot of fun and has some great history to him. If I ever get to play in Greyhawk, I want to make a paladin/artificer of Murlynd.

So, thoughts or experiences using Murlynd?
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Re: The Legend of Murlynd

Post by ripvanwormer » Mon Feb 19, 2018 12:15 am

The player characters have an opportunity to visit Murlynd's house in EX2 The Land Beyond the Magic Mirror by Gary Gygax. In that module, he's portrayed as an 18th level magic user (full name: “DR. D.R. MURLYND, F.K.O., M.L.G.T.S.A;” (Fellow of the Khans of the Orient, Gygax's local chapter of the S.C.A., and Member of the Lake Geneva Tactical Studies Association), but "he mixes magic and technology—often to the detriment of everything concerned." His house features 1980s technology, including a VCR and audio cassette player, as well as Victorian-era fixtures and a laboratory filled with alchemical and technological devices. His library includes novels of the Western, spy, science fiction, and historical adventure genres, as well as what looks like a stash of porn mags disguised as scholarly journals with illusion magic. The house exists on the other side of a magic mirror beneath Castle Greyhawk, on the same Lewis Carroll-inspired demiplane detailed in EX1 Dungeonland.

In Dragon Magazine #71 and the Glossography in the World of Greyhawk boxed set, Murlynd was instead described as a 12th level paladin/12th level magic-user/12th level illusionist. In 2nd edition's Slavers he was made out to be a hero-god of inventors and technology. 3rd edition canon made him primarily a paladin and a saint of Heironeous's church.

The scientist advanced class from d20 Past feels like a good fit for him, with paladin as his base class.

I have an elaborate personal canon involving Murlynd being banished to Earth (after being betrayed by Nolzur, who had hoped to gain immortality from the Portrait of Longevity from Dungeon #10) circa 1800 AD and spending an entire century in exile there before finding his way back to Oerth. I wrote a short story where Heward, lost on the planes himself, finds him there and they make their way back together after deciphering the way magic works on that plane. The hero-deity Tsolorandril might be a Gray, or Fraal, who became a companion of Murlynd while trying to thwart the invasion of H.G. Wells' Martians.

I imagined the Lewis Carroll monsters from EX1 and EX2 are actually servitors of the Outer Gods who took on the guise of, or inspired, characters from human literature while they escaped the endless boiling chaos of Azathoth and attempted to invade the human world, only to be bound to a demiplane by Murlynd.

Some undeveloped ideas for Murlynd's adventures on Earth:

- Murlynd washes up in New York City in 1800, amnesiac, dressed in anachronistic medieval armor, and is immediately the suspect for a series of bloody murders committed with a medieval war axe. He discovers his axe is haunted by the ghost of a knight from Oerth, committing the murders in memory of some ancient battle, and he exorcises the ghost and recovers his memories.

- Murlynd encounters a fugitive slave who made a bargain with Nyarlathotep, as the Black Pharaoh, at a crossroads in exchange for dark powers. He desperately seeks to escape his pact. Murlynd goes to the crossroads and manages to negotiate the slave's freedom in exchange for accepting possession of the runeblades Stormbringer and Mournblade, which he reforges into guns.

- Murlynd thwarts the birth of a profane electric messiah figure, an avatar of Nyarlathotep that would have manifested through an eldritch machine and an unwilling human host.

- During the Civil War, Murlynd battles supernatural threats as an agent of President Lincoln.

- Working for the Pinkerton Agency, Murlynd investigates reports of supernatural activity in Pennsylvania mines, encountering an ancient race of little people who wish to remain secret from humanity.

- Murlynd investigates the disappearance of a young girl named Alice in England.

- Murlynd vanishes from Earth during the War of the Worlds with the Martian tripods.

I imagined Zagyg, Kelanen, Murlynd, and Heward adventuring through the events of IM1 The Immortal Storm and ending up reaching 1980s Lake Geneva during the events of that module.

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Re: The Legend of Murlynd

Post by Knightfall » Sun Apr 15, 2018 7:06 am

I read all that and I think of him as being an alternate version of Harry Dresden. Hmm, a d20 Modern game where Murlynd ends up meeting Dresden and the two of them have to kick some ass both on Earth and Oerth. :D
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Re: The Legend of Murlynd

Post by grodog » Fri Apr 27, 2018 10:35 pm

There's some additional information about Murlynd (Merlynd, Merlin) in Kuntz's El Raja Key Archive:
Merlynd's Castle

These are Rob's original Merlynd's Castle concept notes and maps from 200729. Don Kaye356 was a long time friend of Gary Gygax651 and eventually helped Gary found TSR1409 in order to publish Dungeons & Dragons. Sadly Don passed away in 19756 before TSR really took off.

Don was, notably, one of the earliest participants in the Original Greyhawk Campaign545, playing his character Merlin961 (later renamed Murlynd and Merlynd to avoid connection with the literary character). Rob1175 DMed1174 Don on a number of adventures, most notably, the Bottle City201 level, found in an out of the way place on an upper level of the Expanded Greyhawk Castle579. These notes were destined for a product that Rob was going to produce to memorialize Don's character and adventures as well as his real life. Amazing insight into the life and gaming of one of Gary Gygax's best friends.


I have scans of more-refined maps that were not included in the first volume of the archive; hopefully they can be included in a second volume.

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Re: The Legend of Murlynd

Post by willpell » Fri Apr 27, 2018 10:54 pm

I've heard about Murlynd's "six-shooters" before; what I want to know is why he's associated with a magic spoon that creates food.

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Re: The Legend of Murlynd

Post by Icarus » Mon Apr 30, 2018 3:46 pm

ripvanwormer wrote:
Mon Feb 19, 2018 12:15 am
... 3rd edition canon made him primarily a paladin and a saint of Heironeous's church.
Rip Van Wormer is spot-on here ...
Dragon Magazine #306 included a wonderful and inspired article by Gary Holian in Living Greyhawk Journal #20 called "Paladins of Greyhawk, Holy Warriors of the Flanaess" and it had the "Secret of the Firebrands" feat in it. While it wasn't actually legal for LG play, it was an awesome feat, if one is interested in using Murlynd in their campaign.
He's emphasized as being in the fantasy-medieval WoG, so, it's not like he's all The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly wearing a poncho and a Stetson with a marshal's star on his chest. But, it's still there. His symbol is a "six-pointed star", etc.
Here's the feat, for reference:
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the prerequisite "Divine Grace", in 3rd Edition, is the 2nd-level paladin ability that gives a Charisma bonus to saving throws.
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Re: The Legend of Murlynd

Post by Icarus » Fri Jun 01, 2018 11:29 am

Strangely enough, I am starting a new campaign with brand new players… And I gave the above mentioned Dragon magazine article to a new player who is completely unfamiliar with Greyhawk, who wanted to play a paladin.

And guess which god’s type of paladin he wanted to play!?!
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Re: The Legend of Murlynd

Post by Icarus » Fri Jun 15, 2018 5:47 pm

As an update on a paladin of Murlynd …
I'm using Matt Mercer's "Gunslinger" archetype subclass for 5th Edition D&D for the player to choose as his "Sacred Oath" at 3rd level.
I'm taking a cue from Pathfinder RPG's "Holy Gun" (Ultimate Combat, p. 63.) archetype and allowing the feat above to also apply to the paladin's Divine Smite.
Their "starter gun" uses stats I took from the Giff statblock in Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes. They get this one for free, but anything better, they have to craft by hand, using methods essentially similar to the ones above, modified to comply with 5e D&D.

I'm having a blast with it, letting a new player (well, returning after 20+ years) explore the setting, and play something that he really finds interesting. It's making for great laughs and a marvelous time having a "Marshall" around.
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Re: The Legend of Murlynd

Post by Havard » Sat Jun 16, 2018 2:06 pm

Okay, this is becoming more fascinating than I thought! :)

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