Playable Murden

Published December 16, 2013 by in For Gamemasters, For Players, Mechanics


During the Numenera playtest last year the first little adventure I received included a single enemy monster:  The Murden.

My players went up against these guys quite a few times after that and I came to really fall in love with them as monsters.  I love their mild psychic abilities, their misunderstood nature, and their avian ancestry.  I didn’t like that the core book describes them as liars, thieves, and murderers by nature.  I’ve always wanted more out of them than mere villainy.  Below is a sister abhuman species to the murden I’ve been working on for a while, and below that is a Descriptor for playing the original abhuman species.

Descriptor:  Blue Murden

In the style of the other non-human playable species in Numenera, the Blue Murden are presented here as an alternative to a Descriptor.

Blue murden are an offshoot of the murden species, so named for having dark blue feathers and down, rather than black.  The differences between the blue murden and their more common cousins does not end there.  Blues possess a somewhat different culture, valuing the flock over all else.  They believe that the community is best served through negotiation and trade, both within and without.  Though blue murden suffer from a crow-like desire for shiny things,  they usually express this through an enthusiasm for commerce, rather than crass thievery and banditry.

Physically, blue murden are rather similar to the more commonly encountered abhuman species.  The major difference, besides their plumage, is a divergence in the way their psychic powers manifest.  Blue murden do not create the same mental static that other murden do and they are vastly more adept at telepathy.  Blue murden find it easy to convey almost any idea through telepathy, even with animals, and can maintain a telepathic conversation for many hours on end.

Due to their less hostile nature, blue murden are less mistrusted throughout The Steadfast, especially by those who have traded with them in the past.  Though they are known for driving a hard bargain, many traders seek them out, for they often have interesting wares to trade.  However those who are not so open minded are quite common and the fact that blue murden can only communicate telepathically makes them constant outsiders.  It’s not uncommon for them to be attacked on sight in some communities.

Generally blue murden do not get along well with the other murden of the world.  Though they can speak telepathically with each other, they have such divergent cultures that their interactions almost always end in violence.  The common murden see the blues as condescending traitors and often do their best to rid the world of them when they can.

Blue Murden

  • Perceptive:  Your massive eyes and slightly paranoid nature grants you an Asset on all perception tasks.
  • Telepathy:  You may speak telepathically with any living creature within Immediate range of you.  If used on an animal, your interactions are very much limited by the intelligence of the creature.  Insects and other relatively mindless creatures are almost impossible to communicate with.  Though normally you may only speak telepathically with one being at a time, this is not true when speaking to crows, with which you’re capable of having group conversations.  For this reason some blue murden employ entire murders of crows as spies and scouts.
  • Mind Spike (2 Intellect points).  You attack a living foe with your mind, doing 4 damage at up to Long range.  This attack causes nose bleeds and headaches for your target and anyone within Immediate range of you when you activate it.  Action.
  • Trade Culture:  You are trained in negotiation and item appraisal tasks.
  • Speech Problem:  You cannot speak The Truth language, though you comprehend it.

An Alternative

For me, having a separate race of “good” or “civilized” murden isn’t perfect.  The fact that our games have what are essentially “good” and “bad” races reinforces, rather than challenges, the racism in our real world society.  So as an alternative to having an offshoot Blue Murden Descriptor, you might want to simply offer the murden as a playable option and explore what it is that makes them so misunderstood.  Here’re some rules for that:

Murden

  • Perceptive:  Your massive eyes and slightly paranoid nature grants you an Asset on all perception tasks.
  • Mental Static.  Each time you come within Immediate range of a living sentient creature (that’s not a murden), you automatically make an Intellect-based attack against them.  Success indicates that they suffer a one step penalty on all actions so long as they remain within Immediate range of you.
  • Telepathy:  You may speak telepathically with any murden or crow within Immediate range of you.  Though normally you may only speak telepathically with one murden at a time, this is not true when speaking to crows, with which you’re capable of having group conversations.  For this reason some murden employ entire murders of crows as spies and scouts.
  • Clandestine Culture:  You are trained in stealth and deception tasks.
  • Speech Problem:  You cannot speak The Truth language, though you comprehend it.  You must communicate with your non-murden companions through gestures and drawings, most likely.
  • Additional Equipment:  A light or medium weapon in the form of a wicked looking blade.