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An adventure hook and an origin story

An adventure hook and an origin story

Hey team, Notebook GM here with a sneak peek at the hook for a long module that I’m hoping to release later this year. It also serves as kind of the origin story for Murrad itself. Hope you enjoy it, let me know what you think in the comments or on twitter @TheNotebookGM

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The bard leaned forward onto the back of the chair and the old wood creaked slightly. The golden cloak that marked him as a true Bard of the Northern Pass seemed to catch the firelight and hold it a moment before relinquishing it to the dark corners of the small tavern, “Ye downslope folk and yer small gods, ye forget the old stories. The times when Humans walked Murrad, and magic filled the air. The times before the Small Gods and their small wars. Once there was but five gods- Nue was firs… nah, hark here, and I will speak it proper.” As he put aside his pipe and drew himself to sit straight his cloak seemed to become more greedy with the firelight.

“In the beginning there was Thing and Nothing. Movement and Stillness. Positive and Negative. The interaction of these two gave rise to the Field- which grew slowly as they continued to effervesce. After eons the Field grew too vast for the cosmos that contained it and the cup runneth over.

From the spillage Nue was born, first of the Gods. Nue wandered the cosmos learning to weave from the Field- creating the stars. It was an inevitability that another would be born and eventually Nue found a companion.
Curious Vyr was next, and the two of them experimented with the limits of the Field, feeling the weft and wane as it moved to their wishes.
Playful Eche then arrived and the first family was formed- the three of them galloped through the universe filling it with wonders.
Ta’am came next and brought order to the cosmos: organized the haphazard creations of the other three, and created the Sun and the Three Moons for them to live on around a planet that Eche had grown fond of.
They named it Murrad.

In their creativity and harmony, they had forgotten to expect another, and so when Sim came they moved to make room. Nue created the seas, and with them an empire of coral and sand. Sim accepted the aquatic kingdom, but never forgave the other gods the slight.
Sim wove of kelp and created the Merrow, the first of the sentient races, as company and servants in self-exile. Nue saw the Merrow and, applauding Sim on a brilliant idea, created the Humans with a breath of magic.
Vyr took to the northern forests, and from wood carved the Dwarves. Vyr swathed the Dwarves in furs and taught them of craft and the hunt.
Eche wandered the dunes of the Yael and from glass and sunlight created the Orcs. Eche gave them laughter and poetry and a love of simple pleasures.
Ta’am walked among the grasslands and mountains of Erevor and from silver smelted the elves. Ta’am wrote of discipline, civility, and the value of a strong community.

The gods agreed to step back and allow these creatures the freedoms and shackles of sentience, without direct intervention. As even Gods are vulnerable to sibling rivalry, each wanted to see their creation best that of their peers.

The Magocracy of Nuera arose overnight- to the mind of a god- and in the shadow of its splendor the ire of Sim grew. Gathering the sages and warlocks of the Merrowfolk, Sim began to outline a plan to curb the power of the rival Humans.
As time wore on, the Magocracy of Nuera cast many in its shadow, and the 9 Sages of Nuera decreed that, in order to maintain their dominance, teaching the secrets of the Arcane outside of Nuera must expressly forbidden. The other sentient races objected, but lacked the power to stop the Sages from withholding their lore. For centuries the Magocracy ruled Murrad by hoarding magic, sure of their superiority.

The actions of the Magocracy further angered the sea god. Sim released the Horror, a great creature rose from the sea, and began to pull Nuera and her cities into the deep. So vast, so powerful, was this creature that even the collected Arcana of Nuera could not fell it. What Nuerans could escape did so, either by ship or spell, but the vast majority of the Human population fell. Hundreds of thousands died, pulled below by the great sweeping tentacles as the destroyed the continent.

Once the other gods saw what Sim had done they rushed to overcome the power of the titanic beast Sim had created and save what Nuerans they could. After a battle that lasted 100 years the Gods were able to imprison the Horror at the bottom of an ocean trench. Those Merrow who had helped Sim create the creature were given an edict: guard the Horror of Sim for eternity.

As for the survivors, the elves of Erevor took in the human refugees, and over time the bloodlines mixed to form the Gray Elves but Nue was devastated at the loss of the beloved Humans. Grief took Nue to the glaciers north of Hooftrod Pass where the god’s tears froze as they touched the frigid ground. From ice Nue formed the Satyr and bade them wander the northernmost mountain passes and look to the stars.
Sim, for this terrible treachery, was killed by the three remaining siblings and the creatures of the sea were left to feed on his sunken corpse. They grew to be the titanic beasts that still inhabit the seas today, further ensuring the safety of the Sunken Horror of Sim….”

The room had grown darker, quiet. The fire popped- somehow somberly.

“But somewhere out there, among the storms, it is said a small group of islands exists. Some say the islands are deserted- just the mountaintops of a sunken continent, others say that it is a shard of the lost landmass- possibly teeming with lost magic. Stories tiny human-like creatures and turtles larger than towns are told by the seekers what return. However the great fauna have claimed almost all who have sought to explore the Southern Seas…”

The cozy room was silent now and as the Bard trailed off the cloak seemed to release the firelight it had been stockpiling, leaving the room a little brighter.

“Anyway, so the lot of ye’re set to take a trip skirting the Seas… I’m sure ye’ll have a grand time… just don’t forget to leave a watchman, best ye have warning before the great creatures pull ye into the depths.”

These words seem to echo through your minds as the ship you had chartered sails through the air- and crashes into the hard, choppy seas.

Then the world goes black.

Fresh Homebrew I (Unearthed Arcana Circle of the Shephard fix)

Fresh Homebrew I (Unearthed Arcana Circle of the Shephard fix)

Hey all- Notebook GM here. So this week the talented Jacqueline (contributor to this very site) joined us at the Murrad Test Table – A.K.A. The Tuesday Game. She wanted to be a caster, and had settled on Druid. When I broke down the possible circles for her she loved the idea of the spirit animals in the Circle of the Shephard from Unearthed Arcana (Google it, I don’t know how to hyperlink yet) but when I looked it over it seemed lacking. I hopped over to and read Brandes Stoddard’s review of the release. Him and I agreed it was devoid of both proper flavor and a fitting name.

They didn’t even include sheep.

So, instead of saying “You could do this but it’s bad and you shouldn’t.” I decided to make it (hopefully) good.


Here it is, (hopefully) good.


Circle of the Spirit (UA Circle of The Shephard fix) by The Notebook GM

Shaking an intricately carved stick tied with feathers and leather the Circle of the Spirit Druid moves in a complicated series of steps around a roaring fire. Far from there another converses with the astral forms of ancestral animals, gleaning insights about the movements of distant herds. A devout hermit tends her flock, calling on the spirits of the wild to fend off predators.  Druids that follow the Circle of the Spirit call on the astral forms of animals to aid them in battle and bestow strength in them and their allies. It is said that Druids walking the Circle of the Spirit are always surrounded by unseen spirits, and that the most closely connected are even shielded from death.

Spirit Bond (2nd level)

You are the conduit through which the basic pneuma of the archetypal animal moves. You gain a pool of “Spirit Points” equal to your druid level per day. At second level, as a bonus action, you may call upon the astral form of an animal to aid you or your allies, expending up to one third of these points (rounded up) at once in order to grant one of the following benefits to the recipient. Only allies that you can see and that are within 30ft of you can be affected by your spirit bond power.

Predator Spirit- You call upon the spirit of the Predator to aid an ally in battle, the next time they take the attack action and deal damage they deal an additional 1d6 damage per Spirit Point spent.

Mother Spirit- You call upon the spirit of the Mother to nurture an ally, healing 1d6+1 for each point spent.

Herd Spirit- For each point spent the target gains a +1 bonus to AC versus attacks of opportunity and increases their speed by 5 for 1 minute. 

Tongue of the Totem (2nd level)

Your experience with their astral counterparts has left you uncommonly in tune with the communication patterns of animals. Although most are not intelligent enough to communicate complex ideas, with the proper coaxing you can communicate basic ideas and thoughts with animals. Animals that are already friendly to you, as well as those bribed with food or other treats, will be more willing to assist the druid.

Empower Attributes (6th level)

Starting at sixth level the Circle of the Spirit Druid can use Spirit Points in order to bolster certain attributes. As a bonus action (thank you Mr. Stoddard) you may choose an attribute, for each Spirit Point spent you may grant one target advantage on their next skill check or saving throw using that attribute. This bonus must be used within 10 minutes or it is lost.

Guardian Spirit (10th level)

Through your interactions with the spirits they have become attuned to your life-force, constantly they swirl around you, protecting you in the most harrowing moments. At the end of a long rest you gain the benefit of a Death Ward spell.

Astral Overload (14th level)

The spirits surrounding you explode outwards, disrupting arcane energies in all directions. Once a day you may expend 6 Spirit Points to cast Dispel Magic as an area effect spell targeting all creatures, objects, and zones in a 30ft radius of the Druid. For every 2 points spent over 6 you may regard the spell as having been cast from a spell slot one level higher. Only one effect per target can be removed this way but one character or creature may carry several possible targets.

A Slice of Murrad: Treatise on the Governments of the Grey Elves of Renser

A Slice of Murrad: Treatise on the Governments of the Grey Elves of Renser

An excerpt from Communities Governments: A Primer on the Many Ways Sentient Races Organize Themselves by famed historian, Arkko Vrunn, High Tomekeeper of Biirocrittis- Orcan God of Ministry and Government


On The Class Structure of Old Erevor

The feudal system of Old Erevor is still practiced in several of the Marches, most prevalently in the northern Marches where the incursion of Neuran technocratic magocracy has had less influence. In several of the southern Marches (especially the heavily Nueran-influenced Inlet-sim-Cthal, Merschelmerre, and Marque-sim-Monte) the barriers between these classes have blurred in various places.


It is interesting to note, however, that all of the Marches have kept some form of Marchion and Viscouncil as their governing bodies- although each body, over the course of time, has been allocated different amounts of power in March society.


Citizen- These are the common folk, they do not own land or a business and hold little political power in most areas. Some of the Marchions have implemented a more democratic system by which to grant political power to all citizens regardless of economic power.


Tradesperson- A Tradesperson owns land or a business, sometimes purchased through savings, other times gifted by a noble. In some parts of Renser there is little distinction between Citizen and Tradesperson, in others the distinction imparts more political power to the elevated Tradesperson, offering them a say in local politics or increased access to government officials and services.


Knight/Baron- The lowest levels of noble Knight and Baron are equivalent classes distinguished by the nature of the noble’s service to the March. A Knight, obviously, is most often a military title while a Baron is a for civilian functionaries. Both titles confer the same level of nobility, although being a Knight is often seen as the more honorable moniker.


Warden- A Knight or Baron who can provide at least 3 Realmsworn [see below] to the defense of Renser gains the title of Warden and is eligible for Viscountcy. This restricts the number of Wardens, and the type of people who can ascend to this level of nobility as it is a person of unique ardor that can convince nobles to forfeit their titles, lands, and inheritances. Again, in the southern marches Wardens often have no additional political power assigned to them and are given the title as a matter of tradition.  


Viscount- A Warden can be elected or appointed Viscount, depending on local custom, to obtain a seat in the Viscouncil and the Keep associated with the position. Viscounts, in addition to their seat on the Viscouncil of the March, are responsible for governing a region of their March, though most delegate this responsibility down to the lower noble classes.


Marchion- Once the title for the regional lord in the different Marches of Old Erevor, Marchions are now essentially kings in their own right. Marchions in the Northern Marches hold absolutel power, while the three former Rebel Marches treat their Marchion as more of a figurehead, meant to represent the people of the March in negotiations with other realms.


On The Realmsworn and the Oath of Old Erevor


After the fall of the Nueran Magocracy to the Horror of Simthal as the survivors and refugees poured onto the coast in droves, new coasts created by the sudden water rise- the result of an entire continent being dragged into the Southern Sea. Countless hamlets and fishing villages had been destroyed, two major cities lie in ruins, castles crumbling into memories far off the shoreline.

In the wake of this great tragedy Queen Elviir II called the 8 Marchions together to decide how they were to proceed. It was at this Great March Council that the Order of the Realmsworn was created. Donning the sky-colored tabard, adorned with a black gauntlet, Captain Grenwald Elviir (nephew of the Queen) was the first to take the Oath of Old Erevor:


My heart, my shield for the Realm- We stand in the face of Horror. Empty, the hands that wield the Shards of Nuera. Without name, without house, legacy in song We are the Swords of the Wardens Aegis of the Realm. With ardor, grit, and iron, We’ll stand in front of hell.
My heart, my shield for the Realm-
We stand in the face of Horror.
Empty, the hands that wield the Shards of Nuera.
Without name, without house, legacy in song
We are the Swords of the Wardens
Aegis of the Realm.
With ardor, grit, and steel,
We sing and stride to hell.

Captain Elviir gathered the Houses with the largest stores of magical armaments and saw to outfitting the first Realmsworn regiment. It was decided shortly before the First March War, as internecine conflicts began to reach a boiling point, that each House should have their Realmsworn close at hand, a tradition that persists to this day in most places. This tradition, that each Realmsworn be pledged to a local Warden rather than to a centralized structure of officers, is seen by many to have set the conditions for the March Wars and the eventual dissolution of the Kingdom of Erevor and the beginning of individual March governance.

    However, it is this author’s contention that (despite leading to a pair of brutal civil wars, irreparable infrastructural damage, and total political upheaval) the tradition of swearing Realmsworn to the Wardens that outfit them is a concept that has led to a net gain for Elvish culture of the last two thousand years. Since the Realmsworn must sacrifice their own inheritances and titles (even taking the last name Realmsworn) a sort of benevolent feudalism has emerged, as those who nakedly seek for their own gain and power seldom inspire loyal followers. In addition, the “buy-in” of magical items, though high when counted in terrium bars, is attainable for even the lowest commoner in any number of ways- from pure luck to arduous adventuring…


[The bottom of the page has begun to smudge slightly as the young bard-in-training begins to drool in his sleep, the light of a rising sun just beginning to catch his golden hair]