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Mur, M
Explorer/scientist at the lab. Before that, the lighthouse keeper of the Kent lighthouse.
Use of his karma arm, ability to create karma portals and thus navigate the net.

Murtaugh, also known as Mur, is the deuteragonist of the Submachine series.


Murtaugh is a male Caucasian with black hair streaked with gray hairs. In the one scene that depicts him, he is clothed in green garments that are shared by other confirmed people living in the desert. Wrinkles on his face clearly show his age and the stress of his life.

The one physical characteristic that clearly confirms Murtaugh's identity, however, is his karma arm, which can pass through his clothing and is shown in the desert as a glowing blue outline of a regular arm. Murtaugh raises his arm in acknowledgment of the player.


Murtaugh is incredibly focused on his goals[1], as evidenced by his deeds: he has had the patience to explore one third of the vast subnet and do tedious work for years, whether it be for his own explorative interests or to achieve a sense of closure (perceived as "revenge" on the people who buried him alive) and get back to the Core after he was forced to escape it.

This focus and his abilities to control karma and interlayer travel make other people invisible to him and vice versa, which was why other people in the Core thought he was a sociopath who deserted those who depended on him.[1]

As a result, he has has been held responsible, whether intentional or unintentional, for the deaths of several people in the subnet. Most of the presumed deaths or loss of personnel have been the results of a perceived desertion of people and resources. Unfortunately, the player is one of those unlucky victims.

However, Murtaugh is compassionate and truly regrets some of those deaths (or at least he pretends to regret them).[2]

Character relationships[]

Murtaugh's cat


Murtaugh seems to have cared for his cat to some degree[3] However, there were signs of anger when the cat disappeared often.[4]


Elizabeth is known to have had a relatively good relationship with Murtaugh while both were in the Core, and Murtaugh only talked with her. Murtaugh even calls her "his dear Liz".[5] Elizabeth seems to have acted as a pacifier of sorts, as she tried to stop Murtaugh from doing something reckless.[6] However, one of the notes left by the people Murtaugh sent to the Edge indicates that they are polar opposites in terms of beliefs on how to handle matters.[7]

Other people[]

Others generally seem hostile towards Murtaugh, likely due to his perceived sociopathic behavior and not understanding his abilities. Murtaugh has sent some people, namely predecessors of the Player to the Edge, where they all die, which he deeply regrets (or so he claims).[2]


Early life, the Core, and career as a lighthouse keeper[]

The first mentions of Murtaugh are from a camping trip in Kent, where he first lost his left arm. After losing it he somehow discovered a "third arm", which he called his karma arm. It had the ability to manipulate karma to create karma portals, which can transport a person to various segments of the subnet.[8]

Later, Murtaugh stayed in the Winter Palace and began experimenting with his powers. These unrefined karma portals distorted the fabric of reality within the palace and the South Garden. He neglected and downplayed these consequences as it was only one of the layers out of seven that was failing, and eventually, most of the garden collapsed into the black void of the Subnet.[9]

Other people in the Core thought that Murtaugh was a sociopath as he would only talk to Elizabeth. This was because Murtaugh couldn't see them, but he could see Elizabeth.[1]In the end, Murtaugh deserted the other people in the palace, and started a new life as a lighthouse keeper after traveling to the Root and then to the lighthouse.

An example of the distortions Murtaugh's karma portals create. The normally stable room-by-room Submachine is fractured and broken.

In the Kent lighthouse, he was joined by a cat in October 1905. Murtaugh named him Einstein because he thought he had got in even though all doors and windows were shut, so he might have broken the time and space barrier[10]. Whether this was true or just a result of Murtaugh's failing mental health remains to be confirmed.

Murtaugh also tested his karma abilities in the lighthouse and found that he could transport to other yet unknown areas with the help of wisdom gems. Intrigued, he wished to create a portal that could send him out of the Core, and he contacted Elizabeth about this, asking if she could tend Einstein while he was away.[3] She asked him not to do this; however, she promised to look after Einstein.[6]

After five months, others got concerned for their safety and buried the lighthouse with Murtaugh in it.[11] As Murtaugh had always been afraid of getting buried alive, he made the lighthouse portal and left the Core.[12]

Due to the massive amounts of unrefined karma portals being made at this time which aided in the creation of the lighthouse portal but caused the destruction of the Winter Palace and the Root main power generator, Murtaugh caused the Collapse, the event that led to the uncontrolled spreading of submachines and created the Outer Rim.

On December 12 of either 1906 or 2006, Murtaugh tested for entry points from the Outer Rim into the core but failed. He planned on checking 291 because it seemed promising.[13] One day later, Einstein went missing yet again.[4]

The Lab[]

It was mentioned that Murtaugh spent a full thirty-two years exploring. It was also mentioned that Murtaugh explored one-third of mappable Subnet during his travels.[14]

Not much else of this time is known. It seems that this time of exploration came to an end after he found a group of scientists that were investigating the Submachine, whom he joined. He "showed the truth" to the Lab's original members and explained that there were many Submachines instead of just one.[14]

The Lab trained teams for exploring the Subnet, most - if not all - of which failed. However, Murtaugh taught them the necessity of leaving notes, which they were able to accomplish.

It is known that Mur took the orb from the looping traps and gave it to the basement exploration team as it was their mission to break the Orb. They weren't successful because their coil had broken so Murtaugh came and took it back to the looping traps two days after the ancient section exploration team accidentally found the coordinates 551.[15]

In the end, Murtaugh abandoned the original scientists. It is thought that they later died, either due to lack of resources away from the lab or being unable to remember the way back to the research bases from multiple unexplained cases of rapidly failing memory.

Later, Murtaugh tried accessing the Core by attempting to bypass the Edge's defense system created by the Submachine in response to the Collapse. Murtaugh rounded up scientists and leftover explorers to hack into the defense system and try to deactivate parts of it to weaken its defenses. At least five people were sent to do this task, but nobody succeeded or even returned, which was one of Murtaugh's deepest regrets.[2]

One of the ways that he tried collecting people for his efforts was by sending an automated message to all of the computers in the dorms, much like the message that the player finds in Dorm 38C in Sub5. Murtaugh also backtracked and set up an automated message system in the original lab locations that connected to places like the ancient section. That way, he could be contacted by other people like the player during Submachine 4: The Lab. He would then send the person a list of locations and left the player to explore, all in an automated string of messages and commands. The success of the players' exploration efforts would then lead to their transport to the dorms, where they would then be lead further by more automated messages.

Murtaugh gave missions to the people which included the collection of wisdom gems to power movers to take to the edge. Somehow Murtaugh was also able to hack into the system enough to leave more automated messages for the player to find in the Edge. The whole time, Murtaugh made the people feel as if their purpose was to explore as much of the area as possible"[16], although this was just a lie, and the true mission was to use them to disable the defense system, as he had planned for the original five subjects. He later sent a message to the Edge, which contained the details of the actual mission, although he had no faith that the player would actually succeed.

When the defense system was finally disabled for the first time, Murtaugh left the message chain in the system for others to find and continue to deactivate the defense systems should a reboot take place. This is what the player experienced in Sub6.

At the end of each deactivation sequence, he confessed that the player's "adventure ended there" and said goodbye. This is presumably where most of the explorers were left to die, except for the player, who was able to escape.

Invasion of the Core[]

Evidence of gunfire in Liz's ship.

After the defense system was deactivated, a window of exposure left Murtaugh and a personal team of close followers to access the border of the Core, located in the sanctuary. They set up offensive lines in expectation of a resistance by people who were either living in or trapped inside the Winter Palace. Presumably, Murtaugh's offensive lines took the Palace by force, as evidenced by the bullet holes in Liz's ship.

It was probably not known at the time by Mur's helpers that Elizabeth was in the Palace when Mur arrived, so they probably viewed her as an enemy and shot at her while she tried to escape, which she succeeded in doing.

Fifth Layer[]

Murtaugh, through an unexplained method, knew that Elizabeth was trying to access a certain area that could only be reached by the fifth layer. The fifth layer contained individuals who had buried the lighthouse. Therefore he created a giant multi-layer karma portal, but then changed his mind during transit and ended up elsewhere, buying time for the fifth layer individuals to prepare

The portal to the Fifth Layer.

According to Elizabeth, Murtaugh was originally going to get his revenge on those who dwelt within the fifth layer. However, after arriving at the knot, the place where all the layers joined up (and the only place where Murtaugh would be able to be properly captured and possibly killed), Murtaugh finally realized the scope of the destruction he had caused and halted his efforts.

After being consoled by Elizabeth, Murtaugh spent the rest of his life attempting to repair the damage he had caused in the karma studies facility. However, there was an issue: the damage caused within the third layer could not be undone. This would haunt Murtaugh until his death because this was the native layer he and Elizabeth came from. Liz reassured him that, in addition to his repair efforts, the subnet was also trying to rebuild itself at the same time.

Even though Murtaugh had seemingly caused so many problems, both he and Elizabeth were honored after their reconciliation and praised for their efforts to restore the subnet. At some point, Mur found a way to exit the subnet through the lighthouse to the desert. He then either discovered or built a shrine in the desert, to which he made regular visits there every 32 years (or at least, what was perceived to be 32 years by others, as Murtaugh is assumed to have some sort of control of the flow of time in certain layers due to his abilities).

At some point in his healing journey, Murtaugh found his tomb and Liz's as well in his time-traveling. This gave him the comfort of the future and eased his conscience, convincing him that his work would not be condemned. Upon his passing, the tomb was erected in the temple for him. After many years of carrying his message, Elizabeth was also placed there after she passed away, and their tombs were finally sealed.      


“mur stands for murtaugh, nothing else.”
“me thinks...”
Mateusz Skutnik

“Well, maybe I put it wrong. Murtaugh is not evil, but his actions create disturbances in the Submachine net. And the net finds it as a problem, or conflict, or, dare I say, ANOMALY”
“it sounds like matrix a bit, but what the hell.”
— Monday March 10, 2008 7:13 pm Mateusz Skutnik

“[...] Well, I did lose my left arm, but what the hell, [...]”
— Murtaugh, about losing his arm.

“[...], it would be like explaining the possibility of space travel to a goldfish.”
— Murtaugh, about explaining his new karma arm.

“There is no greatest puzzle.”
— Murtaugh to the members of the Lab. (reconstructed sentence)

“We can finally invade the core of the submachine. Unfortunately for you, your adventure ends here.”
— Murtaugh to Player at the end of Sub6.

“Scientists clearly disagree with Mur and attempt to find the purpose of Submachine on their own.”
“.. and now they're all dead...”
— Soullock and Mateusz Skutnik, Monday May 21, 2007 9:55 pm

“[Karma Arm] might have saved his life countless times...”
“you have no idea...”
— Soullock and Mateusz Skutnik, Tuesday May 22, 2007 7:28 am

“who told you that mur was at the beginning of the sub? o_0 ”
“because guess what - he wasn't”
— Mateusz Skutnik

“Defence system recognizes infested locations. Infested by portals and humans. With the lab location being the hive of all evil that's destroying the structure and Murtaugh being a father of all this mess.”
— Mateusz Skutnik about Murtaugh.

“He's after those who buried him alive in that lighthouse. I have to warn them.”
— Elizabeth

“I can hear Murtaugh breaching the defenses of my ship.”



  • Murtaugh suffers from taphophobia or the fear of being buried alive.
  • Mur means 'wall' in Polish, French, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian and Catalan.
  • Murtaugh's name is an old French surname, and this is where Mateusz took the name[17].
  • Further inspection of Murtaugh's name indicates that it is Irish for "explorer". (A very fitting name for him)

See also[]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Not Socipath Note, Submachine 8: The Plan, only unlocked after finding three secrets
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Regrets Note, Submachine 8: The Plan, only unlocked after finding a secret
  3. 3.0 3.1 Letter to Liz, Submachine 2: The Lighthouse Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "letter" defined multiple times with different content
  4. 4.0 4.1 Note to myself, Submachine 2: The Lighthouse
  5. Transcript 18/38, Submachine 8: The Plan
  6. 6.0 6.1 Letter from Liz, Submachine 2: The Lighthouse Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "letterfromliz" defined multiple times with different content
  7. notes#Murtaugh's game (Secret)
  8. Diary Page from Sub1
  9. Karma portals-note from Submachine 7: The Core
  10. Cat Note from Sub2
  11. Diary page from Sub2
  12. Portal Note from Sub2
  13. Entry points- note
  14. 14.0 14.1 Lab Note from Sub4
  15. Basement Note from Sub4
  16. Mail from Murtaugh in Sub5
  17. PastelForum, Submachine 6: Theories & Suggestions, Mateusz revealed the mystery of Murtaugh's name.
Creator of the first Submachine - Einstein - Elizabeth - Henry o'Toole - King - King's Master Urbanist - Murtaugh - Predecessor - Predecessors - sunshine_bunnygirl_17 - Exploration team - Player

This article was featured on 2/14/2009.