Kurt von Morden
Name: Prince Kurt or (with affection) Old
Real Name: Kurt von Morden
Deity: Baeandar, Elder God of Nobility
Alignment: Lawful Good
Family: Wife, Arianne von Morden (The Lady of Mensh); Daughter, Gina von Morden; Son, Adam von Morden; Daughter-In-Law, Katrine the Witch; Grandson, Duncan von Morden; Grandson, Darr von Morden; Grandson, Ferdinand von Morden.
STR: 14 (20 with Hunder’s Girdle of Strength)
Movement: 12 (sw 18 with Cloak of the Manta Ray)
Special Attacks: 3 attacks per round with Hunder’s Axe otherwise 5 attacks in 2 rounds
Special Defence: None
Saving Throws: P/DM: 4, Poison: 3, R/S/W: 6, P/P: 5, BW: 4, S: 6
Size: M (5’10”)
WP: Two-Handed Axe (Specialist), Hand Crossbow, Dagger, Grapple, Harpoon, Jousting Lance, Rapier, and Trident.
NWP: Reading/Writing 19 (common, dwarf); Etiquette 17; Dancing 12; Heraldry 18; Modern Languages 18 (dwarf); Engineering 15; Riding, Land-Based 21 (Horses); Seamanship 13; Swimming 14 (20); Weather Knowledge 17; Navigation 16; Boat Piloting 18.
Equipment: Kurt von Morden wears Von Morden Mail, Hunder’s Girdle of Strength, a cloak of the Manta Ray, a Brooch of Shielding, a Periapt of Proof Against Poison (+4), a Ring of Elemental Command (Water), a Ring of Mind Shielding, a Scarab of Protection and a Helm of Underwater Action. As a Prince of a major trade city and a merchant lord himself, Prince Kurt is a vastly wealthy man and has access to any mundane equipment he would require as well as a plethora of magical items and weapons, however the ones he employs most often are a Hand Crossbow +2, Hunder’s Axe, The Sword of Mensh and a Sea Lord Trident. He also carries the rod of office for the Prince of Mensh, a magical sceptre called Mortal Shell.
Physical Appearance: Prince Kurt has retained much of his physical abilities into old age. His hair is white and his eyebrows bushy, but the warrior prince is still strong of arm and barrel-chested. The Prince’s style of dress varies depending on his activities. One day in every three the Prince hears all matters of justice in Mensh – there are no other judges or magistrates within the principality – and at such times he will wear the traditional blue silk robes of the Prince of Mensh and carry his rod of office. When walking abroad or at certain state occasions or leading the army – which he does only rarely, having delegated that activity to his son – he wears the golden coin scale Von Morden Mail. As he ages though he feels the need for greater periods of inactivity and relaxation which his citizens are happy to afford him after half a century of wise rule; during such times he is most likely to be dressed in very simple clothing no different from what the commoners of Mensh would wear.
Personality: Kurt von Morden is a pragmatic and intelligent man who grew up in poverty, gained political power and has taught himself statecraft to an exceptionally high standard. He is widely considered to be cautious and careful, respected for his care and attention to detail by both his friends and his enemies. While he instituted many reforms upon becoming Prince he is very much a traditionalist and trusts to old ways often beyond their usefulness. He is very difficult to rouse into anger and those who try to provoke him to rage often find themselves faced with a patient political navigator who simply outlasts opposition. Aside from his political work he is a kind and generous man who has raised his citizenry from abject poverty to a level of financial and military security unheard-of elsewhere in Boune and admired throughout the world.
Background: Kurt von Morden was born in the lowest layer of society in Mensh. Both of his parents died when he was young and from the age of five he served as a deckhand on one of the many merchant vessels that sailed from what was then the free-state of Paldor to the Alanthorian trade city of Onnigsport. At this time Mensh was ruled by Prince Marcus, known to history as Prince Marcus the Tyrant. Marcus was not a truly evil man, but he was a despot who drained the principality of Mensh of funds and over-taxed trade through his waters while recruiting the services of several mercenary companies. Prince Marcus reigned for a dangerous thirty years during which time he threatened adjoining principalities, instigated an aggressive sea tax collection policy which was only just short of piracy and during the last ten years of his reign instigated a war on two fronts with North Enshall and The Marchings.
The ship Kurt had worked on was eventually rendered unprofitable through taxation then bankrupted and seized by creditors. By this time Kurt was about fifteen and was old enough to be enlisted into military service, but rather than join a mercenary army he chose to serve in the woefully undermanned city guard. As one of only seven guardsmen in a city of forty-thousand people the young Kurt was responsible for maintaining public order within the city. After diligently performing such duty for a number of years he was appointed Guard Commander by Prince Marcus – and while it might have been perceived as a great honour to bestow upon someone from so low a station in fact the office of Guard Commander was entirely beneath the notice of Prince Marcus, indeed it was a full four months after the death of the previous Guard Commander before the Prince was even aware of it.
Despite the difficulties of his position, between an indifferent Prince just beginning a war that would last a decade and a populace that was overtaxed and starved and hostile to authority, Kurt banded together the guard into a cohesive organisation and even as war raged outside, within the city itself there was a degree of peace and of justice. It was during this period that Kurt met, fell in love with and married the sorceress Arianne, who would later earn the name Lady of Mensh and become just as respected and loved and feared as Kurt. Kurt had been Guard Commander for ten years and was now twenty-five when Prince Marcus died of a respiratory disease which had hounded him for months. Many said he spent too much time in tents on the field of battle and it is entirely possible this was the cause of his death. Marcus’ son Henry took over. Prince Henry the Unready, an unremarkable boy of nineteen, was entirely unprepared for the burden of rulership. He inherited a land which was losing a protracted war, which had been ransacked by its own Prince and which was thoroughly demoralised. Even if Prince Henry had won his last battle at Gubden Field, the principality of Mensh was still utterly defeated and would be torn apart by the mercenaries which Henry could no longer afford to pay. Mighty Mensh, once the richest principality of Boune, was destitute.
As it happened the luck of Prince Henry ran out and Gubden Field was the turning point of the war, but it was to be a turning expected only in some quarters. Arianne had forseen the death of Prince Henry, and long before her birth the great elf mage Aethlis had seen this too and much more besides. Aethlis had sent his student, Arianne, to troubled Boune knowing very well what would transpire there. Even as Prince Henry the Unready fell from his horse with an arrow through his heart, even as four legions of warriors marched on a city defended only by thirteen men, even then the city of Mensh was secure and that security was ordained by a prophecy set in motion by the Ferendel (the five hundred greatest elven mages) two thousand years previous. Of course neither Kurt nor Arianne was aware of this and both acted, as they were destined to, to defend the city against impossible odds. Kurt called up the entire city population as a militia, an army of forty thousand untrained soldiers at his command and they fought a hit-and-run war within the city itself for weeks before the armies of The Marchings and South Enshall were forced to retreat. The resistance of Mensh was testament not to the spirit of the people, which had been broken by thirty years of misrule, but to the leadership and inspiration of Kurt von Morden. Of all the stories of heroism that exist in that time, Kurt’s stands the greatest and it was only natural that when the city was free again, Kurt was made Prince.
The King of Boune acknowledged the ascension of House von Morden to the nobility, partly to cover-up his own secret involvement in the war against Mensh and partly because he could not afford another enemy at his back. The King, also Prince of South Enshall, had his own diplomatic war to fight against the Prince of Lotno. Charles of Lotno was a man of fierce ambition and a remarkable opportunist. Following the death of Marcus of Mensh, Charles of Lotno was the most dangerous man in the kingdom of Boune and would not be thwarted by anything as simple as war. Charles had the King assassinated and attempted to seize power, the resultant civil war caused the Princes of both North Enshall and The Marchings, as well as Forgone, Glen Murdo and Western Arwan, to lose their thrones. Effectively this meant the enemies of Mensh had been removed and the principality was free to rebuild which it did throughout the reign of Charles of Lotno – who was never officially crowned King of Boune – until he was deposed in a second civil war which saw the warrior Prince Julian of Dundersdenn lead a coalition army and eventually crown himself King Julian in the summer of 25,054.
Prince Kurt and the Lady of Mensh were blessed with two children during the reformation of Mensh. The first, a boy, was Adam von Morden, who was to grow from a rebellious youth into a staunch defender of his father and of the principality. The second, a girl, was Gina von Morden. Gina never married and remained as an aide to her mother, though has never developed any great skill with the diviner’s art. From Adam, Kurt has three grandsons: Duncan, Darr and Ferdinand each of whom is now fully grown.
In his fifty years of rule Kurt von Morden has changed Mensh entirely. In 25,053 he started his own trading coster, Port Mensh Trading, and began running the city as a trading city again. In 25,054 the repairs to the fortifications of the city were completed following the attack of 25,051. In 25,055 he began construction of a sewer system connected to every home in the city – still the only one of its type in the entire world – and in the years following its completion deaths from diseases such as cholera become almost unheard-of. By 25,058 the sewer is complete and Prince Kurt establishes the mandatory training programs of the militia and begins to rebuild the army and navy of Mensh. By the winter of 25,060 Mensh is a bustling trade port again, and the harsh weather that winter sees a number of ships dock for repairs and the coffers of the principality swell to the level they were prior to the reign of Prince Marcus some forty years previous. As the wealth of the city increases, in 25,066, the Prince instigates the very first welfare programme which ensures that there is always a job available which will pay a living wage for every citizen. These jobs are unskilled but do force all people operating within Mensh to pay a minimum wage to retain staff of any skill level and to treat all their employees fairly. In the same year, to close a legal loophole, Prince Kurt declares a standing emancipation order; stating that, “any bonded persons who enter the port-city of Mensh shall ever after be freed men.” This order, which blatantly countermands slavery treatise between Paldor, Boune, the Windward Steppes and Alanthor, prompts combined Paldor and Alanthor fleets to blockade the port. Fifty warships are seen in the waters when the sun sets on the 7th of Dakkus and when it rises again each ship has been split to splinters and the military commanders including two Naval Dukes of the Alanthor High Command are in Prince Kurt’s custody. A month of diplomatic wrangling follows at the end of which the commanders are released and the emancipation order remains in effect.
In 25,070 Prince Kurt declares that all children of Mensh must be taught to read and to write, much of the cost of this is met by the state. In 25,071 Prince Kurt extends the command to cover adults also and within two years the city is said to have the highest literacy rate in all the human realms. In 25,074 Prince Kurt agrees to the Grathin Accord, of which he was principal architect; the accord establishes a trade route along eastern Boune, across the southern Windward Steppes, to the dwarf city of Caer Dannach and beyond, all the way to Herdsmeet on the Great Plain. The trade route is defended at the joint cost of all nations along the route and causes trade to flourish. Within ten years the Herdsmeet to Mensh route is the most profitable route south of the World Spine Mountains. In 25,098 the final stone of the trade road was laid by Prince Kurt in Herdsmeet, while a ceremonial final stone was laid in Mensh by a centaur leader – the trade road is the longest unbroken line of paved stone in the world being almost three thousand miles long. To further benefit trade, from 25,081 the city-port of Mensh no longer considered jewellery a taxable commodity as it is the prime currency of centaurs. As a result of this move most of the centaur traders relocate from Paldor to Mensh, along with most of the dwarven jewellers from throughout Boune. In the last twenty years Prince Kurt has built upon his successes and re-established Mensh as one of the foremost economic and military powers in the region. The social reforms he introduced have created in Mensh a new mercantile class which is unique in the human lands and has made Mensh the true capital of Boune. While it is perhaps too late for Prince Kurt to become King of Boune, it is almost certain that his line will one day sit upon the throne of Boune and it may be that the once humble House von Morden will be the one which can bring peace to the turbulent southern kingdom once and for all.