The House of Murnau is one of the Orders found in the Dark Ages during the first Inquisition and beyond. A family of Inquisitors, the House is known for its long battle against corruption and its eternal curse, that provokes strange effects to its members in the presence of the supernatural.
When the head of the family, Frederick von Murnau, formally agreed that the whole House should join the Inquisition, it did not lead to the immediate assimilation of everyone who bears von Murnau blood. The process of bringing individual members of the family into the Inquisition has been a slow and steady one.
The immediate family of Frederick and Leopold were the first recruits, including Otto, who is the formal liaison between the family and the Inquisition’s rulers. One by one they invited in the extended family, after careful observation for signs of possible influence by the enemy or an unhealthy attraction to the paths of sin. With some reluctance, the family had to undertake a small but rather brutal, housecleaning to bring the whole House under the Inquisition’s banner safely.
By this time, the vast majority of the whole extended von Murnau family across Europe (and even further afield, given the family’s extensive trading interests) is aware of the family’s duties. The children of the family remain ignorant of the greater calling of the House until their early teens, unless circumstances force them into a greater awareness of the family’s struggle earlier. The closest family member who is an active inquisitor then takes the child aside and explains in some detail the family’s duty to the Church and to God.
Some family members choose to serve in other orders. Others follow the ordinary route of their lives: entering monastic orders, joining a military order or continuing in the family’s mundane business. Each, though, still uses her unique gifts in the service of the Inquisition.
The House of Murnau’s unique gift for detecting the enemy give it a rather focused view of the enemy. Much like the Sisters of St. John and their visions, the von Murnau curse focuses the order on the individual creature of evil, rather than a classification of creatures. The House therefore tends to focus on defeating individuals and their supporters rather than on trying to classify their unholy natures. If any classification of the Devil’s servants exists in the house, it is a broad an unconscious one, derived from the von Murnau’s attitude to the creature rather than its own nature.
The von Murnau family are the point men of the Inquisition in more ways than one. In individual cells, they are often the first into a dangerous situation, deploying their gifts to detect the enemy. In addition, a von Murnau family house is one of the easiest and least overt ways of establishing a cell of inquisitors in the town. Once that house is established and the von Murnau family member has made something of a splash in the town’s social scene and mercantile community, the House can facilitate the arrival of other orders in the town. The family’s wealth lets it, say, endow a house of the Sisters of St. John, which allows a handful of nuns to start their work in the area.
The Murnau, like every other medieval noble family, has numerous branches, cadet lines, and well-charted relationships with other families of similar status. While the Murnau tend to keep a closer eye on their male line relations (for purposes of inheritance as well as the indisputable fact that the Curse tends to dog the male descendants of the family and their children much more vigorously), they also keep relatively close track of distaff family lines, as well. The distaff lines tend to produce Curse bearers with chartable regularity, usually in the form of “skipped” generations. Grandchildren and greatgreat-grandchildren of Murnau women who married out of the family may suddenly manifest the taint of their foremothers’ blood.
The von Murnau also have a tendency to marry their cousins, a habit shared by nearly every other noble and royal house in Christendom. In the case of the von Murnau, this practice permits the family to exercise a certain degree of control over the spread of the Curse and the reaction of the spouse to its existence. Even so, the Murnau try not to marry too often within the seven proscribed degrees of consanguinity, lest the tendency become so marked that other families or unfriendly eyes within the Church notice it — or they breed themselves into extinction.
As of 1230, the main Bavarian “tree” of the family is quite large. Leopold the Bear, the father of the current Count of Murnau, was the eldest of six children (four sons, two daughters), all but two of whom married and produced prodigious litters of little von Murnau. Leopold himself produced four sons (Leopold II, first of the von Murnau Inquisitors; Frederick, the current Count of Murnau; and the ill-fated twins Weyland and Wilhelm) and two daughters (Franziska, Frederick’s frequently married and unfortunately childless twin sister, and Agathe, happily married and the mother of many children).
Count Frederick himself has been amazingly prolific, producing a staggering thirteen legitimate children with three wives and no doubt a bastard or six as a result of extramarital liaisons. As a result, possession of the von Murnau county seat, Murnauer Berg, is firmly in the hands of the Bavarian line of the family for at least the foreseeable future. Cadet branches of the family exist in the Duchy of Austria, the Duchy of Burgundy, the County of Saxony and the Kingdom of Hungary, with far-flung Murnau relations pursuing their lives and duties as far west as England and as far south as Sicily.