Michel Luc van 't Woudt Character in Out of the Shadows | World Anvil

Michel Luc van 't Woudt

A self-proclaimed conservationist, van 't Woudt is an enigmatic man who seemingly cares only about one thing: Conserving nature and history. He makes a living running his company Woudt Inc., which sells its services of helping preserve nature while keeping wildlife under control. His primary business area is the former country of Belgium, where he has separate branches for Flanders and Wallonia.   His forest-related surname and mysterious nature has led to plenty of speculation about his true nature. On account of the two Matrix Crashes, there is no way to fully verify the claims van 't Woudt makes about his personal history. Some suspect he is a retired Shadowrunner, but there is evidence suggesting a more draconic nature. For one of his kind, he has a rather passive nature.   Van 't Woudt uses his profits for a different kind of preservation: He sponsors a non-profit that buys up and renovates historical fortresses. Of the 35 Antwerpian forts, he currently owns 26. Most of those have been brought back to an intact historical state, with some open to the public and others used as bat sanctuaries.
Dwarf (suspected Dragon)
Birth Year
2011 (suspected fake)
Magician, summoner
Nature lover


Officially, Michel Luc van 't Woudt was born on Christmas Eve 2011, as one of the very first Dutch dwarves. He studied ecology in university and began working as a nature inspector, a job he was very good at due to his ability to communicate with wild spirits. When a rich eccentric uncle died, the will revealed his weird nephew was the recipient of his entire fortune.   Van 't Woudt used this sudden windfall to start his own company and build experience and connections. This somehow cumulated into scoring a contract to maintain three of the Flanderian national parks. Officially the contracts were to maintain the touristy areas and 'the famous natural beauty of the country'.   In reality, the wildlife was getting out of control, in some cases even involving near-feral groups of Merrows. Part of these contracts was permission to keep all the income from putting the local wildlife to good use. In other words, hunting rights on all within the domains.
While yes, van 't Woudt did hire hunters to cull the wildlife population, he by far avoided the massacre-approach that people expected and even hoped he would take. Instead, he befriended both local wild spirits and the Merrow. His actions helped preserve many species, while also massively decreasing the nuisance to civilization. When many creatures awakened in the Year of the Comet, the settlements within the national parks remained well-kept, unlike many other places.   Since then, van 't Woudt has expanded to cover more areas and even made a separate branch to do business in Wallonia, the French part of former-Belgium. Nowadays, he does as much business there as in Flanders. He refuses, however, to go for contracts in the rest of the United Netherlands.   The cross-country efforts have officially made Woudt Incorporated an A-ranked Megacorp, despite its small size. The low profit margins have supposedly kept other Megacorps from encroaching on his territory.


Woudt Incorporated

Founded on January 19, 2043, this company predates the merger of Flanders with the Netherlands by exactly two months. By the time the countries formally became one, the company already had managed to arrange several contracts for maintaining National Parks. It helped that Flanders was still economically suffering from the Eurowars, so the cheap bids were easily accepted despite the various hidden conditions.   Woudt Inc. focuses on 3 areas. First, keeping accessible areas so that people are not obstructed in their tourism or passing by. Second, letting nature handle nature with a mild guiding hand. No strict tree control, but encouraging a natural balance. Third, keeping wildlife under control through a mixture of focused hunts and reintroducing original species.   Of these, the wildlife control is the main subject of controversy. Activists disapprove of what they call sponsored hunts, where rich folks are said to covertly take down dangerous paracritters. Others claim that van 't Woudt hunts down such creatures himself, as a form of challenging himself. At the same time, paracritter nuisances have significantly decreased in number, so few care about the cost. If anything, the Veluwe rampages damaging Arnhem has reinforced faith in the Woudt Inc. approach.

Brick History

With the cheesy motto "Rebuilding history, one brick at a time", Brick History makes their so-called mission rather clear. The no-profit, with multiple sponsors including van 't Woudt, has managed to outright purchase most surviving Antwerpian forts over the years. A few were neglected monuments, most were just plain neglected. Given the dire economic straits the city government was in, it is far from strange they were sold off so easily.   Rebuilding the forts took literal decades, due to the care taken not to disturb the local wildlife. Additionally, experts were hired to create historically accurate replacements of all components too worn down to reuse. Thus, using a combination of metahuman and spirit labour, the forts were completely rebuilt one brick at a time.   Some of the forts were made available for historical tours and social activity, which served van 't Woudt well to get the locals on his side. Others were officially turned into bat sanctuaries that also housed various other critters not deeling well with nature. Wild spirits use the sanctuaries as home and make sure to ward off any intruders. The public forts, however, are welcome to all, even the homeless.

The Truth

There are plenty of theories out there about the real identity of van 't Woudt. From retired Shadowrunner to member of Echo Mirage to a false front for Lofwyr. The last one is close, the man is indeed a Western Dragon. Not one of the Greats, but still a powerful mage that one should avoid conflict with. He uses a combination of wild and summoned spirits to do his bidding, as well as an alliance with several sweetwater Merror tribes.   As for his motives, those are simple. Like many others of his kind, he is preparing multiple draconic domains. Both in Antwerpian forts and castles in national parks. Far more than he needs, so it is likely that he is preparing draconic nurseries. That he has grown stronger through personally hunting down paracritters and poachers, a bit like Alamais in GeMiTo but less genocidal, is merely a bonus.   There are more powerful dragons out there, but that does not make van 't Woudt a slouch. On the plus side, he purely cares about his own interests, so it is easy to avoid conflict with him. Be wary doing business with him, but do not dread talking things out.
 Okay, there's no way Moenen would write up this hitpiece if he didn't get paid by someone at the same level. Bets, anyone? Perhaps the Lady of the Water?
  • The Flying Dutchman

  •  It appears you cannot see the forest for the trees.
  • Vrouw Holle

  •  No way. Van 't Woudt himself? You serious?
  • The Flying Dutchman

  •  What better way to hide a needle of truth than by burying it in a stack of it? And what better way to make people fear him.
  • Vrouw Holle

  • Cover image: Dark Woods by Free-Photos


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