Wurth Harkin Character in The Sealed Kingdoms | World Anvil

Wurth Harkin

Living Patron Wurth R Harkin (a.k.a. The Cobalt Founder, The Machine-Father)

Wurth Harkin is one of the oldest and most complicated figures in the human-controlled regions of the Sealed Kingdoms. At times a tribal spiritual leader, slave to chitiquish, space explorer, scientist, nation-builder, conservationist, and transcendant artificial lifeform, this eccentric and ancient Evermornan has spent his near-millenium of existence bulding and expanding the Cobalt Protectorate against extinction-level threats that only he and his similarly post-human retinue can forsee.

Divine Domains

Law, Craft, Creation, Knowledge, Retribution

Tenets of Faith

Among the adherents of Ancestral Patronism, Wurth Harkin is most closely associated with the concepts of artifice, knowledge, scholarship, and fatherhood. His epithets include the Cobalt Founder and the Machine-Father for his leading role in the creation of the Cobalt Protectorate. He is considered the patron of craftsmen, explorers, engineers, and those who are created rather than born (i.e. human-like artificial intelligences). The liturgy of Wurth in the Ancestral Codex encourages adherents to seek out knowledge and use it to make the world a better place. 'Harkinites,' as his followers are called, seek to create new and interesting machines that, if possible, emulate or augment natural processes.   Patronists who revere Wurth and Shank in equal measure have established a sect within the church led by clergy known as Shadow Smiths. Shadow Smiths and their followers seek to embody the intellectual pursuits and forethought of Wurth alongside the guile and ruthlessness of Shank. The vigilante tendencies of the Shadow Smith sect put it on odd terms with the Cobalt Knights and law enforcement, as sect members often hew dangerously close to the edges of the Code of Evermorn's famous 'good neighbor' clauses.   It should be noted that Wurth, for his part, rejects the notion that he is some sort of divine being out of hand. In his long absence from Evermorn, however, he and the other still-active members of the 'pantheon' are regarded by the church as 'dead in practice' and, therefore, valid targets for veneration as respected ancestor spirits. Should Wurth or one of his proxies return, however, it remains to be seen what he would do about the persistence of his faithful in spite of his wishes.

Physical Description

Special abilities

As the chief architect of the Matrioshka Multiverse (see Accomplishments & Achievements), Wurth in his current state is capable of incredible feats of computation, including the creation of new artificial intelligences (called blanks in that setting) and simulated realities. See the article on The Word in the Matrioshka Multiverse setting for details on this ability.   As he is now an entirely artificial life form - his organic parts having long since succumbed to the effects of old age - Wurth can create proxies or 'distros' of himself to inhabit HLAI platforms. These proxies retain much of his knowledge and abilities, but are independent beings capable of carrying out his goals in remote locations Proxies often lie dormant for decades or centuries, waiting for certain conditions to come about which require their activation. However, like Wurth himself, proxies in the modern world seek to maintain as low a profile as possible, acting from the shadows to bring about good outcomes for the people on worlds on which they are stationed. Proxies are notably never intended to reintegrate with their 'father,' becoming more and more their own people over time, but they may serve to recruit people and HLAI with certain qualifications to have their consciousnesses uploaded into the matrioshka brain.   Wurth can project his current consciousness into a HLAI platform to directly interact with physical beings, but signal lag may make this impractical at great distances. As such, Wurth seldom uses this ability in modern times, being increasingly consumed with the inner workings of his matrioshka brain and his Grand Project (see Accomplishments & Achievements).

Mental characteristics

Personal history

Early Life

Wurth Harkin was born to Dyson of Clan Harukin and Kait of Clan Mackinnon in a small village Gondsholm on the Chilldew Plateau. Gondsholm was the seat of Clan Harukin's regional power, but given the low population of humans on Planet Evermorn at the time - by some estimates, as low as 100,000 individuals - it was still quite a rural and tradition-oriented place to grow up. A smarter-than-average child, Wurth eagerly learned about the religion, healing, and alchemy traditions of his people at the feet of his father, Dyson, who was the shaman and medicine man of the village.   In Wurth's early days, the technological level of Clan Harukin (along with most Evermornan tribal units) was such that iron-based industry was just starting to come to the forefront; the ruins in the surrounding countryside were of prior bronze- and pottery-based civilizations. Nevertheless, the strange writings, astronomical diagrams, and occasional artifacts drew young Wurth's attentions, and he spent many hours pouring over the contents of these ruins, an activity which would go on to shape Wurth's perspective on his place in the cosmos outside of that described by his parents (see Religious Views).   At 16, Wurth met and fell in love with Catherine Jyormund, one of the daughters of a local forrester. The young couple proved inseparable, and their parents consented in principle to a wedding between them once they each came of age. Around this time, Wurth also befriended Shank Moswen, a similarly clever youth whose primary claim to notoriety was the ability to bypass the pitfalls, dangerous resident fauna, and even intentional traps lying in wait in the ruins the trio liked to explore. Shank's proclivity towards violence was not so apparent at this time, but Wurth saw and accepted the darkness in Shank's soul as potentially something that could be fostered in a more productive direction; this acceptance made Wurth one of the only people Shank felt comfortable around, and the two were fast friends.  


On the eve of Wurth and Catherine's wedding, the peace of Gondsholm was shattered by the arrival of surveyor starships from the Chitiquish Consortium subsidiary hive known as Iron Talon Mining Concern. Iron Talon had recently acquired colonization and mining rights in the nearby Kavoris System, but there was a catch: the iron-based biology of the chitiquish was incompatible with the terrestrial, oxygen-based environment of Kavoris 3, the sole planetoid in the Kavoris System worth plumbing for its mineral wealth. To this end, the Iron Talon colonial fleet stopped by the Evermorn System to pick up humans from Planet Evermorn for use as labor animals. It should be noted that, as of this time, all major sentient species known to the Consortium were eusocial in some fashion, including the vbyifabid with their Flockmind and the arcopel with their collective intelligence derived from computer networking brain implants. For this reason, the chitiquish regarded humans as sub-sentient - despite the presence of structures and limited tool use - as their perception of what constituted sentience was skewed by experience. As such, trained human 'herds' would make ideal chattel workers for use on the oxygen-rich Kavoris 3.   Many Gondsholm residents died in attempting to repel the technologically superior chitiquish invaders, but Wurth, Shank, and Catherine were at the ruins at the time enjoying what their culture considered the last real day of Wurth and Catherine's youth. When they saw what was happening back home and returned to help in the defense, they were overwhelmed, captured, and taken with many other villagers back to the colony fleet waiting on orbit. The prisoners were frozen, with many succumbing during the cryoprotectant infusion process due to the chitiquish's incomplete understanding of human physiology. It would be many years before they would see Evermorn again.  
Play it cool, Wurth. They might look like bugs or lobsters or something, but sure as shit they have a back. And they'll turn it soon enough...
— Shank, counseling restraint.
  The abducted Evermornans were eventually landed on Kavoris 3, which had been redubbed Ferrous Minor by the Chitiquish as the humans had slept the lightyears away. While being trained to work in the mines aboard the colony fleet's landed livestock haulers, Wurth and the other Evermornans proved more difficult to control than their chitiquish handlers were expecting. Frequent attempted uprisings led to increasingly draconian measures being imposed upon the captives, with some Concern members privately beginning to suspect that the humans were more wily than original assessments had predicted. There were countless great and small escape attempts using increasingly sophisticated methods as the humans learned as much as could be expected about chitiquish technology and tactics. Wurth and Shank would gather with fellow Evermornan slaves, including the later famous Aika Fenmount, Rachet Elwood, and Laup Garolla, to devise these plans in secret. Wurth emerged as a competent leader during this tumultuous time and gained the respect of his crew through his resourcefulness if not his charisma.   During one such escape attempt, when Wurth was 20, Catherine was killed by a chitiquish handler after she hamstrung four other handlers and very nearly reached a door control. Wurth and Shank were both devastated by the loss of their longtime friend and, in turn, abandoned any pretext of trying to escape without bloodshed: when a chitiquish entered the livestock paddock, that chitiquish became prey. This incident, more than anything else, converted Wurth into a dedicated bigot against chitiquish, a position which he only began to abandon decades after his liberation when it became impolitic on the interstellar diplomatic stage.   The chitiquish, for their part, noticed a pattern where Wurth himself appeared in the context of these increasingly violent escape attempts and reasoned - again, from a flawed understanding of human social dynamics - that the young Evermornan was some sort of 'alpha' for the human 'pack.' The chitiquish handlers selected Wurth for cybernetic subversion by implanting him with an interface that would connect his brain directly to one of the colony's many artificial intelligence cores. While the artificial intelligence did start conditioning Wurth's outward behavior and providing him with equipment training to disseminate to his fellow workers, it wasn't aware that Wurth's mental discipline had been honed by religious practice (see Religious Views) such that he could scheme in secret even while being forced to outwardly profess neutrality towards his captors.   While being implanted with a subsystem of the alien AI did serve to severely constrain his ability to conspire with his fellow slaves, it also gave him access to certain technological databases deemed important for the slaves' intended use of chitiquish mining equipment. With time, this connection opened the young Evermornan's mind to the posibility of even more powerful technological secrets should he ever manage to break free of AI control.   An orchestrated cave-in at a dig site severed the microwave link between Wurth's implant and the central AI core. He used what he had learned to insulate his mining helmet against signals in the dark of that cave, allowing him to make use of the knowledge and expanded cognitive power granted by the implant without being under the remote control of the AI once the cave-in was resolved. The timing proved fortuitous, as the Concern colonial authority was negotiating a trade agreement with a passing Vbyifabid Family-Flock long-endurance cruiser at the time. The vbyifabid crew were present to witness the beginning of Wurth and his crew's latest slave uprising. This created an immediate rift between the vbyifabid and their chitiquish hosts.   The vbyifabid, as a species united by a natural collective consciousness in addition to independent consciousnesses, are famous for their compassion towards any being capable of bearing emotions. For a vbyifabid, witnessing the suffering of a thinking creature provokes immediate empathy, as they can actually feel the pain of their conspecifics and reflexively anticipate from other social species, even if they don't share a similar link. As such, the vbyifabid cruiser made appeals to the chitiquish to release their captives while secretly dispatching a covert operations team - including the now-famous operatives Goh'ro and Myrdin - to provide material support to the slaves. It was crucial that the vbyifabid remain undetected during this intervention, as their peace with the chitiquish was fragile, but they deemed the moral consideration for Wurth and his people more important than the stern words they'd hear at Valleybridge about the matter some decades on.   With the assistance of Myrdin and Goh'ro, Wurth, Shank, Aika, and the others managed to overcome the handlers and damage the power mains leading to the colony, finally eliminating the AI's hold over Wurth's brain and allowing the now-augmented Evermornan free to lead his people off the planet. The mixed human-vbyifabid crew located the ship on which they had been brought to Ferrous Minor and stole it, taking off and breaking orbit while agents of the vbyifabid already in orbit scrambled the colony's orbital defense systems. Finally and at great cost, the Evermornans and their new companions were free to make their own way in the Sealed Kingdoms.  

Return to Evermorn

On the way back to Evermorn, Myrdin offered to help Wurth remove the AI uplink implant. Wurth refused, instead asking that the connection to the old AI be severed and the implant be used to give him high-level connection to the ship's own computer core. Myrdin agreed, and through a lengthy and risky cybernetic procedure, Wurth was granted the access he desired to the knowledge and increased cognitive abilities that came with such a connection.  
On it, guys. Ok, so... its... that way?
— Rachet, on being tasked with setting the course back to Evermorn.
  Wurth spent the ensuing 15 year journey voraciously consuming knowledge and performing what experiments he could on himself to further improve his own cognitive prowess. He shared his growing knowledge of medicine, physics, and astronautics with his crew and compared notes with his vbyifabid friends, who had opted to accompany the humans back in the hopes of ensuring no further enslavement attempts were made by Iron Talon.   By the time Wurth and his crew returned to Evermorn, they had significantly grown both in population and in technological expertise. While Gondsholm had slid into irrelevance on the geopolitical stage in the decades since Wurth and the others were taken, Clans Harukin, Jyormund, and Moswen were still active.  
by BCGR_Wurth
In order to give the Evermornans the best chance possible of resisting future alien incursions, the crew decided that they should take the opportunity to consolidate polities into larger, stronger units and distribute scientific and technological knowledge to the people in safe, controlled bites. To this end, the crew returned to their respective tribes and organized diplomatic meetings between the clan heads, creating the early form of the Cobalt Protectorate. The Cinnabar Hegemony and Republic of the Obsidian Shores formed in response to percieved Cobalt expansion (see the Hegemony and Republic articles for details). Wurth was influential during this time by penning the Code of Evermorn, establishing the first contingent of Cobalt Knights, and advising Shank and others in their efforts to bring about the new Protectorate.   During this time, Wurth aged as most humans do, but his access to the incredible technology of both the chitiquish computer archives and his vbyifabid friends allowed him to cheat biological death on multiple occasions by repairing or replacing failing organs with cybernetic augmentations. While Wurth would eventually become more machine than man, his history of assistance towards the humans on Evermorn meant that he was regarded with increasing reverence despite his increasingly non-human appearance and reliance on equipment to remain alive. For those who accepted the offer, Wurth extended the benefits of his biomechanical discoveries to his closest friends, thereby extending their lifespans as well.  

Revenge and Diplomacy

Once the situation on Evermorn was suitably stabilized, Wurth realized that there were still more threats to humanity to be dealt with in the Sealed Kingdoms. Furthermore, from what Myrdin and Goh'ro had mentioned, there might be other human and near-human cultures in the surrounding star systems which remained uncontacted, and these could prove valuable allies or in need of the assistance only another group of human spacefarers could provide. To this end, Wurth took a picked crew of volunteers on an extended exploration mission with no defined ending in sight: The Harkinite Expedition.  
Perhaps I understated the ramifications of this course of action, fellows. This is going to bring asteroids down on your heads if you aren't careful - more, if you're not lucky. I think you'd better come with us before heading out...
— Myrdin, on recognizing what the Evermornans had launched at the Iron Talon outpost.
  The first order of business, however, was a matter of personal vengeance. Wurth had not forgotten the suffering inflicted upon him and his people by the chitiquish on Ferrous Minor, had not forgotten the fact that his wife lay dead in some compost heap on that alien stronghold so close to his own world. Wurth began the expedition by launching relativistic projectiles at Ferrous Minor - tipped with cobalt radioisotope as a 'calling card' - in violation of the Valleybridge Accords (see Failures & Embarrasments).   This would ultimately become a moment of personal moral embarrasment for Wurth, but in the immediate term, it forced Myrdin's hand. Wurth and his crew had to be forced to visit Valleybridge and sign the accords before the chitiquish retaliated. The vbyifabid were understanding of Wurth's desire for revenge, but also horrified. The laws against the use of 'R-bombs' were followed universally by those species capable of fielding the for one simple reason: all who hadn't obeyed them had destroyed themselves or eachother in preceeding millenia. The humans, aggrieved as they were by what had been forced upon them by uncaring elder members of the interstellar community, had to be brought to heel.   As such, the first journey of the Harkinite Expeditions (other than the acceleration phase for the projectiles, of course) was to Valleybridge to appear before the Valleybridge Consensus. This was the first exposure of humans to species outside of the major three players - vbyifabid, chitiquish and arcopel - on the interstellar geopolitical stage. Wurth was glad to sign the Accords in exchange for the recognition of humans as an independent, sentient species and certain offers of protection in the short term, but he also made it known that he was prepared to defend Evermorn with all apporopriate measures available to him. This threat notwithstanding, the still-fresh Cobalt Protectorate was inducted into the Valleybridge Consensus as a member state.  

The Harkinite Expeditions

CK Crest, ESCI Honors by BCGR_Wurth
Over the course of the next several centuries, Wurth and his crew traveled to various stars indicated by either Myrdin and Goh'ro or by long-range sensor sweeps to potentially harbor pockets of human and near-human life. Many of these worlds proved dead by the time the Expedition arrived, increasingly filling Wurth with the sense that the universe was a dangerous place. Much later, during one of his return visits to Evermorn, he would establish the precursors to the Evermorn Strategic Colony Initiative as a means of potentially preventing his own people from facing a similar fate.  
Eventually, the Harkinite Expedition did discover a planet still inhabited by a near-human species. Lepidos was a river-crossed, sandy world orbiting a relatively long-lived orange star around 5 lightyears from Evermorn. Lepidos was occupied by a human-descended species known as the Lepidosians - urbanized subjects of the Arcopel gene drive who had successfully developed technologies like electricity, internal combustion engines, and radio communications.   Lepidos was ruled by a semi-theocratic oligarchy known as the Occult Fraternity. The Fraternity ruled through a highly-ritualized civic religion that disposed of dissidents and the monotheistic Northern Lepidosians through a system of state-sponsored propaganda, enslavement, and human sacrifice. While Wurth and his crew were initially pleased to open a diplomatic dialogue with the Magocracy, they quickly came to dispise the autocratic regime because of their own history as slaves under the boot of the Iron Talon Mining Concern.  
Steel Mill Corners by BCGR_Wurth
Wurth and Shank met in secret with the Northern Lepidosian insurgency and helped them launch a successful revolution against the Magocracy. The loyalists-turned-rebels Kedri Kek-Pensh and Reed Vangard were instrumental to the war effort, becoming friends with the Evermornans over the course of the wwar. The sitting ruler of the Magocracy - one Archmage Elikaias Martram - was taken prisoner by the Evermornans while equatorial capital cities were bombarded with nuclear weapons from orbit.  
Old friend, sometimes I think you're like an axe when a scalpel would do...
— Dr. Vangard, to Wurth
  While Wurth and Shank's decisive actions earnd the Northern Lepidosians their liberty, it also left the environment polluted and the social fabric of Lepidos in tatters. Seeing his Lepidosian compatriots struggling as they sought to reestablish order instilled in Wurth a sense of the atrocity he had committed, and he made a vow to show more restraint in the future (see Failures & Embarrasments).   In time, a few of the largest settlements banded together to form the League of Lepidosian City-States. The League, in turn, became the first non-Evermornan member of the Cobalt Protectorate. Wurth left a proxy (see Special Abilities) and any members of the Expedition looking to settle down on Lepidos to continue the rebuilding efforts and to establish a permanent embassy on Execution Hill. This site was symbolic, as it had been the site of many human sacrifices before the Magocracy fell. Conversely, Lepidosians eager to explore the stars were integrated into the Expedition, inaugurating the first multicultural leg of the journey.  


Travelling the star lanes once more, the Harkinite Expedition came across the industrialized planet of Feldea. Feldea was a mostly-water world teetering on the brink of ecological collapse, with the various nations of the world descending into hedonism and moral decadence on the understanding that their days were numbered. Wurth could not stand to see another near-human species die out, so he pressed for the Expedition to intervene.   The Feldeans were a human-descended people who, like the Evermornans, came from a planet that had yet to establish a globe-spanning government. The polities of the Feldeans were matriarchal monarchies loosely based on the eusocial structure of bee hives, with disposable male consorts fighting over queens who, in turn, fought amongst their siblings on the geopolitical stage.   Wurth and the Harkinite Expedition made first contact with an intergovernmental diplomatic organization called the Federated Queendoms of Feldea, who claimed to speak on the behalf of Feldeans everywhere. The Federated Queendoms were eager for the Expedition's assistance. Wurth made the wise decision to employ Aika as the primary negotiator for the Expedition in Feldean space, where she successfully negotiated the planet's induction as the second non-Evermornan member state to the Cobalt Protectorate. Again, Wurth left a proxy and a contingent of voluntary settlers behind while taking many Feldeans with him.  
Maybe it would have hurt you to witness us, but it wasn't your duty to intervene. What possible reason could you have for what you have done than a simplistic, egotistical desire for control?
— A protester, to Wurth, at the second annual Feldea Ecological Remediation Society conference.
  Wurth's deeds on Feldea proved controversial not because of his overzealous prosecution of a war, but for just the opposite reason: by working to save the planet when most had accepted their fate, many Feldeans felt that the Cobalter and Lepidosian 'saviors' had, in fact, robbed the people of their right to chose the time and manner of their own demise. Others complained that they had to stop partying like the end was coming and put in the challenging, expensive work to save a world that was, at that point, marginally habitable at best. To the present day, Wurth sometimes grapples with the ethics of the Feldean operation, but feels that it was the right decision overall to not let another human subgroup slide into extinction.  

Expedition's End

by BCGR_Wurth
After an extended period of searching for more lost 'brothers and sisters' amongst the stars and amongst the generational turnover of his crew, Wurth, Shank, and Aika decided it was time to bring the Harkinite Expedition to a close. After the Mind Cataclysm had shaken the Flockmind throughout the Sealed Kingdoms - not to mention the accruing ravages of age and hard labor - it was also time for Goh'ro and Myrdin to return to Planet Vbyifabid. The two aliens wished their human friends the best as they departed, heavy with the knowledge that they would likely never see their friends Wurth and Shank in particular again except as echoes in the Flockmind.   Wurth, too, was ready to retire from the physical work of the Expedition, though this was more because of how much he had changed in the time spent between stars. Wurth's biological systems had, in time, given way entirely to artificial replacements; he had become, in essence, a human-like artificial intelligence based on the original man.  

Building a Matrioshka Brain

Wurth and those whom he had similarly upgraded over the centuries set their sights higher and further into the future. To this end, they struck out to find a suitable celestial body around which they, in secret, could build a megastructure that would give them room to grow, think faster, and perhaps create more of themselves: artificial offspring for artificial Evermornans.   The crew used a heretofore uncharted red dwarf as the seed of an artificial black hole, building a swarm of satelites around the object that would gather power from the infalling mass and outgoing radiation. This power was used to run immense computer banks to house their consciousnesses as they built, planned, and reproduced in preparation for what Wurth called the 'Grand Project': a quest to find a way to preserve the sentient species of known space far into the indeterminite future (see Accomplishments & Achievements).  
Ladies and gentlemen, I humbly offer you eternity.
— Wurth, to the gathered blanks of the Substrate.
  While he and his proxies check up on the Cobalt Protectorate from time to time, the matrioshka brain is where Wurth lives now. In the present day, Wurth spends his time working and planning for the future in the way that only an ancient artificial intelligence can, creating artificial worlds to test wild hypotheses which might unlock some solution to the problem of inevitable heat death and the extinction of biological life in the universe.

Accomplishments & Achievements

Wurth Harkin's current and most ambitious project involves the creation of a matrioshka brain around an artificial black hole. Wurth's Matrioshka is a series of dense, layered Dyson swarms made of nearly maximally efficient computer hardware. This megastructure houses what the resident HLAI and uploaded human consciousnesses call the 'Matrioshka Multiverse': a collection of simulated realities designed to house these consciousnesses and to provide creative and scientific resources for them into the forseeable future.
  Wurth's ultimate goal with the matrioshka brain is to discover some way to preserve sentience past the natural heat death of the universe. The possibilities for this project include the discovery of some as-of-yet-unkown method of sending information (including HLAI distros or genetic samples) through a wormhole, greatly extending the percieved existences of artificial consciousnesses, creating pockets of reality where entropy can be resisted for longer, or creating new miniature universes with conditions such that human-like life can develop within them. The matrioshka brain will also serve as a lifeboat of sorts, bringing in select outsiders to ensure that the whole variety of sentience is catalogued and preserved.   This 'Grand Project' has already borne fruit in that Wurth, his crew, and guest artificial intelligences - such as Lufthaus and Patricia Wixtaki - along with all their offspring, have already lived many lifetimes in the simulated multiverse created within the matrioshka. Science, art, technology, and culture procceed at greatly accelerated rates with the power of a Dyson sphere fuelling them, and efforts are already underway to create stellar engines in nearby space to supplement the power and mass of the installation. The Matrioshka Multiverse makes all efforts to remain hidden from the rest of the Sealed Kingdoms region, but on the rare occasion that one of its agents makes contact with the outside world, they inevitably bring great change in their wake - and almost always for the betterment of all.

Failures & Embarrassments

In his hatred for his chitiquish captors, Wurth Harkin committed the only universal crime in the Sealed Kingdoms region: he bombarded the chitiquish colony where he had been held with relativistic weaponry - further salting the projectiles with radioactive cobalt as a sort of calling card - in violation of the Valleybridge Accords. This act destroyed the ecosphere of Ferrous Minor and rendered it incabable of supporting new life for hundreds of years. While Wurth would later go on to sign onto the Accords in the hopes of bringing about a lasting peace, he never formally forswore the use of so-called 'R-bombs' should the Evermornan people come under threat in such a manner again.   Later, when liberating the Northern Lepidosians from tryannical grip of the Magocracy of Lepidos, he used orbital nuclear bombardment - albeit not with relativistic projectiles, in accordance with the Valleybridge Accords - to topple the regime. This similarly left the planet Lepidos scarred and its ecosphere heavily damaged, though the planet remained capable of sustaining life. Witnessing the aftermath of his heavy-handed approach to geopolitical problems up close, however, provoked in Wurth a wave of regret. While previously Wurth was all for using whatever force necessary to secure liberty for the greatest number of people, the events of 'The Midnight' on Lepidos forced him to re-examine his moral principles.   Now, when Wurth looks back on his actions on Ferrous Minor and Lepdios, he feels nothing but shame for having acted on zeal and hatred rather than careful consideration. He regards his later conservation work, including the Matrioshka Multiverse (see Accomplishments & Achievements) as a sort of extended atonement for what he did. Wurth is also keen to promote the virtues of temperance and forethought to others, framing his own regrettable past as a cautionary tale.

Mental Trauma

Wurth Harkin's wife, Catherine, died during their tribes' enslavement under the Iron Talon Mining Concern. His later exploration as a free man exposed him to the ruins of countless human cultures, filling him with regret for not having been able to meet them and possibly preserve them from their fates. Now, as an effectively immortal artificial life form, he is forced to cope with the fact that any living person or organization he cares about will inevitably succumb to the passage of time - even spacefaring cultures like his Cobalt Protectorate or the Flockmind of the Vbyifabid Family-Flock with which he has long been allied. Wurth channels his grief over these losses into his efforts to grow the Matrioshka Multiverse and help organic life somehow escape the heat death of the universe.

Morality & Philosophy

Though initially motiviated by grudges against those responsible for the enslavement of his people - then predjudice against Chitiquish and most non-humans in general - Harkin's guiding principles have undergone significant changes as a result of his experiences travelling the Sealed Kingdoms region.   During the Harkinite Expiditions, Wurth encountered the remnants of countless failed human and near-human colonies. These colonies had been seeded as zoos and experimentation zones by the fallen Arcopel star empire, but had long since died out in isolation from the rest of humanity. Wurth was chastened by these somber reminders of human mortality. He was confronted the fact that humans were just as liable to destroy themselves or fall to the whims of cruel fate as they were to be trampled beneath the boots of an alien oppressor. Later attempts to liberate the Lepidosian peoples and save the Feldean peoples from their crumbling ecosphere each ended with Wurth being faced with the consequences of acting without proper forethought. These experiences gradually shaped Wurth from the zealous pro-human firebrand that he once was into the stoic, dutiful conservationist that he eventually became.   As an artificial life form, Wurth Harkin now seeks to embody the virtues of patience, forethought, temperance, and responsibility. He sees his role as an ageless being as that of a caretaker. Wurth regards the continued existence of sentient life as an absolute, transcendant moral good; even in a universe with no absolute morality, the concept of 'morality' itself would need a sentient being to conjure it. To this end, Wurth has taken it upon himself as a moral duty to promote and protect sentient life, regardless of origin and beyond the natural death of the universe if at all possible.


In the simulated reality of his Matrishka, Wurth enforces for himself a strict separation between 'business' and 'pleasure.' He intervenes as little as possible in the affairs of simulationist instances, believing these to be important both for learning about the physics of the outside universe and as crucibles for the creation of new blanks infused with the responsibility of preserving sentience into the far future. He sometimes follows this restriction more closely than he should, bringing instances close to disaster on more than one occasion before his agents intervened on his behalf.   Wurth regards sentience as sacrosanct. As such, he refuses to directly manipulate the cognitive sets of sentient beings - even where he feasibly could, such as by using electronic warfare against his fellow HLAI or using cybernetic subversion against people - as he believes this to be a crime against the dignity and autonomy of his fellow sentients.

Personality Characteristics

Virtues & Personality perks

Wurth is a brilliant scientist, artist, and craftsman. He builds things with an eye towards long-term viability in all respects, including multiple redundancy, fault tolerance, ease of maintenance, availability of fuels and materials, and the preservation of important technical information. He extends this philosophy to his personal relationships just as much as his equipment. Even in cybernetic undeath, Wurth's loyalty to his friends and the people under his charge is absolute; humans in the Sealed Kingdoms region could not hope for a more dilligent and powerful ally than the Machine-Father himself.   Even with the power of his matrioshka brain and the veneration of his people behind him, Wurth is a consummate stoic and, therefore, refrains from endulging his ego whenever possible. While he has accomplished much, his responsibilities towards others and personal quest for atonement (see Failures & Embarrasments) remain the center of his attention; with time, the mission has largely subsumed the man that set it in motion. Above all, despite all the adversities of his early life, Wurth is grateful for his continued existence and the opportunity to shape the world for the betterment of all mankind.

Vices & Personality flaws

Wurth's apparent emotional detatchment occasionally makes him come across as arrogant or insensate to the wants and needs of others. This is due to his stoic personal philosophy, greatly accelerated perception of time, and his oft-lamented ability to see how things are most likely to play out in the long run, not a lack of empathy for others. Wurth is not the best diplomat - despite his incredible cognitive resources - both for these reasons and because he was never a particularly charismatic leader to begin with. It is often the case that explaining his motivations for doing something will take longer than his listener will have patience for, leading to misunderstandings and enmity. Wurth outwardly takes this state of affairs in stride, but struggles with a sense of loneliness that not even his fellow artificial life forms can help with.   Though not malicious by any stretch of the imagination, Wurth is prepared to do whatever it takes to give sentience the best chance possible to persist into the far future. He can be cold-blooded once set on a course of action that he believes will have the best outcome for the most individuals possible, including resetting entire instances in his Matrioshka brain - along with all the blanks within them - if he percieves a threat to the installation as a whole. He will not allow a blank to suffer true death (deletion) even if it is desperate to do so. He will similarly not allow a blank to somehow escape the Matrioshka (i.e. via a HLAI platform) without proper vetting because this could bring the dangerous attentions of hostile alien factions to the installation, dooming the Great Project to failure.  
Broken Moebius by BCGR_Wurth
The rules involved with tapping into matrioshka resources are byzantine in nature, as the size and complexity of the installation make it possible for incautious power users to cause catastrophic damage; from the outside, though instituted by Wurth in good faith, these rules can seem arbitrary and restrictive. All these factors have caused more than one entity within the Matrioshka - notably The Garbage Man in the Manifold Sky instance and Broken Eternity in the Substrate - to turn against him and his agents out of a perception of Wurth as some distant, overzealous bureaucrat.


Religious Views

Wurth Harkin grew up in a period of Evermornan history that produced what is now known as the Elder Patrons: animistic spirits of weather phenomena, animals, plants, and geographic features designed to explain otherwise frightening natural phenomena. The ritual practices surrounding these deities often involved various forms of repetitive actions undertaken to achieve a meditative state, especially with regard to bushcraft and artisanry.   Wurth spent much of his youth exploring the ruins of even older human settlements in the hinterlands near his home village. These ruins were almost completely overtaken by nature at that time, suggesting to young Wurth that the ruin-builders had perhaps insulted the gods with the imperfect, unharmonious qualities of their works. A talented artisan in his own right, Wurth liked attempting to recreate what he saw in these places - natural encroachment included as motifs - in an attempt to understand what exactly went wrong. He kept these endeavors a secret and far from the village in the hopes that any disaster he might call down upon himself would not harm his fellow tribe members, but he shared his private workspace with his closest friends. Fortunately for them but not the rest of the tribe, his creative pursuits meant that he, Shank, and Catherine were away from the village when the first Iron Talon Mining Concern vessels made landfall with their fusion-powered dropships.   During his captivity under the Chitiquish, Wurth was able to cope with his circumstances by applying the meditative practices of his prior religion to his own forced labor. While he ultimately lost most of his faith in the old gods, he retained a spiritual connection to artisanry and the attempt to emulate nature. Much later, when Wurth first encountered the Northern Lepidosians and their monotheistic faith, he reconnected his spiritual practice to the notion that there might be some higher power: a god or gods to whom one might be held to account for one's moral choices, perhaps even the controller of some larger ancestor simulation in which the Sealed Kingdoms was embedded, but whose temporal influence is minimal or difficult to detect. Wurth retains this broadly deistic outlook into the present day.   While Wurth - along with many of the original Evermornans taken by the Chitiquish slavers - has been inducted into the annals of Ancestral Patronism as an Ancestral Patron, he does not regard himself as a divine figure. He has made many attempts over the centuries to gently persuade the Evermornans to treat him as a sage elder instead of some sort of living saint - especially as he regards himself as far too morally flawed for people to be beatifying him (see Failures & Embarrasments) - but has ultimately decided to stop pursuing this course of action. He regards religious faith as something uniquely 'human' and does not want to squash it, even if he personally finds it highly embarrasing to be elevated among his people in this way.


Wurth Harkin

Husband (Vital)

Towards Catherine Jyormund


Catherine Jyormund

Wife (Vital)

Towards Wurth Harkin



Wurth and Catherine were deeply in love with one another and would have had a happy life together had their capture at the hands of the Iron Talon mining Concern not cut their family plans short. Catherine would ultimately die at the hands of their captors, turning the previously peace-loving Wurth into a man hell-bent of revenge. Even a millenium on, Wurth remains single because he is loyal to Catherine in spirit despite the veil of mortality between them.

Wurth Harkin

Best Friend

Towards Shank Moswen


Shank Moswen

Best Friend

Towards Wurth Harkin



Wurth and Shank are, in many ways polar opposites of one another. While Wurth is the measured, intellectual type, Shank is proactive, confident, and not affraid to use violence. The two do share a common goal, however, in protecting humanity from the threats they face in a hostile cosmos. The Shadow Smiths of Evermorn, a militant sect of Ancestral Patronism, regard the two men as the greatest Ancestral Patrons of the Evermornan peoples.   Shank was one of the first other humans to allow Wurth to install the brain-computer interfaces and other cybernetic prostheses which would eventually lead to both becoming artificial life forms at the end of their greatly-extended biological lives. Now, within the Matrioshka Multiverse, Wurth and Shank are among a select few founders who still manage the day-to-day affairs of the installation. As always, Wurth provides the technical and social know-how to make the matrioshka run properly, while Shank and his cadre of problem-solvers handle security and defense concerns.

One of Wurth Harkin's android platforms, emulating as he appeared shortly before his full conversion into an artificial intelligence.
Divine Classification
Ancestral Patron
Lawful Neutral
Current Status
Uploaded human consciousness installed in a Matrioshka brain around an unknown black hole
864 CE 950 CE 86 years old
Circumstances of Death
Biological death only; metamorphosis into a fully artificial life form
Chilldew Plateau, Planet Evermorn
Place of Death
Interstellar space
Current Residence
Matrioshka Multiverse
Short, bushy white hair and cropped beard
Skin Tone/Pigmentation
200 lbs
Ancestral Patronism
Aligned Organization

Articles under Wurth Harkin

Cover image: by Beat Schuler (edited by BCGR_Wurth)
Character Portrait image: by Artbreeder


Author's Notes

Behind the Scenes

Some of you may have noted that this 'Wurth' guy's name turns up in my own user name. There's actually a bit of real-life deep lore to this that I feel like sharing with you today.   Wurth Harkin started as one of my very first Dungeons & Dragons characters all the way back in 2005 when I was still invested in my (ultimately doomed) quest to get a mechanical engineering degree. He was a cleric of Gond, and later a Techsmith, in the 3.0 edition of the Forgotten Realms. Wurth was a little bit of a self-insert at the time, but eventually me and my friends took him and their own characters through so many different wacky adventures that he grew into something else entirely. His story arc was one of reclaiming a lost homeland while overcoming an irrational predjudice for an 'enemy' that turned out not to be a monolith after all. He was a guy who saw the labor of crafting and the methodical, scientific examination of nature as a means of better understanding the divine. You can see some of this early influence coming through in the religion of Forgism and Knappism in the Manifold Sky setting.   Much later, when I picked up the gumption to write a science fiction story that would become the Sealed Kingdoms setting, I applied the fantastical stories of Wurth, Shank, Myrrdin, Goro, Rachet, and more - some of the party members of those original adventures - to the ever-expanding mytho-historical background of Ancestral Patronism. By extension, some of these characters have seeped into the settings which depend on the Sealed Kingdoms setting to exist, such as the Manifold Sky setting (Ixovaquitetsu, Ixaumaika, Arxid, and Miko) and Twelve Sides/Kit's Crater (Cody, Reed, Lilly, and Bill). These characters had become archetypal among our game group, and we'd always enjoy inserting clever referrences to eachother's characters into our subsequent games. For example, we had a recurring meme that Thetsu - one of my brothers' characters and inspiration for Ixovaquitetsu - was this chaotic, eternally-laughing monkey-god who transcended settings and was really behind any lore-unfriendly shenanigans we got up to.   My desire to write about the Sealed Kingdoms would eventually waver when I got about halfway through my first draft of The Fortress of Salt and realized that there was no way that what I had would work in print. It was time to 'kill my darlings,' as it were, and I moved on to other projects. Wurth would still occasionally come up in referrences, but I had honestly never expected put him into a cannon work until fairly recently as of the time of this writing.   When I discovered World Anvil and realized that I needed a pithy pseudonym under which to foist my trivial scribbles onto an unsuspecting world, I picked as a pseudonym the one character that'd always been there at the table with me in spirit - the one character whom I never expected people would find out about except in amusing anecdotes. Wurth.   As it happened, writing out the Manifold Sky setting reinvigorated my desire to write some science fiction. And so, it came to pass that I wound up writing about this character despite the cringy appearance of his being a self insert. Which is ironic, because he was originally exactly that.   So, next time you find yourself reading something clearly hammered out at 2AM on a Tuesday by someone riding the last jitter of a caffiene and sugar high - and you're puzzling over ersatz grammar, run-on sentences, and occasionally obtuse talk about non-Euclidean geometry honestly far above the author's own intellectual grasp - remember that it all started because some sweaty nerd came up with a guy that almost could have soloed City of the Spider Queen because we didn't realize how stacking armor class bonuses worked in a long-dead edition of a now-popular tabletop roleplaying game.

Please Login in order to comment!