King Gorthram VII

Dwarf male paladin 5: CR 5; Medium humanoid (dwarf); HD 5d10; 31 hp; Init -1; Spd 20 ft. (4 squares); AC 25 (11 touch, 25 flat-footed); BAB/Grapple +5/+7; Atk +10 melee (1d8+5/x3, +3 bane (giant, goblin, orc) warhammer); Full atk +10 melee (1d8+5/x3, +3 bane (giant, goblin, orc) warhammer); SA detect evil, lay on hands, smite evil 2/day, special mount, spellcasting, turn undead 7/day; SQ +1 racial bonus to attack rolls vs. goblinoids and orcs, +2 racial bonus to saves vs. poison, +2 racial bonus to saves vs. spells and spell-like effects, +2 racial bonus to Appraise and Craft checks related to stone or metal, +4 dodge bonus to AC vs. giants, aura of courage, aura of good, darkvision, 60 ft., divine grace, divine health, stability, stonecunning, weapon familiarity with dwarven waraxe and dwarven urgosh; AL LG; SV Fort +8, Ref +4, Will +8; Str 15, Dex 8, Con 11, Int 12, Wis 16, Cha 18; Weight 190 lbs., Height 4 ft., 3 in.; Age 190 years.
Skills and Feats:
Diplomacy +10, Knowledge (nobility and royalty) +6, Knowledge (religion) +4, Sense Motive +8, Speak Language (Common, Dwarven); Cleave, Power Attack.
Possessions: +2 large steel shield
, King's Refuge (+2 dwarven plate)**, Foebreaker (+3 bane (giant, goblin, orc) warhammer)**, ring of protection +2**, 2 potions of cure light wounds, potion of cure moderate wounds, potion of cat's grace, masterwork breastplate barding, heavy warhorse.
** These items are part of the regalia of the kings of Merethrone. Any dwarf who sees them recognizes them as exceptionally important items with ceremonial significance, and receives a +4 bonus on Appraise (DC 25), Knowledge (nobility and royalty) (DC 15), and Knowledge (history) (DC 20) skill checks and bardic knowledge checks (DC 15) to identify their precise significance as the ancestral arms of the Merethrone royalty. Non-dwarves can attempt the same checks but do not get the same bonuses.

For the past half a millenium, the line of succession between kings Gorthram I and Gorthram VI has been unbroken; the dwarf-kings have ruled from their fortress town overlooking Crystalmere for more than five hundred years, serving as the divinely-ordained protectors of their people as they warred against the savage tribes of orcs, goblins, and giants in the caverns and mountains surrounding Merethrone and its handful of satellite villages and hamlets deeper beneath the surface.

The reigning monarch, Gorthram VII, has grown old in his rule, though he can still expect to live as much as another 170 years before he dies of old age. But to the grief of his nation, he has not produced an heir in the 150 year span of his adult life. With his passing, the dwarves of Merethrone fear that they will face civil war as they determine who will be his successor, and many of his most influential subjects are urging their king, widowed for the past decade and more, to remarry and attempt to continue his dynasty while there is still time to present the nation with an adult heir.

Gorthram suffers greatly under the dual burdens of his knowledge of his subjects' need for a clear successor, and his grief at the loss of his wife Wealthryth, whom he genuinely loved. He has no wish to remarry, and is furthermore worried that a marriage to a new bride many years his junior will pick him out as an object of ridicule, but he is nevertheless beginning to look out for a new queen.

The same sense of duty to his people which is now moving the dwarf king to seek an unwanted bride is also characteristic of his public persona as a ruler. Gorthram strives, by word, deed, and thought, to provide an example of proper dwarven behavior for all of his subjects, especially the younger citizens of his kingdom. This has led him, in the course of his reign, to cultivate a group of warriors, clerics, and even a few mages who serve both as an elite bodyguard and as the executive branch of his administration, acting as his hands both within Merethrone and in his kingdom at large.

Gorthram has also taken an interest, superficially uncharacteristic of dwarves, in the arts of the bard, and by virtue of lavish rewards he has succeeded in attracting an unusually large number of them to his court, whom he has ordered to train some of the more charismatic young dwarves. These younglings, he hopes, will prove to be the foundation of a new tradition of lorekeeping among his people.

To most non-dwarves, the elderly dwarven ruler seems stoic and reserved, and many elves find him downright stodgy despite the fact that, for a non-adventuring dwarf, he's really very much a free-thinker. Lord Merenstone Hope, of Port Hope, was fostered at Gorthram's court in his youth and became one of His Majesty's closest friends and confidantes. As a result of their rulers' good relations, Merethrone and Port Hope enjoy a steady, mutually profitable trade relationship, and will come to one another's aid in the event of a war.

Physically, Gorthram is white-haired and white-bearded, but retains much of the bull-like strength which terrified his goblinoid, orc, and giant foes when he was a young dwarf. His vitality has been somewhat eroded by the passage of time, as well, and he has lost some quickness of limb with age, but he remains hale and healthy, and owing to his status as a paladin of the Stone Lords he can expect to live free of disease until a greatly advanced age unless he dies in battle.

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