Curse of the Crimson Throne
When most people think of Korvosa, they think of the cosmopolitan and friendly district of Midland. Situated on the leeward side of Citadel Hill, Midland stretches from the end of Enderin’s Wall south to Gray District and the Pillar Wall. It rises from sea level to climb the eastern slope of Citadel Hill, where it ends just below the summit line. Midland encompasses the wards of High Bridge, Pillar Hill, Slope, and West Dock. As the home district of both the Korvosan Guard and Sable Company, Midland has the fewest gangs and gang battles in the city. Despite that, the thieves’ guild does a brisk trade in the district thanks to the disproportionately high number of merchants, banks, and other commercial and financial concerns.
Citadel Volshyenek: The headquarters of the Korvosan Guard stands within Midland but belongs to no ward. See area M5 for the full description of the citadel.
High Bridge: Despite its proximity to West Dock, not every longshoreman and fisherman lives in High Bridge—roughly half live in the cheaper tenements of lower Pillar Hill. High Bridge does have its fair share of these hardworking folk, as well as the families of Korvosan Guards and Sable Company marines stationed nearby. Like the rest of the district, though, the ward also houses a wide cross-section of different kinds of people.
Pillar Hill: The most demographically diverse ward in Midland—and indeed, the entire city—Pillar Hill houses both fabulously wealthy merchants in its northern corner, beneath the shadow of Castle Korvosa, and hard-working laborers and longshoremen along the Pillar Wall south of Pillar Hill Boulevard. In addition to its wide distribution of wealth, the ward also claims variety in the races and ethnicities of its residents. Every human ethnic group represented in Korvosa (which is far from all of them) can claim at least one member in Pillar Hill. In addition, members of all seven civilized races and tieflings call Pillar Hill home, as do a few creatures normally considered “monsters” by humans, though these residents generally stay to themselves.
Slope: As its name implies, this ward exists on the eastern slope of Citadel Hill and overlooks West Dock and the Jeggare River. Despite its proximity to rough-and-tumble West Dock, Slope holds numerous libraries, museums, and other places of culture. Slope also houses the third-highest concentration of educated people in the city, behind only University ward and the Acadamae. The Losen engineers brought to the city to build the Great Tower settled in this ward and formed a small neighborhood with the few Gebbites in the city. As a result, Korvosa has access to authentic and exotic (for Varisia) south-Garund foods and fashions.
West Dock: This rugged ward contains no residences. It does house an extensive number of warehouses, fish processing facilities, and the remains of a block dedicated solely to meatpacking. The prevailing winds push the meaty stink of the ward southeast, providing Citadel Volshyenek and much of High Bridge with unending waves of unpleasantness. Unwelcome but stubborn druids frequent the docks, proselytizing the evils of civilization and urging fishermen and crabbers to release their catches back into the river. These unwashed scofflaws frequently cause minor skirmishes when they attempt to enforce their ideals with more than just words.
M1. Bookmaker: Wizards, sages, and scholars flock to Korvosa’s largest bookstore. From mythic tales of lost Azlant to the most recent reports from distant Osirion, the Bookmaker’s massive selection covers a wide swath of topic and interests. All of the city’s universities, colleges, and schools (except the Acadamae) send their students to the Bookmaker, and many of the professors and masters from those establishments have written tomes for sale within it. Through an oft-violated gentlemen’s agreement, the Bookmaker and Gilded Orrery carefully avoid an excess in overlap of titles carried. Where the Gilded Orrery focuses its attention on the arcane, the Bookmaker takes a generalist approach to knowledge. Recently, the Bookmaker’s proprietor, Costa Serimus, began reporting strange sounds and events throughout his building. He fears a ghost has moved into his building and called upon the church of Pharasma for aid. A cleric of Pharasma detected no presence of undead, but further investigations by the Korvosan Guard uncovered a heretofore unknown entrance to the Vaults under his establishment. Rather than pay the exorbitant fee the Korvosan Guard charges for such services, Costa has put up flyers offering a reward to anyone who can cleanse his building of its haunt.
M2. Bailer’s Retreat: This rough tavern frequently serves recently released prisoners of Citadel Volshyenek’s jails. Because of that it also serves strong coffee to a high number of Korvosan Guards. Brawls between the two infrequently erupt but very quickly end. As the drunk (and usually unarmed) ex-prisoners can’t compete with the still-sober guards, these scuffles typically end with a return to jail. Despite its law-enforcement customers, Bailer’s Retreat is an excellent place to overhear rumors of illicit activities in Midland and East Shore.
M3. Gold Market: Korvosa’s largest market serves as the main attraction in Midland. People from all over the city descend daily on the stands, stalls, and tents that form the backbone of the open-air market. Vendors hawk a variety of wares, mostly foodstuffs and minor crafts, in the wide semicircular plaza between Eodred’s Circle and Eodred’s Walk. All manner of foods and handicraft from Korvosa’s holdings and the rest of Varisia appear in the Gold Market. Several carts sell fresh-made meals and sugary snacks, from Varisian borsht to Oliphant Ears (fried on the backs of tower shields). The wide variety of foods available make this a popular market, and some city leaders speculate that at least half the city’s residents visit the market at least once a month. One small and irregularly appearing stall sells trinkets that the proprietor, Sagitar Tiguan, claims are minor magical items or elixirs and tonics created through alchemy. Although many locals wonder about the authenticity of his goods, whenever he appears in the market, the shining silk tent in which he holds forth is constantly surrounded by adventurer types.
M4. Eodred’s Walk: Fourteen shops form the semicircular face of Eodred’s Walk. They stand separated from Eodred’s Circle by a daily riot of color, activity, and scents that make up the Gold Market. These permanent establishments and the transient vendors of the market form a symbiotic relationship. The shops of the mall offer a variety of permanent goods and a number of services, while the market’s many stalls and tent sellers tend to specialize more in food and minor crafts. Three-story, whitewashed wooden buildings with their upper floors overhanging the ground floor to form a continuous covered pavilion house the wedge-shaped shops.
The names of the shops and what they sell are as follows.
Aram’s Crown: This cramped tavern profits by providing watered-down ale and weak wine to thirsty market-goers during the day. After sunset it breaks open bottles of potent spirits imported from distant Minkai, Osirion, and Vudra.
Basha’s: A small bookstore and map shop, Basha’s sometimes has magical texts and scrolls for sale. Basha claims many of his maps lead to treasure all across the globe, but critics frequently accuse Basha of inventing these maps himself.
Doom and Gloom: The old Varisian woman who lives and works in this cluttered and stinking office sells Harrow readings for five copper pinch. Without fail, her predictions always foretell tragedy, hence the name of the shop.
Galloping Ghost: This large shop (relative to the other shops in the mall) sells tack and barding for a variety of riding animals, including hippogriffs. The Galloping Ghost’s owner, a burly and cantankerous old leathersmith known as Patch, crafts all the equipment used on the city’s Sable Company hippogriff mounts.
Gemshare Jewelers: Specializing in buying and selling gems of all kinds, this little shop also sells an extensive collection of jewelry. Owned by a couple of brothers who only recently entered the jewelry trade, the store nonetheless does brisk business with adventurers, nobles, and wealthy merchants. The shop swiftly gained a reputation as a place to get good deals when both buying and selling jewelry and gems.
Hedge Wizardry: After dropping out of Theumanexus College, Phaeton Skoda opened this small shop, which sells an extensive collection of supplies for the crafting of alchemical and magical goods. Some whisper that the shop’s owner took with him more than just a few years’ education: students of the Acadamae and Theumanexus College are strictly forbidden from entering or doing business with this establishment.
High Bridge Haberdashery: The clientele of this shop tend to represent Korvosa’s growing middle class of merchants. Nothing here looks particularly fine, but neither are the wares poorly crafted. The haberdashery does sell rugged clothing suitable for adventurers.
Kep’s: A simple fishmonger, Kep sells whatever his cousin’s fishing boat catches in its wide nets. This allows Kep to frequently offer such unusual fare as jigsaw sharks, dolphins, and even the occasional reefclaw. In the back corner of his shop, Kep has set up the taxidermal remains of a sahuagin holding a trident. An unusual number of visitors have seen the sahuagin move.
Fair-Fished Baitshop: The androgynously attractive fullblooded Varisian proprietor of this shop sells fishing tackle and poles, crabbing traps, and clamming shovels, as well as nets, clothing, and gear specialized for catching fish and seafood. Alternating between plain but functional dresses and the rugged workman’s clothes sold in the baitshop, the owner’s true gender and name remain among the ward’s most talked-about mysteries (aside from that personal secret, the owner also frequently knows the juiciest High Bridge gossip). The poorly kept secret of Eodred’s Walk is the baitshop owner’s abiding dread of large bodies of water but an insatiable love of seafood. The proprietor frequently buys or barters for freshly caught (i.e., still living) shellfish, crustaceans, and fish.
Pinking Shears: Despite its name, this is a barbershop. Ol’ Hooktooth, the squint-eyed half-orc barber who operates this shop, always dresses stylishly but rarely talks, preferring to deftly and skillfully trim hair rather than engage in idle chatter. Many consider Ol’ Hooktooth the most skilled barber in the city, and he only takes on new customers if they are introduced to him by a trusted patron.
Slicing Dicers: Swords, daggers, knives, and all manner of bladed weapons and tools fill the locked cases of this highly secure shop. The shop stocks all kinds of swords, common and exotic, mundane and magical. It stays afloat thanks to its brisk exchange of previously owned weapons.
Smoked Foods: As the name implies, this narrow and frequently crowded shop sells a wide variety of smoked foods, from the meats of dangerous magical beasts to Jeggare River salmon. The shop’s biggest draw comes twice a year, when it sells heavily spiced smoked bulette strips brought in by Shoanti hunters. In order to prove the meat it sells comes from the bulette, the shop butchers, slices, and smokes the great beast out front, where everyone can see it.
Time Stop: Clocks and watches line the shelves of this small, brightly lit shop. The gnome proprietor, Goupie Capabopple, keeps every timepiece set to exactly the same time. This feat requires the assistance of his daughters Min and Sec, who visit him once a week to help wind and set the clocks while Goupie himself works the watches. (Goupie wanted to name his daughters Tik and Tok, but his wife told him that was too obvious.) Note that Goupie and his girls don’t set the timepieces to the correct time, but rather, every week they set all the clocks and watches to some random time.
Trapper’s Hole: Owned and operated by retired Sable Company marine Jope Chantsmo, this shop sells all manner of hunting equipment but specializes in archery supplies. Jope sells every kind of bow and arrow common to the continent, as well as a few exotic pieces from distant Tian Xia and Arcadia. Trapper’s Hole also includes a full service bowyer’s shop, where Jope repairs and accessorizes bows for a nominal fee. For his most trusted clients, Jope also brings in a transmuter from the Acadamae once a month to magically enhance bows and arrows. Jope hates crossbows, so he carries none and kicks out anyone who inquires about them.
M5. Citadel Volshyenek: Named for the Eternal Lord, Lord Volshyenek Ornelos, who paid for most of its construction, this impressive citadel houses the headquarters and main garrison of the Korvosan Guard. This relatively normal citadel reputedly has an extensive system of Vaults beneath it that flood every spring with the rising waters of the Jeggare River.
M6. Creaky Hammock: Set up with a nautical theme, the Creaky Hammock tends to serve ships’ crews in port for a few days. Its attached tavern makes for loud nights and boisterous days, which led to the saying, “The only way to sleep in the Creaky Hammock is to drink yourself asleep.” The Creaky Hammock can easily house up to four dozen people in its 40 hammocks and four small rooms. Its number of “clients” frequently exceeds that amount though, as many sailors simply pass out on the floor. Destin Smish, the Creaky Hammock’s innkeeper, makes sure to turn such guests on their sides, so they don’t choke to death on their own vomit.
M7. Eodred’s Square: Forming a plaza just past the west end of High Bridge, the square makes a popular landmark that locals and visitors alike use to set up meetings or simply orient themselves within the ward.
M8. Pestico’s Dolls and Figurines: A doddering but gentle old man little more than a loud noise away from the grave, Vadid Pestico has lived and worked his entire life in Korvosa, crafting exquisite dolls for the city’s children. He and Kiristi, his sculptor wife (who provided the figurines in the store’s name), lamented their own lack of children. When she suddenly died 10 years ago, he embarked on an ambitious project only recently unveiled: a group of six lifelike balljoint dolls he calls his Daughters. A secret dabbler in arcane magic, Pestico imbued his Daughters with a spark of life, and they serve now in his shop, bringing curious customers in numbers he has not seen for decades.
Recently, one of Pestico’s Daughters disappeared. Perhaps coincidentally, a string of unexplained murders began shortly thereafter near the doll shop. So far, the watch has kept the killings mostly hidden from the public, as all the victims have been Empties who no one apparently misses (drifters, beggars, gang members, and the like).
|The following costs are averages that vary by size.|
|House (Slope)||30,000 gp|
|Townhouse (Slope)||20,000 gp|
|Townhouse (High Bridge)||10,000 gp|
|Townhouse (Pillar Hill)||15,000 gp|
|Apartment Suite (Slope)||5,000–20,000 gp|
|Apartment Suite (High Bridge)||2,000–8,000 gp|
|Apartment Suite (Pillar Hill)||4,000–12,000 gp|
|Apartment Suite (West Dock)||2,000–6,000 gp|
|Rent per Month|
|House (Slope)||100 gp|
|Apartment Suite (Slope)||15–60 gp|
|Apartment Suite (High Bridge)||7–26 gp|
|Apartment Suite (Pillar Hill)||15–35 gp|
|Apartment Suite (West Dock)||6–18 gp|
|Tenement Flat (High Bridge)||4–13 gp|
|Tenement Flat (West Dock)||3–9 gp|
|Studio (Slope)||5–20 gp|
|Studio (High Bridge)||3–8 gp|
|Studio (Pillar Hill)||5–12 gp|
|Studio (West Dock)||2–6 gp|