Curse of the Crimson Throne
North Point, at the northwestern tip of mainland Korvosa, was the first section of the mainland settled by the descendants of the city’s Chelish founders. The district houses many of the city’s oldest non-noble families. North Point covers the entire northern end of the city and includes the wards Five Corners, Mainshore, Northgate, and Ridgefield. Korvosa’s seat of municipal power stands in North Point, as does the city’s courthouse and the Bank of Abadar.
Five Corners: This relatively crowded residential ward houses many of the city’s politicians and their underlings. The ward’s most distinguishing characteristic is Jeggare Circle, in the far northern corner. City historians frequently debate the origin of the ward’s name, with the two most popular schools of thought arguing that it relates to the number of other wards touching it or to the number of sides the ward has.
Mainshore: The first Chelish encampment on the mainland was in modern-day Mainshore. Three battles took place here between the Chelish settlers and Shoanti to establish control of the land. Following the third battle, the garrison erected a wood palisade, which a stone wall later replaced (sections of which still stand and mark the boundaries of the ward). Mainshore remembers the blood spilled to establish and hold it, and dozens of plaques, statues, and memorials pepper the ward. The city’s truly old money still resides in Mainshore, although many buildings not belonging to these wealthy non-noble families show their age.
Northgate: Many visitors from the rest of Varisia first enter Korvosa in Northgate, as it is to this ward that the Longriver Bridge connects. Many of Korvosa’s non-noble elites and old-money families live in Northgate, although such moneyed folk slowly relocate onto the slopes and summit of Citadel Hill. As a result, the property values of Northgate are in a slow but steady decline.
Ridgefield: This ward once overlooked the Merciless Cliffs to the south, before the formation of Citadel Crest. Despite losing any connection to the ridge, the ward kept its name. Today, Ridgefield faces the poorest and most crowded ward in the city, and it too is plagued with poverty. Ridgefield serves as home to the Korvosan landmarks of the Avenue of Arms and the Posh and Turtle. Regardless of the poverty that hounds it from across the strait, Ridgefield enjoys frequent but stilted economic growth and areas close to Citadel Crest and University are among the nicest in North Point. Ridgefield is, by far, the most economically diverse ward in the city.
N1. Laughing Wave Inn: Bearing Keyra Palin’s nickname as its own, the Laughing Wave is the oldest surviving inn on the mainland, being the only structure not razed by the Shoanti when they drove back the Chelish settlers during the Second Battle of Mainshore, in 4439.
In many ways, the Laughing Wave shows its age, from its rounded steps to its sagging balconies. It remains a favorite destination of visitors, however, thanks to its long history and the legends surrounding the Barbarian Princess, the ghost of a Shoanti woman said to appear three nights a year: on the solstices and on the night of the Riverwind Festival ( see the Ten Festivals and Holidays sidebar).
N2. The Dock Trade: This market of questionable legality operates in New Dock. Many of the goods sold within it appear freshly delivered, although most have some amount of minor damage to them. The Hellknights have for years attempted to link the wares sold in the Dock Trade with cargo reported missing from ship manifests. Their constant vigil has prevented the Dock Trade from growing much, and it remains the smallest of Korvosa’s open markets.
In addition to the vigilant Hellknights, another group occasionally disrupts business in the market. A family of tame pseudodragons lives in the rafters of one of the Dock Trade’s converted warehouses. For the most part, the pseudodragons ignore the activity that occurs below them, hunting rats and other small but hated vermin. Every so often, though, a particularly succulent smell or shiny object attracts the interest of one or more of the small dragons. Once one notices, it inevitably draws the attention of its comrades, and the entire colony swoops down into the teeming human masses. While the pseudodragons never mean harm, their sudden appearance disrupts transactions and sometimes sends people into a panic. When this occurs, the Dock Trade’s guards arrive and drive off the diminutive dragons, who sullenly leave for several weeks (usually until the Dock Trade’s rat problem becomes so great its owners find the pseudodragons and beg them to return).
N3. Whitecaps: One of the oldest surviving inns on the mainland, Whitecaps is more than a century past its prime. It looks old, it smells old, and it even feels old once inside it. Despite its age and wear, though, Whitecaps remains a popular destination for visitors to the city. Whitecaps’s popularity comes not from any quality or service it provides, but rather for its reputation for being both clean and cheap. And secure. Thanks to high quality locks and thick doors, patrons of Whitecaps have reported only seven burglaries in its two-and-a-half centuries of existence.
Unfortunately, two of those reports have occurred in the past three months. The owners worry that the inn’s sparkling reputation for safety has attracted the attention of someone intent on disproving it. They have asked the Korvosan Guard to increase patrols near their establishment and have even hired a retired but half-deaf marine to act as an on-site security guard at night.
N4. Longacre Building: The last stop for the city’s most violent criminals, the imposing Longacre Building, also known as Arbiter’s Hall, houses the feared arbiters of Korvosa. Despite their frightful reputation, the arbiters only have the worst criminals executed. Violent crimes and crimes against the city of Korvosa or the state of Cheliax alone warrant the death penalty see the Ten Crimes and Punishments sidebar for examples of criminal punishments
Criminals sentenced to death are executed within the Longacre Building or in the Deathhead Vault beneath it. Executions within the building are carried out by hanging (always the humane neck-snapping method, never through slow strangulation) while messier beheadings (by razor-sharp axe) occur in the Vault below. Clerics of Abadar and Pharasma regularly patrol the building, as those executed here do not always remain completely dead. Next to the necropolis of Gray District, more undead come from Longacre Building than anywhere in the city.
Rumors persist that prisoners occasionally turn up missing from their cells under the building. While many people insist those who go missing simply escape, more ominous voices (particularly among those who work in the building) insist that something comes up from below to drag off the criminals. Stranger still, on rare occasions those who had disappeared just as suddenly reappear, usually years later and with only vague and nightmarish memories of the intervening time.
N5. City Hall: This large building, once the seat of governmental power in the city (prior to the creation of the monarchy), still houses the various ministries and the myriad offices of the growing bureaucracy. Built in the New White style of architecture (characterized by thick pillars, whitewashed facades, and rectangular windows), city hall shines as a beacon of pre-infernal Chelaxian tastes quite contrary to structures built since.
Within the great foyer, across from the main entry doors, hangs a massive 8-foot-by-13-foot painting. This painting, by famed artist Endrik Archerus, shows Field Marshal Korvosa meeting Sergeant Endrin atop the ruined earthworks of Fort Korvosa (and is rife with historical inaccuracies). Known as Breaking the Siege, it is by far the most famous painting in or of Korvosa.
N6. Bank of Abadar: More than just a temple to the god of cities, the Bank of Abadar also serves as the city’s main bank. The temple serves every banking need, such as security boxes (said to be the safest in Varisia), saving and investment accounts, loans, and even writs of credit. Beneath the temple, in well-guarded lead-lined chambers, the rumored Golden Vaults of Abadar house the Korvosan Mint. The mint creates all the coins issued by the city, of course, but it also helps to regulate the city’s economy by buying back or releasing gold in an effort to counter inflation or recession.
Archbanker Darb Tuttle and the clerics of Abadar work closely with the ministers of City Hall, the arbiters of the Longacre Building, and the Field Marshal of the Korvosan Guard. They love their city and work from every legal angle to protect it and support its continued growth.
N7. Three Rings Tavern: This quiet tavern belongs to retired adventurer and former Pathfinder Theandra Darklight (originally Theandra Mulnsk). Theandra earned enough coin as an adventurer to buy a decrepit tavern in Five Corners and fix up. A lithe beauty in her adventurous youth and starving childhood, Theandra took to the settled life with great gusto, and today she appears somewhere closer to matronly. Despite her indulgences, Theandra remains a good-natured and friendly person, ready to help a friend in need and always hungering for a tale of high adventure and daring-do. A few years ago, Theandra lost a few fingers when a bar brawl turned ugly, which led her to hire the half Shoanti barbarian Tauk Par as a bouncer.
Theandra likes to keep her bar low-keyed and quiet, serving as much coffee and tea as mead and wine. Tauk Par watches over the place like a hawk, eyeing regulars and newcomers alike with the same barely concealed dislike. In addition to its extensive variety of beverages—alcoholic and not—Three Rings also gathers a regular breakfast clientele with its Varisian sweetbreads and Gebbite cream-filled pastries.
N8. Sanctuary of Shelyn: The smallest of the independent temples in the city, the sanctuary of Shelyn ranks among Korvosa’s most beautiful buildings. This square building engulfs a small interior courtyard decorated with statuary, murals, and beautiful f lowering plants. Although crowded with artwork and plants of natural beauty, the sanctuary looks full but never cluttered.
N9. Avenue of Arms: This bizarre landmark of the city extends from just east of the Great Tower along the riverfront to Burnt Bridge Boulevard. All along the wide thoroughfare rise silent and unsettling sentinels that predate the Chelish settlers who came here three centuries ago.
These sentinels, exactly 127 human-looking stone arms, reach up from the rocky soil along the road at an even distance. No two arms look the same—some stick up straight, while others bend at the elbow; roughly a third of them hold a variety of rusting weapons, while almost another third hold stone representations of weapons; about a quarter of them look feminine, with the rest appearing masculine; and together they comprise more than a dozen kinds of stone. Despite variations, all of them have a few things in common: they face the same direction, with their elbows bending away from shore to point toward the road; they all look like the arms of human adults; none of them are damaged or look weathered at all; and they are evenly spaced at exactly 2 feet, 3-1/2 inches apart.
N10. Posh and Turtle: Situated at the west end of the famed but mysterious Avenue of Arms, the Posh and Turtle remains—as it has for more than a century—the finest inn and tavern in all of Korvosa. Upon entering the establishment, it is difficult not to notice the glass flooring overlooking a wide but shallow sea cave. Within the cave lives a 20-foot-long sea turtle named Old Tom, who grew too large to escape through the narrow opening back out to the ocean. Narrow grates between the 5-foot-square floor panes act as frames and allow patrons and the waitstaff to drop food to Old Tom. Thick iron bars form a latticework of protection a couple feet beneath the glass, preventing Old Tom from smashing his way through the floor. Three times per day, Thaviun Rigulus, the inn’s wizardly owner, magically cleans both Old Tom and the area of his sea cave directly below the inn to reduce the smell.
While Old Tom explains the Turtle part of the establishment’s name (and indeed, up until a decade ago it was simply known as the Turtle Inn), the Posh appellation is not nearly as obvious. Most guess it refers to the inn’s high-quality furnishings and appointments, from its gold-leaf flatware to the emerald-studded wine glasses reserved only for the very best wines. The name predates these fine accoutrements, however, and comes from a time when the Turtle Inn housed pesh dealers, giving rise to the phrase “the pesh in Turtle.” Over time, natural evolution from slur-mouthed pesh-addicts corrupted the saying to “the posh and Turtle.” When Thaviun bought the inn and infused it with gold earned while adventuring, he decided to adopt the local slang and change the inn’s name, hoping to upgrade its reputation and clientele. Over the past decade, he has succeed beyond even his wildest hopes.
Thaviun claims Posh and Turtle is the best inn north of Cheliax, an assertion that has created an unfriendly rivalry with the Goldlager in Magnimar. Rumors abound that the Goldlager’s owner, Brewmaster Rogehres Tarlo, has recently contacted the belligerent druids who prowl Korvosa’s docks. Indeed, the generally vocal but lazy druids have recently begun protesting in front of the Posh and Turtle, agitating for Old Tom’s release. On multiple occasions, the Korvosan Guard has had to forcefully remove the druids, who promise retribution against Thaviun.