Old Town Defenders
The City of Korvosa - an Overview
Originally a rugged frontier outpost for the Chelish Empire, Korvosa has since grown into an international trading hub and academic hotspot. It is strategically located off the coast of Conqueror’s Bay at the estuary of the Jeggare River, and the inhabitants of this bustling port consider it Varisia’s most influential city. Despite being burdened with a draconian legal system, beset by corruption, and crawling with danger, Korvosa nonetheless continues to draw fortune-seekers and starry-eyed adepts in droves.
At first blush, Korvosa seems the ideal cosmopolitan trading hub. Merchants of all kinds deftly exchange metalwork, seafood, illicit drugs, raw resources, and imports from the cosmopolitan south. Top-notch academies, both magical and mundane, draw sharp minds to the city. Scores of dedicated Chelish soldiers seek to further their training with the hippogriff-mounted Sable Company marines or intimidating Hellknights of the Order of the Nail. However, just under the hustle and bustle the city teems with danger and decay. Stringent anti-union laws prevent laborers from organizing, otyughs wallow in poorly drained sewers, the magical academies are preoccupied with devil summoning, and undead besiege the cemeteries. Vile denizens inhabit the city’s dilapidated rooftops, and violent crime renders some districts largely impassable. The vast majority of Korvosans eke out livings as dockworkers, strikebreakers, shopkeepers, servants, and petty thieves. Despite all the trade, widespread poverty afflicts several of the city’s districts, and many of Korvosa’s underclass won’t hesitate to take advantage of an unsuspecting out-of-towner.
The city of Korvosa wears its Chelish heritage proudly on its every building, tower, and rooftop. As the oldest human settlement in the lands of Varisia, Korvosa considers itself the founding seat of civilization in an otherwise lawless region. Thanks to it and the spread of its people, Varisia has become a relatively safe place to live. Korvosa also calls itself the largest city in Varisia, and while this remains true, it once housed even more people than it does now. This shrinking of its population has left some parts of the city (particularly those near the southern end of the hill) underpopulated, even as the poorest members of society crush together in Old Korvosa.
Korvosa sits at the end of Conqueror’s Bay, where the Jeggare River spills into the sea. The city fills the spit of land formed by two sharp turns in the Jeggare River and Endrin Isle (which splits the river at its mouth), with a few outlying areas on the far shore of the Jeggare. It stands on two hills: Garrison Hill on Endrin Isle and Citadel Hill on the mainland. The Narrows of Saint Alika separates Endrin Isle from the shore. Off the coast of the southern end of Citadel Hill rises Jeggare Isle, a small rock that juts from the sea and provides a foundation for Palin’s Lighthouse.
Five landmarks give Korvosa a distinctive skyline. Three of these landmarks exist on a truly colossal scale and have survived for millennia. Castle Korvosa stands atop a massive pyramid that rises to a flattened top. The Pillar Wall stretches across most of the southern end of Citadel Hill, a 100-foot-tall remainder of what once must have been a magnificent barrier. Just beyond the western terminus of the Pillar Wall stands the Gatefoot, which obviously originally belonged to a part of the wall and that likely served as part of a gateway of some kind. The other two landmarks, while impressive, do not come close to the size or grandeur of the ruins. Standing at the northernmost point of the Merciless Cliffs, the Great Tower reaches 270 feet in the air and serves several military roles for the city. Directly south of it stands the equally impressive Hall of Summoning, the center of operations for the Acadamae.
Besides its impressive landmarks, Korvosa’s other famed man-made features include its impressive walls (ruined and otherwise), its beautiful bridges, and its famed Vaults. These it points to with pride, but not all of its distinctive features attract the attention of potential visitors and residents. Chief among the shameful features is the rooftop area of the city known as the Shingles, which serves as both a highway for bandits and a refuge for monsters, thieves, and other undesirables.
Major sections of Korvosa are:
The Gray District
Heights District: Acadamae, Castle Korvosa, Citadel Crest, Cliffside, University
Midland: Citadel Volshyenek, High Bridge, Pillar Hill, Slope, West Dock
North Point: Five Corners, Mainshore, Northgate, Ridgefield
Old Korvosa: Bridgefront, Fort Korvosa, Garrison Hill, Old Dock