Founded as a fortress charged with pacifying the land, the city of Korvosa has endured numerous hardships in its 300 years of existence. Despite (or because of) that, the city continues to prosper. This cast-off colony of infernal Cheliax is famous for its imposing Castle Korvosa, its renowned Acadamae, its extensive Vaults, and the frequent high-altitude clashes of imps and pseudodragons. Adventure awaits brave residents and visitors within, beneath, and even above the city. From the otyugh-infested sewers of Old Korvosa to the ever-shifting makeshift paths of the Shingles, Korvosa offers all manner of opportunities for mischief and glory..
Korvosa began 300 years ago, when the Empire of Cheliax expanded north into Varisia. Here, the Chelaxians found a large tribe of Shoanti barbarians dwelling around an immense pyramid on the shores of a deep bay—a perfect site for a city. Much bloodshed eventually left the Shoanti defeated, driven back to the harsh Cinderlands, and the city that grew on the site was named after the field marshal who led his army to victory there. The city now commands its own destiny and a line of Korvosan kings and queens has emerged to rule the city, establishing an infamous seat power—the Crimson Throne.
Rulers have sat upon the Crimson Throne for more than a century, and the city has flourished. Yet the monarchy always seems on the brink of disaster. The Crimson Throne is not a prize to be won—it is a curse. No monarch of Korvosa has died of old age, and none have produced an heir while ruling. Even though King Eodred II controls Korvosa more fully than any previous monarch, that control remains tenuous, and many secretly count the days until their latest king falls to what they call the Curse of the Crimson Throne.
Today, Korvosa’s reigning King Eodred Arabasti II is feared by all the right people. His rule is steady, even if his insatiate appetites drain the city’s coffers. His ability to navigate the rocks and shoals of Chelish diplomacy earned the city favorable trade agreements with the Old Empire, but rumors persisted of the king’s womanizing habits and his spendthrift ways. Despite his fondness for a soft touch, he has to date produced no heir to the throne, the latest in a line of rulers affected by the Curse of the Crimson Throne. Edicts proclaim Eodred II the Saffron King, likening his reign to one of abundance, in which honey and spice flood the markets. The city’s downtrodden have another name for Eodred, though—the Stirge King, a man whose squandering ways are slowly bleeding his city dry.
Whispers of Eodred II’s taste for scandalously young companionship have dogged the king throughout his rule, and thus when he finally wed, it was no surprise that his bride was barely a third of his age. Queen Ileosa was a woman of breathtaking beauty, with red hair like the sunset, chaste alabaster skin, and features so fetching many claimed her mother must have been a nymph queen, as surely no mortal woman could give birth to a beauty such as she.
But now the King is ailing and all attempts at healing him are proving fruitless. Korvosa’s nobles worry of the dangers of having an untested trophy wife within reach of the Crimson Throne. Ileosa’s interest in the city seems secondary to the life of luxury and she has always been content to leave matters of state in the hands of Seneschal Neolandus Kalepopolis who guards the interests of Castle Korvosa and the noble families.