CS' Curse of the Crimson Throne 5E
Races in Korvosa
Every civilized humanoid race in Aethar has at least one representative somewhere in Korvosa, usually within Midland District. Make no mistake, though: despite its cosmopolitan leanings, Korvosa is definitely a human city.
Humans: Look at any cross-section of the city’s population and you will find that for every 10 inhabitants you see, 9 are human. This homogeny exists even among the humans of the city, as an equally large percentage of the population descends, at least partially, from Cheliax.
The largest ethnic minority in the city, pure-blooded Zingarans, barely represents 1 human in 10, although more than half of the city’s population possesses some Zingaran blood. Zingaran mothers in the city are more than twice as likely to birth half-Chelaxian offspring as pureblooded Zingaran offspring. Ethnic Chelaxians consider pureblood Zingarans little more than brightly dressed thieves and murderers, and prejudice against the group sometimes flares into ugly lynchings or quasi-legal evictions from homes. Zingarans find themselves in an unenviable cycle: the Chelaxian majority alienates them and forces them into the city’s crime-ridden impoverished wards, where they frequently must steal to survive, which only serves to fuel the alienation and prejudice leveled at them. In a misguided effort to halt this spiral of degeneration, bureaucrats acting under the orders of the monarchy have recently begun a program that removes half-Chelaxian children from their Zingaran mothers. They place these children in one of the five orphanages throughout the city, with the hope of making them into respectable, upstanding citizens of the city.
Despite their proximity to Korvosa and the area’s importance to their folklore, a surprisingly small number of Shoanti live in the city. Part of this owes to the constant wars between the Shoanti and the ethnic Chelaxians that continue even to this day and that color the perceptions and prejudices of both peoples. Another reason derives from Shoanti cultural tradition: as a seminomadic people, they have no need for permanent settlements. Whenever Shoanti raiders strike at the city, the ethnic Shoanti of the city become defensive and withdrawn, as history has shown an increase in “unexplained” murders of Shoanti following such incidents. Despite all these terrible difficulties, some Shoanti continue to negotiate with the city’s leadership in a seemingly endless series of peace talks that have lasted for more than a decade. Others live nearby, in a copse of trees known as Skaldwood, attempting to bridge the gap between urban life and their traditional lifestyle. As Skaldwood is a sacred place to the Shoanti, a century-old treaty with the city allows the Shoanti to live within the wood, so long as the residents of that encampment do not harbor raiders or fugitives (Shoanti or not).
Andurin’s other human ethnic groups can claim only a handful of representatives at best. Several, though, simply do not exist within the city.
Dwarves: The dwarves of Janderhoff frequently send massive convoys of wagons loaded with large slabs of black marble. Behind these marble wagons come carts filled with dwarven worked goods: metal and stone weapons, metal armors, tools of all kinds, and statuary.
Because of their contracts with the city and the noble houses, the dwarves always have buyers lined up for their black marble. Once their contracted buyers choose the stone pieces they want, the dwarves sell the rest (if any remains) in Gold Market. The remainder of their goods, particularly their weapons and armors, they sell in the Dock Trade. Dwarven brokers exist in all of the city’s major markets. These brokers gladly relay requests back to Janderhoff for interested buyers, and once the desired goods come in the brokers contact the buyers to let them know.
Elves: Almost as rare as druids in Korvosa, the handful of elves here all hail from the Mierani Forest. The leader among these elves, Perishial Kalissreavil, serves as the Mierani ambassador. Because of the distance between the two groups and lack of overlapping—and thus conflicting—agendas, Korvosa and the Mierani Forest elves successfully struck a peace accord almost a full century ago. Ever since, an ambassador and a handful of his aides or family members have lived peacefully within the city. A small enclave specifically built for the elves exists in South Shore.
Gnomes: These small descendants of the fey possess magic abilities far exceeding their size. This natural inclination toward magic attracts the attention of the power-hungry and reputation-minded Acadamae. Almost every gnome in Korvosa comes to the city to attend the Acadamae. Those who come for other reasons receive frequent invitations to join, either as students or faculty, regardless of the number of times they decline or their lack of magical ability. Gnome students of the Acadamae study all branches of magic, including the college’s school of focus, conjuration, but they seem to excel as illusionists. All four of the illusion instructors in the school are gnomes. Outside of the Acadamae, gnomes live as gnomes do, clumsily attempting to emulate the larger races and acting as menaces not to be ignored.
Half-Elves: Bored young women of the human noble families occasionally approach the Mierani enclave looking for an adventurous rendezvous with someone exotic and beautiful. Rather lustful himself, Perishial welcomes these trysts with bemused pleasure and claims each one strengthens the bonds between Korvosa and the Mierani elves. In his years as a diplomat, Perishial has fathered countless half-elf offspring in this way, while the male members of his entourage have collectively contributed to dozens more. Male human nobles looking for a similar exploit with one of the beautiful female elves are universally mocked, belittled, and rejected.
Half-Orcs: Many Shoanti live in close proximity to the orcs of Gruush’kal, resulting in an almost constant state of battle between the two groups. These battles sometimes grow exceedingly personal, resulting in the occasional half-orc. Few of these half-orcs survive to adulthood, and fewer still live among their human cousins. Despite that, a handful of half-orcs make their homes in Korvosa. Except for a bouncer at the Posh and Turtle, a bodyguard for Eliasia Leroung, and a few other notables, most half-orcs live in Old Korvosa.
Halflings: In order to maximize its profits gained from ship-borne cargo, House Leroung began the practice of hiring halfling sailors (the house also experimented with gnome sailors, but that ended poorly). Halflings require half as much space and food, so House Leroung reasoned it could use that extra space for additional cargo. At first, the humansized sailors laughed and mocked their smaller comrades, but over time the experiment paid off, as the dexterous halflings performed beyond expectations. Eventually, House Leroung entered a partnership with House Jeggare to build cargo ships with controls and amenities sized solely for halflings, allowing for all-halfling crews.
The other houses (with the pointed exception of House Arkona) bought these halfling-sized ships from Leroung and filled their crews with halfling sailors. Over the years, the halflings have retained this niche the humans carved for them, expanding as necessary as the city grew. Today, nearly half the ships that belong to the city’s elite are sized for and crewed by halflings.
Tieflings: A surprisingly large number of tieflings live in Korvosa. Nearly every one lives at and works for the Acadamae, where they serve as the college’s own private militia. The arrival of tieflings in the Acadamae followed almost two decades after it embraced the infernal influences coming from Cheliax. While they command respect (and fear) within the dark grounds of the Acadamae, beyond the black walls of the college tieflings are rarely welcome, accepted, or tolerated.