Curse of the Crimson Throne
Life in Korvosa
Like any other city, Korvosa has a few particular nuances that make it and its citizens unique. The following overview only begins to touch on what it means to be a Korvosan.
Those who live in Korvosa respect and admire ostentatious displays of wealth, power, or knowledge. They consider confidence and competence the greatest of assets, and they deride or heckle those who display weakness, indecisiveness, or inability. Korvosans are quick to judge and slow to forgive. A quick perusal of this book reveals that Korvosans like to capitalize their words. The people of Korvosa feel this trait gives them an air of greatness and importance.
In addition to power, Korvosans love predictability. They like to regulate their lives, creating strict regimens for themselves that they then slavishly follow. Upsetting a Korvosan's routine can ruin his entire day and likely makes him cranky. To this end, Korvosa strictly enforces its laws (which often have harsh punishments far in excess of the law codes of other non-evil governments) and rewards those who play by the rules. That said, Korvosa also recognizes that not everyone plays by the same rules, so it compensates by applying regulations to nonviolent criminals in the form of vice taxes (see Taxes) and official recognition of the city's single thieves' guild.
Regulation and law dominate Korvosa and how it lives. The city's charter, an officially sanctioned document created by Emperor Halleck IV of Cheliax in 4406, bears 247 amendments. These amendments add to the city's unbreakable laws (those which no leader can modify, except by additional amendment) and are considered as binding and official as the charter itself. In addition, a thick, multivolume body of work spells out Korvosa's many other laws and regulations, as well as the punishments for violating them.
Like everybody else, the people of Korvosa hate to pay taxes. The city does not cripple its inhabitants with taxes, but it does have a few notable fee structures.
Any dinghy, boat, or ship that docks in Korvosa must pay a dock fee. The fee ranges from 1 sp to 100 gp depending on the size of the vessel and the location of the dock. Only 20% of this fee goes to the city—the dock's owner takes the rest.
Korvosa's high property tax is based on an outdated system that calculates it based on the square footage of a building's ground floor. A convoluted formula modifies this simple conceit by accounting for multistory buildings, additional residents, and a mixture of uses within the same building.
Because the care and feeding of sins and vices comprises a healthy percentage of the city's underworld operations, and because taxing them directly is far too difficult, the city recently enacted vice taxes. Those who practice such activities gain amnesty from prosecution if they claim the income and pay the proper dues. Violent crimes never gain amnesty from this program.
By charter amendment, Korvosa does not allow merchants, laborers, or tradesmen to form guilds (worse still, in workmen's eyes, it does allow for criminals to form a thieves' guild—currently the Cerulean Society). This practice prevents these groups from price-fixing, the city's main concern, and allows the city to maintain control over much of its labor force. Most workers within the city are self-employed or work for a master to whom they apprenticed in their youths. The city relies on these cottage industries and the skilled workers who make them profitable, so of course it has one entire volume of laws and regulations devoted to the protection and rights of workers. Thanks to the Korvosan drive to succeed, though, the city's merchants also do well for themselves.