Curse of the Crimson Throne
Welcome, Friend, to the remarkable city of Korvosa—Gateway to Varisia! The majesty of fair Korvosa marks it as one of the premiere cities of the world. Indeed, with the exception of magnificent Egorian—capital city of esteemed Cheliax—there is likely no greater city on, above, or within all of Golarion!
—Mercer Cucuteni, Magistrate of Tourism
Like the people of any other city, Korvosans concern themselves more with the day-to-day particulars of living than with politics, history, or macroeconomics. Still, 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.
At its height, just before the death of Aroden and the departure of the separatists who founded Magnimar, Korvosa just topped 23,000 inhabitants. It lost nearly 10,000 to the resulting chaos of the time, but in the last century it regained half that many. As a result of its rapid contraction and slow re-expansion, many of the aff luent sections of Korvosa remain underpopulated. With the buildings it has and the area it covers, Korvosa could comfortably fill out to a true metropolis.
The dichotomy of Korvosa's underpopulated affluent wards with overcrowded Old Korvosa highlights the city's greatest failing: the vast gulf of separation between its wealthy, powerful elite and its dreadfully impoverished poor. This gulf between social classes colors the development of the city and led to the creation of some of the features unique to Korvosa.
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.
In addition to power, Korvosans love predictability. Korvosans like to regulate their lives, creating strict regimens for themselves that they slavishly follow. Upsetting a Korvosan's routine can ruin his entire day and likely makes him angry. 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 and official recognition of the city's single thieves' guild.
By charter amendment, Korvosa does not allow merchants, laborers, or tradesmen to form guilds. Most workers within the city are self-employed or work for a master to whom they were apprenticed in their youths. The city relies on these cottage industries and the skilled workers who make them prof itable, so naturally it has one entire volume of laws and regulations devoted to the protection and rights of workers. And thanks to the Korvosan drive to succeed, the city's merchants do well for themselves.