|Local Ruler||Kaius III|
The weight of age is apparent even as you pass under the gates and enter Korth. Many of the stone buildings here appear thousands of years old, their crumbling edifices displaying the decorative arts of a bygone age. And the buildings are as massive as they are old. Many take up entire city blocks and stretch to fill the sky.
Karrnath has a number of large cities, but only one true metropolis: Korth, the capital city and heart of the nation. Korth suffered sieges from both Aundair (939– 940) and Cyre (936 and 971–973), but it never fell to the invaders—a fact that fills Korth residents with pride. But siege weapons damaged large swaths of the city, and Kaius used the rebuilding opportunity to unsnarl many of the tangled streets and add a semblance of order to one of Khorvaire’s oldest cities. Now Korth has five main wards: Highcourt, Temple, Commerce, Community, and the Low District. The riverside bluffs on which Korth was built provide natural borders between one district and the next.
Leadership: Fundamentally, King Kaius III runs Korth just as he runs Karrnath. He leaves the day-to-day functioning of the city to his Civic Minister, Hyran ir’Tennet. The Civic Minister’s authority doesn’t extend to the city watch; the city’s garrison, known as the White Lions of Korth, is under the command of General Thauram
Each of Korth’s five wards has features of interest to adventurers, whether they seek an audience with the king or black-market identity papers.
The Gates: The PCs’ first contact with the White Lions and their first glimpse inside Korth’s walls takes place at one of four places: Westgate (the terminus of the road from Rekkenmark), Northgate (the terminus of the lightning rail), Eastgate (the terminus of the road from Karrlakton), and Rivergate (a customs house on the dock, rather than a gate per se). Each gate has scores of White Lion soldiers on duty at all times, a not so subtle reminder for travelers of Karrnath’s umbrella of martial law. But it takes only minutes to pass a cursory check of travel papers, and even merchants bearing taxable goods can usually get beyond the gate in less than an hour. From the docks near Rivergate, sailing ships leaving every 2-24 hours for the following destinations: Rekkenmark (7 days, 10.5 gp), Karrlakton (13 days, 19 gp), Thaliost (14 days, 20 gp), Flamekeep (8 days, 12 gp). House Lyrandar galleons leave every 1d3 days for Regalport (25 days, 1,800 gp), and Stormhome (7 days, 500 gp). Ships bound for other destinations leave less frequently, and chartered ships are also available. Lightning rails depart Northgate every 1-12 hours for Rekkenmark (128 miles, 4.25 hours, 64 gp) and every 1d6 hours for Atur (274 miles, 9.25 hours, 137 gp), Vedykar (522 miles, 17.5 hours, 261 gp), and Fort Zombie (778 miles, 1.1 days, 389 gp). Two other gates, Southgate and Holygate, exist, but they aren’t ordinarily open. Southgate, near the king’s palace at Crownhome, is opened only for ceremonial parades. Clerics of the Sovereign Host magically fused shut Holygate in the northeast during the 973 YK siege, and it hasn’t reopened yet.
Crownhome: On King’s Hill in the Highcourt Ward is the fortress-palace of Crownhome where Kaius rules. Built like a massive wall between two towering rock spires, Crownhome is as much military base as it is residence or seat of government. More than a thousand soldiers are garrisoned here, including elements of the White Lions city guard and the Conqueror’s Host, the king’s royal guard. The towers and roofs bristle with magical siege engines capable of reaching a full mile from the city walls. Kaius’s audience chamber is rather austere, but it’s designed to put visitors off their guard. Elite guards escort visitors through a labyrinth of twisting corridors. When they climb a final set of stairs into the throne room, they find they’ve emerged from underneath Kaius’s iron throne (a gift from the Mror dwarves) and now stand with him above and behind them. Maps of Khorvaire cover every wall, and a board for the chesslike game of conqueror sits at Kaius’s right hand. The throne room is strictly for official audiences; Kaius takes no entertainment there, and his ceremonial duties are few. The queen rarely uses this chamber; she has a pleasant, tapestry-filled audience chamber of her own. The east wing of Crownhome is the residence for the royal family, and it’s also where Kaius keeps the harem of young Karrns he feeds from. A sect within the Blood of Vol supplies cultists for the harem, cultists who follow Kaius instead of Vol. The warforged Beauty (LN female personality warforged fighter 7) guards the harem and serves Kaius faithfully. As part of the exchange of relatives with the other Five Nations, Kaius has sent his younger brother and sister, Gaius and Haydith, to the courts of his neighbors. In truth, he has done this as much to promote diplomacy as to get the younger siblings (who are really his greatgrandchildren) out of the way so they can’t stumble unto the truth of the situation—that this Kaius isn’t really their brother, but their great-grandfather. Gaius is in Thrane, studying with the Keeper of the Flame, while Haydith has found a place within Breland’s royal household.
Tower of the Twelve: Floating above the center of the lightly wooded Wollvern Park is the Tower of the Twelve, a magicians’ college where the dragonmarked houses send their best and brightest. This thirteenfloor tower (with one empty floor to memorialize the lost Mark of Death) is full of classrooms, libraries, and laboratories devoted to arcane research. The Tower of the Twelve is the primary rival to the Arcane Congress, but only those affiliated with a dragonmarked house can enter and study within.
Cathedral to the Sovereign Host: After the Treaty of Thronehold, Prelate Roerith (described below) led the reconstruction of Korth’s Cathedral to the Sovereign Host, a massive house of worship at the heart of the Temple Ward. Travelers come from miles around to worship there and see the Dome of the Twelve Moons, the inside of which has a magically animated starscape said to predict the future.
Lair of the Midwife: In Korth’s Low District is an unassuming curio shop in a ramshackle building. Underneath a trapdoor within that shop is a fortified sequence of rooms. And those underground chambers are home to a criminal gang led by the master forger known as the Midwife. The Midwife’s gang numbers less than two dozen, so she relies on an extensive network of traps to protect herself. Pits, poison darts, magic glyphs and symbols, and a host of other traps guard every door and every 10- foot section of hallway within the Mid wife’s Lair.
Caves of the Skeletal Hand: Within the bluffs that mark the eastern edge of the Community Ward are a series of muddy caves, each marked with a Huge skeletal hand that emerges from the earthen bluff. The caves were used to store food and water during the Last War, but the White Lions emptied them out when the war ended. Last year, a tribe of goblins affiliated with the Dhakaan moved in, claiming the caves as their historic home from when the Dhakaani Empire was extant, more than six thousand years ago. The goblins negotiated an agreement with Civic Minister Hyran and have further excavated and remodeled the caves. But bands of goblins have been harassing citizens of Korth at night, and nearby residents and shopkeepers worry that the goblins are trying to establish a claim to more of the ward. Everyone suspects that the goblins are behind a series of kidnappings and disappearances. If adventurers were to drive off the goblins, they’d receive a sizable reward from grateful merchants and residents in the area.
Korth is home to Karrns of every race and class. Among those the PCs will interact with are the following NPCs.
Prelate Roerith: NG female human cleric 10. The most powerful cleric in Korth is Prelate Alinda Roerith, unless a high priest of the Blood of Vol is in the city on some secret errand. Roerith remained in Korth throughout the Cyran siege in the early 970s YK, heedless of her own safety as she healed fallen defenders atop the walls. Accordingly, she’s one of the city’s greatest heroes. Roerith urges Sovereign Host followers to oppose the Blood of Vol whenever possible. She sees the cult as a rival faith capable of stealing followers of the Sovereign Host, but she has no idea of its true nature. Like most in Karrnath, she sees the Blood of Vol as a nothing more than an ancient cult devoted to bloodline, heritage, and the mysteries of death. Prelate Roerith sponsors missions that oppose the Blood of Vol in some way, but she has to be circumspect because Vol worship is still popular in parts of Karrnath. If she learns the truth about the Blood of Vol, she’ll become much more militant in her opposition—which is why the Blood of Vol has infiltrated her priesthood and is poised to assassinate her at a moment’s notice.
The Midwife: N female halfling rogue 1/wizard 9. Her clients call her the Midwife not because she assists in births, but because she gives birth to new identities as Khorvaire’s preeminent forger. The Midwife can flawlessly create realistic travel or identity papers. She’s also the inventor of the parchment of the cursory glance, a set of identity papers that seem to always show what the reader expects to see. The Midwife cares only about her continued safety and her vast fortune; she’ll sell forged papers to anyone and asks no unnecessary questions, as long as she can avoid trouble with the city watch.
General Thauram: LE male half-elf fighter 8. Yorin Thauram has been a loyal Karrn for all of his 130 years, and he’s fought in every major campaign in the Last War. Now he oversees the city’s defenses as the commander of the White Lions brigade, keeping the Code of Kaius and imposing military law. General Thauram is a hands-on commander and is almost always inspecting one unit or another. He’s alert to any disturbances within the city and often oversees arrests personally. Thauram also interrogates noteworthy prisoners before turning them over to the Justice Ministry for punishment. He’s been known to offer amnesty for criminals who agree to join the White Lions or perform some service for the city. As a young half-elf, Thauram was one of Kaius I’s royal bodyguards. He fi nds the current king’s resemblance to Kaius I to be remarkable and wonders whether Kaius III isn’t using magic to make himself appear more like his great-grandfather.
White Lions: Human fighter 1. A typical member of the White Lions has a breastplate, a longbow, and a greataxe. They patrol in groups of two to eight. Many are led by higher-level fighters, veterans of the Last War.