Curse of the Crimson Throne
“Not only couldn’t I imagine living anywhere else — I simply wouldn’t. I’m a good man, a faithful husband, a loving father, and a responsible citizen. What I do has a purpose — and that purpose is to keep Korvosa safe. It might not be a glamorous job, but it’s as important as anything else. So if you’re looking for trouble, might I suggest Magnimar or Kaer Maga? You’ll save yourself some hard labor and me a lot of paperwork if you do.”
—Captain Tevigant Bereskan, Korvosan Guard, South Shore Garrison
“Why do I live here? Why live in the most regimented, law-abiding, oppressive city this side of Bloodsworn Vale? Answer’s simple, mate. With the Sable Company flapping around in the clouds, Hellknights stomping around on the streets, and the Korvosan Guard caught between them, no one knows who’s got jurisdiction over what. You just gotta know when to hide and know when to bribe. Now, you wanna buy this magic dagger or not?”
—Corb “Birdtongue” Meever, Cerulean Society Fence
Day-to-Day Workings of the Law
The way the law works in Korvosa as seen by the eyes of the common people is thus: the Korvosan Guard takes care of specific local crimes and serves as a general military force, while the Sable Company defends Korvosa from more powerful forces, such as attacks on the city or devils accidentally loosed by the Acadamae. Both forces are trained and maintained by the noble Endrin family, whose men join the ranks at the Endrin Military Academy after their noble tutelage in teenage years. As such, the common folk generally look up to the Guard and the Company when in need, and the Endrin family is well-liked and respected.
Following the arrest of a criminal, Magistrates hold trial for bureaucratic cases while Arbiters, also called the “Hanging Judges”, hold trial for criminal cases. Arbiters are much more powerful than Magistrates, also holding the power to influence law-making and given the right to create their own amendments during adjudications.
New laws are typically issued by the monarch after a formal meeting of the Peerage Review. The five greater noble houses of Arkona, Jeggare, Leroung, Ornelos, and Zenderholm make up the Peerage Review and hold limited power over the monarchy in that a unanimous vote from all five houses can dethrone a monarch with the Seneschal’s approval. The Seneschal of Castle Korvosa is technically the owner of the Castle, and therefore the Seneschal is always the official who crowns a new monarch and serves as royal adviser. Should the monarch be unable or unwilling to attend a meeting of the Peerage Review, decisions can be made with a majority vote by the Peerage Review if they are approved by the Seneschal.
Ten Crimes and Punishments
Punishments for violent crimes in Korvosa are harsh, but the general populace considers them fair. Non-violent crimes carry differing punishments depending on the disposition of the criminal: A member of the thieves’ guild (the only legal guild in the city) or a registered gang might receive a lighter sentence than does a freelancer, depending on the crime in question.
The following selections of crimes and their punishments (listed in order they are applied) should not be construed as all-inclusive. Korvosa’s legal code fills multiple thick volumes.
- Treason Torture, death; no appeal
- Murder Torture, death; no appeal
- Rape Torture and castration, imprisonment (10–20 years), death; no appeal
- Armed Robbery Pay restitution or lose a hand, imprisonment (10–20 years)
- Arson Pay restitution or branding, imprisonment (10+ years); plus murder charge if fire kills
- Unionizing Branding, imprisonment (5–10 years); no appeal
- Accidental Death Pay restitution or torture, imprisonment (5–8 years)
- Robbery(t) Pay restitution or lose a hand, imprisonment (2–10 years), pay restitution
- Drug Use Imprisonment (4–6 months pre-trial, plus 2–3 years if guilty)
- Burglary(t) Pay restitution, imprisonment (1–2 years)
t: A member of the Cerulean Society (thieves’ guild) or a registered gang can expect to receive a lighter sentence of around half the common punishment for these crimes.
Though Korvosa considers itself a city-state with its own rule and law, its roots to Cheliax are undeniable. Many nobles have relatives in Cheliax, and as such rely on Chelish legal structure to form Korvosan laws. Some Chelish groups are turned to in times of desperation, such as the Order of the Nail, whose Lawful Hellknights mimic the organized armies of Hell, or the Red Mantis, an order of professional assassins whose reach across Golarion has no limit. Usually, such reliance upon Chelish ways is looked down upon or blatantly scorned by Korvosans, as they take great pride in their independence.