Rise of the Runelords
LN large city
Corruption + 2; Crime + 0; Economy + 4; Law + 5; Lore + 4; Society + 0; Danger + 10
Qualities academic, holy site, magically attuned, prosperous, strategic location
Government overlord (monarch)
Population 18,486 (16,637 humans, 739 dwarves, 371 elves, 369 halflings, 184 half-elves, 186 other)
Swordmistress Sabina Merrin (female human fighter)
Headmaster Toff Ornelos (male human aristocrat/wizard)
Field Marshall Cressida Kroft (female human aristocrat/ fighter)
Base Value 12,800 gp; Purchase Limit 85,000 gp; Spellcasting 9th; Minor Items 4d4; Medium Items 3d4; Major Items 2d4
Originally a rugged frontier outpost for the Chelish Empire, Korvosa has since grown into an international trading hub and academic hotspot. It is strategically located off the coast of Conqueror’s Bay at the estuary of the Jeggare River, and the inhabitants of this bustling port consider it Varisia’s most influential city. Despite being burdened with a draconian legal system, beset by corruption, and crawling with danger, Korvosa nonetheless continues to draw fortune-seekers and starry-eyed adepts in droves.
At first blush, Korvosa seems the ideal cosmopolitan trading hub. Merchants of all kinds deftly exchange metalwork, seafood, illicit drugs, raw resources, and imports from the cosmopolitan south. Top-notch academies, both magical and mundane, draw sharp minds to the city. Scores of dedicated Chelish soldiers seek to further their training with the hippogriff-mounted Sable Company marines or intimidating Hellknights of the Order of the Nail. However, just under the hustle and bustle the city teems with danger and decay. Stringent anti-union laws prevent laborers from organizing, otyughs wallow in poorly drained sewers, the magical academies are preoccupied with devil summoning, and undead besiege the cemeteries. Vile denizens inhabit the city’s dilapidated rooftops, and violent crime renders some districts largely impassable. The vast majority of Korvosans eke out livings as dockworkers, strikebreakers, shopkeepers, servants, and petty thieves. Despite all the trade, widespread poverty afflicts several of the city’s districts, and many of Korvosa’s underclass won’t hesitate to take advantage of an unsuspecting out-of-towner.
The distinct architecture of the city is predominated by the famous Acadamae, which teaches all schools of magic, though it places particular emphasis on conjuration. This leads many to suspect that the devil-summoning practices of its founders continue to this day. They find it difficult to verify these suspicions, however, as the Acadamae keeps entirely secluded. It allows public access only during the Breaching, a festival in which contestants attempt to win a prize by bypassing the spells that fortify the Hall of Wards.
N large city
Corruption + 2; Crime + 2; Economy + 5; Law + 2; Lore + 6; Society + 1; Danger + 10
Qualities academic, prosperous, rumor mongering citizens, strategic location, tourist attraction
Government autocracy (lord-mayor)
Population 16,428 (13,307 humans, 821 halflings, 659 dwarves, 655 elves, 493 gnomes, 166 half-elves, 164 half orcs, 163 other)
Lord-Mayor Haldmeer Grobaras (male human aristocrat)
Base Value 12,800 gp; Purchase Limit 75,000 gp; Spellcasting 8th; Minor Items 4d4; Medium Items 3d4; Major Items 2d4
A seaside city built around the ruins of the massive bridge called the Irespan, Magnimar welcomes visitors from all walks of life to pursue wealth and prosperity. Split in two by an enormous cliff known as the Seacleft, the topography of the City of Monuments mirrors the distribution of wealth among its citizens—the cliffs of the Summit host the city’s wealthy, the common folk make their homes in the Shore below, and the most desperate and depraved keep to the Shadow beneath the Irespan.
Trade reigns supreme in the City of Monuments. The dual leadership of the greedy Lord-Mayor Grobaras and the elected Council of Ushers imposes but a handful of laws, most of which promote fairness in trade without compromising personal freedoms. Violent crime is rare, and most infractions are of a financial nature—break-ins, smuggling, and confidence tricks—largely perpetrated by the city’s various Sczarni crime families. While the constant squabbling among the council often stifles governmental efficiency, Magnimar continues to expand at a rate unequalled in Varisia.
Perhaps the most noticeable feature of Magnimar is its sheer number of statues, sculptures,and monuments, many of which are said to have magical properties bestowed by the city’s founders and past heroes. Magical construction thrives in modern times too, with the golems and other constructs designed at the city’s famous Golemworks, as well as the creations of the esteemed diviner’s academy called the Stone of the Seers.
Unlike Korvosa to the east, Magnimar welcomes the region’s native Varisians and Shoanti, though many of the city’s ethnically Chelish elite still quietly harbor racial prejudice against them. The semi-permanent population of Varisians in Magnimar is larger than anywhere else in the region, and many Shoanti find their survivalist skills most welcome in the hippodrome known as Serpent’s Run.
CN large city
Corruption + 2; Crime + 4; Economy + 5; Law – 1; Lore + 1;
Society + 6; Danger + 20
Qualities academic, notorious, prosperous, strategic location, tourist attraction;
Government council (overlord and 8 crimelords)
Population 13,300 (10,241 humans, 931 dwarves, 665 half-elves, 532 half-orcs, 399 tieflings, 266 halflings, 134 gnomes, 132 other)
Elias Tammerhawk, Head of the Order of Cyphers (male human diviner)
Overlord Gaston Cromarcky (male human fighter/expert)
Base Value 30,400 gp; Purchase Limit 100,000 gp; Spellcasting 8th; Minor Items 4d4; Medium Items 3d4; Major Items 2d4
Riddleport runs with the blood and booze of countless bar brawls, and it jingles to the tune of coins sliding from greasy purse to greasy palm. It’s a city of pirates, smugglers, gamblers, those who seek to make names for themselves, and those who wish to become invisible. It is a place where fortunes are shaped with the turn of a card, and good deeds rarely rewarded with anything but a knife in the back.
The Cyphergate—a breathtaking 700-foot-tall arch of rune-engraved stone—spans the entrance to the perilous Riddleport Harbor. Built to the north of this ancient monument, the sodden, filth-ridden city of Riddleport clings to the riverbank, its bustling port constantly clogged with pirate ships and bold merchant galleys. The city has enjoyed a measure of stability in recent years, thanks in no small part to Gaston Cromarcky, its current overlord. Cromarcky funds his hired force of brutal gendarmes through trade taxes he raised, and their guardianship over the fetid streets has brought a semblance of order to the City of Cyphers. Few say that the port is safe, but at least open murders have largely been replaced by private assassinations.
Wealth endlessly changes hands in Riddleport, whether by the rare adamantine-smelting trade of the Gas Forges, in the gambling houses of the Free-Coin District, via expeditions undertaken by the academic Order of Cyphers as they seek to reveal the mysteries of the Cyphergate, in the sprawling brothels of Rotgut, or by the unskilled labor done in the camps of Lubbertown. While Magnimar might consider itself the center of civilized free trade in Varisia, Riddleport is more than happy to accommodate the rest. It’s messy and it’s dangerous, but for those who make their home in the City of Cyphers, the system works.
LG large city
Corruption + 0; Crime + 1; Economy + 4; Law + 2; Lore + 0; Society + 7; Danger + 10
Qualities holy site, insular, prosperous, racially intolerant (halforcs, orcs), strategic location;
Population 10,230 (8,223 dwarves, 1,354 humans, 402 halflings, 141 gnomes, 110 other)
High Councilor Nils Igmargun (male dwarf aristocrat)
Base Value 11,200 gp; Purchase Limit 75,000 gp; Spellcasting 7th; Minor Items 4d4; Medium Items 3d4; Major Items 2d4
One of the few Sky Citadels still populated by dwarves, Janderhoff sits at the base of the forbidding Mindspin Mountains. Predominantly subterranean, Janderhoff has earned a reputation for fine metalwork, transnational trade, and dwarven culture.
Mining is the predominant industry in this hulking city, and thick veins of copper, iron, silver, and black marble fuel its robust economy. Every year the dwarven miners also produce a small amount of mithral—a rarity they keep to themselves. Centuries of experience have honed the city’s metalworking industry, and smiths from Janderhoff are renowned for their skill.
Janderhoff trades heavily with Korvosa, which provides the tunnel-dwellers with their only shipping outlet. The dwarves also act as an intermediary between the Korvosans and their bitter rivals, the Shoanti. This frequently forces the dwarves to serve as diplomatic go betweens— dwarven envoys must often defuse tense situations in order to maintain the peace between these valuable trading partners.
As a Sky Citadel, the city of Janderhoff is a hotspot for dwarven culture and religion. Worship of Torag, god of the forge, is especially prevalent, and Janderhoff boasts one of the largest holy forges in Varisia. The temple’s forge is said to produce some of the finest weaponry on Golarion, and only master smiths are allowed the honor of working its bellows.
CN small city
Corruption + 5; Crime + 7; Economy – 1; Law – 6; Lore + 2; Society – 3; Danger + 35
Qualities magically attuned, notorious, prosperous, strategic location;
Population 8,000 (5,500 humans, 500 halflings, 400 dwarves, 400 halfelves, 400 half-orcs, 200 gnomes, 100 elves, 100 orcs, 75 trolls, 50 centaurs, 50 goblins, 50 nagas, 175 others)
Notable NPCs various (see City of Strangers)
Base Value 7,600 gp; Purchase Limit 55,000 gp; Spellcasting 8th; Minor Items 4d4; Medium Items 3d4; Major Items 1d6
Famous as a city of outcasts, Kaer Maga welcomes all those who don’t fit into the nations of their birth. Necromancers, escaped slaves, exiled nobles, mysterious cultists, and others all rub shoulders openly in the city, free of censure by any overarching authority. Some of these are so unusual they’ve become local legends, such as troll Augurs who read the future in their own entrails, obese bloatmages who fill themselves with magical blood, or Sweet-talkers who prevent blasphemy by sewing their own lips shut.
Physically, Kaer Maga is also an oddity: a huge stone hexagon with an origin lost to the ages. For untold generations, Kaer Magans have lived inside the monument’s stone ring, building a bewildering warren of corridors and artificial caverns that honeycomb the structure. Rather than having any formal government, the city is ruled by a constantly changing collection of gangs, guilds, families, and factions, all of whom control their own turfs and maintain the balance of power through the application of both treaties and back-alley knifework.
In addition to the city proper, Kaer Maga also boasts an extensive network of subterranean passages called the Undercity, which is known to be infested by all manner of terrible creatures, yet also boast relics and magical discoveries long lost to the surface world.