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 Zarmina’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.
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.
Tower of the Twelve: Floating above the center of the lightly wooded Wollvern Park is the Tower of the Twelve (above), an institute where the dragonmarked houses send their best and brightest. The Tower’s location is in response to the Korth Edicts which prohibited the dragonmarked houses from owning land – but the Tower isn’t on ‘land.’ Unlike the floating towers of the Arcane Congress at Arcanix, the Tower of the Twelve is one massive floating island. This thirteen-floor 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 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.
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.