Cities of Korovia, T to Z
Cities of Korovia
Toravek - City of Hydrodynamics
As Korovia’s farthest north city, one would think it is fairly cold. It isn’t. The city is built mostly underground to conserve heat and also benefit from several geo-thermal springs. Toravek was built around its hot springs, but not because of therapeutic properties. The city uses hydro and pyro power for many of its unusual inventions (steam powered elevators/etc). It is an underground city with small squat buildings above ground which serve more as entrances to the elevator shafts.
The city itself is a complicated network of caves (with signposts all over the place for lost gnomes). Even natives to the city get lost regularly due to teams of gnomes that regularly dig new routes through the city (sometimes accidentally digging into someone’s living room). Thankfully there is a 2nd group of gnomes in charge of signposts and follow around the others in attempts to keep the signposts up to date.
The problem with gnomes is that they like things that are complicated. If there is an easy way to do something (like a hammer and nail) the gnomes will invent a new way (screw and screwdriver) and several other ways (super glue) to achieve the same result. In Toravek, this is only made more obvious with their plumbing system. Water pipes made of hardened clay snake throughout the city transporting hot water from below and cold water from above. Sometimes these pipes are accidentally attached (oops!) and there is result is chaos from bursting pipes, pressure valves exploding, and flooding. The gnomish solution however is typically unusual: Soap.
When faced with mass flooding, the gnomish solution is to clean the place so that the water is not wasted. Yes, some gnomes will get wet, but oh well. Many gnomes carry “floatation devices” of various designs so the threat of drowning is very little.
Toravek’s principle exports are mushroom beer, mushrooms, pottery and iron ore but in small amounts. The economy is good, despite few exports. There is little use for imports too. Only a few inns and green grocers bother with goods from the south. Imports are so few that there are no taxes.
The gnomish lord of Toravek swore allegiance to Queen Kasiya because he also owns the brewery. He thought he could export mushroom beer and make a fortune. He has made a small fortune, but gnomes are the only people who regularly drink it. Ask any gnome however and they will insist that Toravek Beer is the best.
Toravek rarely has troubles with monsters. They are too fortified on the surface. When they do have problems it is usually because of giants, ice trolls and yeti attacking their trade caravans.
Trollhaven - Bastion of Hope in the Troll Lands
Upriver and east of Kost is a town with growing popularity on the trade route between Sylvania and Kost. It can be reached by barge traveling up the river (pulled by horse or donkey), or overland by the road that goes beside the river. The town itself is a fort built on top of a hill near the northern most point of the river, and guards that section of the river for travelers. It is dangerously close to the troll lands and is frequently attacked by groups of trolls.
The town’s walls are built in a perfect triangle with 60' towers in each corner, with archers as lookouts, who thanks to the triangle have 300 degrees of firing angles. Two additional 60' towers inside the town provide extra fortifications should the town’s walls ever be over-run. An architect from Oraknev designed the towers to maximize the number of archer points inside the tower and provide excellent protection from enemy rocks and arrows.
The town has a fair-sized marketplace, a tiny magic school and a pond where druids like to congregate. The town is a Mecca for rangers, druids, and adventurers seeking to kill trolls.
Merchants travelling via Trollhaven usually do so by boat on the Kost to Trollhaven route, and then switch to caravan and horses from Trollhaven onwards towards Sylvania. Thus Trollhaven is an excellent place to buy horses and also to hire more mercenaries to guard the caravan.
300 feet to the north is a dark forest on the slope of a mountain. The steep road up to the hill fort is covered with boulders and shards of burnt troll bones. The walls of the town are 15 feet tall and the height of the hill gives the town another 25 to 30 feet over the surrounding area. The hill overlooks the river to the south only a short arrow’s flight away (about 90 feet).
The marketplace has one magic shop “The Ol’ Magic Shoppe”, but sometimes traveling merchants also carry magical components and potions for sale. There is also a highly skilled human blacksmith (Gregash), an elvish fletcher (Larilia) who mass-produces arrows and a horse-trader from Shorin (Bibbin the Halfling) who specializes in selling war-horses.
The wizard Kalmeister who runs the magic school is retired from adventuring. He also owns “The Ol’ Magic Shoppe” (which buys and sells potions/scrolls/trinkets) and makes a tidy profit from teaching wizards in his school. The town’s war wizard is an evoker named Ahaesianna Bloodleaf (nicknamed Bloody because she tends to get injured a lot).
The town itself was founded about 15 years ago by George “Shaggy” Wagner, a retired human ranger who built the inn and started to fortify the surrounding area. After many years of hardship the town has now become a popular place for adventurers and mercenaries. Last year Queen Kasiya made Wagner a Lord, citing his outstanding service to the kingdom. Wagner is still not used to the title.
The town is also a popular place for sightings of Adriaza, Korovia’s most wanted criminal. Bounty hunters are a frequent sight in the town.
The druid pond is a copse of trees and a spring that is behind the Trollhaven Inn and its water is said to have minor curative powers. Many druids travel to it to appreciate the great oak trees and the pure mountain water.
Tuirn - City of Minotaurs and Law
Tuirn has almost no fortifications and it really doesn't need them. A single large building above ground serves as labyrinthic entrance to the city of minotaurs within. The building is relatively short, but broad. Once inside you really need to know where to go for the whole city is a maze. The outer entrance to the city has traps in the event intruders come looking for trouble.
You could in theory get in through the roof where a number of holes open into courtyards, but those courtyards are deep within the maze and again you would need to know where you are going. The interior buildings themselves are usually quite large and spacious, crafted from stone and mortar. The sewer system in Tuirn is even more complex.
Some of the courtyards are also covered with glass and bronze domes and operate like greenhouses.
Navigating through Tuirn is best done with a guide because there are multiple levels, walkways, bridges, and there is no rhyme or reason to minotaur architecture. It is said that the minotaurs know where they are based on the smell.
The pacifist minotaurs in Tuirn are good at crafting many things (not weapons of course). With their strength their abilities to build tools out of steel, wood and stone are quite useful in mass production. The minotaurs are not greedy however and there is a surplus of goods such as rope, wooden objects like tables, tools, etc. Minotaur merchants have a reputation of being very honest and selling their goods at a fair discount. Minotaur furniture is exceptionally sturdy and well-made.
The mines west of Tuirn are operated by minotaurs and bring out large amounts of quality ore. Forestry is also a strong industry. Logging by minotaur workers and replanting by minotaur druids (rare, but becoming more common) has allowed Tuirn to create a renewable source of wealth. Tuirn supplies about half of the building lumber for all of Korovia.
It is said Tuirn is the birthplace of agriculture. 14 years after the First Demon War the halfling tribes sent spies to learn the secret of agriculture and the minotaurs gladly gave it to them.
Farms near Tuirn tend to grow larger vegetables for produce. Squash and pumpkins are very common products in the city’s food markets. Nuts and walnuts are important commodities for protein. Milk is also important. Many minotaurs claim their strength (and height) is derived from a strong milk diet. Dairy farms exist near Tuirn. The cattle are buried when they die and are treated with relative respect. Local bylaws prohibit cattle from being killed for meat.
Minotaur philosophers compare their affinity to cattle to be the same as humans with monkeys. Humans don’t eat monkeys and when a monkey dies, they bury them. Minotaurs treat cattle in the same way. Minotaurs often argue that cattle are not stupid and are more intelligent than humans assume. Minotaur druids often have a bull as their animal friend and can confirm that cattle are intelligent, often shy/peaceful, but have tempers if they are threatened. Jokes about bestiality are shrewdly ignored by most minotaurs, but they will lash out if their tempers get the best of them.
There are no pubs that serve alcohol in Tuirn. Such things are illegal according to local bylaws. Merchants caught with alcohol will be arrested and their alcohol will be quickly mixed with oil and used as fuel for torches. People can also be arrested with drunkenness and thrown in jail until the effects wear off. This law is considered effective within 2 miles of the city and there are several inns just outside the city reaches which sell liquor.
Selling meat (or attempting to sell or buy meat) is also illegal in Tuirn. Punishment is a herbalist pill that causes nausea whenever they try to eat meat. The effects last for roughly a week. Any meat that is meant for such an illegal transaction within the city is burnt. Travelers and merchants who are carrying meat for sale/use in other cities are to report that they are carrying meat and will receive a tag that they must carry. A person who is caught with meat and does not have a tag may be fined and their meat burnt. This law is considered effective within 2 miles of the city.
Tuirn has a black market for both meat and alcohol. The most popular place is a human-operated inn just 2 miles east of the city that serves both meat and alcohol. There is currently a push to extend the law to 3 miles, but the humans who manage the inn claim this is unfairly targeting their business. There are some conservative minotaurs who believe the humans are criminals and are helping the black market inside the city.
The minotaurs take their laws very seriously and corruption amongst the enforcement (bribes) is non-existent.
Weyvin - City of Half-Elves & Commerce
Weyvin has two fortified keeps and a surrounding wall that protects the city. Its harbour is farther inland and has several islands and cliffs around a large bay. The bay is fairly deep and thus is excellent for shipping. A large number of wrecks are at the bottom of the bay were destroyed in storms or battle. The walls of the city are currently being extended and rebuilt to add extra fortifications. The two keeps are on the cliffs above the harbour entrance. A third keep is now being built on the western edge of the city.
A council of seven local lords controls Weyvin, which includes Maximilian the Conjurer (the lord of the Weyvin Point lighthouse). The council makes decisions and has a bureaucracy to carry out its orders. The bureaucrats in Weyvin are pushing for a form of elected government (with themselves being those running in elections), believing that they could be more effective as leaders. Doubts about elected democracies are deep however as Weyvin’s people have historically tried democracy once before (it failed due to corruption) when they elected a mayor. For the time being most of the people in Weyvin are happy with their leadership.
One of the Lords of Weyvin (Lord Rylbane) is building a museum to contain many of the treasures he has found. He has contracted adventuring groups to seek out ancient books and objects (especially artwork) on various aspects of Korovian history. He also has an interest in other cultures and has sent expeditions to Al-Kazar and the Azagolian Empire to bring back items of interest. While the items may be magical, it should be noted he is more interested in books, artwork and old weapons (even rusty ones). Since Lord Rylbane is very knowledgeable on such things and knows the authentic pieces when he sees them.
Weyvin has a growing industry in fine quality glass. The sand near the city is excellent for making glass products. There is very little clay in the ground near Weyvin, so normal pottery is rarity. Instead most of the tankards, plates, glasses, etc in Weyvin are made from glass. Glass sculptures and water fountains are also common in the city. Magnifying glasses and telescopes are sold in Weyvin at discount prices, popular items for wizards, sailors and sometimes adventurers.
A group of gnomes and half-elves have created an Astronomy Guild and built Korovia’s first astronomical tower, complete with a large telescope for viewing the stars and the two moons. Several of the gnomes claim to have “discovered other planets”, but this is dismissed as typical gnome nonsense according to non-scholars. The guild’s members often sell high-quality telescopes.
Hand-crossbows are illegal in Weyvin. People caught with one will have it confiscated and must work in a publicly owned silver mine for 5 days as penalty for ignoring the law. Being caught with multiple hand-crossbows means a much longer sentence. Selling or attempting to buy hand-crossbows is especially frowned upon, and the sentence is 50 days. Hand-crossbows are a popular weapon with pirates and assassins, and thus this law is in place to hamper piracy.
Weyvin has strict rules about pets within the city. Wolves and anything larger than a wolf (horses and griffins excluded) are not allowed. This includes medium size hunting or guard dogs. There are kennels near the gates of the city where people must store the animals. Ships entering the city with such animals aboard must make sure the animals stay on the ship. If the animals escape from the ship, there is a large fine and depending on the situation (if the animal does any damage within the city) the judge may even decide to confiscate the ship. These laws are in place due to past problems with worshippers of Lazriak the Wicked.
Sharks sometimes swim into Weyvin’s harbour, but they are hunted with special boats equipped with harpoons. If a whole school of sharks swims into the harbour the city will hire adventurers to help deal with the problem. Whales can sometimes enter the harbour as well, in which case the city prefers to hire a druid to convince the whale to leave.
Yek (Yeksereannia) - City of Griffons
Like Sylvania, Yek is a popular elvish seaport. Unlike Sylvania however it is a city of stone towers and home to many grey elves. It is the birthplace of the ancient elvish King Zaelean. The city was destroyed during the Last Demon War and was infested with trolls for many centuries after the war. A group of grey elves later recaptured the city and killed off all the trolls. The grandfather of King Zaelean was the elvish warrior who led the battle against the trolls. It was Zaelean’s grandfather who designed most of the architecture and spiraled towers that now grace Yek’s skyline.
Yek is the short-form of the elvish name of the city. Yek has very few streets. Instead the north side of the city is flooded and has canals. People in Yek use small boats to travel about the city. There are a few roads but they are rarely used. There are very few horses in Yek for a good reason: Griffons eat horses.
Yek is famous for its griffins. Many high born elves in Yek have griffons and thus the city has a small army of griffons and is the unofficial Korovian Air Cavalry for the south. The official Air Cavalry is part of the northern army (near Oraknev).
Yek still has problems with trolls (even after many centuries of killing them). Sea trolls raid the city sometimes. Magical alarms are placed throughout the city to warn of sea trolls who have broken through canals and entered the city.
More recently a large tribe of sahuagin (piranha-men) have invaded the rivers and canals of Yek, causing nightly havok and a curfew, and cutting off trade to the smaller town on the south side of the river.
Yek is ruled by the grey elf Prince Tyllimov, a descendant of King Zaelean’s brother and thus not considered a King. He was one of the people who tried to woo Queen Kasiya when she became the Queen of Korovia. Prince Tyllimov is a skilled warrior and amateur wizard and is a distant cousin of the Prince of Sylvania.
Zerburg - City of Floating Factories
The current Lady of Zerburg is human, not gnomish. The city is dominated by gnomes but also has a fair number of humans. Lady Ryriana the Righteous is a diviner and retired adventurer who is well known for her knowledge of alchemy and thus respected by many gnomes.
Zerburg is a very unusual city to visit. It has three levels of buidings. The first level is a network of tunnels underground, the second is an odd-mixture of buildings on the surface, and the third is wooden-buildings floating in the air above the city, suspended using balloons filled with hydrogen. Unfortunately, sometimes these flying buildings crash and explode, as hydrogen is explosive. The floating structures are anchored to buildings below them and usually have rope ladders (sometimes bucket elevators) for transporting people or items.
The gnomes in Zerburg have a strong interest in building things, although often they don’t work as intended. There is always another gnome who has invented a “new-and-improved flame-thrower”, a new drill or tool for going through rock or some other strange gadget, weapon or tool. Such items aren't cheap (or that well made) but they are still sold alongside more conventional weaponry (and sold with fire-resistant pants). The bazaar in Zerburg is indeed bizarre as there are always new weird items for sale.
Such is life in Zerburg. This is a city of alchemy factories (sometimes floating factories) that mass-produce acid (useful for dissolving stone) and other alchemical goodies. Any factories which handle explosives are fortunately required by law to be built underground in case of a disaster.
The School of Illusions is one of the city's many floating buildings, except in its case it is made partially of shadow magic (making it lighter in weight and the illusion hides the ugly hydrogen balloon from sight). Most of the building is made from wood, but some illusionary parts of it appear to be made of stone and other materials, thanks to permanent shadow magic. The school is known for its many secret doorways. Elves and half-elves are not allowed in certain parts of the building because of their sharp hearing which can detect secret doors. Many gnomish illusionists study at this school and are familiar with its professors, layout, etc.
Zerburg’s best exports are actually fish and wood. Years ago a pair of now famous gnomes invented new ways of chopping down trees (it was originally supposed to be an automated statue carving machine) and ways of catching fish (it was supposed to be an ogre-catching machine). Other gnomes took those designs and have since improved and modified them. Needless to say, a gnomish fishing boat is actually quite scary looking.
In the center of Zerburg is Zerburg keep, which is a very large dome-shaped castle with numerous entrances. This is perhaps the most dangerous place for a thief or intruder to step foot in. Its traps are legendary, deadly and nigh impenetrable. Some of its traps are reputedly quite embarrassing, which means they are not all deadly and people have been forced to turn back (and thus lived to tell the tale of how some gnomish trap grabbed them from behind, slicked them in tar and dropped them down a chute filled with feathers).