Curse of the Crimson Throne is primarily an urban-based campaign set in the city of Korvosa in southeastern Varisia, although there are a few lengthy portions of the Adventure Path that take place outside of Korvosa's walls. To a certain extent, these portions of the game are intended to force urban-themed PCs out of their comfort zone, but the reverse certainly holds true. You can absolutely play a barbarian or druid or other nature-themed PC in Curse of the Crimson Throne, but you should come up with an in-character reason to explain why your non-urban character is in Korvosa at the start of the campaign, as well as why you'd want to stay in Korvosa as things inevitably start to go bad for the city. Building strong links to other player characters is a great solution—your druid or barbarian might normally just abandon the city, but not when a close friend or relative or other ally who lives in the city is in danger!
Korvosa is predominantly a human city, although all of the PC races in the Pathfinder Core Rulebook are welcome within its walls. Korvosa itself was founded many years ago by Cheliax, and most of its human citizens are of the Chelaxian ethnicity today as a result, although there are large numbers of Varisians, Taldans, and Vudrani present within the city walls as well. Shoanti are also quite common, although they tend to be less welcome in certain parts of the city and face the specter of racism that lingers still in Korvosa, thanks in part to the city's unfortunate history of Chelaxian conquerors claiming the land from the Shoanti and forcing them to flee to the northeast to the harsh Cinderlands. While a Shoanti character may be subjected to bigotry from some of Korvosa's more narrow-minded citizens, having a Shoanti PC may open up other advantages later in the campaign. Other ethnicities are rare but not unknown in the city. Dwarves mostly hail from nearby Janderhoff, many of whom have ties to robust trade and mercantilism between Korvosa and the nearby Sky Citadel. Elves and gnomes are relatively rare in Korvosa, but not so much that they'd turn heads when spotted walking down the city streets. Halflings are relatively common in the city; many have escaped from lives as slaves in Cheliax to the south, and many of Korvosa's shipping concerns have large numbers of halfling sailors on their payroll. Half-elves and half-orcs are present in the city as well, but while half-elves can generally pass uncommented upon, many of Korvosa's inhabitants (particularly the Shoanti, who have a long, bitter history with orcs) react poorly to half-orc presences; bigotry and fear are unfortunately not uncommon against these oft-misunderstood folk.
Curse of the Crimson Throne, as an urban-themed campaign, presents numerous opportunities for intrigue-based characters to shine, yet there remain plenty of old-fashioned dungeon crawls and dangerous combats awaiting as well. As with all campaigns, having a balanced party with regards to combat prowess, magical ability, and intrigue skills will go a long way toward success. Alchemist, Arcanist, Magus, Sorcerer, Summoner, Witch, Wizard: Korvosa is welcoming to those who specialize in arcane magic, and there are numerous opportunities for an arcane spellcaster to flourish in the city—and being an adventurer is certainly one option for prosperity! One important thing to keep in mind, though, is that Korvosa's most well-known school for arcane spellcasters, the Acadamae, does not play a significant role in Curse of the Crimson Throne. If you wish your character to be associated with the Acadamae, speak to your GM or build your character so those links are relatively minor. All of the standard familiars are good choices in Korvosa. There is a long-standing feud in the city between imps (who've escaped servitude to Acadamae students and teachers) and pseudodragon-like creatures called house drakes. Both of these are classic choices for improved familiars. (A spellcaster must be 7th level and chaotic good to gain a house drake as a familiar; full statistics for these tiny dragons appear in Curse of the Crimson Throne.) Other commonly seen improved familiars in Korvosa include dire rats, lyrakien, nosois, and pseudodragons, but anything approved by your GM could serve. Barbarian, Bloodrager, Druid, Hunter, Shaman, Skald: These classes are not normally associated with urban regions, but as long as you have a reason for your character to live in or be on an extended visit to Korvosa, the campaign will accommodate such characters (and in fact, when the plot moves beyond the city walls, such characters may well be particularly helpful!). A character associated with one of the Shoanti quahs might provide some additional advantages or opportunities as the campaign progresses, particularly if the PC hails from one of the quahs that dwells in the Cinderlands (the Lyrune-Quah, the Sklar-Quah, or the Skoan-Quah)—although if your PC is a member of one such tribe, don't assume that you'll be automatically welcomed back into your tribe's arms after spending a significant amount of time in Korvosa! Classes that take animal companions should be able to function normally in Korvosa—after all, this is a city where defenders mounted on hippogriffs exist. The sight of someone with an exotic animal companion is unlikely to raise many eyebrows, provided the animal companion is well behaved. Nonetheless, there are certain types of animal companions that are more commonly encountered in this part of Varisia, including alligators, badgers, bears, birds, boars, dogs, horses, ponies, small cats (mostly firepelt cougars), wolverines, and wolves. Bard, Investigator, Rogue, Slayer, Swashbuckler: These intrigue-focused characters make excellent choices for an urban campaign like Curse of the Crimson Throne. Korvosa has a wide range of organizations and groups that characters like this can belong to, but the campaign works best for "freelancers"—intrigue-based characters who haven't yet selected a group to associate with, be they underground guilds or high society. As the Curse of the Crimson Throne campaign progresses, you'll encounter several groups with which your intrigue-themed character might ally with or oppose, and coming to these groups without having a strong affiliation at the outset makes for a more rewarding play experience. Of course, there's one group your intrigue-focused character should start quite loyal to—that of the player character party! If you want to associate with a particular group, speak to your GM before the game begins. Note also that any of these intrigue-focused characters could benefit from the specific information provided below for vigilante characters.Cleric, Inquisitor, Oracle, Warpriest: All four of these divine spellcasting classes are well known and welcome in Korvosa—provided they do not use their religious beliefs and zeal to cause trouble. Consult the Religions section below for further details. Kineticist, Medium, Mesmerist, Occultist, Psychic, Spiritualist: There are a few opportunities for psychic classes to particularly shine throughout the Curse of the Crimson Throne Adventure Path, be they links to the deep themes of spiritualism associated with the Harrow or explorations of particularly notorious haunted sites. Make sure your GM is familiar with and comfortable with options from Pathfinder RPG Occult Adventures before choosing one of these classes for your character. Paladin: Paladins are an excellent choice for Curse of the Crimson Throne—with one caveat: do not let the lawful portion of your alignment rule your play choices. Things rapidly get out of control and go bad in Korvosa as the campaign unfolds, and your paladin's choices should put her or him firmly on the side of the PCs. Speak to your GM before playing a paladin in this game. As a general rule, it's probably better to play a paladin of a neutral good deity than of a lawful neutral deity in Curse of the Crimson Throne. Ranger: If you choose to play a ranger, make sure to consult the information above for other nature-themed classes (barbarian, druid, etc.), including advice on animal companions. Note also that while Korvosa has a ranger-themed organization that operates within its walls (the Sable Company), that group is not a great choice for association with as a player character. If you wish to be associated with the Sable Company, clear it with your GM before play. The best options for favoured enemy are animal, humanoid (human), undead, and vermin. These choices remain strong in the later parts of the campaign, but outsider (evil) and outsider (native) grow stronger as options. Most other favoured enemy choices will be represented now and then in the campaign, but not nearly as often. The best favoured terrain choices are (in descending order of importance) urban, underground, desert, swamp, and plains. Gunslinger, Ninja, Samurai: These three classes are all but unknown in Korvosa. While samurai and gunslingers can fit in well with other martial-focused classes and ninja fit in well with intrigue-focused classes, there are no specific themes in Korvosa tailored specifically for these exotic class choices. Vigilante: Korvosa's current political climate is ripe for the attention of a vigilante. In fact, the city already has one notorious legend in this category: Blackjack, a figure at once beloved and reviled, is a masked hero who has fought for Korvosa's downtrodden for many decades. Rumours about his or her identity, race, and gender are across the board, as are opinions as to whether Blackjack is one person or a role held by several over the course of the city's growth. Whatever the truth, Blackjack has been lying low of late, perhaps retired, perhaps dead, or perhaps (as the downtrodden hope) merely waiting for the right time to burst back onto the scene. Of course, this means the city is potentially ready for a new vigilante to look up to or to fight against. Your vigilante could even be interested in taking on the role of Blackjack, although if you do so, speak to your GM first to determine how that might be worked out.
The Common tongue is the most appropriate language for this campaign, but two others that will see a lot of use are Shoanti and Varisian. Beyond these three obvious choices, Orc, Thassilonian, and Vudrani will have some sporadic uses here and there. You can expect to encounter the typically wide range of creatures in a lengthy campaign, with more common languages (such as Dwarven, Elven, and Draconic) likely being more useful than obscure ones (such as Azlanti, Cyclops, or Orvian), which may not have much use at all.
Korvosa is tolerant of a wide range of religions and doesn't favour any one faith over another. The city's largest and most publicly active temple is the Bank of Abadar, but the city also hosts temples devoted to Asmodeus, Pharasma, Sarenrae, and Shelyn. Beyond these temples, the Pantheon of the Many in southern Korvosa represents 17 of the core 20 deities of the Inner Sea region—the only three deities who are not represented here are Gorum, Lamashtu, and Rovagug. While worship of Gorum isn't illegal in the city, his following has never been strong in the region (even among the Shoanti, who prefer a more shamanistic or druidic form of worship). While the faiths of Zon-Kuthon, Urgathoa, and Norgorber are represented in the Pantheon of the Many, their shrines are generally unused and neglected. When choosing a faith for your character, it's best overall to avoid worshipping an evil deity—if you do wish to worship such a deity, speak to your GM as your choice may be inappropriate (for reasons beyond alignment!) for this campaign.
Korvosa, like any city, has its share of undesirables. Cutpurses, thugs, thieves, burglars, assassins, and lowlifes of every sort can be found in waterfront slums, creeping in the sewers, or hiding in the tangled rooftop-scape known as the Shingles. The Korvosan Guard does what it can to keep the city's criminals from causing too much harm, but the cold reality is that crooks will always outnumber the law. And that means some crimes go unpunished and some criminals see great success. The worst of these, perhaps, are the city's crime lords. Dozens of them operate in Korvosa today, from the scheming leader of the Cerulean Society all the way down to the Varisian Sczarni thugs who preside over a gang of a half-dozen friends and cousins. These minor crime lords are often, ironically, the ones who do the most damage to Korvosa's law-abiding citizens, as larger organizations have little need to bother commoners. One such undesirable is Gaedren Lamm, a despicable wretch who missed his chance at being somebody big in Korvosa's murky underworld. Well past his prime, the decrepit thief abducts orphans and forces them to support his parasitic lifestyle with petty crime. Many members of Korvosa's lower class have had dealings with Lamm, and even a few of the city's middle class and nobility have had their lives complicated by this foul old man. Yet no matter what he does, he always seems to slip away from the guards and avoid answering for his crimes. Gaedren Lamm's luck is about to change, though. For among those his actions have recently touched are men and women destined to become some of Korvosa's greatest heroes—your player characters! Before your Curse of the Crimson Throne campaign begins, look through the following Campaign Backgrounds and select one that works well for your character. These backgrounds detail how your PCs has been wronged by Gaedren Lamm, and set up the initial events for the Adventure Path—events that may well allow you and your fellow PCs to see that Gaedren Lamm answers for his terrible crimes, be that in a court of law or at the edge of a vengeful blade. The campaign backgrounds all tie Gaedren to a PC, and represent historical snippets that explain how this detestable crime lord has affected each PC in the past.
You were hardly a model citizen as a child or young adult. Your reasons for turning to a life of crime may be varied, but what matters is that you eventually fell in with a certain well-connected and notorious crime lord named Gaedren Lamm. His reputation as a snake and a treacherous scoundrel was known to you, but for reasons of your own, you chose not to turn him down when he offered you a chance to work for him. You may have assumed you were an exception, or that you'd be able to handle him, or perhaps even planned to betray him. As it worked out, though, Gaedren got the upper hand and took you down you first. You may have served time in jail, may have been beaten by his thugs and left for dead, or could simply have had your profits stolen out from under you. Whatever the cause, Gaedren wronged you, and you are eager for the chance to get revenge. You are either: A Reformed Criminal: You've given up the life of crime, and managed to talk your way out of any repercussions such as jail time or fines. You've told yourself that you would rather leave your past behind, yet the concept of seeing Gaedren Lamm pay for his crimes still appeals to you. OR Hungry for Revenge: You've never forgiven Gaedren for his betrayal, and have vowed to make him pay for what he did. Whether that's seeing him rot in jail or a shallow grave, you hope to taste vengeance someday. Choose two ability boosts. One must be to Dexterity or Charisma, and one is a free ability boost. You are trained in the Diplomacy skill and Legal Lore skill. You gain the Group Coercion skill feat.
Someone you know has become addicted to shiver, a drug distilled from the venom of tropical arachnids known as dream spiders. The drug induces sleep filled with vivid dreams, during which the user's body shakes and shivers, giving the substance its street name. You've always thought of shiver as a problem of the lower class, but then someone you know overdosed on the stuff. You've done a bit of investigating and have learned that the villain who got your friend addicted in the first place was a crime lord named Gaedren Lamm. Unfortunately, the guards seem to be focused on the bigger dealers. They don't have time to devote many resources to what they've called "a bit player in a beggar's problem." It would seem that if Gaedren's operation is to be stopped, it falls to you. You either: Had an Addicted Friend: The addict is a friend or lover who might or might not have survived the overdose. Your research into the drug scene and local politics has given you a respectable education in street knowledge. OR Had a Personal Addiction: You were the addict. You blame Gaedren for your brush with death and hate how his drugs are causing similar problems among other youths. Fortunately, your body recovers quickly from toxins. Choose two ability boosts. One must be to Constitution or Intelligence, and one is a free ability boost. You are trained in the Medicine skill and a Lore skill related to the settlement you are in. You gain the Inoculation skill feat.
Someone you know and love was accused of murder. A supposed eyewitness account from a local fisherman seemed to be enough to seal the case, but the accused had enough alibis that sentencing wasn't immediate. Someone confronted the fisherman and discovered he was intimidated into providing false witness and forced into planting the murder weapon by the actual murderer—a local crime lord named Gaedren Lamm, whose thugs killed the fisherman before he could recant his testimony. Although this removed the key witness and resulted in the accused being set free, the stigma was enough to badly damage the accused's reputation. If you can find Gaedren, you're sure you can find evidence that ties him to the murder and can clear the accused's name. You are either: A Dropout: You were the one accused of the murder. Although you were eventually freed when a friend confronted the fisherman and got the truth, the damage had been done. You were forced to leave your school or church. As a result, you were forced to self-train and promised yourself you would become better at your chosen profession despite the spurning of your peers. OR Have a tarnished Family Honour: The person who was framed was a family member, perhaps a father or sister. You managed to trick the fisherman into revealing the truth with your skilled tongue. Choose two ability boosts. One must be to Charisma or Wisdom, and one is a free ability boost. You are trained in the Diplomacy or Deception skill and the Academia Lore skill. You gain the Additional Lore skill feat.
Someone you loved was knifed to death in a dark alley one night. You were called to the scene by the Korvosan Guard to identify the body, and as rough as that was for you, you also noticed a ring was missing from your loved one's finger. Whoever murdered your loved one stole that ring—you're convinced of it. You've done some investigation on your own and recently found the ring for sale at a local merchant's shop. To your great frustration, you can't yet afford the 500 gp to buy it back, but the merchant did tell you from whom he purchased the ring: a man named Gaedren Lamm. It seems likely this criminal killed your loved one, or at the very least, he knows who did. The only problem is finding him. You are either: All Alone: The murder victim was a lover. With your lover's death, a part of you died as well, leaving you haunted, grim, and prone to dark musings. OR You were Orphaned: The murder victim was your only surviving parent. You had to work hard to make ends meet for yourself and any siblings, and often had to scavenge for food. Choose two ability boosts. One must be to Intelligence or Wisdom, and one is a free ability boost. You are trained in the Society skill and the Korvosa Lore skill. You gain the Streetwise skill feat.
You suspect that a child you know has been abducted by Gaedren Lamm. Whatever the relationship, you've heard rumours about "Lamm's Lambs", and of how the old man uses children as pickpockets and agents for his crimes. You've even heard rumours that the child you're looking for has been spotted in the marketplaces in the company of known cutpurses and pickpockets. Although the Korvosan Guard has been understanding of your plight, it has its hands full with "more important" matters these days, it seems, and has not yet been able to learn anything more about Gaedren. No one else is interested in bringing Gaedren down and rescuing his victims—that task falls to you. Yet where could the old scoundrel be hiding? You either have: A Missing Sibling: The missing child is a brother or sister. Although everyone else has given up hope, you believe your sibling still lives. Your constant search for the missing sibling has developed into great skill at rumour-mongering and finding out information from others. You gain a +1 trait bonus on Sense Motive checks, and Sense Motive is a class skill for you. OR A Missing Son or Daughter: The missing child is your own son or daughter, a niece or nephew, or a child you were charged with protecting. The child was abducted during a trip to the market or other daily event. Your stubbornness and long hours spent searching for rumours grant you a +1 trait bonus on Will saves. Choose two ability boosts. One must be to Intelligence or Dexterity, and one is a free ability boost. You are trained in the Society skill and the Underworld Lore skill. You gain the Hobnobber skill feat.
You spent a period of time as one of Gaedren Lamm's enslaved orphans, doing all manner of dirty work for him. Maybe you were abducted from your parent's home or during a trip to the market. Perhaps the irresponsible matron who ruled your orphanage traded you to him in return for a desperately needed financial loan. Or perhaps you, like most of Gaedren's slaves, were merely a child of the street who succumbed to his promise of regular meals and a roof in return for what he said would be "a little light work." Whatever the case, you spent several years of your life as one of "Lamm's Lambs" before escaping. You've nursed a grudge against the old man ever since. You are either: Religious: One day, while on a job for Gaedren, you found a holy symbol of the god you worship, and intrigued by it, you snuck off to attend services. When Gaedren found out, he beat you to within an inch of your life and broke your holy symbol. Your faith let you block out the pain, and you escaped his control and took shelter in the church, where you spent the rest of your youth. OR Tortured: After you made one too many errors, Gaedren tortured you and left you for dead in a garbage heap. Your scars and memories have motivated you to hone your reaction speed and make you rather jumpy. Choose two ability boosts. One must be to Wisdom or Dexterity, and one is a free ability boost. You are trained in the Religion or Athletics skill and the Underworld Lore skill. You gain the Experienced Smuggler skill feat.