Curse of the Crimson Throne
For the most part, Korvosans are a friendly and helpful lot. And meticulous. They follow the rules, walk the line, and fill out the forms exactly as instructed. Even their most powerful criminals obey certain regulations laid out for them, going so far as to pay taxes on some of their ill-gotten goods! This citywide desire to regulate and obey probably comes from Korvosa’s deep military history and long militaristic traditions. If you have no love of the military it’s best to keep your mouth shut here. —Mercer Cucuteni, Magistrate of Tourism
Look at any cross-section of the city’s population and you will find that for every 10 inhabitants you see, 9 are human. This homogeny exists even among the humans of the city, as an equally large percentage of the population descends, at least partially, from Cheliax. The largest ethnic minority in the city, pure-blooded Varisians, barely represents 1 human in 10, although more than half of the city’s population possesses some Varisian blood. Varisian mothers in the city are more than twice as likely to birth half-Chelaxian offspring as pureblooded Varisian offspring. Ethnic Chelaxians consider pureblood Varisians little more than brightly dressed thieves and murderers, and prejudice against the group sometimes flares into ugly lynchings or quasi-legal evictions from homes.
Varisians find themselves in an unenviable cycle: the Chelaxian majority alienates them and forces them into the city’s crime-ridden impoverished wards, where they frequently must steal to survive, which only serves to fuel the alienation and prejudice leveled at them. In a misguided effort to halt this spiral of degeneration, bureaucrats acting under the orders of the monarchy have recently begun a program that removes half-Chelaxian children from their Varisian mothers. They place these children in one of the five orphanages throughout the city, with the hope of making them into respectable, upstanding citizens of the city.
Despite their proximity to Korvosa and the area’s importance to their folklore, a surprisingly small number of Shoanti live in the city. Part of this owes to the constant wars between the Shoanti and the ethnic Chelaxians that continue even to this day and that color the perceptions and prejudices of both peoples. Another reason derives from Shoanti cultural tradition: as a seminomadic people, they have no need for permanent settlements. Whenever Shoanti raiders strike at the city, the ethnic Shoanti of the city become defensive and withdrawn, as history has shown an increase in “unexplained” murders of Shoanti following such incidents. Despite all these terrible difficulties, some Shoanti continue to negotiate with the city’s leadership in a seemingly endless series of peace talks that have lasted for more than a decade. Others live nearby, in a copse of trees known as Skaldwood, attempting to bridge the gap between urban life and their traditional lifestyle. As Skaldwood is a sacred place to the Shoanti, a century-old treaty with the city allows the Shoanti to live within the wood, so long as the residents of that encampment do not harbor raiders or fugitives (Shoanti or not).
Golarion’s other human ethnic groups can claim only a handful of representatives at best. Several, though, simply do not exist within the city.