Curse of the Crimson Throne: Player's Guide


Dark times have come to the city of Ashara—the capital of the ancient and powerful Thannish Kingdom of Gwynne. The frail and sickly King Garik Eridani hovers near the verge of death, surrounded by his much-younger second wife, Queen Ileosa and his eldest son, Prince Gerold. Rumors abound that neither will mourn the ailing King, and that a power struggle over succession currently rages behind the scenes between the Queen, the Prince and Neolandus Dhoru, the royal Seneschal. The outcome of this power struggle has yet to unfold!

Welcome to the Curse of the Crimson Throne Adventure Path, adapted for use in the Corwyn Game Setting! This campaign is set completely within the grand city of Ashara. The Adventure will take your characters from the dirty, back alleyways of the city all the way to the inner halls of Castle Myrkur as you ultimately confront those who hold strong ambitions to sit upon the infamous Crimson Throne!

As you begin this adventure, it is assumed all player characters are native-born residents of Ashara and that each one of them has been wronged in some fashion by a local crime lord named Gaedren Lamm.


Ashara is a cosmopolitan place. Wizards brush shoulders with barbarians in the city markets, fighters and monks work as guards and mercenaries, rogues and paladins vie for time among the city’s elite, and it’s even said that a sect of renegade druids operates in some of the waterfront districts. Yet with this diversity comes conflict—not every person in Ashara is as welcoming as the next.

For additional information about the races and classes as they function in Varisia, consult the Corwyn Player’s Guide. The following information supplements that, and gives particular details about how these staples of the game function in the city that serves as Curse of the Crimson Throne’s foundation.


Look at any cross-section of the city’s population and you will find that 9 of every 10 inhabitants are human. Humans dominate the city in every way, and comprise an overwhelming majority of the population. Yet humans are not the only denizens of Ashara, as any visitor soon comes to learn.



Most of Ashara’s citizens are ethnically Thannish, the dominant group in the Heartlands. The largest ethnic minority in the city, the Ashanti, barely represent five percent of the population.

Many of Ashara’s traditional Thanns consider these Ashanti little more than brightly dressed thieves and murderers, and prejudice against the group occasionally flares into discrimination, even ugly lynchings.

Despite their proximity to Ashara and the area’s importance to their folklore, a surprisingly small number of Ashanti actually live within the city. Part of this owes to the constant warfare between the Ashanti and the Thanns that continue even to this day and those hostilities color the perceptions and prejudices of both peoples. Another reason comes from Ashanti cultural tradition: as a semi-nomadic people, they have little interest in permanent settlements.



Because of their contracts with the city and the noble houses, dwarven merchants from Orrek always have buyers lined up for their wares. Once their contracted buyers choose the wares they want, the dwarves sell the rest in Ashara's various street markets. T
The most sought after dwarven goods are magical weapons and armor.


Almost as rare as druids in Ashara, most of the elven citizens of the city originally hail from the Ravenwood Forest. A small number of these elves have lived peacefully within the city for as long as the city has existed. A tiny enclave, specifically built for the elves, exists in South Shore, where they often serve as scholars, sages, and advisors for those who would seek magical or natural advice.


These small descendants of the fey possess magic abilities far exceeding their size. This natural inclination toward magic has given rise to most gnome adventurers. Many gnomes have made their homes in Ashara as merchants and traders, and have done well selling trinkets and other wares.



Similarly to many other large human cities, halflings have long been drawn to the markets of Ashara as vendors, shopkeepers, and merchants. These commercial enterprises seem to come naturally to the small folk. Some halfling are drawn to adventuring to bring honor to their families, while others seek only to enrich themselves. Most halfling adventurers in Ashara are either bards, or rogues.


Bored young women of the human noble families occasionally visit the Melinar Forest looking for an adventurous rendezvous with someone exotic and beautiful. These trysts occasionally result in half-elven offspring, who are neither trusted nor accepted. Half-elves in Ashara are therefore generally looked upon as unfortunates at best, or freaks at worst.


Many rural Thannish folk live in close proximity to the orcs of Drakhara, resulting in an almost constant state of hostilities between the two groups. These orc raids sometimes grow exceedingly personal, resulting in the occasional half-orc. Few of these half-orcs survive to adulthood, and fewer still live among their human cousins, but despite that, a handful of half orcs make their homes in Ashara. Almost all local half-orcs live in Old Ashara.



As the largest city in Gwynne, Ashara has a little something for everyone. Further, there seems to come a point in every Varisian’s life where something that can only be had in Ashara demands a trip. As a result, all adventuring classes have a certain level of representation in the city—some more so than others.


The vast majority of Ashara’s barbarians are visitors from Ashanti lands; those few who choose to stay in the city do so usually because they have little other choice, having been exiled or forced to flee from their homelands for various reasons. Barbarians tend to find jobs as bouncers, dockworkers, thugs, or mercenaries for Ashara’s shadier operations, and are generally not welcome in the more affluent sections of the city.


Bards are well-loved or well-hated in Ashara—it’s tough to maintain a low-profile as a bard here, as the locals enjoytheir entertainment almost as much as they enjoy their gossipabout entertainers. Several taverns, inns, playhouses, andother establishments provide stable venues for bards. TheMarbledome is home to Ashara’s opera (although m.



Although the number of deities worshiped on Corwyn is vast, the faiths of several deities stand head and shoulders above the others. It’s generally possible to find clerics of any of these faiths inside of Ashara’s walls, although in some cases, one might have to look long and hard.

Certainly, the temple of Myrival has the most strength in Ashara, for she is not only the goddess of the water, but the river the city is built upon is named for her.

The temple of Aleyssia tends to the sick and dying within the city walls and maintains an imposing cathedral. The temple of Berevrom brings law and order, although this church’s faithful are always careful to operate in moderation.

Beyond these faiths, there are smaller temples to: Acerion, Atanavar, Ator, Etahr, Ethenghar, Ixion, Nerydia, and S'thar.



Druids are not generally trusted or thought of well by Ashara’s citizens, primarily due to the actions of a cabal of bitter and almost feral druids who frequent the waterfront of West Dock, where they act as nuisances and scoundrels. Even other druids tend to think of this group as troublemakers, and on the few instances where druids do need to visit the city, they keep low profiles. Although the Pantheon of Many doesn’t officially recognize the druidic faith, it is always open to visiting druids who seek a quiet, friendly place to meditate.


There are many opportunities for fighters in Ashara, although none more honorable and prestigious than induction into the city’s protectors, the City Guard. Active members of the Guard are housed at thre Barracks, but the Guard also maintains a militia of inactive former members who are expected to answer the call in times of need. Fighters can also find employment in countless other areas in Ashara as private bodyguards, bouncers, or students and teachers in one of the city’s many fighting schools.



Very few monks dwell in Ashara, although many have heard tales of mystics or martial artists from distant Kurand, and of the incredible feats they can accomplish with their bare hands. Although no monastic order is based in Ashara, there is much to attract a monk’s interest in her libraries and churches.


Ashara is an extremely lawful city, but one that isn’t as interested, as a general rule, in the purpose of the law as much as its application. If anything, the city government’s often impartial stance on matters regarding the law skew the general feel toward evil. As a result, most paladins find Ashara too stifling a place for them, and they often grow frustrated with the city’s overwhelming bureaucracy and willingness to accept things like the evil temples within the city. Most of Ashara’s paladins ally with the temple of Berevrom, figuring that to be where they can do the most good.



Despite its fondness for law, Ashara has a thriving underworld both above and below its streets. Countless gangs of thieves, thugs, and troublemakers rise and fall like the tides in the city’s low-rent districts. The Black Hand, a loosely-affiliated extended family of Gwynnsih crimelords, hold sway over many of these gangs and play a large role in the average citizen’s poor opinion of the Varisian people.


Most of Ashara’s sorcerers are Varisian, folk who have manifested the spontaneous gift of magic through some quirk of the bloodline. As a general rule, most folk fear sorcerers and as a result, sorcerers are often thought of as troublemakers. Certainly, the overwhelming efforts of the Rose Academy, which maintains that the use of arcane magic without study and discipline can only lead to disaster, does not help the public opinion on these poorly-understood arcanists.



Wizards are well respected in Ashara, particularly if they can point to proof of training at the Rose Academy, one of Ashara’s greatest prides. Certainly the largest and best-staffed wizardly school in Gwynne, the prestige and honor of attending the Rose Academy has recently begun to equal that of the venerable universities of Gwynne herself. Entrance into the Rose Academy is difficult, and the courses taught there are often dangerous, but a wizard who graduates from the Rose Academy gains more than a plaque he can hang on his wall. Other wizardly schools exist in Ashara (notably the Nexus College, which unlike the Rose Academy teaches non-specialized wizards), but they do so in the Acadame’s shadow.


Ashara, 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 Shingles above. The City Guard does what it can to keep the city’s criminals from causing too much harm, but the cold reality is that they will always outnumber the law. And that means some crimes go unpunished and some criminals see great success.


Worst of these, perhaps, are the city’s crimelords. Several of them operate in Ashara at any one time, from the sinister assassins all the way down to street thugs who preside over a gang of a half-dozen friends and cousins. These minor crimelords are often, ironically, the ones who do the most damage to Ashara’s law-abiding citizens, as larger organizations have little need to bother commoners.

One such undesirable is Gaedren Lamm, a despicable low-life who missed his chance at being somebody big in Ashara’s murky underworld. Well past his prime, the decrepit thief abducts orphans and forces them to support his despicable lifestyle with petty crime. Many of Ashara’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 despicable 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 several men and women destined to become some of Ashara’s greatest heroes. And one of those heroes is you.



Background Traits; Even before Curse of the Crimson Throne begins, you and the other PCs have a shared trait—you’ve all been wronged, in some manner, by the despicable Gaedren Lamm. The campaign you are about to begin starts as you and several other promising young heroes are brought together to do what the city guard cannot (or will not) do—to see that Gaedren Lamm answers for his crimes, be that in a court of law or at the edge of a vengeful blade.

Presented here are five ties to Gaedren you can choose for your character, historical snippets that explain how this detestable crimelord has affected you in the past. Each trait presents an unfortunate event, painted in broad strokes so you can customize it to your needs, that helped shape your character. Once you’ve selected a trait, pick a benefit that matches your own concept for your character. Feel free to adapt and rework the particulars of your chosen trait to fit your history. So long as you have a reason to see Gaedren pay for his crimes, you’ll have a built-in reason to take up a life of adventuring and, more importantly, a reason to bond with your new companions.

Obviously, these background traits won’t work well for new characters brought into the campaign after Gaedren’s been taken care of, yet the flavor text can be easily changed. Talk with your GM, but it should be a simple matter for you to pick one of the following traits, change a few names, and have it focus on an entirely different set of circumstances. It’s up to your GM to decide if your new higher-level character has already addressed these issues or if he wants to work them into future events in the campaign. The game benefits of the selected trait remain unchanged, and persist even after Gaedren Lamm is taken care of.

The Potential Character Backgrounds are:


1) Drug Addict

Someone you know has become addicted to Khat, a popular, illegal drug. The drug induces sleep filled with vivid dreams, during which the user’s body often shakes and shivers, giving the substance its street name. Shiver is particularly dangerous for the desperate, for its promises of dreams and oblivion are often viewed as the only alternative apart from suicide for escaping a dreary life. 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 one who got your friend addicted in the first place was a crimelord named Gaedren. Unfortunately, the City Guard seems to be more focused on other matters right now. They don’t have time to devote any resources to what they’ve called, “a bit player in a beggar’s problem.” It would seem that if his operation is to be stopped, it falls to you.

  • 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. You gain a +2 bonus on Knowledge (local) checks or Gather Information checks (choose one when selecting this trait).
  • 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, and you have a +1 bonus on Fortitude saving throws.

2) Framed:

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 crimelord named Gaedren Lamm. Lamm’s 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 his 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.

  • Family Honor: The person framed was a family member, perhaps a father or brother. You managed to trick the fisherman into revealing the truth with your skilled tongue, and thus gain a +2 bonus on Bluff checks.
  • Dropout: You were the one accused. 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. You gain a +2 bonus on Spellcraft checks.

3) Love Lost:

Someone you loved was knifed to death in a dark alley one night. You were called to the scene by the City Guard to identify the body, and as rough as that was for you, you also noticed a ring was missing from the body. Whoever murdered your loved one stole that ring—you’re convinced of it. You’ve done some investigation on your own and recently found that exact same ring for sale at a local merchant's shop. Although, to your great frustration, you can’t afford yet to buy it back, the merchant did inform you who sold him that very ring: a man named Gaedren Lamm. It seems likely this criminal is the one who killed your loved one, or at the very least knows who did. The only problem is finding him.

  • Orphaned: The murder victim was your only surviving parent. You had to grow up fast to take care of your siblings or to handle your family’s matters and were forced from an early age to support yourself. You gain a +2 bonus on one of the following skills: Craft, Perform, or Profession.
  • Widowed: 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. You gain a +2 bonus on Intimidate checks.

4) Missing Child:

You suspect that a child you know has been abducted by Gaedren. Whatever the relationship, you’ve heard rumors about Gaedren’s “Little Lambs,” and of how the old man uses children as pickpockets and agents for his crimes. You’ve even heard rumors that the child you’re looking for has been spotted in the marketplaces in the company of other known to be cut-purses and pickpockets. Although the City Guard has been understanding of your plight, yet 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?

  • Missing Sibling: The missing child is a brother or sister. Although everyone else has given up hope, you believe your sibling still lives out there. Your constant search for the missing sibling has developed into great skill at rumor mongering and finding information from others. Gather Information and Sense Motive are always class skills for you.
  • Missing Son or Daughter: The missing child is your own son or daughter, a niece or nephew, or the son or daughter of your superior or employer and one you had been charged with protecting. The child was abducted during a trip to the market or some other daily event. Long hours spent searching for rumors and your stubborn will to continue grant you a +1 bonus on Will saves.

5) Unhappy Childhood:

You spent a period of time as one of Gaedren’s enslaved orphans. 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 loan of money. 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 his “Little Lambs” before escaping. You’ve nursed a grudge for the old man ever since.

  • Tortured: Gaedren tortured you and left you for dead on a garbage heap after you made one too many errors. Your scars and memories have honed your reaction speed and make you rather jumpy. You gain a +1 bonus on Reflex saves.
  • Religious: You found a holy symbol of the god you worship today while on a job for Gaedren 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. You gain a +2 bonus on Concentration checks.