Arbiters (Korvosa)

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Arbiters of Korvosa
Seal of the city-state of Korvosa

Dispense justice within city and check legality of monarch's edicts
Local (Korvosa and its dependencies)
Source: Guide to Korvosa, pg(s). 34-35

The dreaded arbiters of the Varisian city-state of Korvosa serve not only as judges, but also check the decrees of the city's monarch.1


Criminal and civil judges

The arbiters spend most of their time trying criminal cases and settling civil disputes, and their decisions carry the same legal weight as those of the monarch. Depending on the severity of the crime, up to nine arbiters might try a single case, although most are handled by a single individual. The total number of arbiters on a case is always an odd one, thus eliminating the chance of a stalemate. Although someone convicted and sentenced by an arbiter may appeal her sentence (but not the verdict), few are aware of this right, and thus only a half-dozen such appeals are brought before the arbiters every month on average.1

Although the arbiters are feared throughout the city for their ability to hand down capital sentences, only the worst of Korvosa's criminals are executed. The only crimes punishable by death are violent ones (such as murder or rape) or treason against the city.2

Legislative oversight

The arbiters' second power is the examination of any and all edicts and decrees passed down by the city's monarch in order to determine their legality. Each edict is checked by seven arbiters against the Korvosa City Charter and the most current version of the laws of the nation of Cheliax. Five of the seven must agree that the new edict does not contradict either of these sources in order for it to be passed into law. If the arbiters' review rejects the edict, one of the members who voted against it must advise the monarch on how to make it more acceptable.1

Other powers

Arbiters serve as a further check against the monarchy, as the consent of a single randomly-chosen arbiter is needed (along with a unanimous vote by five representatives of the Great Houses and the Seneschal of Castle Korvosa) in order to evict a king or queen from Castle Korvosa. This only removes the monarch from the Castle, but does not eliminate his or her power.3


The arbiters are headquartered in the imposing and feared Longacre Building in the North Point neighborhood.2


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Mike McArtor. “Chapter 3: People” in Guide to Korvosa, 34–35. Paizo Inc., 2008
  2. 2.0 2.1 Mike McArtor. “Chapter 2: Places” in Guide to Korvosa, 25. Paizo Inc., 2008
  3. Mike McArtor. “Chapter 3: People” in Guide to Korvosa, 37. Paizo Inc., 2008