War is Coming
"We call Qarth "the Greatest City that Ever Was or Will Be". An easy claim to make if one knows only the docks and custom houses of other cities. An easy lie to swallow if a people only see the gold and jewels of their rulers, which we, the Thirteen who govern this city, are careful to ensure."
―Xaro Xhoan Daxos
Qarth is a great trading city located on the southern coast of Essos, on the straits linking the Summer Sea to the Jade Sea. Ships from Westeros, the Free Cities, the Summer Islands, and Slaver's Bay all pass through the Straits of Qarth on their way to the great nations and trading centers of the Further East, such as Yi Ti and Asshai.
Unlike most cities in Essos, Qarth has no fear of the Dothraki, as the vast and forbidding Red Waste divides it from the Dothraki sea. Nor was Qarth ever conquered by the old Valyrian Freehold. The Red Waste also separates Qarth from land-based travel with other parts of Essos, but it is a major port that conducts brisk maritime trade with merchants from Westeros to Asshai. Qarth seems to be located on an oasis, for despite being surrounded by desert, the inside of the city is tropical.
Qarth is defended by immense stone walls and strong gates, and the Qartheen have been known to bar entry to the city to those who do not meet their approval. Due to Qarth's isolation behind the Red Waste, being denied entry will often spell doom for travelers, and their bones can be found extending around its walls. This area is sometimes called the "Garden of Bones".
People and Politics
The people of Qarth are known as the Qartheen and call their home "The greatest city that ever was or will be." Qarth is an oligarchy ruled by a council of nobles and merchants known as the Thirteen, most of which are members of the Pureborn, an aristocracy descending from the deposed Kings of Qarth. Although they rule by consensus, a member of the Thirteen can overrule the decision of the rest by invoking sumai, pledging their life and their blood to back up their decision.
Status is quite important among the Qartheen, and they tend to be very concerned about appearances; the men wear vests which are covered in extravagant gold tracing and jewelry on the front, and women sometimes dye their hair to appear more exotic. Both men and women decorate their clothing with gold pieces shaped like insects and encrusted with jewels. Appearances, however, are not only a matter of status among the Qartheen, but also of survival; among the Thirteen for example, those who do not hold hereditary seats will only remain on the council as long as they can appear wealthy and powerful before the eyes of the other twelve members. Any failure to keep up appearances and they will be removed and quickly replaced.
Of Great Wealth: In addition to your starting wealth, you also gain an additional 200 gp.