There is one House of the King in every major town and city in each of the Kingdoms provinces.
The House of the King is the administrative headquarters of the City Watch of Baisaltir. It deals with all aspects of law enforcement, including the issuing of bounties on criminals and monsters, as well as arresting criminals. Persistent rumours indicate that the Kingdoms spies also operate from this building, and while no one officially confirms this rumour, it is true.
There are other, smaller centres as well, but the Houses of the King are the most important ones.
The building itself is large and made of stone. There is little decoration beyond the royal coat of arms over the main entrance, and most of the windows are small and suitable for use as arrow and gun ports. The walls are thick, and there are storerooms and a well inside the building. It could hold off a determined siege for quite some time and has held off urban rioters on numerous occasions.
Inside the House of the King
The main doors are open from dawn til dusk, and anyone may enter the front lobby. Here, the sweaty odour of crowds is overlaid strongly on that of the street, and fouler smells occasionally drift up from the lower floors. The hall is large, with a high ceiling, and the room is divided in two by a long wooden counter. The counter is the boundary between the public and the private parts of the House of the King, and is staffed over by a dozen men of the City Watch while the doors are open. Even at night there are six on duty.
The walls of the public area are covered with announcements of bounties, wanted posters, and other such official documents. The half-dozen watchmen mingle with the crowd at all times, keeping an eye out for trouble; there are likely to be more bounty hunters in this room than any other of comparable size in the Kingdom.
People carrying severed heads are not uncommon here; the bounty hunters bring the heads in to confirm the kills. Those who have killed monsters generally bring smaller body parts as proof.
The watchmen on the desk quickly become immune to surprise; a group of adventurers putting a dragon head on the table and asking for the bounty would provoke some response, but only because the staff wouldn't know the appropriate bounty offhand. They are always ready for trouble to break out and aren't worried about deaths that might occur when they deal with such events.
The private areas of the building are very different. There are few differences between offices; all have a small window, need to be lit by candles or lanterns, and are much the same size. Thus, people who are assigned here are assigned an office that they keep for their entire career, no matter how far up the hierarchy they make it.
The House of the King has a standard policy of not interfering with what people do in their offices, as long as the work gets done and no laws are broken. As a result, every office is different, and those that have been occupied for some time strongly reflect the personality of the occupant. Particularly prominent law enforcers attract rumours about their offices; someone renowned for his implacable hunts for murderers might be said to have the heads of those he catches preserved and mounted on the wall, or he might have an office filled with a collection of stuffed birds.
Getting into the private areas is difficult. In theory a visitor must have particular business with someone in the building, and that person must escort a visitor at all times while they are within the private areas. This is enforced in practice the first few times someone visits. However, people who are known to have worked with officials on numerous occasions, and to have done a good job, are allowed in by themselves, and they may even be allowed to take their own guests.
There is a second entrance at the back of the building, guarded by two watchmen and primarily used as an emergency exit. However, officials that don't want to push their way through the mob at the front entrance occasionally use it to come and go.
Movement in the House of the King
Combat in the House
Fights break out with some frequency in the main lobby, particularly among bounty hunters arguing over rewards. The City Watch are supposed to just beat the miscreants up and throw them out of the building, but deaths do occur.
Any fight within the House of the King quickly draws the attention of dozens of watchmen, and a fight with the guards sees the protagonists massively outnumbered and almost certainly defeated.
Kingdom officials may well ask to meet the characters in the House of the King. Some may even invite them there for more social events, being more comfortable in their offices than at home. However, characters are most likely to visit this place to collect bounties, find out who or what currently have bounties, and to talk to law enforcement officials about things they have found.
The best way to sneak around the House of the King is to look like you belong there. Characters convincingly disguised as members of the Watch will not be stopped, unless they act suspiciously. Getting into the building in the first place requires an invitation or successful initiation of a particular person who either works in the building or is a frequent visitor.
While the front desk does keep track of who goes in and out, the existence of a back door means that the list will be a bit off.
Note: This is one of the first or (hopefully) many submissions that detail my world and set the scene. As the number of submissions grow I will consider making a codex to bundle them together.