Crown of the North, City of Splendors, Waterdeep the Mighty
Who Rules: The sixteen Lords of Waterdeep, whose identities are unknown to the general populace. Piergeiron the Paladinson, Warden of Waterdeep and Commander of the Watch, is the Open Lord and a ruler beyond reproach; all others attend the Lords’ Court in disguise.
Who Really Rules: The Lords, with the support of the guard, watch, and Magisters (judges), and the consent of the guilds and nobility.
Population: rarely falls below 122,000 beings; may increase up to fivefold in times of busiest trading. Most are of Northern human descent, but respectable numbers of elves dwell here, as well as the rarer gnomes and dwarves. Halflings are the most numerous non-humans.
Major Products: Trade is the lifesblood of Waterdeep. Virtually any item imaginable is either made locally or readily imported; also, visiting caravans are well provided for. Though eclipsed by the shipwrights of Orlumbor, the Waterdhavian shipyards prosper. The City of Splendors is also a major center for scholarship and the arts.
Armed Forces: Waterdeep maintains two armed forces, the guard and the watch. The city guard serves as the Waterdhavian soldiery, and its members staff garrisons, road patrols, and watchposts, and serves as bodyguards and gate guards. The watch polices the city; in addition to catching criminals, its members settle disputes, give directions, summon priestly aid, and promote the notion that The City of splendors is open to all who know how to behave themselves.Notable Mages:
- Kappiyan Flurmastyr sells potions to fund his seemingly constant research; most deal with his apprentice, Shalara Malarkkin.
- Khelben “Blackstaff” Arunsun is by far the best known mage in the City of Splendors. Long rumored to be the power behind the Lords (if not one himself), he is the most powerful wizard of the Sword Coast. Well-respected and much-feared, his every word bears listening.
- The eccentric Maaril stays in his Dragon Tower, in Sea Ward.
- Maskar Wands is patriarch of an old and powerful noble family. While a power in city politics, he rarely leaves his villa unless provoked by some irresponsible use of magic within Waterdeep.
- Mhair Szeltune is head of the Watchful Order of Magists and Protectors, the mage’s guild of Waterdeep. She is an uncanny judge of character and a sharp player at politics and intrigue.
- If a deity is worshiped in the Realms, odds are that it has at least one follower in the City of Splendors – or likely a wandering priest or two, and maybe a shrine. There are seven major temple complexes in the city: The House of Inspired Hands (temple of Gond), the Spires of the Morning (Lathander), the House of Wonder (Mystra), the House of the Moon (Selûne), the Temple of Beauty (Sune), the House of Heroes (Tempus), and the Tower of Luck (Tymora).
- One can also find mostly permanent shrines to Silvanus, Mielikki, Chauntea, Lliira, Sharess, and Siamorphe. In addition, secret temples and hidden shrines to the dark gods are whispered to exist, many below the streets of Waterdeep.
- There is also a building in Trades Ward called the Plinth that is kept as a place of worship and meditation for all faiths.
Notable Rogues’ and Thieves’ Guilds: The last official thieves’ guld in Waterdeep was destroyed in 1300 DR, and while there have been many claimants to that position and title over the years, there have been no groups of sufficient power to challenge the Lords. Rumors persist regarding a new crimelord, but nothing has been proven.
The survivors of that purge regrouped in Athkatla, and became the Shadow Thieves. This nefarious organization strikes at the Lords of Waterdeep whenever it can. Their symbol remains a black silk mask impaled on a stiletto blade; many Waterdhavians remember another calling card, a single, severed human foot.
The Knights of the Shield is a secret society seeking to manipulate the politics and commerce of the Sword Coast to its own advantage. One apparent step in this plan involves the infiltration of one of its members into the Lords of Waterdeep. Little else is known of them.Important Persons:
- Blazidon One-Eye handles many mercenary appointments for itinerant warriors. If you need a job, seek him in Virgin’s Square.
- Elaith “the Serpent” Craulnobur is thought to be one of Waterdeep’s richest citizens, coming by much of his lucre dishonestly. This infamous elf often hires mercenaries and funds adventuring companies, but few ever survive his commissions. He is a dangerous swordsman.
- Helve Ultrace is Senior Armsmaster of the watch, and is responsible for much internal administration. His workload frays his temper.
- Mulgor collects fines and fees for the Magisters and the Lords. He is iron-willed and can extract a fee from anybody.
- Captain Rulathon is Lord Piergeiron’s second-in-command of the watch, known and well-liked in the city. He always takes time to travel the city, and despises slavery and inhuman religious practices.
Waterdeep is divided into seven wards: Castle Ward, City of the Dead, Dock Ward, North Ward, Sea Ward, Southern Ward, and Trades Ward.
- Castle Ward encompasses Mount Waterdeep and much of the city’s government. Here is located Castle Waterdeep, the seat of power, and the Palace of Waterdeep (alias Piergeiron’s Palace), before which stands Ahghairon’s Tower, once home of Waterdeep’s first Lord. This ward is also a common place for retired adventurers to make their homes, if they enjoy intrigue and ‘night life.’ The guard mans Peaktop Eyrie on the mountain, where griffon steeds are stabled. Other sites in Castle Wards are the Spires of the Morning, Blackstaff Tower, Mirt’s Mansion, and the Walking Statue. Shops such as Balthorr’s Rare & Wondrous Treasures, Halamber Lutes & Harps, Halls of Hilmer Master Armourer, and Phalantar’s Philters and Components are found here, as is the Market, largest open market in the city. Taverns include the Crawling Spider, the Elfstone Tavern, the Mighty Manticore, and the Quaffing Quaggoth. The Jade Jug is Castle Ward’s best known inn, Silavene’s is a notrious festhall.
- The City of the Dead is a park-like area surrounded by high walls. It is often visited during the day by wanderers and the odd picnic. At night, the gates are closed, for this is Waterdeep’s graveyard. More important folk have personal graves or family shrines, while others are confined to larger crypts (some of which touch on other dimensions).
- Dock Ward is situated hard on the Great Harbor of Waterdeep, and holds the docks, shipyards, and warehouses for the sea trade. The harbor is inhabited by merfolk who keep the peace within their own watery city. This is the most crowded, dirty, and rough district of the city; its vital commerce and shady dealings keep its streets busy at all hours. Noted shops include House of Pride Perfumes, Serpentil Books and Folios, the Smokehouse, and Whistling Blades. This ward has innumerable taverns, inns, and festhalls of wildly varying notoriety. Other sites include the Old Xoblob Shop, famous for its battle trophies.
- North Ward is the land of the established nobility and their villas. The moneyed classes make their homes here, far removed from the (literally) lower classes by the docks and in Southern Ward. Downybeard Tobacconist, Fallen Stars Fish, Hriiat Fine Pastries, and Sulmest’s Splendid Shoes and Boots are representative North Ward shops; taverns include the Grinning Lion and the Misty Beard. The Gentle Mermaid is one of Faerûn’s largest gambling houses.
- The newest ward, Sea Ward contains many of Waterdeep’s temples, along with many newer noble families and retired adventurers who can afford an odd villa or two. Halazar’s Fine Gems and Selchoun’s Sundries Shop are found in Sea Ward, as are such taverns as the Broken Lance, the Fiery Flagon, Gounar’s, and Wyvern’s Rest. Inns include the Golden Harp and Pilgrim’s Rest. One may also see the Dragon Tower of Maaril, Naingate, Blue Alley, and the Field of Triumph, Waterdeep’s arena.
- Southern Ward (or South Ward, to the natives) is a place of caravan masters and traders, for it is close to the South Gate, the opening to the Trade Way. Here one finds stables, ironmongers, and a goodly variety of inns and taverns. Many poor but honest Waterdhavians live here, as well as a few retired adventurers and rising merchants. Shops include Brian the Swordmaster’s smithy and shop (good, but costly), the Old Monster Shop, and Pelauvir’s Counter (a general store). The Fiery Fool, The Full Cup, the House of Good Spirits, the Jade Dancer (also a festhall), the Spouting Fish, and the Sword’s Rest are all taverns to be found in South Ward. The wizard Kappiyan Flurmastyr lives here.
- Trades Ward houses the homes and places of business of most of the city’s craftsmen and artisans, and the headquarters of more than 40% of Waterdeep’s guilds. Noted shops include Belmonder’s Meats, Orsabbas’s Fine Imports, Riautar’s Weaponry, the Riven Shield Shop, Saern’s Fine Swords, and Thentavva’s Boots. Bowels of the Earth and the Underdark are the best known taverns; Gondalim’s, the Inn of the Dripping Dagger, Maelstrom’s Notch, and the Unicorn’s Horn are sample inns. Other sites include the Court of the White Bull (market), Mhair’s Tower, Virgin’s Square (sellsword hiring), and the Plinth (temple for all faiths).
Waterdeep’s climate is typically northern; that is, cold and damp. The mountain’s sheltering effects limit all but the worst storms, and the city rarely swelters, even at summer’s height. But Waterdhavian winters are fierce, and the north winds bring cold to every crevice.
Before humans came to dwell here, Mount Waterdeep was said to have been a dwarven citadel. The entire mountain is riddled with passages and tunnels which were occupied by dwarves, then drow, and finally, the mad archmage Halaster and his Seven apprentices. His subterranean empire is called Undermountain, and some insist he still walks its halls, tormenting all his visitors. An entire lawless city, Skullport, is also rumored to be down there somewhere. Both the Waterdeep sewers and the Dungeon of the Crypt (below North Ward, entered via the City of the Dead) are thought to link with Undermountain. One entry is known to exist at the Yawning Portal, Durnan’s inn in the Dock Ward.
Waterdeep was used as a human trading site more than two millennia ago. The first mention of Waterdeep as a city of warlords occurs only 400 years ago; it was truly established in 1032 DR, the year Ahghairon slew Warlord Raurlor to become the first Lord of Waterdeep. (This is used as year 0 in the Northreckoning system of dating; the Year of the Prince is 325 NR.)
Ahghairon’s rule was challenged by the renegade Lord Kerrigan in 1246 DR, but the traitor failed. When Ahghairon died in 1256 DR, the guildmasters seized control, ushering in a period of bitter strife known as the Guildwars. This ended in 1273 DR, when the Magisters were established and the secret Lords regained power. The city has continued to grow and prosper since that time.
The Waterdhavian Mindset:
Waterdhavians are a composite of their component parts. Many citizens are recent arrivals from other parts of the world, all with different viewpoints, deities, and attitudes. As a result, Waterdeep is varied and cosmopolitan in nature, open to the many nationalities and races of the realms. It is not so much a melting pot as a gem grinder – smoothing the rough edges so individuals shine at their best.
Waterdhavians can show the bluff honesty of a Dalesman, the calculating planning of a Sembian, the honor of a Cormyrean, the independence of a Westie and the sly cunning of a Moonsea native. These behaviors can all be exhibited in the same individual, and the art of choosing the right frame of mind for a certain instance is inherent to the city’s character. “Live and let live” best describes most attitudes; the pursuit of wealth and happiness is too important. If you’re ridiculed in Waterdeep, you brought it on yourself.
Waterdhavians don’t talk about the weather; commerce and distant wars are better fare. Slow to anger, a Waterdhavian will plainly state her feelings as a warning before voices are raised. “I don’t find that amusing, friend,” is often said. Waterdhavians try to be understanding and open-minded, but the trend is not pursued fanatically. It is accepted that nobles, merchants, adventurers, traders, and immigrants all have their own places in society, but that doesn’t mean they want to associate with each other.
They never form a society of equals, but Waterdeep’s own are hard to surprise, whether with invading gods or walking statues or flying carpets. They have seen it all before.
FR1 Waterdeep and the North, City of Splendors box set, Volo’s Guide to Waterdeep, City of Splendors: Waterdeep
(image by Lucio Parrillo, from City of Splendors: Waterdeep)