Daggerford and the North
Waterdeep, the City of Splendors, is the most important and influential city in the North, and perhaps in all Faerûn. For this reason it is considered part of the Heartlands of the Realms, even though it lies 150 miles north of Daggerford. The road to Waterdeep is well paved and well patrolled. The city is the hub of trading from the mineral-rich lands to the north, the merchant kingdoms of Amn and Calimshan to the south, the kingdoms of the Inner Sea to the east, and the sea kingdoms and traders to the west.
Waterdeep is named for its outstanding natural deepwater harbor, and the city that grew up at this site has become the commercial crossroads of the northern Realms. More than 100,000 people make their home in Waterdeep. The city sprawls northward from the sea, spreading along the flanks of Mount Waterdeep, a great and singular mountain. Of old, Mt. Waterdeep was said to have been a dwarven citadel, and the entire length and great depth of the mountain is riddled with passages and tunnels, most of which are still occupied by deadly creatures whose presence in the mountain pre-dates the founding of the city itself. One reason that Waterdeep is an attractive location for adventurers is that it has a large adventuring site (Undermountain) comfortably located near temples and other recovery areas.
Waterdeep was used as a trading site for trade activities between northern tribesmen and southern merchants more than two millennia ago. By 1,000 years ago, permanent farms had sprung up in the area. The first mention of a Waterdeep (not as a city, but as a collection of warlords) occurs only 400 years ago. The city was truly established as a going concern by 1032 DR, the year Ahghairon became the first Lord of Waterdeep, and the date from which Northreckoning is counted.
The city grew spectacularly, such that by 1248 DR both the City of the Dead and the guilds had been developed. The guildmasters seized control soon afterwards, ushering in a period of unrest and bitter conflict known as the Guildwars. The Guildwars ended only when the two surviving guildmasters brought in their own period of misrule. It was only in 1273 DR that the present system of government (or lack thereof) was instituted. This was the year that the Magisters were established and the secret Lords of Waterdeep were firmly reestablished. Since that time, the city has continued to grow and prosper.
Humankind and other races come from all over the Realms to earn hard coin in the City of Splendors. Over the years these successful merchants have set up guilds and themselves become nobility, supporting the secretive Lords of Waterdeep who police the city fairly, yet with a light hand, by means of the superb city guard (soldiers), city watch (police), and over 20 black-robed magistrates. As a result, Waterdeep is a place tolerant of different races, religions, and lifestyles. This in turn has encouraged commerce, and Waterdeep has grown into a huge, eclectic city.
Waterdeep is ruled by a council whose membership is largely secret. These hidden Lords of Waterdeep maintain their identities behind magical masks; called helms and while they rule in public, none know the true identities of most of them. The subject of who the Lords are is a common topic of noble conversation, and some consider it a game to discover whom the Lords are, a game made more confusing by the fact the Lords themselves set their own rumors afloat.
It is a known fact that Piergeiron the Paladinson, Warden of Waterdeep and Commander of the Watch, whose golden-spired palace dominates the center of the city, is a member of the Lords. He is the Unmasked Lord, and wears no disguise over either his face or his heart. It is generally assumed that the archmage Khelben Blackstaff Arunsun is also of the Lords, and perhaps chief among them, exceeding even Piergeiron. The identities of other members have not been made public knowledge. The names of Mirt the Merchant, the courtesan Larissa, and Texter the Paladin have been connected with the Lords, though evidence exists to both prove or disprove claims that they are Lords, and beyond these four (including the Blackstaff) conjecture swings widely as to who is a Lord and who is not.
The Lords appear in public only in the Lords Court, hearing all cases of murder, treason, misuse of magic, and appeals from lower courts. On such occasions there are always at least four Lords present, but sometimes six or seven are seen, and rarely as many as nine. Piergeiron chairs the Court and asks all questions, for the Lords speak through him. In chambers the Lords all appear similarly masked and robed, their robes formless and black, with black capes, and their masks completely covering the head and face. These masks have featureless faces, with mirrored crystals over the eyes, save for Piergeirons. He has had his face covering separated from his helm, and lets those who appear before the Court see his face.
Defense and Justice
Waterdeep maintains two separate armed forces, the guard and the watch. The city guard serves as Waterdeeps soldiery, and its members staff garrisons, road patrols, and watchposts, and serve as bodyguards and gate guards. The watch is the local police force, and in addition to capturing criminals, its members settle petty disputes, give directions, summon medical and priestly aid, and generally perform duties that promote the idea that Waterdeep is a city open to all who know how to behave themselves.
The members of the guard are armored in scale mail of black, silver, and gold, and carry short swords and bows. They are normally found in patrols of 12. If out on road patrol, they will be mounted on medium warhorses.
The watch is equipped with leather armor strengthened with chain and colored green, black, and gold. The members of the watch are armed with short, stout rods, daggers, and short swords. They usually travel in foot patrols of four warriors. Watch members carry horns with which to summon reinforcements.
Waterdeep has strong walls on its landward sides and is protected in part by Mount Waterdeep on the seaward side. Mount Waterdeep is studded with watch towers and defensive positions, and patrolled by special guard units on flights of hippogriffs.
Waterdeep also benefits from a large native population of the adventuring class (including powerful mages, priests, and warriors) who are more than willing to deal with any and all miscreants who threaten their home city. In many ways, this is its best defense.
Waterdhavian justice is dispatched by the Magisters, who direct the common courts of the city. These Black Robes, as they are often called, are empowered to pass sentence. They are always accompanied by six members of the guard. Any individuals found guilty may appeal to the Lords Court, ruled over by the masked Lords of Waterdeep, where serious cases are usually heard. Individuals bringing frivolous cases to the Lords Court usually face stiffer fines than if they accepted a magisters ruling.
Other Important Factions
It is said that the Lords rule Waterdeep but do not truly run it. This is quite true, in that there are a number of other factions who make up Waterdeep. The most noticeable are the guildspowerful merchant and craft organizations that control much of the life-blood of the city. Once the guilds ruled the city, and it almost destroyed itself in a series of internal commercial wars. No one wants to see those days return.
A second important Waterdhavian faction is the local nobility. It consists of 76 respected (for the most part) families of varying degrees of power, most of whom can trace their lines to before the founding of Waterdeep itself. Many powerful names come out of Waterdeep, including the Amcathras (whose scion is now Lord of Shadowdale), the Cassalanters (wealthy moneylenders), and the Wands (a family of powerful and noble wizards).
Third, a rising merchant class exists outside the standard guilds. These are caravan and coster operators, and they use Waterdeep as a destination for their caravan goods. More shops are offering a variety of different goods because of this growing group. The most notable of these new merchants is the retired wizardess Aurora, who has established a magical retail organization to supply a wide number of patrons across the North with specialized items.
Last, one must consider the continual tide of adventurers that flood the city. Some establish themselves as citizens of good standing and remain permanently, while others drift off for other climes or meet their ends in back-alley brawls. Secret societies such as the Harpers and the Red Sashes make up the closest thing to organizations drawn from this group.
These four factions are rough approximations, and they overlap – a wandering Harper can be the descendent of a noble family that works in the tanning guild, but who is representing a merchant company from Amn. The established government pulls the best from all four areas as its Lords, to the benefit of all.
Religions in Waterdeep
Waterdeep has a huge variety of faiths, and the odds are that if a deity is worshiped somewhere in Faerûn, it has at least a follower (or likely a wandering priest or two, and maybe a shrine) in the City of Splendors. However, there are only are seven major temple complexes within the city. They are dedicated to Gond, Lathander, Mystra, Selûne, Sune, Tempus, and Tymora.
In addition to the temples, shrines to Silvanus, Mielikki, Chauntea, Lliira, Sharess, and Siamorphe can be found here. In addition, there are secret temples and hidden shrines to most of the dark gods, often hidden away beneath the streets of the city. These include churches to Bane, Talona, Umberlee, Shar, Auril, and a wide variety of the Beast Cults, including the Cult of the Dragon.
In the Trades Ward, there is a building known as the Plinth that is kept as a place of worship and meditation for all faiths. Many long-dead and departed deities may hear from their only worshipers at the base of this structure, which is usually festooned with flowers and other small offerings. Here one may find followers of odd and obscure faiths and frequent intense theological discussions. The watch stations a detachment here to prevent the discussions from getting overheated and disturbing others.
The Wards of Waterdeep
Waterdeep is roughly divided into wards. The wards originally all had guards and walls in the manner of Procampur and other ancient cities, but the press of progress has toppled or bored through most of the walls. Only the walls and guards around the City of the Dead are still maintained. The wards of Waterdeep are:
Castle Ward: This central ward encompasses Mount Waterdeep and much of the government of the city. Here is located Castle Waterdeep, the place of government, as well as the Palace of Waterdeep (also known as Piergeirons Palace), Lord Piergeirons private residence. This ward is also a common place for retired adventurers such as Mirt the Moneylender to make their homes.
City of the Dead: This park-like area is surrounded by high walls. It is often visited during the day by wanderers and the odd picnic. At night, the gates of the City of the Dead are closed, for it is Waterdeeps graveyard. The more important personages have their own personal graves or family shrines, while others are confined to larger crypts. The reason for the guards is not to protect the graves, but rather to protect the city from the occasional restless undead creature that does not appreciate its accommodations.
Dock Ward: As one might assume, Dock Ward is situated hard on the Great Harbor of Waterdeep, and holds the docks, shipbuilding yards, and warehouses for the sea trade. The harbor is inhabited by mermen who keep the peace within their own watery city.
North Ward: Tucked in the northwestern portion of the city, North Ward is the land of the nobility and their villas. The moneyed classes make their homes here, far removed from the hustle and bustle of the lower (literally) classes by the docks and in Southern Ward.
Sea Ward: The newest of the wards, Sea Ward contains many of the temples of Waterdeep, along with a good helping of the newer noble families and retired adventurers who can afford the odd villa or two. The Field of Triumph, Waterdeeps arena, is located here.
Southern Ward: South Ward (only nonnatives refer to it by its official name of Southern Ward) 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.
Trades Ward: Reaching north from the River Gate through the heart of Waterdeep, Trades Ward houses the homes and places of business of most of the citys craftsmen and artisans and the headquarters of many of the powerful guilds of Waterdeep.
(SOURCE – Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting / A Grand Tour of the Realms)