No puddles round here!
Waterdeep is the largest city along the Sword Coast and the most influential in the north of Faerun. Also known as the City of Splendors, it’s the most-powerful member of the Lords’ Alliance, a group of city states that co-operate, particularly to stand against corrupt groups like the Shadow Thieves and the Black Network.
Waterdeep attracts some of the greatest scholars and artists as well as ambitious merchants and sell-swords looking to earn their fortune.
Waterdeep was built on the ancient Elven city of Aelinthaldaar, next to the Sea of Swords and spreading onto Mount Waterdeep, the former home of a mithral-mining dwarven clan. The tunnels of these mines have long since been abandoned and are now home to deadly creatures and the corpses of many an unfortunate adventurer.
Found beneath the city are the halls of Undermountain, a frequently visited location by adventurers who favour its close proximity to the taverns of Waterdeep and the tmemples that can offer quick healing if necessary.
Waterdeep’s boundaries spread far beyond the walls of the city spreading about 100 miles from the city’s borders with many farms and other settlements found here.
Waterdeep’s location along the Sword Coast and between the large city states of Baldur’s Gate and Neverwinter, make it a hugely influential city for trade and commerce.
Waterdeep is ruled by a council of 16, secret members whose identities are kept hidden. When operating in an official capacity, they will wear masks to hide their identity though some, particularly among the noble class, will seek to identify the members of the council. Of course, many of the council members themselves will often spread their own rumours to make such guessing-games more difficult and confusing.
Law and order
Waterdeep is known as a city that is open to all that want to make it their home, as long as they can behave themselves. Such laws are maintained by the City Watch. The city guard are utilised as protection of key points of the city such as gates, roads and bodyguards. In addition to these more general protective units is Force Grey, a specialist unit of about 12 highly skilled mages and warriors that handle more delicate and dangerous missions within the city. The city is also protected by a unit of griffon riders who patrol the sides of Mount Waterdeep.
Convictions are made by the magisters who rule on most criminal matters within the city. Convicting the criminals of the city is a dangerous role so each magister is protected by at least 6 members of the night watch at any time. If a person is found guilty and wishes to challenge the ruling, they can appeal to the Lord’s Court and be judged by the council of Lords themselves, but this is rare as a guilty conviction will typically lead to a harsher punishment to prevent this system being abused.
Waterdeep has not had an officially recognised thieves guild for some time meaning that much crime is governed by pockets of the criminal underworld. It is, however, difficult for these criminals to gain traction in the city due to the anonymity of the ruling council meaning it’s difficult to threaten or bribe the leaders of the city.
Some unofficial crime guilds have gained some traction, the most notorious of these being the Xanathar Guild; a criminal group led by the beholder, Xanathar. While they remained secretive and influential for some time, the Xanathar guild was eventually eradicated by an adventuring group led by Lord Piergeiron. Xanathar’s Guild has primarily competed with Zhentarim sub-factions and other more minor criminal groups within the city.
As with most large cities in Faerun, Waterdeep has a large variety of faiths openly worshipped within its walls (and some secretly worshipped too). Some of the largest temples in Waterdeep include those dedicated to Gond, Lathander, Mielikki, Mystra, Ohgma, Selune, Silvanus, Sune, Tempus, Tymora and Tyr. The city even has a temple dedicated to worshippers of all religions known as the Plinth. Some more secretive places of worship are dedicated to Cyric, Shar, Auril and Umberlee though the locations of these places of worship are secret and generally unknown by those not of their faiths.
As one of the largest cities in Faerun, and with the Forgotten Realms being the primary setting for 5e, Waterdeep features more often than most locations in Wizards of the Coast’s published materials. 2 adventures are set within the city of Waterdeep with Tales from the Yawning Portal setting players off on adventures told in the Yawning Portal, a large well-like structure in the middle of a tavern from which adventurers can access the dangerous (and potentially profitable) caverns beneath the city. 7 of the most beloved adventures from D&D history are contained within this book. These adventure books are:
- Waterdeep: Dragon Heist
- Waterdeep: Dungeon of the Mad Mage
- Tales from the Yawning Portal