A Spellplagued Land
Waterdeep, also known as the City of Splendors, remains what it has been for centuries: a bustling, crowded, busy mercantile crossroads where coin is king, tolerance for outlanders of other race and habits is high (as long as they trade fairly), and folk play hard and work even harder, their lives proceeding at the fastest pace possible. Gossip is the grease that helps the daily lives of most Waterdhavians along in their endless striving to make ever more money. Wealth brings respect, respect earns influence, and influence is power.
Waterdeep today is a bustling center of commerce filled with around-the-clock stinks and noises, rumbling wagons south of Castle Waterdeep, and walled splendor to the north of the castle. The city is often swept by fads and fashions, and is dominated by wealth, trading, and constant chatter about the latest news of events everywhere in the world (as well as rumors planted so as to sway public opinion and investment).
Waterdeep is ruled by a Council of Lords, and secretly by 47 officially recognized guilds. All but one of the lords keep their identities secret. The current open lord is Dagult “Dagger” Neverember. He is a lion of a man who generally wants to do what is best for the city. The guilds have fallen in power over the past century due to mistrust among the citizens. Only four guilds still hold power and influence enough to really alter what happens within the city. In a city as large as Waterdeep almost anything can be bought and sold. Trade runs the gamut from finished goods and edible treats to special services and illegal items.
Waterdeep is broken into officially recognized wards. Each ward is briefly described below.
Castle Ward (Administration District): Castle Ward lies in the heart of Waterdeep, wrapping around the eastern slopes of Mount Waterdeep. This ward is home to the city’s administrative buildings and buildings of state. Deliberately putting on a show of force, City Watch and Guard patrols are heavy in the castle district. The ward’s most prominent landmarks include Ahgairon’s Tower, Blackstaff Tower, Castle Waterdeep, the Lords’ Palace, the Market, the Cynosure, and New Olamn.
Dock Ward (Harbor District): Dock Ward is Waterdeep’s oldest and most colorful ward. the harbor is very much a working place, full of sweating, cursing dockworkers and sailors loading and unloading vessels. Carts groan hastily between warehouses all over the southern half of the city and Dock Ward, carrying goods to and from the ships. Dock Ward is also notorious as a lawless, brawling place of drunks, smugglers, and fell magic. Those who are daring or foolish enough to want to delve beneath the brackish water of the harbor are advised that the City Guard keeps a close watch for smugglers and items dropped for later recovery. Notable landmarks of Dock Ward include Cookhouse Hall, Shipper’s Hall, and the Full Sails tavern, headquarters of the Most Diligent League of Sail-Makers and Cordwainers.
Field Ward (Young District): Field Ward is a rather crowded area, newly built over between the North Trollwall and the outer north city wall. It was once the caravan camping fields. Neither wall has been torn down, leaving Field Ward fenced off. This district is home to folk of all walks of life who lacked coin enough to hire lodgings or own buildings in old Waterdeep, but who first arrived as the ravages of the Spellplague began. It is a slum in some places, and a struggling middle-class area in others. The Ward is a noisy, lively area that’s home to poor (and a few wealthy) elves, half-bloods of all sorts, and dwarves who are determined to get the respect they are sure they deserve.
North Ward (Home of the Wealthy): Waterdeep’s quietest ward is also one of its wealthiest. North Ward is home to most of the middle-class and lesser noble families. This ward has few notable landmarks other than the Cliffwatch, and it all but shuts down at ddusk. This placid reputation belies the intrigue and scheming that goes on behind closed doors, and the columes of smuggled goods that lie in cellars beneath the city streets. The only widely known landmark of North Ward is the Gentle Mermaid, who fame as a gambling hall has spread up and down the Sword Coast.
Sea Ward (Noble District): Waterdeep’s most affluent ward is notable for the many-spired, grand homes of the nobility, the gleaming edifices of the city’s leading temples, and the imposing towers of its premier wizards. Lashed by sea storms, Sea Ward was traditionally deserted in the winter; the nobles preferred to weather the cold months in estates farther south. this practice has been largely abandoned over the last century, however, as strife has erupted across the Sword Coast. Notable landmarks of Sea Ward include the Field of Triumph, the lush Heroes’ Garden, and the Sea’s Edge Beach. Waterdeep’s largest temple, the House of Heroes, dedicated to Tempus, stands just north o the Field of Triumph.
South Ward (Working Class District): South Ward likes in the southeastern corner of Waterdeep, bounded by Trades Ward to the north and Dock Ward to the west. Caravan City, as this oft-forgotten ward is sometimes known, is a homely, friendly, busy, and largely poor area of Waterdeep. South ward is dominated by large, tall, old warehouses made of stone, mud brick, or timber. Crowded among them are three and four floor tenements, most with shops at street level. Notable landmarks of South Ward include Caravan Court, Waymoot, and Metalmasters’ Hall, headquarters of the Most Careful Order of Skilled Smiths and Metalforgers.
Trades Ward (Center of Commerce): Trades Ward lies in the eastern half of Waterdeep, encircling the western and southern walls of the City of the Dead. Given over almost entirely to commerce, Trades Ward lacks the feeling of community found in the more residential wards, but retains the husle and bustle of a marketplace throughout the day and night. Notable landmarks include the Court of the White Bull and Virgin’s Square. The towering Plinth stands no longer, having collapsed during the chaos of the Spellplague.
Waterdeep is also home to several other residential neighborhoods that are not officially recognized districts by the city. These are often poor and struggling neighborhoods.