Intro to Waterdeep

You can find a complete list of all Dragon Heist recaps here.

To start our Dragon Heist campaign, I read a slightly modified version of the Waterdeep Intro Text from Reddit:

On the Western shores of Faerûn lies the city of Waterdeep. It is a place of business and opportunity, called home by countless thousands – and all know it as the City of Splendor.

Its history is old; older than the noble families that rule in the upper wards, older than Baldur’s Gate or Icewind Dale, older even than Neverwinter Forest and the great plains that succumbed to the Spell Plague and Calamity. It has persevered.

Its history is contiguous; the city behind its high, white walls has never fallen. This is a city of spectrums; great wealth and oppressive poverty; festivals and fairs and crime and corruption; adventure and intrigue and pampering and imbibing. A dichotomous city. Nobles of the North Ward parade through the streets and throw elegant balls to flaunt their wealth a stone’s throw away from Field Ward homes full of hungry mouths.

Each of the city’s seven wards houses all manner of peoples – humans, tieflings, dwarves, orcs and half-orcs, elves and half-elves, dragonborn, goblins, and many others. Merchants can be heard calling out the contents of their stalls in the Trades Ward; smells of freshly caught fish, ripe fruits and spices brought in by traders who travel over the Sea of Swords.

The streets of Castle Ward are pristine, patrolled by guards clad in colorful and exquisite armor. There are statues that act as street signs, pointing towards the courthouse, a local theater, or the Open Lord’s extravagant castle. Just beyond the crimeless Castle Ward is the Sea Ward, home to a dozen religions with gaudy temples, some built of stone, others carved straight into the massive titan-sized statues that loom over Waterdeep.

These eight enormous statues are iconic and unmissable. Their features are sometimes lost in the sky when the clouds hang low or when a fresh morning fog rolls in from the sea. They’ve been still for so long that houses have begun to appear near, around and on them. At one time, their names were known, and their tales often told. But over time their tales have shifted and grown, the titan’s names have changed, and life has continued

In the Dock Ward, amidst the sea foam and the smell of salt water, raucous laughter and murderous shouting (sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference) can be heard from behind dirty tavern windows. Sailor spill out into the streets in brawls and, sometimes, stabbings. Both go hand-in-hand with the hard liquor that flows like water there. The dark alleys that pepper this ward are the hunting grounds for cutthroats; the busy harbor a playing field for a thief with sticky fingers. Most nobles avoid this place, as much for the general smell as the inherent danger; it would be like a lamb wandering into a pack of wolves.

The great graveyard, called the City of the Dead, sits in the eastern portion. For a place that houses the countless generations of Waterdeep’s dead, it is a beautiful place to be. The ward has walls and guard patrols, and no restless dead wander about. But it is still a graveyard and nothing could stop children from telling its ghost stories, or daring one another to sneak in and stay the night.

And on the southern side of the city looms Mount Waterdeep, a natural landmark that sweetens an already beautiful city. As spring begins, the only sign left of winter is the mountain’s peak, which still glows brilliant white in the morning sun. It once housed the original denizens that started the city of Waterdeep, and is full of tunnels and mines long abandoned. Or so the city thought; there have been rumblings in the dark, sounds from the old mines, and the odd patrol disappearing here or there. Some say it’s a troll, or perhaps Underdark creatures striking in the night. Others, though, point to long-told tales of Halaster, the mad mage of Undermountain. He and his apprentices came there to further their bizarre experiments centuries ago and never left. Few would wager that they are all dead and gone.

But that is a different story, for another day. To start this particular story, your story, you find yourselves at the entrance to the Yawning Portal Inn at dusk. Five unlikely friends, as they say, in the right place at the wrong time.

As you enter, the sights, smells, and sounds of Waterdeep’s most famous tavern wash over you. Behind the bar stands its famous owner, Durnan, cleaning a glass while he watches you enter. At the center of the room squats the giant pit that gives the place its name – a giant, round hole in the floor that leads directly down into Undermountain. Taking up much of the rest of the common room is a large collection of sturdy, mismatched chairs and tables. Each is lit by a brightly burning candle and most are littered with dinner plates and half-empty tankards. All around, people of all shapes, sizes, and races talk, drink, and make merry. The sounds of gamblers yelling and drunken adventurers singing bawdy songs nearly drown out the off-key strumming of a young bard three tables over…

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