Waterdeep Settlement in Faerûn | World Anvil


Waterdeep (also known as the City of Splendors and the Crown of the North) is the largest and most important city on the Sword Coast (specifically located in the southern part of the Sword Coast North). A cosmopolitan city with a population of over 140,000, the city acts as a cultural, financial, and scientific hub for much of the region. People from across Faerûn come to Waterdeep to participate in its various institutions and experience its culture.   The city has an oligarchal form of government, and is ruled by the Lords of Waterdeep, an anonymous council of masked individuals who are represented by the Open Lord. In addition, the city is an important and influential member of the Lords' Alliance.

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The majority of the population of Waterdeep are humans, followed by dwarves and elves (particularly moon elves each comprising about a tenth of the population. After that, there are smaller numbers of halflings, half-elves, and gnomes. Due to this mix of races and cultures, Waterdhavians are known to be more worldly and cosmopolitan than in other cities, keeping an open and respectful mind to others.


The city of Waterdeep is ruled by the Lords of Waterdeep, a group of twenty anonymous individuals (typically, but numbers have varied between 16 and 29) called the Masked Lords. The identities of these Lords are kept hidden, and only known to the other Lords. When appearing in public, the Lords wear a special magic item called a lord's ensemble, which hides their identity from physical and magical inspection, and defends against divination magic. The Lords of Waterdeep are charged with enforcing the city's law, maintaining peace and order, controlling the minting of coinage, and diplomatic relations. The Open Lord and at least two other Lords attend the Lord's Court while it in session, and rarely appeared in lower courts. It is a common pastime among the well-to-do in the city to speculate on the identities of the Masked Lords.

One member of the Lords of Waterdeep, known as the Open Lord (or Unmasked Lord), has their identity publicly known. They are the city's primary representative in diplomacy, and have numerous titles: Warden of Waterdeep (in 1492 DR, this title was instead held by Elminster Aumar), Overmaster of the Guilds, and Commander of the Watch. While technically considered equal in power to the Masked Lords, the Open Lord has additional powers: vetting and selecting new Masked Lords, naming their successor, and determining the number of needed Lords. There is only ever one Open Lord at a time, and they are replaced upon death or resignation.

As of 1494 DR, there have been nine notable Open Lords of Waterdeep: Ahghairon the Mage (1032-1256), Baeron Silmaeril (1273-1308), Lhestyn the Masked Lady (1308-1314), Piergeiron Paladinson (1314-1379), Audreithra Teltorna (1379-1385), Phulundaera Vantur (1385-1399), Caladorn Cassalanter (1399-early 15th century), Dagult Neverember (1468-1489), and Laeral Silverhand (1489-present).

The City Watch acts as the local police force, who capture criminals, settle petty disputes, give directions, summon medical assistance, and generally perform activities in service of the population. Members of the Watch are immediately identifiable by their green and goldenrod doublet and tall steel helmet. They have wat posts throughout the city, off main thoroughfares in small courtyards or at cross streets. These posts are identifable by a green and gold lantern lit with a continual flame spell.

The city's judicial system is handled by the Magisters, also more commonly known as the Black Robes. Magisters are charged with the duty of running the city's courts and issuing sentences to those found guilty of crimes. Magisters also run the city's bureaucracy, and collect taxes from its residents. While the Code Legal sets out typical sentences for crimes, Magisters have the ability to sentence as they see fit. Anyone convicted by a Magister could request an appeal to the Lord's Court, where the Lords of Waterdeep would directly hear their case. However, claims ruled as frivolous by the Lord's Court carried strict punishment.

Compared to many other cities in Faerûn, Waterdeep has relatively low crime rates. The Shadow Thieves, the most notorious organised crime group in recent centuries, was dismantled in the early 14th century DR. In the late 15th century DR, the most prominent criminal organisation in the city is the Xanathar Guild. There are also several more minor criminal gangs, but nothing nearly as noteworthy as The Guild in Baldur's Gate. The Dock Ward and Field Wards typically have the most crime, but the former has managed to get its crime rates under control in recent years.

Industry & Trade

Waterdeep is a hub for trade in the Sword Coast and beyond. Strategically situated atop the Trade Way and possessing a deep harbor, ships and caravans constantly come and go from the city. Merchants came from as far as Amn and Calimshan to the south, the kingdoms of the Sea of Falling Stars to the east, Icewind Dale to the north, and the Moonshae Isles to the west. This constant influx of foreign traders is part of what made Waterdeep one of the most cosmopolitan cities in Faerûn. Waterdeep's major industries are glassblowing, services, textiles, and vehicles (both land and sea). The city is also a hub for research and information trading.

Waterdeep has its own currency system, but it shares much of it with the standard of gold, silver, and copper pieces. The Palace of Waterdeep makes exchanges for no fee, but always has a long queue, often requiring appointments days in advance. The Guild of Trusted Pewterers and Casters or the Jewelers' Guild both provide trustworthy and swift exchanges, but with a fee.

Coin Description Exchange
Nib Copper coin about the size of a thumbnail 1 copper piece
Shard Silver coin, slightly smaller than the nib 1 silver piece
Taol Brass coin, about two inches square with a hole large enough for a nib to fit in 2 gold pieces
Dragon Gold coin, half again as large as a nib 1 gold piece
Sun Platinum coin, twice as large as a nib 1 platinum piece
Harbor Moon Platinum crescent inset with electrum, about three inches long with a hole large enough for a nib to fit in 5 platinum pieces
Until recently, Waterdeep had no taxes. This was changed by the former Open Lord Dagult Neverember in 1479 DR, when he introduced a flat monthly tax of 1 shard per person above the age of ten years. This is collected on the last day of each month. It is also possible to pay a single dragon in tax and receive a writ exempting an individual from tax for twelve months, but the writ must be produced whenever the City Guard and Magisters request taxes.

The city also raises revenue through fees: 1 nib per day for renting a stall in the Market, 1 shard (in addition to other penalties) from anyone convicted by a Magister per conviction, 1 dragon per caravan wagon leaving the city (empty or full), 1 dragon per blade over one foot long sold, and 5 dragons per ship that docks (paid by the captain per fourteen days; a ship that leaves and re-enters the harbor during those fourteen days is taxed again).

In times of trouble, direct taxes are temporarily introduced: a 1 dragon per household fire tax when the city is wracked by fires, a 1 dragon per household wall tax when the walls are in need of repair, and a 1 shard per household per tenday lance tax when the city hires mercenaries (paid until the Lords repeal the tax).


The city of Waterdeep is divided into seven official wards, and many unofficial segments of the city. The official wards are the Sea Ward, North Ward, Castle Ward, Trades Ward, Southern Ward, Dock Ward, and the City of the Dead. The Field Ward, Undercliff, and Undermountain are considered unofficial sections of the city. In addition, many aquatic-dwelling races such as sea elves and merfolk live in settlements in Deepwater Harbor.

Sea Ward

The Sea Ward is delimited by the Trollwall to the north and west, by Julthoon Street to the south, and by Shield Street to the east, extended to the High Road north of Vondil Street. It is considered the wealthiest of the wards, and is home to many noble villas and temples. The ward also contains the Field of Triumph, Heroes' Garden, and the Sea's Edge Beach. The ward's architecture is notable for the number of spires present, stemming from grand villas, temples, and many wizard towers. Blue and gold are the Sea Ward's colors, and its mascot is the sea lion.

North Ward

The North Ward is delimited by the walls of the City of the Dead to the southeast, the Trollwall to the east and north. Its southern border was at Andamaar's Street and Trader's Way up to Shield Street, which marked the western border until Vondil Street. North of that, the western border was defined by the High Road the rest of the way to the Trollwall. It is the second wealthiest ward behind the Sea Ward, home to many noble villas, cafés, and other affluent establishments. Lower- and middle-class residents often come to the North Ward during the day in order to work at the various villas of the ward, so there are also amenities that dedicate themselves to them (but are still more expensive than other wards). The North Ward also features Cliffwatch, which offers impressive views of the countryside from a public walkway. Green and orange are the North Ward's colors, and its mascot is the white dove.

Castle Ward

The Castle Ward was delimited by Julthoon Street to the north, west of Shield Street, and by Trader's Way between Shield Street and the High Road, which delimited the ward's eastern border together with Snail Street. The southern border of the ward was delimited by Shesstra Street, Gut Alley, Belnimbra's Street, and Lackpurse Lane, until the ward met Deepwater Harbor. The Castle Ward is the centre of government for Waterdeep, home to its military, judiciary, government, naval docks, and the largest market space in the North. In a surprise to many newcomers to the city, Castle Waterdeep is not the seat of government, but solely a military fortress. Instead, the government resides in the Palace of Waterdeep (formerly Piergeiron's Palace). The ward features many courts, offices, and businesses, as well as several barracks for the City Guard. Other notable locations in the ward include Blackstaff Tower, Mirt's Mansion, six of the city's Walking Statues, and the Yawning Portal Inn - gateway to Undermountain. Blue and purple are the Castle Ward's colors, and its mascot is the griffon.

Trades Ward

The Trades Ward was bounded in the south by the Southern Ward, in the west by Castle Ward, in the north by North Ward and the City of the Dead and in the east by the Trollwall. The ward, as the name suggests, is hope to the majority of the city's businesses. As Volothamp Geddarn put it in his Waterdeep Enchiridion, "Glove shops, shoe shops, jewelry stores, perfumeries, flower shops, cake shops, taverns, cafés, tea shops, inns, row houses, boarding schools, offices, dance academies, grocers, pottery stores, armor vendors-as long as it's not illegal, you can find it in the Trades Ward. But if you are looking for something illegal, the Trades Ward is likely the place to get that too. Do not do so too loudly, though." The Trade Ward is also home to many of the guildhalls in the city. However, most foreign traders operate in the Southern Ward, so the Trades Ward is primarily home to Waterdhavian traders. Green and purple are the Trades Ward's colors, and its mascot is the mimic. After being ridiculed by other wards for choosing a treasure chest as its mascot, the Trades Ward now selects a new mascot every four years. As of 1492 DR, the mascot was a tankard.

Southern Ward

The Southern Ward's northern boundary with the Trades Ward lay across Telshambra's Street and Caravan Court. On the west and south side was the Dock Ward across the Way of the Dragon. To the east, the Ward was bounded by the Trollwall, which included the southern inner gate leading to the Caravan Grounds and the South Gate beyond. The Southern Ward is named both for its geographical location, and the large number of immigrants from southern Faerûn. Notably, its inhabitants always refer to it as the Southern Ward - calling it the South Ward is an instant mark of an outsider. The ward is home to many traveling merchants, and as such, many businesses cater to their needs - stables, caravanserais, supply stores, and the like. Notable landmarks include the Moon Sphere, which appears every full moon in the Dancing Court. Creatures that enter the sphere find themselves able to fly by simply thinking it, which is a major attraction. Red and white are the Southern Ward's colors, and its mascot is the mule.

Dock Ward

The Dock Ward is delimited by Southern Ward along the Way of the Dragon to the east, the Trades Ward to the North, the Castle Ward to the north and west, and Deepwater Harbor to the south. The ward, as the name suggests, is dominated by the city docks. The inhabitants of the ward are primarily lower class and less educated, working at the ward's docks, warehouses, taverns, and living in the tenements and poorhouses. Until recently, the ward was considered the most dangerous - until that title was taken by the Field Ward. Despite that, the Dock Ward has never fully ridded itself of its reputation. The Guild of Chandlers and Lamplighters makes a halfhearted attempt to repair and light the ward's streetlamps, but locals are forced to carry their own light at night. Burgundy and orange are the Dock Ward's colors, and its mascot is the swordfish.

City of the Dead

The City of the Dead is a large public green space and cemetary in the eastern part of the city, bordered by the North Ward and Trades Ward. The City of the Dead is dotted with many graves, crypts, and mausoleums, but also by grassy hills, tended flower beds, clusters of trees, and sculptures of the departed. One of the major landmarks in the City of the Dead is the Warrior's Monument, a sixty-foot tall sculpture featuring men and women striking down trolls, orcs, hobgoblins, bugbears, and barbarians. Above them is a flying griffon rider spearing a skeletal knight. The wounds on the combatants gush water. Many residents of Waterdeep come to the City of the Dead for midday feasts and picnics.

Field Ward

The unofficial Field Ward is located in the northern section of the city, between the two northernmost walls. Originally a killing field kept clear for times of war, it was filled with refugees during the Spellplague. Due to its unofficial status, it lacks many essential services that the rest of the city enjoys - Guard patrols and sewer systems are the two most obvious, thanks to the crime and smell. The Guild of Butchers operates many slaughterhouses, smokehouses, and leather-making facilities in the Field Ward, as they are unwanted in the rest of the city.


Undercliff is the region of rolling grassland and woodland patches to the east of the city, below the cliff upon which Waterdeep sits. It is a patchwork of rural communities focused on farming and animal husbandry, dedicated to feeding the hundreds of thousands of people who live in the city proper. Although Goldenfields supplies much of the food for the region, these farms provide more local and fresher produce. Aside from farms, ranches, and orchards, Undercliff also contains a City Guard training camp and the prison-farm called Amendsfarm, run by the City Watch, where criminals convicted of minor offenses can work off their debt. Many gnomes and halflings live in Undercliff, and many buildings are built to their size.


Undermountain is a sprawling dungeon complex build beneath the city, which many argue is the deepest dungeon in the world. The main entrance in the city is through a massive hole in the eponymous Yawning Portal Inn, where explorers and adventurers are lowered to the first level of the dungeon in an elevator. The complex was first created by the Melairkyn dwarves thousands of years before the city was founded. Over a thousand years ago, it was cleared of drow and dwarves by a mad wizard named Halaster Blackcloak and his apprentices, who took it over. It is believed that they still dwell in the dungeon to this day. Undermountain also provides another (and much more dangerous) route to Skullport, a city located deep beneat Waterdeep (usually accessed via ship through the River Sargauth under Mount Waterdeep).

Deepwater Harbor

Deepwater Harbor is not traditionally considered a ward of Waterdeep, but is nonetheless home to communities of ocean-dwelling people - and is what gives Waterdeep its name. Many sea elves live in T'Qquession, and merfolk in Tharqualnaar. Thanks to the efforts of the Guild of Watermen and the merfolk, Deepwater Harbor is exceptionally clean. At the base of the harbor is Deepwater Beacon, an undersea lighthouse that guides ships and residents of the harbor. On the southern side of the harbor is Deepwater Isle, which acts as a natural barrier to the harbor, and a location for ships to beach and scrape barnacles off. Access to the harbor is controlled by the City Guard, who operate retractable chain nets from the city walls.

Guilds and Factions

Waterdeep is a city dominated by the various guilds and factions that inhabit it, both above and below the law. As of 1492 DR, there are at least 44 registered guilds in the city - powerful merchant and craft organisations that control much of the economy of the city. Although the power of the guilds has waned since the Reign of Guildmasters (and for good reason), there is a common saying in the city: "The Lords rule Waterdeep, but do not always truly run it". One of the more important guilds in the city is the Watchful Order of Magists and Protectors. Technically a guild, it also acts as a mage academy and polices the use of magic within the city. All arcane spellcasters that arrive in Waterdeep are strongly encouraged to register with the Watchful Order, as they cannot access the city's magical services without membership.

Waterdeep is also home to many colleges and wizardly schools. New Olamn is a particularly notable bardic college, as it is one of the few formal ones left after the Spellplague. New Olamn primarily focuses on the College of Lore, featuring an impressive repository of lore, and also has a large amphitheater for public events. Blackstaff Tower doubles as a school focusing on teaching the most promising of arcane students The Art, but is very hard to gain admittance to. The House of Wonder is the temple to Mystra in the city, but also acts as a mage academy. Finally, Eltorchul Academy was once an exclusive school for the elite, but now is open to anyone able to pay the tuition fee.

The major factions of the Sword Coast are present in Waterdeep. Most important is the Lords' Alliance, of which Waterdeep is a highly influential member. Agents of the Lords' Alliance are always welcome in the city, enjoying legal protections, and can find rest in the Palace of Waterdeep. The Harpers also have a significant presence in the city. With their regional headquarters located in the secretive Harper Hall, numerous safehouses throughout the city, and access to their teleportation network spanning The North, Harper agents are well-protected within the city. In addition, rumors persist of a secret Harper stronghold located within Mount Waterdeep. The Emerald Enclave maintains its headquarters at the manor of Phaulkonmere in the Southern Ward, and the Order of the Gauntlet in the Halls of Justice. The Zhentarim also have some presence on the surface, but most of their activity is focused on the subterranean city of Skullport.



The history of Waterdeep begins in in -8500 DR, with the construction of the elven city of Aelinthaldaar. This city served as the capital of the empire of Illefarn for thousands of years. In -1288 DR, the dwarven King Melair I discovered rich veins of mithral under the city, and formed an agreement with the elves to mine it. This led to the creation of the dwarven city of Melairbode. Over the years, as the dwarves mined closer to the surface, the elves became uneasy. In exchange for large quantities of mithral from the mines, the elves constructed a mythal - one with the power to maintain the structural integrity of the plateau indefinitely, no matter what was construced underneath.

However, in -1100 DR, the coronal of Illefarn called for a Retreat. During this, the city of Aelinthaldaar was magically razed, leaving almost no traces of its existence (the only surviving parts are located in crypts below the Temple of the Seldarine). With the elves gone, the Melairkyn dwarves in Melairbode viewed their agreement as fulfilled, and closed their doors to the surface permanently. Only a few years alter, in -1088 DR, human tribes discovered Deepwater Plateau and its protected deep harbor. They promptly claimed it as their own, and it soon became a prominent location for trademoots. Later, inhabitation became more permanent.


The Melairkyn dwarves, however, had several threats to contend with. In -750 DR, a Netherese enclave was raised underground, adjacent to Melairbode. It was named the Sargauth Enclave, due to the River Sargauth in its proximity. In -677 DR, drow arrived from the underdark, and began pushing the dwarves from Melairbode. However, the Melairkyn held strong for centuries. It wasn't until 211 DR that the drow succeeded in eliminating the last of the dwarves from the lowest levels of Melairbode. In addition, in -339 DR, the Sargauth Enclave collapsed due to the effects of Karsus' Folly. The remnants formed the beginnings of modern day Skullport.

By 52 DR, the first permanent farming communities had been established by illuskan humans. In 168 DR, one of the few individuals whose names are still known arrived at Deepwater Plateau - Halaster Blackcloak. He and his seven apprentices constructed a wizard tower named Halaster's Hold on the plateau. They used summoned creatures to excavate large cellars similar underground complexes. During this time, they found their way into the mostly abandoned halls of Melairbode. Between 171 DR and 308 DR, "Halaster's Hunts" were conducted, brutally exterminating the drow and their duergar allies from the Underhalls. Halaster claimed the empty dungeon complex for his own, and was never seen again. His wizard tower eventually fell into disrepair.

Bloodhand Hold

In 302 DR, the waters of the Lizard Marsh rose, causing the abandonment of the settlement of Tavaray. The former inhabitants of Tavaray left to the southeast, towards the Delimbyr Vale. This caused the settlements of Deepwater Plateau to become significantly more isolated from the rest of their kin, causing a significant decline in prosperity. It wasn't until 482 DR that the tribes and settlements became united, under the banner of Ulbaerag Bloodhand - a tethyrian warlord. He named the settlement Bloodhand Hold, and began exporting lumber southwards on ships. Ulbaerag rejected offers to join the Kingdom of Phalorm, but his son accepted them once he took power. During this time, construction began on more expansive buildings and irrigation projects.

In 615 DR, the Horde of the Wastes overran the Kingdom of Phalorm. The Sword Mountains became infested with orcs, but Bloodhand Hold survived. The collapse of the Kingdom of Phalorm led to the creation of the Kingdom of Delimbiyran, and Bloodhand Hold once again became independent. When Delimbiyran itself collapsed in 697 DR, the Hold remained strong. In 734 DR, poor harvests and intense summer fires caused the leader of the Hold, Raulbaera Bloodhand, to establish the outlying settlement of Rowan Hold. This would later be known as Amphail.

Nimoar's Hold

Some time in the 870s or 880s DR, Nimoar the Reaver and his tribe came across Bloodhand Hold while searching for a new home. They managed to conquer it with surprising ease, and renamed it "Nimoar's Hold". They quickly found themselves under attack - by pirates in 887 DR, and by the Bull Elk tribe in 889 DR. Despite this, the new owners of Deepwater Plateau held their ground. In 927 DR, the Blood Plague spread across the Sword Mountains, unifying the orcs under King Uruth Ukrypt and displacing the beasts and monsters of the region. Many of these monsters were trolls, who descended from the mountains to the Evermoors.

The first conflict of the Trollwars was waged in 932 DR, when humans successfully purged the Evermoors of trolls. In 936 DR, Nimoar's Hold came under attack by the united orcs of King Uruth, beginning the Orcfastings War. Despite numerous orc victories, the Duke of Calandor broke the siege of Nimoar's Hold at the Battle of the Burning Cliffs. King Uruth and his shaman would later be killed at the Battle of Westwood.

The second conflict of the Trollwars began in 940 DR, following troll raids on human settlements. That same year, Nimoar died, and was succeeded by Gharl - the next "Warlord" of Nimoar's Hold. It was also around this time that the name "Waterdeep" was commonly used as an alternative to "Nimoar's Hold". In 952 DR, the mage Ahghairon used his magic to eliminate the trolls in the Evermoors. However, during this campaign, many of the Warlords fell in battle. The final conflict in the Trollwars was fought in 963 DR, but the trolls were once again easily defeated by Ahghairon and his magic.

Free City of Waterdeep

Following the Trollwars, a walled keep was constructed on the slopes of Mount Waterdeep. The walls continued to expand as more and more people flocked to the settlement for protection. In 1010 DR, Nimoar's Hold was finally and officially renamed to the "Free City of Waterdeep". Lauron Wardragon became the first Warlord of Waterdeep. In 1024, several adventurers raided Ukrypt, the resting place of the orc King Uruth. A horde of orc called the Broken Bones, aided by the Brotherhood of the Scarlet Scourge, left the Sword Mountains to assault Waterdeep. However, they were handily defeated by the bronze dragon Lhammaruntosz, the "Claws of the Coast".

Despite the defeat of the Broken Bones, two years later, the Brotherhood of the Scarlet Scourge mustered a second horde from the Black Claw tribe to attack Waterdeep. Warlord Lauron was killed while defending the city from the invaders, and succeeded by Warlord Raurlor. The orcs were later defeated at Stump Bog.

Reign of Ahghairon

Warlord Raurlor, in the years following the orc invasions, used the city's wealth to create an "Empire of the North". Ahghairon voiced opposition to this, and in 1032 DR, Raurlor ordered his arrest. Ahghairon used magic to prevent his arrest, and when Raurlor attempted to intervene personally, Ahghairon used magic to turn the Warlord's sword into a venomous snake. The snake bit Raurlor, which killed him. Ahghairon then summoned the leaders of Waterdeep's armies and families to an audience. While runners fetched them, the wizard set the empty warlords' throne ablaze, so none could sit there. Once the audience had gathered before the flaming throne, Ahghairon sat in it, and the flames died away. Ahghairon then declared himself the first "Lord of Waterdeep", and established the system of Masked Lords that continues to this day.

Under Ahghairon, Waterdeep secured the surrounding lands and began construction of roads. It quickly grew fivefold, and became known as the "Crown of the North". During this time, the army and navy of the Warlords was restructured into the CIty Watch and City Guard. In 1035 DR, the city started using the ward system. The original wards were the Castle Ward, Trades Ward, Dock Ward, and Temple Ward (later the Southern Ward). By 1064 DR, the city had reached a milestone of 50,000 inhabitants. In 1071 DR, the adventurer Ranressa Shiard returned to Waterdeep atop the back of the copper dragon Galadaeros. The panic and resulting security dilemma led to Ahghairon constructing ahghairon's dragonward, a powerful mythal that prevented dragons from entering the city.

The following decades and centuries saw the city of Waterdeep continue to expand, in terms of area, population, economy, and influence. Under the city, however, in 1148 DR, the netherese necromancer Shradin Mulophor (also known as the "Lord of Bones") discovered the ruins of the Sargauth Enclave. He used the destroyed city as his personal domain, establishing trade routes with various underdark powers. By 1173 DR, the Lord of Bones' lair had become a thriving, permanent settlement named Skullport. In 1235 DR, Waterdeep was besieged by the largest orc horde seen in centuries: the Black Horde. After overrunning most of the Sword Coast, they turned their eyes on the Crown of the North. The siege lasted nine months, and was broken when Ahghairon provided Waterdhavian forces with griffons to strike the orcs and bring supplies to the city. This action led to the creation of the Griffon Cavalry after the war.

Betrayal among the Masked Lords took place in 1246 DR, when the Masked Lord Kerrigan murdered three other Lords in a bit for power. He was slain in a magic duel with Ahghairon in the Southern Ward. In 1248 DR, owing to increasing crime and deceit, Ahghairon ordered the creation of the first guilds - a trend imported from cities to the south. In 1250 DR, following overcrowding in the city graveyard, bodies were exhumed and placed into tombs, creating the City of the Dead. However, this concentration of bodies soon led to an undead problem, and two years later, walls were constructed around the City of the Dead to separate it from the rest of the city.

Reign of Guildmasters

Open Lord Ahghairon, who had ruled the city for over two centuries, died in 1256 DR. He was interred within his wizard tower, which was then magically sealed. Following his death, a period of turmoil ensued. The merchants and nobles of the city waited to hear from the Masked Lords as to who would succeed Ahghairon, but the Lords of Waterdeep were silent. In truth, all but two of them had been assassinated after their identities were compromised. After two months of silence, power in the city was taken by the Council of Guildmasters, who had been appointed by Ahghairon.

This began the period of time known as the guildwars. Numerous feuds boiled over into violence, as guilds and merchant families hired mercenaries and assassins to resolve disputes. This period lasted for six years, until the final two surviving guildmasters, the gemcutter Ehlemm Zoar and shipwright Lhoar Gildeggh were left in positions of leadership. They agreed to co-rule the city as "Lords Magister" in 1262 DR to prevent further infighting, but aside from their initial partnership, they agreed on little. Their constant bickering and the rising tensions within the city led to this period being called the "Misrule of the Lords Magister".

Reigns of Baeron and Lhestyn

The two surviving Masked Lords, the woodworker Baeron and the apprentice wizard Shilarn, disguised themselves and visited the Lords Magister in 1273 DR. They demanded the guildmasters depart the city, but the guildmasters refused. Upon their refusal, Shilarn struck them down with magic. The Masked Lords then took power and reinstalled the Lords of Waterdeep, with Baeron acting as Open Lord. The Zoar and Gildeggh houses were banned from the city. Later that year, the black-robed Magisters were reinstated as the judicial system of the city. In 1276 DR, the North Ward and Sea Ward were officially proclaimed. Open Lord Baeron died in 1308 DR, and his wife Shilarn threw herself onto his funeral pyre. This led to Lhestyn becoming the new Open Lord.

Reign of Piergeiron

Lady Lhestyn only ruled for a short time, as she died in 1314 DR. Her appointed successor, Piergeiron the Paladinson, took over as Open Lord immediately. His rule was fairly uneventful for several decades. Notably, the Night of the Temple Fires occurred in 1345 DR, where religious disorder between the churches of Lathander, Selûne, Shar, and Tempus led to the Spires of the Morning and the House of Heroes being burned to the ground. Both were rebuilt within a year.

In 1355 DR, Amril Zoar, a member of the exiled Zoar family, killed two Masked Lords, and seriously injured Lord Piergeiron. Amril was spared from execution thanks to the intervention of Storm Silverhand of the Harpers. The next year, several patrols of Waterdhavian soldiers were attacked by fiends and goblins from Dragonspear Castle. This led to the First Dragonspear War, which concluded later in 1356 DR. Also that year, the city of Waterdeep managed to negotiate a peace treaty between Ruathym and the city of Luskan, ending a major war.

Time of Troubles

The city of Waterdeep became a battleground for the gods during the Time of Troubles, in the year 1358 DR. A series of events culminated in a number of heroes, cults, and godly avatars present in Waterdeep. Shar impersonated Selûne's avatar, convincing the city's leadership that she was truly the goddess of the moon. As magic began to warp the city's streets, a number of heroes managed to rescue Luna, the true avatar of Selûne, and reveal the impostor as Shar. The Celestial Stairway appeared atop Mount Waterdeep, and the famous battle between Selûne and Shar took place over the city.

Later, Myrkul appeared in the city with one of the Tablets of Fate, summoning legions of undead and fiends that caused widespread destruction, fires, and havoc. The wizard Midnight managed to steal the Tablet of Fate from Myrkul. The two fought, and Myrkul was momentarily distracted by a member of the Griffon Cavalry. Midnight managed to cast disintegrate while in a zone of silence, squarely striking Myrkul and killing him.

Due to their actions in recovering the Tablets of Fate, Midnight (who became known as Mystra), Kelemvor, and Cyric ascended to godhood by order of the Overgod Ao, who for the first time appeared in person at the Celestial Stairwell. The appearance of Ao in Waterdeep created a number of cults worshipping the Overgod, but virtually all of them have disbanded by the late 15th century.

Following the dramatic events of the Time of Troubles and its conclusion atop Mount Waterdeep, the city would see a period of relative calm. In 1361 DR, the newly-discovered continent of Maztica made waves through Waterdeep's rumormill. By 1365 DR, dangerous yet stable trade routes had been established with both Maztica and Zakhara. In 1369 DR, an army of sea monsters invaded Waterdeep in the Deepwater War. Much of the Dock and Sea Wards were damaged. That same year, the mad wizard Halaster released hordes of monsters into the city during what came to be known as "Halaster's Highharvestide". The wizard later faked his death in 1375 DR, fooling the city. In 1379 DR, Piergeiron Paladinson finally died in office of age, ill health, and multiple assassination attempts. He was succeeded after a time by Audreithra Teltorna, a compromise candidate and initially an office caretaker.


On the 29th of Tarsakh, 1385 DR, Mystra was assassinated by Cyric and Shar. This caused the Spellplague that devastated all of Toril. Waterdeep was no exception, as six of the walking statues that protected the city appeared from the ethereal plane and went on a rampage. During the turmoil, agents of Xanathar managed to assassinate the Open Lord. However, a flurry of assassinations and counter-assassinations among the Lords took place, as Xanathar agents eliminated rival candidates to their puppet. Despite this, their plans were foiled by the Lords of Waterdeep and hired adventurers. After three months, Watchlord Phulundaera Vantur was appointed as Open Lord.

In 1395, a plague called the Putrescent Anathema, originating in the Stump Bog, devastated Waterdeep and its surrounds - especially the farming fortress of Goldenfields. The combination of disease and famine from lost crops killed thousands of people in the Waterdeep region. However, by this time, most of the effects of the Spellplague had subsided, and most arcane magic returned to normal. For the next century or so, Waterdeep would remain fairly stable, but a shadow of its former and more glorious self. Despite this, many refugees fled to the city from Neverwinter after the eruption of Mount Hotenow in 1451 DR.

Second Sundering

In 1479 DR, Dagult Neverember was elected Open Lord of Waterdeep - a position he held simultaneous to his office of Lord Protector of Neverwinter. Thanks to Neverember's financial and political abilities, Waterdeep began to thrive after decades of neglect. He sold many positions of nobility to potential allies in the city, further strengthening his position. During his tenure as Open Lord of Waterdeep, Neverember also embezzled huge sums of money from the city - 500,000 dragons of which he stored in a vault shortly before his ousting.

Waterdeep managed to survive the Second Sundering without issue, acting as a beacon of stability in Faerûn while other realms were hit hard. That changed in 1489 DR, when the Cult of the Dragon attempted to summon Tiamat into the material plane. This caused hundreds of chromatic dragons to swarm the skies of the Sword Coast. Thanks to the dragonward and the protection of the ancient gold dragon Protanther, Waterdeep and its trade routes survived mostly intact. During this crisis, the Lords of Waterdeep ousted Dagult Neverember as Open Lord, in favor of Laeral Silverhand.

In 1491 DR, the city was rocked by the murder of a dozen Masked Lords and fourteen guildmasters over the span of two months. The ringleader behind the murder spree was revealed to be the Masked Lord Braethen Cazondur. Other members of the conspiracy included five other Masked Lords, Asmodeus cultists, a mind flayer, members of the Watchful Order of Magists and Protectors, a Xanathar agent, Waterdhavian nobles, guildmasters, and hired killers. The majority of the conspirators were killed or captured, and bounties placed on those that escaped.

Rumors of a vault of treasure began circulating in the city in 1492 DR, bringing the attention of adventurers, the city government, and the drow mercenary company Bregan D'aerthe (among others). The vault was the same Vault of Dragons that Dagult Neverember had filled with embezzled gold during his time as Open Lord. A race to find the vault ended with the leader of the mercenaries, Jarlaxle Baenre, conceding defeat, and the adventurers handing over the vault to the city government - minus a finder's fee.


  • Waterdeep
Founding Date
1010 DR
Alternative Name(s)
City of Splendors, Crown of the North
Large city
140,000 (city proper)
60,000 (surrounding regions)
Inhabitant Demonym
Location under
Owning Organization
Major Industries
Glassblowing, services, textiles, and vehicles
Exotic goods, grain, livestock, leather, ore, spices, and timber
Ale, arms, cloth, fish, finished goods, furnishings, glass, leather goods, pottery, and refined metals
Sword Coast
Faction Benefits in Waterdeep
Emerald Enclave
  • Headquarters (Phaulkonmere)
  • Meeting place (Snobeedle Orchard and Meadery)
  • Animal care
  • Spy network
  • Headquarters (Harper Hall)
  • Safe houses (Ulbrinter Villa, Thort's Findings, Yawning Portal Inn)
  • Fences
  • Cheaper consumables
  • Fast travel (Myrna's Crypt)
  • Spy network
Lords' Alliance
  • Headquarters (Palace of Waterdeep)
  • Housing (Castle Waterdeep)
  • Armory
  • Official assistance
  • Fast travel
  • Legal immunity
  • Land grants
Order of the Gauntlet
  • Headquarters (Halls of Justice)
  • Meeting place (any temple)
  • Divine aid
  • Religious relics
  • Fast travel
  • Headquarters (Skullport)
  • Safe houses (various locations in the Dock and Southern Wards)
  • Fences
  • Mercenaries
  • Loans
  • Unofficial audience

Travel Times from Waterdeep
Notice: posted times are for small groups. Freight caravans may take up to twice as long.

  • Foot: 3 days
  • Horse/Wagon: 3 days
  • Dragon: 1 day
Ardent Keep
  • Foot: 4 days
  • Horse/Wagon: 3 days
  • Dragon: 1 day
Baldur's Gate
  • Foot: 30 days
  • Horse/Wagon: 24 days
  • Ship: 12 days
  • Dragon: 7 days
Carnath Roadhouse
  • Foot: 8 days
  • Horse/Wagon: 7 days
  • Dragon: 2 days
  • Foot: 5 days
  • Horse/Wagon: 4 days
  • Ship: 3 days
  • Dragon: 1 day
Dragonspear Castle
  • Foot: 16 days
  • Horse/Wagon: 13 days
  • Dragon: 4 days
  • Foot: 4 days
  • Horse/Wagon: 3 days
  • Dragon: 1 day
  • Foot: 11 days
  • Horse/Wagon: 9 days
  • Dragon: 2 days
  • Foot: 21 days
  • Horse/Wagon: 17 days
  • Ship: 10 days
  • Dragon: 6 days
  • Foot: 16 days
  • Horse/Wagon: 13 days
  • Ship: 7 days
  • Dragon: 4 days
  • Foot: 2 days
  • Horse/Wagon: 2 days
  • Dragon: 1 day
Port Llast
  • Foot: 17 days
  • Horse/Wagon: 14 days
  • Ship: 8 days
  • Dragon: 5 days
  • Foot: 1 day
  • Horse/Wagon: 1 day
  • Dragon: 1 day
Red Larch
  • Foot: 7 days
  • Horse/Wagon: 5 days
  • Dragon: 2 days
  • Foot: 7 days
  • Horse/Wagon: 5 days
  • Ship: 3 days
  • Dragon: 1 day
Way Inn
  • Foot: 9 days
  • Horse/Wagon: 7 days
  • Dragon: 2 days

Information for Adventurers
Although Waterdeep is famed as one of the most adventurer-friendly cities in the world, there are still some things to be wary of - legally and culturally.
  • No toll is required to enter the city.
  • Arriving in a large caravan or ship requires registration with a Magister upon arrival.
  • Arriving overland in a small party or alone does not require registration, unless one stays beyond a tenday.
  • The city gates are shut at night and in winter, requiring registration to enter.
  • Ships are not usually expected to arrive at night or during winter.
  • Only specially licensed individuals are permitted to fly over the city, but may land outside and enter on foot.
  • Arcane spellcasters must register with the Watchful Order of Magists and Protectors to access magical services in the city. They are also expected to aid the city in times of crisis.
  • Duelling is illegal in the city.
  • Brawling is illegal in the city except for licensed venues. Drunken brawls are usually overlooked by the Watch if no damage is caused and nobody is seriously injured.
  • Wearing armor and carrying weapons is legal but highly frowned upon. If in need of self-defense, Waterdhavians carry knives, clubs, or knuckledusters.
  • Copies of the Code Legal are available in multiple languages from the Palace of Waterdeep, or in Common from Magisters at the city gates or harbor.
  • Magisters can hand out criminal sentences on the spot.
  • Coins can be exchanged for free at the Palace of Waterdeep with an appointment in advance, or certain guilds for a fee but immediately.
  • A 1 sp tax per person is levied at the end of each month.


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