Waterdeep, the City of Splendors, is the largest cosmopolitan city along the Sword Coast, built in the shadow of Mount Waterdeep. While Waterdeep has no “common” culture (as the most cosmopolitan city in the realms, it consists of a mix of different cultures from all over the continent), it is most influenced by Tethyrian, Illuskan and Chondathan cultures. This is evident in the city’s architecture, religions, languages and assortments of accepted coinage. Waterdeep is also more liberal and less religious than most cities in the realms. While most major churches have impressive temples and many followers, the religious class do not hold much real power in the city’s government (with the exception of the church of Tyr). The availability of sources and relative freedom draws many powerful spellcasters to Waterdeep, including the mad mage Halaster’s, who build his signature dungeon of Undermountain in side Mount Waterdeep and under the city proper.
The city is ruled by a council of masked lords – 21 local nobles who’s identity is kept secret from all but each other – led by the Open Lord of Waterdeep (currently, this position is held by lord Dagult Neveramber, who is also the Lord Protector of Neverwinter). Though these are the official rulers of the city, the guilds hold a lot of power behind the scenes. The merchant nobles hold much of the city’s wealth through various guild contacts. It is a common joke that in Waterdeep, even house wives have a guild. The city’s defenses are divided in to four branches:
1. The Griffon Cavalry – an elite force of griffon riders.
2. The City Guard – Waterdeep’s standing force.
3. The City Navy.
4. The Watch – Waterdeep’s police force, patrolling the streets.
5. Force Grey – An elite force of adventurers, answering directly to the Lords of Waterdeep. The Gray hands are used against extreme threats which the Guard or Watch cannot handle.
Many noble families bear ancient titles, given to them in other cities before they immigrated. Since the establishment of local noble titles, the Lords of Waterdeep carefully monitor titles and personal armed forces. Noble houses are allowed to hold a standing force of no more than seventy warriors (non nobles are restricted to sixteen). In addition, noble houses are the only ones allowed formal tabards for their standing forces (an honor not granted to guilds or mercenaries, who must settle for badges). The following table offers an overview of titles and the proper way to address their holders: h2. City structure Waterdeep is divided in to seven wards: Sea Ward. Castle Ward. North Ward. Trades Ward. South Ward. Dock Ward. City of the Dead.