As you near the capital of the Sword Coast the signs of many travelers mark the roads. Heavy tracks in the mud and broken axels on the side, you begin to join the steady stream of merchants and adventurers making their way to the city. The smells of fresh bread and cooked meats greet you from street vendors set up a few miles from the walls. You hear calls of “Pastries get your fresh pastries here!” “All your adventuring needs! Dodge the heavy taxes inside the walls!”
The massive stone walls don’t even manage to contain the city as a slum and an entire towns worth of tents, large and small, grand and grotesque, a hodgepodge of squatters and ramshackle residences. Most of the settlers outside of the city appear destitute and you can’t go more than 30 feet without a blind beggar woman or an armless veteran of a nameless war sit along the road, panhandling as a few street tramps perform a small show, their beaten and battered violin case open on the road, a few gold coins inside.
The Southern Gate:
Coming up to the southern gate the shanty town ends abruptly about 300ft from the massive 30ft tall timber gate, large stone and ivy-covered walls go all the way around, as crossbowmen patrol at regular intervals. As you approach a captain of the guard adorned in gleaming steel armor and a longsword on his hip approaches sitting astride a white steed with steel barding. “Halt travelers, what is your business in the City of Splendors?”
The South Ward:
The southern ward of the city is just a slightly less shitty version of the slums outside, one and two story buildings lead into alleyways that spiderweb throughout. Vagrants and panhandlers litter the streets as dirt covered and scrap clothing adorned children play in the dusty roads. A number of small shops and cafes dot the roadside as rough working man style taverns seem to be on every street corner. The only building that isn’t in a state of disrepair is the temple of Gond, the god of the craft.
The temple to Gond is a simple, two-story mason worked building with the main worship aread adorned with a massive cog. Rough Dwarves and Humans seem to run the temple, dressed in various leather and iron armors they carry heavy clubs and serve as a guard of sorts for the surrounding area.
The high priest is an elderly human man with scarred hands who wears a set of leather armor, adorned with the cog Icon of Gond
The lab is actually a massive overturned barrel with a door on the front. Inside is rather cramped as two massive tables covered in alchemical tools dominate the space, with a small bedroll in the back corner. Vials of foul-smelling liquid seem to smoke green as a large open flame boils something in a massive steel pot. Diogenes is a rather young, yet unhealthy looking gnome. He wears a leather apron over simple rough spun clothing. His hair seems patchy as light bald spot fibers his head, one eye also seems to be moving independently as he shuffles around.
The Dock Ward:
The docks dominate the largest part of Waterdeep, being a trading Mecca, the ward is filled with ships both large and small. The southern piers are ramshackle at best, providing a budget berthing for boats, they function but are more or less a gathering of fishermen and locals. To the north lie the much grander docks of the Merchant Guilds, gilded with brass and all sporting impressive figureheads the boats run the gambit from small schooners to massive fleet guarding warships, nearly seventy feet tall. Dotted with few buildings rough and tumble taverns stand next to massive storehouses and fisheries. The foul smell of sea life fills the air as gulls squawk and fight for food while the errant dog wanders amongst the alleys.
The Skewered Dragon:
A tough tavern located near the border of the two dock wards provides the privateers and rougher merchants of the area a brief respite. The dilapidated building boasts little beyond the smattering of half broken and wobbly tables, the only interesting factor being the anchor smashed into the top of the Roof(From an exploding pirate ship that was filled with illegal black powder).
The shipwright is located in a large building off the side of the local drydocks, ships in various states of construction or repair sit in pens being held aloft by massive wooden beams a few feet off of the hard stone ground. The building itself is little more than a massive warehouse and attached office.
The main guildhall of fishermen and traders alike is an imposing building of half stone on the lower floor and timber on the upper. Large flags depicting ships amongst a tumultuous ocean flank the large wooden doors. Inside are a network of offices all labeled with the various guilds and merchant names who have purchased a space.’
The Repose Rescue:
A bit farther inland, at the meeting point of the districts, sits a large tree-shaped building surrounded by foul-smelling pens and accompanied by the sounds of various animals. Handlers of all races can be seen rearing and caring for wounded and lost beasts from the wilds around Waterdeep. Inside of the building is an office that offers adoption of exotic beasts as well as veterinary services for pet owners.
The Castle Ward:
The Castle Ward of Waterdeep lies at the very heart of the city. Mount Waterdeep houses the castle itself and presides over the ward at large. Much of the government, known as the masked lords, and merchants kings live in this area. This includes the Palace of Waterdeep, which is occupied by Piergeiron the Paladinson, and the residences of many nobles.
The bardic college overlooks the Sea of Swords and sports a pair of massive grey and blue stone towers, flanking what looks like a large square stone building. The college itself is built around a large courtyard that doubles as an auditorium for parties and shows for the City’s elite. The college of Lore can often be heard from the surrounding area as discordant melodies fill the air along with random flashes of arcane magic.
The great fortress of Waterdeep looms over the surrounding ward from the side of Mount Waterdeep. Its hanging banners and heraldry were so massive they signal diplomatic arrivals and ceremonial announcements to those even in the southern wards of the city. It is used by the city guard and the watch for training housed the stables for some 70 warhorses and held several levels of subterranean dungeons.
Palace of Waterdeep
The white marble palace of the city’s Lords stands as a beacon of the incorruptibility of their rule over the city. The shining tower houses the Lords’ court, embassies from other city-states and nations and the offices of city officials, including those from the City Guard and Watch.
The Yawning Portal:
A stone building with a slate roof, the Yawning Portal offers guest rooms on the three upper floors. Well-worn boards cover the floor, but the main impression is of comfort. Rich blue tapestries decorate the wood-paneled walls of the common room, which consists of a bar and tables of stout wood. A signboard that simply reads”The Yawning Portal,” hanging on chains from a black iron pole above the front door, announces the entrance to the inn.
The center of the common room sits the Yawning Portal’s main attraction, a thirty foot in diameter well, that descends hundreds of feet down, into the Undermountain and Underdark beyond. The barkeep is a retired dwarven fighter by the name of Duran who watches over the dark well.
The North Ward:
The North Eastern party of the city is a district of scoundrels and thieves. The criminal gang of Xanathar runs the area along with a number of gambling, drug and prostitution dens that are easily visible from the street. Dark buildings and winding alleys make up most of the ward with only a single courtyard that leads to the City of bones offering a full view of the sky
A high stakes gambling den and house of ill repute Tymora’s Fancy stands at the center of the district, dark red oak paneled walls and high vaulted ceilings greet the visitor as scantily clad Tiefling men and women dance about the red-carpeted floors between tables dealing hands and delivering drinks. The air is choked with the smell of cigar smoke and pipeweed as low burning lanterns make a calming atmosphere, belaying the harsh reality that cheating would end up with a patron becoming one of the unnamed bodies found on the ward’s many alleys.
A massive green and purple mushroom lay fallen over onto the side of the cobblestone street, its cap resting just a few feet from moving carts and passerby a door and windows have been carved into the sides. Inside are an assortment of dark potions and effigies made of various plants and animal skins adorning various low shelves. The walls are wood paneled and carved from the very mushroom itself and new bits of fungi and moss poke through splits in the wood. The air smells pungent and sweet while a thin green haze hangs in the general area. Lucretia herself is a shrunken head hanging above the front counter, her zombie body moving around various goods.
A tavern owned by a small gnomish man Beph’s is a shady establishment of small two to three person tables and a low bar with a number of large kegs set in the wall behind it. Low lantern light provides a dark atmosphere as most patrons seem silent or speak in hushed conversations.
Misery’s Magical Market:
The shop is a gaunt black painted building, with dark shuttered windows and a high timbered roof. Inside the smells of incense assail visitors as a number of shelves and racks of items. Patrons can see healing and alchemy kits, rope and canteens as well as other adventuring paraphernalia. Misery herself is tall and gaunt, red skinned, Tiefling woman with jet black hair who wears robes of dark wool.