The Beginning of the End
Waterdeep, also known as the City of Splendors or the Crown of the North, is the most important and influential city in the North, and perhaps in all Faerûn. The road to Waterdeep is well paved and well patrolled. The city is the hub of trading from the mineral-rich lands to the north, the merchant kingdoms of Amn and Calimshan to the south, the kingdoms of the Inner Sea to the east, and the sea kingdoms and traders to the west. Waterdeep’s authority extends between thirty to forty miles from its walls.
Waterdeep is ruled by a council whose membership is largely secret. These 21 Lords work together to ensure the security and well-being of Waterdeep’s people. One Lord serves as the Open Lord of Waterdeep (curently Lord Piergeiron Paladinson), the public mouth-piece of the entire council. The Open Lord is not the leader of the Council, merely their public face. The hidden Lords are commonly somewhat influential people within the city: merchants, craftsmen, nobles, retired warriors and wizards, etc.
Waterdeep’s defenses are extensive and well trained. (They have the largest paid army in Faerûn) The city’s armed forces consist of four branches: the Griffon Cavalry (aerial scouts and elite support troops), the City Guard (the military), the City Watch (the police force), and the Navy. An elite company of the Guard called the Grey Hand reports directly to the Lords of Waterdeep and are called in only in case of emergency.
Nearly every business in Waterdeep is part of a guild. The City of Splendors boasts nearly twice as many guilds as most kingdoms. They are also one of only two cities in the known world with an Adventurer’s Guild. ( Cormyr is the other) The current Guildmaster, Farthingale, has developed a competition for adventures, called the Challenge of Champions. This event is designed not only to attract adventures to the city (and the Guild), but also to entertain the people of the city and encourage them to embrace adventures who pass through the city.