The Elemental Menace
Waterdeep is the most important and influential city in the North and perhaps in all Faerûn. It lies 150 miles north of Daggerford on the shores of the Sword Coast. 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, the City of Splendors, is a bustling city on the Sword Coast. A rider from Red Larch can reach Waterdeep in 7 days, 3 if he or she changes horses often and dares to ride by night. Some merchants have termed Waterdeep “the best supply center in the world,” with the largest collection of superb craft workers, experts, useful contacts, and potential hirelings to be found anywhere. Others warn that it represents a huge army of potential enemies for those who aren’t careful – and everyone agrees that its busy streets are full of spies.
Waterdhavian noble families and guilds hold tremendous political and economic sway up and down the Sword Coast, but within the city itself, true power lies with the Masked Lords of Waterdeep. Waterdeep is ruled by this council whose membership is largely secret. The council convenes secretly and individuals maintain their identities behind magical masks. While the council rules, no one knows their true identities. The public face of this ruling council is the Open Lord of Waterdeep, a member whose identity is publicly known. There is only one Open Lord at any one time; when the previous one dies or steps down, he or she is replaced by a new one.
The current Open Lord, Laeral Silverhand, has held the position for only a few months, and many of the city’s nobles and guildmasters are vying for her attention and conspiring to wrest power away from her office, while taking advantage of the transition to dispose of unwanted rivals. This kind of political chaos is “business as usual” for most city residents.