My Waterdeep: Dragon Heist campaign kicks off in October. Anyone who’s played Dungeons & Dragons for any length of time has likely heard of Waterdeep, the famous “City of Splendors” in the Forgotten Realms campaign setting. The nearby megadungeon of Undermountain is equally legendary.
Even the Blackrazor Guild (my Sunday group and diehard Greyhawkers), know of Waterdeep and it’s dungeon, which served as the seed for our own Obsidian Maze. That said, most of my knowledge of the city — including its governing body, the Lords of Waterdeep, comes from the board game of the same name (Website / Amazon). For this campaign, I need to delve far deeper into Waterdhavian lore.
To start there’s the Waterdeep: Dragon Heist book itself (Website |Amazon), which includes a chapter called “Volo’s Waterdeep Enchiridion”. The section serves as an introduction to the city for players and dungeon masters, giving a high level overview of its history, wards, holidays, and culture. It’s a decent write-up and I’d love if WotC would release it as a PDF that I can share with my players.
I bought the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide (Website | Amazon) mostly for its additional spells, backgrounds, and class options, but now that I’m actually running a Forgotten Realms campaign I’ve returned to it for background on the region surrounding Waterdeep.
As one of the Blackrazor Guild’s game masters, I’ve inherited a ton of Dungeons & Dragons material over the years, including a bunch of Forgotten Realms material from the 2nd Edition days. Digging through my old storage boxes I found Volo’s Guide to Waterdeep (wiki page), a supplement for Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition. Relative to the campaign setting’s own timeline the book is a hundred years out of date, but given that none of us have played in the city before I don’t think anyone will notice or care. Plus, given the pseudo-European setting and the long lives of some of Waterdeep’s citizens, it’s entirely possible that some of the businesses and locations continue to exist in the modern city.
I also have City System boxed set for 2nd Edition (wiki page), which has a slim book detailing the city and its wards. Its major selling point are a bunch of poster maps detailing the city itself in exhausting detail. It’s overkill for this campaign — being a lunchtime campaign I can’t really use the big city maps — but it’s cool to page through.
I’m thinking of picking up Waterdeep: City Encounters, a PDF on Dungeon Master’s Guild that includes one hundred short encounters meant to complement the Dragon Heist campaign. It sounds like an excellent resource to have in my back pocket (especially for a lunchtime game, which is all about short encounters).
Waterdeep and Forgotten Realms Resources
- Realms Helps: Urban Dangers of Waterdeep
- Realms Helps: Faerûnian Random Encounters by Region and Locale
- Dungeons Master: Adventure Hooks: The Xanathar – Crime Lord of Waterdeep
- D&D Beyond: Urban Intrigue in Waterdeep: Dragon Heist
- The RPG Athenaeum: One hundred ‘street scenes’ for Medieval settlements
- Roleplaying Tips: City Encounter Generator
- Roleplaying Tips: 150 Benign Urban Encounters
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Several old and new resources for Waterdeep, City of Splendors. Credit: Ken Newquist.