As we’ve discussed, our next game will be a return to Waterdeep in the latest D&D module “Waterdeep: Dragon Heist.” From D&D Beyond:
“In this story, you are D&D heroes with swords and magic living in fantasy New York City. A lot of normal people live here trying to get by, but the city is really run by monstrous crime lords, secret nobility, and a lot of evil people trying to get very, very rich. But since this is a city with laws and a police force, you have to act like detectives or vigilantes to get results, like Batman or Robert Downey Jr.’s Sherlock Holmes. Words are weapons, and it’s better to bring villains down by revealing their deep dark secrets than by killing them with a sword.”
We’ll be playing in the “current” iteration of Waterdeep. As much as I have tried to avoid keeping up with the official narrative for Waterdeep (and the broader Forgotten Realms), this game will be firmly set in the setting as it is formally. We are 30+ years in the future from the time of the Open Lord Piergeiron Paladinson. But, while some of the faces have changed except for the newest “Ward:” Deepwater Harbor, the city has not changed, except that it is grander and more cosmopolitan than ever. The above reference to New York City should give some indication of how bustling, arbitrarily corrupt and immune to everyday concerns the City of Splendors is.
For Players: Make Thematic Characters
If your DM and fellow players want to play a game of urban intrigue, you would be well served to create a character that fits in that genre. This way you not only respect others’ fun, you set yourself up to have fun by creating a character well-equipped to handle the sort of challenges the campaign will throw your way. A barbarian suited only for fighting will have fun when combat encounters arise, but when a campaign is mostly based around infiltrating manor houses, schmoozing with nobility, and hunting for clues in ancient archives? You aren’t doing yourself any favors by playing that kind of character.
I will ask that you pick your race, class and background together. In the first 1-3 sessions, I’m going to ask that everyone complete their Traits, Ideals, Bonds and, especially Flaws. Please try to have your character’s behavior reflect all of your characters components, not just Race, Class or Alignment.
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For Players: Get Involved in the City
Waterdeep is as much a character as any of the DM’s NPCs. Its many wards all have different moods and treat the characters differently. High-class characters with the noble background may feel out of place among rough-and-tumble sailors in muddy Dock Ward, and common city folk may feel like the North Ward’s suburban atmosphere is a bit too clean for their taste—to say nothing of the opulent extravagance of the Sea Ward. Waterdeep is teeming with personality of its own, to say nothing of the dozens upon dozens of NPCs that live there.
Your character has the opportunity to become involved in the city and make a life there. You aren’t a wanderer, camping out on the side of a road as you travel from ruin to ruin. You may have a regular room in the Yawning Portal Inn and Tavern, and get to know the locals. You might want to start up a business of your own and get to know your neighbors and customers. This creates opportunities for roleplaying, but this is a good idea even if you don’t like roleplaying very much. Making friends with the common people of Waterdeep will help you create valuable alliances that may lead you to finding new adventures, new treasure, and other rewards.