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History of Waterdeep

Within the Forgotten Realms campaign history, years are listed in terms of Dalereckoning, or DR. The first mention of a Waterdeep (not as a city, but as a collection of warlords) occurs around 900 DR. The city was truly established as a growing concern by 1032 DR, the year Ahghairon became the first Lord of Waterdeep, and the date from which Northreckoning is counted.

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Waterdeep was founded by local tribes who benefited from trading timber and furs with southern merchants, and the settlement’s deep harbor gave the city its name. These were violent times, and a savage human tribe overran the settlement and built defenses and fortified their new homes. As tribes of humanoids advanced on Waterdeep, more human tribes converged on the settlement, swelling its size and number of defenders, and after savage battles, Waterdeep emerged as a free city ruled by War Lords. The mighty mage Ahghairon then overthrew the last of the War Lords and established a government based on wisdom instead of armed might, and he ruled the city with a group of masked Lords who were secretly selected to govern. When Ahghairon died 200 years later, his rule was followed by a brief period of anarchy, as powerful guildmasters attempted to gain sole control of the city, until Ahghairon’s surviving fellow lords took steps to reestablish the rule of the Lords.

The city grew rapidly, such that by 1248 DR both the City of the Dead—a sprawling cemetery complex and the various trade guilds had been developed. The guildmasters seized control of the city soon afterward, ushering in a period of unrest and bitter conflict known as the Guildwars. The Guildwars ended only when the two surviving guildmasters brought in their own period of misrule. It was only in 1273 DR that the present system of government (or lack thereof) was instituted. This was the year that the Magisters were established and the secret Lords of Waterdeep were firmly reestablished.

Since that time, the city has continued to grow and prosper. Humankind and other races come from parts of the Realms to engage in business in the Waterdeep, now known as the City of Splendors. Over the years these successful merchants set up guilds and themselves become nobility, supporting the secretive Lords of Waterdeep who police the city fairly, by means of the well-trained city guard (soldiers), city watch (police), and over 20 black-robed magistrates. As a result, Waterdeep is now described as a place tolerant of different races, religions, and lifestyles. This in turn has encouraged commerce, and Waterdeep has grown into a huge, eclectic city.

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