D&D 5E Crash-Course On The Forgotten Realms

Zardnaar

Legend
I'm not talking about the size of the books, I'm talking about the actual size of the city physically within the setting. Think Kilometers instead of page count.

Biggest cities in FR used to be in places like Calimshan and Mulhorand.

The numbers fluctuate a bit though between editions. I think 3.0 was the last one to have population figures for most of Faerun.

Waterdeep is usually around 100k, BG usually smaller than that.

Both are smaller than RL Venice fir example.
 

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Salthorae

Imperial Mountain Dew Taster
Waterdeep is ~ 3.8 miles long and 1.5 miles wide, map with scale

Baulder's Gate is ~ 1.13 mi wide and ~ 0.78 mi wide on the walled portion. If you include up to the edges of the GF9 5e map, it looks to be ~ 1.32 mi wide by 1.32 mi long

So I'd say that Waterdeep is bigger physically and population.

Here's a slightly different 5e map/view that looks to be ~ 1 mi long by 1 mi wide in the walled portion. It is more complete in showing the wrap around of buildings, but they are super narrow and long.
 

Biggest cities in FR used to be in places like Calimshan and Mulhorand.

The numbers fluctuate a bit though between editions. I think 3.0 was the last one to have population figures for most of Faerun.

Waterdeep is usually around 100k, BG usually smaller than that.

Both are smaller than RL Venice fir example.

Skuld and Calimport were the largest cities in the setting in 2e; if I remember right, Calimport had a reported population of like 2 million! When they dropped the population figures for 3e, they blamed "corrupt pashas" for the previous figure for Calimport - apparently said officials had inflated the population count to enrich themselves.
 

Skuld and Calimport were the largest cities in the setting in 2e; if I remember right, Calimport had a reported population of like 2 million! When they dropped the population figures for 3e, they blamed "corrupt pashas" for the previous figure for Calimport - apparently said officials had inflated the population count to enrich themselves.
You sure Waterdeep was the city with the 2 million population from what I remember.
 

gyor

Legend
You sure Waterdeep was the city with the 2 million population from what I remember.

At one point, but it got retconned lower. In my head I just assume the larger population referred to the total population in territory controlled by, Waterdeep and not just the city.
 

You sure Waterdeep was the city with the 2 million population from what I remember.

"Calimport is the largest, grandest city in all of the Empires of the Sands — and it never for a moment lets anyone forget it. Larger than Athkatla, larger and richer than even Waterdeep, Calimport has a population of over 2,000,000 humans and non-humans of every known race and type." - Empires of the Sands (1988), p. 54.

The population figures in that particular accessory are really over-inflated for the setting, such as Athkatla in Amn having 425,000! No wonder they were changed later.

Calimport's population dropped to a more reasonable 212,000 in 1998's Empires of the Shining Sea
 
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At one point, but it got retconned lower. In my head I just assume the larger population referred to the total population in territory controlled by, Waterdeep and not just the city.
It seems that is correct. The City itself has a smaller population, but all the lands around it have a ton more. This is the number given in the 3e era.

1,347,840 (City of Waterdeep, Metropolis, 132,661)

This is the current info on population.
The City of Splendors is certainly the greatest of the Sword Coast cities and perhaps the greatest cities on the face of the world. It’s home to as many as two million people, though an accurate census is all but impossible since so many come and go, visiting the open city to trade and otherwise seek fame and fortune. Waterdeep is a stable and generally peaceful city, where the rule of law is enforced by a huge and well-equipped watch further backed up by some of the most powerful personalities in the Realms.
 

ParanoydStyle

Peace Among Worlds
Re: Dungeons & Democracy:
The Eagle Knights from the kingdom not literally called Eagleland in Pathfinder's Golarion campaign setting are the closest I've seen, but a DM would have to consciously play up that aspect of their identity. That said I wish magocracy was a real thing, of all the fake-ass forms of gov't that's the one I want to try living in the most. As a muggle, obviously: much as the thing that gives you power in a neofascist capitalist corporatocracy is money, and I have none of that.

I had a feeling Waterdeep was the biggest city in Faerun. I vaguely recall something officialish (maybe it was just the Age of Worms adventure path?) saying that the Free City of Greyhawk was the Flanaess equivalent of Waterdeep, and that the City of Splenda Splendors was the Faerunian equivalent of Greyhawk.

5th Edition is (as a couple people noted with differing tones) strongly focused on Western Faerun (the Sword Coat Specifically), and Middle & Eastern Faerun may as well not exist at all in the current edition. I'm okay with that. For now. One of these days I'm going to make (or alter) a fantasy TTRPG setting where someone "invents America" so to speak.

***​

Right now I'm working on an affectionate parody/weirdo remix (more the latter than the former) of Waterdeep: Dragon Heist. So, while my ignorance of the Realms is VAST and there is plenty I want to learn across all sorts of topics, right now I've narrowed down what I want to figure out first and foremost.

The mythal, Aghairon's dragonward* was cast around Waterdeep by the big A (duh) in the mid-11th century DR, for reasons that are, when you get right down to it, really, really freaking stupid. It's not like he did it in response to the Dragonrage, which would have made perfect sense, the next dragonrage was 350+ years off: instead some heroic metallic dragon flew back to the city and some people got scared so PERMANENT DRAGON BAN. The Dragonward is said to cause any creature with draconic blood** that tried to enter the city to be overcome with an overwhelming urge to leave the area, never to return. However, this article about a song dragon (song dragons are cool!!!) with a name that is just way, way, way, way too long makes frequent reference to Waterdeep having HIDDEN dragons living there, in HIDING.

How exactly do you hide from an area-wide magical effect that overcomes you with an overwhelming need to not just leave, but leave and NEVER COME BACK?

I really hope the answer is anything but "crappy writing/crappy worldbuilding".

* Tangent: why on EARTH Oerth Abor-Toril would this have been evocation instead of abjuration in any edition? It is downright EMBLEMATIC of the college of Abjuration; it literally has WARD in the name. I also don't know why 3E bothered listing a school at all, it's not like a mythal is something PCs can meaningfully interact with, at least 99% of PCs.
** It's weird, because I would say that Waterdeep: Dragon Heist forgot about the dragonward considering the prevalence of dragonborn PCs and NPCs who certainly have draconic blood, except that there is literally a sidebar within the first five pages of the book to remind you about the Dragonward.
 

One of the biggest difficulties will be the fact that st fr changes to explain each edition's changes and considers all of its novels to be cannon. A lot of those novels handwaive things irrelevant to the story and that handwavium makes a huge mess if you start looking too long or thinking about the (lack of) interaction between things that logically should
 

Dragon Heist forgot about the dragonward considering the prevalence of dragonborn PCs and NPCs who certainly have draconic blood, except that there is literally a sidebar within the first five pages of the book to remind you about the Dragonward.
Dragonborn are not actually dragons. It only keeps True Dragons out. There is a Dragon NPC in Dragon Heist but he has the item that lets one ignore the Dragonward.
 

Coroc

Hero
It seems that is correct. The City itself has a smaller population, but all the lands around it have a ton more. This is the number given in the 3e era.

1,347,840 (City of Waterdeep, Metropolis, 132,661)

This is the current info on population.

I do not disagree on it being the biggest city but it is two small for 2 millions. Really. Who feeds them? And where are the skyscrapers where they live in?
 

I do not disagree on it being the biggest city but it is two small for 2 millions. Really. Who feeds them? And where are the skyscrapers where they live in?
They live around the city not just in the Walls. There is a large amount of area controlled by Waterdeep.
 

I do not disagree on it being the biggest city but it is two small for 2 millions. Really. Who feeds them? And where are the skyscrapers where they live in?

Only that 132,661 lives within the walls, the other 1 million live outside the walls in the area controlled by Waterdeep, which goes as far north as Amphail (which is 3 days ride north of the city) and as far east as the Dessarin River, an area of several thousand square miles. That is the population which farms and feeds the city. Moreover, Goldenfields, a vast farm complex blessed by the goddess of agriculture herself (and thus always producing fast-growing bumper crops) is adjacent to the lands controlled by Waterdeep and greatly assists in the feeding of the city.
 

jasper

Rotten DM
I'm not talking about the size of the books, I'm talking about the actual size of the city physically within the setting. Think Kilometers instead of page count.
Swing on and missed. Strike two on not getting Jasper Humor. On page 13 The Gate is one and a third palms. On page 4 of 09-01 The Gate is just a black dot smaller than Elturgard which is a black dot with a white circle around it.
Bing has waterdeep at Waterdeep is approximately 3.8 miles x 1.5 miles. Or ~20,000 feet north/south and ~8,000 feet east/west. Both measurements were done along the greatest straight-line dimension of the city.
Bing has Baldur's gate at no dimension but a 42 K population. Baldur's Gate (city) - Wikipedia
 

gyor

Legend
It seems that is correct. The City itself has a smaller population, but all the lands around it have a ton more. This is the number given in the 3e era.

1,347,840 (City of Waterdeep, Metropolis, 132,661)

This is the current info on population.

So we don't currently know what the Metropolitan area population is for either Baldur's Gate, Waterdeep, or Calinshan, ect...
 

So we don't currently know what the Metropolitan area population is for either Baldur's Gate, Waterdeep, or Calinshan, ect...
Baldur's Gate current figure is 125,000
Swing on and missed. Strike two on not getting Jasper Humor. On page 13 The Gate is one and a third palms. On page 4 of 09-01 The Gate is just a black dot smaller than Elturgard which is a black dot with a white circle around it.
Bing has waterdeep at Waterdeep is approximately 3.8 miles x 1.5 miles. Or ~20,000 feet north/south and ~8,000 feet east/west. Both measurements were done along the greatest straight-line dimension of the city.
Bing has Baldur's gate at no dimension but a 42 K population. Baldur's Gate (city) - Wikipedia
Count me as strike 3 I can't understand what you are talking about.
 


I do not disagree on it being the biggest city but it is two small for 2 millions. Really. Who feeds them? And where are the skyscrapers where they live in?
WotC doesn't really have a good handle on population density & such. That 2 mil figure was probably pulled from the fact that it sounded good rather than fitting those kind of questions. Prior to about 1900 we really didn't have skyscrapers like we think of them today. Sure church steeples & such were impressively tall, but from 1797-1885 the tallest skyscraper was a 52 foot tall mill. We broke 500 feet in the late 1800s & are just over 800 feet tall since 2010.

To get a good estimate of pop size estimate how tall/dense the buildings should be & find a historical city that was similar or extrapolate from it. The Eberron community did it after Rising & it shows just how bad WotC's population numbers for large cities can be, Geographically Sharn is similarly sized with Manhattan but the towers go up about a mile. Keith Baker has said that Sharn is about the size of manhattan stacked on top of itself 8 times over... Even though that falls far short of a mile high, not every building needs to be that tall. Rising says sharn has half a mil pop & that puts it on 1850s manhattan not the 8-12++ mil that 8x manhattan would have & that shows just how far off WotC is with population ballpark numbers.

London has a lot in common with Waterdeep from historical standpoints.. is about 1.1 square miles & the "Greater London Metropolitan Area" just over 600sq miles(and much larger than waterdeep at 45 miles across) & has population estimates that go wayyyyyyyy back. Depending on where you drop the pin in history, waterdeep probablty has 30-150k pop... That's still gigantic for a city in FR's level of technological advancement, but it's a size that can import enough food to feed itself with FR's level of food production, transport, & industry.
 

Beleriphon

Totally Awesome Pirate Brain
London has a lot in common with Waterdeep from historical standpoints.. is about 1.1 square miles & the "Greater London Metropolitan Area" just over 600sq miles(and much larger than waterdeep at 45 miles across) & has population estimates that go wayyyyyyyy back. Depending on where you drop the pin in history, waterdeep probablty has 30-150k pop... That's still gigantic for a city in FR's level of technological advancement, but it's a size that can import enough food to feed itself with FR's level of food production, transport, & industry.

Rome at its apex had a population pushing at least 1 million people, that's in the city proper, not the surrounding country side. So Waterdeep having a similar population, which is what the current numbers purport, seems accurate. Plus Waterdeep does have sky scrapers, several of Waterdeep's walking statues have been hollowed out and converted into living space.

Waterdeep in DR 1372 had a population of roughly 130 thousand. Officially by DR 1485 it is over 2 million. That's not entirely unreasonable given that Waterdeep is very much an analogue of cities like London or New York. London's population around 1530 was 55 thousand, by 1605 estimates put it at 225 thousand. 1700ish it has doubled to between 550 thoussand and 600 thousand. By 1801 CE the offical London population was 939,300. So lets call that 1 million.

Waterdeep having a crazy high population isn't unreasonable, give that its a trade hub on the see one might compare it to New York which went from 60,515 in 1800 people to 3,437,202 people in 1900. That isn't counting the "outer boroughs" either that became part of the city in 1898. If include the outer boroughs in 1850 the population of New York was 696 thousand, but 1880 the population had tripled to over 1.9 million. That's only 30 years, so the idea that Waterdeep could see a population explosion isn't unreasonable.
 

Rome at its apex had a population pushing at least 1 million people, that's in the city proper, not the surrounding country side. So Waterdeep having a similar population, which is what the current numbers purport, seems accurate. Plus Waterdeep does have sky scrapers, several of Waterdeep's walking statues have been hollowed out and converted into living space.

Waterdeep in DR 1372 had a population of roughly 130 thousand. Officially by DR 1485 it is over 2 million. That's not entirely unreasonable given that Waterdeep is very much an analogue of cities like London or New York. London's population around 1530 was 55 thousand, by 1605 estimates put it at 225 thousand. 1700ish it has doubled to between 550 thoussand and 600 thousand. By 1801 CE the offical London population was 939,300. So lets call that 1 million.

Waterdeep having a crazy high population isn't unreasonable, give that its a trade hub on the see one might compare it to New York which went from 60,515 in 1800 people to 3,437,202 people in 1900. That isn't counting the "outer boroughs" either that became part of the city in 1898. If include the outer boroughs in 1850 the population of New York was 696 thousand, but 1880 the population had tripled to over 1.9 million. That's only 30 years, so the idea that Waterdeep could see a population explosion isn't unreasonable.
The ancient city of rome is bigger than waterdeep at about 14km (8.6miles) across
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It also had running water, public baths, public latrines, & more thanks to the Aquaduct... Waterdeep has wells.. More importantly Rome was the center of an organized empire that managed trade, conducted war, expaded itself, built roads, maintained roads etc. Waterdeep not so much. The Roman Empire had better roads than FR & the city of Rome could not have existed at the timewith out those roads. I may have overlooked it, but nobody in Faerun is building or maintaining roads llike the romans did. Rome had that population because it did all those things. Other huge trade hub cities at the time were things like (Alexandria, Antioch, Carthage, Ephesus, Salona etc.) had populations of about a few hundred thousand & waterdeep should be similar at best. Faerun being isolated nations little more than manorial towns leaning so heavily on the bones of past empires really hurts it when it comes to plausibly supporting cities like waterdeep

Your target choice of the 1900ish population explosion of those cities ignore what happened with high density construction capabilities between 1885 & 1908. The tallest skyscraper between 1785 & 1885 was 52 feet tall. From 1885 to 1889 it was nearly 3 times that at 138 feet tall. Then again 1889-1908 it was 550feet tall... They just kept growing in height from there. Population density exploded because people started building up rather than out & more importantly things like freight trains& soon after cars/trucks became ubiquitous for bringing produce, raw materials, & finished products into, out of, & across those booming cities.... faerun doesn't have any of that.

Having a plausible population in watedeep does not hurt waterdeep or FR, in a lot of ways it actually helps it by removing some of the "don't look over here" handwaiving the OP touched on.
 

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