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

Beleriphon

Totally Awesome Pirate Brain
The ancient city of rome is bigger than waterdeep at about 14km (8.6miles) across
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.

That's all true, but Waterdeep is also has magic, its not quite Eberron level magic, but its not exactly uncommon by and large. Despite the veneer of faux medival setting, Waterdeep is much more like a late renaissance city than medieval.

Its also ignoring the Lord's Alliance and other institutions that more or less act as nation state federations.

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.

Again, true but you're ignoring that in 1801 the UK was a largely agrarian society and the Industrial Revolution was just barely getting started. So between 1700 and 1801 the population had nearly doubled to 1 million people.

Having a plausible population in Waterdeep 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.

A population of over 1 million people isn't unreasonable for Waterdeep, it just requires understanding 1) magic suffuses the city to some degree and 2) the Golden Fields outside the city are permanently blessed by Chauntea (so they alwasys produce bumper crops, and crops grow faster).
 

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Zardnaar

Legend
2 million population is very silly outside China and Waterdeep isn't big enough anyway.

130k is a good number.

Sharn should really be extraplanar or have some way of magically feeding itself.

Million plus cities were rare outside China. You're looking at large rich imperial capitals. Rome, Alexandria, Baghdad, Constantinople, Cairo.

There's no real life equivalent of Waterdeep in the Middle Ages or Renaissance. It's an upscaled Lubeck or Hamburg, it's smaller than Venice, bigger than Paris, London, etc. Italian city state is probably the best comparison.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
That's all true, but Waterdeep is also has magic, its not quite Eberron level magic, but its not exactly uncommon by and large. Despite the veneer of faux medival setting, Waterdeep is much more like a late renaissance city than medieval.

Its also ignoring the Lord's Alliance and other institutions that more or less act as nation state federations.



Again, true but you're ignoring that in 1801 the UK was a largely agrarian society and the Industrial Revolution was just barely getting started. So between 1700 and 1801 the population had nearly doubled to 1 million people.



A population of over 1 million people isn't unreasonable for Waterdeep, it just requires understanding 1) magic suffuses the city to some degree and 2) the Golden Fields outside the city are permanently blessed by Chauntea (so they alwasys produce bumper crops, and crops grow faster).

Cities in the time period were generally 10% of the population of the surrounding area.

Waterdeep could feed more people but not fit in enough people without apartments which the Romans had. People in Waterdeep aren't living in extradimensional spaces enmasse.

Goldenfields probably exports from Waterdeep. It's similar to the Baltic grain trade and cities in the Hanseatic League. Agree with it being more Renaissance than medieval.
 

The Majority of Waterdeeps 2 Mill population still does not live within the walls of the city. I would estimate that at more like 200 to 300 K. Which makes perfect sense for the advantages Waterdeep has over historical large cities.

Feel like you guys are being a bit harsh on Waterdeep and it's capabilities.
 

Salthorae

Imperial Mountain Dew Taster
Waterdeep could feed more people but not fit in enough people without apartments

Waterdeep has apartments

Class C Buildings: The great majority of buildings in Waterdeep are Class C - the tall row houses that line the streets to heights up to five stories. Row houses usually have shops on the ground floor, with offices.or apartments above that. While not always multi-story row houses, this class includes many of the better-kept taverns and rooming houses in the city as well.
 



Zardnaar

Legend
Waterdeep has magic, and skyscrapers.

Living statues aren't that big, they've down sized them. Magic only goes so far since there's no indication of en masse extradimensional living.

Or at goldenfields even if plant growth can boost yields the chokepoint will be labour unless they have magic tractors and labour.

Goldenfields is also fairly small. Even if it's twice as productive as RL it will still be a drop in the bucket compared to RL France.

Yes I have worked on a farm harvesting vegetables.
 

Sharn should really be extraplanar or have some way of magically feeding itself.

Those towers go up a mile because that little manhattan sized island is a manifest zone linked to Syrania, not "Because magic". It's the only city like that in eberron because they literally can not build another. It also has a gigantic cove (along with another city extending there), a river delta, & a lightning rail line to bring things in & sky coaches (mini flying airships that only work in sharn basically) to transport people & goods around the city itself. Waterdeep has a port, a river and none of that.

@Salthorae Those 5 story apartments are on par with the tallest buildings of the 16th century & probably earlier just not recorded on that wikipedia page. those apartments housing 2 million people in an area 3.8x1.5 miles in size who are fed by horse drawn wagon & boat imports just doesn't add up... especially considering they poop in a bucket or a hole in the ground

@Beleriphon "That's all true, but Waterdeep is also has magic, " Hold on there sparky, this is Forgotten realms not khorvaire or blue age Athas. The only settings worse at applying the use of magic to every day problems are the ones that don't even have it & maybe greyhawk. "Because magic" doesn't solve these kinds of problems without turning FR & waterdeep into something extremely different from what it is due to the fact that it's never applied by anyone but a tiny few. There's still the fact that waterdeep isn't managing any empire like ancient rome was & basically has no industry to speak of that doesn't also exist in almost any town big enough to have a map PoI making the need for all of those people to exist so close rather dubious.
 




So, the only place I'm seeing the 2 million figure for Waterdeep is at Realms - Waterdeep | Dungeons & Dragons, which even in itself says they don't know if the number is true or not. It also doesn't indicate at all whether the number is for the population inside the walls, or also the surrounding area (which would bring it to near 3e levels, since the 3e FRCS had a population of city and surrounding country being at around 1.5 million). Honestly, it's such a ridiculously light overview of the city - it mentions a single street and the harbor, and that's it (!) - that I'm not sure it should be taken as authoritative.

SCAG, SKT, and Dragon Heist all fail to have give any population numbers for the city at all, as far as I can see.

With such a paucity of data for the 5e population, we're probably all just arguing over shapes in the clouds...
 

The 2 million figure was also from 2e from what I recall. But it also said that most of the population did not live in the city itself.

Which was already said, and it makes perfect sense that way. The City within the Walls can easily support around 200 K.
 

Eltab

Lord of the Hidden Layer
A dirty trick to let (disguised) dragons live in some parts of Waterdeep:
The anti-dragon field is centered on Aigheron's (sp?) old tower. The field is hemispheric with a flat bottom parallel to the ground. The tower was built on a small hill. Waterdeep is a seaport - so there is some land below "field level" right along the seashore.

When I DM'ed Rise of Tiamat, I made a big deal about Waterdeep being a magic "safe zone", and mentioned the resulting incoming waves of refugees. Surely the Cult of the Dragon would have tried to subvert the field - perhaps by sending a green dragon to swim into the harbor and raid the docks - and surely the Masked Lords would then have tried to "fill in the cracks".
 

Beleriphon

Totally Awesome Pirate Brain
The 2 million figure was also from 2e from what I recall. But it also said that most of the population did not live in the city itself.

Which was already said, and it makes perfect sense that way. The City within the Walls can easily support around 200 K.

Depends, official population of Waterdeep is roughly 2 million, who those people are and where those people live isn't clear. It could be the walled city and suburbs and farming community that feeds the city or they could all be in the walls, because Waterdeep is basically London circa 1840. Of all of the nominally "normal" cities[1] in the Forgotten Realms Waterdeep is the most likely to have extensive magic used throughout the city for public works (because the masked lords can afford to pay for it), and the current Open Lord is a Chosen of Mystra, never mind that the Blackstaff (that is to say Khelben's successor) amounts to a public servant.

[1] I'm not counting anything in Halruaa or Thay. Halruaa is too crazy to count for anything, even by FR standards for crazy, and 99% of Thay's crazy magic is achieved by human sacrifice.
 

Depends, official population of Waterdeep is roughly 2 million, who those people are and where those people live isn't clear. It could be the walled city and suburbs and farming community that feeds the city or they could all be in the walls, because Waterdeep is basically London circa 1840. Of all of the nominally "normal" cities[1] in the Forgotten Realms Waterdeep is the most likely to have extensive magic used throughout the city for public works (because the masked lords can afford to pay for it), and the current Open Lord is a Chosen of Mystra, never mind that the Blackstaff (that is to say Khelben's successor) amounts to a public servant.

[1] I'm not counting anything in Halruaa or Thay. Halruaa is too crazy to count for anything, even by FR standards for crazy, and 99% of Thay's crazy magic is achieved by human sacrifice.
that 1840 1.9mil figure for inner & outer london is massively larger than waterdeep at about 45miles across & 607 square miles, Waterdeep is 3.5x1.5 miles for 5.25 square miles. You are comparing an area smaller than inner london (light grey) to the popuation of outer london.
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All of those little boroughs exist on that inner/outer(greater) london map because it's needed for governance. Waterdeep has the inner but not outer. People who were outside that dark grey area lived somewhere else that is not part of london*. A population of 2 mil would put its density somewhere around 10x the density of modern day Manila & Mumbai. Waterdeep has wards for it (smaller) equivalent to the light grey inner london. You also can't apply the powers in charge of waterdeep itself to hand wave logistical/hygene/general density related problems to undercliff because it's a lawless shantytown.

The idea that the ~100 mile stretch between waterdeep & daggerford is going to be a solid urban sprawl is just silly and ignores the fact that the greater london population grew by roughly half a mil between 1820 &1830 due to them building a rail system then. Eventually they finished that surface rail system & started the london underground (subway) in the 1860s. FR is nowhere near the point of being advanced enough for having (let alone building & operating) a train/rail system & jumping it forward to either of those points would drastically change the fabric of what FR is. FR should embrace what it is.

* otherwise known by terms such as another city or unclaimed/unsettled wilderness
 

Beleriphon

Totally Awesome Pirate Brain
The idea that the ~100 mile stretch between waterdeep & daggerford is going to be a solid urban sprawl is just silly and ignores the fact that the greater london population grew by roughly half a mil between 1820 &1830 due to them building a rail system then. Eventually they finished that surface rail system & started the london underground (subway) in the 1860s. FR is nowhere near the point of being advanced enough for having (let alone building & operating) a train/rail system & jumping it forward to either of those points would drastically change the fabric of what FR is. FR should embrace what it is.

Again, Waterdeep is basically a city that gets used in the setting in way analogous to London circa the 1840s. The numbers are arbitrarily selected to match what the city represents, like much of D&D.

I'd point out that Waterdeep has also settled the first layer of Undermountain as well, and has a very advanced sewer system, much more so than most major cities did until the lat 19th or early 20th century. The whole city is stupidly anachronistic and none of it makes sense.
 

Again, Waterdeep is basically a city that gets used in the setting in way analogous to London circa the 1840s. The numbers are arbitrarily selected to match what the city represents, like much of D&D.

I'd point out that Waterdeep has also settled the first layer of Undermountain as well, and has a very advanced sewer system, much more so than most major cities did until the lat 19th or early 20th century. The whole city is stupidly anachronistic and none of it makes sense.
that literally has zero relevance to any of what I said, nor does it address any of those problems you selectively quoted. The Tippyverse has widespread create food boxes & permanent teleport circles everywhere not FR.
 


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