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


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The thing with the extensive sewage system is so overused in fantasy that it is a trope meme.

Most reknown fantasy towns with official maps of the sewer system would provide almost drinking water quality down there due to the sheer amount of water diluting the excrements :p
Two of them actually & it even mentions topical stuff in one
Absurdly Spacious Sewer

"In fantasy or historical fiction, this trope becomes anachronistic. While the Romans did have a sophisticated sewage system for the city of Rome and other major cities across the Empire note , the system was too technologically complex for either contemporary civilizations or successor civilizations to replicate. From the Fall of Rome until the Industrial Revolution, the preferred method of waste removal was pouring it into ditches in the street where the rain would wash it away (sooner or later). However, this could be justified by fantasy societies (such as dwarves) that are more industrialized than their medieval human counterparts. "
Dungeon Town The rabit hole of underground stuff tropes go pretty deep from there.
 

Beleriphon

Totally Awesome Pirate Brain
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.

I have address what you said, I'm agreeing that it makes no sense from a purely logical standpoint, but the authors have picked some things to try and explain it. It is entirely arbitrary based on what the designs and authors want Waterdeep to be used for in the setting, and that's some akin to mid-19th Century London, just look at the art for the city it doesn't look like William Shakespeare's London, it looks like Charles Dickens' London. As such the authors have picked population numbers that make what we see in Dickensian novels, which is entirely arbitrary and doesn't make any sense give the available land area as you point out and I happen to agree with. However, that's the number so we're left with three options: 1) rationalize it, 2) change it, or 3) realize most people will never look at it closely enough to ever care.

As for my other points, I'm working from the rationalize perspective, while you're working from the change it perspective. In a game, I would very much operate from the point of option 3. Waterdeep is a huge, heavily populated city that acts as one of the world's largest trade hubs acting as a trade point between Evermeet, north and south along the Sword Coast, east into the Heartlands, as well as north into The North (so Silverymoon and the dwarf citadels). It is supposed to be urban, metropolitan, and advanced for the setting with a population that supports those notions. What that population is going to be is entirely arbitrary. Maybe the 2 million people is how many people are in the city at any given time rather than the permanent residents.
 

mil figure comes from
I have address what you said, I'm agreeing that it makes no sense from a purely logical standpoint, but the authors have picked some things to try and explain it. It is entirely arbitrary based on what the designs and authors want Waterdeep to be used for in the setting, and that's some akin to mid-19th Century London, just look at the art for the city it doesn't look like William Shakespeare's London, it looks like Charles Dickens' London. As such the authors have picked population numbers that make what we see in Dickensian novels, which is entirely arbitrary and doesn't make any sense give the available land area as you point out and I happen to agree with. However, that's the number so we're left with three options: 1) rationalize it, 2) change it, or 3) realize most people will never look at it closely enough to ever care.

As for my other points, I'm working from the rationalize perspective, while you're working from the change it perspective. In a game, I would very much operate from the point of option 3. Waterdeep is a huge, heavily populated city that acts as one of the world's largest trade hubs acting as a trade point between Evermeet, north and south along the Sword Coast, east into the Heartlands, as well as north into The North (so Silverymoon and the dwarf citadels). It is supposed to be urban, metropolitan, and advanced for the setting with a population that supports those notions. What that population is going to be is entirely arbitrary. Maybe the 2 million people is how many people are in the city at any given time rather than the permanent residents.
The rationalize perspective is good & all, but it goes back to the kind of "because reasons" & "$organization could do x but don't" type stuff the OP & others mentioned. You can't justify all the ubiquitous superfriends organizations & power brokers that seemingly exist in every gas station sized or larger town yet do nothing to solve the problems of waterdeep without changing them to actually do things. That might be great if the emerald enclave* took it upon themselves to manage sanitation everywhere & the harpers* took it upon themselves to provide Expanse type basic in many places... but nobody is doing those things & there's no reason to because the economy is not advanced enough & still pretty much a manorial economy.

Also keep in mind that Waterdeep is ~5.25 square miles in size while the greater london area & inner/outer london where that 1.9 mil figure comes from is something like 115 times that size at 607 square miles. If you put population densities 10x todays mumbai/manilla in that 5.25 square mile block you don't get Charles Dickens' London... you get the worst overpopulated dystopian nightmare ever imagined. Waterdeep only needs a few tens of thousands to get that kind of density because the city is not as large & making the wards that size turns it into something else even more nonsensical because many of the wards don't make sense as disparate borough sized cities.

*I just picked two factions at random
 

Beleriphon

Totally Awesome Pirate Brain
mil figure comes from
The rationalize perspective is good & all, but it goes back to the kind of "because reasons" & "$organization could do x but don't" type stuff the OP & others mentioned. You can't justify all the ubiquitous superfriends organizations & power brokers that seemingly exist in every gas station sized or larger town yet do nothing to solve the problems of waterdeep without changing them to actually do things. That might be great if the emerald enclave* took it upon themselves to manage sanitation everywhere & the harpers* took it upon themselves to provide Expanse type basic in many places... but nobody is doing those things & there's no reason to because the economy is not advanced enough & still pretty much a manorial economy.

Also keep in mind that Waterdeep is ~5.25 square miles in size while the greater london area & inner/outer london where that 1.9 mil figure comes from is something like 115 times that size at 607 square miles. If you put population densities 10x todays mumbai/manilla in that 5.25 square mile block you don't get Charles Dickens' London... you get the worst overpopulated dystopian nightmare ever imagined. Waterdeep only needs a few tens of thousands to get that kind of density because the city is not as large & making the wards that size turns it into something else even more nonsensical because many of the wards don't make sense as disparate borough sized cities.

*I just picked two factions at random

I full understand that. Waterdeep with super high poluation density looks the Kowloon Walled City without some sembelance of sensibility. I can see Waterdeep and its attached farming communities being that high. It is the leading city in the Lord's Alliance.
 

Are we really arguing about this still? Time to pull out the big guns - actual population figures from printed sources:

"More than 100,000" (1e, 1987, Cyclopedia of the Realms from the Gray Box Set, p. 87)
"Rarely falls below 122,000 beings" (1e, 1987, Waterdeep and the North, p. 12)
"122,000 sentients" (2e, 1994, Adventurers' Guide to the City from the City of Splendors box set, p. 4)
"132,661" for the city and "1,347,840" for the entire region controlled by Waterdeep (3e, 2001, Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting, p 178)
"132,661" (3e, 2005, City of Spendors: Waterdeep, p. 6)

There is no population given in the 4e FRCS, or in the 5e SCAG or Dragon Heist.

So, where is this 2,000,000 coming from? As far as I can tell, only from Realms - Waterdeep | Dungeons & Dragons. So, what does that "up to two million" actually entail? Given the descriptions of the city in both 4e and 5e products, the size and architecture of the city hasn't changed all that much, certainly not so much to entail over fifteen times the population repeatedly reported in previous editions. Granted, the Field Ward is new, and crowded, but, again, no description of it could possibly be interpreted that it could house 1.5 million extra people in a few acres; at best it likely adds around 10 to 20k more to the population. So, again, the 2,000,000? The 3e FRCS answers this - it's the population of the region as a whole. In the century since that population figure, the area north to Amphail and east to the Dessarin River has added a few 100k, which isn't an unreasonable increase for a century, even with multiple magical catastrophes (Waterdeep, being at least minimally more stable compared to just about everywhere else, probably drew its fair share of refugees, above and beyond natural population growth).

tl;dr: The city housed 120 - 130k previously; there isn't any sign of new, Sharn-like, towers; the population of the region as whole previously was 1.4 - 1.5 million; so the 2 million must refer to the current population of the region as a whole as well.
 

Beleriphon

Totally Awesome Pirate Brain
tl;dr: The city housed 120 - 130k previously; there isn't any sign of new, Sharn-like, towers; the population of the region as whole previously was 1.4 - 1.5 million; so the 2 million must refer to the current population of the region as a whole as well.

As many seem to have originally suspected. So the city proper might be pushing upwards of 250K, with the rest of the population somewhere outside the walls but within the control of Waterdeep, while not being another town or city.

On that note, I really wish more stuff differentiated between region and city.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
As many seem to have originally suspected. So the city proper might be pushing upwards of 250K, with the rest of the population somewhere outside the walls but within the control of Waterdeep, while not being another town or city.

On that note, I really wish more stuff differentiated between region and city.

Population is literally half that in most sources.

I live in a city of 120k. Population density was more of course in older time but not that much more.
 

Beleriphon

Totally Awesome Pirate Brain
Population is literally half that in most sources.

I live in a city of 120k. Population density was more of course in older time but not that much more.

Half that 100 to 150 years prior the current year in most sources. It was also before the Field Ward was populated, so there's that as well.

I think the number from the FCRS is hilariously accurate though: 132,661. Somebody in Waterdeep counted everybody right down to the last dwarf. The idea of a team of adventurers carrying clip boards and surveys while capturing census data amuses me.
 

Half that 100 to 150 years prior the current year in most sources. It was also before the Field Ward was populated, so there's that as well.

I think the number from the FCRS is hilariously accurate though: 132,661. Somebody in Waterdeep counted everybody right down to the last dwarf. The idea of a team of adventurers carrying clip boards and surveys while capturing census data amuses me.

Probably some sort of divination magic known only to a few bureaucrats that allowed them to come up with so precise a figure!

As for the population now, I'd say maybe pushing 200k. Even adding the Field Ward only would seem to add some tens of thousands, We'd have to see some major expansion outside the current walls for the city proper population to get much bigger...
 

Population is literally half that in most sources.

I live in a city of 120k. Population density was more of course in older time but not that much more.
I live in a city that is geographically close to the size of waterdeep, we have a ton of 2-4 story buildings & an estimated population of ~38k. Yea most of those buildings have yards, but postage stamp lots are the norm not the exception. If you level the solar farm, (freight) train yard, & various indistrial areas you might be able to double that... but doing that gets into waterdeep's other problem, it doesn't really have any industries that need an expensive city to economically function & doesn't have the sort of bureaucratic overhead needed to run an empire like ancient rome had.

@Demetrios1453 200k would put waterdeep at a quarter the population of current day san francisco(884k) in just under a tenth the landmass (6.5 square miles & 46.8) square miles without all the modern & semimodern high rise apartment buildings sending it back towards Manilla type densities.
 


gyor

Legend
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.

Waterdeep has portals, teleportation circles, caravans.
 

gyor

Legend
One thing to take into consideration when it comes to population is health-care and Lesser Restoration Spells, cure wounds, ect..., reducing the mortality rates.

Spells like Create Food and Water, low level spell means a single cleric can also produce shocking amounts of food when not healing. Druid casting plant grow on farms.
 

@gyor create food & water is on the cleric list yes, but it only creates "fifteen humanoids or five steeds for 24 hours" not ten to a hundred times that. There are no soviet russia style bread lines described in waterdeep, many of FR's religions are pretty horrible, and none of them operate large scale feed the hungry type operations that would be needed to support the massively overpopulated mil figure. Yes waterdeep has a portal or even some portals, but it does not have sigil like network of portals everywhere, 3.5 tippyverse stype permanent* teleport circle networks handling trade, or what have you...it has a seaport & river with pre-industrilaization levels of tech for loading/unloading/distributing the contents of those ships. As a florida resident well familiar with the efforts FEMA goes through before & after any major hurricane to keep food/water/gas/utilities/services operational I can assure you that it would be an insurmountable hurdle for waterdeep's level of technological advancement.

Yes they have caravans, but the next major city (daggerford) is about a hundred miles away A horse drawn wagon can travel 50 miles in 8-12 hours & somehow that amounts to 100-150 in 24 hours according to that link, or according to phb182 somewhere in the 24-30 mile/day range for a team of 40 speed draft horses. That makes the trip from daggerford almost a week each way through wilderness.

* Sigil is still sigil, Eberron can get around it with dragonmark focus item/eldritch machine teleport rooms in Orien's control, but neither of those are FR & "FR has that too" turns it into something very different. "Because magic" and "FR has that too" don't work because FR doesn't apply magic like eberron or blue age athas & FR does not have "that"... Instead FR has a gaggle of megapowerful do nothing groups with no responsibilities, services, or activity in the world beyond existing... instead of "FR has that too" work out ways for FR to plausibly have that kinda stuff within what FR does have or how FR would need to change in order to import "that" from other settings
 

Iry

Hero
Rise of Tiamat establishes that Waterdeep does have a Teleportation Circle it uses for trade and disaster relief between major cities, but I seriously doubt they utilize it to Tippyverse levels.
 

Rise of Tiamat establishes that Waterdeep does have a Teleportation Circle it uses for trade and disaster relief between major cities, but I seriously doubt they utilize it to Tippyverse levels.
Fitting ~307,000 people /square mile* in waterdeep would be about 3x the density of current day manilla. might need to go well past tippyerse levels. It would be like living & working in a maximum capacity stadium

@gyor I meant to touch on it earlier but lack of caffiene took over. plant growth on farms would only double the yield, that doesn't produce enough food near enough for FR's freight transport network capabilities. Even if it did, you immediately run into the fact that FR is still using horse drawn plows & manual labor to harvest it. A few tens of thousands... maybe low 100k pop is really all waterdeep can support & adding more quickly runs into the fact that waterdeep is not running an empire like ancient rome & has no industrial base that needs the city like industrial revolution cities had.

* the density needed for 2mil pop in 6.5 square miles
 

Fitting ~307,000 people /square mile* in waterdeep would be about 3x the density of current day manilla. might need to go well past tippyerse levels. It would be like living & working in a maximum capacity stadium

@gyor I meant to touch on it earlier but lack of caffiene took over. plant growth on farms would only double the yield, that doesn't produce enough food near enough for FR's freight transport network capabilities. Even if it did, you immediately run into the fact that FR is still using horse drawn plows & manual labor to harvest it. A few tens of thousands... maybe low 100k pop is really all waterdeep can support & adding more quickly runs into the fact that waterdeep is not running an empire like ancient rome & has no industrial base that needs the city like industrial revolution cities had.

* the density needed for 2mil pop in 6.5 square miles
There is a 20 square mile Abbey with divinely blessed farmland in it (Literally blessed by the Goddess of the Harvest) nearby that Sells most of it's yields to Waterdeep.

Goldenfields is a huge, walled temple-farm dedicated to Chauntea, the goddess of agriculture. Called “the Granary of the North,” it’s the only reason many Northerners ever taste soft-fleshed fruit larger than bush berries. Waterdeep and its neighbors consume the temple’s reliable output: carefully husbanded grains and dried, oil-packed, or salted foodstuffs preserved in vast storage cellars, vats, and squat stone grain-towers.
It's a also heavily associated with the Emerald Enclave and has tons of druids, and Treants in it.
 
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