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 IMO Worst FR Product: City of Splendors: Waterdeep
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Kelcimer
Learned Scribe

USA
109 Posts

Posted - 24 Sep 2021 :  05:53:41  Show Profile Send Kelcimer a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Demzer,

quote:
Originally posted by Demzer
1222 is when the first three homesteaders families arrive, the place was already a meeting point before then, there was a temple of Chauntea before then and it isn't until 1226 that more families join and they start talking about a settlement with no name until it suddendly gets raided by pirates in 1292 and we discover the name is Raven's Bluff.
So if you were nitpicking on CoRB like you are nitpicking on CoS:W, you should conclude that the very important transition between ruins and Raven's Bluff has not been marked clearly in CoRB so that the history in CoRB "doesn't make sense".



I think you are engaging in mission creep here. Going back to what I said:

quote:
Originally posted by Kelcimer
The first chapter is covers the roughly 10,000 year history of the area around Waterdeep. It goes for almost two full pages before Waterdeep is even mentioned. In these two pages the reader is spammed with a whole lot of names and dates and battles. It’s discussing all sorts of geography and doesn’t bother to give a map. While I have a current map of the realms, I don’t know what things looked like back in the day. I don’t have any sense of where all these different peoples were coming from.

The chapter doesn’t even bother to say when Waterdeep officially became Waterdeep. It is supposedly called Nimoar’s Hold from 882DR to 932DR, but then it says that Nimoar’s Hold became known at the “town of Waterdeep” presumably, from context, shortly after 889DR. Was the name adopted by Nimoar’s Hold in 933? In the next section it refers to “Waterdeep’s forces” being driven “back to the gates of Nimoar’s Hold”. The what? I thought the fledgling community of Nimoar’s Hold came to be known as Waterdeep! But then, without missing a beat, the writers refer to them as separate descriptors and doesn’t bother to stop and clarify. That is incoherent.



My point main point is the experience of confusion of how I don’t have anything to go on about how anything really relates to anything else. My point about not specifying “when Waterdeep officially became Waterdeep” is an example of how that confusion extends even to a question that should be easily said.

Waterdeep is existing in a very complicated world of names, dates, and battles as it gets to the time period of “when Waterdeep becomes Waterdeep” and it doesn’t pause to catch it’s breath as it keeps on going, with so many more names and dates and battles.

By contrast, Ravens Bluff has a very simple scenario and it’s doing a good job of telling a story the reader can actually absorb. You really have to put some effort into becoming confused by it.

quote:
Originally posted by Demzer
and shows a little bit of a bias in judging the city itself



You keep wanting to make this personal. Instead of trying to talk about me as the problem, how about we stick to discussing the merits of the book itself?

quote:
Originally posted by Demzer
This is especially true when you yourself admit that even in modern times the capital city of a nation took 7 years to get the rest of the world to recognise and acknowledge the name change. 7 years with radios, telegraphs, phones and other worldwide connections.



A common pet peeve that is demonstrated on these forums is with people who bring in real world knowledge to understand the realms. I don’t understand it, because I think it makes the realms more interesting, but there it is.

Even I, a person who like real world stuff, is not going to suggest the degree of detail in the changes of a cities name as was covered in the brief video from History Matters. I’m a history nut. I find that interesting. This is a gaming product that is supposed to be aimed at a fairly wide audience of gamers. I sincerely doubt that the designers were thinking “Yeah! Lets add THIS kind of historical vaguery to the piece”. Just simply say “it was known as this until this year when the name was changed to Y”. I, the history buff, can extrapolate that the gradients in how people referred to it around that time period. But not every player is going to be like me and I certainly wasn’t that kind of history buff 15 years ago.

quote:
Originally posted by Demzer
Oh, by the way, rereading the history part I just saw it's stated clearly that the official founding date of the "Free City of Waterdeep" is 1010 DR, done by Warlord Laroun (page 9). So there you go, the timeline is "Nimoar's Hold" until 932 then other people start calling it "city of Waterdeep" and the warlords running it are too busy fighting orcs and trolls to bother with the problem until 1010 when it's officially renamed.



But the history is referring to it as Waterdeep for some decades before then. Ahghairon wasn’t elevated to “the position of official advisor of the War Lord of Nimoar’s Hold”. “Ahghairon was elevated to the position of official advisor of the War Lord of Waterdeep” almost 60 years before 1010. The official name change happened before then.

quote:
Originally posted by Demzer
Maybe you want to quickly reread the start of the history section. Aelinthaldaar, capital city of Illefarn, stayed there for 7000 years. Waterdeep is a young whipper-snapper by comparison.



I had said, “Wanting to settle there? Okay, sure. Did they succeed? Not on the level of Waterdeep. A lot of them were small communities, were located below Waterdeep, or relatively small installations.”

For clarity, I wasn’t talking about duration, I was talking about size. Waterdeep is 130,000 people and 5x that in the summer. Did Aelinthaldaar pull those numbers? I doubt it. These are elves after all.

quote:
Originally posted by Demzer
And that's why matters of opinion can't be held as facts and can't be used to claim that a book/show/product isn't good. "The characters didn't click to me" is not an objective reason to rate a product.



That is a straw-man. I have not said anything that could be construed as “The characters didn't click to me”. Further, you characterize my entire argument as resting on that false assertion, when you know there is far more to it. Try again.

quote:
Originally posted by Demzer
the tone of the post with the repeated rethoric questions, the "it doesn't make sense" and "it's not rocket science" made it clear a true discussion where the sides are willing to concede points and maybe change idea was out of the question straight out of the gate.



Again, you are trying to make this personal and questioning my motives. Could you please stick to discussing the merits of the book itself?


quote:
Originally posted by Demzer
Several of your points also came down to personal taste (the Wards, the Guilds, the Lords being secret)



Not being able to find out how something is supposed to work is not a “personal taste”. This is about defining elements that are supposed to be defining qualities of the place.

Not a single person can say what practical purpose the “Wards” have beyond being names for different parts of the city.

The “Guild” that does not have exclusivity reminds me of this meme.
https://pics.me.me/im-not-sure-disney-fully-understands-what-a-pirate-is-25093250.png

I have no real world example for how secret rulers are supposed to work. It is a very fanciful idea completely unmoored from reality. I don’t mind that as such, but the product should attempt to give a credible explanation for how that is supposed to work. It just doesn’t.

Attempting to dismiss these legitimate questions as “personal taste” is not at all persuasive.

quote:
Originally posted by Demzer
I agree that stating more clearly how the Lords business works might have been helpful but from an RPG point of view it gives much more freedom to individual DMs to do as they please with them (as opposed to your run of the mill kingdom, i.e. Cormyr, where the power structure is clearly defined and you have to take everything down to establish a new power broker). With the Lords as they are, the table is always open for DMs creations and ideas at the very top of Waterdeep power structure. Liking it or not, I think it makes sense from a game design point of view.



The point of the book is to tell me about Waterdeep. It is supposed to have “everything you need” about Waterdeep. Failing to explain what are supposed to be key characteristics that differentiate Waterdeep from every other city in Faerun is not about flexibility for the DMs. If the designers want people to make stuff up that is that fundamental to the city, why should anyone buy the book?

quote:
Originally posted by Demzer
As for the historical establishment of the Lords, Ahghairon was the top dog, he tried to stay on the sideline and let traditional leaders (the warlords) rule and it was ending in tyranny. So he stepped in and people did what he said because he was the man that saved their behinds (multiple times). When he passed away, powerful figures in the city tried to take over (the guildmasters) and wrought chaos for a long while until the surviving Lords reappeared. The people (assuming the naive notion that they had a say in the matter) went along with the re-establishment of the Lords because it was the system that worked best (no tyranny, no lawlessness, protections from the outside threats).



The key bits there are:

quote:
Originally posted by Demzer
it was ending in tyranny. So he stepped in and people did what he said […] The people (assuming the naive notion that they had a say in the matter) went along with the re-establishment of the Lords […] no tyranny



I don’t think you understand what tyranny is. You literally indicating the people don’t have a say in the matter. This is a system that does not allow people to have representation in court. Yet you think it is not a tyranny. Its just changing one tyranny for another.

quote:
Originally posted by Demzer
The part about Waterdeep legal system not being up to RW contemporary standards I don't get because it seems to me as trying to enforce several hundred years of RW history



This isn’t a contemporary thing. Representation for the accused was a thing in trials in Ancient Greece and the Roman Republic over two thousand years ago.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_legal_profession

Athens tried the whole “you can’t have a lawyer” thing, but they had to give up on it because it wasn’t practical. Banning representation isn’t a sign of the Lords being “wise”. Quite the reverse. As that Waterdeep is supposed to be a beacon of civilization, for them to be so utterly backward again strikes against the identity that Waterdeep is supposed to possess.

quote:
Originally posted by Demzer
The direct comparison with CoRB might stand if Waterdeep didn't have already a few sourcebooks on its back. With this I mean that the Volo's Guide already provided a quite detailed "walking tour" (and much bigger than CoRB) and redoing it would have p****d off the people already owning that book and offered no new information.



How is a first time purchaser supposed to know about those books? They were not mentioned in the introduction. If the designers had said in the introduction, “BTW this book is really only for people who already have X, Y, and Z books. If you are a first time person to Waterdeep you should get those first”, then this would be a valid argument. But they didn’t and it isn’t. They literally wrote that it has “everything you need to explore Waterdeep”.

quote:
Originally posted by Demzer
But as already stated, I don't think it's fair to blame on a single product the different editorial mandates of 3/3.5E.



And I don’t.

I need to refer you to the OP again. In my introduction I said “Yes, CoRB was a TSR product and CoS:W would be a WotC product, but WotC had done a great job on the Campaign Setting book, and the accessories since then had been all right.”

quote:
Originally posted by Demzer
I'm sorry you didn't take well the railroad comment but I call it as I see it from the little information you have given us: you spent several session "aiming" your players at Waterdeep and when they were there they had to (no other option) get in and get out in the smallest time possible, on penalty of death (with a deus ex machina ready to rescue them and keep the story moving).
Of course, I was not at your table and if you claim that there was more to it I believe you, but with the information I had before it seemed a railroad to me.



I’m keeping it to the bare details of the campaign as relates to Waterdeep, because there’s really no reason to go into it within the context of this thread. Implicit in the “big quest” idea is that the players want to play in a big quest and the DM wants to run a big quest. That is agreed on before hand. The DM having an outline of where key parts of the big quest are going to be to be is nothing that can be construed as “railroading”. Neither are ticking clocks.

Again, you are trying to make this personal. Could you please stick to discussing the merits of the book itself?

quote:
Originally posted by Demzer
And by the way, there is no ire in my posts



You are establishing a pattern of trying to make this personal. If you were not doing so, then I would have no reason to suspect ire. If you have no ire, then you should find sticking to discussing the merits of the book itself to be easy enough.
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ElfBane
Learned Scribe

USA
205 Posts

Posted - 24 Sep 2021 :  07:48:10  Show Profile Send ElfBane a Private Message  Reply with Quote
@ Kelcimer

Ok, you don't like the Waterdeep sourcebook, then don't use it. As a DM you can pretty much do about anything. You don't like aspects of the WD lore, then don't use them or modify them. Things that are canon doesn't mean you can't ignore or modify them. Your campaign to change 30 years of lore ISN'T GOING TO HAPPEN. So quit your bitching and move on.
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Kelcimer
Learned Scribe

USA
109 Posts

Posted - 24 Sep 2021 :  09:39:07  Show Profile Send Kelcimer a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Hello ElfBane!

This forum is for the "views\reviews and discussions of official Forgotten Realms Role-playing products published by TSRWotC". That is exactly what I am doing.

I am not advocating that WotC change the lore. I am in discussion on the merits of this product and what could have been done.

I already don't use the product, as has already been established.

If you do not like spirited and thoughtful discussion on the merits of this product, then you don't have to read it.
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Cyrano
Acolyte

United Kingdom
17 Posts

Posted - 24 Sep 2021 :  12:37:43  Show Profile Send Cyrano a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:

The chapter doesn’t even bother to say when Waterdeep officially became Waterdeep. It is supposedly called Nimoar’s Hold from 882DR to 932DR, but then it says that Nimoar’s Hold became known at the “town of Waterdeep” presumably, from context, shortly after 889DR. Was the name adopted by Nimoar’s Hold in 933? In the next section it refers to “Waterdeep’s forces” being driven “back to the gates of Nimoar’s Hold”. The what? I thought the fledgling community of Nimoar’s Hold came to be known as Waterdeep! But then, without missing a beat, the writers refer to them as separate descriptors and doesn’t bother to stop and clarify. That is incoherent.


I read this supplement quite recently, and I didn't encounter a lot of these problems. The Waterdeep/Nimoar's Hold thing I just interpreted as a settlement growing up around the walls of the old hold that was named after the deep waters of the harbour, and then later the whole place was officially recognised as Waterdeep in 1010.

That's not 100% spelled out in the text, but does it need to be? If it's not important for the adventure it's not going to come up, and if it is important for an adventure, presumably the DM will firm up these ambiguous, lost to history events. You've demonstrated you're willing to do a bit of work in the margins where events aren't explicitly clear when you were talking about Raven's Bluff.

quote:
The chapter doesn’t say anything about how Waterdeep grew. It says that Nimoar’s Hold grew and prospered, but it doesn’t say why. There is nothing in the previous 9,000 years of history to suggest why this should suddenly be a prosperous place when it wasn’t before. It just happens. Why exactly does Waterdeep (2nd largest city in the realms!) exist where it does?


This point is explicitly covered in multiple products: Waterdeep is the accessible marketplace for the North. All the mines, fishing villages, small communities, lone wizards and other weirdoes bring their goods to Waterdeep to sell, and traders from the rest of the world come to buy. It is where it is because it has a safe harbour for trading vessels and over time the Trade Way has become a safe-ish land route.

Obviously you're entitled to your opinion (I personally find anything related to Icewind Dale and Salvatore's work boring beyond belief), but it doesn't half feel like you want your disdain for this product to be the overriding truth, and are coming up with reasons to hate it that either aren't justified by the text or things you'd forgive elsewhere.
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Wooly Rupert
Master of Mischief
Moderator

USA
35426 Posts

Posted - 24 Sep 2021 :  13:18:07  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Maybe we all need to just step back a bit, let this discussion rest for a while. We're veering in a direction that is not a good one.

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