Who will be the new gods?
The God of Strife is dead, destroyed in his attack on Tantras, and Midnight and the player characters have recovered the first Tablet of Fate-one of a pair of mysterious artifacts that will return the gods to their former glory and save the Realms from the fallen deities' wrath.
But the quest isn't over! To find the other Tablet of Fate, your heroes must travel across Faerun to Waterdeep, the City of Splendors. But both Midnight's former ally, Cyric, and Myrkul, the Lord of the Dead, want the tablets for their own dark ends, and they will stop at nothing to capture Midnight-even if it means the destruction of the Realms!
Waterdeep is the third of a three-part series of adventures for the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition roleplaying game, but it can also stand alone. Set in the popular Forgotten Realms game world, this adventure is loosely based on Richard Awlinson's Waterdeep, the third novel in the Avatar Trilogy. This adventure is designed for four to six player characters of levels 6-9.
FRE3: "Waterdeep" (1989), by Ed Greenwood, is the third adventure in TSR's first "Realms-shaking" event: Avatar. It was released in September 1989.
Event Origins. TSR produced the "FRE" Avatar series of adventures to complement its Avatar novels, with each adventure corresponding to the events of one (identically named) novel. The "Waterdeep" adventure concluded this pairing; corresponding to Troy Denning's Waterdeep novel (1989), it detailed the end of the Avatar event for AD&D players.
Farewell to Assassins. The Avatar line was invented in large-part to produce a Realms-shaking event that could explain the change from AD&D 1st edition to AD&D 2nd edition. Among other things, that required the removal of the assassin class, something accomplished in the adventure through the death of the assassin's god. As it states: "Bane, Bhaal, and Myrkul are gone, along with the entire assassin character class."
Adventuring Tropes. "Waterdeep" is an event-heavy encounter-based adventure that carefully moves players along the plotline of the Avatar novels. Though the big picture is predetermined, players can plan out their epic journey, engage in discussions with various characters, and of course decide the fate of individual encounters.
Love It or Hate It? The railroad style of adventures that was common in the 2e era (1989-2000) is now very much out of vogue. As the Avatar adventures took the style further than most, some players may not like them — though others might appreciate the epic feel of a Realms-shaking event.
Expanding the Realms. Though the adventure is title "Waterdeep", it actually depicts a long journey, with Waterdeep only taking up the last third or so of the adventure. As such, many areas of the Realms are revealed by Greenwood over the course of the narrative.
Much of "Waterdeep" takes place in Cormyr — including the town of Wheloon, the village of Eveningstar, the hold of High Horn, and the King's Forest. This was a nice bookend for a year that had focused on Cormyr: FRE1: "Shadowdale" (1989) had been partially set in Cormyr's Arabel, while FRC2: "Curse of the Azure Bonds" (1989) touched upon Tilverton. EveningStar would make a return visit several months later in "Next Stop: EveningStar" in Dragon #157 (May 1990).
After that, "Waterdeep" goes into the High Moor and then visits Dragonspear Castle on the Sword Coast before landing in Waterdeep. Waterdeep has previously received attention
in FR1: "Waterdeep and the North" (1987) and in later years would continue to be a central location for the Realms.
Beyond the geographical details, "Waterdeep" also detailed the changes of a Realms-Shaking event. Bane, Bhaal, and Myrkul were dead (for the moment), while Midnight and Cyric were risen as new divinities. There were also geographic changes in all of the adventure locations: part of Shadowdale and Waterdeep were destroyed, while the area north of Tantras became a magic-dead region. The general idea of "null magic" and "wild magic" areas was one of the biggest innovations to come out of the so-called Time of Troubles.
Future History. Though the Avatar crossover was technically over with the publication of the "Waterdeep" books, two later novels followed up on the fates of the new gods: Prince of Lies (1993) by James Lowder and Crucible: The Trial of Cyric the Mad (1998) by Troy Denning. Later, Bhaal tried to resurrect himself as detailed in the Baldur's Gate (1998) computer game.
TSR would immediately produce another Realms-shaking event the next year, but for the Empires event (1990), they decided to connect the novels and adventures more loosely, to make the event easier to coordinate. The first of these Empires adventures was FRA1: "Storm Riders" (1990).
About the Creators. Greenwood is the creator of the Realms, and so was the perfect person to herald in a new era. He also wrote FRE1: "Shadowdale" and FRE2: "Tantras".
About the Product Historian
The history of this product was researched and written by Shannon Appelcline, the editor-in-chief of RPGnet and the author of Designers & Dragons - a history of the roleplaying industry told one company at a time. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to firstname.lastname@example.org.