Campaign of the Month: January 2021
Calendar of Waterdeep
Winter Solstice: 20 Nightal
Spring Equinox: 19 Ches
Summer Solstice: 20 Kythorn
Autumn Equinox: 21 Eleint
Selûne is at full moon on the first day of every month.
WATERDEEP CITY CELEBRATIONS
Excerpt from Volo’s Waterdeep Enchiridion: A Visitor’s Guide to the City’s Splendors
At many times of year, hardly a tenday can pass in Waterdeep without the staging of some rite, race, or rousing ceremony of civic pride. Here I briefly summarize the most widely celebrated events on the calendar, from the first of Hammer to the last of Nightal.
HAMMER 1: WINTERSHIELD
Marking the start of the new year, this observance is a widely recognized day off work, when folk sip warmed ciders and broths (often laced with herbs for health and to bring on visions) and stay inside. They tell tales of what interested them or was important in the year just done, and discuss what they intend to do or should deal
with-or things that everyone “should keep a hawk’s clear eye on”-in the year ahead. Such talk inevitably leads to discussions of politics, wars, and the intentions of rulers. Maps are usually consulted, and it’s widely considered lucky to possess and examine a map on Wintershield. Map sales are brisk in the tenday preceding this holiday.
ALTURIAK 14: THE GRAND REVEL
Led by the clergy of Sune, Sharess, and Lliira, the Grand Revel is a day of dancing, music, and the consumption of sweet treats of all kinds, from chocolate to red firemint candies. Although some of the dancing is wanton and performed for show, large-scale ring dances in the street for all ages are also popular. All the
dancing ends at dusk, after which bards and minstrels perform at “love feasts” for families. Couples-or those desiring to become couples-slip away together to kiss,
exchange promises, and trade small tokens of affection (often rings blessed by clergy with prayers of faithfulness). Even if you have no paramour, indulge a little in
the dance and food of this fine tradition. The night might be cold, but your heart will be warmed.
CHES l: RHYESTERTIDE
This holiday is named in honor of Lathander’s first prophet, Rhyester, a young blind boy who was cured of that blindness by the dawn’s light on this day more than seven centuries ago. That holy event occurred in the vicinity of Silverymoon, but Lathander has long had a much larger temple in Waterdeep, and a following to match. Each of the faithful dons bright garb of sunrise hues and keeps one eye covered until the next dawn in honor of Rhyester. If you want to feel like a local, catch the eye of any celebrant you see and wink. Fine friendships have grown from far less.
CHES 19 : FEY DAY
The veil between this world and the faerie realm of the Feywild is thought to be weak on this day. Though this phenomenon provokes caution in rural areas (with folk avoiding woodlands, putting offerings of food on door steps, and the like), it is an occasion of much drinking, singing, and dancing in Waterdeep. The wealthy host elaborate masked balls, while poorer folk don costumes of their own make and travel door to door, gaining brief entry into the celebrations in exchange for performing a song or a short play. All adopt the guises of fey beings and the supposed rulers of the Feywild, such as Queen Titania, Oberon, and Hyrsam, the Prince of Fools. Those inclined to remain sullen in the face of such frivolity had best stay home, for celebrants do their utmost to evoke a smile from those they meet.
CHES 21-30: FLEETSWAKE
This festival celebrates the sea, maritime trade, and the gods of the sea, navigation, and weather. It spans the last tenday of Ches, and includes a series of boat races, the Shipwrights’ Ball at the Shipwrights’ House, and guild-sponsored galas at the Copper Cup festhall. According to custom, the winners of the various competitions don’t keep their trophies and earnings, but deliver them to the priests of Umberlee at the Queenspire, her temple on the beach by the east entrance to the Great Harbor, at the conclusion of the festival. The last two days of Fleetswake are the occasion of the Fair Seas Festival. During this time, there is much feasting on seafood, the harbor is strewn with flower petals, and City Guards go from tavern to tavern collecting offerings for Umberlee. Collection boxes also appear at large festival gatherings. Upon sunset of the final day, the collected coin is placed in chests and dumped into the deepest part of the harbor. This festival has existed in a number of forms since the first trade-meets occurred here more than two millennia ago, and an uncountable amount of wealth remains sunken in what has long been known as Umberlee’s Cache. The area is closely watched by merfolk guardians, whose standing orders are to kill anyone attempting to disturb it. Rumors abound that the chests have magical protections; one story tells of thieves who stole some of the collection years ago and tried to leave the city under false pretenses, only to see a squall spring up as soon as their ship left the harbor. A huge wave shaped like a hand swept the thieves overboard, but spared the ship and its crew.
TARSAHK 1-10: WAUKEENTIDE
This festival has long gathered a number of older holidays under one name, stretching those celebrations into a holiday season that lasts a tenday. Among the rituals in homage to the goddess of wealth and trade are these:
Caravance (Tarsahk 1). This gift-giving holiday commemorates the traditional arrival of the first caravans of the season into the city. Many parents hide gifts for their offspring in their homes, telling the children that they were left by Old Carvas-a mythical peddler who arrived with the first caravan to reach Waterdeep, his wagon loaded down with toys for children to enjoy.
Goldenight (Tarsahk 5). This festival celebrates coin and gold, with many businesses staying open all night, offering midnight sales and other promotions. Some celebrants and customers decorate themselves with gold dust and wear coins as jewelry.
Guildsmeet (Tarsahk 7). On this holiday, guild members gather in their halls for the announcement of new policies and a celebration of business concluded for the year. These gatherings culminate in a gala festival and dance sponsored by several guilds, which lasts from dusk till dawn and overruns the Market, the Cynosure, the Field of Triumph, and all areas in between.
Leiruin (Tarsahk 10). In times long past, Waukeen caught Leira, the goddess of illusions and deception, attempting to cheat her in a deal, and buried her under a mountain of molten gold as punishment. A commemoration of that event, Leiruin is the day for guild members to pay their annual dues and for guildmasters to meet with the Lords of Waterdeep and renew their charters for another year.
MIRTUL 6-9 : THE PLOWING AND RUNNING
Rural areas around the city observe this holiday in the traditional sense of shared activities of plowing fields and moving (or “running”) livestock. But within the city, the holiday is celebrated with a series of races. Foot, horse, and chariot races are run through courses in each ward, and the winners from each ward compete at the Field of Triumph. If you really want to see the wards come to life, this is the time. Pick your favorite, wear its colors, and cheer alongside its residents. Better yet, if you’re of an adventuresome bent, register in your favored ward and compete! Who knows? Your name or visage might soon have a place in the House of Heroes.
KYTHORN 1: TROLLTIDE
On this day commemorating Waterdeep’s victory in the Second Trollwar, children run through the city acting like trolls, banging on doors and growling, from highsun till dusk. Home and shop owners are expected to give the children candy, fruits, or small items. Those who give no treat can expect to become the target of a trick at sundown. This mischief typically takes the form of “troll scratchings” at doors and windows. Those with more malicious intent sing screechingly in the wee hours, and hurl raw eggs at windows, signs, and the heads of those who try to stop them. Have some candy on hand or some sweet rolls, and all will be calm where you live.
KYTHORN 14 : GUILDHALL DAY
This day is a time of trade fairs. Most shops are closed, and street sales are suspended for all but walking food peddlers. Guildhall Day celebrates the fruits of everyone’s labor with revelations of new products, innovations, fashions, and signage extolling the extent and quality of guild members’ services and wares. These offerings usually take the form of glittering displays, but guilds sometimes also sponsor brief plays or other hired entertainments (jugglers, singers, magic shows put on by hedge wizards and professional raconteurs) at which prizes or free samples are distributed. Many guilds try to recruit during this time. Guildhall Day is an excellent time to browse the city’s merchandise-and it doesn’t matter if you can’t afford what you see, because you can’t buy it that day anyway.
KYTHORN 20: DRAGONDOWN
This day in Kythorn is celebrated with bonfires and rituals to “tame” or “drive down” dragons. In Waterdeep, the celebrations take the form of parades that center around effigies built of wood and cloth and filled with straw. Each effigy is named and has a traditional depiction, for it represents one of a handful of dragons the city has faced in its history. After being paraded to a square near where the dragon was defeated or driven off, the enormous effigy is burned. The height of the celebration comes when the effigy of Kistarianth the Red is burned on the slopes of Mount Waterdeep. A dracolich version of Kistarianth is then carried up the slopes and burned as well. These proceedings symbolize the defeat of Kistarianth first by the paladin Athar, and again decades later by his son, Piergeiron. Tradition dictates that the winners of the races run during the Plowing and Running take the role of the dragons’ slayers, with the champion of the chariot race representing Athar and the champion of the horse race playing Piergeiron.
FLAMERULE 1: FOUNDERS’ DAY
This day commemorates the birth of the city. The Field of Triumph is the site of illusory displays that chronicle the history of Waterdeep, as well as martial exhibitions by the Guard and other worthies. Many festhalls sponsor Founders’ Day costume contests, with prizes going to those who wear the best recreations of the garb of historical personages. Once banned as frivolous and distracting, the practice of veiling Castle Waterdeep with an illusion has been reinstated. Several mages come together to produce the effect, which seemingly transforms the castle into the ancient log fortress of Nimoar. The illusion typically lasts from midday to sunset (unless someone has the audacity and magical might to dispel it) and is regarded as a stunning work of magical art.
FLAMERULE 3-5 : SORNYN
Sornyn is a festival of both Waukeen and Lathander, and is used for planning business, making treaties and agreements, and receiving envoys from unknown lands and traditional foes. Much wine is drunk over this threeday occasion when, as the saying goes, “My enemy is like family to me.” If you are a newcomer to the city, this time is an excellent opportunity for you to engage with new partners in business or to gain financial support for some endeavor. My agreement to write Volo’s Guide to Waterdeep was signed on a warm Sornyn evening many years ago, so who knows where your own initiative will take you?
FLAMERULE 7: LLIIRA’s NIGHT
Originally a celebration held only in Waterdeep, this holiday has since spread up and down the Sword Coast. It has received a recent boost in popularity from the custom started in Baldur’s Gate of lighting celebratory smokepowder fireworks-all purchased from Felogyr’s Fireworks of that city, and utilized only by the City Guard, of course. This nightlong festival honors the Lady of Joy with dances and balls throughout the city. Pink beverages, ranging from healthy juices to deadly strong intoxicants, are imbibed. The boom and crackle of smokepowder explosions go off all night long, so you might as well stay up with the locals and enjoy the show.
ELEASIS 1: AHGHAIRON’S DAY
Many small rituals are held throughout this day, dedicated to honoring the first Open Lord. The Lords of Waterdeep toast Ahghairon and the Watchful Order, and guildmasters toast the Lords in Ahghairon’s name. Commoners leave violets (Ahghairon’s favorite flower) around Ahghairon’s Tower, on his statue in the City of the Dead, and atop the altars of the House of Wonder. Bards perform songs in honor of the wizard all over the city. The Open Lord visits taverns and inns throughout Waterdeep to wish the people well-giving short speeches, offering toasts to Ahghairon’s memory, buying rounds of drinks, or paying for meals or accommodation. Needless to say, establishments of those sorts are generally full throughout the day.
ELEINT 21: BRIGHTSWORDS
On this day, the City Guard, the City Navy, and the City Watch-all in glittering array-conduct parades, give demonstrations of martial skill, and stage mock battles. Those desiring to join their ranks are given a chance to demonstrate their prowess, usually with wooden practice weapons in contests against veteran soldiers. Makers and vendors of weapons sell their wares openly in the markets, experts who can hurl or juggle weapons show off their skills, and the wards compete in wrestling and boxing matches. The most anticipated part of the day is when horses are cleared from the Field of Triumph and the surrounding streets so that the Griffon Cavalry can perform aerial displays over the crowds in the stadium. Members of the Watchful Order present the cavalry with illusory foes to fight, allowing the griffon riders to engage in thrilling battles as the people watch.
MARPENOTH 3: DAY OF WONDERS
The imaginative inventions of the Gondar are revealed on this day and paraded through the city. These devices range from something as humble as new cabinet hinges to massive mechanical constructs that walk or roll about. Failure is the paramour of invention, though, meaning it is a rare year when there isn’t some notable disruption of the celebration. The flying chair of Marchell was one such recent oddity-a device that worked marvelously on the way up but was incapable of descending. Marchell was rescued by the Griffon Cavalry, but his flying chair drifted away and was never seen again.
MARPENOTH 7: STONE SHAR
Stoneshar is an all-faiths day during which folk strive not to be idle. Even children at play are encouraged to dig holes, build sand castles, or construct crude models. Waterdavians consider Stoneshar the best day of the year to begin construction of a building, either by digging out a cellar or laying a foundation. The common wisdom is that folk who undertake new projects on Stoneshar can expect blessings upon their works in the coming year, whereas individuals who do nothing constructive on this day can expect all manner of misfortune to rain down on them in the year ahead.
MARPENOTH 10: REIGN OF MISRULE
Swift on the heels of Stoneshar comes the Reign of Misrule. This day honors Beshaba, goddess of misfortune. People of the city are expected to break trust, belie oaths, and disobey the normal order-as long as no laws are actually broken and no rift is made that can’t be later bridged. During the Reign of Misrule, nobles serve meals to their servants, children take control of schools, priests give worship to their god’s foes, and any who wish to may participate in a guild’s trade. Pranks are played by and on many, from simple tricks to those requiring elaborate planning. Sundown brings an end to the festivities, and most folk spend much of the night cleaning and reordering things for the following day. Many visitors decline to participate, but doing so often inspires misfortune rather than avoiding it. For fear of catching the bad luck of cynics, citizens do their best to avoid talking to anyone known to not have played along, or dealing with them in any way until Gods’ Day.
MARPENOTH 15: GODS’ DAY
This holiday observes the anniversary of the end of the Godswar in 1358 DR, when the gods of Faerun returned to the heavens. Private shrines are brought out into the open, and many people wear holy symbols of their favored deities. A Gods’ Day tradition in Waterdeep strictly limits the use of magic, in remembrance of the wild magic wrought during the Time of Troubles. Though not outlawed fully, spellcasting is allowable only in self-defense or in cases of extreme need. At night, this holiday becomes solemn and serious, as many Waterdavians offer prayers in thanks for the lives they have under their gods. The Griffon Cavalry sets up an immense bonfire at the peak of Mount Waterdeep, honoring the fallen and the risen gods Myrkul, Cyric, Kelemvor, Mystra, Helm, and Ao who appeared here. In thanks for their defense during Myrkul’s invasion and the resulting fires that raged through the Southern, Dock, and Castle Wards, Gods’ Day is also a semiofficial “Be Kind to the Guard and Watch Day” in Waterdeep. Feel free to participate by handing out small gifts and kind words, but be aware that any gift of greater value than a few nibs might be interpreted as a bribe.
MARPENOTH 30: LIAR’S NIGHT
This holy day pays tribute to Leira and Mask. To placate those deities and ward away their attention, folk of all walks of life don masks and costumes (magical or mundane) to disguise themselves and play at being other than what they are. Commonly seen mask styles include the black mask symbol of Mask and the mirror face of the priests of Leira. But there are no bounds on the disguise you don, and the more elaborate and outlandish it is, the more celebrated the wearer. The festivities begin in the evening, when people place candles in hollowed-out gourds or pumpkins carved with faces. Each pumpkin represents a person donning a mask, while the light inside represents the truth of the soul. For as long as the candle remains lit, lies told and embarrassing things done don’t sully a person’s reputation, so celebrations often descend briefly into anarchic hedonism. Misfortune is said to come to anyone who returns to their pumpkin after celebrating to find it unlit, so buy a candle of good quality and put your gourd beyond reach of the wind. Intentionally blowing out someone else’s candle or smashing someone else’s pumpkin is taboo, and risks the wrath of both gods-yet it does occur. Tricks and pranks of all kinds are common on this night, and folk expect lies and foolishness. Pickpockets are rife on this day, so few carry much coin with them, having secreted it away somewhere the previous evening. Instead, people fill their pockets and belt pouches with candies. Traditionally, a pickpocket is meant to take the candy and leave a token in return (a tiny toy, a colorful paper folded into a shape, or the like), but this has changed over the years into adults exchanging candies among themselves and simply giving candy to children who ask for it. By custom, no deals are made nor contracts signed on Liar’s Night, because no one trusts that parties will abide by them. Illusionists and stage magicians (whether through magical or practical abilities) make the rounds to entertain private parties (having been paid in advance the previous day) or to perform in public spaces, in the hopes that a good show will earn them a meal, and perhaps a place at a private party in the future.
UKTAR: SELUNE’s HALLOWING
On whatever night in Uktar the moon is fullest, Waterdavians celebrate Selune’s Hallowing. The goddess is the focus of worship throughout the full phase, of course, but the major ceremony on this night is a parade of worshipers leaving the House of the Moon at moonrise and moving down to the harbor, where the high priestess wields the Wand of the Four Moons in a ceremony blessing all navigators. This holy relic is said to be the mace wielded by Selune in her first battle against Shar, and again in a fight with her sister during the Time of Troubles. It miraculously appeared in Waterdeep after the Godswar, and has since been the focus of many divine signs. You can view it in the House of the Moon at other times of the year, but only from a well-guarded distance. If you’re lucky, you might see the Wand of the Four Moons weep. Droplets said to be the tears of Selune manifest on the mace from time to time, and are collected by the priestesses for use in potions that can heal, cure lycanthropy, and be used as holy water.
UKTAR 20: LAST SHEAF
Sometimes called “The Small Feast,” this day of residential feasting is held in celebration of the year’s bounty. Small gifts (traditionally hand kegs of ale, jars of preserves, or smoked fish and meats) are exchanged among neighbors, and “last letters” are gathered for carriage by ship captains and caravan merchants-so called because they are the last to leave the city before travel becomes difficult. OfWaterdeep’s many celebrations, this one is perhaps the most relaxed and relaxing. Plan to spend a little extra on good food and enjoy a meal with those nearest you, be they dearest hearts or the folk across the hall in the inn.
NIGHTAL 11: HOWLDOWN
In honor of Malar, members of the City Guard leave the city in groups on this day to hunt down known threats to farmers and travelers, including brigands, wolves, owlbears, ogres, and trolls that haunt the roads and wilderness. These hunts typically last no longer than a tenday. During the same span of time, the City Watch engages in its own rigorous hunt for malefactors within the city walls. If you’ve any reason to doubt your standing in the eyes of the law, avoid Waterdeep for at least a tenday after Howldown. With no real hunting to do of their own, the children of Waterdeep spend Howldown engaging in mock hunts of adults dressed up as monsters, and play at the killing of these predators.
NIGHTAL 20: SIMRIL
When dusk comes on this day, folk go outside to locate particular stars that were lucky for their ancestors, or that were associated with their own births. They then attempt to stay up through the night, celebrating outside with bonfires, song, and warmed drinks. Cloudy nights often draw larger crowds than clear ones, since glimpsing your star through the haze is thought to be a blessing from Tymora. Inside buildings, service folk keep roaring fires and engage in making food to keep celebrants fed throughout the long night and into morning of the next day. If you have no particular star of your own, you’ll find many vendors of star maps willing to divine which is yours-based upon your place and date of birth-and to point you in the right direction for a shard or two.