Hell of a Summer
Navigating the City
The vast majority of travel within the city is on foot. It is by far the best way to see the wonders of the city and the mode least prone to getting stuck in traffic at some roadblock or checkpoint. At nearly seven miles from the Trollgate in the northwest to East Torch Tower in the southeast and over two miles from Seaeyes Tower overlooking Scions Sound in the west to Endcliff Tower watching over Undercliff to the east, even without traffic it takes hours to walk from one end of the city to the other.
Businessfolk, the rich, and those in a hurry, however, have a number of alternatives at their disposal.
TRAFFIC AND TRAVEL
Throneport is a city of broad boulevards that thrum with traffic. All day and well into the night, a bewildering melee of wagons, carts, horse and pony riders, carriages, buggies, hire-coaches, and the city’s signature towering drays (further discussed below) surges through its major thoroughfares. Fortunately, most roads are flanked by paved sidewalks that give pedestrians plenty of space, and most of the widest roads have raised dividers that allow an individual crossing a street a safe space to step out of the fray and wait for traffic to pass.
The city’s centuries-old layout dictates its traffic patterns today. Throneport lies on a plateau adjacent to a long mountain that shields much of it from the sea. In the southern third of the city, where the land slopes up from the harbor, the High Road and the Way of the Dragon are the two main south- north roads. These converge both at the Waymoot near the southern gate, and in the heart of the Trades Ward where the city is at its narrowest- bounded by Thronehold itself, high on a spur of the mountain, and the walls of the City of the Dead. The conjoined boulevard then splits to the north, continuing as the High Road, and to the west as a boulevard called Waterdeep Way, heading toward the Civil Palace. In the middle of the city, six boulevards run north from Waterdeep Way, where they meet the road that encircles the Market. On the other side of the Market, five boulevards continue north.
The aforementioned boulevards, along with the Street of the Singing Dolphin in the Sea Ward, are the major arteries of the city. Hire-coaches and drays can be most frequently found on those streets, and traffic is at its most hectic there. Most other roads in the city run east to west, but regardless of their direction, traffic elsewhere is generally less hectic and thus safer to cross.
WARD ENTRY RESTRICTIONS
South of Sea Ward and North Ward, traffic moves fairly freely, but non-residents may only enter North Ward at one of ten public checkpoints and Sea Ward has a mere three, with another open for commercial traffic. Luckily, those Wards tend have less traffic than Dock Ward or Castle Ward so the backed up traffic does not usually become too intolerable. Sea Ward does open up the streets around the Field of Triumph when an event is happening, but even then the checkpoints are heavily manned and the streets leading away from the Field of Triumph deeper into the Ward are blocked to all traffic.
Throneport is an ancient city, though, and the local residents had nearly ten centuries to build hidden alleys, byzantine sewer service tunnels, unmarked tunnels, and even holes in between one building and the next before the city was split up into separate areas of authority. The major streets and mapped alleyways are watched, no doubt, but with the right connections you can probably find a way into a Ward that’s not on any map.
Thanks to the Scriveners’, Scribes’, and Clerks’ Guild, Throneport has a remarkable custom of labeling its streets, and even many of its alleyways and courts. The method of identification varies by ward and neighborhood (including brass plates, carvings in stone, and stencil-painted wooden signs), but street names are typically displayed on the corners of buildings at intersections, roughly a dozen feet above ground. The name of the road you travel on will be on the wall nearest, while the name of the crossing road will be around the corner.
Thronehold- the mountain and the palace- has provided the city’s primary landmark for general orientation for centuries. It stands stark across the skyline to the west, its far slopes dropping right into the sea. A spur of the mountain juts inland, and atop the easternmost point of this spur stands the old imperial palace. If you can see these landmarks it is relatively easy to orient yourself. The mountain peak looms over the southern third of the city near the port in the south. The City of the Dead lies opposite the northern ridge of Thronehold, which descends down to the Field of Triumph, the city’s great coliseum.
One of the titanic walking statues, no longer mobile, offers another way orient yourself on a local scale. At nine stories tall, twice the height of any buildings nearby, the Honorable Knight stands guard in a block of buildings between Snail Street and the Way of the Dragon. Positioned as it is nigh the place where four wards meet, you can use it to judge where you stand. If it is south and west of your position, you are in Trades Ward. North and west? Southern Ward. South and east? Castle Ward. North and east? You’re in Dock Ward.
During particularly heavy traffic and at congested areas such as the great oval road around the Market, you might see a member of the City Watch serving as a traffic warden. Traffic wardens signal with small blue hand flags for traffic to proceed, and with yellow flags for traffic to hold. A traffic warden can often be heard blowing a whistle. When you hear it, look to the warden to see if you are being signaled . Failure to take care might result not only in accident but also arrest.
Invented by Cannith artificers during the interminable Last War, a dray is a long, glassed-in carriage with bench seating that provides additional open-air bench seating on its roof. The driver sits at the level of the roof seating, providing a vantage point to see over other traffic and make eye contact with other dray drivers. You can enter this contraption through the back whenever it stops or slows down enough to make mounting the rear step safe.
A fare taker stands at the back of the lower seating area to take your coin (typically 2 to 4 copper crowns). You can choose to ride inside or ascend the spiral stairway at the rear to ride atop the vehicle. Most drays run on the main north-south boulevards, but some circle the Market, and a few run along the smaller east-west roads in rough areas. Be warned that when the demand for drays is high- during rain or snow, or to get to or from an event at the Field of Triumph- conditions become crowded and perfect for pickpockets.
If you desire to travel in relative comfort and be the master of your destination, simply give a spirited wave and shout to any hire-coach driver who has no passengers. Each of these handsome, two-wheeled black coaches comfortably seats two travelers (perhaps four if you’re quite slim and very well acquainted), who ride facing the road ahead. The hire-coach’s driver sits high and to the rear of the carriage, manipulating the horses by means of long reins and a short whip on a rod. The fare must be agreed upon and paid before the journey, but only rarely will the cost exceed a half-dozen silver sovereigns.
The well-to-do- or those who want to ride in luxury during a day out- can hire a full carriage, many of which are as finely outfitted as those owned by the nobility. Up to eight can take such a ride in silken comfort. Prices and services vary, but generally you agree to rent the carriage, the services of the driver, and any attendant servants or guards for a full day.
For those who have enough money and don’t need to worry about carrying anyone else with them, Aundairian wheelrods and Cyran gliding boots are popular, if expensive, alternatives to public transportation. In addition, the elite Aundairian Knight Phantoms are frequently seen striding through the air on their legendary winged boots and copies are becoming fashionable for those with the means. This is not to mention even more rare and expensive options like Cloaks of the Bat, Wings of Flying, or even Seven League Boots.
For those in a real hurry- or for someone who has no patience for traffic at all and no sense of how much things cost- each Ward but Dock Ward has at least one public airship landing tether. Airships can’t be beat for speed, getting one across town in mere seconds, but the public airship terminals are closely monitored, with required registration at point of takeoff and landing, and are hideously expensive, even compared to the cost of hiring a carriage and entourage for a day.
Sea Ward, North Ward, and Trades Ward all have a few private airship tethers, but only those with the right connections can use them. Even then, all air traffic over Throneport is restricted to vehicles that have been licensed with the City Guard. Unlicensed airships are subject to swift boarding and possible seizure by the watchful Griffon Cavalry.
TRAVEL IN WINTER
The folk of Throneport often remain indoors in the colder months, particularly when it rains or snows. The flow of trade and travelers into the city slows to a trickle during winter, and as a result, traffic diminishes and drays and hire-coaches become more scarce. Fortunately, the Fellowship of Carters and Coachmen works with the Wheelwrights’ Guild and the Wagon-makers’ and Coach Builders’ Guild to convert the drays and hirecoaches that do operate into sledges, so that some are available even in the worst weather.