Thomas's Forgotten Realms
Waterdeep has its share of local powerful factions that exert their will on the realms. Campaign Dice (see House Rules) can be assigned to these factions during Character Creation, 4th, and 8th Level, representing specific contacts and ties the character has to the campaign world.
The Harpers longevity and resilience is largely due to its decentralized, grassroots, secretive nature, and the near-autonomy of many of its members. The Harpers' ideology is noble – Harpers do not seek power or glory, only fair and equal treatment for all. They exist to thwart tyrants and any leader, government, or group that grows too powerful, and also to aid the weak, the poor, and the oppressed. Masterful spies and infiltrators, Harper agents use various guises and secret identities to form relationships, cultivate their information networks, and manipulate others into doing what needs to be done. They gather information throughout Faerûn, discerning the political dynamics within each region or realm, and promote fairness and equality by covert means.
Powerful merchant and craft organizations control much of the life-blood of Waterdeep. Once, the guilds ruled, and almost destroyed itself in a series of internal commercial wars. All though many bow to the power of the guilds today, no one wants to see those days return, especially the noble families. PCs choosing this faction will have a tie with specific guild that operates in the city.
The Kraken Society
A shadowy group active in the North and the islands of the Trackless Sea. The Kraken Society has a reputation in the North for kidnapping, assassination, torture, and thuggery, but their focus is on information gathering because the organization believes that information is power. Most Krakenar join the group in order to advance their own personal power and wealth.
Over 75 families of varying degrees of power, most of whom can trace their lines to before the founding of Waterdeep itself. PCs choosing this faction will have a tie with specific noble family.
The Shadow Thieves
The Shadow Thieves were originally a powerful Thieves guild in Waterdeep until they were infiltrated and driven out by the Lords. Ever since their expulsion, the Shadow Thieves have long attempted to reestablish themselves in Waterdeep. Although now based in the port city of Athkatla (in the nation of Amn), they are said to sponsor a number of local thieves, and the guild has slowly come to dominate criminal activity in certain areas of the city.
The Knights of the Shield
The Knights of the Shield are expert wielders and manipulators of information who pose as a group of merchants and nobles interested in mercantile activities. Their influence stems from their ability to acquire, manipulate, and wield information. They keep a low profile in Waterdeep ever since a disastrous attempt to overthrow the Lords resulted in the organization being largely driven from the City of Splendors.
The Lords of Waterdeep enforce their rule and maintain peace and security through the city's armed forces – this includes the Griffin Cavalry, the City Guard, and the City Watch. PCs choosing this faction will have a tie with one of these organizations.
The Tel Teukiira
The Tel Teukiira (an Elven word that translates as "Moonstars") are a renegade Harper splinter group that seeks to bring together humans, elves, and other races against the many dangers lurking in the shadows of Faerûn. the Tel Teukiira was formed to address goals that range beyond the scope of Harper activities, meddling into affairs Harper agents would tend to avoid.
Associated with Selûne and good-aligned shapechangers, the Silverstars are dedicated advocates of freedom and tolerance, wanderers on the path of truth, and absolute foes of Shar and the Undead. They seek to build harmony among lycanthropes and non-shapechangers, and they protect the weak and the oppressed everywhere.
The Free Merchant Faction
A rising Merchant class exists outside of the standard guilds. Mostly represents caravan and coaster operators that use Waterdeep as a destination for their caravan goods, but also shops and their keepers that offer a variety of different goods. PCs choosing this faction will have a tie with specific merchant or group of merchants.
The Red Sashes
The Red Sashes are a vigilante group active in Waterdeep's poorer neighborhoods, particularly Dock Ward. The Red Sashes excel at intrigue, hiding people, and finding people who do not want to be found. Not an impulsive or excessively violent group, the Red Sashes aim to arrest the guilty and free the innocent, typically when the City Watch has failed in these aims.
The Grey Hands
Also known as The Grey Wardens or Force Grey, the Grey Hands are a small but elite band of adventurers that answer directly to the Lords of Waterdeep, they are only called upon in the most dire of situations and when Waterdeep is facing immense danger. Although this group is capable of confronting the most powerful foes, The Lords of Waterdeep are loath to call on them unless no other option prevents itself, for the fallout from conflicts involving this group inevitably inflict a great deal of collateral damage on the City of Splendors.
Order of the Gauntlet
A dedicated, tightly knit group of like-minded individuals driven by religious zeal and a finely honed sense of justice. Many paladins and clerics of Tyr, Helm, Torm, and Hoar have joined the organization. When evil breaks laws, agreements, or commonly accepted codes of conduct, the Gauntlet strikes hard and fast, without waiting for the blessings of distant temples or the permission of rulers.
The Emerald Enclave
A far-ranging group that opposes threats to the natural world and helps others survive the many perils of the wild. Members of the Emerald Enclave know how to survive, and more importantly, they want to help others do the same. They are not opposed to civilization or progress, but they strive to prevent civilization and the wilderness from destroying one another.
Although The public face of the organization appears benign, offering the best mercenaries money can buy, the Zhentarim seeks to amass wealth, power and influence. They provide the best-trained fighting men and women money can buy. Although powerful, the cost of doing business with the Black Network can be high.
Waterdeep has a huge variety of faiths, and odds are that if a deity is worshiped somewhere in Faerûn, is has at least one follower in the City of Splendors. The largest temples in the city are dedicated to Oghma, Tyr, Tempus, Gond, Selûne, Mystra, Silvanus and Mielikki, Lathander, Sune, and Tymora. There was also a large temple known as the Plinth, which is open to all faiths. Additionally, there are secret temples and hidden shrines to most of the dark gods, hidden away beneath the streets of the city. PCs choosing this faction will have a tie with a specific church that operates in Waterdeep.
The Warf Rats
An elite organization of thieves operating mainly in the Dock Ward. The Warf Rats are said to be the rebirth of the long disbanded (by the Lords) Plague Rats Thieves Guild.
The Lords' Alliance
A coalition of rulers from cities and towns across Faerûn (primarily in the North), who collectively agree that some solidarity is needed to keep evil at bay. The rulers of Waterdeep, Silverymoon, Neverwinter, and other free cities in the region dominate the Alliance. Although each lord in the Alliance works for the fate and fortune of his or her own settlement above all others, their common goals are to ensure the safety and prosperity of all the cities of the North by forming a strong coalition against the forces that threaten all, and eliminate such threats by any means necessary when they arise.
Watchful Order of Magists and Protectors
While technically one of Waterdeep's many guilds, the Watchful Order functions primarily as a mage academy. The Watchful Order polices the use of magic within Waterdeep, encouraging wizards to use magic wisely. The Order serves Waterdeep by maintaining important wards throughout the city, providing spell wards for wealthy inhabitants, and fighting wild fires through the use of water spells.
The Red Wizards
Thay is part of the old world, an eastern nation of great power where wizards rule throgh a semi-republican system. Thay is home to great philosophers, architects, artists and poets. The society is very strict in its class system however, featuring a large slave population and a great exclusivity in its ruling class, the Red Wizards. Thay is, more so than any of the younger nations of the west, a place with very little individual freedom but great militaristic and arcane prowess. The common may is encouraged to read and think, but above all else indoctrinated to sacrifice everything for the nation.
The Thayan presence in Waterdeep is based around their Enclave in the Castle Ward, a diplomatic establishment operating under Thayan law. Ultimately the enclave is mercantile in nature, selling low-level magical goods and sharing profits with the city. Its goals and ambitions, however, have varied over time.