Tyranny of Dragons
A short while ago, Neverwinter was beset by all manner of damage, danger, and gloom. Now, the ores that once menaced the city have moved east to join their brethren in being crushed by the dwarves. The Chasm that rent the land has been sealed by powerful magic. The High Road has been cleared and rebuilt, and trade has resumed with Waterdeep and realms to the south. What was the blasted, wounded city of Neverwinter just a decade ago is now an exciting, humming place, where folk seem eager to throw off the hardships from which they have emergeq and create a new, brighter future for their city.
Nearly half a century ago, Mount Hotenow (the nearby volcano that perpetually heats the river flowing through the city) violently erupted, destroying much of Neverwinter, killing thousands, and leaving in its wake a great, gaping chasm that split the city. Neverwinter was in ruins, and external influences- from Netheril to Thay to Lord Dagult Neverember ofWaterdeep to the agents of the Hells themselves- sought to exert control over the city. Many folk fought to stem all these dangers, and eventually, a measure of peace fell over Neverwinter.
Since Dagult Neverember was deposed as the Open Lord of Waterdeep, he has thrown his full attention and effort into the rebuilding of the city from which he claims descent. Whatever people’s opinions are of his claim to Neverwinter’s throne, he has proven a capable, inspiring leader over these last few years, and the population has embraced him as Lord Protector. He engineered the sealing of the Chasm and the restoration of the High Road, and is seeking other ways to repair and improve the city. Even if he can never prove his descent from Lord Nasher Alagondar, the people of Neverwinter have accepted his leadership. (My rumored personal dislike of Lord Neverember has nothing to do with my assessment of his leadership; I merely find him an intolerable flirt.)
Neverember’s influence radiates outward from the Protector’s Enclave, centered at the Hall of Justice. With Tyr restored to life and his worship returning to prominence, the Lord Protector has moved into a modest, private villa. This sacrifice- and the renewal of Tyr’s faith in the previous center of his operations- is only further proof, to some, that Neverember deserves to rule Neverwinter. As yet, Castle Never remains a dangerous ruin, but Neverember has plans to reclaim and rebuild it as a symbol of the city’s rejuvenation.
The faithful of Oghma have arrived in Neverwinter to restore the House of Knowledge to its former glory, but beyond that, shrines to all manner of gods have been cobbled together in every corner of the city.
As the city restores itself, there are likely to be requests for ennoblement and the privileges that provides, and certainly, trading interests will emerge. But Lord Protector Neverember is sure to point out that he is merely a protector, not a king, and so can’t invest or recognize anyone. Guilds may form, but it is sure to be years, if not decades, before any prove strong enough to persevere over their rivals.
Increasingly, calls come from the citizenry for the enforcers out of Mintarn to be replaced by respectable, local guards who have a personal interest in the defense of Neverwinter. This public sentiment has led to some neighborhoods organizing their own makeshift militias, and the Lord Protector wants to avoid conflict between them and the mercenaries he has hired. As a result, Neverember has slowly been drawing down the number of soldiers from Mintarn, as the citizens that grew up defending the makeshift Wall from threats out of the Chasm prove themselves capable of becoming a proper military force. Both Baldur’s Gate and Waterdeep have offered to help train the new guards of Neverwinter, but Lord Neverember prefers the assistance of seasoned adventurers to the ignominy of seeking help from his former city.
With the restoration of nearby Gauntlgrym, Neverwinter hopes to have a close ally that can provide it with stout armor and strong weapons. Although the city presently has little to offer, trade activity is rapidly growing in Neverwinter, as word of its rebirth opens it up to shipping from the Sea of Swords, goods from the north, and coin from the south. Adventurers come to Neverwinter seeking work and following rumors of nearby treasures, and often find additional employment clearing out dangerous corners of the city and escorting the ever more numerous caravans up and down the High Road. It is the Lord Protector’s hope that, with commerce and income both on the rise, and talented craftfolk returning to ply their trades, that Neverwinter will someday again be worthy of its former epithet: the City of Skilled Hands.
Opposition to Neverember’s authority still exists, but with no unified leadership and no other power in the city to which to appeal, the rebels are slowly turning away from their resistance and toward helping the city rebuild. Many of the Sons of Alagondar, a rebel group that initially opposed Lord Neverember, have begun to volunteer as replacements for the Mintarn mercenaries currently patrolling the city. If the Sons of Alagondar can be brought into line with his goals, Neverember hopes to use that achievement as a draw for wealthy Waterdhavian nobles- who have been reluctant to link their fortunes to a failed Open Lord who was effectively exiled from Waterdeep- to invest in the city and perhaps rebuild some of the noble villas in that district as places for them to stay when they do business.
With the Chasm closed, and the wall that separated the rest of the city from its horrors now torn down, a great swath of Neverwinter lies empty, with no inhabitants and plentiful chunks of stone plundered from ruins all across the city. Anyone who is willing to do so can come to this area, claim a portion of land, and build a structure in which to live or work. There aren’t yet any guilds to restrict trade or construction, and no nobles to be petitioned or placated. Those seeking to create a home or start a business can simply do so, and even those without skills or money can use their hands and backs to provide until they can set up a place for themselves.
Along the river, many of the merchant villas are being claimed and restored by folk who have heard rumors of what Neverwinter once was, and might be again. Some have no skills to speak of, and many have no wealth, but all come with the desire to work and to enrich themselves in the process. New stores and workshops open by the tenday, and workers without training offer their services as laborers or apprentices; those that fail move on to other employment, taking advantage of the multitude of opportunities the city now offers. Those with no other options can get work dredging or mapping the city’s sewers for the Lord Protector, a task made necessary by the cataclysm that created the Chasm.
Like any city, Neverwinter isn’t without its drawbacks. Though most folk are willing to work, some steal as a means of making their living, and prey upon those who have little to be taken. Food is sometimes scarce, as inns and taverns underestimate the number of guests they will receive, or merchants simply run out of goods to sell. It’s likely to be a few years before the city entirely shakes itself of these ills, but for some, the uncertainties of life in Neverwinter are what make the place exciting. For many traders, in particular those who produce or vend the grains and vegetables needed in the city, it is a vast opportunity to both aid a fledgling power and get quite rich in doing so.