Broadcryers of Waterdeep
III: Know Thy Sources, Part One
By Ed Greenwood
The most aggressive broadcryers take up stations inside the city gates (Waymoot near the South Gate being the busiest), places many Waterdhavians visit daily (such as the Market), and strategic locations like the moot of the High Road and Waterdeep Way, the northerly moot of the High Road and the Way of the Dragon, and entrances to the City of the Dead around highsun (when many Waterdhavians enjoy their midday "highsunfest" by taking portable viands to the cemetery's parklike setting).
Some broadcryers strike deals with inns and taverns (particularly those near city gates), who allow them to sell in the lobbies without the usual calling of headlines. Almost all other broadcryers, save the few who deliver broadsheets personally to the villas of the noble and wealthy, cry out headlines on the streets -- which usually irritates folk living or shopkeeping nearby.
As a result, any citizen can complain to any Watch officer to have a broadcryer (or any street vendor) "moved along," and the Watch officer is bound to promptly issue such an order. This will always be "at least onto the next street," and is good for about half an hour unless the vendor wants to be detained and frowningly questioned for an entire morning or evening (losing a lot of trade in the process). Because of this, only the quietest broadcryers remain stationary in their vending locations. Young children selling broadsheets may even run to intercept or catch up with persons who seemed interested in their cry but in a hurry to accomplish some pressing task. Few broadcryers sell on the streets before dawn or after dusk -- and those who try to "cry headlines" at such times will be arrested by the Watch, taken to a Watchpost for a stern (and time-wasting) lecture, and then sent on their way without charge or punishment.
Due to this set up, any survey of broadcryers can give only likely or usual vending locations. So let's take a tour of broadcryers on a fair summer day, starting at South Gate and keeping to major streets.
The City Guard keeps the immediate vicinity of all city gates clear of vendors to avoid impeding traffic or providing cover for any attack on the city that might begin with the destruction of gates, so the first broadcryers to be met with are half a dozen leather-lunged sellers at Waymoot. Most are usually casual hires and street urchins, but among them will always be One-Legged Alram, a great giant of a man with a black beard, an eyepatch, and frankly piratical garb of colorful coat, large flopping seaboots, and a broad-brimmed wreck of a hat. He sells his own broadsheet, Straight Talk from the Docks (which he bills as "the seafarers' forum, where all dirty truths are told"), and is also known to contribute salty or sneering-at-the-wealthy "Seen on the Streets" notes to one of the most successful city broadsheets, the oddly-named Waterdeep Wazoo.
The Wazoo was named for both its founder and its first sponsor. The lass who started it was "the Wondrous Wazarra." She has retired from her hospitality profession due to the aches and wrinkles of age, but now pens an ongoing and very steamy amorous revel-and-bedchamber saga of "Myrandra and Her Adventures Among the Nobles" for its back pages. Armagus Zool was a carpet and tapestry merchant of Amn who sponsored Wazarra's broadsheet after becoming one of her most steadfast clients. He perished of shaking fever seven summers ago. His niece Sartrara Zool edits and prints the Wazoo every second day, keeping it full of jokes and catty gossip.
Proceeding up the High Road, the stretch between the Waymoot and the Forcebar is the battleground of many street urchins selling divers broadsheets, and another of Waterdeep's colorful printers: Astel Turjan, owner and writer of Turjan's Trumpet. Turjan is a handsome, debonair "young blade about town," and writes a dashing, light-hearted broadsheet concentrating on telling other young gallants where to be seen, what to wear to be best seen in, where to have fun, and where to find the best (looking and willing, that is) young lasses to have fun with. The Trumpet is popular among many Waterdhavians of both genders and all ages seeking to know "where the latest action is" so they can show up there for their own purposes.
A few broadcryers along this stretch sell religious broadsheets, but these hit their real stride farther north, closer to the Plinth.
© 2003 Wizards of the Coast, Inc. All rights reserved.