Broadcryers of Waterdeep

IV: Know Thy Sources, Part Two

By Ed Greenwood

Our tour of broadcryers continues north up the High Road from Waymoot. From the Forcebar to the Windhowl (the moot of River Street and the High Road, the nearest vendors are allowed to the River Gate), retired drovers and warriors share the cobbles, peddling various special interest broadsheets such as Calagar's Caravans (which advertises caravan musterings, guard-hirings, and folk looking to buy or sell wagons, harness, and draft beasts and riding horses) and Thaeler's Coinwatch (a cynical survey of shipping business over land and water entering or departing Waterdeep, and how "those with big coin" control everything for their profit and the general misery of everyone else).

At the moot of the High Road and Waterdeep Way, dozens of broadcryers hawk every imaginable broadsheet (many having small pushcarts and offering a dozen or more titles), but the High Road between this intersection and the Windhowl, and the Way of the Dragon as far south as Candle Lane, are haunted by priests and lay worshipers dressed in grandiose religious garb, selling the "devout broadsheets" of their faith.

The most popular are Thy Daily Luck, dedicated to Tymora but really to local investments and gambling, and the Merchants' True Friend, consecrated to Waukeen. Many nondevout Waterdhavians occasionally pick up a copy of The Eternal Dawn, the Lathanderite broadsheet, because it concerns itself with new ventures, new organizations, near-future plans, and probable politics just ahead. Like the "gilded broadsheets" of the rich and noble, the devout broadsheets tend to cost three nibs to a shard per issue.

The tendency of many sailors to make rough sport of broadcryers by shredding their wares has resulted in most of Dock Ward being forever free of street crying. Interested readers must travel to a main street location elsewhere or visit Ralagut's Wheelhouse, a sundries shop on west-front Snail Street half a block south off Shesstra's Street.

In the rest of the city, broadcryers work in the Market and on its boundary streets of Trader's Way and Bazaar Street, all along the High Road, on the Sutherlane and Julthoon Street, and the lengths of the Street of the Singing Dolphin, Stormstar's Ride, and both the Street of Lances and the Street of Glances.

On pleasant evenings, the Street of Whispers sports a few "silent" broadcryers who are actually employees of the festhalls, sent out to peddle a few broadsheets to provide an excuse for the timid to venture down the street -- and to sell steamy chapbooks to folk too timid to enter a festhall.

Most popular in the northern half of the city are two broadsheets: the solemn, "nothing but the facts" Vigilant Citizen, trusted by the majority of Waterdhavians but taken by very few as their only reading thanks to its dry style, and the light, sunny, and sardonic The North Wind, a recent broadsheet specializing in lots of illustrations of fashionable garments and easy-on-the-eyes folk wearing them, "lucky winner" contests with prizes as large as 66 gp (but usually averaging around 25 dragons), and arch commentary on the airs of the wealthy and "crusty old nobles."

Those nobles and ambitious coin-rich social climbers have their own broadsheets, many supposedly sold only to "deserving personages" but really available to anyone willing to part with enough coin. The truly noble broadsheets consist of Lady Amaranth's Falcon (for the young, fashionable gently born lady), The Anklet (for her more conservative mothers and aunts, who demand the very height of good taste and literate fare -- which some critics define as "gossip dressed up in ruffles to hide the long, raking cat claws"), Burnstel's Oracular (the hunting, riding, and sober sneering-down-upon-all-others publication of senior male nobility), The Sword in the Sun (for young, vigorous male nobles and rebellious she-nobles who favor revelry and pursuits frowned upon by their elders, many of whom refuse to "have that waste of coin in the house!") and Hulbrant's Record (a bland but exhaustive catalog of who was seen where and wearing what, or will be seen where and with whom).

The wealthy who want to become nobles read as many of the truly noble broadsheets as they can. However, they also support The New Waterdhavian, which regards nobility as "the outdated, pretentious decadent affectation of lazy holders of 'yesteryear's money,'" and the rising wealth of the self-made citizen as the true strength and splendor of Waterdeep. Also read by this set is Halivar's Lords and Ladies, which reports all the news and nasty gossip about the "Old Nobility" in a cynical manner, but fawns upon the "New Nobility" of the wealthy but not yet ennobled.

Waterdeep also sports a variety of short-lived "flaming broadsheets" that say very rude and inflammatory things about Lords, Palace officials, nobles, and other socially prominent citizens. The seldom seen Mouth of True Waterdeep and The Mocking Minstrel are the most notorious of these.

One satirical broadsheet that mocks well-known Waterdhavians in an endless broad satire that lampoons deceits and vanities by portraying real people as lust-crazed swindlers, with names only slightly changed from their real ones but with every single line of dialogue heard "for real" but misapplied to bawdy fictional situations is the infamous The Blue Unicorn. This broadsheet enjoys a strong following in every ward and social stratum of the city; old copies even sell well as sheer "laugh at Waterdeep" entertainment in distant cities.

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