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The requisite to join the Lords' Alliance faction in Waterdeep is to be a local resident (p. 16 of the Waterdeep: Dragon Heist adventure):

To become a member of the Lords' Alliance faction in Waterdeep, a character must be a Waterdavian citizen. Those with criminal records can also join, provided they demonstrate their allegiance to the city.

After Dragon Heist's 2nd chapter,

players receive the deed for Trollskull Manor.

Do they now all qualify to join? Or is the intention here that players had to be prior residents, based on the background?

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If they weren't already citizens, owning property in Waterdeep certainly qualifies them as citizens, and thus qualifies them for membership in the Lords' Alliance.

How one becomes a citizen of Waterdeep is not defined in the game, and in particular it is not defined in these books:

  • Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide
  • Waterdeep: Dragon Heist
  • Waterdeep: Dungeon of the Mad Mage

Given that citizen isn't a game defined term ,we need to rely on the English meaning of the word.

Merriam-Webster defines it as:

1: an inhabitant of a city or town
especially : one entitled to the rights and privileges of a freeman

[...]

Collins Dictionary defines it as:

[...]

2. countable noun
The citizens of a town or city are the people who live there.

[...]

The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as:

NOUN

[...]

1.1 An inhabitant of a particular town or city.

All three of these dictionaries have citizen defined as someone who is an inhabitant of a particular town or city.

So for someone to be a citizen of Waterdeep, they just have to live there. If they didn't qualify before as residents of the city, once they own property and live in it they certainly qualify as residents of the city.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Residence can be a requirement for citizenship, but it's definitely not a guarantee. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Jun 1 at 12:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch you are talking about citizenship of a country or a nation. Being a citizen of a city simply requires being an inhabitant of the city. \$\endgroup\$ – illustro Jun 1 at 14:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ I've focused the dictionary quotes to point out the definitions this answer relies on. But assuming Waterdeep, the city, has a citizenship process akin to how our countries manage citizenship in the modern day is stretching a bit. \$\endgroup\$ – illustro Jun 1 at 14:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ @illustro Perhaps worth noting that Waterdeep is not an individual city that is part of a larger nation. It self-governs, answering to no one, ruling over surrounding towns. To that end, Waterdeep is more like a City-State than what we'd, in modern day, consider a city. While this is not likely how WD handles it, if you look at historical City-States....you only got to be a Citizen of Athens if you were born there--they didn't have a Naturalization process. You were a natural born Citizen, or you were not a Citizen. \$\endgroup\$ – guildsbounty Jun 1 at 15:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ @illustro any assumptions are stretching if we can't actually support them. And even cities generally have time requirements for residency to grant citizenship. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Jun 1 at 15:58

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