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Traditionally, the adjective form and demonym of the city of Waterdeep has been "Waterdhavian". It's spelled that way across many D&D 5E books, including the Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide, many hardcover adventures, and novels like Death Masks.

However, in the lastest Waterdeep published adventures (Dragon Heist and Dungeon of the Mad Mage), it's spelled "Waterdavian" throughout, without the "h". I'm assuming that it's not just some error in editing, since it's consistent throughout these newer books.

Is this an "official" change in spelling that I should be adopting? In particular, the current Forgotten Realms style guide that I can find still uses the "h", and I don't know if there's an update to it available somewhere. Also, does it represent some in-universe revision to how the word is spelled (in the "Common" language I suppose)?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Is your question about why the designers chose a different spelling? Or is it asking whether there's an in-universe explanation for the change? While the former is a designer-reasons question and would not be allowed, the latter would be answerable here. However, you should clarify which question you're actually asking. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Aug 31 at 4:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ @V2Blast "Is this an "official" change in spelling that I should be adopting?" is not an in universe question, but it also clearly is not about designer reasons, but about what players, DMs and content authors are supposed to do, something that doesn't violate rule you linked in any way. \$\endgroup\$ – Mołot Aug 31 at 8:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Mołot: I ask because the question has the [lore] tag (and the [forgotten-realms] tag), suggesting that it is asking about in-universe lore. (If that's not the intent of including the tag, then the tag should not be included - tags should be used to describe the question, not the potential answer to "why was this changed".) That's why I'm asking for clarification on what the question is actually asking. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Aug 31 at 8:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ I guess I'm looking for "is this part of an "official" change in the FR style guide documented somewhere", which I think isn't really designer-reasons (I had tried to avoid focusing on "why" here, even though of course I'm curious about that as well). I included the "lore" tag as I also want to know if it's an in-universe change one way or the other, though I'll go ahead and remove it as it's probably just confusing things. \$\endgroup\$ – user37158 Aug 31 at 11:24
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I do not think the change was intentional. Ed Greenwood seems to prefer the "official" spelling with h, but he was fine interpreting it as language evolving in the Realms.

You can read his tweets on the subject (starting with a 2-part reply to this tweet), dated September 13, 2018 :

Q: Is it 'Waterdavian' or 'Waterdhavian?'

Greenwood: Language (spoken AND written) changes, in the real world and the Realms. (Cormyrean, Cormyrian, and Cormyte are all in use, right now). That's what's happened here, too. (Says the guy who came up with "hin" long ago, because search-and-replacing "halflings" with it let me [...] shove WAY more lore into a TSR sourcebook...

Q: I’m going to interpret that as “I prefer it with an “h” also...but it’s alright”. :-)

Greenwood: Yep. I saw the early playtest text of Dragon Heist, and didn't even mention it. As I figure we literally all got at least a third of a page more of useful gaming text as a result of excising the 'h'. ;}


Please also note that even the WotC personnel appear not to be very meticulous in following their guides. Funny enough, the Forgotten Realms Style Guide (which can be downloaded as part of this style guide resource pack on DMsGuild) itself uses the adjective in both forms: "Waterdhavian coin" on page 19, but "Waterdavian dress" on page 1.

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    \$\begingroup\$ When you say that you don't think it was intentional, I assume you're meaning that it wasn't intentional on Greenwood's part? Or are you also saying you don't think it was intentional on the part of whatever team at WotC does editing? \$\endgroup\$ – user37158 Aug 31 at 13:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ @PeterCooperJr. I remember reading somewhere that the style guide was not being followed properly even by the WotC personel, yet I cannot remember where I read that. Then I interpreted the fact that the original question was directed at Chris Perkins, who did not respond, but Greenwood did. From his tweets it appears that he saw the "mistake" in the playtests, but did not bother correcting it. Perhaps others will provide answers with more explicit sources. \$\endgroup\$ – ZwiQ Aug 31 at 13:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ Nice find on the style guide inconsistency. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Sep 1 at 3:59

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