citizens of splender is up

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its the character themes of waterdeep.

i dunno about this one.

something is just wrong playing as a masked lord of waterdeep..... or a clone of halaster....       
a mask everyone has at least two of, one they wear in public and another they wear in private.....
Yup. In addition to adding some peculiar events, such as the Blackstaff gone missing (again!), and the masked lords being replaced by dopplegangers.

Now Masked Lord as a Paragon Path or Epic Destiny, that might work. But as a heroic tier theme it feels wrong.

But I already vented about it in the DDI forum... 

Reading this right now. A little hesitant on everything, but I’m starting to see some potential for adventure hooks out of the Blackstaff Apprentice.

RE Halaster’s Clone:
My first impression is it is way overpowered. Being immortal (you’re still killable but you don’t age) is very potent ability, even if most D&D games don’t last long enough to age characters out.
My second thought is wow, being immortal would actually be pretty cool. You could even roleplay that you don’t know you’ve stopped aging. Of course the article doesn’t say exactly when a character stops showing signs of aging physically, so I suppose a character could come to look (and be) quite old before the immortality benefit kicks in.
I don’t like that the article mentions you start out as a male human who’s since changed shape. I think it would have been better to say that Halaster’s spirit migrated from the cloned body (perhaps it was destroyed or made no longer viable by the Spellplague) to the next nearest person, then occupied and comingled with that person’s mind.
The various features and powers, all centered around manipulating time, are cool but again I think they limit the nature of the background behind the character theme. I’m not sure what you could replace the features and powers with, but I will say that in terms of pure play mechanics they do sound pretty fun to use.
I like that the DM sidebar asks the big questions, especially “How many clones did Halaster create? Are other clones free in the world?” However, suggesting that a character using this theme is in the body of one of the dead gods of the Realms…well, even for me that’s too cheesy without a whole lot of backstory.
The Masked Lord:
Interesting concept. Not exactly sure why this isn’t at least a Paragon Path. Of all the character themes, the features and powers of the Masked Lord fit the best.

First: kudos to Andrew G. Schneider. WotC, give this guy more work.
Second: great artwork. I liked every piece, especially the face in the mirror on page three, because they fit the article and got me to thinking.
Quick summary: I like that this article was willing to go big: to just out and out place the characters into the very top echelons of noteworthy NPC power in Waterdep (absent being of the nobility, of course). That said, I think this article is too big.
Explanation: In terms of character themes it’s cool that we’ve been given options (as both player and DM) through this article to explore the world of the Blackstaff, Halaster and the Masked Lords, it’s just that, excepting perhaps the Blackstaff Apprentice, these themes really should be Paragon Paths or Epic Destinies.
I just can’t reliably see a DM running a problem free game with these themes since characters are going to (rightly, in my opinion) expect lots of freebies to start coming their way, just for their characters being who they are (especially the Masked Lord).
These are not the sorts of themes you want to give to inexperienced players running 1st level characters.
Unless the DM goes out of his or her way to make sure the players buy in to the concept that their characters are starting from the ground up, there are going to be issues at some point in the game that the article fails to address.
Finally, there’s just a ton of stuff in Waterdeep that could have been used for character themes, without the potential for DM headaches.
Why not the noble houses? Why not the denizens of Downshadow, Mistshore or the natives of the various city Wards? Why not the Watchful Order of Magists and Protectors? Why not the various Guilds? Why not the city Watch or Guard?
I’m going to guess there’s an emphasis within WotC to keep things simple that applied to this article (especially after having read Mike Mearls latest article on the One Hour Game). Whether true or not, I don’t think simplicity should come in the form of, “here’s the entire cookie jar, up front, no effort required.”
Where’s the fun in that? Discovering you are linked to Halaster, aspiring to become a Masked Lord, even earning an apprenticeship to the legendary Blackstaff…these are things that should be earned/transitioned into during play and not something you start out with, just as the story behind these themes should be uncovered through at least the first ten levels of gameplay.

There are some great story implications in this article that are worth the read, even if you (like me) don't use the 4th Edition D&D rules but very much enjoy the Forgotten Realms.
I've added most of my comments to the Article Dicussion thread. Here I would just like to reiterate that I pretty much agree with what has been said here, and what I have said there...

I like the ideas behind the themes, Blackstaff Apprentice? Excellent. Clone of Halaster? Freakily cool. Masked Lord of Waterdeep? Horrendous in the wrong hands but could make for a very interesting campaign (just look ar Danilo for Mother Mystra's sake!).

These are all interesting ideas to be added to a campaign.... later.

As themes for characters at initial creation, however, these give me the shudders. These are all things that should either become clear (Clone) or be achieved (Apprentice, Masked Lord) in time or as part of the experience of the campaign. If you retain these as initial themes, then aren't you (as the DM) robbing your players of the sense of achievement when they become one of these extraordinary personages? I would rather limit my every roll to my Cursed D20* than do that to my players.

One of my players has mentioned that he wants to become a Masked Lord, so I will use some of the material here to help him (and his level 9 PC) become one... eventually. I may lead the magic user of the party in the direction of an apprenticship with, or a sabbatical studying alongside, the denizens of Blackstaff Tower and use the material there as options for him. As such the material in this article is excellent and very useful to me... but never in its original form.

(*It really doesn't roll above a 3, I promise. I bust it out when I need to save the party from a self-inflicted TPK, it works every time.)

My approach to the NPCs of previous editions.

I always saw the High Level NPCs as shepherds of the Realms not its defenders. Making sure that not too many sheep were lost as they milled around (as they are wont to do) and bringing on the young'uns into the job. In that way a shepherd never has time to go and hunt down all of the wolves but is pretty dashed effective at keeping them away from the sheep when they rear their heads.
"It was a puzzle why things were always dragged kicking and screaming. No one ever seemed to want to, for example, lead them gently by the hand." - Terry Pratchett