This is my first variant write-up so I hope it's not too embarrassing. I tried to look through the others but got scared away by the volume, so I guess I'm just hoping for the best.
Like everyone else here, I love Waterdeep, and just wish there was a little more variety and theme. I've made some of my own attempts at it, and I'm pretty happy with the latest, and wanted to share it to get your opinions and feedback. I decided to focus on the Lords, who are interesting in themselves, but I wanted to give them a little more agency and provide some more choice to the players from the beginning. As such, this variant will give different powers to each lord based on their types, to use throughout the game.
The way it works is, each archetype will have its own power, and each normal lord has a combination of the two, so every round the player can choose ONE of those powers (that are associated with the lord), to use. He must announce it before each use (which will give away some secrecy of the hidden lord), and he can't switch until the next round. For unusual lords without archetypes, the player can choose any one power to use the whole game.
The powers are as follows. I tried to make them different and powerful enough to be interesting and useful while still balanced and not game-breaking. In order of complexity:
Warrior (straightforward and strong) -
Each round, the player can choose up to two orange tokens to double in strength (each one will be worth two).
Wizard (powerful and methodical) -
The wizard can transform any token into another color, for the cost of two coins (for supplies), and a turn (one agent is discarded for that round).
Skulduggery (dirty thieves!) -
The player gets a 2 coin tax each round, and they can then spend 4 coins to steal another player's orange or black token, or 6 coins to steal a purple or white.
Priest (always looking to do good deeds, for a reward) -
The priest has two parts. First, once per round, the player can take another quest for free, from either the pile or the open quests.
Secondly, the player can donate a token to another player, and when it's used to finish a quest, the player takes one quarter of the victory points (up to 4) from the other player as a reward.
I haven't gotten to play-test these enough, so I'm sure they could be fiddled with, and like I said I'm hoping to get some feedback on your thoughts.
The powers can be used as often as you want with the exceptions listed. I haven't decided whether to limit the 2nd priest power or not. Another option with regards to them, is whether or not to let the other player refuse the priest, paying him off with two coins to go away.
Finally, as many agree that the Reveal Your Lord intrigue card feels overpowered, with this variant I suggest that if you decide to use it, you will forfeit your Lord powers in exchange, making it a much tougher choice.
So there you have it. I hope this is clear and makes sense, and isn't too derivative of others. If you like the ideas, please give it a try and let me know what you think.