he City Watch
sword of the law and the city's defense, the Watch serves as both the law
enforcement and military of the city. It's make up is very diverse, in that some
are genuinely good people looking to make a difference, while others are on the
take for other organizations. There's some scrutiny about the Watch's capacity
for protecting the city's citizens, and it's not that unusual to have citizens
complaining to the Council about their competence.
Many of the Watch members are former soldiers of the Militia during the Time of
Troubles Conflict, when Phlan's people rose in arms to defend their city. As
such, many of the higher ranking individuals are experienced war veterans, while
the lower ranks are made up with a mix of new bloods and former Militia who
didn't see quite as much combat. While adequate to hold posts and have shifts,
the Watch's manpower is not nearly enough to create an adequate investigation
force. As such, it's very rare that the Watch has squads of men performing sting
Members of The Watch are seen patrolling the streets of Phlan decked out in
suits of chain-mail with royal blue trims, sturdy looking club in hand. Their
outfit is finished off by a dark blue cloak trailing behind them.
A stern figure, whom speaks with a slight maritime accent, and often uses
maritime terminology. He speaks with conviction, his voice brimming with
confidence. He stands straight and often folds his arms when listening to
others, as if judging them in all regards.
While officially the Head of the Watch, Ivior prefers to be called ‘Captain'
as reminiscent to his sailing days. He enforces the law with stern resolve, but
understands the necessity of flexibility and maintains his vision for what he
hopes for in the future. He has allowed concessions to nefarious elements in the
past, and the Watch has been the center of many controversies regarding their
competency and legitimacy in enforcing law. Ivior is undaunted and recognizes
these as temporary setbacks in the greater war against the nefarious elements
that seek to make Phlan a lawless city.
Generally, he is a believer in creative punishments. For atrocious criminals, it
is simply not enough to jail them and he is a firm believer that ends justify
the means. Needless to say, he is willing to be as underhanded as need be in
order to maintain order.
“Getting by with what's left!" – Unofficial motto of the Watch
hat is the Watch?
The Watch is
a volunteer force of about 200 men and women that serves as both law enforcement
and defense force for Phlan. Its makeup is as diverse as the population of the
city, and the quality and professionalism of their members is also very varied.
It can be seen as a mixture of police force and military organization, similar
to the French Gendarmerie or the Italian Carabinieri.
Members of the Watch are seen patrolling the streets of Phlan decked out in
suits of chainmail with royal blue trims, sturdy looking club in hand. Their
outfit is finished off by a dark blue cloak trailing behind them. So their
fashion statements can also be compared to the French Gendarmerie or the Italian
What is the history of the Watch?
The history of the Watch is closely tied to the overall history of Phlan
since the Watch serves as the core of the city militia in times of war. There is
a proud tradition kept from better times that is reflected in some external
signs such as the coat of arms or some titles that might sound too pompous for
their actual tasks in peacetime. On the other hand, there is the fact that the
city and with it the Watch has been pummeled time and again by a sequence of
wars and invasions. As a result the Watch contains both battle hardened veterans
from wars past and new recruits that just see it as a day job, both well
intended men who work for the greater good of the city and selfish people who
are in it for themselves.
How is the Watch seen by the people of Phlan?
As a whole, there are open questions about its capacity to defend the city
and its inhabitants, and so it is not unusual that citizens complain to the
Council about their competence. A staple point in the program of most candidates
for position in the Council is to “shape up the Watch". Objectively, they do a
fairly good job given their lack of material means and outside support.
Phlan is a small city, and the Watch is a small force. Not surprisingly,
watchmen often get a reputation for themselves (deserved or not), and the
citizens' daily interaction with individual Watchmen is more frequently dictated
by each Watchman's reputation than the image of the Watch as a whole.
How is the Watch organized?
The Watch is small enough to be easily manageable as a single unit by one
commander and a small staff of trusted subordinates without the need of a deep
formal hierarchy or divisions in smaller, separate units.
The Watch is led by the Oversword of the Watch. This is an example of a title
that reminds of the military roots of the Watch but which hardly fits its
current roles, which could be better described as those of a city's sheriff or
chief of police. Still, the Oversword has military command over all the Watchmen
and in this sense his authority goes far beyond that of a simple top policeman.
The current Oversword of the Watch is “Captain" Ivior Cherkov. The unofficial
title of “Captain", which he prefers over the official one, comes from his
background as a former captain of a sea vessel.
Directly under the Oversword there is a number of Officers with no specific
hierarchy, who bear titles reflecting their main duties, such as “Gatekeeper of
Phlan", “Harbormaster" or “Head of Janitorial Services". They are officially
referred to by their title or simply as “Officer". Their specific tasks are
assigned with their title, along with resources (both material and manpower)
they can manage as necessary. These resources may be expanded when needed, but
just as easily they may be taken away temporarily to cover other needs.
Typically only Watchmen of proven skill are promoted to these positions, which
are often related to their prior experience. They can be compared to project
managers in a corporation or ministers in a government, in the sense that there
is no explicit hierarchy among them, but there is a de facto pecking order that
comes from their very different responsibilities and powers.
Low level members of the Watch are officially referred to as “Watchman",
although they're often addressed by more informal names, such as “Guard",
“Private", “Filth", “Scum" and “You", depending on the circumstances, the social
status of the speaker and who has the biggest weapon. Their tasks cover
everything from watching that the walls don't collapse to patrolling the areas
around the city to arresting and punishing criminals to investigating plots
against the city. While tasks tend to be naturally assigned to the Watchmen
better suited for them this is largely dependant on the Officer in charge and
the greater needs of the city. All in all, the Watchmen are a large pool of men
that are assigned and reassigned to different task forces as required, not
unlike policemen from one district are sometimes sent to reinforce another when
a large event takes place there, or when Vice detectives are attached to a
Homicide unit to investigate a murderous drug cartel.
What powers does the Watch have?
In peacetime, which will be the case for the vast majority of the time, they
have the powers of a policeman and a judge, with some limitations. Most minor
crimes will be dealt with directly by the arresting Watchman, more serious
crimes will be handled by special judges appointed by the Council. There is a
degree of discretion determining how serious a particular crime is, which is
source of no little grinding inside the Watch and between the Watch and
individual Councilors that may consider the Watch too lenient or too harsh.
During wartime or martial law, the Watch has much wider powers, including the
ability to conscript able men and women for the defense of the city, to impose
curfews or other limits to the free movement of people and goods, and to carry
out summary trials and executions.
Since the Oversword is a public servant that ultimately responds to the
Council, which in turn is an elected political body that responds to the
citizens, he is forced to make political decisions in his daily work. In
particular, he may be inclined to make hasty decisions to calm the population
when a perceived or real threat is present, and he is forced to rein in (or
cover up) any displays of behavior that may be seen unfavorably by the majority
of the citizens of Phlan.
Is it possible to play a character in the Watch?
No. We did all this just to make you suffer.
No, seriously, is it possible?
Of course it is possible. Players who want to play a Watchman should send
applications just like any other faction. Given their powers, special attention
will be paid to the maturity of the applicant and his or her ability to simply
play the part without trying to act as a mini-DM. Watchmen are just like any
other character, and their players aren't special or “better" than the others.
If anything, they will be under more scrutiny than any other.
Player characters join the Watch at the lowest rung of the organization.
While in theory you could play a Watchman as just the guy who goes to work at
dawn and tries not to get killed in time for dinner, we expect player characters
in the Watch to stand out from the unnamed troop. If we just wanted a talking
suit of armor standing by a door, we'd possess an NPC. That's not to say your
character has to be successful as a Watchman, or even try to be. What you need
to do is to have fun playing your character and make other players have fun.
Some of the most awesome guards we had in City of Arabel were bumbling morons
that wouldn't be promoted if they were bastard sons of the king. But they still
were a blast to interact with. How to apply to be in the
So you can be promoted and boss people around?
We want the Watch to be a dynamic faction, and its loose structure is
instrumental to this. Characters that distinguish themselves through their
service (or who fake it well enough) will start getting more responsibilities
and may eventually be promoted and become Officers. If that happens, their tasks
and powers will be likely the reflection of their past deeds and reputation.
These tasks and powers, and the titles that come with them may grow as a result
of their subsequent behavior as Officers. With time and effort, even the
position of Oversword is a possibility. Also, not a few Councilors are former
Watchmen that gained popularity and prestige during their years of service and
who later used that as leverage for their political careers.
Conversely, powers may be reduced, demotions may happen and some Watchmen may
even be dismissed from the Watch, even dishonorably, as a result of their
actions. Sometimes these twists and turns of fortune are not entirely on the
hands of the character, nor are they necessarily completely tied to the job.
Make the wrong enemy, choose the right friends, and your job performance might
not be the main factor on your next career move.
This will of course depend on how high on the Watch your character is. As a
basic grunt, doing your work well (or making your bosses think you do) will make
your career progress, and even if you make enemies it is unlikely that you will
stand out as a specific threat. As you climb the ladder, the more likely it is
you will be forced to take sides or walk the political tightrope and mistakes or
successes (intentional or accidental) will have more weight on your advancement.
But what if I screw up and I get demoted or booted for something I didn't
do? Isn't that unfair?
The important thing is to deal with these changes in character. Punishments
or rewards for your character are just that: things that happen to your
character. They're not punishments or rewards for you, the player. Your reward
is the ability to play a type of character that will be in the spotlight and has
a lot of roleplaying possibilities. If we want to punish you out of character
we'll take you aside and tell you.
If you are indeed kicked when you're down and you get dishonorably expelled
and dogs cross the street so as not to meet you, well, deal with it in
character. What would your character do in that event? Prove himself worthy,
regain his position and be the next Oversword against all odds? Plot revenge and
cause the doom of the city? Break into song and make baby Jesus cry? Cut
himself? Well, then do it. All we ask you to do is to roll with the IC punches
as you would with the IC successes. The way you deal with IC setbacks is
probably the best benchmark to tell a great player from a merely good player.
I still think it's unfair.
I think I'll need your name, wiseguy.