City Watch of Waterdeep

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Know Thy Watch

Waterdeep has both a standing army (the City Guard) and a police force (the City Watch). Though they often work together, the average Waterdhavian or visitor to the city will most often come into contact with watch street patrols, and see the Guard only at city gates, manning the walls or boarding ships for harbor inspections, and overhead on griffonback.

Down the years, watch patrols have exhibited a variety of ranks, uniforms, and strengths, because the watch experiments continually with tactics, equipment, and ways of achieving two impossibly conflicting aims: to sometimes catch miscreants by surprising them with persons they don't identify as watch officers; and to usually reassure citizens and enable them to cry for ready aid by allowing them to readily identify watch officers from afar, on sight, due to distinctive uniforms (and at night, distinctive lanterns and the like).

Patrols pass along main streets once between bells, and vary their routes often. Dockside, "red-light," and known frequent-theft areas receive around five patrols per bell, as do known "bad" taverns and inns. Temples are policed lightly, because clergy are assumed to police their own grounds and buildings. (The term "hour" is unknown in the Realms, but temple bells strike more or less in unison, an hour apart.) Watch patrols are on foot but can call horsedrawn watch prison carts to carry off prisoners or confiscated goods.

All watch patrols are armed and carry more than one "watch horn." These nonmagical signal horns are used to blow various -- and slightly altered, from time to time -- patterns of calls, to do one of the following:

  • Summon watch reinforcements
  • Summon City Guard aid
  • Summon Watchful Order aid
  • Summon "duty healers" (priests lent by various city temples)
  • Proclaim that an alert or search is now ended
  • Proclaim that someone has been found
  • Warn fellow watch members away from a dangerous spot or delicate situation

To outsiders, "watchmen" (a term that some use for both genders, sometimes with "lady" added to the front if referring to a female watchman) come in three sorts: "patrolman" (male) or "patroljan" (female), "captain" (any officer controlling a patrol) and "commander" (any officer of higher rank). Many folk call every watch member "officer," just to be safe.

Ranks of the Watch


Watch members actually hold the following ranks. There are several "groups" of rankings: Watchmen are the rank-and-file, Civilars are field leadership, and Officers are administrative leadership, coordinating the efforts of the Watch on a larger scale. The Ranks here are part of membership in the Lords' Alliance Faction.


  • Blade: Rank 1. The lowest rank, generally applied to new and raw recruits. Every blade is given a sword-ranked partner who teaches him or her the ropes.
  • Sword: Rank 2. The average rank of watchman. Most blades become swords after a year or two of service.
  • Armar: Rank 3. Senior watchmen and the seconds to patrol civilars; the equivalent of a sergeant. Though some swords rise quickly to the position of armar due to sheer leadership and performance of duty, most don't qualify until they've been part of the Watch for a decade or so.
  • Watch-Wizard: A few patrols in each ward are assigned a wizard of the Magists & Protectors as a fifth watchman. Due to this, many watchmen refer to watch-wizards as "fifth-men" or just "fifths". Though assigned to individual guardposts and thus under the authority of that rorden for that shift, watch-wizards answer to the Arcane Watchlord directly.


  • Swordcaptain: Rank 4+ The lowest rank of civilar, swordcaptains are in charge of Watch patrols (which generally consist of the swordcaptain, an armar as his second and a pair of watchmen).
  • Rorden: Rank 5+. Rordens are given command over a barracks or a watchpost. Barracks rordens ensure that order is kept in the barracks, and oversees the administrative staff that keep it running. Watchpost rordens are in charge of the four to six patrols who are in their charge during their shift.
  • Orsar: Rank 5+. Particularly charismatic and patient civilars may be made orsars, who act as envoys to the guilds, citizen groups and noble families, acting as their liaisons with the rest of the Watch's organizational structure. If nobles are arrested, an orsar is called to do the interviewing, and either escort them home afterwards, or to be the ones to travel to that noble's family villa to alert the family as to what has happened. Orsars also act as prisoner escorts and serve in honor guards. They have a reputation as always being pristinely presentable and mannerly.
  • Guardsword: Rank 6+. The Dock Ward requires a little more than the standard "handful of patrols operating from a watchpost" set-up. To handle the chaos of that district (and to deal with the needs of any other Ward should tragedy or large areas of violence occur), the Watch maintains guardsword civilars, who act as commanders of multiple patrols in the field. They are generally accompanied by their own patrol-group of armars, which may include an orsar if they are likely to be dealing extensively with the guilds or nobles.


  • Wardsman: Rank 7+. Referred to sometimes as the "officer of the shift", wardsmen are the Watch officers who are in charge of all the guardposts and patrols of a given Ward. There are six Wardsmen on duty at any given time in their Ward.
  • Watchlords: The watchlords head up entire sections of the Watch. There are four Watchlords.
    • Wards Watchlord (Rank 10+): The Wards Watchlord is in command of the Wardsmen, and is thus the acting head of the patrol watchmen. In some official documents, the Wards Watchlord is referred to as the "Grand Civilar".
    • Notary Watchlord (Rank 10+): The Notary Watchlord oversses the administrative functions of the Watch. He is the head of its small army of clerks and bureaucrats. It is the Notary Watchlord who remains abreast of the Lords' Edicts, and changes to the city's laws, and ensures that the other Watchlords know to educate and update those in their command.
    • Whip Watchlord (Rank 12+): The Whip Watchlord oversees discipline in the Watch. Those who break the Watch's codes are turned over to him for punishment. The Whip's responsibility is also the internal policing within the Watch, and he oversees several patrols of specialized swordcaptains and armars who function as investigators. He also has the right to requisition as many watch-wizards to augment his investigations as is needful. The Whip Watchman is also in charge of the city dungeons, and its small army of jailors.
    • Vault Watchlord (Rank 12+): The Vault Watchlord oversees the financial well-being of the Watch. He prepares budgets, oversees a handful of clerks who tend to the rents, purchases and other payment of coin for goods and bursars who pay the watchmen directly, and is responsible for the security of the Watch Vault itself, where the Watch's coin and other valuable goods are kept. The Vault Watchlord also oversees the Watch's various armorers, stablemasters and the like.
    • Arcane Watchlord (Rank 10+): The Arcane Watchlord - sometimes called the "Mage Civilar" - oversees the assignment of the Watch-wizards. In the instances where the Watch requires aid from friendly temples, the Arcane Watchlord acts as liaison to those temples. The Arcane Watchlord also technically acts as orsar for the purpose of interaction with any of Waterdeep's many powerful and noted mages.
    • Thief-Taker Watchlord (Rank 10+): The Thief-Taker is responsible for the recruitment and oversight of the Thief-Takers of Waterdeep's Watch, those (hopefully) former thieves who work the rooftops and shadows. They use their former skills to track and trap other thieves - particularly burglars and others of that ilk - using their own abilities to give pursuit and eventually capture of rooftop men and cunning rogues. The Thief-Taker's job is a hard one - not only must he manage the work of those independent sorts under his aegis, but he must also watch them carefully for signs of betrayal. Too much trust in them often spells disaster for his reputation, but not enough alienates those who work under him.
  • Senior Armsmaster: This office, which stands above that of the Watchlords, answering only to the Captain and Commander directly, is in charge of the weaponry and equipment the Watch needs, submitting requisitions for repairs and purchases to the Notary Watchlord, and acting as commander for the armories. He is also responsible for the training of new recruits, and his immediate subordinates are called "armsmen" - watchmen of armar status who help maintain and run the armories, and do the actual training of recruits per his orders.
  • Officers of the Day: Any Rank. Every day, four watchmen from all ranks of the Watch are chosen to act as the Officers of the Day. These watchmen act as the messengers and aides-de-camp for the Captain of the Watch. In addition to fulfilling the administrative and grunt requirements the Captain requires assistants with, this position also allows the Captain to meet and work with watchmen he might not ordinarily ever meet otherwise. In this way, he finds the best and the brightest of the lower ranks, and can ensure they rise to their potential.
  • Captain of the Watch: Rank 15+. The Captain is the functional leader of the Watch. Although he does answer to the Commander personally, the successful running of the Watch is left to the Captain's skill and discretion.
  • Champion of the Open Lord: Rank 15+. It is given to the Watch to provide the Champion of the Open Lord, the person who acts as his direct bodyguard and champion should violence become necessary. Though sometimes members of the Watch proper do fulfill this role, more often than not the position is filled by an adventurer or similar sort, specially hired for it.
  • Commander of the Watch: Rank 25. The Commander of the Watch is the Open Lord of Waterdeep.


Swordcaptains and higher always wear uniforms or (rarely) armor with uniform tabards, and any watch member may wear helms, gauntlets, and leather armor if they (or a superior officer) deems it necessary. A watch member doesn't have the right to order an inferior watch member not to wear armor.

Rank badges take the form of tabards; thanks to widespread counterfeiting, pins are no longer used except on ceremonial occasions. By rank, these badges are as follows (all are encircled by an oval line sculpted into a rolling wave at the bottom and the peak of Mount Waterdeep at the top):

  • Blade: diagonal slash (lower left to upper right)
  • Sword: diagonal slash (upper left to lower right)
  • Swordcaptain and Armar: X shape (crossed diagonal slashes)
  • Rorden: horizontal dagger (hilt on left)
  • Orsar: vertical open human right hand, fingers uppermost and palm showing
  • Guardsword: two horizontal swords, upper one with hilt right, lower one with hilt left
  • All higher ranks: two staring eyes, horizontal sword beneath them (hilt on left)

Legal Status

Members of the watch enjoy a wide but legally undefined immunity from most Waterdhavian laws while exercising their duties. They can appeal any sentence uttered against them by any Black Robe (magistrate) to the Lords of Waterdeep, which in practice means Piergeiron -- who has been very lenient with watch members of long service and good character.

On the other hand, watch members hate "bad" watch members and will hound a suspected bad apple until they flee the city, agree to all investigations, or clearly establish their innocence. Watch members found guilty of crimes or misbehavior are often fined by the watch as well as punished under law. Conversely, distinguished service often earns handsome retirement bonuses from the Lords (sometimes even outlying land or in-city buildings).

Most Waterdhavians grumble at the watch, but obey them, because the watch is seen as fair (if often thick-headed) and helpful as well as jack-booted. (They'll unhesitatingly search for missing children, safeguard broken-open shops or scared persons, and so on.)

Persons arrested by the watch are often taken to holding cells in the city wall towers, but the main lockup is a level of ironbar cells in the "dungeons" of Castle Waterdeep, with dangerous prisoners being handed over to the Guard for imprisonment in caverns inside Mount Waterdeep.

Watch Sundries

Watch members inevitably become experts in particular neighborhoods, but in the last two decades the watch has made an effort to rotate patrol duties, mixing "area veterans" with watch members from other parts of the city, so every watch officer at least knows the street layout (and places of treacherous footing, poor visibility, or particular ambush danger) of the entire city.

Policing the sewers is now the duty of the City Guard, and the watch rarely enter them except when pursuing suspects or discovering sewer tunnels that connect with building cellars.

Every veteran watch member knows at least the heads and heirs of all Waterdhavian noble families by sight, plus the persistent troublemakers among the nobility. Many know most of the guildmaster's faces, too.

Forms of Address

Watch members customarily address male citizens as "goodsirs," except for persons they know to be Waterdhavian nobility, whom they call "gentlesirs." Mixed-gender groups of folk that include known nobles are called "gentles," and if the watch members don't recognize any nobles in the mob, they'll use the word "citizens" (even if they know many of them to be visitors).

Non-noble women are "goodwives" unless young, whereupon they become "goodlasses." Young males are usually called "jacks" or "my jacks" (as in: "What befalls? Hold and deliver truth, my jacks!")

"Hold!" (which means "Freeze!") and "Down arms!" (which means "Drop your weapons!") and "Talk truth!" (which means "Answer me!") are frequent watch commands.

When watch members address officers of superior rank, the word "sir" is the all-purpose formal address. "Sorn" is an added term of respect, somewhere between "trusted" and "worthy" in meaning, and is applied thus: "Sorn sir."

"Sorn" is also used in the other direction (by higher ranks addressing lower), but instead of "sir," it's added (or not added, if the speaker is grumpy or disapproving or merely bored) to the word "trusty."

In most daily situations (such as in barracks or on the streets, not in front of a Lord or Palace official or at a nobles' revel), watch officers tend to ignore rank formalities when their ranks are similar.

A watch patrol leader would think something was wrong, or she was being mocked, if members of her own patrol started calling her "sir" or "sorn sir," and so would a senior commander, if officers one rank lower than him did the same thing. This is due in part to the practice, now almost universal in the watch, of carefully being very formal and polite when you think your superior is making a mistake, or breaking the rules, or just being an ox-haunch (behaving like a jackass): in other words, clearly indicating your disapproval by tone and excessive formality without actually saying a single word of disagreement.

The watch places far more importance on diligent behavior while on duty (and springing to the aid of, or showing thoughtfulness toward, one's fellow watch officers) than on matters of etiquette. There's little or no discipline (beyond a sharp comment) for missing a salute or stumbling over another officer's title; the watch prides itself on being "family" (albeit a gruff, ungentle "slap-on-the-back, mock-one's-fellows" family) and not "a bunch of sniff-nosed, post-headed warriors."


Members of the City Guard salute often, usually with a raised weapon, but watch members seldom do so.

Some little-used formal and ceremonial salutes exist, but the most common watch salute performed indicates respect for someone's judgment, prowess at arms, or bravery. The saluter draws to attention, looks at the person to be honored, and while doing so, sharply raps the hilt of a sheathed weapon (usually a belt dagger) with one closed fist.

To any watch superior, a watch member salutes by tapping his temple smartly with an upraised, vertical forefinger.

The replying salute to an inferior is identical only if the superior officer desires to convey profound respect or gratitude.

Otherwise, the superior officer bends the left arm (at the elbow) up and across in front of her, turning that hand edgewise-on with fingers and thumb together ("a karate chop"), and strikes it gently, down from above, with the outside of her right hand, similarly bent but formed into a fist. (The fist "bounces" off the fingers of the other hand, after striking just once.)

A covert salute from a watch member to another officer (used in exaggerated, not-trying-to-hide form by officers not certain of the rank of the person they're saluting): Put the heel of the horizontal right hand on one's own belt, then swing fingers together in a single "tap" against the belt (as if patting one's own belly). If this is immediately followed by a move to scratch one's own left shoulder, it means: "Hi, there! I've got trouble, big trouble, and need you to stay and confer with me. Contrive to get close to me in some non-obvious manner, so we can talk."


A watch member receives 25 gp upon joining, plus a free uniform, a pair of boots, training, and (one) weapon. If dismissed without completing training, all must be returned except 12 gp.

Thereafter the watch member receives free room and board at assigned watch barracks (bunk, small beer, simple fare, bath access, weapon oil; need not be accepted, or can be taken up only on a casual "feel like it tonight" basis), plus 5 sp per day (active duty or not), plus 4 sp per patrol (normally only one patrol per day per watch person, the day normally being divided into three slightly-overlapping shifts/patrols). Officers receive the same 5 sp rate, but 5 sp, 7 sp, or 1 gp per patrol, depending on rank.

The watch member also receives one replacement uniform, a pair of boots, and an additional weapon per year; others must be paid for out of salary. (Additional weapons and gear are often issued "for free" out of armory lockups for patrol use, but must be returned or replaced.)

Known Watch

  • Commander of the Watch: Laeral Silverhand-Arunsun, Open Lord of Waterdeep (Piergeiron's Palace)
    • Champion of the Open Lord: Ghaelryss Aerasume
  • Captain of the Watch: Mimur Mirevar (Castle Waterdeep • 3rd Floor)
  • Senior Armsmaster: Belarkyn Vanjelarr (Castle Waterdeep • 3rd Floor)


  • Notary Watchlord: Zara Dleiyr (Castle Waterdeep • 4th Floor)
  • Whip Watchlord: Taeliia Hammaerhart (Castle Waterdeep • 3rd Floor)
  • Vault Watchlord: Vegnor Gravelbeard (Castle Waterdeep • 4th Floor)
  • Arcane Watchlord: Xorone of the Libram (Castle Waterdeep • 4th Floor)
  • Wards Watchlord: Oerkur Vibrul (Castle Waterdeep • 3rd Floor)
  • Thief-Taker Watchlord: Asha Fastlash (Castle Waterdeep • 5th Floor)

Watch of Castle Ward

Wardsman: Alta Botanuduth (Castle Waterdeep)

  • Dretch Lane Watchpost: Rorden: Neolo Ilchalver • 3 patrols
  • Duir's Watchpost: Rorden: Parus Obyrdar • 3 patrols
  • Elsambul's Watchpost: Rorden: Annalyn Suonilan • 4 patrols
  • Elvarren's Watchpost: Rorden: Pertus Thumbireer • 4 patrols
  • Keltara's Watchpost: Rorden: Raulfur Khenshyn • 3 patrols
  • Market Watchpost: Rorden: Rialter Obyrdar • 4 patrols
  • Mulgomir's Watchpost: Rorden: Bridonna Mengschar • 3 patrols

Watch of Dock Ward

Wardsman: Thul Artuir (Castle Waterdeep • 5th Floor)

  • Belnimbra's Watchpost: Rorden: Tirul Thelance • 5 patrols
  • Cedar St. Watchpost: Rorden: Celestine Gundavil • 6 patrols
  • Drawn Sword Watchpost: Rorden: Stury Durleer • 6 patrols
  • Sixcasks Watchpost: Rorden: Chasnera Hluldiir • 7 patrols
  • Slut St. Watchpost: Rorden: Särkor Thoolussz • 5 patrols

Watch of North Ward

Wardsman: Sturmnir the Uthgardt (Vhezoar St. Watchpost)

  • Tower March Watchpost: Rorden: Ernoldus Crae • x patrols
  • Wavestar Court Watchpost: Rorden: Halette Locast • x patrols
  • Vhezoar St. Watchpost: Rorden: Svert Hostane • x patrols
  • Golden Serpent St. Watchpost: Rorden: Fritha Throngmar • x patrols
  • Nindabar St. Watchpost: Rorden: Galberra Knuckletom • x patrols

Watch of Sea Ward

Wardsman: Polona Havyn (Tabra's Watchpost)

  • Wellcourt Watchpost: Rorden: Albinus Lir • x patrols
  • Morinskoar Watchpost: Rorden: Ailmar Londron • x patrols
  • Skulls Watchpost: Rorden: Efari Arkherlim • x patrols
  • Howand's Watchpost: Rorden: Ilenne Havyn • x patrols
  • Tabra's Watchpost: Rorden: Gredlan Sable • x patrols
  • Dob's Watchpost: Rorden: Gaufridus Bladesemmer • x patrols
  • Shark St. Watchpost: Rorden: Turbert Llaer • x patrols

Watch of South Ward

Wardsman: Hlurr Harerlsyr (Castle Waterdeep • 5th Floor)

  • Caravan Court Watchpost: Rorden: Gwenna Timthrevar • 3 patrols
  • Central Dragon Watchpost: Rorden: Arndith Dewnter • 6 patrols
  • Waymoot Watchpost: Rorden: Harn Chendar • 6 patrols

Watch of Trades Ward

Wardsman: Justaline Szeltune (Castle Waterdeep • 5th Floor)

  • Spindle St. Watchpost: Rorden: Tiblyr Kethevvin • x patrols
  • Virgin's Square Watchpost: Rorden: Kassathra Ghaultron • x patrols
  • White Bull Watchpost: Rorden: Huthlal Seawind • x patrols
  • Andamaar Gate: Rorden: Nalryn Immarkyn

Previous Eras