City Watch Background 5E

Hello adventurers! Thank you so much for checking out the 9th episode of our background series. In any case today’s article is going to be all about the dnd 5e city watch background also known as the investigator depending on what variant you go with. We haven’t really covered variants too too much and they’re not super relevant they usually just offer a slightly different mechanics here and there.

But for the most part they’re fairly identical. In any case city watch/investigator is found in the sword coast adventurers guide as with quite a few of the backgrounds. I find that sword coast adventurers guide is relatively underrated for what it provides but it does certainly offer a diverse amount of backgrounds to chose from.

Before we move on to its description and many aspects we would like to inform you that we mentioned list of d&d backgrounds in a single page you can check all of them too.


Basically, being a city watch 5e you’ve served to the community at where you grew up by simply standing like its first line of the defense against to the crime. Of course you’re not the soldier and even directing your gaze outward at many of the possible enemies.

Instead of this, all of your services which you do to your hometown was to help the police its populace and also protecting the citizenry from all of the lawbreakers and also malefactors of each and every stripe.

Probably, you might have been one of the parts of City Watch of Waterdeep and also the baton-wielding police force of the city of Splendors, even protecting a common folk from different parts of thieves and also rowdy nobility alike.

Or of course you might have been one of the valiant defenders of the Silverymoon, normally a member of the Silverwatch or even one of the magic-wielding Spellguard.

Perhaps as a city watch background you do hail from the Neverwinter and also have been served like one of its Wintershield watchmen, and also the newly founded branch of the guards those whoever vow to keep safe the city of Skilled Hands.

Even though, if you’re not related to city-born or to city bred, but this 5e city watch background can clearly describe your early years like the member of law enforcement.

So, most of the settlements of any size have their personal constables and also police forces, of course even the smaller communities have been sheriffs and also bailiffs those who ever stand ready to be protected their community.

Variant: Investigator

Almost rarer than the dnd 5e city watch or the patrol members are the community’s investigators, those who are responsible for being solving the crimes after the fact. Even though such type of folks are rarely found in the rural areas, almost each and every settlement of decent size has at least one or two watch members those who’ve been the skill for investigating the crime scenes and also track down the criminals. But if your primary experience was as an investigator and also you’ve the proficiency in an Investigation rather than the Athletics.

Very cool stuff! kind of like batman esque as well in a weird way, i don’t know it’s kind of cool. Let’s take a quick look at its mechanics here.


Initially your skill proficiencies are athletics and insight. Under languages you gain access to two of your choice and the equipment is a uniform in the style of your unit and rank, a horn which you can use to summon help is really just a loud horn there’s no magical benefits to it, a set of manacles which are really just handcuffs and a pouch containing 10 gold piece which falls in line with the average.

  • Skill Proficiencies: Athletics, Insight
  • Tool Proficiencies: None
  • Languages: Two of your choice
  • Equipment: A uniform in the style of your unit and indicative of your rank, a horn with which to summon help, a set of manacles, and a pouch containing 10 gp

In terms of the investigator variant it’s essentially identical mechanically with the exception is you gain investigation rather than acrobatics. So if you decide to go with the investigator variant you have skill proficiencies in investigation and insight everything else is identical so.

Once again it’s not really worth writing a separate article on that entirely, it is kind of cool! In terms of which one’s better or worse just depends on their play style if you’re a more martial character then i can almost all but guarantee athletics will serve you better and if you’re more of a sideline fighter or a utility based player then investigation will likely be the optimal choice for you. Now let’s move on to it’s feature the watcher’s eye.

Feature: Watcher’s Eye

As city watch background 5e you’ve this watcher’s eye feature and as per this your experience in enforcing the law which is attached to any type of rules, and also dealing with the lawbreakers, those gives you a feel for the local laws and also criminals.

You simply able to find out the local outpost of the dnd city watch or else the similar organization, and of course just like easily pick it out the dens of the criminal activity in a specific community, even though you’re most likely to be welcome in the former locations irrespective of latter.

It’s overall an incredibly strong ability. It kind of removes a decent chunk of the exploration pillar if you will. By just kind of giving you the locations, which is rather nice however the obvious drawback here as it can be inferred that you carry yourself in a manner that will likely tip a lot of criminals off to your general outlook on the law.

Which is interesting. But not necessarily always going to be the case worth discussing with your DM for sure. Now let’s move on to its suggested characteristics.

Suggested Characteristics

For this city watch in dnd you have to use the tables for the soldier dnd background like the basis of your traits and also the motivations, by simply modifying the entries whenever they’re appropriate for suit your identity.

Personality Traits

Under the personality trait i put ” I’m haunted by memories of war. I can’t get the images of violence out of my mind.”

D8Personality Traits
1I'm always polite and respectful.
2I'm haunted by memories of war. I can't get the images of violence out of my mind.
3I've lost too many friends, and I'm slow to make new ones.
4I'm full of inspiring and cautionary tales from my military experience relevant to almost every combat situation.
5I can stare down a hell hound without flinching.
6I enjoy being strong and like breaking things.
7I have a crude sense of humor.
8I face problems head-on. A simple, direct solution is the best path to success.


Under ideal “Might, in life as in a war, the stronger force wins. And this will take you towards the evildirection.”

1Greater Good: Our lot is to lay down our lives in defense of others. (Good)
2Responsibility: I do what I must and obey just authority. (Lawful)
3Independence: When people follow orders blindly, they embrace a kind of tyranny. (Chaotic)
4Might: In life as in war, the stronger force wins. (Evil)
5Live and Let Live: Ideals aren't worth killing over or going to war for. (Neutral)
6Nation: My city, nation, or people are all that matter. (Any)


Under Bond ” I’ll never forget the crushing defeat my company suffered or the enemies who dealt it.”

1I would still lay down my life for the people I served with.
2Someone saved my life on the battlefield. To this day, I will never leave a friend behind.
3My honor is my life.
4I'll never forget the crushing defeat my company suffered or the enemies who dealt it.
5Those who fight beside me are those worth dying for.
6I fight for those who cannot fight for themselves.


Under flaw “My hatred of my enemies is blind and unreasoning.”

1The monstrous enemy we faced in battle still leaves me quivering with fear.
2I have little respect for anyone who is not a proven warrior.
3I made a terrible mistake in battle cost many lives – and I would do anything to keep that mistake secret.
4My hatred of my enemies is blind and unreasoning.
5I obey the law, even if the law causes misery.
6I'd rather eat my armor than admit when I'm wrong.

Basically, your bond is likely to be associated with your fellow 5e city watch members or else the watch organization itself and almost clearly concerns your community. Actually, your ideal probably involves at the fostering of the peace and also safety. Here an investigator is likely to have an ideal which has connected to achieving justice by successfully solving the crimes.

Get the anthropologist 5e if you want to play with it.

Very interesting stuff! however you want to role play this is of course up to you. But it does portray a character that will be a relatively stoic and calm unless one of those aforementioned enemies is nearby or is identified after which they will become emblazoned with rage and vengeance.

Very cool stuff, however you’d like to role play is surely up to you but this is one of those characteristic sets that will likely lead to some interesting and rather rapid confrontations. Whether or not the party is in charge of that or even likes it or they’re just along for the ride is kind of up to how quickly they can react to your response.

Very cool stuff, does lend itself to a whole character arc in of its own of you seeking out vengeance for the company you belong to and dealing the final blow to the mercenary organization that went against you or perhaps you unveil a greater plot that you’re unknown to before and it kind of changes your perspective.

Very good stuff! overall. Now let’s take a look at my personal thoughts on the city watch/investigator.


I really do like this sort of balance between the mechanic, the feature and the characteristics. I think it works really well and it’s likely to provide you with some pretty great utility at almost every level of play.

The watcher’s eye feature in particular is certainly good. A lot of the features we’ve covered until this point have been either active or have been to directly benefit the party by either giving them shelter or equipment or providing them with a reasonable way to gather information.

This is by far more of a passive ability. It’s based on your intuition and there’s a strong argument to be made for the higher your insight or that your investigation or even passive perception. The more likely you are to take advantage of this.

A quick note about the watcher’s eye however is it is quite vague on purpose. You can pick out the dens of the areas that might be involved in some more nefarious activities or the areas that appear to be involved in more righteous paths. However there’s no guarantee that’s actually the case.

It might just appear that way or there might be a more complicated plot lurking just beneath the surface that calls everything into question. It’s up to the DM whether or not they want to take advantage of such narratives but it certainly is something that would play in.

It might also lull the party into a false sense of security or potentially cause them to get into altercations that might otherwise not be necessary or even be at the party’s detriment depending on the actual circumstances at play.

Regardless of how you decide to go about it, it is still a strong ability and the mechanics offered are pretty great as well. The only real drawback is the lacking of a tool proficiency however that is not always necessary. I do like the inclusion of the horn and the magicals in the equipment as those are active items that would surely benefit the party in a variety of circumstances, serving as a distraction or an appropriate way to bind an enemy that is by far more secure than just typical rope would be.


That being said, let me know what you think of this city watch and its investigator variant down beneath in the comment section. Be sure to mention any thoughts, questions, comments, concerns, ideas, pope culture references or even stories of your own. I hope you all have a wonderful day and as always happy adventuring everyone.

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