Garrison vs. Guard

In reading through the urban settlement rules, I am left with a question. Is the Garrison that must be maintained strictly a military force (in the sense that they are soldiers on standby for a potential battle) or are they also the "town guard" who handles things like arresting drunks and keeping the peace? 

I realize that there is historical room for overlap but how do most of you handle it? Is the garrison a standing force of soldiers or are they part of the community as guards, watchmen, etc.?

Assuming that most folks separate the two, who is paying the guards in your games?


I... I can't say I've ever had it come up. Given that the ruler sets the laws and collects the taxes though, it'd make sense for him to employ the guards. 

I would guess they do overlap, or the difference would be spelled out and town guard charged as an additional expense.  Now to set ACKS specifically aside for the moment...

I'm under the impression having a single, coherent, law enforcement-style town guard at all is partly a gamer's anachronism.  In some times and places you just did not go out at night without torchbearers and private guards without getting beaten and robbed in the dark.

But those that existed varied widely.  Some grew out of craftsmen's guilds patrolling their own quarters.  Some grew out of night watches for fires, which was an ever-present concern to a degree that may be difficult to appreciate now.  Some grew out of militias.  Some did without any guard, but had a "hue and cry" obligation to pursue and capture any time the cry was raised.  (But citizens failing to honor it was a problem.)

A tangent:  courts often had their own bailiffs to make arrests and issue summons, but these weren't police forces in the full sense.  And there might not be any overarching organization to courts.  A city could easily have a King's court, a municipal court, ecclesiastical courts, a College court, Guild courts for the more influential guilds, courts for each individual market or fair if these were major events.   Each would judge offenses under it's own jurisdiction and under it's own laws.  A large city or district might have multiples of one kind.

All that said, practically speaking, a king or lord's men would be the ones to make arrests and serve warrants for a particular court chartered by the same king or lord.  So if you don't want to go down the rabbit hole, I'd go ahead and say they're one and the same.  If you do want to go down the rabbit hole, the answer may be anything from "what is this 'town guard' of which you speak?" to "a rotating schedule of all the Guilds in town - ironically, Thieves' Night is the safest night of the month."

The garrison of an urban settlement counts as the police force for the town, such as it might be. It should include the leader's personal troops as well as the watchmen, firefighters, and police. 

Consider Ancient Rome, which was garrisoned by:

  1. The Praetorian Guard - 9 cohorts of 1,000 men; 9,000 soldiers. Responsible for imperial security. ACKS pay: 24gp/month (veterans)
  2. The Urban Cohorts - 4 cohorts of 6 centuries of 80 men; 1,920 soldiers. Responsible for riot control and combating roaming mobs and gangs. ACKS pay: 12gp/month
  3. The Vigiles Urbani - 7 cohorts of 7 centuries of 80 men; 3,920 soldiers. Responsible for fighting fires, acting as a night watch, keeping an eye out for burglars, and maintaining order in the streets. ACKS pay: 9gp/month 

The total cost of supporting this force would be (9,000 x 24) + (1920 x 12) + (3920 x 6) = 274,320gp. 

The population of Rome during the time of Augustus has been estimated at around 700,000, which equates to 140,000 families. With a garrison cost of 2gp/month that would be 280,000gp per month. 

Hope that helps!

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