"The Empire is Law. The Law is Sacred."
Numbering roughly 10,000 in strength, the men and women of the Imperial Watch form the backbone of security and law within the Empire of Fastheld.
Commissioned in the late month of Shadowreach in 626 ATA, and fully deployed in early 627 ATA, the Imperial Watch was born from the remnants of the Emperor's Blades in an effort to redefine and streamline the Empire's native standing army.
The main goal behind the major restructuring of such a traditional force came about due to changes in attitudes and needs that followed in the wake of Emperor Zolor Zahir the First securing his position of authority.
Having come to the conclusion that the Emperor's Blades had been stretched too thin to meet all the needs of the citizens of Fastheld, and listening to various military sources that informed him that the Blades were an expensive army built to fight a war that was never going to happen, the decision was made to rebuild from the ground up to create a force better suited to maintaining security within the Empire, and thus serve the realm and her people in a far greater capacity.
Thus, the emphasis was placed upon the defense of the Aegis and the security of the main trade routes, highways, and Imperial holdings throughout Fastheld. Taking back the wilderness from bandits to ensure the protection of the Merchant classes and the traveling citizens of the Empire became a high priority, with the relationship between the people and a much more active, less regimental military building a much higher level of trust and respect between the two aspects of the greater whole.
The shock divisions of Heavy Infantry and Cavalry were removed, replaced instead by the Imperial Couriers under the wing of the Imperial Office of Census and Excise, while Ranger and Infantry divisions were developed and expanded into a much more mobile and adaptive force to counter the threats that Fastheld currently - rather than potentially - faced every day.
Outfitted in a uniform consisting of Imperial Chainmail and a distinctive white-trimmed black tabard emblazoned with an Ivory Steelwood insignia, the Imperial Watch was permitted access to whatever weapons and tools that they might need to get an assignment done, maximizing their potential and ensuring that the Emperor's finest would never go without.
Above all else of interest, however, was a change in policy that was to end six hundred years of tradition: The Imperial Watch began to recruit, and cater for, female officers.
Acknowledging that female rangers, hunters, archers, couriers, and hired guards, were some of the finest in their respective professions, the Imperial Watch decided to take advantage of the available talent to create a greater sense of equality and unity within both the armed forces, and with the common citizens of Fastheld itself.
Female officers would time and time again prove their worth in matters such as dealing with female suspects, common logistics, knowledge of the wilds, and matters relating to quartermastery. Although it took some time for the various garrisons and forts to come to terms with such a change and adaptation, the Imperial Watch - and Fastheld - is stronger for it.
Although the Imperial Watch is mostly made up of normal Freelanders and, indeed, Nobles from all walks of life, a fair percentage of the officer pool consists of criminals and those who owe something to the Empire. This has proven an effective alternative to maintaining dungeons and jails, and permits criminals to work off their debt to society; usually upon the cold heights of the Aegis wall, far away from society, under the supervision of some of the Watch's most devout veterans.
The Imperial Watch has replaced the Emperor's Blades in all aspects of the word, proving itself as a modern and efficient standing army that runs smoother and cheaper than any previous incarnation, bringing with it a number of social changes and boosts that are second only to the building of the Aegis itself.
Note: The Imperial Watch is an NPC organization.