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City Watch fighting

The City Watch.

The City Watch (or simply referred to as the Watch) is the main constitutional body in charge of enforcing the laws imposed by the Empire of the Isles within the capital city of Dunwall. They are also charged with the protection of Dunwall's population. Their headquarters are in the Tower District.[1]


Founding and Evolution[]

The Watch was founded on the 1st Day, Month of Timber, 1809, under the rule of Emperor Euhorn Kaldwin.[2] Its budget is decided by parliamentary votes, though individuals such as the Boyle family can finance it and take benefit of its protection. The Watch also controls Coldridge Prison, Dunwall's primary holding for criminals, and does not appreciate the authority of Overseers.

Under the rule of Euhorn's daughter, Jessamine Kaldwin, the appointed Royal Spymaster Hiram Burrows sponsored the inventions of Anton Sokolov to improve the Watch; Officers had their pistols upgraded with new, more efficient whale oil-powered versions,[3] and 1833 saw the introduction of walls of light and arc pylons in the streets.[4] With the arrival of the Rat Plague in Dunwall, the City Watch faced two major issues: the handling of the dead and sick from disease, and the surge in criminal activity.

During the Plague Crisis[]

The advent of the Rat Plague saw the Watch responsible for the enforcement of plague ordinance and quarantine. The Flooded District was used to dispose of infected bodies and weepers, under the pretense of a treatment center. Possessions of plague victims were evaluated by Dead Counters and either distributed back to relatives, or taken by the State. Although rations of Sokolov's Elixir were distributed between men of the Watch, tallboys were introduced to deal with rats and infected people without the risk of being themselves infected. Finally, the Legal District was mostly emptied and controlled by the Watch on the orders of the City Barrister.

It was also during this period that numerous new criminal gangs began forming throughout the city, sparking several bloody territorial disputes. The Dunwall Whiskey Distillery was seized from the Hatters by Slackjaw and his Bottle Street Gang, while Drapers Ward became the site of prolonged and bitter open warfare between the Hatters and the Dead Eels.[5] The combined efforts of the Watch and the Spymaster's Responsible Citizens Group were not enough to stamp out the gangs,[3][6] but the violence led to the deployment of their new security systems.[7]

Taking advantage of the chaos, looters and gangs started plundering abandoned buildings and factories. They avoided open confrontations with the Watch, using sewers and small streets to bypass patrols and security measures. However, the Watch declined to venture into some abandoned areas such as the Flooded District or Drapers Ward, which became havens for smuggling and gang warfare. They were also unable to dismantle the Bottle Street gang's bootleg elixir traffic, and some of the Watch's men even bought from it.

Lastly, the newly appointed Lord Regent started using the Watch during the crisis as enforcement rather than for the protection of the people. Squads of guards were sent to deal with riots and strikes, such as at the Rothwild Slaughterhouse. Travel to some areas such as the Distillery District was prohibited and movement from district to district restricted. Although most of the Watch remained loyal to the Lord Regent, some such as Captain Geoff Curnow questioned his authority, whether in the new authority of Overseers regarding occult acts, or in the handling of the crisis itself. Others' loyalty faded once the Lord Regent could no longer support the Watch's financing.

During Dishonored 2[]

By 1852, a significant part of the City Watch had been slowly corrupted from within. This was largely due to Mortimer Ramsey's influence and false rumours regarding the Crown Killer. When Delilah Copperspoon usurped the throne, the double agents revealed themselves amidst the chaos resulting in a civil war. Whilst many remained loyal to Corvo Attano and Emily Kaldwin, all of those members encountered during the game are found dead by the time the protagonist encounters them. Those who openly supported Emily's reign were quickly slain due to the combined forces of their corrupted comrades, the invading Serkonan forces, the Clockwork Soldiers and later Delilah's coven.

As time progressed, even those who sided with Delilah started to desert or turn against her due to how badly conditions in the city deteriorated under her reign.[8] A few even joined the failed Overseer siege of Dunwall Tower.

Ranks and Positions[]

The members of the City Watch are separated into several ranks according to their importance, leadership and fighting abilities. Moreover, certain positions and squads exist within the Watch which are assigned to the same tasks.

  • Chief of the Watch: The Chief is given the most authority and resources in the Watch, reporting to staff of the Imperial Family. During the rule of Hiram Burrows as Lord Regent, this position was occupied by Samantha Nathaniels.[1]
  • General of the Watch: Responsible for individual Districts of Dunwall, as well as commanding City Watch forces within the District they oversee.[1]
  • City Watch Officers: They are the elite troops of the City Watch, assigned to command areas and ensure the protection of citizens and structures important to the state. Officers are skilled fighters with the sword and adept in the use of pistols. Generally recruited amongst nobles, they can be either Majors, Captains, or Lieutenants. Majors typically watch over specific neighborhoods within an individual District, reporting to Generals of the Watch, and delivering commands to Captains. Captains are the highest ranking officers that can be encountered on Dunwall streets. They lead a squad of of 4-6 guards while also teaching them how to survive.[1]
  • City Watch Special Forces: Although not an official command status, Special Forces are Watch Guards with more training, equipment, and responsibilities than lower ranks, denoting a higher level of respect than Captains, and reporting to Majors.[1] Special Forces include:
    • Tallboys: Tallboys are heavily drugged[9] special Watch forces walking on stilts, wearing thick protection and firing explosive bolts at their targets. They are usually assigned to guard quarantined areas or special locations on the orders of the acting ruler. They are also tasked with wiping out any plague-infected citizens.
    • Dead Counters: The Dead Counters are under direct order from the City Barrister, Arnold Timsh, and are tasked in handling the victims of the plague, alive or dead. State responsibilities also include the evaluation of afflicted plague victim's possessions and the seizure of property where necessary. They are as corrupt as the Barrister, and abuse their position to increase their wealth.
    • Estate Officers/Bodyguards: Officers differentiated by their light blue uniform, they are not assigned to the regular City Watch tasks and work exclusively to protect personalities such as Lords Morgan, Custis and Treavor Pendleton, or the City Barrister and his niece, Thalia Timsh. They can be given command of Watch squads to accomplish their duties.
  • City Watch Guards: The regular guards wear protection and a helmet over their uniform, they also come equipped with a sword. They are considered slightly more intelligent and courageous than Lower Guards, however, corruption is highly prevalent within their numbers. They can sometimes be seen handling whale oil canisters to replenish security systems.
  • Watch Lower Guards: The Lower Guard consists of the most basic soldiers among the Watch. Equipped only with a regular uniform and sword, they are new recruits who often lack credible fighting skills and are frequently recruited from within prisons. Lower Guards have been likened to feral dogs; hungry, mean and mangy and described as drunkards and thieves in shoddy uniforms.[10] Their positional responsibilities also include acting as Estate Guardsmen, wherein they are assigned to ensure the security of an important person, such as the City Barrister.
  • Wrenhaven River Patrol: This division of the Watch is assigned to patrol on the Wrenhaven River and to address smuggling and pirating activities.
  • Engineering Corps: Engineers are responsible for installing and maintaining defensive structures and security measures such as barricades and watchtowers.[11] Special officers, called Technical Officers, carry a device known as a charger, which is attuned to a specific wall of light or other technological units. These officers go to each member of the new shift, usually just common City Watch, serving near the defensive structures so they may lay a hand upon the charger. Once this is done, that particular technological construct "recognizes" these individuals and will not harm them.