D&D 5E Companion thread to Survivor:Backgrounds

Aldarc

Legend
Well, at my table? City Watch ≠ Cops.

As for everyone else's table? Not my place to say.

As for your dislike of cops in general? Beyond the bounds of polite discussion, and trending in the direction of politics.
Beyond the bounds of our discussion, but within the bounds of my reasoning for why I dislike this background, which does include police and law enforcement as per the actual background description regardless of what the city watch are in your game.
 

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CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing (He/They)
Beyond the bounds of our discussion, but within the bounds of my reasoning for why I dislike this background, which does include police and law enforcement as per the actual background description regardless of what the city watch are in your game.
Totally fair. It's important to me that you know something: I agree with you and your sentiments toward this topic. So much so, that I have to use the fantasy storytelling of D&D to "fix" something that I know can't/won't be fixed otherwise. And that's all I'll say on the topic.
 

Argyle King

Legend
I've never chosen the City Watch background, but I could imagine a lot of reasons to play a "cop."

Even if your group is all diehard ACAB enthusiasts, trying to do the right thing by protecting the city while also rooting out corruption in the force could be a very rewarding campaign. Heck, there are entire movies and TV shows built around that premise.

Beyond that, I could also see being a member of a City Watch for a new settlement on a hostile frontier being potentially fun in a lot of different ways. You could be part of managing the success of a new settlement. Note that a "city watch" needn't be in what we think of as a city; a wood elf outpost or druidic enclave would likely have just as much reason to have security as an urbanized metropolitan area.

As mentioned above, there are plenty of movies and shows from which to take inspiration. Something more silly could be a fantasy version of Super Troopers, Police Academy, or 21 Jump Street; going the 80s action movie route could be inspired by Lethal Weapon or Miami Vice; investigative adventures could be like Law & Order; and etc.

Thinking more... I could see a whole campaign centered around being run-of-the-mill City Watch members for Sigil. Maybe one week you're investigating an illegal drug ring believed to be run by a group of rogue celestials. Then maybe that leads into uncovering information which unfolds into a much larger story arc. Perhaps it's revealed that the specific substance is part of a plot to drug the Lady of Pain and weaken her power so that someone else might attempt taking her place.

🤷‍♂️ plenty of directions that background could play into a game of D&D.

With a few tweaks, you could also use the background to create analogs to EMTs, firefighters, and various other things that a city might need.
 
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EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
Totally fair. It's important to me that you know something: I agree with you and your sentiments toward this topic. So much so, that I have to use the fantasy storytelling of D&D to "fix" something that I know can't/won't be fixed otherwise. And that's all I'll say on the topic.
Fantasy enables us to have a better, brighter, kinder world than the one we live in.

Whether one chooses to see that as fingers-in-your-ears denial, or as a reminder of the thing toward which we aim our efforts in the real world, is, I think, a matter of whether one is a pessimist or an optimist. Further, I see only one of those two things as being judgmental, and even that need not be so. Instead of condemning others for their fantasies that break from the harsh truths we must face out there, I consider it more constructive to frame it in terms of what is useful. We must not allow positive fantasies to distract us from important change, whatever that change may be, just as we must not allow the dark aspects of reality to distract us from aiming for something better and brighter.

A background referencing or rooted in members of the police/law enforcement officers/etc. should be handled with care, with will. Whether that means you forgo it, flout it, reclaim it, or fully rewrite it, do it meaning to do it. Even if that "meaning to do it" is straight-up "I'm just here for the beer and pretzels bro, I don't want to think about that stuff." If you don't want to think about that...don't! There's an ocean of alternatives.
 
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RealAlHazred

Frumious Flumph (Your Grace/Your Eminence)
Well the City Watch will likely be replaced by murderous robo-dogs...so I've heard from various town criers
Look, we are replacing the City Watch with a privatized security service of warforged. They require very little money, and are willing to work in terrible conditions at all hours of the day. I expect you all* to obey their commands and pay the fines they levy you!

* Not ME! I'm the one who hired them; surely, since I'm their "commander," they'll give me a pass**!

** Narrator: They did not. Among other things, most warforged are extremely literal-minded.
 

EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
Man, all the backgrounds with actual heft to them were pretty unpopular, huh? None of the MTG or Strixhaven ones made it, despite there still being multiple completely redundant backgrounds (Entertainer/Gladiator, City Watch/Investigator which is literally labelled "City Watch/Investigator" despite an actual "Investigator" being included, Sailor/Pirate.) Can't say I understand the rationale behind shooting down actually interesting options in that context, but I suppose that's the way things go.
 

RealAlHazred

Frumious Flumph (Your Grace/Your Eminence)
Man, all the backgrounds with actual heft to them were pretty unpopular, huh? None of the MTG or Strixhaven ones made it, despite there still being multiple completely redundant backgrounds (Entertainer/Gladiator, City Watch/Investigator which is literally labelled "City Watch/Investigator" despite an actual "Investigator" being included, Sailor/Pirate.) Can't say I understand the rationale behind shooting down actually interesting options in that context, but I suppose that's the way things go.
I go two ways with Backgrounds. On the one hand, I like only a few generic Backgrounds to be available, general stereotypes that can cover all possibilities. As a DM, I can always add specific bits to a player's character later, but the Background should be less detailed; it's just for flavor, it's not a Class.

On the other hand, I myself use the "Make Your Own Background" method, so every character's background is unique, and I have a list of flavorful Traits that I'll modify to fit the PC. Everybody is unique, NPC and PC, even if I don't always bother figuring out what the uniqueness is of a nameless NPC the party will never encounter again.
 

RealAlHazred

Frumious Flumph (Your Grace/Your Eminence)
So, we're down to one screen of options. I hope people start weighing in, so we can wrap this whole thing up tomorrow evening. If we get to the weekend, I'm going to be very disappointed in all of you.
 


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