I would like to introduce you to a little friend of mine, meet Mr. Official Guard Figure. You may be asking yourself, what makes him so damn official. My answer is, a long time ago in a place where gaming was done around a giant bowl of Cheetos, a friend and I decided we were the officials of making things official. Yes, we were in high school.
I think every DM should have a set of official guard figures. I know he doesn't look all that imposing because the poor fellow has lost his spear and has phantom spear syndrome, but when the players are getting rowdy and start tearing apart a perfectly good tavern someone needs to intervene. A group of non-spear wielding official guard figures will strike fear (or laughter) in the hearts of any adventuring group.
Making your guards competent is crucial. A one shot crossbow, called the knight killer, became standard equipment for my walkers of the wall. It brought instant respectability to my guards. Towns and cities know how to handle adventurers that get too big for their britches or they wouldn't still be standing. Guards are well trained and organized. Having a group of official guard figures is visual imposing and when a group of soldiers move as one unit it can be intimidating.
These guys enhance a campaign by representing of the law of the land or the tyranny of an evil lord. They may not have individual names or personalities, but when the players see them it means something. There is a viseral reaction. And there something very satisfying when you start placing them on the board and your players say, "Oh crap, the guards are coming."
*I would like to thank Mr. Rob Conley for the pictures. Well done sir.
This is a repost from April of last year.