Hell of a Summer
The Twelve Shields
The Twelve Shields are the combined security force for Trades Ward. The codicil that gave the Dragonmarked Houses collective responsibility for Trades Ward also made them the sole source of security for the Ward, in lieu of a City Watch presence. Each of the Dragonmarked Houses contributes guards on a rotating basis to police the Ward and provide security for all its residents, customers, and visitors.
Commanded by a triune made up of senior Kundarak, Medani, and Tharashk officers, the Twelve Shields operate much like the City Watch, with regular patrols and guard posts scattered throughout Trades Ward. Unlike the City Watch, though, members of the Twelve Shields typically only serve for half a year before rotating back out to the guard force of their respective Houses.
The Twelve Shields initiative is seen as a tool for fostering cooperation between the Dragonmarked Houses and an opportunity to foster goodwill among the populace as much as an effort to keep the peace. This is especially true since the individual Houses are still sovereign on their own property, which is the vast majority of the property in Trades Ward. Try to rob a Lyrandar warehouse or a Kundarak bank and you will still be facing House guards rather than the Twelve Shields. Once you step back onto the street, though, it is the Twelve Shields who will be waiting for you.
The Twelve Shields perform everyday policing duties in Trades Ward. They never act outside Ward, leaving that to the City Watch or, when necessary, the pursuing forces of individual Houses. They are a peacekeeping force inside the Ward, though Medani and Tharashk investigators are often called upon to consult outside the Ward due to their well-known expertise.
Members of the Twelve Shields do not act on House property, either, as each House maintains its own security force. Even the least militaristic House keeps enough guards to secure its own businesses and enclaves, while some of the larger and more aggressive Dragonmarked Houses maintain small armies of troops. Out on the streets, though, the Twelve Shields apprehend criminals and keep the peace.
The Twelve Shields wear masterwork armor and carry heavy shields along with magical batons enchanted to stun rather than kill. This is not to say they only employ non-lethal methods, though- if criminals are fighting to kill, the Twelve Shields can bring heavy weapons and significant magical resources to bear.