- "Indeed, these men mean well but lack the conviction and the resolve to face down anything more than brigands. Why, Roadwardens are little better than the outlaws they hunt! But, in a fight, they’re good companions."
- —Kleber Reinhard, Witch Hunter[1a]
Roadwardens are the local law-enforcement force created and assigned the important duty of protecting valuable trade and commercial travel within the Empire's web of roads and trade routes. Shortly after Sigmar ordered the construction of the roads to Talabheim and Nuln, it was immediately clear that unless there were soldiers to protect these routes, travel would be impossible. In those days, the gravest threats stemmed from the Greenskins who proved a constant source of destruction for both the Humans and the Dwarfs. But the Emperor, in his wisdom, also realised that not all provinces were as densely populated as Reikdorf, and many lacked the manpower and resources to provide constant security. So the Emperor dispatched his personal soldiers to patrol the roads during their construction, empowering them with the authority to mete justice in accordance with the law.[1a]
Since the heady days of the early Empire, the guardians of the roads and rivers changed. No longer were these men and women an extension of the Emperor’s will. The Elector Counts funded these individuals from their own coffers, and gradually the Roadwardens as they came to be known, evolved into the lawmen they are today. In a sense, Roadwardens are the State Army of the wilderness. They patrol the roads in small groups, searching for signs of Beastmen and outlaws, doing their best to establish some semblance of order in the land. Unfortunately, the Roadwardens are too few on their own to effectively contain Chaos and the threats of the wilderness. So, most make use of local militias and garrisons to aid them. Failing that, Roadwardens must face the darkness alone—depleting their numbers even further.[1a]
Fighting the horrors of the night is a dangerous business, and the effects of long service take their toll on these men. Many Roadwardens become vicious zealots, condemning the accused to death on flimsy evidence. Others go mad and embrace the Dark Gods, joining those they oppose. Each moral failure adds to Old Worlders distrust and suspicion, making the job of the uncorrupted soldiers all the harder. In addition to the Roadwardens, the Empire makes use of a specialised force that operates fast-moving boats to patrol the Empire’s waterways. Where Roadwardens fight outlaws and brigands, the River Patrols combat pirates and smugglers. Though slavery is nominally illegal in the Empire, there are some disreputable merchants who buy Bretonnian Peasants and smuggle them into the country to work in their fields or factories. The River Patrol tends to operate on the River Reik near the larger cities, and leaving the stretches between all the more dangerous.[1a]