Part 1 - The LandsWith the lands starting to sort themselves out, time to figure out what armies each nation can field in the potential wars that my heroes are trying to prevent. The key idea I have is that a standing professional army comparable to today's is rare. Most nations cannot afford the investment of money and personnel. However, the lands do need to protect themselves.
Part 2 - Militaries - below.
Part 3 - Elves
Part 4 - Architecture
Part 5 - Magic
Part 6 - Wrap Up
This time around, I'll break things down by nation, starting with the Seven Dominions. The nation is heavily inspired by the knights of Arthurian myth. Nobles are responsible for levying troops in times of crisis, with knights and their men forming the backbone of the army. Knights, most barons, and some counts have training in various weapons, preferring the long sword and the lance over other arms. They also have training in heavier armours, allowing them to be the main thrust of the Seven Domains. Some estates do try to raise an army from the common folk, though they aren't as well trained and are given spears. Cities and many towns do have a guard or watch, one part law enforcement, one part defense soldiery. The guard is better trained, though their focus is on keeping the peace and patrolling instead of daily drills. There are specialized troops, mainly archers and sappers, or siege engineers. However, these troops tend to be in the employ of Counts, Princes, and the King and aren't risked on general patrol duties. Magical support is provided by the various colleges of magic, though no wizard is officially part of a knight's retinue.
Over in Wildwood, the sylvan elf land, the approach is far looser. The different houses do have household guards, but not to the same number as a knight would have in the Seven Dominions. Wildwood, though, has the outriders, horse-mounted scouts that report to the Council of Matriarchs. The city also has a watch that draws from the population at large, bolstered by household guards. The watch sends out patrols to keep the Sylvan Forest safe from intruders. Whether a patrol has a priest like Kazimier or a wizard along depends if someone volunteers to go along. Wizards in Wildwood belong to the Guild of Mages, and tend to not go out unless necessary. The watch is trained on long swords and long bows, with light chain shirts and shields. Outriders, who are meant to be fast, use short bows which they can use on horseback, short swords, and spears.
In contrast, the Sundered Chasm, Jyslyn's home, the Matriarchs aren't willing to share, so each of the ruling families has a sizable household guard, bolstered by hired men-at-arms and wizards lured into qorking for the family. However, the younger clergy of the Outcast Queen, including scions of the ruling families, are kept sequestered away from kin during training. They form the core for the defense of the Sundered Chasm, pulling troops off from everywhere for patrols. Since members of the clergy hold the highest positions of power, few challenge them when they do take away household guard. Weapons used by the guards vary by house, but typically are swords of some kind, flails, and daggers. Guards wear light chain mail. The clergy learn to fight with rapiers and whips, and rely on magical protection over armour.
Silver Trailings, the trade town outside the entrance to the Realm Below the Mountain, has no standing military of any sort. Instead, the city hires a mercenary band, Galan's Shields, as city guard and defenders. For the mercenaries, the job represents a steady income and a home, though they can't fully commit to any other contracts without leaving Silver Trailings defenseless. There are times when the city guard is working with a skeleton crew as mercenaries are sent on other jobs. The Shields fight with long sword, spears, and crossbows, wearing heavy armour and shields. A few specialized troops are trained with the pike.
The dwarves do have their own constabulary as well as their own army. The Realm Below already has a technological edge, thanks to the needs of life inside the mountain. Dwarven combat engineers are far better prepared for siege warfare, defending and attacking. The idea of a dwarven artillery regiment is still being played with, including the special forces unit, which uses siege weapons to hurl dwarves into the enemy's fortifications. No one throws a dwarf like the dwarven artillery. Dwarven troops fight with weapons made from tools from their various trades, primarily war hammers and war picks, though they can also use swords. Dwarven archers use crossbows, since it's hard to arch a bow properly underground. Dwarven soldiers are trained in heavy armour and shields, acting as an anvil.
The Nicean Islands, being islands, has a navy. Well, two navies. The first navy is very much military, though without the pressganging found in the British Royal Navy. Nicean ships are the most advanced in the area, because the Niceans rely on the sea. The other navy is mercantile, carrying cargo for the merchant traders and with escorts, freeing the primary navy to focus on defense and exploration. The naval vessels and the mercantile escorts are armed with ballistae modified to fire two types of ammunition. The first type is the traditional javelin-like projectile, meant to pierce targets. The other is a form of grapeshot, rounded stones meant to tear sails and foul rigging. Shipboard troops are trained in short, thrusting swords and clubs, to avoid accidentally cutting a rope that shouldn't be severed. Armour is rare; sinking because of the weight of metal isn't worth the added protection.
Each of the island states of the realm field their own guardsmen. Because the Niceans are mercantile, they prefer negotiating over invading, there is no unified army. The Niceans don't need it, either. Invaders would have to either spread their forces across the different islands or attack each island one at a time. The Nicean navy, in the meantime, will be pressing the invaders' ships, taking the pressure of the various guards. Typically, the island guards wear leather armour, with senior personnel getting chain mail or better, and wield spears.
So why all that thought when the likelihood of any of the above coming up is low? In part, because it could come up. In the work done, I've already had scenes in the Seven Dominions, Wildwood, and Silver Trailings, with the action heading into the Realm Below the Mountain. The first chapter opens with an elven patrol, so already I needed to work out what gear they had. Fortunately, you can't go wrong with chain mail, swords, and shields. There's also a chance that my group of adventurers will get on the wrong side of a militia.