The Military In The Nameless World – A Very Brief Overview

28 Sep

Just an expository post for SIM 11.

There is no unified military service in the Allied Lands. The White Council does attempt to appoint leaders to joint military campaigns – Mediators or Knights of the Allied Lands – but the various kingdoms are reluctant to place their military contributions under someone else’s control. Very few personages have the fame necessary to issue orders to a multinational force, ensuring that personal grudges and dislikes can affect the course of military operations. This tends to ensure that most military forces deployed by the Allied Lands appear somewhat ramshackle. Indeed, even ‘regiment’ and other military terms can mean different things to different kingdoms.

Generally, military units are raised by kings or trusted noblemen, with the latter often commanding their regiments in person. (City-states sometimes raise additional City Guard units, but it’s very rare for them to serve outside their cities.) During peacetime, the kings often maintain small armies, but tend to frown on noblemen having more than a handful of men under their banners. Sellswords (mercenaries) are fairly common, yet they are often frowned upon outside wartime.

The non-magical military in the Nameless World is generally divided into the following categories: infantry, cavalry, archers and (now) firearms.

The infantry is normally raised through conscription, with the soldiers given a choice between joining the army or facing punishment. (It isn’t uncommon for criminals to be offered a chance to serve instead of jail or execution.) Training is harsh and discipline is brutal, but a skilled soldier who gains notice can rise in the ranks. It is quite uncommon for a commoner soldier to reach commissioned status, yet a decent commanding officer knows to pay attention to his sergeants. The infantry serves to take and hold ground.

By contrast, the vast majority of the cavalry consists of lesser nobility, who can afford their own horse and supplies. They are often considered flamboyant show-offs by the infantry as they often prance around the battlefield in colourful armour. The cavalry is generally used to scout out enemy positions, carry messages around the battlefield and, on rare occasions, charge enemy forces. (This is considered grossly unwise.)

Archers (a term which includes field artillery) are normally drawn from freeholders who are supposed to practice weekly with a longbow and arrows. Their task is to rain arrows down on enemy forces and, when attacking a castle, to bombard it into submission with catapults and other bombardment weapons.

Firearms, a relatively new innovation on the Nameless World, consist of muskets and makeshift cannons. In theory, only kings are allowed to possess and use gunpowder; in practice, the secret is out and spreading. No one is quite sure how to use a firearms unit in combat, but they’re experimenting to find out what works. Most firearms soldiers are drawn from the middle classes.

There is no overall commissary for logistics, communications or healthcare, despite the best efforts of the White Council. Commanding officers are normally responsible for taking care of their men, with the authority and funds to purchase supplies from merchants and distribute them to the soldiers. (Or steal the money, which has been known to happen.) Nor is there any logistics chain in the modern sense. Blacksmiths and other workers are often attached to military units as camp-followers (along with washerwomen and prostitutes), but this happens on an ad hoc basis.

Medical care is often hit-or-miss. While Healers are normally attached to the army, the average infantryman is rarely able to pay their fees. They are normally dependent on chirurgeons (doctors) who are rarely able to save badly-wounded men. An injured soldier might simply be pensioned off and told to make his own way home.

Unsurprisingly, military units within the Nameless World are often a mixed bag. Units that have good commanding officers (almost always a nobleman) and a working staff tend to do very well; units that have poor or corrupt officers rarely survive their first challenge. Mutiny is relatively rare – it is punished by decimation, when crushed – but desertion is alarmingly common. Indeed, the vast majority of sellswords consist of soldiers who were either paid off by their commanders or simply deserted.

25 Responses to “The Military In The Nameless World – A Very Brief Overview”

  1. Michael Misenheimer September 28, 2016 at 6:09 pm #

    Aye, and thank you so much for this brief symposium? On the state of the military forces in the nameless world. However, now you’ve been and done it! You have wetted my appetite, you have successfully garnered my attention. So…….

    When can we expect you to begin work on the next edition to SIM? Or, have you already? Will you be once again asking for beta readers? (yes please) and I can tell you that I am now reading all kinds of things into Emily’s future base on this symposium and the apparent fact that she is about to become an apprentice to the sergeant.

    nudge nudge wink wink yeah?

    • chrishanger September 30, 2016 at 9:07 pm #

      My plan is to start in November, probably after Honorcon.


      • Michael Misenheimer September 30, 2016 at 9:15 pm #

        Outstanding! Can’t wait to find out what happens next!

  2. iheartdeer September 28, 2016 at 6:33 pm #

    Hi Chris! Thank you for the background info for SIM 11. I enjoys enjoy reading your books and the additional pieces you provide to elaborate on the stories and characters. Out of curiosity, is there a rough ETA on SIM 11 coming out? (I’m sorry if this has been asked and answered as I haven’t looked at the other comments yet.)

  3. Ian September 28, 2016 at 8:15 pm #

    I would second micheal and iheartdeer in my interest for SIM 11. Glad to see your working on it.

  4. William Ameling September 29, 2016 at 4:06 am #

    All very true and interesting. I was wondering what kind of military + Magic Emily would be studying in Book 11, and as mentioned before by me, I wonder if she may go to Stronghold for her 6th year. Chris said earlier, that Emily will go to Stronghold at some point but he was uncertain about when,i.e. it could also be after 6th year when she starts an apprenticeship in Military or Martial (or BOTH!) Magic. Emily taking the theorectical side of the Military Magic Test at the end of year 4 is a strong indicator of where things are going with her. The reason for her to go to Stronghold is that Whitehall does not have a strong program teaching Military Magic, while that is the main purpose of Stronghold. Plus it will give her an introduction to the non magical side of the military in the Nameless World which is where her technology changes will be most important. It could also give her some ties (and enemies/rivals?) to future military officers/generals for the Nameless World. For storytelling and world building reasons Emily (us) needs to see Stronghold to match our view of Mountaintop in Book 5.

    However, when the military starts using the new technologies, particularly gunpowder, Emily better start worrying about the Necromancers and other bad magicians using magic to disrupt those technologies on the battlefield and the home front. I know it will take a while for this to develope in the Nameless World but they have a worldview and history of using Magic to solve most(all) of their problems. Also remember Nanette, and now her new Master, had access (and copied) to Emily’s ideas/notebooks back in Book 3. They might even put some her ideas into action before she does! (which will force the hand of the conservative monarchies).

    I suspect that Emily’s potential ties to Caleb and his family/parents, both General and Mediator, will become more and more important in the future on the military front and political relations with the White Council; and that her ties to Alassa will become equally important. Sooner or later (much sooner, I think) Alassa will be queen of Zangaria, and that will become equally critical for Emily’s changes to prosper and force the other countries/monarchies to change and support the war against the Necromancers. I think we are headed towards Empress Alassa in the long run because of Emily.

    As a side question, how many of you think that King Rand will die and/or be deposed (revolution?) in Book 12 The Fists of Justice? I think that there is a greater than 50% chance.

  5. PhilippeO September 29, 2016 at 4:18 am #

    so which army Emily fiance’s father work ? He seems rather too interested on military action against Necromancer for local officer of city state, on the other hand would King hire a military officer who live in free city states ?

    did White Council have no army at all ? surely some border guards or magical elite force would be necessary if they are to retain prominence in military/political affair ?

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard September 29, 2016 at 5:08 am #

      He was a Knight of the Allied Lands and IIRC reports to the White Council itself not any of the kingdoms, etc that make up the Allied Lands.

    • chrishanger September 30, 2016 at 9:09 pm #

      He’s a Knight of the Allied Lands, rather than owing his place to any kingdom. Think of him as a UN-appointed commander with real teeth.


  6. William Ameling September 29, 2016 at 4:45 am #

    And Emily’s knowledge of Earth and it’s history will make major changes to the political structure of the Nameless World when that new Empire is formed, as well as changes to the middle and lower classes in that new Empire, particularly with all the economic/industrial/educational (books and printing presses) changes she has/will cause.

    Perhaps in the Nameless World, some of the Nobility will lose the usual phobia about commerce that we saw in Earth’s history. At least with the promoted middle class businessmen, if any (Imaquah’s father and now brother) (plus Markus with his Bank).

    • G September 29, 2016 at 5:33 am #

      It would be nice to get a sense of what’s happening in other kingdoms–muskets and gunpowder are easily copied so its doubtful Zangaria will have a military advantage for long–and civil unrest reduces its monarch’s power. As to changes in economics, new technologies caused agricultural production to boom but crop and land prices to plummet in late 19th century Europe–aristocracy devastated–but it took centuries for a large middle class to evolve…If Alassa does become Queen, she’ll need someone like Emily who has both great power and some credibility with rebels to negotiate with and help end civil unrest–Chris has indicated Emily does go back to Zangaria again…

  7. Jacqueline Harris September 29, 2016 at 5:44 am #

    This made me so exited for what it to come. I so love your sim books. I am interested in just how much of military tactics she knows from her history. We got a little hint after her 4 th year exam. I think it would be really interesting to see Emily reform some of the army practices. I think it would be especially funny if somewhere down the rode Emily finds herself at the head of an army. One thing I am interested in is Emily’s apprenticeship. It was hinted that miles would be her master and that this one would take place outside of her school. What I wonder is if this will be considered a full apprenticeship and that she will have her mastery after she finishes her 6 the year. I guess I just want to understand better the status of her current schooling and status. Is she considered a general master for completing the generals course? Could she were a black robe. Or would she be able to wear it after 6 the year or after a more formal apprenticeship?

    • darkpoint September 29, 2016 at 8:42 am #

      I doubt that Emily has a full apprenticeship with Sergeant Miles. It is probably similar to the apprenticeship with Lady Barb in “Work Experience” (i.e. no oaths, but behavior should be like in a real apprenticeship).
      For her full apprenticeship I hope it will be someone more powerful than just a “normal” Sergeant or Mediator.

      I also think that someone is trying to use / manipulate her as a figurehead for this military campaign, I wonder how this will turn out.

      Furthermore, wasn’t it mentioned that normally there is a gender separation in an apprenticeships, to prevent any sexually attraction between master and apprentice. Wouldn’t Mistress Danielle be a better temporary mistress for Emily?

      • G September 29, 2016 at 8:59 am #

        Neither the masters at Whitehall or the White Council know Lady Danielle is secretly tutoring her–Lady Barb told Emily to do it secretly if the new Grandmaster wouldn’t authorize it in Wedding Hells…although Emily might tell Sergeant Miles.

      • Don Yu September 29, 2016 at 12:38 pm #

        But you have to remember that there is no one else who are wiling to take on Emily as an apprentice. Sergeant should not be dismissed as army is ran by the Sergeants.

        As new tactics must be formed because of the firearms anyway so generals need to rethink lot things. So generals are not that important.

      • Jacqueline Harris September 29, 2016 at 8:09 pm #

        I don’t think mediators are ‘mere’ and I think the Person who has the post as the head martial magic instructor at Whitehall is actually very powerful and accredited. Emily is in a weird Cass cause she already finished martial magic and received extra tutoring with master grey. She is ready for a martial magic apprenticeship already. Master miles is an interesting choice cause he is male but look at the subject there aren’t as many females. Gordian initially called emily taking lessons alone with s miles inappropriate but changed his mind by the end of past tense. Fact is they probably feel that somebody needs to be her master gordian probable feels that someone like miles can keep her in line but not use her. I worry about anybody who wants to be her master outside of school. Miles at least. Ares about her.

      • chrishanger September 30, 2016 at 9:12 pm #

        It isn’t considered appropriate to have a male master/female student (or vice versa) but it has been known to happen.


    • chrishanger September 30, 2016 at 9:12 pm #

      It depends how long she stays with him. Right now, they’re leaning towards an ad hoc relationship – the apprenticeship being something everyone can understand.


  8. Issac September 30, 2016 at 6:56 am #

    Ahoy there… A couple points…
    1. Can you expand on the naval side…
    2. Can you also make a rough map of the nameless world…
    3. Will there be something akin to a technomage…
    4. In the normal world most of the damage was due to armies breaking and running, however will Emily be using runes to fortify her units(similar to her servants) this could make or break a battle, good infantry beats calvary… Horses tend to avoid sharp pointy things, a fortified calvary paid for by Emily, fortified by runes to calm horses and allow them to charge in spite of battlefield conditions, with trained commoners in White Hall or a Free City could could break through a line of musketeers… Taking into account that necromancer forces tend to be resilient and suicidal in a attack.
    5. Will she institute a medical corp, logistic corp, air recon corp, this can be staffed by women akin of WWI and WWII. Medical corp… With our world basic aid can do a lot. Logistic corp… Paper, new letters, arabic numerals, and finally educated staff is the backbone of any military. Air corp… Hot air balloon, with spell to assimilate sky color and monocular.
    War made great opportunities for social change.
    6. Professional military staff… One does not need a large military, just the core and one month to train a recruit in firearms and drill.

    Emily should in theory be able to reproduce many of this concepts. They took a long time in our world however just like stirrups once developed their use was dramatic. Emily like the previous Grand Master(GM) pointed out is not a genious, she simply has the collective experience of our world in her memories, not only she has wealth, connections, and political capital to make them happen. She might not be the GM, but she does have cloud to rival him. After her last adventure, a lot more power brokers will know that if she went back once how many more times can she do so again.

    Love this series… So many possibilities…
    Write on… Chris…

    • Don Yu September 30, 2016 at 11:55 am #

      Good points.

      1. Naval invasion to open another front but will require lot of ships (very expensive) and need an army who can survive counter attack.
      2. Would help in actual visualization of the size of the problem faced by the allied lands by how much land necromancer has vs allied lands. Also Cockatrice size and population so we can see how much responsibilities the young lady had/have.
      3. Technomage would be something wonderful that Emily can be first of as the major careers seems for magicians with major talents are combat sorcerers (mediator), healers, alchemist and general mages. I may miss a few.
      4. Army made up of infantry, calvary and artillery. It is paper, scissors and rock game. Infantry squares can be countered by artillery to break up the squares, Calvary to kill the artillery while Infantry strong against calvary. Pikes are needed till the gun’s rate of fire and range is great enough to kill any calvary charges. If runes can help then it would of been/are used already. As Issac said Emily is not a genius but there are there is/was genius in the nameless world who would of studied this problems before. So they need lots of artillery (protection of gunpowder from magic attacks from distance) to reduce the monsters numbers so pikes and gun squares can take care of the rest. Calvary in a form of steam powered tanks to attack the flanks but at the end if there is no real battle field counter to the necromancer then this is all a waste of time.
      5. As stated before every kingdom is more fearful of other kings then the necromancer. The kings don’t want to be under the power of an emperor unless they are that emperor. If we have a map of the nameless world then we would know the size of the problem of the need for logistic corps. If middle class don’t grow so there is large enough tax base so health care system can be maintained even during peace then there will be limited support can be given to the injured. Also long term care will be impossible. Hot air balloon are not needed since there are magicians scouting and countering that already. All those things that Emily have introduces are still not universal as only merchants,urban dwellers and upper class have access to learn about those.
      6. There need to be something like NATO command but there is no NATO alliance in Nameless world. Till that happens no.

      As a possible child of destiny and necromancer’s bane she command respect but she is no longer baron of Cockatrice so wealth and political power is limited. Money she have in the bank is it and all of the above need lot of money continuously. Political connections and capital is not there. She avoided making any. She does not have any political power as you can see when the issues of her ability to study for 5th year in Whitehall was so up in the air till Barb strongly support it. There would be less of a debate if she was still ruling baron of Cockatrice. King will look at Emily as introduction of ideas that challenge their rule and status quo that they enjoyed for so long. Kings don’t really see necromancer as immediate threat but Emily as possible but for the protection of Void.

      Unless there is large changes that will force/willing for Kings to surrender military power even when they fear their fellow kings more then necromancer in the short term is questionable.

      • Issac September 30, 2016 at 8:27 pm #

        1. Naval power is more than battleships… to the battle tactics i.e. ramming ships into each other with no cannons, ship design did not change a lot until the introduction of gunpowder, followed by steam engine, and so on… surgical raids will keep necromancers dispersed, or thrown into a rage by forcing southern coast necromancers into rival lands and leave their lands open to neighboring rivals. Lift capacity… cheaper to move supplies through water than land… rivers as supply routes…

        2. It would also help in fan fiction 😉

        3. She could also start a spec ops team that uses her own creations to be used only against necromancers, plasma sword(yes I know, but is awesome) together with shield that absorbs raw magic into battery.

        4. We forget that there is no combined arms in the allied lands, as far as I understand each “army” has it’s own leadership, it’s own magician group(if any), infantry, archery, and cavalry… how do I know this… nobles only see the commons as expendable, if they do waste magic it’s mainly for obedience spells, interrogation/torture, finally punishment. As to Emily she has used magic on commoners for healing and protection, we know this from her servants and guards… as I mentioned before most casualties in the past have occurred from the routing of a section of an army. As to combat sorcerous… they normally act independent of army or with other sorcerous, and although they provide support(anti surveillance) they mainly focus in countering magical threats. Manpower, supplies, and leadership… this are the three keys to having an armed force and were logistics is key…

        Allied manpower – mainly farmers and although strong and sturdy… they are human strong and sturdy. They are only as effective as their training, weapons, and moral.

        Allies supplies – forage… bows, spikes, and some swords… transportation walking and gateways(forgot proper name.)
        foraging armies are cheaper however they reach a cap in size if terrain cannot sustain army… if enemy uses scorched earth strategy it will destroy armies… this strategy historically favored by Russia. A supplied army may allow for larger or multiple armies, however it has the weakness leaving supplies open for attack if not sufficiently protected… as demonstrated by siege of fortress Britain by nazi u boats… The advent of banks will help in buy allowing economic growth and purchasing power.

        Allied leadership – As far I can tell… allied leadership extends to pointing armies south a holding the line… with the exception of those under White council…

        5. Again Emily is in a position to unify specialist by opening training centers in White Hall or free city…

        White Hall will agree because it will help war effort and there are only so many magicians…

        Free cities because they will have a corp of trained professionals that they will be a able to “rent” to kingdoms that are afraid of educating masses, yet still need services… it will create wealth without needing mass amounts of land.

        P.s. hot air balloons are essential, because there are only so many trained magicians that will/may be needed elsewhere… it is harder to hide movement of armies for eyesight than with magic… example… an orc raid will be visible from miles, and may be intercepted by calvary fast response team… in battle a commander will be able to see if any of their flanks are open… by knowing if armies are out of place or to far apart…

        6. This applies to all parties…
        Kings – need only a core of professionals, supplemented by commoners.
        Free cities – can provide professional core for a price…
        White Hall – a core of low power powered magicians with the powerhouses having all the fun, with a supplement of mercenaries to deal with enemy fother…

        Emily vague status as baroness – Emily’s 300 can be divided to 100 Lts, with 2 Sgt that can train up to 200 in relatively short notice… plus any minor noble that wants to join… as cavalry… logistics and medical are technically civilian organizations and therefore not military… knid of like camp followers… Her forces will of course be supplied by the latest of her R&D capacities, fortified by magic, high moral due to inspired loyalty, and educated means that promotion will take less time due to soldier’s ability to read, write, and add. Having something to fight for is also a great incentive… combined army will be able punch through fortified positions… air recon will allow for maneuverability.

        If someone can move back in time then forward, what is stopping them from doing so if they are about to lose… also Emily wrote a report and if memory serves swore that if was true to current GM… however they do not know how much she left out… also killing her could lead to the destruction of the world… that is the ultimate deterrent otherwise known as M.A.D. All they can hope for strategic containment.

    • Don Yu September 30, 2016 at 12:05 pm #

      Logistics is by trains but need large amount of railroads and trains to move need supplies to portals from manufacturing centres and farming areas. Need lots of clerks to keep track. This all require lot of money.

      • G September 30, 2016 at 6:08 pm #

        I think Emily is wealthy enough to live her life independently, but without being Baroness of Cockatrice, she lacks the political power and enormous funds underwriting even a limited army or navy would take. At this point, from the perspective of the Kings and the White Council, she’s simply a powerful wild card who tips society upside down and shattered a King’s wards and embarassed him–in short, a liability to avoid, with no political power of her own…the necromancers are too distant a threat to be a top concern to most Kings. They have a valid point–Emily tends to blow things up, but she’s rarely constructive in her actions…

    • chrishanger September 30, 2016 at 9:21 pm #


      1 – Naval forces are a separate issue, but ATM there aren’t many regular navies as we (or Queen Elizabeth I) would understand the issue. Save for a couple of island-based powers, most navies are ad hoc arrangements. The necromancers don’t have a navy.

      2 – I’m working on a map, but my drawing skills are appalling. And I keep forgetting details that need to be included. .

      3 – Eventually.

      4 – Maybe .

      5 – This will probably happen as armies become more professional.

      6 – There already is one – the Knights of the Allied Lands. They’re the ones who try to coordinate operations against the necromancers. (Which is rather like herding cats.) But yeah, most of them are working on ways to use the New Learning.


  9. Gxx November 9, 2016 at 12:54 am #

    How are the magicians organized?

    Are all combat sorcerer and mediators under the command of the appointed leader of the White Council, even if this one should be a mundane?

    Can’t the nobleman hire themselves magicians to support their troops?

    Under whose authority are the alchemists, healers or other magical-specializations?

    Since there is no overall commissary for logistics, does this mean every magican needs to hire themselves servants, cooks or a carrier for provisions?

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