1. terrwyn
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    terrwyn Member

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    Military in a fantasy world

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by terrwyn, Jan 29, 2012.

    Are any of you writing a fantasy novel with some sort of military force? I need some ideas please :) In my book there is an "organization" called the Rebels and an official military force called the Alliance. Both are rivals and compete to prove their loyalty to their people. The Rebels usually stay inside the city walls to protect it at night when their enemies come to destroy and kill. The Alliance stands guard by the gates both by night and by day, and would even travel outside the city to complete other tasks or objectives.

    How would I address the head of the Rebels? Could I call him General, Sergeant Major, Captain, or should I create my own military ranks? What are your ideas? How do you address important military figures in your novel?
     
  2. Tre676
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    Tre676 New Member

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    I usually write historical fiction, so my "military" figures and forces are based around existing structures. However, I have written my own fantasy/fiction "war-genre" shorts before, and for those I tend to keep it somewhat relatable to real world ranks and battle tactics. It really is all up to you, it is your story! I think it would be pretty cool to see some new, unknown ranks that you made up in a story or book. Maybe do some research and find some ranks that have been used in the past, but have been disbanded in today's military. One such example is the rank of Brevet. It was a rank used in the British military system if I'm not mistaken, and it was used in the United States ranking system until sometime after the American Civil War. I believe it is slightly above the rank of Private.

    Anyway, I'd say making up some new ranks and finding a way to relate them to present day for readers to interpret would be very unique.
     
  3. Superevil225
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    Superevil225 Member

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    I've got two different military organizations in the book I'm writing. One of them, is loosely based off of the British military, with the same ranks, save the head of the military is known as 'Lord'. My second organization is the Hion military. The leader is known as the 'Shogun' and the rest are placed into factions with a first, second and third in command. The Seiryu is the highest faction, and the Shogun is first in command of the Seiryu.

    I have in mind another idea for a third military group that might be included in my book. The ranks will be loosely based off of Arabic words for different creatures. I'm thinking something like cat, cur, hound, wolf, tiger, lion, sandwalker, roc, ifrit. Just an idea. I usually love to play with words from different languages to come up with 'ranks'.
     
  4. James Berkley
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    James Berkley Banned

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    The science fiction story I am writing involves multiple militaries, with different systems
    One military has multiple branches and has their ranks are similar to MATO ones with E-1 to E-9 and O-1 to O-10.
    Another one called the Jager operatives (hunter units) has just the distinction between conscript ( enlistees) and the Heroes ( officers). The heroes are comparable to knights, they are trained from birth. Instead or ranks they use reputation, age, experience, and skill to determine who leads. They are culturally a sort of plutocracy.
    Those are the two main militaries, as far as being flushed out. Others work almost of a clerical ranking system, and another of a tribe like format with appointed leaders.
     
  5. TheIllustratedMan
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    TheIllustratedMan Active Member

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    It's your story, call him "Boss", for all it matters. As long as you're consistent and pick something that you like, it's fine.
    Obviously, if you're writing about a real military, you're going to want to stick to the established ranking system, or you're going to confuse people. In a fantasy world you can do whatever you want.
     
  6. Fullmetal Xeno
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    Fullmetal Xeno Protector of Literature Contributor

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    I plan on making new ranks for my millitaries. Most are based off real world ranks, and having huge numbers to tiny providences. My novel is supposed to be set in a big world, with many Empires and countries.
     
  7. PeterC
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    PeterC Active Member

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    I'm working on a science fiction novel that involves two main military forces, both official forces of two mutually hostile countries. I've been using the same ranks as are common in, for example, the US military. This is because my story is intended to be a translation from the native language. Thus I reasoned that the "translator" would have just substituted ordinary ranks for whatever words were used in the original document.

    I'm not entirely satisfied with that, however. I think it would make the story more interesting and more compelling if the aliens use somewhat different military structuring and ranks. So right now I'm regarding words like "General" and "Captain" to be placeholders. I will eventually come up with something different and then do a global search and replace (plus editing).
     
  8. Kitty08
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    Kitty08 Member

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    I use traditional military rankings for my army, just for the sake of clarity. As much as I like creative naming, I worry it would confuse my readers if I used non-traditional terminology--they might get confused as to who ranked higher. So my characters are Captains, Sergeants, etc, on up to the head of the army (whose job is more bureaucratic than military) the High Constable. Then again, I had no idea what the traditional ranking was anyway before I went and looked it up, so if you wanted to invent the terms and include an appendix listing the order, that would probably be fine.
     
  9. Jowettc
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    Jowettc Contributing Member

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    Couldn't agree more. Getting complicated and making up lengthy ranking systems may not be necessary, depending on your story of course. Keep it easy for the reader, keep it simple and keep it consistent.

    I like the idea of using historic ranking systems from the ancient world that are not in use. The names, usually, sound believable.
     
  10. Piankhy
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    Piankhy Member

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    Grand Commander, Commander of the Five Divisions or (Brigades/Battilions/Companies/Platoons/Squads), High Chairman, Chairman, Councilman, The Great One, The Blessed One, The Great Champion, Nightkeeper, Nightwatcher, Lord of the Night, Protector of the Night

    These are some that I've used in some of my fantasy stories. However if you want to use the American military rank system, the rebel leader would be a general. Seargeant Major is a powerful rank but still subordinate rank to a general. Captain wouldn't work unless the rebels were a small organzation. But that's only if you wanted to use the rank system properly. Most authors don't anyway.

    Hope that helps.
     
  11. Ellipse
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    Ellipse Contributing Member Contributor

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    Just pointing out a small detail: E-1 through E-9 and O-1 to O-10 aren't ranks. Those are pay grades or rates (depending on if you are in the army or air force). As an example, in the US Army, a Corporal and a Specialist are both E-4s, but their ranks are very different. A corporal is actually considered the earliest NCO rank a soldier can be assigned and usually only happens while out in the field. A specialist is basically a high ranking private.
     
  12. James Berkley
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    James Berkley Banned

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    yeah i know, but it’s still a way to tell who is of equal rank across service or branches, and is a nice way to simplify.
     
  13. terrwyn
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    terrwyn Member

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    I have searched the ranks of the US Army and I picked out some that I liked most.

    Private
    Private First Class
    Corporal
    Sergeant
    Staff Sergeant
    Sergeant First Class
    Sergeant Major
    Chief Officer
    Lieutenant
    Captain

    I used Captain as the highest rank instead of General because it is less of an actual military and more of an organization. The Alliance is the "military" of the city, which has been failing to carry out their tasks appropriately, thus the Rebels were created somewhat as backup. They prove that they are worthy and become as important as the Alliance, which is why the Alliance hates them. :)
     
  14. Piankhy
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    Piankhy Member

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    ;)

    lol, couldn't resist that one.

    Okay the captain thing makes sense now. Out of curiosity, how important are these two rival factions in the story? Does the MC or MCs join one of the factions? I had some in-depth questions I was going to ask but I'm not sure if it's necessary, if you're just going to use them for background story reasons.
     
  15. Monosmith
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    Monosmith Member

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    I find this rather interesting. I actually plan on joining the Air Force in part to gain experience with the military so that I can write stories centered around armed conflicts with expertise in the future.

    The way I see it, not every military organization is going to have the same rank names and structure. I myself have to juggle between the military structures and terminologies of various empires in my own epic. Personally I do a bit of inventing so as to create a more unique universe with a different mindset while at the same time keeping some instinctive terms so as to keep the familiar. But of course that's because it's futuristic sci-fi, and that's the genre I deal with.

    In your case, someone brought up the idea of using older names that may no longer be in use, which may work best for your story, but when it comes down to it the best advice I can give is that you take some time to live in the world for a while and ask yourself what kind of world it is, and it will probably answer back. Thta's sort of what I do when I wander around campus imagining that I'm seeing a different landscape, different structures, and different people.

    Monosmith
     
  16. Samurai Jack
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    Samurai Jack Active Member

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    Reinventing the Wheel

    I've never really understood the need to create a completely new vocabulary if all you're going to do is assign equivalent ranks and positions to what exists already. If someone is going to perform the functions of a 21st century Captain, call'em a Captain. If you call him a Quizzartoo and give him Captain duties, every time I see Quizzartoo I'll just think Captain.

    As for that list...

    A Captain is a commissioned officer in charge of a company.
    A Lieutenant is a commissioned officer in charge of a platoon within that company.
    A Sergeant First Class is the highest enlisted rank in a platoon within that company, and is there to mentor the Lieutenant.
    Several Staff Sergeants in a platoon are in charge of several Sergeants who are in charge of several Corporals and Privates.

    A Sergeant Major is the highest enlisted rank in a battalion, a step up from a company, and is there to mentor a Lieutenant Colonel.
    A Chief Officer is a highly skilled manager of sorts at a battalion level or higher.
    So these last two ranks don't make a whole lot of sense in context, unless you just plan on making them make sense. Which is cool.

    And the rank missing from that list is a First Sergeant, the highest enlisted rank in a company, and there to mentor the Captain. Captains and Lieutenants need mentors because of their general lack of experience.

    But that's all if you are talking about a MILITARY organization. And your Rebels don't sound like a military organization. They sound more like a police force. And in that case you just don't need that many ranks. Make him a Captain, give him some Lieutenants, give them some Corporals, give them some Privates.

    Then overlap those ranks with the Alliance. Give the Alliance a full military ranking system with Colonels and Sergeant Majors, Captains and First Sergeants, Lieutenants and Sergeants First Class. Make the Alliance enlisted ranks higher than Rebel officer ranks. If an Alliance First Sergeant steps into the office of a Rebel Captain, the First Sergeant *should* be able to tell the Captain what to do. As Rebel influence grows, Rebel Privates and Corporals start telling Alliance Sergeants to shove it. Rebel Captains and Lieutenants see themselves as equals and wonder why they have to be subservient to Alliance chain of command. Or something like that.
     
  17. Cole
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    Cole New Member

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    I'm basically looking up the rankings of European military officials and from there is where I'll get an idea of what title I want to give to the officers in my factions.
     
  18. Toph Bei Fong
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    Toph Bei Fong New Member

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    I like the idea of coming up with creative ranks, but I'd suggest sticking with what exists if you're writing something comparable to the real world. For example, in a sci-fi or even a fantasy I would keep the ranks mostly untouched and maybe only change the highest rank to throw in some creativity. However, if your military is significantly different from any that have ever existed, I may consider making your own ranks.

    In my story there are two warring factions of superpowered humans with animal based powers. Each organization has ten figures that lead them. These leaders are based on strength, not leadership capabilities, so I decided it would be fitting to call them something besides General or Captain. I chose Alpha to be their title because their powers were based off of animals and they're chosen by strength. I think in this case the creative title adds to the story rather than making it excessively confusing.
     
  19. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    Not quite knowing the level of technology etc of your world, I'd suggest modelling your two forces on an ancient, medieval or modern military forces that seem to match them, then just co-opt the ranks as you will. That way at least most of your readers will understand, and maybe get a feel for the type of army they are.

    Centurians and legionnaires for example will immediately make most people think of ancient Rome and their armies.

    Cheers, Greg.
     

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