Echoes of Glory
Though notoriously underpaid and underfunded, Taldor’s sprawling military is one of the mightiest in the world when fielded against an outside threat. However, the nature of Taldor’s internal politics and split allegiances of the typical highborn Legion officer – to himself, his house, and his country, in that order – mean that the Legions are most often used against one another.
The supreme commander of the Taldan military is High Strategos Maxillar Pythareus.
The vast majority of the military is comprised of the hardy infantry soldiers of the Phalanx. Except in rare cases, Phalanx troopers are either equipped as pikemen or bowmen, and are organized into Legions. At its formation, a Legion contains roughly 1000 soldiers, divided into 10 companies of 100, not counting support staff. Each company is led by a knight-captain, while the whole legion is led by a knight-commander. If a particular knight-commander is in charge of multiple legions, he becomes a knight-lord. This is relatively rare, however, as large armies of multiple legions are most often led by members of the titled nobility.
Each company acts equally well on its own as it does as part of the legion. A company contains two units – the pikemen and the bowmen. The bowmen provide ranged support, and follow closely behind the pikemen, who in turn can form a defensive wall around the bowmen at a moment’s notice.
In reality, no legion actually contains 1000 fighters, and few companies can boast a full complement of 100. Companies average around 80 soldiers (though it is common practice to leave the missing twenty on the books to ensure there is more pay and supplies to go around), while most legions contain only 5 or 6 companies. Despite this, each legion retains a full 10 knight-captain positions, whether there are troops for the remainder of knights to command or not. These “open” positions are usually held by members of the nobility, often the youngest children of old families or wealthy bureaucrats, who believe they’ve earned a knightly title but do not have the temperament or ability to lead men on the field of war. Though usually harmless, this practice can quickly become a double-edged sword if things go awry, and if the Grand Prince finds displeasure with the actions or conduct of one of his legions, it is the knights in command of it that he will hold accountable, regardless of whether said knights have ever even seen the legion they technically belong to.
Some legions, especially those that see frequent combat, have one fighter in their ranks known as the Champion. This fighter is often knighted for his service if he is not a knight already, and bears the rank of Sergeant-at-Arms. The position of Champion is never awarded ceremonially, and the Champion himself is the most powerful warrior in the legion. It is not uncommon for paladins, clerics, or even arcane casters of a particularly martial bent to be Champions, but no matter their training, the goal is the same: to face and defeat the strongest enemy warriors, and to protect the knight-commander.
Each legion’s standard is considered the heart of the unit. A legion that is decimated on the field of battle but still carries its standard can be reformed and reinforced, while a legion that loses its standard is disbanded, no matter how many soldiers it retains. It is common practice to use legion standards as bargaining chips in wars between nobles. A clever nobleman who captures an enemy’s standard in combat can ransom the standard back for enough money to fund his entire campaign, place men loyal to him in positions of power within the legion as a condition of the standard’s return, and ensure the legion will fight for him in the next war, all in one fell swoop.
In the bygone days of the massive Taldan Empire, Auxiliary were those troops who came from territories other than Taldor itself, and for whom military service was a way to earn Taldan citizenship. In modern Taldor, the term “Auxiliary” more commonly includes Reservists – Legionaries who can be mustered up in times of need or to replace losses in the Phalanx, but who are not full time soldiers – as well as other irregular troops, such as those a nobleman might pay entirely out of his own pocket to ensure they answer to him alone.
Auxiliary are often organized into Cohorts, the old term for the elements within a Legion before they were called Companies. Cohorts contain anywhere from 50 – 200 men, being less rigidly organized than the Phalanx.
Not included under the umbrella of the Auxiliary are the militia. A militia is called up on the eve of battle, and given no arms or training beyond what they already possess. Technically it is every able-bodied male’s duty to serve in the militia, and he is owed no pay beyond that which he would have earned at his regular job, but many noblemen choose to pay the militia a soldier’s wage, or offer a cut out of the war chest at the end of a long campaign. Those who do find their militias are always stronger, larger, and better armed than those of their rivals.