Military: Armies, Soldiers, and Tactics, Oh My!

M is for Military...
M is for Military…

I’ve met a lot of people who, for some reason, think writing fantasy is all about… being a peace-loving hippie. No offense meant to any peace-loving hippies out there, I’m a borderline hippie myself, since I think environmental conservation, organic eating, and self-sustainability are very important. 

But I still know how to defend myself, and my husband and I own some items that could be considered deadly weapons. Like a bow and arrows, a machete, etc…

I’ve read very little fantasy that didn’t deal with the horrors of war in some way.

Unless your people groups are literally perfect, there will be wars. There will be crimes. There will be senseless deaths.

So how do your people deal with them?


Are there any enemies?

Why are there enemies?

  • Family feud gone very wrong?
  • Limited resources?
  • Differing opinions?

Do they keep a standing army during times of peace?

What kinds of borders would need to be defended in case of an invasion?

How technologically advanced is the military?

What types of transportation are they able to rely on?

How quickly can they respond to threats?


What is your military most well-known for?

  • Cavalry
  • Infantry
  • Scare tactics
  • Etc.

Who has something they want?

What are they willing to do to get it?

What happens when they fail?


What was the first incident that required them to defend their lives?

  • How did they deal with it?

What was their worst loss in battle?

What was their greatest victory?

When was an official military force established, if ever?

Who is allowed to join the military, who is not, and why?

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To Conquer!

Since many fantasy and general speculative fiction stories deal with literal conflict, I’d also recommend knowing the basics of your command structures within the military. Feel free to steal ranks and titles from existing armies, just make sure it makes sense within your world.

Header Image: The Battle of Orsha, public domain.

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8 thoughts on “Military: Armies, Soldiers, and Tactics, Oh My!

  1. Until recently I’ve only dealt with personal defence in fantasy development, but the main character of one of my novellas is a soldier – this didn’t need much development for the novella since the back story is minimal. However, I’m now expanding it into a full novel and that means I’m looking at quite a lot of things you mention, so thanks for the usual thoughts.
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    1. Glad to still be of help to you! I’m thinking that I definitely need to prioritize reading The Art of War, personally, lol. So much that’s going to happen in so many of the different stories I’m working on/want to start…

  2. This post encompasses the reason I will probably never write an epic fantasy tale. I fail so hard at Military and Tactics. The overview, politics, an strategy involved boggles my little brain cells.

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