Military groups like knights, cavalry, and star fighters will exist in our setting whether we invent and mention them or not. However, not creating these is a significant oversight Some will become an army, navy, or air force (or space force), each possibly comprised of multiple specialty groups. We might also need to create them for other species who have very different ideas. World builders often resort to generic groups that are not well-defined, even if characters from those groups are major characters.
Well-crafted groups can add believable tension and detail to a setting and achieving this is the goal of this chapter. As with many subjects, it’s possible to invent far more than we can realistically use, but as with character back story, inventing some items helps us portray the world. This chapter includes a set of items to develop, but world builders are encouraged to decide on which aspects to invent, based on story needs or preference.
We must decide what type of group we’re defining. Is this the navy, air force, or army, for example? We can ask what purpose they serve, but the military is typically for both protection and conquest, as needed. Once we know which type we’re creating, this will help make other decisions discussed in this chapter.
Virtually all armed forces work for a sovereign power. This means that, in a story with two different kingdoms, for example, we might need two armies; this is needed if we’ll use characters from either and those details inform our plot or characterizations. This could become overwhelming to invent, so we must be realistic and only create what we need.
The type of government will impact much about this group. An oppressive one will provide a strict environment, including mandatory service, while another might have far more freedom, at least when people are off duty. It’s a mistake to create a military group without understanding the government that controls them. Creating Places (The Art of World Building, #2), went into details on many government types and it’s recommended to become familiar with them and their likely impact on all aspects of life.