By David Hollingworth

The smallest sized fief (a barony) holds enough resources to maintain at least one legion of professional soldiers and field several units of militia.


The basis of my FS worldview equates to the Napoleonic era. In that time, armies clashed all across Europe, on open fields and around congested cities. Navies traded broadsides and gained glory on the high seas. Politicians cajoled, diplomats worked toward peace (or just a bigger slice of the pie for their country) and Monarchs sat their thrones far from the cries of the people they ruled. Sound familiar? This essay/rant/discussion is written as a contemporary FS document, describing the state of affairs of the military machine of the Known Worlds.


We'll start this treatise with a discussion of the basic military unit - the regiment. The majority of regiments are made up of three or more battalions, only one of which can be expected to be in service at any one time (the other battalions would recruit at home, or be in reserve). An active regiment contains up to a thousand men, but this is quickly reduced through disease, combat, and plain attrition (deserters etc). A good number is about 600 men and officers. This is then divided into number of companies; usually between four and six, with the flanking companies being the Light Company and Grenadiers. More on the troop types later.

Each regiment is commanded by a Colonel, each company a Captain, and further Majors, Lieutenants, Ensigns and NCOs spread throught. Each Regiment bears two banners: the regimental banner, depicting the victories and history of the regiment, and the Emperor's/Prince's banner, which states the regiments greater loyalty. Most soldiers would rather piss on their monarch or ruler rather than see the colours lost to an enemy. Arms. armour, and uniform differs from House to House, and Imperial and Church troops also have their own dispositions.

Regiments are named after their planet of founding or place in the battle line, thus the 60th Leminkainen would be the 60th regiment to be raised on the Hawkwood world of Leminkainen. If the army it belonged to was entirely from that world, it would be referred to as the 60th Regiment of Foot, which makes it a simple regiment of line troops.

The regiment would be raised in times of war, either by Royal/Imperial/Church decree, and paid for by the state. It is also not unheard of for a rich noble or official to personally finance a regiment of her own. It is each noble's fuedal duty ro provide the troops, but as he is already losing money due to lack of serfs, it is not his responsibility to arm them.

Your basic line infantryman is probably unarmoured. These regiments are only raised and equipped when needed, and armour would make the whole exercise rather expensive. Add to that the proliferation of artillery and armour during the Emperor Wars, and simple armours become obselete. His clothing will differ very little from any other regiment across the Known Worlds - simple shoes, trousers, and undershirt, vest, and jacket (single or double brested), crossbelts for ammunition and sidearms, and a pack and bedroll. Wool and natural fibres are the most common. There may also be some form of headwear, a shako being quite common.

The soldiers sidearm is some simple form of rifle. The Imperial Rifle from FL:T is a good example, although actual models may vary from House to House. This is carried slung, spare clips on one belt, and a bayonet on the other. Three to four clips is the standard amount of ammunition, with reccomendations that autofire be used sparingly at most. The actual amount of ammo may be less due to blackmarket deals for food or other equipment.

The two flanking companies of each regiment are the Light Company, and the Grenadiers. The Light troops are the regiments smartest and quickest soldiers, and as such are often used as skirmishers or for independant missions outside of the chain of command. The Light Infantryman is equipped identically to the Line soldier. The Grenadiers are the tallest and strongest of the regiment, and are thus equipped with grenades, usually simple frag models. Although it is rare for a regiment to fight in line of battle, when they do fight in this style it is the flanking companies that are most vulnerable, and therefore need the best troops to endure that their flanks are not turned, and the entire regiment crushed.

Uniforms and Colours

Uniforms are of the same cut almost universally. Have a look at any modern dress uniform and you'll get the idea, and uniforms of the Napoleonic era are, in my opinion, even better. My break down, roughly based on historical counterparts, is as follows:

Hawkwood: White/grey trousers; white vest; red jacket. (British)

Decados: Grey trousers; white vest; green jacket. (Russian)

Hazat: white trousers; white vest; white (although other colours are common, as you can't tell a Hazat how to dress) jacket. (Spanish)

Al Malik: not quite as formal, the Al Malik favour desert style garb even in their military uniforms. While they adopt a similar organisation to that of all the other houses, they rely less on uniforms. Lawrence of Arabia might be a good place to look for inspiration.

Li Hilan: clothing tends to be baggier and the jackets are replaced with longer tunics. Some pious generals only arm their troops with speers and pikes, lest the technology of gunpowder earn the Pancreator's wrath. Any film by Kurasawa is a great place to start.

Imperial Guard: grey trousers; white vest; dark blue jacket. (Napoleon's Imperial Guard)

The Church: tends to avoid modern military organisation (when you have the Brother Battle, you can afford to), and tends to use lots of pikemen, with simple breastplates for protection. Have a look at the English Civil War for inspiration.

Within a line regiment, officers tend to be armed with swords and pistols, sometimes blasters, but more often slug-guns. The Ensigns, who bear the colours in battle, tend to be unarmed, as the weighty flags need both hands. This is balanced by the colour sergeants who cluster about the standards in battle, armed with halberds and pistols. Rest assured, anyone wishing to take a colour will have a fight on her hands. Transport is by foot for the most part, although the Colonel and his staff may be mounted on horseback or in an APC.

That's that for the line regiment. Next, I'll cover the other variations of infantry, from Vuldrok battalions to Rifle companies, Guard Regiments, and everyone's favourite, cavalry.

We know now what a regiment is, and how the soldiers in it are equipped and uniformed, at least to a rough degree. The Line Regiment is not the only unit to grace the battlefields of the Known Worlds; there are many more forms of infantry and soldiery to think of. Tomes like the FS Players Companion feature many varied types of troops, from the Vorox Commandos of the Li Hilan to the strange Dervishes of the Hazat and other Houses. The units outlined below are by no means exhaustive, but are worth mentioning either due to their importnat role on the field, or because of their uniqueness.

Rifle Regiments

At the outset of the Emperor Wars, only the Hawkwoods used troops armed with the powerful, and delicate, Blaster Rifle. The slow firing blaster was thought by many tacticians to have no place on the modern battlefield, but the 95th Gwynneth (later named the 95th Rifles) changed that doctrine. Operating only in small numbers, these elite sharpshooters were responsible for many casualties amongst the officer corp of opposing armies, and for slowing the advance of much larger bodies of troops. In contrast to the bright red uniforms of other Hawkwood troops, the rifles wore green jackets, with green or grey leggings. Instead of bayonets, they were equipped with swords, and were not afraid to use them. The Rifles are now part fo the Emperor's Gwynneth Legion, or EGL, and are part of the Imperial Guard.

The Ukar Rifles, each man armed with an Ukartech Rifle, has been raised by the Al Malik, and the Decados have authorised the organisation of a similar unit, though not made up of Ukari, and is armed with Radir Sniper Rifles. Both units have kept to the traditional green colour scheme, in homage of the originals (and because of the camoflaging nature of the colour).

Guard Regiments

Ever since the Saxons had the Huscarls, the King's household guards, most nobilty have had personal retinues of extremely competent troops at his personal disposal, in one way or another. The Known Worlds are now exception, and all major houses employ at least one unit of House Guard, and the Empire, itself run by a Noble, is no exception.

Organisation, uniform, and armament is often similar to that of other units, but these troops are professionals, not civilians raised to military service in time of conflict. Their uniforms are neater, their equipment better maintained and often of better quality, and some are even armoured, like those of Houses Decados and Hazat. It is from this core of well trained troops that bodyguards are drawn from, as well as commandos when other, more specialised forces are not available.

The troops mentioned in the sample adventure in the FS rulebook are good examples of House Guard. Other noteworthy examples are the Al Malik Guard, each strong man armed with a wickedly curved two handed sword and blaster pistol, and the Emperor's Guard, who are mounted in well armed and armoured APCs. the Hawkwoods have recently, with the continuing detente between the Vuldrok and the Emperor, begun to employ Vuldrok battalions of the field of battle, even as units of House Guard. The Vuldrok Guard are recruited from the settled portion of Gwynneth, and are often employed as a fanatical core of an attack. > From the waist up, the Vuldrok Guard wear the same red uniform of other Hawkwood units, but they wear, instead of pants, kilts made of patterned cloth or animal skins. As well as their rifle, many carry large axes and clubs into battle.


Ahh, the cavalry. No site has ever matched that of tight massed body of horse charging home against an infantry formation. No unit has ever been more dashing, nor sadly misused. Some of the greatest disasters of history have involved mounted troops who thought they were invincible. The mounted soldier of the Known Worlds, whether she rides a horse, raptor or hovertank, is much the same.

Their are many varieties of mounted soldier, but for simplicities sake we shall mention the most common: the hussars, the dragoons, and the lancers. Hussars are fast and lightly armed, often only with a sword, and as a rule are unarmoured. They perform recon duties ahead of large bodies of troops, skirmish, and finish off routing infantry. The Houses Al Malik and Hawkwood use hussars almost exclusively to all other arms of cavalry - there are no finer horsemen in the Known Worlds than those of Al Malik, and the Hawkwood Hussars have the distinction of being mounted in light hovertanks and being armed with carbines.

Dragoons are often heavily armed and armoured, and are a formidable sight to see in full flight. On horseback, the dragoon is armed with a sabre, a brace of pistols, and a carbine or light rifle. They are employed to test the strength of emplaced infantry, or see off lighter units of cavalry. They are also ideal for rushing ahead of the main body and holding valuable ground, as the pistols and carbines make them ideal mounted infantry. Houses Decados and Hazat employ dragoons in large numbers, with those of House Decados being mounted in APCs. Fitted to both offensive and defensive roles, dragoons are well trained and ruthless almost to a man. Half plate is the most common armour seen amongst the average dragoon.

Finally, lancers: lightly armed and armoured (if at all), and boasting a long reaching spear or lance. Lancers are often employed in similar circumstances to hussars, light duties, anything where they will not come under too heavy fire. However, the lance does tend to have a certain un-nerving affect on infantry - anyone who can actually pin you to the ground from horseback deserves to be feared, and the lance can even reach past the point of bayonet tipped rifle. House Li Hilan and Al Malik employ some number of lancers. The Li Hilan Lancers are particularly feared for the wicked, hooked tips of their weapons, which maim as much as kill.

One last note on live cavalry; they never succeed agaist prepared infantry. many officers believe themselves to be the one to break this myth, but are wrong. Some succeed, but every rule has an exception. Armoured cavalry, however, or mounted infantry like dragoons, can go toe to toe with infantry any day.

Firstly I would note that no-one seems to have been referring to the different troop types listed in the Player's Companion. If I remember right, this indicates a somewhat higher-tech military than has been suggested in some previous posts, inasmuch as most soldiers are armed with guns at least, though they do not have body armour: tough clothing is the norm rather than "armour" per se, but I think until the more recent development of kevlar body armour that was true for most modern armies. My take is that the "tech level" of such troops is probably similar to those in the Second World War. Other troop types, including the navy, air force, the SAS-style "rangers", etc., are likely to be higher-tech, more comparable to the modern army, in fact probably slightly better.

I do not agree with the view that we will still be seeing cavalry on the battlefield. The Polish army deployed cavalry against the advancing German tanks in the Second World War... you can imagine what happened. In an age of mechanised war, or even an age where automatic weapons are available, the use of cavalry simply becomes impractical.

Now onto the issue of "who controls the troops?" I would suggest this is a similar case to the question of "who has the money?" discussed previously. There, the general conclusion was that while the Noble House might be excessively rich, individual Nobles were not likely to be - the Prince and the top Dukes would be the only ones with "real" money.

In a similar vein, I would suggest that the armies of Noble Houses are under the control of a central command. They do not owe fealty - feudal or otherwise - to any individual noble. Instead they owe their allegiance to the House as a whole. I do not doubt that different regiments will be assigned to protecting (and possibly policing) the fiefs of nobles - and will probably come under the command of said noble while protecting his lands - but they do not "belong" to that noble. This will be particularly the case with the navy and air force. It is distinctly possible that if a noble falls out of favour with his House, troops might be withdrawn from his estates, leaving his lands unprotected.

It was suggested that nobles might use their regiments of troops in conflicts between other members of the same house. I do not think this likely. No sensible Prince would tolerate such in-house fighting as it would use up resources that would be needed elsewhere for other conflicts. That's not to say such things would not happen, but I think most Nobles would either use mercenaries or their own special agents for such tasks, rather than House troops. The feel I have from the rulebooks is that conflict between Nobles of the same house is mainly political (with a fair helping of espionage on the side).

In some ways, the politics of the Known Worlds seem to be more "Cold War" than "mediaeval". The various powers - Noble Houses, Guilds, the Church and the Emperor - co-exist in an uneasy peace, in a similar way to the United Nations and the Soviet states. Within the United Nations, though there was military peace, there was economic and political conflict, and almost certainly a lot of espionage. Similarly between the Soviet states. Correspondingly in the Known Worlds, there is little or no military strife between members of the same House or Guild, or within the Church, but there certainly is the same political manoeuvring.

Finally, returning to the issue of troops, consider this. The Known Worlds span many different planets and star systems. Although individual planets will probably have large numbers of troops, it is highly likely that many battles take place in space and not on a planet's surface at all. With the right weapons, it is possible to then bombard a planet from orbit and wipe out many of its armed forces without the need for face-to-face conflict - thus making it easy for relatively small numbers of ground troops to set up bases in important places and claim the planet.