Steps to a Story: Designing an Army

There is a war in Butterflies, so I had to create the basic structure of the Diaean army.  I decided the sizes of the units, the ranks of officers and the number of soldiers in the command, and some of the rules concerning how officers of the same rank interact with each other.  I even pulled out a Risk game board to help visualize troops and how some of  the battles would play out.

Even having all of this information, there is more detail to cover with Matthew’s story.  It does include the big-picture details that I’ve laid out before, but it also needs some specific details regarding Matthew’s unit.  If we are travelling and fighting with him, we need to know how he is equipped and utilized in fighting.

Matthew starts the story as a low-ranking (sergeant or lieutenant, I haven’t quite decided) officer in a company of light cavalry.  Heavy cavalry is used for battle; think fully-armored knights on equally-armored horses.  Light cavalry are sometimes called skirmishers.  These are soldiers who lauch projectile weapons, using the height and speed advantage provided by horses.  As their assignment is to deal with bandits, not another army, skirmishers are a more logical choice than heavy cavalry.

Here are a couple of the things I have decided:

The company travels with an extra mount for every soldier.  These horses are kept together, toward the rear, when they are traveling.

There are several supply wagons with the company, but as they are moving through their own country and not hostile territory, they purchase food from locals as much as possible.  (This is something that will provide an opportunity for plot development later.)  Some items are kept on the wagons for each soldier, like tents, but each fighter carries his or her own sleeping roll and equipment.

Knowing this information means that I can start writing the first scene of the story.  More details will come when I need them, as I write the description of the soldiers and their gear.