Welcome to Part 16-1 of my World Building blog series :D I’ll be covering just about every topic I can think of that goes into world crafting. If you have any topics you’d like me to write about, please let me know :)
Military and law enforcement are usually how you’re going to keep order in your fantasy world. Whether this involves border guards, city watches, standing armies, patrols, etc. there are probably going to be at least one type of these. For the purposes of this post I’m going to refer to these groups as Order Keepers (OKs) unless I’m discussing one in particular. Crime and war will be getting their own posts so we won’t be going into detail on them here.
First things first, who are the OKs beholden to? Who is giving the orders? Who is paying them? Under what circumstances would they disobey? This is where you’re going to get the divide of OKs beholden to an authority regardless of morality and OKs beholden to the populace. Here is where corruption in your world will become very apparent. When conflict arises, do the OKs in your world protect those in power or do they protect the people?
How do people view OKs? Are they respected? Feared? Avoided? Is it a career people are eager to get involved in? Is participation in some level compulsory? Some countries require the populace to have a year of training with the military, so it wouldn’t be unusual in your fantasy world.
How is discipline with the OKs handled? Do OKs have any privileges or liberties over the general populace? What hierarchies do you have in place? Are there any restrictions against certain groups rising within this hierarchy? Are there elite groups of OKs? Examples of this would be Knights of the Round Table, Myrmidons of the Trojan War, Jedi Knights, and the Kyoshi Warriors from ATLA. If your world has magic, how are magic users incorporated into OK groups?
Is there a standing army that is kept trained and available should conflict arise? Alternatively there are reserve militias that receive some training, but otherwise go about their lives unless needed. You don’t necessarily have to have any sort of military. Maybe you have a pacifist nation, that’s ok too.
You can look at how OKs are set up in various countries or even other fantasy worlds to get an idea of how to set up yours. If you’re considering having a city watch, most commonly you’ll see them in the largest cities, or more specifically, the royal capital. You’re also probably going to have personal guards for people in positions of power. If you character is one of those people in power, what is the dynamic and relationship between them and their guards? Are there any circumstances where the guards have authority over the people they’re protecting?
If you’re going to have established trade routes you may want to consider the equivalent of a highway patrol, or have for-hire guards that follow trade caravans as a means of defense. If your characters are traveling, is there any group keeping them safe on this trip? If your characters are encountering borders with other countries, consider what the relationship between the two nations are. How does the OKs presence change based on whether the situation is hostile or peaceful?