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    Army sizes
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    Apprentice Greytalker

    Joined: Oct 05, 2003
    Posts: 54
    From: Gettysburg, PA

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    Tue Apr 24, 2007 4:26 pm  
    Army sizes

    Hi all,

    I'm working up some information regarding a military campaign, and was hoping that some of you folks would share your expertise. What would be the percent of a population of a country that would be in the military? What would be the percentage of total troops that could be called upon in a time of emergency? For instance, if we had a country of say, 1 million people, how big would the standing army be, and how big would a full army be?

    Thyrnbryn of New Silverdeep
    Master Greytalker

    Joined: Jan 05, 2004
    Posts: 666

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    Tue Apr 24, 2007 5:57 pm  

    That depends on a great many factors. What sort of political system does the country have? How are relations between the rulers and their subjects? What level of military risk does the country have in normal circumstances? How much food and wealth does it produce? What level of military expertise and logistics does it have?

    The more folks stuck with food production, the fewer will be trained soldiers. The less money the ruler has, the fewer he can maintain on his own expense as a "standing" army, rather than some sort of militia. The more hostile the relations between ruler and ruled, the more likely there is to be a standing army and no militia.

    If you don't want to think about any of that, just go with an article like this for an exemplar:
    Black Hand of Oblivion

    Joined: Feb 16, 2003
    Posts: 3811
    From: So. Cal

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    Tue Apr 24, 2007 9:11 pm  

    Check and see if there is any census and armed forces numbers for Germany leading up to and including during in WW 2. There is liklely to be lots of research that has been done on this due to the importance of that conflict and the overall level of interest people still have in it. More importantly, Germany is a smaller nation which, at the ends of things, drew on its young and old for their military, which is pretty grim. War is grim though, but it depends if you want this "grimness" to be a factor in your campaign too, on one side or all sides of the proposed conflict.

    Start with a web search, and go to libraries an bookstores from there if necessary.
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    Grandmaster Greytalker

    Joined: Nov 07, 2004
    Posts: 1844
    From: Mt. Smolderac

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    Wed Apr 25, 2007 4:39 am  

    That's a great article Vormaerin. Nice catch!
    Apprentice Greytalker

    Joined: Aug 02, 2003
    Posts: 14

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    Wed Apr 25, 2007 4:38 pm  

    I have encountered this issue before as part of my current campaign involves playing out the Great Northern Crusade.

    Using Furyondy as an example, we have a population of approx 1.5 million souls according to the LGG. I believe it also states that 5% of the population could be considered as suitable for bearing arms. I think this figure was calculated by assuming that the armies are essentially all male (so 50% of the total population) and that 10% of these men are of prime military age, so 5% overall. This also squares with the 1983 Greyhawk books where it assumed 10% of all males were considered fit to bear arms. This number assumes a nation mobilized for war, as opposed to the peacetime standing army which might only be 1% or so of the total population.

    Consequently, we would have a maximum levy of about 75,000 men, although not all would necessarily be available for offensive operations. In my own campaign, I have Furyondy's army at about 60,000 men, so closer to 4%.

    In terms of maximum army size, most medieval armies did not exceed the size of a Roman Legion (5,000-6,000 men). However, we did see some battles, such as Agincourt, where the French brought some 25,000+ men to the battlefield. In the case of Furyondy, I decided that the army was split into Legions of about 5,000 men which were combined arms forces including infantry, archers, cavalry, artillery and magical support. This gives Furyondy 12 Legions and for a given campaign, several could combine to give battle on any particular day, so you might see battle armies between 10,000 to 20,000 men.

    Anyway, you can fiddle with the percentages, but everything I read suggests that in the medieval era, only a few percent at most of a population could be allocated to the army. Beyond that, you really start to risk your agricultural base and the expense can become ruinous.

    I hope this helps.


    Master Greytalker

    Joined: Jul 13, 2002
    Posts: 1076
    From: Orlane, Gran March

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    Thu Apr 26, 2007 1:26 am  


    This will also depend if you want to stick with real world requirements or fantasy figures. GH is a curious creation, and if you use the Living Greyhawk Gazateer you may need to turn a blind eye to what "the real world," can support.

    Most enties in the LGG or the original Folio if that is what you are using, describe the size of the army. The easy thing to do is assume that this is gospel and move on. IMO, This allows you to concentrate on the things that matter to your players.

    Having a description of the army's uniforms and campaign badges will affect their game experiance much more so than knowing that there are 12, 137 people in the army. A description of "it seems every other person is a soldier," or "the army is never seen," should be enough.

    I would also recommend Heroes of Battle. This book describes a "cinematic," method for presenting a military campaign.

    Hope this helps.
    Apprentice Greytalker

    Joined: Aug 02, 2003
    Posts: 14

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    Thu Apr 26, 2007 7:33 pm  

    Anced Math,

    You make a number of excellent points. The purpose of my calculation was not to bore the players with the minutiae of army sizes, but really for my own purposes as a DM. As Heroes of Battle says, the idea is to "think big" but "play small". In my campaign, there was a battle near Highfolk involving tens of thousands of troops from Iuz versus those of Highfolk, Veluna, Furyondy and even some Perrenland "volunteers". We did not play this as a table top wargame, but rather focused on the part of the battle that involved the players, which happened to be in an Airship. It was tremendous fun. The battle was backstory. I just liked working out the details for myself. Of course, every DM should do what works for them.


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