Mage squadrons Military Formation in Empire of the Covenant | World Anvil

Mage squadrons

Welcome to the Empire of the Covenant! In this federal empire, tensions are increasing between the Light and Dark political factions. Light Lady Annabelle is the target of the Leader of the Dark faction and in order to gain allies to protect her, she starts Courtship Rituals to make suitors compete for her hand—but then the Dark Lord joins in. Come read about Annabelle's Courtship and her world!
Introduction to the story | Lady Annabelle Alyssenne | The imperial nobility | Novel upcoming

Table of Contents

Any story of big battles always focus on the all-powerful lords and ladies who led the charge, and the elite men and women who fought showy duels by their side. What almost everyone tends to forget is the squadrons of common mage soldiers whose provided crucial support during all of this...  

The unit and its place in the army

Mage squadrons
  • Number of mages: 20-50/squadron depending on Estate
  • Power level of soldiers: average
  • Leadership: a captain with master-crafter level of power
  • Type of unit: mobile
  • Timing: a small permanent army + more soldiers conscripted during war (e.g. each village provides x people within certain power ranges, with powerful individuals forced to join)
  • Type of units in the armies
  • In the: Empire of the Covenant: armies are made of almost only mage squadrons, whether on foot or flying. Mounted soldiers are extremely rare.
  • Outside of the empire: foreigners are famous for their mounted squadrons
  • Examples: steppes people from the Haut Plateau raise and train snakes and dragons; Northern Islanders mount eagles).
  • Armies
  • Composition: a colonel leads a battalion of 10 squadrons (200-500 men), a brigadier leads a brigade with 10 battalions (2000-5000 men), a general leads a group of brigadiers
  • Officers: minimum master-crafter level of power
  • Elite unit: all members of the low and high nobility of the Estate, fighting directly at the side of the ruler of the Estate

  • Lady Merisse snorted when she caught sight of the enemy armies hundreds of metres directly below her feet. She tilted her spyglass around to make sure no one else was hiding nearby, but no that was all there was to it. Five measly squadrons at most. Not even a full battalion... Camouflage magic?   She frowned as she considered the question. Before she made up her mind, the wind picked up around her and she grimaced as the first drops of water hit her. It was best not to stay flying so high in the air if a storm was coming, especially when so close to the Orage Mountains. A stray bolt of magical lightning was not entirely unheard of...
    by AmélieIS


    Weapon: The preferred weapons of mage squadrons are the battle staff and the sword, although some squadrons are occasionally equipped with special weapons such as spears. A squadron can include only mages using one type of weapons so as to specialise in short- or middle-range attacks or it can be mixed to be more versatile. In almost all Estates, people eligible got conscription are required to train regularly with a weapon to be ready in case of war.   Shields: Soldiers in mage squadron are expected to handle their weapons with two hands, and so they do not use hand-shields. Instead, a small, crude, wooden shield-craft are generally attached to one of their forearms and can be used as a focus for shielding magic, thus avoiding the soldiers tiring themselves by making unassisted raw magic shields.   Armour: Rather than using costly crafts better used to protect the valuable nobility, common soldiers' protection have basic runes sewed to their uniform to muffle or absorb the energy of enemy attacks. Often, multiple layers of such clothing are put on top of each other with little regards for how they interact together, potentially leading to them cancelling each other or cursing their wearer.  
    Who pay?
    The lords and ladies provide the weapons and uniforms for the troops, unless the mage-soldiers own some of a better quality, in which case they are expected to use them. The quality of the weapons and uniforms provided reflects highly on the ruler.   Many rulers have listened a bit too much to stories of legendary battles and look down on common soldiers, not understanding the necessity of providing them with good equipment and instead seeing this as an opportunity for good savings.
    A sword-wielder mage from the South by Some Tale on Unsplash
    "Are you sure, my lady?" Léopold frowned uncertainly.   Lady Merisse graciously let the insult of her words being questioned go unremarked. "It is, of course, possible that they're hiding under camouflage magic. But you're the one who's got previous experience with them. You tell me which is more unlikely, camouflage magic or them being so unprepared."   He made an aborted movement and grimaced. "Even if Lord Danièlie had access to camouflage magic, he would not deign 'lower himself so'." She snorted. "What about the weapons, my lady?"   "I barely saw any battle staff. They'll want to get close to us."   Léopold nodded wisely. "Long-range fight is difficult in the mountains, no one would be willing to risk getting caught up at altitude in a storm."   A shame one such storm was starting, or Lady Merisse would have loved nothing more than to shock them all. But no matter what tactic they used, she would triumph as always, and Danièlie would have no choice but to eat his words and beg for her mercy.


    Travel limitations: The noble Houses of the empire all have access to location pentagrams and so they can travel instantaneously wherever they wish, provided they have the correct pentagrams at hand. While they can bring a few individuals with them while doing so, each additional person costs a lot of magical power, and so transporting a whole army is impossible. This forces mage squadrons to travel slowly by foot to meet each other while their rulers and enemies fully know where they are and where they will be.   Power limitations: Nobles often become impatient at the slow movements of their squadrons and desire little more than re-enacting glorious stories of winning wars just by themselves. However, those that attempt to go through with this rarely survive unless their enemies are just as stupid.   Indeed, if even someone as powerful as a noble suddenly appears right in the middle of an army, chances are they would get exhausted before they could kill the thousands of men surrounding them. Thus, so long as the enemy nobles stay in the middle of their army, nobles will have no choice but to bring their own army to meet them, so that mage squadrons can get busy together and leave the field free for heroics.  
    Clever rulers will attempt to lead their enemies into traps so as to prevent them from using their location pentagrams to flee the battlefield when the battle turns around them—a common occurrence, although one that is sure to turn their remaining subjects against them as the squadrons left behind are sure to get massacred.
    Even without being able to fight from a distance and take advantage of Danièlie's poor choices, the battle was a massacre. Her mage squadrons easily overwhelmed his, fully showing off the results of the intense training she had imposed on her subjects since she had taken over the Estate.   As for the so-called elites... It was clear that Danièlie's had little experience of unfriendly battles where rules of courtesy did not apply. Lady Merisse's had conquered an Estate with her, they trusted her fully to lead her to victory and would not have turned over and ran even if they had been in bad posture.   In the end, Danièlie was left alone, kneeling on his broken legs, his location pentagrams torn away from his person. Lady Merisse stepped forwards and his eyes rose to meet hers.   "Mercy," he croaked out, his reticence and disgust at his own action clearly visible.   She savoured the moment.

    If you want to read more about Lady Merisse's story, you can go here:  

    Cover image: by Adapted from Some Tale on Unsplash and Joceoo on Pixabay


    Please Login in order to comment!
    Dec 21, 2021 01:41 by Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull

    I definitely do not want to get on Merisse's bad side.   Really fascinating article. I like the bit about location pentagrams especially, and that some nobles are stupid enough to teleport into the middle of an enemy army.

    Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
    Dec 21, 2021 11:56 by Amélie I. S. Debruyne

    I had to find a way to explain why teleportation magic did not completely transform all warfare rules XD

    To see what I am up to: World Ember 2023 list of articles.
    Jan 23, 2022 16:25 by Nicholas Hoar

    An intriguing read, Can't say most of my worldbuilding thoughts focus on military events and specialized squadrons, but this has been a bit eye-opening to that, and I love how to interject story bits to break up the reading!

    Jan 30, 2022 10:24 by Amélie I. S. Debruyne

    Thanks! Military formation is important to decide how warfare and politics go, and it's definitely something I should have considered earlier in this world. I had a lot of scrambling to do to find a way to justify everything else I had already decided XD

    To see what I am up to: World Ember 2023 list of articles.
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