The first 'Engev' (Emperor of Lazaeron) sees a need to unite the entire planet to defend against an alien threat, only he knows of this threat and he has no way to definitively prove this, specifics arent important to the question. He has resolved to bring all nations of the planet Laznolara under one banner either through diplomacy or conquest, Lazaeron is supposed to be the most powerful nation in the world both politically and militarily. This is a light-steampunk setting with technology comparable to mid 1800s Europe. Further information on the specifics of this world are detailed in the highlighted answer to this question (thanks DWKraus!). TL;DR Winters get very cold so during the winter the population congregates in massive cities, come early spring there is huge mobilization as large trains transport workers and massive amounts of military units to the frontier regions as they scramble for resource hubs.

I would like to know if there are any glaring issues with the structuring of this military given the information I have provided. And, if possible, give some advice on changes that could be made to make this a powerful fighting force.

Below is the ranking structure of the 'Ile-Raed', the Lazaeron Grand Army. I have included the rank name in this worlds language followed by a rough equivalent commonly used in our world, then a brief (or not so brief) description of their duties.

Please let me know if you have any additional questions or recommended edits, this is a big question so I am bound to have made errors here and there.

  • Represents an atypical rank responsible for duties outside what a soldier is usually expected to perform.

Pre-Rank Fresh recruits or conscripts are given the rank of Jæwutkæ (low or under soldier) during introductory training.

Enlisted Ranks, Bykiz

Wutkæ, literally "Soldier", rank and file line infantry.

Tunzowutkæ, Oversoldier, Soldier who has distinguished himself as a reliable figure, assigned special duties by NCOs, example figures for the Wutkæ.

Non-Commissioned Officers, Wutkæ Vybab

Zazæ, Sergeant, First rank of authority, squad/section leader as designated by the Livi Zazæ or if Livi Zazæ is unavailable

*Raedkunok Zazæ, Artillery sergeant, responsible relaying orders to his individual gun crew. Can also give direct orders to his gun if he is not part of a battery (rare).

Livi Zazæ, Chief Sergeant, Squad/section leader, enforces standards and keeps squad in fighting condition

Officer Cadets, Engtad Vybab

Officer Cadets are officers in training or officer candidates, they typically act as observers in combat zones or accompany Officers in addition to their usual duties as NCOs. Duties of officer cadets vary widely and there is no set standard. Wears a white stripe on their shoulder in addition to normal rank crest.

Officers, Vybab

Dyt Lanæt, Second Lieutenant, Platoon leader, keeps platoon in fighting condition, cares for 'hands on' matters in the platoon; 1 per platoon.

Lanaet, First Lieutenant, Platoon leader/overseer, advisor to the Company commander, responsible for writing reports for platoon. Number per company varies based on unit size, 1 per platoon.

Livi Lanaet, 'Chief Lieutenant' (Captain), Leads company in combat, responsible for unit cohesion and discipline, carries out orders from the company commander, second in command of the company. 2-3 per company.

*Ħot Vybab, Staff Officer, Compiles reports from company and presents them to company commander, generally assists company commander in administrative duties; specializations exist for this role (e.g. some focus purely on logistical matters). Experienced Staff Officers can also be assigned to battalion commanders to assist in administrative duties. Number per company varies based on the work load of the Commander.

Engutayodang, 'Commander' (Major), Company Commander, responsible for interpreting orders and executive matters in the company. 1 per company. In the Lazaeron Army 'Commander' is technically the highest officer rank, succeeded by Generals in authority. Senior Officers in command of Battalions and Brigades are commanded by what are colloquially known as 'Battalion' or 'Brigade' Commanders and are technically the same rank as Company Commanders. Seniority not only in the Army but also in Laznolaran culture is based on age and experience, young Commanders are left in charge of the company and after several years are given the opportunity to move up the ladder to command Battalions and Brigades although rank technically does not increase. This can lead to frustrating situations where truly talented young officers are tied down to the company level for much of their careers due to the difference in age with their seniors. Chain of command between Commanders is enforced by this cultural reverence for elders. Battalion and Division Commanders wear a red or purple stripe on their shoulder respectively in addition to their rank crest.

Zæsh-Rûbæb, 'Bronze General' (1-star General), Division Commander

Zæsh-Rûbtûfla, 'Silver General' (2-star Genrel), Army Commander

Zæsh-Zinoa, 'Gold General' (3-star General), Army Group Commander

Zæsh-Kuref, 'Arch-General' (4-star General), Overall Commander of the Army

Engev, 'Emperor of Lazæron and Chief Agent of Laznolara', Decides where war will happen, usually leaves commanding of the Army to the Generals. The Engev may have been a General himself before being elected.

Unit Sizes

Observe how unit sizes, up to the battalion level, are directly associated with how many men can be fitted on a train, for example one platoon is equal to one standard size passenger train car carrying 50 men and their individual equipment. This was considered very important for maintaining unit cohesion during the, often chaotic, early spring mobilization period. One platoon was able to operate independently toward a mission objective immediately after departing from its car until it was able to reattach with its parent force.

Squad/Section: 10/25 men

Platoon: 50 men, one outfitted platoon per passenger car.

Company: 100-350 men, contains organic fire support assets, 100 is considered a reduced company. A company is the smallest unit in the Ile-Ræd that can be considered independent.

Battalion: 2-10 companies, organic company train for transportation of men and equipment, typically no more than 1,500 men.

Brigade: 2-5 Battalions

Division: 4 Brigades, assigned to defend specific frontier tract in spring dictated by Army Commander.

Army: 2 or more Divisions, assigned to one frontier sector.

Army Group: 2 or more armies, assigned to theater or partial theater for major military actions.

Tûnzo Army: (lit. 'Over Army') Entire armed forces as commanded by Arch-General, varies in size

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Do you have any reason to believe this either does or does not make sense? $\endgroup$
    – Daron
    May 14, 2022 at 18:58
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Is this for a tabletop strategy game? I can see how granular detail like this would be good for that sort of worldbuilding scenario. $\endgroup$
    – Willk
    May 14, 2022 at 19:14
  • $\begingroup$ @Daron No I dont see any major issues with the structure but I'm not super familiar with how command structure works in armies of this general time period. $\endgroup$
    – Boo Radley
    May 14, 2022 at 19:17
  • $\begingroup$ @Willk Yes and no. My intention is to write a book or series of books in this setting, I have also experimented with some RPG and strategy mechanics for a game but that has mostly been a side project and not my main focus. $\endgroup$
    – Boo Radley
    May 14, 2022 at 19:18
  • $\begingroup$ Officers generally rotate through a series of both troop-leading/command and staff positions as part of normal rank progression. The broadening experiences improves them in both roles, helps them better understand the senior leaders' intent, and prevents burnout. $\endgroup$
    – user535733
    May 15, 2022 at 5:53

2 Answers 2


Not well, but perhaps adequate for the setting.

I can see a number of problems, which might be summed up as "ignoring company sergeants, ignoring brigade staff."

  • No ranks for NCOs who fill the role of platoon sergeant, company sergeant, battalion sergeant, etc. You can write the setting that way, but is it wise? How good/professional is the NCO corps? Class/caste issues which prevent the formal recognition of a brigade sergeant major?
  • Also, where do headquarters staff NCOs fit in? Is the best they can reach an 'oversoldier' rank?
  • All 'line' officers and NCOs should be responsible for the training and performance of their units, not just dedicated levels. As I understand it, the 'line' command is
    • Squad: Livi Zazæ
    • Platoon: Lanaet
    • Company: Junior Engutayodang
    • Battalion: Middling Engutayodang
    • Brigade: Senior Engutayodang
  • Then you have dedicated ranks for the assistants, who are not 'line' positions, but only at the lower levels.
    • Squad: Zazæ
    • Platoon: Dyt Lanæt
    • Company: Livi Lanaet
  • Then there is only one rank for staff officers, Ħot Vybab. Does their seniority go with date of rank or with position? And can a platoon leader really ignore a division chief of staff until the orders get countersigned by a 'line' officer?
  • The ranking of majors reminds me of the Post Captain in the RN. If they made it work, so can you.
    No need for different colors. To a junior officer or sergeant, there are their majors (three, for the company, battalion, brigade, who should be known at sight) and other majors (deserving respect, but not in the chain of command). And the majors in a theater of operations will probably know each other, and know who outranks whom.
  • You talk about chain of command. Either that is done by assignment in the table of organization ("Jane Doe is commander of the 1st Battalion, John Doe commands A Company, 1st Battalion, so Jane outranks John" and it would be unthinkable for army staff to ignore seniority in that assignment) or it is done by comparing date of rank ("Jane Doe has been major for 456 days, John Doe only for 345 days, so Jane outranks John" even if Jane commands A Company of the 1st and John commands the entire 2nd Battalion). Reverence for elders makes the regulation a good fit for the culture, it doesn't replace the regulation.

So imagine a brigade made of three battalions, made of three companies each. Would they have 13 Engutayodang and no other officers qualified to command a company or more?

  • $\begingroup$ Good information here, helped me figure out how chain of command really works in an army. I'll make some changes, add some ranks and clarify a few things; notably with NCOs and Staff Officers. So did you say that the Commander (Major) system is good where it is or do I need to do some clarification on seniority? $\endgroup$
    – Boo Radley
    May 16, 2022 at 16:10
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    $\begingroup$ @BooRadley, the Commander system is bad in practice, but not so bad that it becomes implausible. Read up on when the purchase of commissions was abolished (i.e. how late), or the post captain system which I mentioned. And if you don't add staff ranks, that could be a challenge for your characters. According to news reports, Russian generals in Ukraine die because they have to go forward to un-snarl things. A lack of staff and regimental sergeant majors might force your Commanders forward, where stories happen. Smart ones improvise a staff out of their aides, more room for characters. $\endgroup$
    – o.m.
    May 16, 2022 at 17:09

Do you need the fancy names for ranks? You appear to have a standard hierarchical military structure mirroring that found in most modern armies. Why not just go with that? It will be easier for the reader to assimilate.

There will be ample opportunity for linguistic colour in the natural environment, meteorological and astronomic phenomena, currency units, alcohol, etc.

  • $\begingroup$ That might be a good answer on Writing SE. I somewhat agree, especially with the non-standard letters. $\endgroup$
    – o.m.
    May 16, 2022 at 5:06

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