Friday, July 8, 2011

Of clerics and mages

Due to the narrative of Days of Reckoning, I didn’t really have to delve too deeply into the military formations or how clerics and mages were employed within the J’in Empire’s Jade Legions. As I dive into Nights of the Assassin, I’m drawn further and further into the complex details of what could only be described as battalion and brigade level warfare. Sokuru deals with a series of tactical level scenarios, building up to a significant series of battles where I’ve had to sit back from the narrative and think about how clerics and mages are integrated into the military.

It took a few days before I suddenly remembered a recent military career course. From the modern perspective, artillery and engineer units are never under total command of a brigade commander. Each of these trades provides him with senior advisors, who know the capabilities of their own troops and equipment far better than the commander could. As such, they are integrated into the overall construct of the brigade, specialist skills and equipment supporting the whole.

It suddenly hit me that this would provide an interesting way of organizing the cultural and military integration of the clerics and mages into the J’in Empire. By extension, the mages and clerics would be subject to their own authorities: priests and clerics to the High Priest, while the mages would report to a hitherto undefined chain of command in support of the overall commander; I had already addressed sorcerors back in Reckoning. They each retain their status as samurai, yet socially and militarily they are apart from the Jade Legions and others of their social caste.

The significance this posed on cultural norms to both clerics and mages far surpassed just answering the question of “How would a mage employed in the Legions respond to orders from a commander? How would their interaction be shaped?” I now had a different way of introducing them into later scenes, where the social interaction was the key. It also gave me a certain leeway on how these divergent parts of the samurai caste would or could interact with others; a shadowy sub-set of the samurai that are little understood outside their own circles, but still required to network with other samurai.

It’s an interesting solution to a problem, and a good example how one aspect of culture building (more finite than world building) can have a more significant impact on the narrative than initially perceived.

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