Maintaining the peace is harder on Arth than in many other worlds. Most of the work involving protecting citizens, investigating villainy, and defending property falls to the Heroes’ Guild. And while professional heroes are very good at stopping threats, they are very bad at doing so in a safe or orderly manner.
But someone must keep the peace, and patrol the streets and ramparts, and take down reports when the Elves next door have been throwing raging parties at all hours of the night. For that plodding, every day sort of heroics, duty calls upon the bannermen.
Bannermen are the core of the Freedlands’ armed forces, police, and town guard. Every civic organization within every city-state of the Freedlands maintains at least a small contingent of bannermen. Each contingent is required to maintain some number of armed men and women who may be called to arms when fealty demands it. Every bannerman is loyal to a such a chapter or company, which is loyal to a city, which is loyal to Andarun, which is loyal to the Freedlands. In this way, each bannerman serves his or her country as well as their city-state.
As much of their duty revolves around conflict, many bannermen are professional soldiers, often coming from (or going to) bands of mercenaries as the job market shifts. But many bannermen are merely citizen-soldiers, men and women who work as officials or clerks within an organization and collect a small stipend for attending semi-regular martial training. While these less-hardened individuals may be called to fight in dire circumstances, they’re generally expected to handle the paperwork and manage personnel issues.
An organization that is entirely comprised of bannermen, such as the town guard, is called a chapter. A contingent from a civic organization, such as the Museum of Andarun or the Merchant’s Guild, is called a company. Additionally, most noble houses maintain at least one company of bannermen, including some of the nobles themselves. Many also have chapters of bodyguards or security officers.
The bannermen originated in the Fifth Age as an uprising in the northern Empire of Man. They were a disparate militia of Humans, Dwarves, Gnomes, and Elves. Each warrior swore fealty to his or her own commander, and that commander pledged themselves to the banner of Andarun, led by Mondimer Woldhewn. Mondimer was ultimately triumphant, and the northern reaches of the Empire broke away into the Freedlands, Daellan, and Ruskan.
The bannermen, however, never disbanded. As many a bard has pointed out in the centuries since that day, those heroes of old kept their weapons and tabards ready at home, ever prepared to fight for freedom if need rose again.