The Orthocracy of Kaddish has the largest army in the Dawnlands. The population of Kaddish and its hinterlands is approximately 1,000,000, with the entire adult male population (anyone over 16) theoretically eligible and required to serve in its defense, providing a maximal fighting force of about 490,000. This would depopulate the city of course, and the army has never even approached this size, even during famous campaigns such as the Winter Invasion or the Wars of Dusk and Dawn.
The modern army of the Orthocracy is approximately 25,000 living soldiers, organised by college. There are approximately 50 colleges at any given time in the city and its hinterlands, with most surviving from the time of the revolution. The largest college, the College of the Red and Blue Snakes, is 50,000 strong, while the smallest have only 3,000-5,000 members. Despite this variance, each college is responsible for providing a flat levy of 500 men a year to the army. Smaller colleges will occasionally hire the services of mercenaries or strike alliances with larger colleges to supply under-recruitment forces. As with everything else in Kaddish, no actual law prevents a college's recruits from failing to show, though the colleges from districts surrounding its home district will often commit a few atrocities to encourage recalcitrant colleges to do their part. It is not uncommon to hang a few random citizens at the edge of the district holding placards calling them deserters and traitors to the revolution to encourage the otherws.
New recruits gather on Revolution Day in late spring at the Muster district, one of the exurban districts of the city of Kaddish built around a fortress known as the Bastion. The Bastion is a massive fortress surrounded by sprawling parade and camp grounds that was built during the Wars of Dusk and Dawn, and is located to the southwest of the city proper. Soldiers on active duty are forbidden to enter the city, except for Muster, until their term of service is complete.
At Muster, recruits are sorted, trained and elect their officers (who are typically orthocrats or their agents). The persons responsible for this over the centuries are the servants of the Undying Strategists, who also form the war command of the Orthocracy. The Undying Strategists are a group of undead generals bound by curses and oaths to forever defend Kaddish and its people, starting from the reign of Thranisphane the Twice-Killed. Their bodies and minds are animated by the thrones they sit on, in a dark chamber known as the Black Room at the top of the Bastion. New generals are added periodically when particularly brilliant strategists die, and it is considered the greatest honour the Kaddish can bestow on them. The newest general has rank precedence over the rest, one of the neophilic flourishes the Kaddish delight in. Upon assumption of their position, the new general is renamed to break all connection with their former life.
From the chamber, the Undying Strategists communicate with the various warlords, arch-sorcerers, captains and officers of the army on their campaigns. For distant forces, they use undead ravens bound to their service, while those capable of doing so are allowed into the chamber to speak with them. Most of the Undying Strategists are trained gnostics, and capable of using their magic to influence external events from their thrones in the Black Room.
Kaddish soldiers are trained by the undead servants of the Undying Strategists and by veterans of the last year's muster who have returned for another year's service. They are drilled in the various calls and responses the Kaddish military uses, and then cross-trained in their specialist tasks, including construction and engineering, orientation, wilderness survival, maintaining their equipment, animal-handling, etc. Officers learn the basics of logistics and resupply, scheduling, camp set-up, and tactics.
Current doctrine and strategic needs dictate that the Kaddish military is mainly deployed in small forces of between 100 and 1,000 soldiers. These are broken up across the hinterlands, preventing raids by the Kadiz and Hill People. The largest continuous deployment is about 5,000 men who remain behind at the Bastion to defend the city. Deployments are usually composed of soldiers from a single college, or if a larger force is required, as few colleges as possible, to prevent bloodshed provoked by old rivalries. Deployments are encouraged to select names for themselves to create esprit de corps, and if they accomplish some notable deed, they will be remembered under that name.
The actual Kaddish command hierarchy is extremely flat. Soldiers elect an officer for every hundred men, who is usually referred to as a "Captain". The officers then elect a single "Prime" who is charge of the deployment, answerable only to the Undying Strategists. He will elect a successor in case he is killed, but until that time the successor is formally of equal rank to the other officers. In a well-run deployment, each of the officers will take on a functional role, but there may not be enough officers to fill all the various duties required. In this case, officers will double up or pawn the duties off to their soldiers. In general, the Undying Strategists allow primes great latitude in their operations, and interfere mainly to coordinate major campaigns or to pass intelligence to them.
As a result, the quality of leadership is extremely uneven, and often factionalised within each deployment. This prevents any prime from being able to amass a fighting force capable of threatening the city itself. As well, captains and primes are only paid upon their return to the Bastion at the end of their service, so that they cannot bribe their soldiers. Ordinary Soldiers are paid halfway through their year, in Kaddish paper scrip.
The vast majority of "deployments" theoretically involve defending a static position, but primes are encouraged to be aggressive. The Kadiz nomads and Hill People are highly mobile on raids, but become much less so when encamped and guarding their livestock. The attitude is that the best defense is a constant offense, and the Kaddish raid as aggressively as any plainsman. Soldiers allowed to keep whatever loot they can take, and this forms the bulk of the wealth most of them end up with.
The vast majority of Kaddish military equipment is extremely poor, as weapons and armour are produced rapidly and cheaply rather than well. Most wear leather armour and helmets, and carry either crossbows or long spears supplemented with daggers. However, the sorcerous power of the Kaddish and their willingess to unleash horrors that turn the stomach of the other peoples of the Dawnlands acts as a force multiplier. It is a rare deployment that does not include at least one graduate of the Nightmare Halls who serves as living artillery.
As well, the Orthocracy's soldiers often bring along its less conventional forces. These include fanatical warrior-cult mamluks, vampiric thralls, living weapons created by the soul-forgers, bound devils and spirits, undead warriors, coffin-golems, worm-wolves, tulpa-shoggoths, experimental magical weapons, and so on in an endless catalogue of the Orthocracy's sins. These forces are committed before the more valuable lives of the soldiers are risked to stagger and horrify the enemy into retreat. Dead soldiers from both sides are reanimated to serve again and again, until their bodies are useless pulp.
The Kaddish, scions of a city filled with such horrors, are unaffected such sights, which would frighten a plainsman. As well, despite their poor pay and company, the Kaddish military is known for its high morale. The vast majority of the Kaddish still believe in the goals of the revolution, and tales of the horrors of the Children of Night have become legendary. They see themselves as the thin line holding back the traitors, cannibals and monsters that haunt the plains. Cunning speakers are trained as propagandists at the Bastion, provided with arguments, reasons, chants, slogans and other tools to stiffen the hearts of the soldiers and keep them from running in close fought battles. Banners and music help them track the progress of the battle and their role in it.
Famous Units of the Kaddish Military
The Locusts - The Locusts are composed of soldiers from the College of the Uplifted Sword, the Third Ward Freemen and the College of the Bolstered Spirit. These are the forces of the Redhand, Third Ward and Pits districts respective. They are led by Prime Haek Cala Makar, a priest of Red-Handed Makar and a member of the Uplifted Swords. At 1,500 men, they are the largest military force on active deployment in the Dawnlands. The Locusts are currently active in the old kingdom of Weykuln, where they are attempting to destroy the various hobgoblin bastions which have proliferated there since the fall of Weykuln. Haek has instituted a scorched earth policy, burning the hobgoblin latifundia surrounding their bastions while leaving the actual fortresses untouched except to catapult the corpses of the hobgoblin's kobold slaves over the battlements.
The Dead Horses - The Dead Horses are composed of soldiers from the Traitor Slayers, the college of the Spire district, and most are devout followers of the Screaming God. The entire unit is trained as cavalry and mounted on undead horses. They are led by Prime Vailax Ana Ilgon, also known as "Vailax the Screamer" (for his religious affiliation). They are just under 400 at current strength, but are split up into smaller raiding forces. They are engaged in guarding caravans making the long overland trip from the Orthocracy to Dwer Tor and back. They are known to preemptively attack nomad encampments to dissuade them from interfering with the slow-moving wagons. The optimates of Dwer Tor suspect that they slay any excisemen or inspectors from Dwer Tor who they encounter while out of sight of the city's walls.
The Harrowers - A small but famous unit composed of former members of the Poor Men, the college of the Granary district. They are led by Prime Lun Shora Kanth, known as "Patriot Lun", son of the famous priestess Shora Dulni Kanth. The Harrowers have long since passed their time to muster out, but they remain the field, working against the Hillman chieftain and pretender, Jarek the Snake. A small force, now under thirty men strong, they are all experienced veterans devoted to preventing Jarek from crowning himself the King of Night or of Kaddish, as he claims descent from both lines. A driven, almost fanatical band, the Harrowers have never returned to the city from their deployment ten years ago, and they launch constant raids on Jarek's followers to undermine his authority. They are even known to have worked with the Kadiz from time to time to thwart the elf's accumulation of the sacred glass pillars he needs for the coronation ritual.