- "Though not noble or powerful like Knights, these men take great honour to take up arms in defence of home."
- —The peasant warriors of Bretonnia.
Men-at-Arms are the most basic line-infantry fielded by the armies of Bretonnia.
Whilst the Knights are the backbone of most Bretonnian armies, the peasants form the overall bulk. When in times of war, these peasants often receive no training at all and are simply rounded up and pointed at the enemy. Men-at-Arms, on the other hand, are probably the closest thing to a professional soldier a Bretonnian army can field. These soldiers are equipped and trained at the expense of their local Lord to fight on his behalf, with recruitment often starting at a relatively young age.[1a]
During each midsummer, commoners from the surrounding lands will flock to their Lord's Castle to present their sons in the hopes that they might have the fortunes of being a Men-at-Arms. Fathers often do this as a way to bring honour to their family, and also as a means to give his son a better life. The young peasants will have been guided towards this goal throughout their entire life, encouraged to stand up straighter and taller than the usual peasant 'slouch' to better improve their chances of selection. All morning and afternoon the Knight inspects the candidates. By dusk, the luckiest and strongest are selected and are taken back to the castle where they are given basic training and outfitted in the livery of their lord.[1a]
Upon joining, these new recruits are given benefits and opportunities that are near non-existent within the lower classes of Bretonnian society. Though the quality of these can be questionable outside of Bretonnia, these Men-at-Arms are nonetheless better off than their relatives within the countryside. The inductees are given an extravagant bounty for joining, though this all too often vanishes as the new recruits are expected to pay for their new uniform, equipment, and even make a contribution to the temples of Shallya. They are given room (a rough straw mattress in a barn) and board (thin gruel and stew) and earn a wage for their faithful service. On paper, their wage is quite generous, far exceeding anything a peasant could otherwise legally earn, but what the militiamen actually receives is but a mere fraction of this total, if indeed they receive anything at all. Every conceivable expense is deducted from this salary, from their food and accommodation through to each and every equipment loss and breakage.[1a]
Every Knight needs to maintain a retinue of Men-at-Arms, whether he is a humble master of a village or the King of Bretonnia himself. A Knight's retinue is armed and provisioned at his expense, and so his soldiers wear the uniforms he provides, often bearing his chosen colour or displaying his device. Armed with a variety of melee weapons, they are emboldened by the presence of any Knight ensuring they do not take flight and battle to the last, as is their vow. While not terribly strong or skillful in comparison to other armies with the Old World, Men-at-Arms are adequate in providing the Knight with a body of troops with which he can safeguard his domains from outside threats. When their Lords are summoned to a distant campaign, these Knights will take as many of these troops with him as possible, leaving just enough to properly safeguard his castle and, if need be, shelter the local villagers until he returns. When not on a military campaign, these men perform routine tasks such as watching the borders of their domain and patrolling the lands as local guards.[1a]
- Kharmourt's Blades - An elite regiment of greatsword-wielding Men-at-Arms.