Military

Starblazer Adventures chapter 16 and Legends of Anglerre chapters 15–16 are useful inspiration for army and fleet conflicts.

Military forces are in high demand under the Sith Lords, who need them to keep populations subjugated when they aren’t struggling against each other. The Sith generally distinguish between Army forces, which are used in taking and holding territory, and Fleet forces, which deal with orbital and planetary defenses. The Fleet is responsible for transporting Army units between worlds and providing space and air support. Army forces are expected to handle personal combat during any boarding action.

Army and Fleet each have their own rank structure, which are translated here from Basic into English using Western army and naval ranks as a starting point. The translation has been performed with more of an eye toward memorability of names (and drastic oversimplification for the convenience of civilian gamemasters like myself) than accuracy to any particular Earth tradition, while attempting to minimize cognitive dissonance for players who actually know these real-world details.

The historical need that created warrant officers in Earth history never existed in Sith-commanded military. Sith Lords never insert themselves into the command hierarchy: either they take tactical command or leave it to their highest ranking officer. (It is common to have the Lord on the flag bridge of their command vessel standing next to the holotank, providing tactical insights based in their use of the Power, which their officers then translate into action. Any vessel expecting to host a Sith Lord has a private chamber for them next to the bridge, usually with a private lift leading to the hangar deck.) Warrior-caste Sith are almost always commissioned officers; if a Sith is in the enlisted ranks, it is either barely competent or extremely dangerous. Sith tend to chafe under the command of non-Sith and will usually be very aggressive in attempting to fight their way up the chain of command; non-Sith officers with a record of surviving Sith underlings are well-respected.

Technically, each Sith Lord is free to maintain their own style of command hierarchy in their forces; however, since they can be ordered by their overlord to integrate their own forces into a larger one at any time, rank structure is fairly common across the galaxy.

Mercenaries are available in quantities ranging from skilled individuals to well-diversified platoons to entire armies and capital fleets. They often gravitate to brewing conflicts, set up outside of combat range, and open the bidding for their services.

Military forces are perfectly willing to recruit from gangs; entire swoopbike gangs can sign or up get press-ganged.

Ranks

The insignia of rank have survived a great deal of selection pressure to be readable by a variety of different species (who don’t necessarily have the same color receptors) in differing lighting conditions and at odd angles. Some militaries prefer bronzium for the collar tabs for Army and quadranium for Fleet; others have powered insignia that light up whenever their uniforms aren’t in stealth mode, in flame-temperature colors (yellow-orange) for Army and ion-engine-temperature colors (blue-white) for Fleet. Army uniforms usually have the insignia on the shoulder, while Fleet uniforms usually have it on the cuffs (and, if present, shoulderboards).

Skill levels and numbers of relevant aspects and stunts (given by count of ✪) are for gamemaster convenience when quickly statting out NPCs. More detailed characters may have much higher skill levels than corresponding to their rank (such as the sergeant major with Fantastic skill and absolutely no interest in becoming a commissioned officer) or much lower (such as the incompetent commodore who got jumped up to flag rank thanks to family connections, with all their subordinates just waiting for a chance to get them killed without getting a bounty on their own heads).

Commissioned Officers
Grand General Grand Admiral Legendary ✪×8 The highest-ranking Army or Fleet officer, reporting directly to the Emperor. There are seldom more than a dozen of these in the entire galaxy. The insignia of rank is an aurodium-plated swirl depicting the galaxy.
Surface Marshal High Admiral Epic ✪×7 The officer in charge of all the Army or Fleet forces deployed in a star system (in the Core Worlds) or an entire sector (in the Outer Rim). The insignia of rank is six planets or stars.
High General Fleet Admiral Epic ✪×6 The officer in charge of all the Army or Fleet forces deployed on an entire planet (in the Core Worlds) or an entire star system (in the Outer Rim). The insignia of rank is five planets or stars.
General Admiral Fantastic ✪×6 The commander of an entire army (~100,000 troops) or fleet composed of at least two task forces. The insignia of rank is four planets or stars.
Lieutenant General Vice Admiral Superb ✪×5 The commander of an entire corps (~30,000 troops) or task force composed of at least two task groups. The insignia of rank is three planets or stars.
Major General Rear Admiral Superb ✪×4 The commander of a division (~15,000 troops) or task group composed of at least two squadrons. The insignia of rank is two planets or stars.
Brigadier Commodore Great ✪×4 The commander of a brigade (~5000 troops) or a squadron of capital ships and their accompanying starfighters. The lowest-ranking general officer or flag officer. The insignia of rank is a single planet or star. Below this rank, the primary skill may be something other than Leadership; from here on up, Leadership is the concentration.
High Colonel Line Captain Fantastic ✪×5 The commander of a regiment of seasoned veteran troops, a large capital ship, or a group of starfighters piloted by seasoned veterans. This is the highest line rank in the Fleet. This is seen as a particularly plum job by officers who want to stay in the thick of the action: instead of getting kicked out of the captain’s chair or starfighter’s cockpit, they get top-notch teams and ships to work with. Colonels and captains who lack this kind of flair often get jumped directly to brigadier general or commodore, and each group sneers at the other because they’re certain the other doesn’t know what they’re missing. The insignia is a pentagon surmounting three horizontal bars.
Colonel Captain Superb ✪×4 The commander of a regiment (~1500 troops), a capital ship, or group of 50–100 starfighters. The insignia is a square surmounting three horizontal bars.
Lieutenant Colonel Commander Great ✪✪✪ The commander of a battalion (~700 troops), a frigate or destroyer, or a wing of 17–48 starfighters and ground crew. The insignia is a triangle surmounting three horizontal bars.
Major Lieutenant Commander Great ✪✪ The commander of two companies, a corvette or non-hyper-capable warship, or a squadron of 7–16 starfighters and ground crew. The insignia is four horizontal bars.
Captain Lieutenant Good ✪✪ The commander of a company (~150 troops), a deck department on a warship, or a flight of 3–6 starfighters and ground crew. The insignia is three horizontal bars.
First Lieutenant Sub-Lieutenant Good ✪ The commander of a platoon (~40 troops), the second-in-command to a warship lieutenant, or leader of a section of a 2–3 starfighters. The insignia is two horizontal bars.
Second Lieutenant Ensign Fair ✪ The commander of a squad (~10 troops or 2–3 fireteams), a leader of a group of spacer NCOs, or the pilot of a starfighter. The insignia is one horizontal bar.
Cadet Midshipman Average ✪ A trainee, usually adolescent, who knows enough to be useful and is learning on the job. Some lords have specialized academies for training these; others have them learn on the job from the start.
Non-Commissioned Officers
In the Army, noncommissioned officers without an occupational specialty have the title alone and are expected to provide command leadership; those that have an MOS affix the MOS to their rank and are expected to provide technical leadership. In the Fleet, noncoms always have a rating.
Sergeant Major Expert Spacer Great ✪✪✪ The senior enlisted advisor to the commanding officer of a battalion, monitoring and advocating for the enlisted troops, or a master NCO with a strong track record of technical leadership. Insignia is three chevrons and four arcs below.
Master Sergeant Master Spacer Great ✪✪ Primary assistant, advisor, and second in command to a company leader, or a technician who has demonstrated significant leadership ability while serving as a senior NCO. Insignia is three chevrons and three arcs below.
Senior Sergeant Senior Spacer Good ✪✪ Primary assistant, advisor, and second in command to a platoon leader. The first rank at which a non-commissioned officer is considered senior; all other ranks are called junior. Senior rank carries with it an emphasis on leadership. Insignia is three chevrons and two arcs below.
Staff Sergeant Staff Spacer Good ✪ Third in command to a platoon leader, usually given command of half the platoon when splitting up, or a technician with in-depth expertise. Insignia is three chevrons and one arc below.
Sergeant Chief Spacer Good ✪ Primary assistant, advisor, and second in command to a squad leader, or a technician who demonstrated expertise while serving as a Corporal or Leading Spacer. Insignia is three chevrons.
Corporal Leading Spacer Fair ✪ Leader of a fireteam of 3–4 soldiers, or a trained technician. Insignia is two chevrons.
Enlisted Personnel
Enlisted personnel serve as generalists. Promotion into NCO ranks requires cultivating an occupational specialty or (in the Army) leadership ability.
Lance Corporal Able Spacer Average ✪ A Private or Spacer with at least two years’ experience. Insignia is a single chevron surmounting a weapon or crossed weapons.
Private Spacer Average ✪ A recruit who has completed basic training or the immersion equivalent. Insignia is a single chevron.
Recruit Spacer Recruit Average A recruit currently in training, either in a boot camp environment or by immersion with the enlisted personnel.
Conscripted Personnel
Impressment is usually used with people who already have relevant training: crew from civilian starships are at the most risk of being impressed into navies, and private security into the army. More frequently, thugs and gangsters captured by security forces are sold as slaves, picked up by boot-camp training centers, and put through shape up or die training until they’re useful enough for a military to buy. Integration upon sale happens with a combination of psychological techniques and careful use of a partial-biotech slave implant to secrete bonding hormones.
Indenture (Dent) Average ✪ Considered fully proven as a soldier, with slave implant scheduled to be removed as soon as the cost of their purchase is paid off with the salary earned by a private or spacer.
Probationer (Probe or Probie) Average Permitted into combat, but weapons only authenticate to them in the presence of an officer or enlisted sentient.
Draftee Average Undergoing training by immersion with enlisted personnel. Not allowed into combat; weapons only authenticate to them in the presence of a drill instructor or by special officer override.

(Sources: List of Galactic Empire ranks, US Military Ranks, British and US military ranks compared, Formation (military), List of US Army MOS.)

In peacetime, ascension in rank usually takes place through promotion, though there’s always a background amount of intrigue going on in any outfit. Killing subordinates and superiors is much more common when there are critical missions taking place. Anyone achieving rank through assassination needs to be ready to perform exemplary duties associated with their new rank, or they can expect to be made into a public example by a superior officer.

Non-Sith have been known to retire and promote someone into their place; Sith only do this if they have managed to earn noble rank in service to their overlord.

Warfare

The military forces seen in the movies are the result of sudden change, and are relatively immature. The forces of the Sith Empire have thousands of years of tradition behind them; the hardware is slightly advanced from the days of conquest, but the personnel are not as experienced or focused. A strong-willed officer can run a very corrupt operation (involving smuggling, extortion, slave raids, etc.) and as long as they keep their lord happy (usually by presenting a share of the profits with some plausible excuse), it can go on for quite some time.

When Sith battle amongst themselves, they usually seek to take possession of intact territory, infrastructure, and people, but they can easily escalate to planet-devastating tactics if a war drags on for a while. Orbital bombardment can easily lay waste to a civilization.