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Looking for the right word to describe a type of soldier

Discussion in 'World Building' started by BWFoster78, Dec 21, 2012.

  1. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    One of my beta readers objected to my calling a particular group of men in my story "soldiers." I think that the POV character, who isn't particularly military minded, would definitely refer to them as such. Kinda like, "Any man wearing armor and carrying a weapon is a soldier."

    However, one of my characters is military minded. He should refer to them by a more correct term, assuming there is one.

    In my world, certain individuals, called catchers, are granted the right to search for magic users. These individuals have varying degrees of power and income based on their sponsor. Low born catchers may have only one or two unskilled mercenaries with mismatched armor accompaning them. The highly apported ones, like the antagonist in my story, employ highly trained killers who mostly have actual military experience.

    Since those men, however, are not currently part of an organized army, is it proper to call them soldiers? Is there a better term? Would a generic "men-at-arms" work?

    I think that "mercenary" isn't necessarily accurate. They're more like merchant or house guards, but they're also quasi state sponsored.

    I appreciate your thoughts.

    Thanks.

    Brian
     
    Dark Lord Thomas Pie likes this.
  2. danr62

    danr62 Sage

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    I wouldn't think to call them soldiers. Mercenaries is certainly closer. I don't like men-at-arms for this either.

    You can create an in-world term for this. Thrashers or bashers, maybe, to compliment the term catchers?
     
  3. SeverinR

    SeverinR Vala

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    Are the mages illegal or looking for mages to train?

    Lawmen or scouts?
    Bounty hunters?

    Mage cleaners? Mage hitman? Exterminators?
    Mage hunts, like fox hunts?
    Maybe look at syn. for the category that fits best.
     
    Dark Lord Thomas Pie likes this.
  4. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    Severin,

    Magic is illegal. They catch and kill mages.

    In a way, they're lawmen.

    I'd rather refer to them as some type of soldier and not make up a new term.

    Thanks.

    Brian.
     
  5. T.Allen.Smith

    T.Allen.Smith Staff Moderator

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    Are they religion based? If so, it puts me in mind of inquisitors & confessors and terms of that nature where they force a confession of magic use before death sentences. Often the torture itself would kill.
     
  6. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    Not religious based at all.

    A tiny percentage of the population is born with the ability to use magic. A slightly larger percentage is born with a small amount of ability, not enough to really be dangerous, but who can be trained to sense magic use.

    Ideally, the ranks of catchers are made of these people.
     
    Dark Lord Thomas Pie likes this.
  7. Xaysai

    Xaysai Inkling

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    I plan to have a similar type of character in my story, they are called Hunters.
     
  8. Zero Angel

    Zero Angel Auror

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    So I am not sure I understand the objection to "soldier".

    If you look up the definition of "soldier", it just means someone that fights in an organized land-force. Whereas, if you look up the etymology, then it just means someone that's paid.

    In most armed forces, the soldiers come up with nicknames to describe types and groups. But if they are a group of "catchers", then why not call them catchers?

    "Soldiers" is pretty generic anyway though. Unless they actually know more about the group, then I would imagine anyone would call them soldiers. And if they do know more about them, then they would probably be more specific, "Raoul's Catcher Unit, known as 'Red Death', blah blah blah"
     
    Dark Lord Thomas Pie likes this.
  9. danr62

    danr62 Sage

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    Even though it may be technically correct to call any paid armsman a soldier I don't think it works well for this. I would object if an author called caravan guards "soldiers", for instance. It just doesn't fit well with the accepted use of the term even though "soldiers" and "gurads" are very similar.

    Similarly, I wouldn't call a cop a soldier.
     
  10. FatCat

    FatCat Maester

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    I agree that soldier doesn't really seem to fit, how about deputies or marshals since it's a law enforcement type of thing?
     
  11. Reaver

    Reaver Kwisatz Haderach Moderator

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    How about guardsmen? Conscripts?
     
  12. RTGerardson

    RTGerardson Acolyte

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    Perhaps hirelings, or enforcers? Warders maybe, or Shields. Perhaps Sentinels, sentries or maybe custodians. The last seems right if a catcher works under the auspices of a politically influential sponsor, since he would be a kind of property.
     
  13. Graylorne

    Graylorne Archmage

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    What about 'irregulars'? The wiki description seems to fit: Irregular military - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Or, if your men have the ability to sniff magic, call them sniffers. Sniffers and Catchers seems a good match to me.

    (Are you a soldier, sniffer? - No, I'm an irregular, and I'm proud of it.)
     
  14. Ankari

    Ankari Hero Breaker Moderator

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    A mercenary is a person paid to fight. As a general description, that is what these men would be. If I understand correctly, you want to give these men a more significant name.

    I wouldn't approach it as straightforward as you've presented it. I would create different organizations that produce varying degrees of skilled warriors. They can be mercenaries, religious zealots, assassins, etc. So the military minded individual will know who they are by various indicators. Type of armor, type of weapons, and symbols, type of clothing, fighting styles employed.

    This would allow for a low born catcher to have little choice but to higher mercenaries. High born catchers may be able to employ religious zealots or assassins.

    So your military minded character could note that the men with your highborn catcher are wearing black-dyed leather, do not show signs of a sword, have a light crossbow, two long knives are at their waists.....that sounds like the Shadowhands (or whatever you want to call them).

    If you want to make one description that fits all types, call them strongmen.
     
  15. Wanara009

    Wanara009 Troubadour

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    How about "Contractor"? By the sound of it, these people are paid per job.

    Also from the top of my head: Wardens, Clasher, and Peacekeepers.
     
  16. wordwalker

    wordwalker Auror

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    Seems like we're seeing suggestions for different aspects of what they are. "Soldier" applies very loosely because they fight, "mercenary" for anyone who isn't directly under the government (or the church).

    But I think you really want to do them justice by giving them their own name. Catchers, hunters, sniffers, Red Wolves if that's just what caught on... in fact they probably have both an official name and at least one nickname among the common people and/or their enemies ("cop," and nastier variations).

    And:

    A point. If mages are considered so dangerous, more than one power group would get in on the act of hunting them, if only as a way to show up the other groups-- all they'd need is to offer a good price to hire and train people with the "sniffing" ability. Unless society thinks that's Only The Red Order's Job.
     
  17. Rullenzar

    Rullenzar Troubadour

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    Enforcers
    seekers
    protectors
    bodyguards
    catcher-guards
    catcher-hands
    catcher-swords
    slaves
    hired muscle
    pummlers
    thinkers-military higher end
    shitters - low end oddballs
    hitters
    roughmen
    cavalry
    The appointed - Kind of like the sound of ' Catcher and his Appointed'
    Jimmies and Julies - high end/ low end
    bouncers - 'Catchers and Bouncers' lol
    footmen
    right-hands
    stalkers
    foot patrol
    runners - 'Catchers and runners' actually runners probably better for the mages being hunted
    chasers - 'Catchers and their chasers'
    hunters
    trackers - 'Catchers and their trackers'
    Jackals
    Condemned - Are these men forced into servitude?
    Dogs
    Plates
    Armor
    Bloodhounds
    Magehounds
    scaliwags

    It might be useful, maybe not. I usually just brainstorm my ideas. Good luck.
     
    Caged Maiden likes this.
  18. Phietadix

    Phietadix Archmage

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    Just call them by their name: Catchers
     
  19. Shockley

    Shockley Maester

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    Warriors is a nice counter-balance to soldier. Also fighters, toughs, thugs, bands, etc.
     
  20. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    Thanks for all the suggestions.

    I think I'm going to have Xan continue to call them soldiers. As for the more military minded, I think guardsman is the best I've seen.

    Thanks again!
     
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