usual causes and conduct of wars – nobles fighting for power and resources. limited by economic needs and chivalry, not all-out ideological feuds. Surrender & ransom. Spoils of War – land, captives, looting, conquered people.
Raids and Tribal Warfare
Magic in War
Feudal system, obligation to lords, raising peasant armies, campaign season, cost to equip & maintain.
Since a standing army is expensive to maintain between conflicts, and skilled warriors are hard to find, good armies employ mercenary troops alongside their knights, and fill in the ranks with conscripts. Mercenaries are hired independently, or as companies with established organization, tactics, and leaders. The mercenary companies live by their reputation. Not only must they be an effective fighting force, but they must also prove that they will stay loyal to their employer. A company that sells out to the other side in the middle of a campaign will have a hard time finding more work later. This is especially important when your enemy in one campaign can be your employer the next.
Since they fight for money, rather than ideals or their homeland, few mercenaries will fight to the death. Rival mercenaries, unless they hold a special grudge or are just bloodthirsty, will freely give quarter to defeated foes, as they would expect in return.
Mercenaries are often the veterans of many conflicts, and therefore be well skilled, and individually well-equipped. It is too expensive and difficult to equip common soldiery so well from the royal purse. Militia and conscripts are used mainly in formations with polearms or other inexpensive weapons. Highly specialized or technical weapons & tactics, such as siege engines, sappers, or war-magic, are usually provided by mercenary units. Mercenaries also include a menagerie of ruffians, outcasts, and other rogues in their number, and are looked down upon by many knights.
Barbarians & Nomads, elves, goblinoids & other monster races.
Tournaments and Gladiators
Besides providing entertainment as a major professional sport, tournaments and gladiatorial matches keep fighters in practice for real war. In some situations, a dispute may even be settled in this manner instead of an actual, costly war.
Fighters can earn great fame and wealth in these contests.