Armies and Warfare (Current Era)
In the current era standing armies are rare.
The fundamental reason for this is full standing armies are expensive and generate little productive economic value. It takes an abundance of wealth and materiel to maintain one. While Valland and Prevelka maintain some elements of a standing army under direct command of their rulers, they and the lesser powers of Kahara simply lack what is required to have a full fledged standing army.
This is a major reason mercenaries are able to be profitable and keep finding work. It allows the various kingdoms and nations flexibility so they are only paying for military might when and where it's needed.
With that established, an examination of what kinds of units are used.
While adventuring companies aren't usually involved in military activities in the conventional sense, small groups of them may find themselves contracted for special missions that benefit from highly trained people few in number. These contracts usually pay quite well for those involved, though they are the least common and tend to require a degree of access to those with power normal adventurers find hard to get.
Another matter of concern is most of these contracts are inherently political, which means many adventurers shy away from them unless they are seeking to get in or remain in the good graces of a potential patron.
Adventuring companies often strain themselves to field more than five people at once, and it is almost unheard of for one to field more than twenty at a time on one contract.
The most numerous form of military unit for Valland and Prevalka. These units are made up of lower class members of their respective societies, given primitive weapons, and sent to wherever a noble sees fit.
These units are cheap to field, but fight poorly and are prone to desertion, particularly if they are kept on a campaign for too long. The wise noble seeks to use these units somewhat sparingly as overuse may turn what would have been a simple peasant revolt into an armed peasant revolt.
Mercenary companies are commonly used when someone with power needs soldiers with a higher degree of professionalism than levies but more numerous than what adventuring companies can provide. While prolonged use is expensive, they can be much cheaper than arming levies which revolt and need to be suppressed.
Most mercenary companies are, as the name suggests, company sized, or smaller. This means about 100 soldiers as a rule. Where adventuring companies may be able to handle matters with surgical precision, mercenary companies are better equipped to handle duties more associated with soldiering.
Standing armies are when a state pays for the continued maintenance of an entire group of people as well as their infrastructure to serve as soldiers. Overall standing armies lead to the highest discipline, supply, and morale over other options, but they are very expensive to raise and maintain, which is why only Moriquende in the current era uses them in large numbers.
Valland and Prevelka do have standing units, but these are often referred to as "royal" or "elite" units rather than outright calling them standing armies.
One thing to keep in mind is wars rarely last that long. The nature of the weather leading to a campaign season between when crops are planted and harvested means it is extremely rare for even an outright war to last an excessively long time.
Many units garrison their forces at strategic points along a border. They often choose strategic spots to control which would make it difficult for an army to pass without being contested, but due to limitations in money and personnel these are often pourous, allowing smaller amounts of people to pass through less watched areas without being noticed.
Moriquende generally uses a standing army here. Valland uses its standing units mostly with the border with Moriquende, and most others use small units most of the time. However, a sure sign of tension is when a kingdom or nation augments its main forces with mercenary units.
Skirmishes and low intensity conflicts do not happen all the time, but are not uncommon. Most of these involve a mercenary company on at least one side and most of them end once communications catch up and clear up the misunderstanding which led to the skirmish.
Between protective magic powerful enough to protect castles and cities as well as the lack of weaponry which can readily break it, capturing a city is exceptionally difficult. Most of the time this requires a siege, which is not only time consuming, but often leads to many deaths on both sides due to hunger and disease. This is one factor which limits the ability of anyone to be involved in a protracted war. Levies often fill out unit numbers in sieges, but their low discipline rarely makes them good for anything such as seizing a city.
It is customary for a place under siege to be given multiple chances to surrender before it is stormed. Surrenders which take place before an outright assault when those inside deem the defense no longer viable are considered honorable. With a surrender, the city will change hands.
Other penalties are determined when a surrender takes place and the status of both the siege and the city's defenders.
For a short lived siege, the city may simply change hands. Depending on the local political situation it isn't wholly unheard of for the old leaders to be maintained, though this only happens when those in charge of the city believe it will change hands at the end of the conflict.
For longer sieges, the leadership is often replaced. The former rulers' fate varies from house arrest to execution, often correlating with the effort needed to take a city. It is not uncommon for a "fire tax" to be imposed on those who live in the city to give them a chance to avoid the city being looted, particularly in long sieges. Fire tax terms are often negotiated before the end of a siege.
Should an assault on a city be required, there are few rules the attackers are expected to abide by in regards to soldier conduct during war. Between the protocols for surrender being robust combined with the possible consequences of an assault, the vast majority of sieges take quite a bit of time but ultimately end in a surrender and not an assault should the siege be maintained and unbroken.
Most battles do not involve great numbers of people, but these often take place at crucial chokepoints which do not devolve into sieges. Even though larger numbers than skirmishes are involved, casualties are much lighter than many may expect. The lack of weaponry which can easily outright kill combined with Restoration spells such as Stabilize, Reattach, and Regrowth substantially reduce the number of permanent casualties from even larger scale conflicts.