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Alternative and expanded Thyatian Militaryby Jamie Baty
Quite a while ago, I started a project to take some of the various militaries of Mystara and expand and/or revamp them with the goal of making each a bit more unique and interesting. The full treatment would not just include War machine stats, but military doctrine, tactics, ethos, etc... This was quite a bit more work than anticipated, and RL had a way of interfering much more than I expected. Recently I decided that I'd post some of the work I've already done for the first military- Thyatis. The goal is to reorganize the Thyatian military along Byzantine lines, primarily from the 800-1000 CE era but including some earlier and later bits that add some flavor. This first batch include an overview of units, description of troop types and Thyatian specific weapons and armor (I apologize in advance for the formatting...). I'll add more info as I get to it, but it could be a while
The Thyatian army today has two primary components, both of which share troop types, and tactics. The first are the themata, the primary and most numerous units. Thematic troops receive land in exchange for their military service. The amount of land is sufficient to cover the soldiers pay and upkeep of his equipment, as well as provide for his family, in order to allow him or her to completely focus on his military duties. The themata are stationed throughout the empire and provide border guards, garrison troops, and regular patrols. They provide the bulk of the troops for any large scale campaigns. They also assist the civilian administration with law enforcement if requested.
There are several styles of themata based on the troop types found within. For instance, a Hattian-style theme is comprised of mostly heavy infantry and heavy cavalry, with only a handful of light cavalry and infantry. A Kerendan-style theme is mostly cavalry of all types, and a Tel Akbarian Theme is mostly light and medium cavalry and light infantry. Originally, they developed out of regional differences in recruiting, but now region plays little role in the type of theme stationed there.
Closely related to the themata are the Bucellarii. These are the personal bodyguard units of the strategoi and various nobles. Although they are relatively small units, they are elite forces that supplement the themata.
The second component is the Imperial tagamatic forces. These are elite field army units stationed around Thyatis City and its environs, and are nominally under the direct supervision of the Emperor. They protect the Emperor, reinforce thematic forces as needed, and defend Thyatis City among other duties. The Scholai, Exkoubitoi, Arithmos, and Hikanatoi are the primary and most prestigious of the tagmatic forces. Related to them, although less prestigious are the Noumeroi, who are tasked with guarding the walls of Thyatis City, and the Optimatoi who manage and guard the baggage train and field camps.
Closely related to the Imperial Tagamata are the Hetaireia (Basilike, Mese and Mikra) and Borranthropoi Guard (‘Northmen’ Guard) - the elite personnal bodyguards of the Emperor composed of foreign mercenaries. The Retebius Air Fleet rounds out the tagamata-related forces.
Troops and Equipment
There are a variety of troop types that can be found in the various military forces of Thyatis. However, the Thyatians approach their troop types with an order, standardization and professionalism that no other nation in Mystara approaches. In the Thyatian military, a soldier, no matter what unit he serves in, will always be trained and equipped in the same manner, consistant with his specialty. This means he can be transferred between units and not have any difficulty acclimating. In short, a kataphraktos will fit in whether he is in a Hattian theme, Kerendan theme, an Imperial Tagma or the bucellari of a noble.
The following are the troop types deployed in the various units of the Thyatian army:
Klibanaphoroi- The heaviest cavalry deployed by the Thyatians. Typically only found in ‘Hattian’ style Themata and in the Imperial Tagmata. Both they and their horses wear plate mail. Each troop is armed with shield, kontarion* (lance), spathion (normal sword), paramerion* (saber) and either a bardoukion* (mace) or tzikourion (axe).
Kataphraktoi- The primary cavalry troop type deployed by the Thyatians. They are also a heavy cavalry unit. Troops wear Thyatian lamellar armor* and their horses have chain barding. Each troop has a shield, toxton* (composite short bow), kontarion* (lance), spathion (normal sword), paramerion* (saber) and either a bardoukion* (mace) or tzikourion (axe).
Koursorses- A medium cavalry troop type. Not widely used outside of Kerendan and Tel Akbarian Themata. Both troops and horses wear chain mail. Each troop has a shield, toxton* (composite short bow), kontarion* (lance), and spathion (normal sword).
Hippo-toxotai- A type of light cavalry deployed by the Thyatians. Each troop wears a kadavion* while the horses are unarmored. They are armed with a toxton* (composite short bow), and kontarion* (lance).
Psiloi Hippeutes- A type of light cavalry deployed by the Thyatians. Each troop wears a kadavion* while the horses are unarmored. They are armed with a sling and kontarion* (lance). These troops often represent a small number of units within larger hippo-toxotai units.
Trapezites- Another type of light cavalry trooper. These troops wear a kadavion* and are armed with javelins, a kontarion* (lance) and a spathion (normal sword). Their horses are unarmored. Primarily used for scouting and raiding.
Skoutatoi- The standard heavy infantry of the Thyatian military. Each troop wears Thyatian lamellar armor* and carries a large shield. Each troop is armed with a kontarion* (spear), spathion (normal sword), and paramerion* (saber).
Toxotai- These are the standard light infantry of the Thyatian military. They wear a kadavion* and are armed with a toxton* (composite short bow) and a spathion (normal sword) or tzikourion (axe).
Psiloi- Another light infantry type. They wear a kadavion* and are armed with several javelins, a sling and tzikourion (axe).
*- See below for description and additional information.
As with the troop types, Thyatian military equipment is fairly standardized, much of it produced by expert craftsmen in imperial run production facilities.
Bardoukion: This is the war mace used by the kataphraktoi and klibanaphoroi. It is primarily used against heavily armored infantry, and when used enmasse, can have a devastating effect. It is similar to a standard mace, has 6 steel flanges attached to the head. The head and haft are made of steel, with a leather wrapped handle.
Bardoukion: P=A 1H
Medium Weapon Shield Permitted
Cost: 10gp Enc: 30cn
[table]Lvl. Range Dam. Defense Special
BS - 1d6+1 - -
SK - 2d4+1 H:-1AC/1 Stun
EX -/10/20 2d4+3 H:-2AC/2 Stun
MS -/10/20 2d4+5 H:-3AC/3 Stun
GM 10/20/30 2d4+7 H:-4AC/3 Stun (s)
Kadavion: A padded leather (or heavy quilted cloth) tunic worn as armor by light cavalry and infantry troops. It covers the torso, arms to the elbows, and legs to just above the knees. A heavy cloth surcoat known as an epilorikion is worn over the kadavion.
It provides a base AC of 6, has an encumbrance of 325cn, and costs 30gp in Thyatis. It is rarely available outside of Thyatis (most likely in Karameikos, due to its ties to Thyatis.)
Kontarion: This is a hybrid spear/lance used by both the Thyatian cavalry and infantry. It is a bit longer than the typical spear but a bit shorter than a traditional lance.
Kontarion: P=A 1H
Large Weapon Shield Permitted
Cost: 7gp Enc: 100cn
Lvl. Range Dam. Defense Special
BS 10/20/30 1d8 - Set
SK 10/20/30 1d8+3 - Set
EX 20/30/40 1d8+7 - Set
MS 20/30/40 1d6+12 - Set
GM 30/40/50 1d6+16 - Set
Paramerion: A heavy, saber-like sword, girded at the waist. It is carried by the klibanaphoroi, kataphraktoi, and skoutatoi in addition to the spathion. It is particularly devastating against lightly armed foes.
Paramerion: P=M 1H Melee Only
Medium Weapon Shield Permitted
Cost: 10gp Enc: 60cn
Lvl. Damage Defense Special
BS 1d8 - -
SK 1d12 H:-2AC/1 Deflect (1)
EX 2d8 H:-2AC/2 Deflect (2)
MS P= 2d8+4 H:-3AC/3 Deflect (3)
S= 2d6+4 Disarm
GM P= 2d6+8 H:-4AC/3 Deflect (4)
S= 2d4+8 Disarm
Spathion: Thyatian equilavalent of the normal (long) sword. Thyatians usually hang it from a baldric. Virtually all soldiers that carry a sword carry a spathion.
Thyatian Lamellar Armor: Standard lamellar armor of the kataphraktoi and skoutatoi. It consists of several different layers. The first layer is a padded leather or quilted cloth tunic known as a kadavion. It covers the torso, arms to the elbows, and legs to just above the knees. Over that is worn a coat of mail roughly the same size as the kadavion and the klivanion, a stiff cuirass made of small overlapping metal plates riveted to a thick leather backing. It covers the torso and has hanging leather strips (pteruges) at the shoulders and hips. Finally, a heavy cloth surcoat known as an epilorikion was worn over the klivanion.
In addition, the full panoply includes vambrances or gauntlets for the arms, greaves over heavy leather boots to protect the lower legs and a conical metal helm with a mail aventail to protect the neck (and a mail mask to protect the face for kataphraktoi).
It provides a base AC of 4, has an encumbrance of 450cn, and costs 55gp in Thyatis. It is rarely available outside of Thyatis (most likely in Karameikos, due to its ties to Thyatis.)
Toxton: This is the composite shortbow used by both the cavalry and toxotai. It is a variant (and likely descendant) of the composite bows used by the Ethengarians and some of the warriors from the Emirates. It is a powerful bow, nearly matching the range of a longbow.
Toxton: P=M 2H Missile Only
Cost: 50gp Enc: 25cn
Lvl. Range Dam. Defense Special
BS 60/130/200 1d6 - -
SK 80/140/210 1d8 H:-1AC/1 Delay (s/m)
EX 100/160/220 1d10+1 H:-2AC/1 Delay (s/m)
MS 120/170/230 P= 3d4+2 H:-2AC/2 Delay (s/m)
GM 140/190/240 P= 4d4+1 H:-2AC/2 Delay (s/m)
Tzikourion: An axe used by some light infantry and some of the heavy cavalry. The heavy cavalry use it as an alternative to the bardoukion when facing heavy infantry
It is the equivalent to the hand axe in the Rules Cyclopedia.
Epilorikon: A heavy cloth surcoat that serves to protect a soldier’s armor from the elements.
The epilorikion is worn by all Thyatian troops and is always dyed in the colors of the soldier’s unit. Additionally, all soldiers have a heavy cloak that also in their unit’s colors. Soldiers that are equipped with a shield display both the unit colors and insignia on the shield. Cavalry attach pennons with their unit’s colors to their kontaria. Officers wear a sash across their chest, the color and decoration indicating rank.
Thyatian Military Doctrine
There are several ideas and practices that underpin the successes of the Thyatian military.
No Thyatian commander goes into the field without a clear idea of what the strategic objectives of the force are. Generally, these objectives come from the Emperor and his military council. The commander has wide latitude in how he achieves each of those objectives, but he is expected to make sure whatever he does is consistent with all of the Thyatian objectives.
For example, a commader leading an army that is tasked with annexing a new territory for the empire could use diplomacy to induce the main town to surrender before besieging it. He could help facilitate a coup by a faction within the town or attempt to assassinate its leaders, if those things would facilitate a quick surrender rather than a siege. If battles are to be fought, they should be fought in order to achieve complete and total victory, but care should be taken to avoid excessive pillage and destruction of the general populace. If generous peace terms can end the fighting and achieve the annexation, the commander has the latitude to offer them. In short, if the Empire is looking to add to its territory, resources, tax base and recruiting base- turning the territory into a depopulated wasteland completely defeats the objective of adding the territory in the first place.
Likewise, a commander tasked with driving a large scale orc raid on the Thyatian mainland out of Imperial territory and effectively deterring future raiding by the orcs would be expected to crush the raid and give no quarter to the orcs. Perhaps even pursue the survivors to their camps beyond the borders and destroy them. Were the commander to use diplomacy to convince them to leave, or show them mercy on the battlefield, he would be failing the objective of deterring them from future raiding, even if he successfully got them out of Thyatian territory.
Outside of a battlefield disaster, the fastest way to be removed from command is to conduct operations in a way that is inconsistent with the strategic objectives of the campaign, even if not outright failing to achieve said objectives.
"Efficient Deployment of Forces"
Thyatians are very efficient in their deployment of forces. This manifests itself in two ways.
The first is that they only send the number of troops required to deal with a problem. They do not send a full thematic army to deal with a problem a detachment of 500 men could handle. This is such a frequent occurrence that all units typically are fine fighting alone or as part of a larger force. This provides the army with flexibility, helps preserve manpower, and reduces the strain on treasury and quartermasters.
Secondly, when a large campaign is being planned, the field army is assembled from detachments from a large number of themata rather than sending one or two full themata. This allows the command to tailor the field army to the opponent and terrain. It prevents any area of the empire from being completely drained of troops (particularly border areas) and gives units that have seen recent fighting time to recover. In a nutshell, it allows for a campaign-specific force with all units fresh and at full strength, without significantly destabilizing any area of the Empire.
As an example of this, an army being mustered for a large and important campaign against Alphatia on the Isle of Dawn might consist of klibanaphoroi, kataphraktoi and skoutatoi drawn from 3 different Hattian themata, various light cavalry units drawn from Tel Akbarian and Kerendan themata, and various light infantry units from another couple of themata, all under the command of a theme strategos (usually from on of the themata providing a large number of the troops) selected by the Emperor. To these thematic forces, the Emperor may attach the entire Scholai and a detachment of Optimatoi. In addition to those troops, the strategos and Domestikos tōn Scholōn would each bring units of bucellarii as ther personal bodyguard on the battlefield. Overall command of the army would then fall to the Domestikos tōn Scholōn, the commander of the Scholai.
Thyatians believe that bringing a foe into open battle is the surest way to achieve complete and decisive victory. Hit and run tactics are only used as a means to force an opponent to engage in an open battle, or to harass the enemy until they opt for open battle. Likewise, sieges are only used when necessary to protect supply lines and when the enemy refuses battle in the open.
However, despite their preference for open battle, Thyatian commanders aren’t stupid about it, either. They rarely engage unless it is to their advantage to do so and the battlefield conditions favorable. They reconnoitre extensively in order to avoid ambushes, bottlenecks and unfavorable terrain.
"Quality over Quantity"
"One trained Thyatian kataphraktos is worth 10 recruits, and 20 Alphatian regulars."
-Old Thyatian Military adage
While the adage is a bit of an exaggeration, the subtext is absolutely true of the Thyatian military thinking: a few well-trained troops are far more valuable than a large number of mustered and poorly trained troops. They won’t complain about having large numbers of troops, but they don’t want large numbers if it dilutes the overall troop quality.
Typically a new Thyatian infantry recruit receives over a year of intense training before ever being assigned to a theme. Cavalry recruits take almost two years of training before getting assigned to a theme. Soldiers in the tagmata units are drawn from the themata ranks- a "recruit" to one of the Imperial Tagma has often served in the themata for 4-5 years before earning the assignment.
This practice does have drawbacks. It makes it very hard for the Thyatians to recover from catastrophic defeats since there is a very limited supply of trained recruits at any given time. Just to keep units at full strength and combat regular attrition, the Thyatian military is constantly recruiting and training new soldiers. While they can expand these efforts in wartime, it can be difficult to replace casualities quickly even when victorious.
While many nations in the Known World have professional troops serving among their forces, very few field wholely professional armies. Many rely, at least in part, on militia musters, contigents of noblemen and their feudal underlings, and officers and leaders drawn from the ruling classes whose military experience is marginal when compared to other aspects of their station.
This is not the case in Thyatis. Soldiers in the Thyatian army are soldiers and only soldiers. Recruiters enforce tough standards that potential recruits must meet, and those that can’t meet them are passed over. Training of recruits is thorough, intense and standardized. Once assigned to active units, soldiers are expected to perform their duties as instructed and according to regulations. Training regimens are ongoing even for active troops in order to keep them sharp. Soldiers that habitually fail in their duties are discharged rather than let them endanger their comrades.
The low and mid-level officer corps is drawn from experienced veterans. Although there are some high-level officers who are awarded a commission as a political favor or due to familial connections, they are small in number compared to the many that earn their positions from success on the battlefield. Officers that don’t meet the standards of the army are removed from positions where they could cause harm (usually turned into some type of attaché, far away from the troops and any enemy force), if not outright discharged from service.
Commanders of the field armies are mostly career officers, having spent many years in the themata and tagmata units. They do not "govern" the civilian populace or take part in civilian administration; their sole concern is the command of the theme or army. At times, court favorites have managed to secure a command but most Emperors are reluctant to trust their armies to untested men or women. It is also worth noting that commanders have little room for error- failures usually lead to exile, imprisonment or execution. This harsh reality keeps many courtiers from pushing for appointments (not always) and leaves most command postions to those that are best suited to them and have earned them.
Thyatian history has led many military men in the empire to believe that knowledge of battlefield tactics are the difference between a bad and good army, but logistics are the difference between a good army and a great one.
To this end, the Thyatians have the best supply chain in the Known World. The empire runs arms factories to supply the weapons, armor and equipment needed by the armies. They have numerous supply depots and armories throughout the empire to keep soldiers equipped. They have a large number of agents to procure food, water and fodder for their armies, both in peacetime and in wartime. They make sure that between ships, mules, carts, wagons and the men themselves, they can transport whatever is needed to keep the men well supplied while in quarters, or out in the field.
At the highest levels of the chain of command, there is staff overseeing the supply of the military, not only to meet its current needs, but also to meet longterm needs and meet the needs of any large-scale campaigns that may flare up. All units of significant size have a quartermaster with a full staff to manage the unit’s supplies, and even the smaller units have supply officers to keep the supply chain running smoothly.
A Thyatian army might be defeated in battle, but it will never be defeated due to starvation, lack of supplies or because it wasn’t properly equipped.
To help maintain the doctrine of Quality over Quantity, it was necessary for the Thyatians to create a strong Medical Corps within their military. Not only does it help with battlefield casualties, but it also helps maintain soldiers’ health in peacetime as well, helping to mitigate the effects of disease, accidents and day-to-day wear and tear on the troops. The medical treatment available to soldiers is so significantly better than that is available to the majority of the Empire’s citizens, that the average Thyatian soldier’s lifespan is longer than the average citizen’s, even if you include the real possibility of a soldier being killed in battle.
The medics in the service of the military include both magical and mundane healers. A number of clerical orders in Thyatis routinely assign members to assist with the medical needs of the troops. While there are always some clerics overseeing the military hospitals in peacetime, their ranks increase significantly in wartime.
Non-magic using medics receive intense training in the healing arts before beings assigned to a themata or tagmata. They make up the bulk of the medical corps. It should be noted that the Empire trains a significant number of medics who specialize in the treatment of horses, donkeys, and mules- these just as important to a highly-functioning military unit as the soldiers.
On the battlefield, medics and clerics brave enemy fire to provide medical care to troops in harm’s way. Along with orderlies, the medics pull severely wounded troops behind the lines to triage stations through the use of mules and carts. After the battle, field hospitals are established to care for the severely wounded, and the medics and orderlies are able to provide transport and care if the army is on the move. Although not a certainty by any stretch, officers killed in battle may be raised from the dead by the appropriate leveled clerics attached to the army, provided their body is recovered and they are of sufficient seniority to receive one of the very limited-in-quantity Raise spells.
In peacetime, the medical corps operates several large military hospitals throughout the Empire for soldiers that require longer recoveries and every fort and garrison can provide for the basic medical needs of its troops at a minimum.
The overall effect for the the Thyatian military is that their forces lose fewer troops to death or debilitating injury, return casualties to active duty faster, and lose fewer soldiers to disease, accidents and other peacetime hazards than any other army in the Known World. And the benefit to the army’s morale cannot be underestimated- the soldiers know that if wounded in battle every effort is made to attend to them immediately, and that every effort will be made to patch them up, no matter how long it takes. Soldiers with that knowledge fight hard, and fight fearlessly.
The Thyatians, despite their long-standing enmity with Alphatia, do like magic. It is fast, efficient, and practical. However, the Thyatians are well aware that they will never be able to field the sheer numbers of magic-users in their military as the Alphatians do. But that doesn’t mean they don’t make use of some magic within their forces.
Each and every command has at least one mid-to-high level magic-user and cleric attached to it for magical support. They generally are there to help protect the command staff or to support areas of the battle line that are in trouble. They are particularly useful when fighting enemies that have their own magic forces, or make use of airships.
As mentioned above, a number of clerics, either new and inexperienced or too old to fight in battle, assist the medical corp of the armies. Their healing magics greatly speed up the recovery of casualties, and they will raise from the dead officers and heroes if possible. Most clerical orders wish to stay on the good side of the Emperor, so they usually provide this assistance voluntarily. It provides an excellent opportunity for members of their orders to gain experience and in some cases, win glory or new converts for the sect.
The Thyatians also make use of some magic items to help them achieve victory. Several of the Elite units are armed with magical weapons. All units have supplies of arrows of dispelling and bolts of dispelling (for ballistae), which are distributed to archers and artillerists when facing forces with large numbers of spellcasters and/or airships (these arrows quickly strip away or suppress magic defenses and when used enmasse, can crash an airship). Commanders on large scale campaigns are often given a rod of victory and/or a staff of health to aid them. Lastly, Thyatians make use of magic battle standards for their units, which can provide a variety of both offensive and defensive bonuses (see Appendix C for more details).
Thyatian Chain of Command
The Thyatian Military has a well-defined chain of command.
At the head of the military is, of course, the Emperor. The Emperor has final say on all military matters, big or small. He decides when Thyatis goes to war, determines the number of troops assigned to a campaign, appoints commands and high-level officers, finally decides when it negotiates peace.
Although helpful, military experience is not a requirement to become Emperor, but the army does expect the Emperor to have experienced military advisors if he or she is not. Most emperors dictate the big picture and leave the details and day-to-day administration to the High Command. Emperors rarely go on campaign in person, instead trusting in their appointed commanders to successfully wage war in his name.
The army itself only has a few requirements of the Emperor. Firstly, they expect the Emperor to pay them in a timely manner. Secondly, they expect he will appoint qualified officers and commanders, and not to use commands and commissions as rewards for political allies, family, sycophants, or those seeking to bribe their way to command. Lastly, they expect the Emperor to treat them with a level of respect. These men put themselves in harm’s way to defend the Emperor and the country, and they expect that the Emperor will not throw their lives away needlessly or on a whim. History has shown that the army will remove an Emperor from power if that Emperor fails to meet those requirements.
The current Emperor’s relationship with the army is generally in a good place. Thincol’s past as a gladiator gives him much credibility as a warrior among his soldiers, and his defense of Thyatis City during the Spike Assault cements his credibility as a military commander. The loyalty of the army to Thincol is also aided by the fact that the Sipke Assault resulted in a large number of commanders and officers dying, or being removed for incompetence or cowardice. Those officers and commanders were replaced with men appointed by Thincol, and those appointees are a crucial part in maintaining the loyalty of the army.
Currently, the only potential source of discontent among the army is the ongoing campaign in the Hinterlands. Although the army rotates units in and out of the campaign, the distances involved make this a very long tour, and the thematic units, which make up the bulk of the forces involved, assigned to it uneasy. For them, being away from their holdings- revenues from which constitute their pay- for over a year is a potential sap on morale. To help combat this, Thincol has given generous donatives to the involved troops when they return from the Hinterlands to make good on any lost revenues from the holding due to their absence.
As the commander-in-chief of the army, Thincol is an involved Emperor. He receives daily updates on military matters, frequently inspects the troops and their camps/garrisons, occasionally oversees drills, and always personally meets with the various army commanders throughout the year. He hasn’t led the army into the field since the Spike Assault, but with the loyalty of the army not in question and his saving of the Empire during that assault, he hasn’t needed to prove himself by doing so.
His experience as a gladiator led him to make a number of adjustments to the weapons training of the infantry and in the small-unit training and tactics. He has a keen tactical mind, well-suited set piece battles and small-unit operations. Thincol, however, does not possess much nuance in strategic planning- generally looking for the quickest and shortest path to achieve his objectives. That is to be somewhat expected from someone trained as a gladiator and not as a career military officer. Fortunately, he has an able and reliable High Command that more than compensates for his strategic shortcomings.
“The High Command”
The emperor is advised by a number of officials, both military and civilian, on military matters. These officials handle most of the day-to-day administration of the military.
The main military advisor is the Megas Domestikos. Often this position is held by an older, former Theme or Imperial Tagma commander who has a long, successful military record. They often are related to members of the Thyatian aristocracy, although they are not likely to be actually titled. Depending on the Emperor, the duties position range from “minister of war” to overall commander of theThyatian army. Regardless of how the emperor uses him, the Megas Domestikos doesn’t have any troops directly under his command and does not take a field command unless specifically requested to do so by the Emperor.
The Domestikos tōn Scholōn is the next most important advisor. While technically subordinated to the Megas Domestikos, the Domestikos tōn Scholōn is considered to be the most powerful postion in the army. He commands the Scholai Imperial Tagma and is the highest ranking field commander in the army. In order to rise to this position, one must be an extremely experienced and successful commander, often having commanded both theme and tagma units with unqualified success. When the Emperor undertakes a large, multi-unit campaign, the Domestikos tōn Scholōn is almost always going to be given overall command in the field. Due to its importance, this is one of the few appointments that cannot be acquired by bribery, corruption or simple nepotism- it is simply too critical to the Emperor and the Empire as a whole.
The Akolouthos, commander of the Borranthrpoi Guard, is the next most important command postion in the army. As an experienced field commander of the elite and loyal guard, most emperors give his advice and opinions considerable weight.
The Megas Hetaireiarches of the Basilike Hetaireia is the third most important command in the army. His proximity to the Emperor as commander of the bodyguards gives him considerable influence.
The Domestikos tou Thematos is the overall commander and organizer of all Thematic forces. Usually, he also serves as a strategos of a theme. While a position of honor, this tends to be position that is the hallmark of a career winding down, as the holder has most likely missed his chance to be appointed to the much more prestigious Imperial Tagmata units or the Hetaireia.
The Megas Duox is the equivalent of the modern Lord High Admiral, and the overall commander of the various Thyatian fleets.
The Megas Droungarios is the second in command of all the Thyatian fleets, and specifically is in charge of the naval officers (appointments, training, and discipline).
Finally there are a few civilian postions that have a significant relationship to military matters, and may be consulted by the Emperor as a result.
The first is the Megas Logothetes, a chancellor-type position who is responsible for the legal system and treasury. The next is the Logothetes tou Stratiotikou, who is responsible for the distribution of pay to the army. Finally there is the Chartoularios tou Vestiariou, responsible for minting coins and equipping both the army and the fleets.