The way that warriors are dealt with and defined by the different powers within Partum can vary tremendously. For the most part they all fit nicely within the definition of “fighters” in the Players Handbook. Apart from that loose categorization, though, there is a lot of leeway from one nation to another.
For the purposes of our exercise let’s confine our examination for the most part to the country of Fanolania. Here the elves and humans have well-established rules for who is allowed to take up arms and fight and under what circumstances. Some nations follow these same rules with slight variations and of course every monarch or sovereign will have to establish their own rules to make sure none of their subordinates get too powerful. Understand that Fanolania is a typical feudal society and this to a large degree decides who gets to do what.
The lowest form of warriors in Fanolania are the peasant militias. These untrained and ill-equipped citizen soldiers are conscripted in times of need and pressed into service with whatever arms and equipment their lord has available. They tend to be given pikes or spears and maybe shields to try their best to form something resembling a phalanx. If they have any armor at all it is usually inexpensive hardened leather armor and maybe a helmet. As per the longstanding “sword laws” of Fanolania these troops are forbidden to use any bladed weapon longer than a short sword. Militia are called up for either a specific battle (either in defense or offense) or, more uncommonly, for an entire campaign that might last up to eight or nine months. The most important thing to remember is that while these troops are marching about trying their best to kill and not die there is nobody at home tending to the crops, livestock, and trades. Certain men who have valuable skills, such as blacksmiths, might be excused military service because they are needed on the home front. Everyone else over the age of fifteen better plan on going.
Men-at-arms are the professional soldiers of Fanolania. This includes the bulk of the Royal Musketeers, the guards that keep watch over noble holdings full-time, and the “Sainte Armée” that guards various ecclesiastical holdings and works with the paladins to carry out quests for the Church. Men-at-arms are generally still not allowed to wield proper swords, but they have access to learning and using virtually every other weapon available. They are also given better armor by their lords and receive far superior training. Often in larger formations men-at-arms will serve as the noncommissioned officers for peasant militia. They are also the fellows that train other warriors. Knights and nobles might be granted the honor of maintaining a certain number of men-at-arms if they find favor in the eyes of the King and have proven themselves trustworthy. Care should be given by anyone that seeks to better train their peasants to match the ability of men-at-arms in combat. Other nobles and especially the King take a dim view on anyone building an army that could be threat to the status quo.
Knights form the top-tier of Fanolanian warriors. In addition to being able to train in the use of and carry proper swords knights tend to utilize the best armor available. They might have to buy their own equipment to begin with, but knights in the service of a lord might also expect to be better paid to help compensate them for these costs. As the lowest form of nobility in Fanolania there are high ideals that knights must constantly meet in order to be in good standing. A knight that doesn’t measure up to their lord’s expectations can either be released from service or reduced to being a man-at-arms. In large armies the knights will serve as the officers overseeing the men-at-arms and beneath them the peasant militia. Higher ranked nobles are afforded the same privileges as knights but with more luxury attached and authority given. A baron is allowed to wield a sword and in their training might be the equivalent of a knight but it can be expected that the baron will have a much nicer sword and far superior armor either in appearance or function. And so it goes up the scale to the marquis and dukes that may rarely take up a sword to lead an army but have the right to do so nonetheless.
The primary takeaway is that unless given permission by the King to form an army lesser nobles will have only their knights and men-at-arms to defend their property and estates. If there is a compelling reason to have a standing force in a region then this argument needs to be properly made to every noble in the chain of command or to the Church if the army is designed to be used for the defense of Church property and personnel. Just randomly arming the citizens and conducting drills is a surefire way to alarm the King and neighboring nobility.