This article elaborates a heuristic approach to understanding the geography of warscape from a theoretically informed perspective. It argues that agency in protracted civil war emerges at the ambiguous interface of different, competing systems of power and authority. In order to account for the multiple trajectories of threat and opportunity that warscapes offer to different social actors and at different times and places, the article proposes the concept of ‘governable order’, which is derived from a critical review of the literature on ‘social navigation’ and ‘governable space(s)’. The usefulness of combining these three concepts is illustrated by two empirical vignettes. They demonstrate the dynamics of governable spaces in distinct phases of the Sierra Leone and Sri Lanka civil wars. The two cases highlight the temporal and territorial fluidity of governable spaces, which both constrain and enable warscape inhabitants' agency.