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Mostly Armless

June 27, 2016

My old arm injury flared up again last week. I’m not entirely sure why as I tend to work exclusively left-handed at the office but there you go. Perhaps my right shoulder is writhing in fear, sympathetic to the punishment the Summer holds for its sibling.

So I took a week off drawing anything and tried to avoid using devices outside the office which has helped. I missed the world-building stream last night but I’m planning to listen to it at work today and I should be devising devices once more before the week is out.

If you’ve been keeping track you can read the up-to-date pdf here and view the full map here. Matt is going to continue work on the project and commission some artwork but even without that there’s a great world here that people are already using. Pretty frickin cool.

The Spinelands

June 16, 2016

Kalazanbaar

kalazanbaar

Durok founded the dwarven kingdom [of Kalazanbaar] when he killed the Titan Raxis, and split the mountain

Splitting the mountain is such a strong image that has to be the core of the arms. Initially I had the split come to a point at the bottom of the mountain but by widening it you get a greataxe in the negative space (no doubt the axe Durok used to slay Raxis).

The split mountain is in red, the blood of the titan, the sky/axe is in white/silver (yellow/gold would be getting too close to the orcs of Urshok).

We want to differentiate these dwarves from those of Korim. Korim is represented by hammers so using an axe (albeit an abstract one) for Kalabanzaar makes for a neat distinction. And the palette is distinct from Korim itself and its great houses so there’s little chance of confusion.

The Orcs of Urshok

urshok

Beastmaster – Kennel master of the dire boars that accompany the Warhounds into battle.

Headtakers – The elite death commandos of the Warfather. Assassins who employ garottes, and literally take the heads of their victims.

Sunbreaker – Amarax the Shaman, who begins his rituals at dusk when the sun falls

I posted a bunch of ideas for the Orcs a couple of weeks ago, this is definitely my favourite direction. It gives them something distinct from anyone else and it has a nice raw edge.

The sunset represents the sun setting on the Orcish empire but it shouldn’t slip calmly into darkness, it should rage against the very sky.

Titan’s Gate

titans-gate

I had a look at the Port when it was unnamed, now it has a name I’ve taken another run at it. The obvious choice for Titan’s Gate would be some sort of colossus (think Rhodes, Braavos) but I wanted to avoid that. The titan was some dread foe, not a mighty protector, instead I like something that shows the port as a gateway to the Northern Sanction (represented here by the three stars).

I also don’t mind this being more elaborate. I like the kingdoms having something simple and easily recognisable but the city can have something more elaborate. It’s also most similar to Haldrim but I don’t mind that either. Blue is the logical choice for a port and Haldrim is the nearest kingdom.

Dreshmoor

lizardmen

The swamp is ruled by Lizardman tribes. The lizardmen ambush human trader for their metal.
Serve the Queen of Stone, Magora, the medusa.

The Eye of Magora had to be the lizardman emblem. It’s incredibly simple but so striking (and faintly reminiscent of something or other…). Picture our heroes staring down a wall of poisonous eyes as the Lizardman horder bear down on them.

The lizardmen themselves wouldn’t need the colour-differentiated shields to distinguish them – their scales mark their tribe – but this might be what the men of Haldrim use to mark their settlements and movements on maps or similar.

Tal-Onarafel

tal-onarafel

Now, Duke Oranis, The Lord of Autumn, the last surviving member of the White Iris Court is in mourning, his wife and children, slaughtered by the Drow. He is a paladin of the High Elf god Polaris. He refuses to take up the mantle of nobility and the High Elves follow his lead. They call his noble retinue the Court of Fallen Leaves.

Most of the elves follow the lead of their Duke and want to fade away. But some seek revenge against
the Drow! They call themselves the Court of Winter and follow Lady Verit, the Countess of Willow.

We had a sneak peek of these a couple of weeks ago too.

I really liked my ‘top-down’ iris but by using something closer to the traditional fleur-de-lis we can play with orientation.

The White Iris Court is simple: a white iris on a blue field.

The Lord of Autumn switches this to autumnal shades and the lowest petal becomes a single tear to represent his sorrow. The Court of Fallen Leaves inverts the iris and is placed upon a black field in mourning. I thought about the Court also taking the red/yellow of Duke Oranis but this way he stands out more.

Finally we have Lady Verit and the Winter Court. It turns out Willow trees are tricky to represent on a shield! This seemed to be the coolest way, anything else ended up being too oddly proportioned or overly complicated. I also like that if these were in blue or white they could be icicles and she leads the Winter Court.

For the Winter Court I wanted something harking back to the Iris court so we get a blue flower on white rather than a white flower on blue. At first I had four petals which I liked but then I thought that six is more like a snowflake.

The Men of the Scale Hills

yuan-ti

[The Scale Hills are] home to the Yuan-ti, who battle the Dragon Men of Zir. They are being driven over the mountains into Cardus. Worship the dead tian Raxis. They were his children

I love the idea that the snakemen’s symbol is just the two fangs. The first scaled example here (I’ve been playing with scales for the Lizardmen, Yuan-Ti, and the Dragonmen) is sort of a cheat in heraldry but I would consider it diapered. Diapering is adding textural interest to a large expanse and this seems appropriate.

I’m not sure what to do with the colour scheme here. I like a poisonous green but I guess Yuan-Ti can come in a variety of colours? And the men of Cardus over the hills have a green field on their arms. Not sure.

The only major faction I’m yet to post anything for are the Dragonmen of Zir, but don’t worry, I have ideas :)

Check out my other work on the Arms of the Spinelands here.

The Crucible

June 9, 2016

If you don’t know what Collabris is yet you can read this primer and see what I’ve been drawing here. If you have no idea what the hell any of this means, start here.

The Dwarven kingdom of Korim is governed by the Crucible, the voting council that contains the three most powerful houses (thus preventing ties in the legislature). The three most powerful houses are House Aurum, House Argentum, and House Cuprum.

We know a little about these houses:

Great House Aurum, ruled by Thane Ygnal the oldest house and first among equals on the Council. Voted against the alliance with Ardenia.

Great House Cuprum ruled by Thane Gilmarad. Sided with House Argentum in the vote on an alliance with Ardenia.

Great House Argentum ruled by Thane Helmoral, the youngest of the three great houses on the council, brokered the alliance with Ardenia. This peace has brought her house great wealth, and power and this threatens Thane Ygnal and house Aurum.

The obvious go to here for their arms is the metals, House Aurum = Gold, Argentum = Silver, Cuprum = Copper. Gold and silver exist as heraldic metals, strictly speaking copper doesn’t but tawny is a tincture that’s pretty close (also this a fantasy world not a system that started in 12th Century Medieval Europe still described using Norman French, so…).

One problem with the metal approach is this doesn’t extend very well to any potential minor houses, how easy is it going to be to distinguish houses Plumbum, Ferrum, and Stannum? So what else can we use?

These are the most powerful houses so something must have made them powerful.

House Argentum

We know House Argentum’s rise to power has culminated in the alliance so perhaps eloquence is the key to House Argentum’s position. Honey dripped in the right ears, knowing when to bend and when to stand firm.

argentum

The knotwork is a mix of gentle curves and hard corners, it also harks back to the knotwork on the arms of Korim and the knotwork itself is a pair of tongs… in silver :D

To those who say I’d pick a pocket: heralds don’t pun; they cant. (I’m a herald now, right?)

Back to the other houses: what made them so powerful? We know Korim is a small kingdom but punches above its weight thanks to their mastery of constructs. Presumably one house is especially adept at golemancy and construct magic, that works – it’s key to their power and success and someone has to be the best.

But such magics require raw materials, and he who controls the spice controls the universe, so lets say the other house owns the richest mines and commands control over the most valuable resources.

House Aurum

I think Aurum make a good fit for the wealthiest house, gold is synonymous with wealth and whether in peace or war their wealth would have long made them powerful. The alliance with Ardenia could also threaten House Aurum’s wealth: new trade with the human kingdom would remove their control over the flow of resources.

(This also makes the siding of House Cuprum with House Argentum logical: trade with Ardenia means they would no longer be beholden to House Aurum to access what they need.)

I like the idea of something simple and bold for House Aurum. They’ve been number one for a long time, they don’t need to try hard, everyone knows who they are.

aurum-ideas

Gold and black works, they control the wealth within the rock. It’s important we avoid anything that’s too similar to Ardenia’s arms though, a callback to Korim’s arms would be nice too:

aurum

House Cuprum

For the masters of constructs there are a few things I like:

  • A hammer. I mentioned that the hammers in the arms of Korim were there to represent both war and craft, it makes sense for House Cuprum to incorporate it somehow
  • A face or mask, something that looks like it could be carved face of a construct
  • Something distinct from the other two
curpum-ideas

I really like the three hammers making the eyes and the nose (I also love how the handles for the eyes look like tears). I also like the idea of something beardy (this is supposed to be a dwarven face).

cuprum

The Crucible

(Love the name)

I figured the crucible should have a symbol of his own (I was also thinking about tongs after House Argentum) and like the idea of a red hot crucible containing white hot metal clasped in a pair of tongs:

crucible

I can see this worked into the arms and and armour of the elite guard at the Crucible.

Korim

So all in all Korim has arms for its nation, its government, and its three most powerful houses.

korim-all

I genuinely think I might need to take a vacation if I’m going to work up heraldry for everything in this world (heck, it’s not even the world, it’s just one damn part of a world!). Loving every minute of it though.

The White Iris and the Red Sun

June 5, 2016

(It’s more heraldry.)

It was the third stream tonight, I had a crack at drawing while Matt was streaming. This may have been ambitious. Trying to listen to Matt, read the chat and draw was pretty nuts. I came up with a couple of ideas that might have potential:

stream

The Orcs of Urshok are the known as the Red Suns (or Red Sun tribe, I forget), Matt specifically said their emblem is the setting sun which leads to instant Japan/Greenland associations. It was also straying into red/black Ban Tuur territory. I quite like the jagged sun, feels raw and orcish, like the sun is a ball of writhing flame and not just a serene orb. I might have a go at trying markings for some of the different troops at some point.

The High Elves of Tal-Onarafel were led by the Court of the White Iris (again, I think, I’ll double check the doc when Matt updates it). A heraldic iris is actually a fleur-de-lys but I wanted to play with a different view first. Since the High Elves fell, only the Duke of Autumn remains but he’s too caught up in mourning to make any attempt to rebuild (I’m not sure about the colour switch or the fleur -de-lys but I *do* like that on the Duke’s shield only the bottom leaf is a tear). There’s also the Winter Court who do seek to restore the High Elves, they could have something cool (I initially mistook it for Willow rather than Winter so spent a bunch of time trying to do a willow tree – I think Willow was a suggestion at one point. Anyhoo.)

We also covered the Dwarves of Korim and some of their Great Houses, all named after metals (annoyingly in trying to multitask I missed the opportunity to throw in The Crucible as the name of their great council but tbh it would work better as a name for the ‘lower house’ of their government, where the smaller houses vie for greatness, or a proving ground, or I can just tuck it in my back pocket for some future world-building). Plenty to play with there anyway, I’ll need to have an evening of angular knotwork.

The Port is now called Titan’s Gate so I’ll take a look at reworking the existing Port arms at some point.

Building this world is so much fun. As (it turns out) is drawing a crapload of geometric shapes:

snap1
snap2

If this tickles your fancy why not read more about my armorial efforts and the world of Collabris.

The Veil

May 31, 2016

The elves of the veil live here. They call the forest V’ael (Immortal Shroud), and humans interpret that as “Veil.” Elves don’t know what this means.

Humans are happy calling it the Veil because the forest is constantly flooded with fog from the nearby sea.

The Elves of V’ael are immortal as long as they stay in the forest’s mist. Once they leave, they become mortal. A dying V’ael Elf who returns to the forest, is restored to youth.

Under the veil lies a sleeping dragon. Basharix. It is the source of the fog. The Elves of the Veil don’t know they’re protecting and ancient dragon. They worship the forest.

Some quick thoughts over lunch for the Elves of V’ael. There are few directions this could go, these are all looking at the fog that rolls in from the sea (the white fog also acts as a break between the green and blue).

Some thoughts:

  • The horizontal divisions (fesslets wavy – I love heraldic language!) are simpler but I do love the vertical tendrils of fog
  • As the elves worship the forest those tendrils could segue into a tree at the point of division so they’re simultaneously the fog tendrils and the roots (as the fog gives the elves life this would also make a suitable analogy). Could get complicated but worth a shot
  • Part of me would love to have just the hint of a dragon in there in an accidental way just as a nod to Basharix but not sure how to do that. Maybe if we have the tree the negative space could do something fun (though again, this could get complicated, the core of the arms should be simple) Edit: Simple isn’t the right word, reducible might be better. You should be able to strip it down to its core and have it still recognisable, but you can ornament the hell out of that core if you want to.

Royal Badges

March 30, 2016

This is from my copy of A Handbook of English Heraldry (11th edition, published 1914) by Charles Boutell: “a concise list of the more important of the Badges that have been borne by the Sovereigns and Princes of England”.

William Rufus: A Flower of five foils.
Henry I.: A Flower of eight foils.
Stephen: A Flower of seven foils: a Sagittarius.
Henry II.: The Planta-genista: an Escarbuncle: a Sword and Olive-Branch.
Richard I.: A Star of thirteen rays and a Crescent: a Star issuing from a Crescent: a Mailed Arm grasping a broken Lance, with the Motto—”Christo Duce.”
John and Henry III: A Star issuing from a Crescent.
Edward I.: An heraldic Rose or, stalked ppr.
Edward II.: A Castle of Castile
Edward III.: A Fleur de Lys: a Sword: a Falcon: a Gryphon: the Stock of a Tree: Rays issuing from a Cloud.
Richard II.: A White Hart lodged: the Stock of a Tree: A White Falcon: the Sun in splendour: the Sun clouded
Henry IV.: The Cypher SS: a crowned Eagle: an Eagle displayed: a White Swan: A Red Rose: a Columbine Flower: A Fox’s Tail: a crowned Panther: the Stock of a Tree: a Crescent. His Queen, Joan of Navarre: An Ermine, or Gennet.
Henry V.: A Fire-beacon: a White Swan gorged and chained: a chained Antelope
Henry VI.: Two Ostrich Feathers in Saltire: a chained Antelope: a Panther
Edward IV.: A White Rose en Soleil: a White Wolf and White Lion: a White Hart: a Black Dragon and Black Bull: a Falcon and Fetter-lock: the Sun in splendour
Henry VII.: A Rose of York and Lancaster, a Portcullis and a Fleur de lys, all of them crowned: a Red Dragon: a White Greyhound: a Hawthorn Bush and Crown, with the cypher H.R.
Henry VIII.: The same, without the Hawthorn Bush, and with a White Cock His Queens: Catherine of Aragon—A Rose, Pomegranate, and Sheaf of Arrows. Anne Boleyn—A Crowned Falcon, holding a Sceptre. Jane Seymour—A Phoenix rising from a Castle, between Two Tudor Roses. Catherine Parr—A Maiden’s Head crowned, rising from a large Tudor Rose.
Edward VI.: A Tudor Rose: the Sun in Splendour.
Mary: A Tudor Rose impaling a Pomegranate— also impaling a Sheaf of Arrows, ensigned with a Crown, and surrounded with rays: a Pomegranate.
Elizabeth: A Tudor Rose with the motto, “Rosa sine Spinâ” (a Rose without a Thorn): a Crowned Falcon and Sceptre. She used as her own motto—”Semper Eadem” (Always the same).
James I.: A Thistle: a Thistle and Rose dimidated and crowned,. No. 308, with the motto—”Beati Pacifici” (Blessed are the peacemakers).
Charles I., Charles II., James II.: The same badge as James I., without his motto.
Anne: A Rose-branch and a Thistle growing from on branch

Some notes on the list:

  • Or (when in italics) is the heraldic term for gold rather than the conjunction, so a Rose or, stalked ppr is a golden rose with a purple stalk (ppr is shorthard for purpure)
  • The Planta-genista of Henry II is the broom, and gives the Plantagenets their name. An Escarbuncle is like an eight-spoked cross (it looks a bit like a cartwheel without the wheel)
  • Plenty of pub names: White Hart, Sun in Splendour, Spread Eagle (an Eagle Displayed), Red Dragon
  • Impaled and dimidated both mean that the badge is split into two halves with one image on each side. When impaled each half shows the full badge scaled to fit the space; then dimidated the image is cropped, as if two complete badges were taken, sliced in two then stuck together. This can lead to some pretty funny arms (looking at you Prochowice).
  • Even if your Tudor history is rusty you should be able to figure out which of Henry’s wives bore which of his children.
  • A Badge is similar to, but distinct from a Coat of Arms or a Crest. Generally a Badge resembles a single charge and may be borne by itself (Arms must appear on a shield or lozenge, a Crest on a coronet). A good local example would be the Bear and Ragged Staff of the Beauchamps and Nevilles