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XP Academy (updated)

July 27, 2017

I’m doodling heraldry again…

(Also it’s for D&D again.)

Board with Life‘s Adventures in the New World campaign is coming to a close and the next campaign is XP Academy. A Harry Potter-esque school for heroes.

Of course, I couldn’t resist thinking about school arms, crest, and motto.

Update: I’ve put together a cleaner version (not including the supporters yet):

And the original sketch:

The arms were obvious. Four quarters (like our four Hogwarts houses) but for the four core classes: Fighter, Wizard, Cleric, and Rogue. Sword, wand, hand and daggers to represent each.

For the motto I wanted something a bit clever. After dancing around a riff on hic sunt dracones for a while (and a brief dalliance with an XP/expecto patronum something or other) I got it: Solve for XP.

It riffs on ‘solve for x’ as a common maths question, has a sense of school patriotism (‘solve puzzles and challenges for XP Academy’), and literally describes what the characters will do. (Then Google translated into Latin cos, you know.)

For our crest we have a Dragon emerging from a Dungeon (for hopefully obvious reasons).

And for our supporters we have a Beaver and an Owl. The Owl represents knowledge, learning, wisdom. The Beaver represents hard-work, and reflects the story from medieval bestiaries where beavers would bite off their own testes to escape hunters (heroes: know when to run!). It was also an excuse to draw a heraldic beaver. They’re pretty weird.

Who knows if this is anywhere near what Donald had in mind! Luckily I won’t have to wait long to find out.

In the meantime I’ll maybe work this up from idle doodle to something a bit cleaner (that mantling needs work for sure). Update: I did!

Swords

November 6, 2016

I’m doing #swordvember this year (I was doing #mapvember too but I think maps should be like a once a week thing for me rather than a once a day – I get too bogged down overthinking them).

No problems overthinking swords though! Check out some of these dumb swords:

the-hilt

The last one is a sneak peek of tomorrow’s (the hilt of many blades).

Even though many (all?) of these are patently stupid I’m tempted to actually write up rules for them and render them all in a consistent style. Maybe stick it on DMs Guild for a buck or something!

The Southern Sanction

July 13, 2016

(I’m a sucker for completeness)

southern-kingdoms

We don’t know much about the old Kingdoms of the Southern Sanction. We know the names of their capitals (Saldon, Holgast, Tirrell) but the names of the kingdoms themselves are lost… (or not on the map at least!)

We know that the lich performed the rite of desecration to halt the destruction of the forest so we could try to symbolise how the landscape changed as the kingdoms of men spread.

(And we can always just do something cool for no good reason because why the hell not.)

The First Kingdom

saldon

Starting in the East we have our first kingdom. This one is closest to Titan’s Gate, on the fringes of the forest. I imagine this kingdom would have had the best chance of clearing the most land before the kingdoms fell, it’s also served by three rivers.

The gold and green check represents the verdant pastures (green) and abundant crops (gold). It’s also distinct from the other kingdoms so far, we haven’t use chequy anywhere else.

The Second Kingdom

holgast

Next up we have the kingdom to the South. My initial idea for one of the kingdoms was inspired by something I saw in York Minster a couple of weeks ago:

skirlaw

I loved the idea of arrows or daggers intertwined with tree trunks. It could represent conflict with the forest itself as the people of the kingdom carved out their domain, or their prowess as hunters.

Or maybe there’s an old folk tale of the first king of these lands who blooded three arrows and fired each to mark the bounds of his kingdom, the land feared his reach would be too far and give him dominion over the whole world so a great forest sprung up and trapped his arrows and that’s where the forest first came from.

But, ultimately I decided this was too fiddly a device for one of the main kingdoms. I liked the idea of including a weapon (as none of the human kingdoms do yet) so I figured three swords worked. As the southern kingdom’s capital is near(ish) to the coast the blue field works, and with the marsh to the North and the goliath to the East I figure they would have had plenty of groups to fight.

The Third Kingdom

tirrell

Finally we have the kingdom to the North. These guys are closest to the lich’s island, I reckon they would have had to carve their lands from the thickest, darkest forest. My first thought was an axe but we’ve already got blades for the kingdom to the south and axes evoke some of our dwarven kingdoms so my next thought was fire.

We haven’t used rayonny anywhere else and they’re the only human kingdom using red so they’re still distinct. I went for the flames moving across rather than burning up or down to give them feel that they are crawling across the shield much as the flames of men would’ve burned across the land.

southern-kingdoms

The Whispered Song

July 2, 2016

Ruled by Queen Aeleth, Ardenia is famous for its bardic college: the College of the Whispered Song (aka The Whisper) led by Master Troubadour Cristoph. Ardenia’s bards travel the kingdoms from the high city of [I dunno what] all the way to Titan’s Gate, collecting and spreading news!

Suspected by the other nations, but never proven, Queen Aeleth uses her bardic college as a spy network keeping the larger, more prosperous kingdoms of Haldrim and Cardus at bay.

whispered-song

A starling seems a good fit.

  • A flock of starlings is a murmuration and the collected bards are knows as The Whisper; murmur/whisper works for me.
  • Even the most commonplace are decked out in a shining coat of stars (which seems to befit a bard), and some can be pretty stunning.
  • They’re effective mimics, and the Bards of The Whisper will repeat many a carefully crafted lie or overheard secret
  • Starling means little star and as a Kingdom of the Northern Sanction Ardenia is represented by a star; while it may not be as strong a kingdom as the others netwrok of its little stars keep the larger star aloft

I also took inspiration from a personal favourite heraldic bird: the martlet. A martlet is a swift or swallow depicted without feet, often (but not always) used to represent to represent fourth sons. There’s a poetic explanation that as the fourth son they won’t inherit land or title nor will they join the priesthood so instead are sent out as landless wanderers to make their own fortunes. Whether or not that’s true I don’t know but I like the idea that it symbolises the Bards of the Whispered Song as ever-moving.

In slightly sad related news, while I was working on this my cats found a baby bird that had fallen out of its nest :( He didn’t seem hurt, but no idea where the nest is so I’m hoping ma and pa pigeon manage to find baby bird in my garden.

Under the Mountain

July 2, 2016

Time to talk about some very naughty dwarfses.

Ull’vol

The upper, civilized, kingdom of the Duergar. The lower kingdom Ull’vok fell years ago and the Duergar there went mad and became the Derro.

A theocracy ruled by the Hierophant Xadraxim who speaks for the Duergar Creator Diety Molak, the God of Nightmares

Duergar are often cast as slavers and my initial idea was to try something with a whip (think cat rather than Indy) as their symbol and see if the negative space of the fan of tails could represent the peaks rising up above their empire.

duergar-sketches

Ultimately I felt these ended up too fiddly, the fan either looked too much like a radiant sun (something the gray dwarves are not so keen on) or it was too complex, not strong enough. I still like the idea of a whip, I might return to it as a symbol of their god of nightmares.

My next thought was something using chains or manacles but I want House Argentum to have the fancy knotwork.

Instead I decided to pare it right down, keep it simple, strong and recognisable: bars.

ull-voll

I like the right hand option as a symbol of the Hierophant.

As a motif there’s a lot you can do with it to still leave it recognisable if you wanted to look at variations for houses/orders/castes within Ull’vol. They could be distinctive to all (like the top row), or perhaps only really distinguishable to those in Ull’vol society (lower row):

ull-vol-houses

Don’t modify AC and not debate with me!

July 2, 2016

This combines my two favourite things right now. D&D + Hamilton.

Kill less.
Talk more.
Find what they want, and know, and who they’re working for.
Maybe trail the man instead?
Fools that swing their steel oft end up dead

What time is it? Loot time!”
“Like I said…”

“Loot time! loot time!”
“Yo I’m a barbari-in the place to be!
Two pints of dwarf ale man I’m working on three!
Those kobolds don’t want it with me!
Cos I slash-smash-a-slice these gnolls til I’m free!”

“Full speed, on my steed, a Fighter and a threat!
A lance in hand, charging in my brand new full plate set!
I came from below just to buy more stuff!
Killed a king for these jewels. Do they know?”
“Roll bluff!

Brrrah brraaah! I am a bard and a lover-man,
Buffin’ it, bluffin’ it, yes I’ll inspire all y’all once again,
Lock up your monsters with Hold spells, of course
Not hard to jack hoards o’ gold over four Wall of Forces

For comparison (1min in):

I… want to be in the tomb where it happens, the tomb where it happens…