Design Games

The Spinelands



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


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


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.



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.



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


[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.