Design Geography


It’s changed since I last visited.

Art Design Games

The Glass City

Objectively the best inhabitants of Collabris: The Dragonmen of Zir.

Arabic (Fremen) Dragonborn of the desert. Civilized, not nomadic…Capital city: Ziris, the Glass City, the Shining Star of the Sand. Literally made of stone and glass.

A democracy where only and all wizards can vote, the Grand Vizir is elected by the Council of Seven, the leading wizards from each school of magic.

Geometry and calligraphic knotwork have to be our touchpoints here.

The Glass City


This is my indulgence in calligraphic knotwork. It fails the simplicity test but as a symbol of the city I love it (I imagine the central tower is where the Council of Seven meet). It also doesn’t take much to turn this to a turn a cityscape into a dragon:



I couldn’t decide whether this should be simple or intricate so I’ve ended up with a bunch of ideas. They’re all based around symbols that have a rotational symmetry order of 10 (to represent the 5 chromatic and 5 metallic dragon colours).

The simplest example is a riff on the Seal of Solomon:


This also has the neat touch that it’s made of two five-sided figures interwoven: the chromatic and metallic joined in a single nation.

Taking that idea and ramping up the intricacy:


I quite like this mandala (to be honest I picture all of these getting used in one way or another!), you could emphasise the knotwork, or perhaps groups of dragons pick out one of the figures to highlight?


An alternate knotted figure:


Dragon scales are also a logical option:


Or more rounded scales with explicit motifs for the dragon types:


I’ve largely avoided colour in these designs. I picture the men of Zir using yellow (sand), white (glass) and red (fire) primarily but when you’re using 10 spoked figures the temptation is to try to include all the colours and metals which can end up looking disjointed.

The Council of Seven

Something simpler but following the symmettry and knotwork themes:



This was actually the first thing I ever did for Zir:


If you rotate it 180 you can see it’s a Z, an R, and the tittle from the i with an extra fork added to the Z to as a forked tongue or tail.

I quite like everything here! And I think you could combine pretty much any of them and they’d work together.

Animals Design Games Me

The Whispered Song

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.


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.

Design Games

Under the Mountain

Time to talk about some very naughty dwarfses.


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.


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.


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):

Design Games Me

Mostly Armless

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.

Animals Design

Three Lions

Some real-life heraldry fun.

If you ever see an animal in a crest, coat of arms, whatever, there’s a decent chance it’s been drawn with its junk.

Which makes sense if you think about it: male mammals totally have penises same as they have legs or claws or a tail or whatever.

Some modern depictions will miss them out (for example, if you have a British Passport the front cover does *not* have nine lion penises and a unicorn member on it) but traditionally they’re there. Check out this £1 coin containing no fewer than three penises:

The dragon doesn’t get one but the lions totally do. And if you head to Europe they are everywhere (totally SFW).