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):

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).

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.

Design Games

The Crucible

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.


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.


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:


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

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).


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:


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


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


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.

Design Games

The White Iris and the Red Sun

(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:


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:


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