Design Games

The Port


We’ll have to see how the Port is fleshed out to see if this one makes sense… (Check out all of Collabris’ Heraldic Tradition here.)

The symbolism here is pretty simple, the sea beneath the city walls, the three kingdoms of the Northern Sanction above.

Some alternates:

Design Games

The Banner of the Veil


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.

If you’re wondering what this is all about head here you can read Part One and Part Two.


Pretty happy with this! The mist over the sea becomes the roots of the tree to represent the life-giving mist. Thought it might also be fun to show how I got here, this is maybe a quarter of the ideas I came up with that led here. You can see the idea of the wood and sea horizontal split was a gimme from the start but I played around with quite a few mist variations before I struck on the idea of the tree (which subsequently took a bunch of messing around).


The Veil

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.
Design Games

To Arms!


If you’re not interested in the preamble you can skip straight to the arms.

Edit: I’ll post future updates under the Collabris tag so you can check out all posts about the Heraldic Tradition of Collabris here, or you can take a look at V’ael/The Veil, and the (as-yet unnamed) Port.

I’m a nerd for heraldry (I still hope one day, somehow, I’ll become a Pursuivant of Arms) but for now I’m happy enough collecting old books and creating fictional arms).

As part of his D&D webseries for aspiring DMs, ‘Running the Game’ , Matt Colville has run a couple of worldbuilding Twitch streams (which have really been quite fun). Each stream is a good couple of hours but you can read the fruits of collective labour here and this is the world so far:


After last night’s stream I had this world on the brain and started sketching arms for some of the regions/kingdoms. I realised that the arms of the Northern sanction could be divided by a horizontal zigzag (party per fess indented) that would represent the mountainous divide, above the divide would something to represent the three kingdoms and the Southern Sanction would have the same arms but with the mountains to the north and the kingdoms below. This seemed like a fun distraction for my bank holiday so I set to work…

The Sanctions

For each Sanction, the arms show the green fields of their lands next to the snow-capped mountains of the Dwarves (well, formerly of the Dwarves), and a star for each kingdom:


The collected kingdoms of men combine the two arms:


The Southern Sanction

The Southern Sanction is no more, in its place stands the Dead Kingdom:

Once a kingdom of men, formerly the Southern Sanction, destroyed by Kaleth-varr, the druid Archlich who sold her soul to the God of the Death and became a lich to stop the Southern Sanction from cutting back the forest to make their civilization.

I played around with a few ideas for what that means for the arms of the Southern Sanction. I liked the idea that the lower half would just be completely black, but I also liked the idea that the men of the Northern Sanction wouldn’t necessarily consider the Dead Kingdom and the Southern Sanction to be the same thing (if the Dead Kingdom could be destroyed somehow then the Southern Sanction could, perhaps, be reclaimed).

In the end I plumped for a ceremonial set of arms to represent the Southern Sanction and arms to represent the Dead Kingdom (I’d envisage the latter to be a set of arms used by the Northern Sanction to denote/mark the Dead Kingdom rather than anything borne by the undead themselves).


The stars of the Southern Sanction are inverted as well as darkened. Strictly speaking this breaks the rule of tincture (a colour on a colour) but as this marks something horrific/abhorrent breaking the rules made some sort of sense.

The Northern Sanction

The Northern Sanction is split into three kingdoms: Haldrim, Ardenia, and Cardus. They’ve been fleshed out to varying degrees in the streams and there’s a strong chance that as they’re fleshed out further what I’ve come up with here will come to make absolutely no sense at all! But anyway.

Haldrim sits closest to the pass through the Broken Spine mountains and as a consequence closest to the Tower that the Northern Sanction maintains to protect its route to the port south of the mountains.

Even though the tower itself is some days travel south I figured it would be a pretty big deal to the city of Haldrim. And as stars have already been established as the marker for each kingdom they would be the kingdom above the tower:


Cardus sits to the East, nestling against the foothills of the Broken Spine. While they have the largest standing army they are beset by Yuan-Ti (snake-men) who are pushed westward over the Scale Hills by the Dragonmen of Zir (aside: I cannot wait to design something for the Dragonmen of Zir).

I felt they should have a strong, martial symbol as they’re constantly under attack and eagles hunt snakes so the idea of an eagle claw descending upon the mountains from above seemed pretty cool. The field acts as a pretty strong callback to the arms of the Sanction too:


Finally, Ardenia is to the North, close to the Dwarven kingdom of Korim. I thought maybe their arms should include a nod to the Dwarves as they have a strong alliance, looking at it again I don’t know if impaling their arms with the dwarven symbol is a bit too much. It shows the two kingdoms side by side but I’m not sure it says a lot about Ardenia as a kingdom of men. I’ll let it brew:


The Kingdoms of Men


The Dwarves of Korim

The dwarven kingdom to the north. They are masters of construct magics, and though a small kingdom, defends their lands with the constructs they build. Their constructs are both large and powerful, and small and delicate

I initially played around with an anvil but in the end I settled for hammers, they were more easily identifiable at a smaller size (for the arms of Ardenia), and can represent both a weapon of war and a tool of craft.

For the full arms of Korim I combined them with a fret to show that balance of power and delicate intricacy, I also opted for a different shield shape to further distinguish it from the Kingdoms of Men:


The Ban Tuur

The Ban Tuur are humans but not one of the civilized human kingdoms.

Animists who see gods in everything, the greatest of which is the Volcano Tuur, Tuur is the Father of Fire.


It’s Tuur himself. I like this one a lot, it’s simple but striking, it would work daubed on a banner or shield, plus it’s the only human kingdom to use red. I love the bale eye vibe too.


Nara’shul is home to the Nara:

…the griffon-riding Goliaths living in cities carved into the rock. Skilled masons and stonecutters. Their capital city of Ketra lies below the highest peak of the mountains, Kuraya. At the top of which lives U’shaka, the God of the Goliaths, believed to be a Prince of the Air Elementals and his servants, the Nine Winds, the Dukes of Sharash

While the Ban Tuur I instantly knew what I wanted to do. The Nara on the other hand…

It might just be because they’re called Nara but my first thought was a something like a Japanese Mon with the nine winds swirling around (or the eight winds swirling with the ninth at the centre).


I quite like these, I can see Goliath tattoos/body paint using these patterns and they’d work in pretty much any colour combination you like. They’re certainly very Japanese which isn’t a bad thing but I wanted to try to some other avenues. My next thought was to represent the winds with feathers rather than abstract shapes, which would also tie back to the griffons:


These seemed to flowery/intricate so I decided to move back towards something geometric. I thought something representing Kuraya, the highest peak, with the nine winds could work:


I quite like this, but then I also remembered that Matt had described their cities as carved into the rock, like the cliff dwellings in the Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado, so I tried a geometric take on it too:


I like it because it makes the mountain look like it’s been cut by man (well, goliath, you know what I mean), but it also makes everything smaller and a bit fiddlier so I’m still not too sure about this one.

Still to come…

The Wood Elves of the Veil and the Dragonmen of Zir are up next, plus the fallen Dwarven empire of Kalazanbar and the High Elves of Tal-Onarafel. I might look at some of the savage races too, we’ll have to see what comes out of the next stream…

If you like anything you see here feel free to use it, and whether you like it or no, let me know what you think! @dan_connolly

Books Design Humanities

Royal Badges

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