Monday, July 16, 2012

Alphatian Coats of Arms -- Part II (Updated July 19th)

It took me a while to find a piece of art I liked to represent Ambur.  I placed the "Eye" of Ambur at the center, which refers to the Great Observatory.  Thanks to Andrew's help, I was able to add some white around the eye's pupil, using Gimp. Arogansa, on the other hand, was a cake walk. The dolphin connects with Arogansa's capital, Bluenose, a place with great beaches and lots of dolphins.  I could not resist!

Naturally, places like Bettellyn cause a slight problem since I haven't redesigned them and no information was presented in Dawn of the Emperors. I have a general clue what to do with Bettellyn, based on the small part I worked on while dressing up the map for neighboring Theranderol, last week.  I'll let you guess.  Of course, Blackheart came together quite nicely.  Wizard towers in a forest, a black heart, and sort of a hazard pattern to warn off trespassers: no peddlers allowed.

Eadrin is another unknown here.  It's a neat pattern that reminds me of the arms of Pole (from the old Kingmaker game.)  Either I'll come up with something related to these arms when I get around to fleshing out Eadrin, or I'll redesign a new coat of arms.  Of course, the old favorite, Floating Ar, features a straightforward and conventional design with, as can be expected, skyships and a flying beast.

Frisland sent me scratching my head for ideas.  I thought of some ghastly monsters or carnivorous plants.  What I found on the internet was hilarious and, after wiping off a few tears of laughter, I followed a more subtle approach.  Yum!  Tiny clovers, and lots of them.  What could possibly happen?   Greenspur was another one that came right through.  Green + Spur (of course) and a lozenge pattern just 'cause I like it!  So there.  Designer's prerogative!

Which bring us to Limn.  I'd introduced a very discreet connection to dragons and lindwurms.  Since I didn't expect to find heraldic versions of D&D trolls (carrot-noses and all) I went for the true and tried beast, a wyvern if I recall correctly.  If anyone finds orcs, ogres, trolls, and other such game classics done somewhere in heraldic fashion, please let me know!  Randel was another illustrious stranger, with no entry in Dawn of the Emperors.  So, I went with elegant and very classic.

Another very obvious design, for Stonewall, actually incorporates three castles superimposed.  Looks like a wall.  Good enough, says I.  Onward. The next one was an experiment I saved because it looked truly bizarre.  Perhaps we'll find a spot for a culture focused on mechanical devices.  Feel free to suggest.  Naturally, there should be coats of arms for cities and aristocratic clans, such as the House of Thera detailed in the previous post, major guilds, the Great Council of Wizards, etc.

Moving right along, here's Stoutfellow: a great mountain whose heart a foreigner does not enter, and whose slopes are guarded by cold, dwarven steel.  If not particularly artistic, it remains not nonetheless eloquent.  Another scheme which, alas, fails from a visual standpoint, speaks clearly of Haven's nature: six forms or beauty in a lake, and at their center, the art of war.  A rainbow runs across, above the mark of fashion.  It was the last winner at the Aasla Festival.  Thankfully, the design may change at a later festival.

We'll conclude the collection of coats of arms with two great sylvan realms.  On the left, Foresthome suggests a population of centaurs dwelling in the great woods of mainland Alphatia.  On the right, the elves' colors feature a horn to hunt, to rally for war, or perhaps to call upon the unicorns and all other woodland beings living in the legendary and mysterious Shiye-Lawr.

Wait, wait!  There's more.  There we have it--the Crimson Guard, the skyship force supposedly guarding Sundsvall, or was it Ampulia?  Either way, it wouldn't take them long to cover the distance between the two.  I thought of using a darker tone of red but it invariably looked more brown than crimson.  Next comes the Great Countil, or the Council of Thousand Wizards.  The vair pattern denotes the councilors' aristocratic status.  The ravens refer to magical constructs once used as heralds to bring news of council resolutions.  Many people quip that they represent the nobles tweeting and chirping all day, leaving behind nothing but bird droppings.

Of course, the list wouldn't be complete without the Imperial Guard--battlements gules and sable, and swords to defend them.  Pretty straightforward.  One that is far less so is the Department of Smoke and Mirrors, the folks responsible for maintaining the masquerade in Ampulia and of protecting the capital's secrecy.  Naturally, very few people have actually seen this coat of arms.  I'll let you judge if it is appropriate enough. 

I almost forgot our friends from way up north, the Island of Qeodhar.  I originally wanted a polar bear, but could not find a decent piece of line art.  If I did (I may eventually), I'd probably reverse the black and white pattern, and place the bear's white face within the black section in the middle.  I threw in Imperial Rangers, by popular demand of a loyal and devoted supporter!  Leaves represent heraldic holly scattered by the wind, the azure band a river through a forest (the Greenlake or Elfripple Rivers), and the critter in the middle. . . well, I'm sure you'll come up with something.

As promised earlier, here is Aquas.  This was a fun design to put together.  It was a bit tricky but I like the result, and it's fitting for an underwater realm.  The only trouble is the black area within the tail's coil, which I could not eliminate.  If anyone has any ideas about this, please let me know.  Tylion's coat of arms was another experiment. Since the application does not support borders, I managed a slight trick to get around the limitation.  The design for His Imperial Highness (since he's no longer a "Majesty," having abdicated in favor of Eriadna) displays the House of Thera's colors along with ermine to connect him with his imperial stature.  

Now I give you the colors for the Yannivey Islands.  Simple and striking.  This one took all of three minutes to compose.  Most of the time needed to design these coats of arms comes from experimenting and thinking up new approaches.  The one that took the most time (drafting rather than thinking) was Frisland's for obvious reasons.  On the right stands Torenal's coat of arms, a pretty little thing that gets around the application's limitations with borders.  Where there's a will there's a shield!  I think I've pretty much covered mainland Alphatia.  Let me know if I've forgotten anything.

20 comments:

  1. Wow! Wonderful pictures! Thank you very much for your work. Frisland, teh Clockwork Realm, Haven, Foreshome and Shyie-Lawr coat of arms are really attractive, in my opinion. : )

    The "Eye of Ambur" could be edited with other software, if needed, to add the white part, but I think the yellow background is fine. The whole symbol could also represent a star (the blue dot) centered in the aiming grid of the Great Observatory (the black reticle).

    About the Clockwork realm: this picture seem really suitable for any gnomish settlement throughout Mystara. If you like to use it inside the Empire of Alphatia it could be used for the gnomish community of Stoutfellow, or for the gnomes who were working on the island of Aegos to dig the tunnel to the Hollow World. Outside the Empire there are a lot of coiches. A few suggestions: the Snartan Empire; the gnomes of New new Mistrhaven (from the Book of Wondrous Inventions), the gnomes of Torkyn Peak (a former gnomish settlement among the three volcanoes in northern Glantri, introduced in the Dragonlord Trilogy novels); the gnomes living beneath the Black Mountains (from X5 module and other supplements), the gnomes of the Northern Reaces or... the empire of Dorfin IV! Or it could be something completely different, not necessarily related to gnomes.

    From a gaming point of view, I think a few more interesting coat of arms could be those of the elite/police force of the Empire: the Alphatian Imperial Guard (uniform's colors are blue, yellow and red, see and the charachter entry of Torenal in DotE) the Crimson Guard (a skyship police force based in Sundsvall - from VotPA, part 11) and the Imperial Forest Rangers of the Imperial Territories north of Vertiloch (PWAI, entry about Zandoria). Their coat of arms should be well known among commoners - including the PCs - who might need to seek (or likely avoid) their intervention during their everyday tasks.

    Just throwing in a few ideas :D

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    1. Thanks a bunch for these ideas. Your research will save me lots of time! I'll see what I do with them. :-)

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  2. Oooohhhh, beautiful add-ons! Thanks a lot for this work! :)
    I like especially the Ordo Imperialis coat of arms. The Great Council symbol - the whole ravens' thing - is very interesting, too. Maybe the artificial ravens were dropped as they were too often used as spies, who knows...

    The Smoke and Mirror symbol could be mostly hidden on dresses and equipment of its members, who could be trained to search for it anytime they meet a stranger (just to know at what lengths they must go in their acting).

    A note about the coat of arms of Qeodhar: in M1 and M2 modules the coat of arms of Qeodhar is a blue star (see M1 picture on page 6 and M2 note in "Dream one" box at the bottom of page 5, for example). BUT... it is possible that such picture would refer only to the fleet. I like the white bear coat of arms you designed for the island, it's a pity to left it unused. You wrote M1 module, so I suppose the final decision is up to you! :D

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    1. A blue star... easy enough to fix. Is there any illustration available?

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  3. The coat of arms closely resembles this (free) symbol:

    http://tattootabatha.com/tribal-8-point-star-tattoo/2931/

    To make it similar to the picture shown in M1 the inner circle and everything inside it have to be cleared; then the resulting image has to be superimposed on a large circle whose radius reaches slightly less than the halfway poinf of each spike. Done.

    About colors: even if M1 picture is in black and white, it is possible to infer that the spikes are colored (in blue, from M2 info) and the rest of the picture is left blank (or it is colored with a pale shade of blue or any white/pale blue/other light color combination).

    Or you can use the free picture without any alteration, it is pretty similar anyway.

    Hope it helps.

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    1. OK, I'll give it a shot. Should be easy enough. Thanks!

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    2. Really though, an eight-point star?

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  4. Thanks to the geometric shape of Qeodhar coat of arms I was able to make a copy of it by using the "shape" commands of MS Word (nonetheless):

    You may see the result here (a black and white .bmp file, hope the link opens):

    https://sites.google.com/site/lozomparchive/Home/archive-1/qeodhar-flag-template/Qeodhar%20flag.bmp?attredirects=0

    See if it could be an useful tremplate for you...

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    1. Here's one approach:

      https://docs.google.com/open?id=0ByHsRdpWU3qedkVpejVHb3lGUTA

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    2. It's not a very good design because I had to import an image (the star) which explains the nasty-looking edges. This design also breaks heraldic rules (sanguine tint directly adjacent to another tint, azure.) Tisk, tisk...

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  5. To avoid nasty edges try this one, it should work:

    https://sites.google.com/site/lozomparchive/Home/archive-1/qeodhar-flag-template/Qeodhar%20flag%2002.bmp?attredirects=0

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  6. Thanks. What I really need is a .svg file to be really clean. I don't have the software to create these.

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  7. Once again beautiful coats of arms! I like all of them (general Torenal foremost) but... what is the meaning of Yannivey symbol?

    A free .svg creator is Inkscape. You may download it at this link:

    http://inkscape.org/download/?lang=it

    (this webpage is in Italian, but there is also a French version. Oddly, I was not able to find the English page. Anyway, the software is in English, about 35Mb in downloaded size. Warning: installing is pretty long, especially at the end. Just have patience)

    I just had a quick try of the software and, by browsing the loads of commands in the interface, I think you should be able to edit/draw any .svg picture you like. By the way, there is also the 8-point star symbol needed for Qeodhar flag! ; )

    On another matter, if you are still looking for Alphatian organisations needing a flag here are a few more suggestions (feel free to pick what you like and ignore the rest, of course):

    - The bloodhound corp (a magically altered group of lupins used as hunds and spies by the Council of Wizards. From Dragon Magazine 344, VotPA, part 36)

    - The Guard of the Lawr (likely a hybrid between rangers and "national guard" defending Shyie-Lawr civilized lands. From Xerdon background at the end of Champions of Mystara: Heroes of the Princess Ark module)

    - The Center for Disease Control (a magic-medical Alphatian organization devoted to fight magical illnesses, especially lycantropy. From PC4 module)

    - What about Alphaks'Volcano? There is a whole secret organisation of people devoted to the destruction of Alphatia, ruled by a Black King and a Black Queen. Alphaks' symbol is a horned skull against a phoenix-shaped flame.

    - Do the merchant fleet shows a dedicated coat of arms? The need for such a flag could rise for practical purposes: the Empire is so large that distant colonies could not recognize each other's flags when approaching to the foreign land. A standardized banner solves the problem.

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    1. Thank you very much for the InkScape link. I'll check into that asap. That may be just what I'm looking for.

      Thanks for all the suggestions. I'll be looking into them very soon. I'd keep Alphaks and the merchant fleet out. The "standardization" part comes off a bit too modern a concept. I'm sure than anyone in the merchant and navigation business can handle less than 100 heraldic designs. I can recognize more than 100 real world flags, so I'm assuming Mystarans not to be any less capable of telling an imperial fleet from a Greenspur trader.

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    2. The Yannivey CoA isn't meant to "mean" anything. It's more likely to have been assigned by a master herald in Sundsvall than by anyone in the islands.

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  8. Enjoying all your Alphatia work. The shield you have for Blackheart is decidedly more standard and heraldic than the one I came up with (which was somewhat more irreverent):

    "Black, Red, and Silver. The heraldic symbol of Blackheart is a black background with a white hand dripping blood in the middle. The hand is set in a gesture that is almost universally considered rude. It should be noted that Blackheart has no formal crest- this logo was created in response to the artistic craze of Mylertendal centuries ago, and has come to be the 'unofficial' crest of the kingdom."

    http://pandius.com/blkhrtgz.html

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    1. No problem. Feel free to switch them to fit your campaign. I'd like to draft the alternate shield but I'm afraid I don't have an appropriate piece of art depicting the offensive gesture. For now anyway. :-)

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  9. Bruce on My Alphatian Champaign, i usually show very aspects, places and Characters on Haaken Family, is there any conditios to show me how is it could be? (Hausman)

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    1. Hi Hausman. Sorry, but your question is unclear. Try writing it directly in Portuguese .

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