Wednesday, August 10, 2011
7K - Heraldry of the Seven Kingdoms
Most home brew settings ignore the element of heraldry. The reason for this is simple: Most of us don't have the artistic chops to draw it out. However, the symbology of a nation can be very important, and allow for rapid identification. Having the players suddenly surrounded by "a sea of blue tabards" can let them know that they are either safe, or in very deep trouble, depending on their relationship with the King's Men.
Here are the colors and a few important symbols of the Seven Kingdoms.
The Amazons tend towards minimalist decor, and this is amply demonstrated in their heraldry. While most people associate Amazza with the dazzling white tunics common among the nobles (where access to bleach is an indicator of wealth), the actual color of the Queen is a vibrant purple. Only the Queen herself may wear a tunic of purple (and she almost invariably does), but anyone acting in a royal capacity may wear some purple device. Her chief advisers all wear purple sashes, her royal guard are gifted with purple scabbards, and even her personal slaves all wear purple headbands.
Symbology in Amazza tends to be very geometric. The primary symbol of the Kingdom is a pair of overlapping triangles making a six-pointed star (known to us as a Star of David).
The royal colors of this desert kingdom are gold and white. Gold for the sun and sand, and white for the salt that is their wealth.
Heraldry within Davrakotia is a complicated art, rife with layers of meaning. Every family of any significant means has a coat of arms. When looking for symbols with national importance, though, there are two that stand out. The first is the dragon, which is the personal symbol of the royal family. If a family's crest contains a dragon, they either are related to the king, or have done some great service for him. If a building carries the mark of a dragon, it belongs to the government.
It is also quite common to see the even-armed cross, the primary symbol of the Ouroboran faith, worked into many devices. Even though it is not the official religion of the state, most of the nobility are devout worshipers.
The royal color of Lianna is a deep forest green, and "wearing of the green" is a common reward given to those who have served the crown in some way. Under the rule of Acnev, many have taken to using hints of green in their dress or decor even if they haven't earned it, as a show of support for the lost royal line.
There are two important symbols of the kingdom. The most common is a silver lion rampant (standing on his hind legs). You will see this symbol on pennants, the uniforms of the royal guard, and most official documentation.
The other symbol is the now shattered Cudowny Crystal. Given the history of the Crystal and its fabled connection to the Shardlings, it has now become a major symbol of the rebellion against Acnev's rule. As such, display of the symbol is an offense punishable by death.
The tattered remnants of this Kingdom still hold onto their symbols. The royal color is an indigo so deep it is nearly black. The dye can only be made from certain berries that grow deep in the swamps, and so is very rare and very expensive. Before the coming of Acnev, it was considered high treason to sell any of the dye to anyone other than the royal court. Today, of course, it is not uncommon to see certain Iskandrian nobles wearing bits of the indigo to deliberately insult Heilgrundians.
The most common device of Heilgrund is a wolf, typically shown curled around upon itself. The Heilgrundians typically describe it as a wolf watching its own back. Less kind interpretations say that the wolf is chasing its tail.
The Arrans have an interesting tradition. Each clan in the Kingdom has its own signature tartan pattern. Outsiders often have difficulty telling the tartans apart, but they are clear badges of allegiance to those who wear them.
The tartan of the Ard Rhi, and thus the effective royal color, is a deep red. This was part of an ancient accord to represent that the Ard Rhi effectively left his clan behind when he took the throne. When any Arran is acting in a royal capacity, and theoretically setting his family allegiances aside, he will wear red in some prominent fashion to represent this.
The artists of Arras are known for their intricate, flowing, geometric patterns. The symbol of the Ard Rhi is always some sort of trefoil, though the specific icon in each leaf is unique to each. The current ruler uses a trefoil of three running horses.
As any visitor to the capital city of Tarsk can tell you, the royal color of Tsoi is blue. Tiles of this hue trim every house that can afford it, and the entire central plaza is paved in blue bricks.
Aside from that color, there is no signature symbol that identifies the nation. For a people that are so often characterized as colorless, they have a remarkably intricate set of sumptuary laws. These laws intersect to form a language of symbols as complex and descriptive as any spoken tongue. A noblewoman can broadcast a spectacular amount of information about her loyalties simply by the jewelry she chooses to wear.
The primary title of the King of Is Ka'ander is Keeper of the Flame. As such, stylized flames, torches, and braziers are frequent elements in royal heraldry. Additionally, the key color of the Kingdom is a vibrant orange. The clothes of the King himself are often shot through with threads of yellow, red, and cloth of gold to give the appearance of living flame as he moves.
The Imperial symbols are also now an important part of what you see around an Iskandrian city. The primary Imperial colors are black and silver. Acnev also makes heavy use of skeletal motifs, for fairly obvious reasons. His secret police use a lidless eye as their symbol. The Imperial Guard, led by his trusted lieutenant Kaspar, uses a clenched skeletal fist.