Sunday, November 2, 2014

Heraldic Shortcomings

I must admit, I've been struggling all morning with heraldry, signs & sigils.  I don't find it a very accessible subject for providing value for characters - and I couldn't think of anything that was deserving of a very high status of research.  Perhaps someone could suggest some directly practical element of heraldry that I hadn't considered.

Sometimes, it is best to consult the internet.


I have added one additional ability to the heraldry page: standard bearer.  The rule is adapted from the hobgoblin monster listed in the original Monster Manual.

I do think it's nice with random rules like that are fitted into a larger scheme.


Jomo Rising said...

If you were the type of DM that left clues for players in loot or scratched on walls, then an identifying sigil might say a lot. Last time out, the party wanted their own symbol, which they had imprinted on silver rings.

The field of Heraldry, however, seems a little dry on its own.

Alexis Smolensk said...

I do agree. Dry is the word. I would like to give it other virtues, but unfortunately beyond those listed, I am as dry as the subject.

Dave Cesarano said...

Damn. I find heraldry to be a fascinating subject into which I've only dipped my pinkie-toe.

I think this is one of the areas where you and I differ on world-building to some extent. I love me some visual aids when it comes to teaching and DMing. I guess where we differ is that heraldry, in this case, is one of those things I love and you... well, don't, so it seems.

Unfortunately, I'm a crappy artist so things like art, architecture, and heraldic badges or banners are beyond my ability. Nevertheless, I still try to imagine and develop them. Adventuring parties having them in specific settings that encourage adventuring as a career is something that helps pull the players into the world.

Since you're pulling heraldic symbols from Real Life, I imagine, well, that's a massive hill to climb, one in which people get PhD's and then only of small countries, a single house, or a particular time period. A Sisyphean task, perhaps? I dunno. Learning the rules of heraldry from country to country can be a monumental task in-and-of itself.

Still, I wouldn't want to discourage you from at least dabbling in it. I always thought it was really interesting, though.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Sorry, Dave, but I actually don't know what the hell you're talking about.

First of all, I don't know where you got from the work I did on the wiki that I don't love visual aids or that I'm not interested in heraldry. Nor was there any comment about the difficulties of understanding or employing heraldry inherent in my request.

The actual issue is the concrete application of heraldry within the D&D frame. Once the player has taken heraldry as their subject, what do they DO with it?

Recognizing the heraldry of others is virtually 95% of the study. Getting your own recognized is the other 5%. What comes after that?

I did think of one thing tonight; the post and the wiki is updated to accommodate it.

Issara Booncharoen said...

Would this sage ability cover convincing faking and forging of heraldic signs?

I know chinese beaurocracy requires a fairly complex system of signatures and signs for pretty much all manufactured goods, is there something in that could be used for the oriental megaculture?

Who audits the symbols and heraldry? Perhaps a high enough level could have the PC become a recognised authority on such matters that people would consult with to have their heradry approved?

A fairly off the wall idea is brand promotion, the ability to make a certain someone's heraldry more widely recognisable within the particular megaculture through the judicious use of rumour and getting the person wearing the heraldry to appear at the right places?

Conversely the ability to track certain heraldry down based on scant information, basically building a picture or where someone with a particular coat of arms has been over a period of time?

The ability to see the relationships between people and organisations based on their heraldry?

I will not be in the least bit offended if you reject all these out of hand as they were spur of the moment thoughts I've only given about twenty minutes to.

Alexis Smolensk said...


I had considered the brand promotion idea but I'm not sure how I would measure or track it.

The forgery idea is brilliant. I'll definitely incorporate that.

I had presumed that the heraldry would be audited by the local government but you're right! As the heraldic scholar hits a certain point (sage), then approving the heraldry of others is a logical progression. I'll incorporate that too.

The Chinese system of signatures and so on would fit under 'guild marks' in the Recognition II ability, presuming the character took the Orient as their megaculture.

I like the heraldic tracking idea - I think I can work up some rules for that.

I'm not clear on the ability to see relationships between people and organizations. Can you expand?

Issara Booncharoen said...

I'm glad you found some of my suggestions helpful.

I think the connections and relationships thing might be a subcategory of simple recognition.

In short, I'm aware that in large noble families memebers of the family sometimes take coats of arms similar but not identical to the main coat of arms. So if the party needed to find a member of a certain family the heradry expert would know what variations to look for.

On a more tenuous level a haraldry expert may be able to look at two guild signs and infer some common point in their history, a past conflict or something like that may be indicated in the heraldry.

Sounds a little two contrived now I think about it. But writing it out did give me another idea. An expert in Heraldry would have to be proficient in geneology and inheritance too, unless of course those are already sage abilities... I see they are. I guess it wasn't such a great idea after all!

Alexis Smolensk said...

I think there are grounds for consideration where geneology and inheritance is concerned. That may take some thought. Seems to me I put geneology under history, but it might be more appropriate here.

Alexis Smolensk said...

I've created falsifying and validating heraldry. Let me know what you think.

Issara Booncharoen said...

The validation of heraldry definately fills my head with ideas of how I'd use that to my advantage and I can imagine many possible hijinks avaliable from that ability alone.

The entry on Falsifyign heraldry definately benefits from the detail and exact rules given, it establishes windows of opportunity and calculated risks. I'm taking that as a masterclass in taking a vague idea and turning it into a specific rule set.

Alexis Smolensk said...

I very much appreciate the help.