Use of Abstract Symmetric Heraldry Devices for Highborn Elves

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  • Use of Abstract Symmetric Heraldry Devices for Highborn Elves

    A peripheral proposal, but still: One thing to consider for the 9th Age illustrators, is to widen the repertoire of High Elf heraldry and seek inspiration for ornaments, emblems, banners, architecture and other designs beyond the familiar stomping grounds of Warhammer's High Elves.

    This is not to say that the Warhammer way of Elven heraldry is to be discarded, on the contrary this strain of fantasy deserves to live on in other settings. Elves should portray objects and creatures of nature and mythology, and use elegant runes. There must be space for wings and swords and crescent moons and stars and animal heads and so on, things which you can clearly see what they depict.


    But it is to say that there are other sources of inspiration and other patterns, emblems and art styles out there as reference for at least some symbols for Highborn Elves. One could possibly call it the best of abstract art. Do not be shy of glancing at Tolkien's often prismatic designs, which can be used in neat ways.


    Pretty kaleidoscopic. Below are some artwork by Matej Cadil which can help give you a sense of how evocatively abstract symbols can be used when incorporated in larger ornaments. Naturally, naturalistic designs are also strong when used in the same way, but you're already well familiar with them already.


    My advice: Use these abstract styles side-by-side with Warhammerish influences. One way to do this could be to have cities, noble houses etc. having abstract visavi naturalistic symbols at random. Or systematized, with one layer e.g. cities, provinces or minor noble houses, having abstract symmetric designs, and other layers of HE society having naturalistic emblems. Or perhaps better yet, if a system is to be introduced (could be fun for the illustrators!), have parallell systems of abstract and naturalistic symbols in use by all Highborn Elven individuals and communities important enough to sport a mark of their own.

    It will help set Highborn Elves apart from e.g. the heraldry of the human Knights of Equitaine by giving Highborn Elves a multilayered symbolic system, and the abstract icons will help reinforce the alien nature of Elves when compared to humans, whenever abstract symmetric symbols are used. Humans prefer strong, simple symbols which the eye can take in quickly and the brain process without too much interpretation clutter. Why should the Elven mind work in exactly the same way? You can play off some mystic sophisticate impression with having human traders, shipwrecked sailors, mercenaries or ambassadors being overwhelmed by the aesthetic impressions of an Elven city, and understanding little of it, to the lordly Elves' secret amusement.

    Marry the styles, and reach a perfect synthesis.

    The post was edited 5 times, last by Karak Norn Clansman ().

  • When the BGT team gets to work on HE heraldry I am sure we are going to make something for unique but familiar. We are currently focused on the faction most associated with heraldry for that segment of background development :)

    Background Team

    Rules Team

    Conceptual Design

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