Heraldry of the Shield Lands


Back in May 2023 I published the first version of my look at Shield Lands before the war, with its provinces, and some of its heraldry. That first version had half of the heraldry missing, here comes an update that includes heraldry for all the provinces plus some corrections. I'm also including some other relevant shields in this post.

Shield Lands is a realm on the frontier, and has been even more so in the past. The intricacies of heraldic design and the vanity if the nobles houses of the Aerdy heartlands was often far away and only given a token of recognition. This gives local conditions and traditions of old Flan and new upstarts a chance to place their mark on the symbols used. Then came the troubled times with Horned Society and Iuz and their take over of most of the Shield Lands. That latest invaders are not the focus of this post. I have covered Iuz in a previous post, and working on an update on the Horned Lands and Iuz coming soon.

Earldom of Walworth

The oldest part of the future Shield Lands, with heraldry that reflects its position between the core lands of the Great Kingdom and the vice-royalty of Ferron in the west. Its back colors are the blue of the Great Kingdom to the right an the red of Ferron to the left, upheld by the white walls of Admundfort and decorated by a chain to really convey the message.   Initially it had an Aerdy Star at the top, which first disappeared in the 200's CY when Ferrond broke off from the Great Kingdom.

Later after the formal creation of the Shield Lands a white banner at the top featuring the tower of Critwall was added, and it is the version still in use. 

Earldom of Critwall

The constructions on top of the mesa have always been the center of Critwall, and the massive keep and the Bastion of Faith can be seen for miles around so it is kind of natural for Critwall to have a keep as its symbol right from the start. Is predecessor Shelemek most likely had one of many different symbols throughout its history but none of them have survived well enough to be known by todays heraldic experts. There are symbols in the lava tubes under Niahu Hill, but no agreement on whether they were the symbol of Shelemek or not.  The place is not really accessible for the less daring, and I will go into the nature of the caverns under Critwall and its dangers  in a future blog post. 

The oldest shield of used by the early Aerdy conquered Critwall was a variant of the Walworth shield featuring a white tower above the protective wall of the Walworth's in Admundfort. The tower carries the Aerdy Star as well.

In the 200's black malachite was added to the main keep, both imported and locally sourced. This was to follow the latest fashions of Rauxes and show that even in the outer provinces things followed Rauxes. The Aerdy Star was enlarged and the background colors removed. This was an up and coming city with ambition and confidence. 

After the formation of the Shield Lands and the breakup of the Great Kingdom, the outlook had to change and the heraldry changed with it. The red and white of the order of the Shield was made the base colors, but the black tower was kept as the lone symbol, and soon the new heraldry was adopted as the symbol of the new Shield Lands as a whole. The Aerdy star was no more part of the symbology of the lands of the shield.

Earldom of The Sentry

Scragholme have keep a low profile in the history of the Shield Lands, and its heraldry have been the same since the Bright Sentry was constructed in the early days of Aerdy settlement. It was both literary and figuratively a beacon for the locals and its been guiding sea fearers on the Nyr Dyv for centuries, which makes it a natural fit for a shield. 

Earldom of Southkeep

Southkeep became an ally of Critwall early and added the back tower above a Great Kingdom blue water for its shield. the Dyv cat was added later when the an Earl became fond of the shore line fishing little feline and ordered a cute cat to be added to the heraldry. Southkeep had a very troubled history both during Halmadar the Cruel's insurrection and later under the Horned Society and Iuzian occupations. 

In 598 CY it was liberated and an original shield is again proudly decorating the keep with its cat. 

County of Gensal

Gensal was most known for its orchards and the cider that was produced there. The legend has it (at least if you asked people in Gensal) that is was the red color of the best Gensal apples that made it onto the red of the order. So of course the symbol of the county had to be an apple tree with ripe red apples. To make sure the tree and its fruit stood out as best as possible, the background had to be white, so the banner behind the tower at the top was to be made red instead of the usual white to make a more balanced shield. 

After Iuz takeover Gensal is now the base of Glushnag who's horde operates under a banner that has combined the horns of the society and the bony visage of Iuz

County of Lardon

In the early days of settling the county the Lardon shield used the Aerdy Star at the top, the Walworth colors and a goat head on a white background.

After the creation of the Shield Lands the lardon shield changed a bit to a mainly white design with a black goat, the Walworth colors and a small white band at the top with the Critwall tower. After the Count Lardon's treason in 585 CY, the saying is that its only the goat that should be on it. 

Goats and sheep are a main part of the economy of the county, its being hillier  and harsher that what is the norm for most the the Shield Lands, making it ill suited for most things except goat and sheep grazing. 

County of Axeport

Axeport was one of the earliest places along the coast to be settled. It was a convenient distance between Alhaster and Critwall, which meant it played an important rule in the Great Kingdom effort to settle, or conquer, the Shield Lands. for the first few century it was a port to dump settlers and it maintained a garrison of troops loyal to someone else and didn't develop local governing. It was also not under the Walworth's banner, so in the beginning Axeport flew a red banner with the Aerdy Star over blue waves. A simple design that was kept until the founding of the Shield Lands.

The heraldry for the newly formed County of Axeport became  a white shield with the Critwall tower over the blue waves, giving it both continuity and a clear message of allegiance. 

Other towns in Axeport County where large enough to develop their own shields, Delard and Auldet. there might be others but I haven't developed more at this point.


Delard have a shield that clearly show its allegiance to both the Shield Lands and Axeport but changed out the left side to a blue with two fishes. This symbolizes the fishing done in both Nyr Dyv and up the Sanstin River.


This was a bustling little town in its prime and they had ambitions and pride enough to fly their own banner. In truth they mainly got away with it due to distance from Axeport and it was a recreational area for some fancy folks from Critwall, so they could use it unpunished. 

The design is a standard red and white of Shield Lands, with a small black tower in the upper part showing allegiance. A set of wildflowers are the centerpiece, symbolizing the rich meadows surrounding Auldet that are the reason Auldet is renowned for its wild meadow honey. 

The saying is that the reason the center of the middle flower is blue is that the Count of Axeport once asked where is the blue of Axeport, and someone quickly whispered that it is in the center, in the most beautiful flower. The Count was, according the the people of Auldet, pleased enough and the shield has been used since, until the Horned Society invasion. Auldet has then fallen into obscurity under a brutal occupation.

County of Jondo

The area a bit north of the Nyr Dyv coast seemed to be of little interest to the settling Aerdy, the land had meager agricultural value and was mostly seen as a transit area to reach further inland. Its population was small even before the Aerdy arrival, and most of them semi settled flan herders of peaceful disposition. This led to Jondo retaining much more of a flan character, with an economy based on meat and wool for export and cater for transports north and south. 

A feature of the area that is of significance is a forest of usk trees in a low laying area between the rivers. An old symbol of the usk tree, on top of a full red often used by the old flan and Great Kingdom blue.     

County of Docamald

The heraldry of Docamald relates to Jondo's in a way. It lays claim to the fame of the usk forests that Jondo has the lions share of also extends into Docamald. Not wanting to use the old flan tree symbol opted early on for a usk fruit symbol instead. 

How the shield looked like before the 200's, when this shield seem to have been designed since it uses the black Critwall tower, no one seem to know. No known shields with an older design seems to have survived, and even records of the early days of the county are vague at best. The people and lords of Docamald seems to have managed to keep a dull existence.

The shield uses the dark red color used in some of the older designs which might be a carry over from a previous older design. 

Earldom of Battledown

An early Aerdy settlement that didn't grew into a large town of a city, but it had a both tumultuous and glory filled early years. According to legend, Battledown heraldry stems from the two brothers who vowed to stay and fight when a large group of raiders attacked the keep in its early days. With super human courage and great skill and ample help from Heironeous, the two brother's dedicated the rest of their life to lives to defend the keep in Heironeous honor. The legend says that they still stood strong at sunrise holding up their swords, which is what the heraldry symbolize. The symbolic walls are extra high as well. The background is the Great Kingdom blue.

County of Deleven

Deleven heraldry are rumored to hail from first Aerdy leader of the area, who according to legend came from the Celadon and had a smitten of elven ancestry. The black unicorn stems from these early days and have been the county's symbol ever since. A tradition with outdoors men well suited to survive by themselves are still part of the tradition for counts from Deleven.

Principality of Alhaster

Alhaster begun early on during the westward expansion of the Aerdy, and was settled around -150 CY. It was seen as the next step west from Radigast City that was already well established. 

The first heraldry adopted by the emergent city was a design based on the black used by the early Great Kingdom under Nasran, and with five gold coins at the bottom symbolizing trade and prosperity. the top part has a sword, a portcullis and a spear symbolizing honor, defense and military prowess. 

In pristine condition. The only shield of this variant known are an old rusty one on display in the stronghold of Prince Zeech.

Later on in the 100's the growing city adopted a new variant with a lower part in the new Great Kingdom Blue. This shield was used until Alhaster leaves the Shield Lands in 577 CY.  

This design is based one a shield from this website: [Principality of Redhand - Alhaster (google.com)](https://sites.google.com/site/principalityofredhand/redhand/alhaster) I have no name and way of contact the designer. But my maps are used on the site so I feel I dare to use his/her work as a base. I like the design. If anyone knows who is behind the site please tell me, so I can reach out and give proper credit.

Earldom of Reyneld

The shield design is more than a bit of an enigma despite being in use for nearly 500 years. It seems to first appear in the 100's when the region was taken over by Aerdy men who was beginning to organize it. Its colors are clearly Aerdy, but the stiped designs origins are unknown.

It is one of the few shields that survived the occupation of the Shield Lands. Brutal warriors from the Bandit Kingdoms now rule this area with an iron fist, but the shield is still in some use. 

This is an Living Greyhawk design.

County of Ringland

Ringland is one of the biggest Flan ringed settlements still in use and that is depicted on the shield. The settlement has three large keeps with a ring around it, and all of it dug out of a hill. The three towers are now in the form of the typical Shield Land sort, but originally they were part of an intricate main symbol on the old shield. 

On the top portion of this flan shield was boar placed to symbolize both strength and as a homage to the main pray of the hunters in old Ringland.  Another interpretation of the main symbol is that is was a form of hunting device, but the opinions vary.

Very few shields exist from this time, but the few that does look worn and need an expert to decipher them.

Rule over Ringland shifted more slowly and peaceful to Aerdy in the 100's and a new shield was adopted sometime in the late 100's that was influenced by the old design. 

A new wild boar is prancing on a hill with three towers in the background. The at the time Aerdy fashionable black forms the background. The shields at the frontier lands around this time was not painted by skilled artist using high quality pigments, so they looked rather dull even in their time

The few shields that still exists from these early days look rather decrepit. 

Later on after the formation of the Shield Land, a new design was made.  It is based on the red and white of the order, and the towers are now of Critwall fame but still three, The wild boar is still there in the center in black now to keep the colors down to Shields Lands red, white, black.

County of Nairen

These lands was at first governed from Ringland , a tradition taken over from Flan times. When it became its own province it was with a ruling couple with the knight hailing from Ringland and his wife a daughter from Deleven. So their new heraldry reflected this by using the Ringland boar on a green background with the common white board and Critwall tower at the top

County of Torkeep

This was a wild frontier until the late in the 100's when determined efforts to conquer the lands east of the Ritensa to create a defendable border against the numerous threats coming from the Horned Lands. one of the knights was Cauld Torkeep who's accomplishments made him the first lord of these lands and the builder of the keep that still bares his name.

Later on a descendent of his, Franz Torkeep was part the group that managed to bring back the Crook of Rao. As a reward for that achievement, he got the honor of having a large part of land split away from Critwall, Gensal and Delcomben to form the new County of Torkeep.

The new county's shield was of course showing of the Count's accomplishments with a golden crook, the deep red to give it old flare and the white with the tower to prominently show off its allegiance.

Earldom of Delcomben

Once a castled village acting as an outpost watching the lands of the Hierarchs. Things where rather primitive for a long time so in order to appear impressive they put two towers rather than one on their shield. People who visit Delcomben have a hard time finding even one tower of significance, the depicted towers are the two guarding the main gate. The colors are the Shield Lands red and white.

County of Olenak

Olenak has kept more of its old flan cultural characteristics than most other areas of the Shield Lands and that is reflected in its heraldry as well, and it has changed very little over the last 700 years. 

The shield has for as long as anyone knows been a symbol that probably is a reference to the old ringed settlement of Olenak.  Very little still exist of it today but the symbol has persisted for centuries. Below is what it would have looked like in its prime before the Aerdy arriving. 

The few old shields existing of this type look a lot worse of course.

The early Aerdy must have liked it because they adopted it, old Aerdy style heater shields have been found using the the same design.

And here is what they looked like back in their time.

After the creation of the Shield Lands a white band at the top with a tower symbol was added and have been in use up until the war.

Most of the ones you find out there are in a bad state, below you can see what they look like in a better state.

County of Harryn

The story behind the County of Harryn are short by Shield Lands standards. It took well into the 300's CY before Harryn was established, the population needed to be large and permanent enough to support it. 

The heraldry design is rumored to have come to be almost by accident. Legend has it that early on in the construction of the Harryn keep most of its troops came from Deleven who had people to spare to prop up the rear of the Veng front. These men wore green armbands for identification and someone just started using it on the shields as well, and when it was time to create a crest for the county a green line was what it had been recognized by. So a simple green line was kept and it still used on white with the ubiquitous tower at the top. 

County of Shepkote

Like its neighbor Harryn Shepkote is on the younger side when it comes to Shield Lands provinces. It was created when the there was enough people to fill the gaps between Delcomben and Law's Forge. At this time the Critwall tower was an already well established symbol. No one bothered to come up with something complicated, a blue bottom symbolizing the blue of the Ritensa and top white with a large tower to make allegiance abundantly clear.

County of the Forge

Was established in the very late 290's as a part of creating the order of the Shield and Shield Lands itself. Its heraldry reflects this. It was the red and white like shield of the order, in the center are a combination of the runes friendly and honor to represent the aspirations and goals of the new realm. 

County of Weslan 

Weslan was for along time only a keep that provided a safe haven for the many herders threatened by marauding bandits from the north or west. There where many of these old flan hillforts that got modernized and upgraded i the early years of the Shields Lands establishment, and Weslands location turned it into a hub of north central Shield Lands.  The tall keep had sturdy defenses and a sizable presence of Heironeous knights of the Shield so Weslan adopted heraldry a modified version of the Critwall tower on a silver metal background.

After the Iuz invasion a mockery of the old shield was adopted by Vayne who know control a large potion of former Shield Lands from it.

County of Stahzer 

Stahzer started out its life as an important guard post  along the Great Northern Aerdy Road that stretched from Urnst to the Ritensa River. As it grew to become a border town on the Great Kingdoms northern frontier in central Flanaess heraldry was developed to show its significance and standing.

It had the  base red of Ferrond with a golden row of runes taken from the locals meaning home hearth and safety. It was topped with the Great Kingdom blue and the Aerdy Sun. The example above shows one of the few aged shields still in existence from so long ago. The blue have turned mostly corroded green and it is tarnished, but still have a bit of the flare of the then vibrant and expanding Great Kingdom.

After the formation of the Shield Lands the heraldry was updated to reflect this, but the bottom colors and runes stayed.

Stahzer today is a staging point for Iuz presence and control, and a wall is being raised to protect the the empire's core lands from incursions across the open grasslands. The new heraldry depicts the horrors of the Old One's deeds with a wall, bleeding skulls and fiendish creatures guarding it.

Earldom of Bolam

Alongside Stazer, Bolam is one of the most frontier provinces of he Shield Lands bordering The Great Effluvial Swamp and the White Plume Mountain. 

The heraldry adopted by the first earl was an attempt to capture the role of frontier guardian. A vigilant golden eagle protects the Walworth colors above a white wall. The design has been in use until the war. 

Castle Mukos

The unfortunate Baronet of Mukos settled here and for a while until overrun by meenlocks. He managed to develop a crest for his Shield Lands estate. He created a variant of the Bolam crest, but with half the back being Greyhawk black and a string of chains. The chains having a triple meaning, being both a reference to Greyhawk and a symbol of him being a chain in the defense of his new realm, it is also a homage to the Walworth use of the chains.

Halmadar the Cruel

His insurrection is infamous in Shield Lands history. He didn't adopt a formal crest and have it used by his troops, they weren't that organized. Halmadar didn't care for his mob, he wanted to be seen and feared so he used shield that, as far as we know, was unique. It was an Aerdy standard heater shield but with elaborate Vecna symbology on it. 

After the defeat of Halmadar, his shield was taken to Critwall and according to rumors it is on private display in a room in the Commanders Residence along with other trophies gotten over centuries of hostilities.

Deepshuttle Delve

A settlement older than the shield Lands, that has eked out an existence in the conflict rift between the more organized lands

to the south and east of the Ritensa, and the more wild lands to the north and west.  It was the goal of the Great Kingdom to capture it and turn it into a staging point along the Northern Aerdy Road and a base to go west from the Ritensa. 

The ambitions of the Aerdy where not enough to conquer it from the unruly, chaotic and disparate but determined group of defenders. By the time the Great Kingdom's ambitions had reached this far the fear of them had enough time to row to untruly proportions. This mean that the defenders where gathered from near and far of every linage and creed, able to bullied into service.  

For a long time the situation fluctuated between conflict and tenuous trade. The lords that run the place where often greedier than they where hungry for power, so for a long time the Delve was know for its rather hopeful shield.

After the Iuz takeover there is no doubt about the intentions, the bridge is now a fortified ditch with Mok'slyk guarding it.

You can download a zip file with all these shields here (569MB): https://annabmeyer.com/Downloads/Shield%20Lands/Shield%20Land%20Herladry.zip

and the Shield Lands Province map here: https://annabmeyer.com/Downloads/Shield%20Lands/Shield%20Lands%20576CY%20Province%20Map%20-%203.jpg

Defenses - Serion Keep


here is still time for me to post one more defensive look at, and a fortification discussion set in Greyhawk demands that we look at a castle!

Serion Keep is a proper castle, but it kept its old name and are still called a keep by locals. Lets start with a brief summary of its history. During the reign of Dragotha in the -900s CY a set of caves was being expanded on and turned into a fortress. During the construction a very sturdy keep was built on top of a small hill west of the main range to support the work. The keep was attacked repeatedly by Dragotha and severely damaged but never completely destroyed.  The keeps defenses was bolstered by a new type of defenses called Dragon Chains, which after a series of modifications turned out to be effective against dragon attacks.

It was much later in the 200's it was restored and massively expanded by Count Lardon to fuel his ambitions. It is set fairly isolated on a small hill on the edge of the Serion Hills. It is a bit over 10 stories high with a well dug in base with very thick walls and a several supporting towers, including the original keep.

On the work in progress picture above, only the keep's walls are visible bottom left.

The hills to the east force most attackers to come from the west visible for miles. Despite its appearance, the modern Serion Keep is only to be considered a midweight when it comes to its defenses. It has evolved into a resort for the Lardon to impress its guests as much as being a defensive retreat.  It would still require a sizable force of skilled attackers to take it, which happed in my campaign lat year when the characters took part in an assault of it. with support of two dragons and around 500 Shield Landers the keep fell in about 6 hours.

Lets take a look at its defenses. Lets start with the Dragon Chains, a new and improved set of them was installed when Morginstaler was first sighted in the 570's. Heavy chains with loots of barbs and hooks makes the castle take on an ominous look which seems to suit the current Lardon.

The wall gate is fairly simple with two doors and a portcullis with murder holes above. The gate into the keep itself is where things are bit more improved. In order to get to it you have to go around the southern part of the main keep and then take to 90 degree turns thought another set of doors and portcullises with murder holes, all while you are under fire from a both the main building and  a tower across from the gate.

Serion keep is equipped to take in a large contingent of troops, guests or be a refuge for locals in case of danger. Lots of large rooms accessible by horse and cart even.   The floor above the entry gates are just like the entry floor high ceilings and an open layout to support movement of troops with weapons and gear. The  defenses around the entry points are separated from the rest of the keep to make it possible to delay their use to an enemy even after they have gained entry into the keep. A way to buy time, and an access way to the walls and its keeps are also in the entry section, making it possible for each of the wall towers to continue the fight even after a breach of the main building. This is way to compensate for the lack of a strong main keep.

The weakness comes at the higher levels when comfort compromises starts to take over. Lots of doors and windows to create an welcoming atmosphere for noble guests and be impressive during fancy dinners compromise the defenses.

This was a quick intro to my Serion Keep. A longer version will come with the story of the Lardons and how the keep came to a gruesome end.

File List:








I hope this post on defenses have inspired you to dip into designing defenses for your own campaigns!

Defenses - Auldet Keep


My next example of defenses and fortifications are the Auldet Keep. Auldet is a village/town, depending on when in history you look, that is of my own design. I've posted about Auldet before and a comprehensive history and overview is coming. This post will be a bout the Auldet Keep, and its design and placement.

Auldet keep is a great example of the "new" Oeridian way of organising defense. Instead of spreading out, the Oeridian mantra was to concentrate, invest a lot and build sturdy. The purpose of the keep is to secure the road west from Delard towards Critwall when it passes over a plateau. It is built with clear views in every direction on a steep edge, giving it easy access from the road, and a side safe from assault. Enemies can be seen approaching long before they become a threat.

Aerial threats in the form of dragons are guarded against not by using chains, the keep instead relies on strong construction and small openings with sturdy shutters. For most of its history dragon attacks where seen as a thing of the past and only a secondary consideration.

The keep is visible from Delard a few miles away, so the tradition of being able to communicate and rely on your neighbours are still there but not to the extent the Flan did so. A clear day you can see both Delard and Southkeep from the top of Auldet keep, which might be handy incase of an attack.

The entrance is not located at ground level, you have to ascend a set of stairs  about 15 feet up and pass a drawbridge that can be raised and secured against the wall from the inside. In order to access the door you have to make a sharp left turn , which is to make it much more difficult to use a ram to smash in the door. The first room has an arrow slit in the wall opposite the door, murder holes in the ceiling, and hatches for missiles and spells  in the door leading into the keep.  All in all there are three sturdy doors that have to be dealt with before an attacker have breached the defenses of the keep.

There are no openings at ground level, the first, very narrow, arrow slits appear on the entry level 15 feet up from the ground. No openings on the entry side that can e used by attackers assaulting the door.

The living quarters and defensive needs are mixed up all throughout the design of the keep. This thing was designed to both look and really be well fortified. On the fourth floor the Iuzian clerics who have held the keep for about 15 years have added a new defensive feature kind of unique to the Iuzians. Along the walls there are piles of bones stacked floor to ceiling. This is not to show of their cruelty, this are the bones of the townsfolk and others who they have killed, it is also a weapon to be used against an attacker. The bones can be animated, or bone chain spell can be used, and then the bones can be thrown out the narrow windows forcing an attacker to have to deal with a whole bunch of undead.

The roof is unremarkable with crenelations, a roof that covers the center and the stairs, but no machicolations. Probably two reasons for not using machicolations, cost and keep the top walls as sturdy as possible.

This was a short look at my take of a simple Aerdy keep. Auldet will be present, in full, soon.

Defenses - Flanaess Ringed Settlements & City Gates


The topic for tomorrow's Legend & Lore Show is Fortifications in Greyhawk which is something I'm very interested in.

A fantasy world like Greyhawk is a violent ad competitive place, in order to stay secure and stay in power you need to defend not only you, but your underlings, your property and more. Like we saw in ancient and medieval times, rulers and  people went to great lengths to enact various forms of defenses. Castles, walls,  moats, dungeons and more where all part of the real arsenal of fortifications, what about people of the World of Greyhawk, how did they try and fortify themselves?

Here comes a couple of examples taken from my view of the setting.  Fortifications varies a lot depending on what kind of threat you are trying to guard against, what material you have to work with and the available labor (and other resources like magic) needed for construction. Fortifications have a number of main functions that might not be so obvious at first glace.


Fortifications need to be impressive enough to an presumptive attacker to make him (or her or it) reconsider. An attack that doesn't happen because the enemy didn't think it was worth the effort has fulfilled its purpose without having to be used.

Even out the Odds

The next function  of fortifications are to give the defenders a better chance, by providing cover, concealment an better positions to spot, fire and defend themselves from. The goal is to force the enemy to have to use way more troops to successfully attack.

Buy Time

If the worst comes and a determined, prepared and strong attacker gains the advantage, the final purpose for the fortifications is to buy time and let the defenders hold out longer increasing the odds for help to arrive or some other circumstance might change and offer a way out.

Re-posting this sketch of a typical small Flan Ringed settlement. I have it that the Flan in the northern often open grass plains who where often of limited means and had to defend themselves against both men and various forms of monsters developed a special form of simple but effective defenses.

Dispersed Defense

Instead of building large towns and cities and seek safety and prosperity in number behind think walls, the flan who settled the plains here choose a different strategy. Small settlements that blended in with the surrounding terrain, and  still provided some protection.

It was common to find a low hill made up of tough soil, dig out the center and a surrounding moat. Use the dug up soil and stone to construct walls, battlements, and reinforce the outside of the dwellings. Sizes varied from a few families up to a several hundred, and in rare circumstances all the way up to town size with a thousand or more. The sketch shows a more typical size with living for 100-200 people and they livestock. Life inside the dwellings was cramped and dense, but people lived outside with their sheep, goats and cattle  most of the daytime, so being cramped at night, or when danger was lurking was accepted.

An important aspect of this design was the proximity of similar settlements, key was to spread out risk instead of center it. The distance between these dwellings where usually a few hundred yards up to a quarter of  a mile, and always within signaling distance, using horns, flags or smoke. This forced the enemy to attack only a single dwelling or spread out their forces. Neighboring settlements could quickly come to aid those attacked. Most adults in this realm can both fight and are able riders. A settlement only have to be able to defend themselves for a short time before they can count on help from their neighbors.

Here is a cut out sample of a large version of the Flan Ringed Settlement. It relies on the same idea, but on a bit grander scale. A larger hill is dug out from the top to provide but foundation and building material. The central core of the hill is kept and forms the base for the main keep. Living spaces, a moat and an entrance tunnel are dug out from the inside. Material left over from the dig are used to build battlements on top of the ring around the inner yard. Walkways between the battlements and the main keep are erected (or kept as part of the original stone). the walkways aid in quick movement between opposite sides of the battlements and the main keep.

The dug in construction also works as a water collector, which is a key point in locations without direct access to water. This design let you collect rainwater even if fairly dry areas. It also protects from wind in colder climates. The natural rock is a sturdy material and with well constructed battlements it is a fortification design that offers good defense considering how difficult it is to construct.

This is totally different type of fortification. Cities need to facilitate lots of people, and goods coming and going, while still be able to keep intruders out when needed. Cities are beacons for everyone, even those who wants it riches (and location) for themselves, so city defenses need to look impressive as well as being effective.

A set of double walls with moats and towers makes for an impressive set of defenses. The city walls also need to be protected from inside the city so they can be used to control the population, and continue to work even after a breach in some other part. Another major function for city gates are to be places to conduct searches and tax collection. By having two set of gates with an enclosed area in between, it makes it easier for guardsmen to divide arrivals into manageable groups seal them off from both the outside and inside, search them, and collect fees and taxes. The area have plenty of murder holes tat can be used by guardsmen on the floor above.

In order to breach the secured gates, an attacker has to get through three doors, two portcullis, two pits, and two closed and locked ramps. The ramps and inner doors have small hatches that can be used to hurl missiles and spells on attackers and the ceilings have murder holes almost the entire way. This means that the attackers have to be both more numerous and stronger than the defenders to have any real chance to succeed.

File Links:




Orrona - a village in the Barony of Axeport


The village of Orrona is in many ways as unremarkable as villages can be, but even the most boring places have its quirks, horrors and other stories if you dig deep enough. In the case of Orrona it is literary true.

The story of what would become Orrona starts the same ways most places in this region, with the arrival of Flan explorers a bit over 4000 years ago. They came along the coast of Nyr Dyv and explored inland, and the estuary of the small Orron river most likely went unnoticed during the first phases of exploration. The mighty Veng to the west and the much smaller Sanstin River to the east both got a lot more interest and settlements sprung up along them.

The first one to settle at what would later become Orrona is long lost to history, but if someone inquisitive with enough divination skills would investigate this is the story they would find. A flan named Yerahu landed here around -3200 CY with a small group of family and followers. He was the younger brother of a regional lord and had just lost a power challenge and needed to settle somewhere else, far enough away and hard enough to find to give him time to start over and rebuild his life.

Yerahu settled on the little peninsula south of the modern village since it has a small hill with some small caves for extra protection. A small marina was built on the western side of peninsula hidden from view from the lake, and back then most of the area was covered in conifers making it hard to find Yerahu's settlement.

Over time it grew to become a village and it grew along side Selach that as situated at the mouth of the Sanstin, Yerahu pledge loyalty to the lord of Selach and life was beginning to perk up again for young Yerahu and his small band of followers. Yerahu's older brother found out that Lord Selach had a new henchman who must be his traitorous younger brother. He offered Lord Selach a truce and alliance if he delt with Yerahu, and sent him prof that he had done so. Lord Selach took him up on his offer and the first settlers of future Orrona met a quick but gruesome death.  The head of Yerahu was sent away and lost to history, but his body and the others where unceremoniously dumped in the deepest cave on the peninsula.

The simple construction they made withered and almost disappeared. Left to this day are a couple of stone foundations, one two stores high that was a fortified tower that had a wooden floors and upper structure that are long gone. Two mooring stones along the shoreline on the western side can be found if you look among the dense reeds just under the water surface on the western side.

After the executions the peninsula got a bad reputation, was considered haunted and few people set foot on it except when it was time to execute someone, and rumors of hideous and particularly gruesome end for those who got executed over on the "Traitor's Cove" as the place became known in the region.  After a century or so around a hundred people had been brought to their death and left to rot on the island. And its reputation grew and people kept away from it.

Then a new line of rulers took over Selach and the Traitor's Cove was no longer used and left to linger in silence. It did so for another few centuries before a infamous dragon took control of the lands. The Reign of Dragotha had come and she needed bones, lots of them. After she had killed or chased away everyone, she used her senses and ruthless determination to find and dig up every bone she could find. In -946 CY Dragotha found "Traitor's Cove" and after finding the bones laying around in the open she dug out the rest and took them with her. This might have been one of the few reasonably good deeds Dragotha has ever done. The hole she left is there to this day, and under 10 feet of soil soaked in dried blood are the bones (minus the skull) of Yerahu and his closest followers.

After Dragotha's demise a new order of things slowly came to be, the time of the Oeridians had come and in 52CY the first people from Selach, rebuilt and now named Delard after the new Oeridian lord who ruled there, came to explore. A road along the coast westward was in the plans and their mission was to find the best place to cross the river. They picked a spot on the bigger northern peninsula and that was the start of the Orrona that still, for the most part, stands.

Taking shape

Over the next century a village and a new economy slowly evolved around the bridge and river. At first the only inhabitants where the rivers guards and their dependents. Traffic was increasing and the peninsula offered both decent fishing and reasonably fertile lands, and Orrona grew into a kind of suburb to Delard a couple of miles away. It was too close for most travels to stop and seek shelter over night, at most a pint on the way was what possible to sell travelers. Delard had way more to offer, and was a safer place to stay over night. Auldet farther west became the next resting place where most travelers rested.

Its not noted down anywhere who made the first batch of peat smoked whitefish, but someone put a few of the small fish from the stream in the smoke from a peat fire and must have liked the result. It became a thing, and peat smoked whitefish became popular in the region being eaten as far away as Critwall, Axeport and towns miles inland. With demand came new innovations in production, from catching wild fish to farming them. A practice of farming insects took off, and the insects are used to feed the fish that are housed in closed off part of the Orron next to the village. Fish farming in now the major industry in Orrona, along with a bit of farming, and fishing in the river and along the Nyr Dyv shoreline.

When Halmadar the Cruel insurgency started Orrona was not directly affected. As Halmadars's influence increased the chaos drew nearer and in the late 420's his forces had taken control of Auldet a few miles to the west. The people of Orrona did what most sensible people did and fled east to nearby Delard. To flee would serve the people of Orrona multiple times later in history as well. Halmadar's men never took over Orrona, Delard was reasonably well defended and not a prime target. Instead Halmadar turned west and besieged Critwall, and the remaining thugs in Auldet was killed off in a battle that the people of Orrona talks about to this day.

The village's claim to fame is one of their sons became a squire in the new Knights of Holy Shielding at the battle against Halmadar the Cruel's men in Auldet where he performed admirably he became a full knight of the order, and rose through the ranks as Orrand in honor of his birth place. He became the lord of the keep that guards the merger of the Ritensa and Veng Rivers, and served their until his death in 480 CY. The keep was named after him, but is now called Oran's keep after a son of the knight assigned to the keep almost a century later. That son was named Oran after the keep and became a mage and took part in the wars against the Hierarchs and then Iuz. He took over the keep and renamed it Orand's keep.

Quiet village life continued until the Horned Society with support from Bandit Kingdom invaded in 579 CY. This time the word came with people fleeing from the north to Delard. Smoke could be seen from settlements to the north. The Knight where nowhere to bee seen this time, and the people of Orrona decided to take to the Nyr Dyv this time. Every available boat was packed up in a hurry and then hastily rowed and sailed out into the Nyr Dyv. So did most people of Delard as well, and a small armada of boats sailed south along the coast and ended up on Scragholm Island.

Orrona faired rather well during the invasion. There was no one there to take, and treasure was nowhere to be found, and there was bigger and richer places to capture. This meant that Orrona was large left alone the first year or so. The Hobgoblins who where the first of the new rulers of the area was not interested in fish farming and soon concentrated on Critwall. Later on in a group of junior Iuz clerics took over Auldet and Delard and started using slave labor to try and get the economy going again. They has a go at fishing, but didn't have boats or the knowledge to make any so it was a low yielding enterprise. The initial crew of Iuzian clerics met a hastily end in 583 CY when a force of the Shield Patrol landed on the coast near the village on a recon/raid mission. The three clerics where found, and either killed in combat, or if they surrended, unceremoniously executed. One of their henchmen was left alive and sent off to spread the news that the Knights will come for them all eventually.

Current Orrona

This pattern repeated itself twice more before the Iuzians learned to stay away from the coast, and later the area around Orrona served as a forward base for the Shield Patrol. The village was left empty for several years until Uddard became the new Lord of Delard. Uddard served the newly appointed Baron of Axeport and was given the task of getting Delard functioning again. Being a hardened kid born in Molag who has served in many battles and now was ready to reap some reward from all the fighting, took to his new task with experience and strangely some patients as well. Uddard got a few people there to both guard the road west and be self sufficient, it was a repeat of the initial Aerdy settlement many centuries earlier.

Uddard's tough but reasonably fair regime paid off and a semblance of village life returned again in the early 590's. The Iuzian's wanted their share or threated to take over. Uddard let them try tipped off the Shield Patrol, or killed them off himself, it was a good sport and an excellent way to stay fit, and then blamed the Shield Patrol. Higher up clerics didn't dare to directly confront Uddard, he was capable and wise. One of the tricks he used was to use the riches taken from killed Iuzians to pay off those higher up. This kept him both feared and respected byt leaders further north, who raerly ventured down to check on things.


This has been the situation is Orrona until very recently in the winter of 598 - 599 when a force of Shield Landers under Katarina herself liberated Auldet a few miles west. Uddard and Katarina have had a first talk about the future, but nothing has come out of it as far as the people of Orrona have heard it. They are keeping their heads down and tries to say out of politics, it is a dangerous gamble at best and often outright deadly.

Map Links:







GIS - First Sample Map


Fifteen years ago I started to redo my Flanaess map using Adobe Illustrator, the goal was to make a single large map covering the whole subcontinent. Previously using CorelDraw I had only worked with page (A4 at first then Letter) size, the computers and 32bit software back then couldn't handle all the detail in one file. Then I tried out Adobe Illustrator  and Photoshop in 64bit versions and saw the capability to handle really large files, and my conversion work started.

Now it is time again, this time its not the need for size that in focus, it us usability first and foremost.  I started to learn GIS a few years ago and now the bits are falling in place and it is time to have a first sneak peak at what the new GIS based version of my Flanaess map will look like. Superficially they are very similar, this is by design. Everyone who have been using my maps should feel right at home using the new version as well. Look at bit closer and there are some changes, the most obvious are the symbols, there are more of them and they are a bit clearer.  All in all there are currently 998 different symbols, and there will probably be a few more, this includes lots of variations of the same symbol. Towns for example, come in two sizes, fortified or not, and the in various importance from capitals to ruined.

and towns

It is a lot of work but I think it can be useful to have a comprehensive se of symbols when you map a fantasy setting as complex as Greyhawk. A set of simple black symbols will be available as well for maps that need less settlement detail.

Setting up an advanced project like this requires lots of work but once it is done the data can be used in a lot of cool and useful ways. For example using a measurement tool to calculate distances.

Mile markers are added to both roads and sea lanes that are a bit more accurate then the ones on the old Illustrator based map.

Maps can be styled and/or projected differently and the data can be extracted for other uses. One of the most important aspects of this are maps specifically made to be printed with labels and symbols properly sized for the print, not just one size that doesn't fit well to print.

Below is a first test export to see wat it can look like. It is far from perfect but it is already an improvement over the old version.

You can download it here:  https://annabmeyer.com/Downloads/GIS/Test1-4.jpg

Future versions of my Greyhawk maps will be distributed as JPG and PDF's like now, but with  more PDF versions for various print sizes. It will also come as a GeoPackage for those of you who want to use a GIS tool and make your own version, or view it digitally wit all the cool tools offered by software like QGIS (which is free). Next step after initial shipment is to set up some sort of Greyhawk map server, but that requires a bit more work and funds for hosting. There are other super cool possibilities as well, like Game Engines. hat is further down the road but I'm taking that into account when I set up things.

Thank you so much for making this possible!!

Thoughts on Flying in Fantasy RPG's


To honor tonight's Legends & Lore Show here are a PDF with some of my thoughts on Flying in Fantasy RPG's. It is not a fully fledged set of rules yet, but a number of ideas and thoughts surrounding the nature of flying creatures and the aspect of flying itself in fantasy RPG's.


Come and join Jay Scott, Mike Bridges and me on https://www.twitch.tv/lordgosumba at 8:30PM EDT TODAY and share thoughts on taking to the air in Greyhawk!

Thank you again for all your support!! 🙂

A Short Update


Since we had a power outage almost two weeks ago my main computer has been acting out, crashing in various ways including shutting down without going to bluescreen. 

After having done extensive testing disassembly with rebuilding, twice, replacing first the RAM and now the PSU I think I think it is ready for prime time again. I've done 6 hours of rendering, flightsimming, various test software and it has come through with flying (pun intended) colors, so hopefully it s back to mapping again!

It has costed me almost two weeks of time and quite a bit of money, but on the whole it could have been worse. If you had asked me two days ago if this was worth it, I would have said no. Deliberately I stayed away from most other creatures as to not want to scare, upset or harm them, I didn't have to admit to anyone that being sole creator making fantasy maps have some serious downsides as well.

Now I'm only a lot poorer but feel energized again and ready to go back to my work!

I'm sorry for my lack of posts and for being behind on a lot of things, over time I intend to make up for it. Thank you all for supporting me, if it weren't for some wonderful comments and well whishes it would have been a lot worse 🙂 

Quick Update


Its been a lot going on lately and I've been ad at posting updates, here is a short version covering the most important.

Extra Mapping Live Stream

There are no Legends & Lore Show tonight, so instead I'll stream my Twitch Channel: https://www.twitch.tv/anna_b_meyer tonight at 5pm PDT/8pm EDT with Linda Buth. 

I will work on both QGIS, Photo shop and maybe World Machine as well, so please tune in and keep us company, ask questions and such!

Computer Crash

A week ago we had a series of power fluctuations and failures which got to my computer. It messed up my boot settings and file system on two of my hard drives. It took a while for me too check for hardware damage, reinstall my system, configure my boot settings and get back my data from backups.

I'm so grateful I have kept a rigorous backup regime, it paid off handsomely this past week. Everything I'm working on is kept in Dropbox so it get backed up both to the cloud and my other machines. I also use A service called Backblaze that backs up my entire main machine to long term online storage which takes longer to sync, often several days for large files. This is a good compliment to Dropbox.  

Finally I back up things that are done on separate hard drives stored in a fireproof safe. This method was more important back when didn't have room for everything. Nowadays I use this mostly for some of all the versioning files that gets created while working on projects. They have a tendency to clog up even 20TB drives after a while, which tells you I'm saving often, and under unique names as a way of long term undo. This is very important when you testing things and go down rabbit holes that doesn't lead to the results you wanted. This way I can go back to before I branched off.

Now my computer is back up and running again, and everything important are installed again. It has taken me back almost a week but it was a good learning experience, and reassuring to know that my backup scheme worked as intended. 

VGHC 3 prep

Virtual Greyhawk Con 3 is coming soon, less than a month in fact, October 6th to 8th. My Shield Lands game slots got filled up in a few minutes. I'm so humbled and overwhelmed by the interest, ad feel I need to do more. So as a part of my game prep I've decided to run a prep session on September the 23rd at 4pm Pacific, and invite my top patreons.

This will not be streamed, and the story will be slightly different to not spill all the secrets of the VGHC3 game. It ill be very similar and set in the same general area using another set of pregens. The rules will be my my 5E House Rules, that are still very much under construction, so expect some oddities.

We will use Zoom and Owlbear Rodeo, and there will be a tech test session before the gam for those who are going to play. If you're interested, can play on the 23rd, pleas send me a PM using Patreon. I'll use lifetime support as a way to select players if the interest are too big. There will be 5 slots. The mission is to go recon behind Iuz lines in the Shield Lands. Please PM me during the week and I will go though all the PM's and pick the party this weekend.

Thank you so much for your support, it means the world to me, especially times like this 🙂

Critwall 599 CY - MeyerHawk version


After a lot of sweat, work and a steep learning curve, it is finally time to present my first proper city map project, my take on Critwall. It took me twenty years to make the leap in scope from continents to local area maps focusing on a single settlement. This have forced me to learn a lot of new tricks and new design principles, things that I have worked on for the last 10 years and now I'm ready to show the first result, a closer look at Critwall a city on Veng near the northern shores of the Nyr Dyv.

History of Critwall

A first wave of brave Flan settled the area around -4000CY. The Flanaess was a much colder place back then and the beginnings of what would become Critwall had a mesa that gave a good vantage point for hunters, defensible and still close waterways for fishing and easy travel. The plateau was  covered in a dense forest of low spruces and pines which provided both cover and good building materials.

The settlement on the mesa into a large hillfort with fortifications of wood that got gradually reinforced with stone. Some centuries later it had become a small town still centered on the former hillfort. Most of the native forest was cleared and replaced with farmland and planted oak, birch, ash and other, more valuable tree species. The climate was warming and that also helped deciduous trees spreading.

The Flan town was called Shelemek and was home to a bit over a thousand people when the first tragedy struck. A new priest arrived from the east with an entourage warning about grave danger, a dragon had settled in the Volcano in the east. The new priest demanded that they prepared to defend against the dragon, and improved defenses where dug into the hill. This is when they discovered that under the hill there was a huge cavern, the remnants of the old volcano that once was here, it eroded down into the mesa that are still with us in modern times.

The dragon attacked and they hid in the caves and Shelemek survived its first trial, and come out stronger. The next catastrophe was different but it again started with a a priest, a son of the Lord of Shelemek that had been away to learn new skills, explore and hopefully come home wiser, stronger and preferably even richer. The lords son had indeed picked up new knowledge, he had seen how a new class of powerful lords was conquering in the east and south, they had overcome death itself and make use of the dead to seize power and hold it, for eternity. The son quickly disposed of his father and proclaimed himself as the new ruler of Shelemek. Then he used his necromancy and turned himself into a some form of  free-willed undead and dug up the buried townsfolk and turned them into his minions.

The undead lord's tyranny lasted for decades and then he ran out of living souls to rule over, and that is when the name of Shelemek was almost lost and the history of Critwall might never have been written if it weren't for people fleeing the empire of Tostencha who arrived looking for a place to seek shelter and start anew. For these hardened Flan a few undead was no match and they made the process short with the undead lord of Shelemek and took over the town.

They also worshipped differently, they served a new mother in Beory, a father in Obadhai, and they had also learned to ask Ehlonna and several other powers for guidance. They raised the stone circle near the southern end of the mesa, that still stand to this day, and built a small ringed village next to the stones safely away from the tainted town on the hill top to the north.

These people where determined to keep safe from the dead and after Beory had told them to return them to the earth they followed the new tradition of throwing the dead into the underworld the belonged far enough that no mortal could ever used them again. Communities that still practices burial and the use of the dead to fend of other enemies was shunned and labeled Dark, serving the Horned Ones, or worse...

Shelemek became a regional center, it had both good defenses and waterways for good communications. The top of the mesa became known as Niahu Hill, the place you don't step into. Business was good, both the religious and more secular kind catering to agriculture, hunting and fishing. The climate had steadily been warming up for centuries, and this is when new people from the west started to arrive, they were great riders and skilled warriors, the first Oeridians had arrived.

After the initial tense contacts an bit of an understanding started to emerge, and there was enough land to have for all. A few of the new arrivals stayed but then more came and rumors spread of rich lands in the east and south so a lot of the newcomers moved on. Luckily not all did so, and they where around to help out when the next calamity hit the area, Vecna had picked up where Tostencha had left off and become an even worse undead tyrant.  Vecna's henchmen terrorized the area for more than a century and it was probably during one of the many nights spent in the old caves dug out centuries before to shelter from the dragon long ago, when an old dark haunting memory started surface again. Every weapon was needed to fight this new horror, and the Dark Ones had the power to call them.

The word spread and the answer came from up the Veng, the Order of the Storm in Molag sent warriors to Shelemek. They were led by a young warrior called Ulvane. He was as ruthless as Vecna's men and with the support of the remaining townsfolk they got rid of the tyrants rule, and after that, several of the old gods where seen in a new light, even the dark ones. Just as Vecna's rule had been disposed of came the next problem, and again it was a dragon. This time the folk were not going to take it, they were prepared and determined to hit back hard. Under the leadership of Ulvane they figured out that dragon laired in the Volcano they named White Plume Mountain.

This time the dragon was a big one, of the most powerful dragons that have ever existed in Flanaess, Dragotha. She was a determined, intelligent and utterly ruthless dragon,. This threat was going to be tough, and require a both cunning, cooperation, bravery and patients to defeat. All of the priesthoods of the area saw the threat and cooperated, and a group of the most daring servants of the gods secretly settled in the Mountain to observe and get  to know the enemy, they were lead by a hierophant named Aegwareth.

Shelters where dug in various places across the land and a big complex was constructed in the Serion Hills a day east of Shelemek. By having a force there as well they could attack from multiple directions and have many places to seek cover. The caves became known as the Dragonhide Caves, and in the year of -900 CY the Order of the Storm, led by Ulvane, and every abled body from Shelemek participated in the battle near the caves when Ulvane became Warduke when he defeated Dragotha.

After the battle the dragon carcass quickly became a worm ridden mess which was left to rot. To the astonishment of people left to guard it, even the bones disappeared, such a thorough job did the worms before they too was gone. Later wisdom would have told the people back then to take this omen seriously, and both Dragotha and the Worm Lord would come back and haunt many of their descendants later on. But for the time being celebrations where at hand, Warduke, the Order of the Storm and the people of Shelemek had triumphed!

The time of celebration and happiness turned into yet more tragedy, Warduke turned out to become more and more of a ruthless tyrant as the years went by, and he seemed to escape death as well. Not only on the battlefield but rumors had it he served Nerull himself and the lord of death needed him here so he could live on as long as he served him well.  Often had problems come from afar, but this time intruders would be the problem solvers. A stream of Oeridians came, from the east this time. Descendants of the first wave hundreds of years ago had now established a powerful kingdom in the east and was seeking new lands to settle, or conquer with force if needed.

When the first probing ships came up the Veng the people of Shelemek knew the language and took a chance and asked for help, offering they lands as a reward. That and tales of evil Flan cults terrorizing the area made the mighty Aerdy send a force many times stronger that had been seen this side of the Nyr Dyv before. Warduke fled back to Molag with those loyal to him and the Aerdy took over, and a new era started.

The Aerdy

The new rulers had big plans, were well organized, skilled in both engineering and warfare, and determined to build an empire. Plans for a big city north of the Nyr Dyv on the well situated peninsula along the Veng were laid out and work begun. The new folk had a habit of using clay and chalk found along the river to cover their walls making them white, and the term Critwall was coined ant it soon became the name of the new town. A new lord of the Walworth family became the new ruler when Critwall was included in the Earldom of Walworth. Below is their heraldry:

The modern city started in the early days of the Great Kingdom's advance westward as a staging point in the defense against northern incursions as well as continued advance westwards.

In the early 100's CY the city was still under the Earldom of Walworth when they adopted this heraldry:

The tower symbol was still white, relating to its white limestone, the black malachite imported from the mainland Great Kingdom would come later in the 200's CY. Then a new heraldry was introduced to show the new fancy improvement:

Now the modern day Critwall is starting to take shape with its three main wards defenses and port. Shelemek, the old gods, traditions and history of the flan who had lived here for so long became legend. Scary stories, told to folks to make them cling to the new gods, or laugh at when drunk in the alehouses.