Time for a first in depth MeyerHawk post, there will be many more coming as I present my campaign and content from it.
First I just need to say that this post is delayed by about a week due to the tragedy going on in Ukraine, my thought are with everyone who are suffering and have lost family and friends due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. War and atrocities are a vital part of the fun in fantasy games, but in the real world is something completely different and horrifying. I hope that you and everyone you know are safe and unaffected by the war.
Now lets travel to my version of the Shield Lands in 598CY, and things in this article is written to depict my campaign and its history and current events. Your campaign might be drastically different, so pick the things like find useful and discard the rest!
Iuz have held the territory for more than a decade and before then the Shield Lands was attacked by the Horned Society - Bandit Kingdom force. So when the Hordes of the "Old Empire", which is what Iuz calls his lands in an attempt to remake himself as an established power and not the upstart newcomer to the Flanaess her really is.
The Old One has competition, public visible in the form of the knights of The Holy Shielding based in Critwall, the Kingdom of Furyondy and its allies in the form of Veluna and the Elves. A number of more or less hidden powers working various ways without directly announcing their goals or even presence, but if you know where to look you can find traces of them, in courtrooms, in the shadows, in places forgotten due to distance or time. Their symbols can be found if you know where to look, and this article will present some of these factions at least some of their symbols.
Shield Lands had its beginnings on the big island in the middle of the Nyr Dyv that was settled by a minor noble Aerdy family the Walworths early in the westwards expansion of the Great Kingdom. When the Earldom of Walworth was established on the island that from then on was going to be called Walworth Isle they adopted the heraldry below.
It depicts the white walls of Admundfort, the red of the Viceroyalty of Ferrond and the blue of the Great Kingdom. A link across symbolising the importance of the isle and Admundfort as a connection between the halves of the empire, and the Aerdy Sun at the top shows in serves under Rauxes.
After 250CY when Ferrond struck it out on their own the Earldom of Walworth wasn't sure which way to go, so more and more got left in the middle so gradually they dropped the Aerdy Sun but kept the rest intact.
After 350CY the Shield Lands was formed and the Earldom became the capital province if the newly formed realm and adopted a new version of its heraldry to display its status as a part of the Shield Lands.
Later Critwall became the capital and biggest settlement in the realm. Critwall started out as a ringed hillfort common in the area long before the migrations when this was a northern borderland of the Flan. A few old symbols exist from these ancient times, and there are still ceremonies done by some old faith adherents using shield like this to show their reverence for Mother Beory.
From these ancient times there are other relics still kept in places seldom visited by those not seeking out the old and often wicked. From a time of witchcraft, undead lords and worse hails this cult symbol. Despite its age the symbols have enough potency to still linger.
Two millennium ago it would have been much more potent and looked something like this:
When the modern Critwall was founded on the old ruined hillfort by the conquering Great Kingdom it quickly became a bastion for a group of knights following Heironeous and they adopted a clean steel shield with the tower that was clad in dark stone from Rauxes and so the Black Tower symbol was born. The Aerdy Sun was of course included to show that Critwall served the overking.
The dark stone from Rauxes was removed from the tower when signs of evil was reported taking hold in Rauxes. The political fallout from this made the now growing city to adopt new heraldry, to show the increased defenses and the closeness to Admundfort the same white wall and colors was added. The tower became white and a slightly smaller Aerdy Sun remained.
Much later when the Order of the Shield was formed and became the leaders of the realm the Black tower was reintroduced this time on top of red symbolising life with a border of white or metal symbolising Heironeous. This shield are now the symbol of both the realm the order and the capital.
Two of the many temples in Critwall have guards that use heraldry to show their mission and status, the Pelorian and Mayaheine guards.
After its founding the Shield Lands expanded eastwards along the coast towards Radigast City and the core lands of the Empire. A town grew at a bay that had the shape of an axe and Axeport was born and adopted a simple shield with the blue waves of the Nur Dyv under the tower of Critwall.
A small town at the mouth of the Sanstin River was founded, Delard. A place of fishermen and bridge guards making sure land based trade could move safely across the river. Delard's heraldry shows its location west of Axeport and that it is a place centered around water and fishing.
Delard was a part of the former Earldom of Axeport and are now included in the Iuzian client state known as the Barony of Axeport, and have thus both kept using their old heraldry, pretending to be a civilized realm.
Just west of Delard is the town of Auldet, which before the wars was a stopover along the road between Delard and Southkeep. Catering to travelers was the main business, but the high meadows of the Serion Hills with its blooms produced legendary honey which made it onto the towns shield in the form of daisies and oak leaves as an homage to the magnificent old oak that still stands out side the town walls. Auldet's shield is topped by the black tower of Critwall to show its allegiance.
Gensal was an important settlement in Shield Lands famous for its orchards and the wonderful fruit and cider that came from it. The herladry of Gensal therefore has a rich tree with the life giving red apples said to have given the red color found on the banner of the Shield Lands banner. The tree didn't look good towards a red background, which is the reason the top part of the shield are red behind the tower instead of the customary white.
The town and fortress of Southkeep was built to protect the passage across the Sente rivers and the road east from Critwall. Originally it was part of the Earldom of Axeport and therefore adopted the blue beneath the white and the tower. The first commandant had a pet Dyv Cat also knows as an otter cat, so of course his bellowed animal made it onto the crest and have been there ever since.
After the Iuzian invasion Gensal was taken over by a hoard of hobgoblins originally from the Horned Lands given the task of keeping the knights in Critwall at bay. The hoard are now lead by Glushnag the Mighty, a 7 foot tall earless hobgoblin wielding a mighty spear. Their banner are two large horns with the Iuzian bone face in between them. It is rumored that the face is later edition to their banner and it used to be the two simple horns but Glushnag is wise enough to keep any old versions of the shield hidden.
Similar to Axeport, Ringland have been revamped as an Iuzian client state and also kept ts old heraldry, a wild black boar on red background beneath a wall with three towers. Ringland is a ringed hillfort that have survived into modern times and that had, of course, to be shown off on their crest. the style are black and made so there are little doubt about what realm they used to belong to.
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.
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.
Hallorn used to be a small town twenty years ago, but now it is turning into city and a major center of power within the empire. Advisors in neighbouring courts is stating to see it as a new centrally located capital of the empire. The symbol used by the troops guarding it signals the connection to Dorakaa using a very old symbol, the world wyrm of very ancient origins also used on the sign of the Old Lands of Iuz.
The Old Empire uses a series of symbols to intimidate, and signals its various factions. First is the sign of the empire, a grinning skull on a blood red background.
The elite forces of the Empire are the Legion of Black Death, and it has the grinning skull on a black background. It is rumored that the skull on each shield is made up of bone fragments of slain enemies and the agonies of the fallen victims gives each of the shields great potency.
Iuz runs a gamut of secretive organizations along the ones on public display, one of them are the secretive Shadowclaw. The Claw are Iuz's organization for destabilizing his enemies. It consists of a menagerie of highly capable characters willing to lie, murder, steal and more on Iuz command. Their symbol are a set of bones derived from a demon skull of some sort. The symbol is rarely seen unless it is to intimidate and terrify Iuz opponents, and then usually carved into a dead victim.
The Boneshadow is well knows to all Greyhawk fans who have read the Gord novels, with Obmi and Keak. They are members of an Iuz group tasked to carry out missions critical to Iuz and the have a symbol never really seen by outsiders, but victims of their deeds have been heard talking about it, most often after their death.
The commander of the Black Guard and Iuz commander in chief are General Sindol, a cambion like Iuz himself and his sign have been seen at the battles during the war and occasionally since then as well. Below is his shield.
There is rumors that a very special group of critters sever Iuz and Sindol as body guards and as ultimate guarantors of the empire, called the Old Phalanx. Their shields where first reported to be pure black, but that was only from a distance. Up closer you can see some sort of fiendish face.
The fiendish visage can come to life and intimidate and even send weaker souls straight to the abyss.
Never seen but rumored is that the fiendish shields can distort reality and literary turn the surroundings into the abyss and consume enemies in an instant. Some sort of hellish mockery from Iuz maybe?
This is by no means an complete set of heraldry of the area but a good start. More to develop are Law's Forge where the Shield Lands was constituted, Westfield and the baronies of the eastern Furyondy and more needs to be looked as well. I hope you might find these shields and symbols useful for your games. Thank you again for your support!!
Here is a link to a RAR file with all of the images: https://www.dropbox.com/s/bd2ajn3gfcs25g5/MeyerHawk.rar?dl=0