The following is in-world lore for all the campaigns of Experience Point in the shared world of Nevermore. Interested in joining or finding out more? Check out our Events Calendar to read our campaign diaries, drop us an email with any questions that you may have, or simply just give us a call! Don't worry, we're nice... -ish.
A house crest (also known as a coat of arms) is a personal emblem often worn by nobles to identify themselves and their household from others. Only knights and nobles are granted the right to wear a crest, and learning to read a crest can tell you a lot about a particular person's personal and familial history.
The coronet is the symbolic headgear situated above the shield. A crown coronet indicates that the bearer is royalty, a circlet indicates that the bearer is a peer of the realm (duke, marquis, earl, viscount, or baron), and a closed helm indicates that the bearer is a baronet or knight.
If a circlet coronet features "pearls" (silver balls raised on points above the rim), it is an indication that the shield-bearer inherited his title from his parents; laurel leaves, that the title was earned through military service; and strawberry leaves, that the title was earned through some other form of service to the throne. These features can be combined, eg. a coronet with pearls and laurel leaves indicates that this is a second-generation or later noble whose ancestors earned their title through military service.
The shield is the main body of a crest and the primary way in which one differentiates one crest from another. When a crest is painted onto a physical shield, typically only the shield of the crest is painted (with the notable exception of a royal shield which shows the entire crest).
Shields are mainly divided either per fess, by a horizontal bar, or per pale, by a vertical bar.
Per fess divisions are most commonly used by independent peers of the realm, with the chief (top part of the shield) occupied by their monarch's crest and the escutcheon (rest of the shield) occupied by their personal crest.
Per pale divisions are commonly used by nobles who have married another noble of equal social status and wish to show off their alliance. Traditionally, the left side of the shield is reserved for the male's family crest, but in cases where the female's family is more powerful, they can sometimes be represented there.
Note that in per pale divisions, each half-crest is still typically divided per fess to show their monarch's shield in chief. Such divisions are known as per pall (divided three ways by diagonal lines meeting in the middle, with the shared monarch's crest chief) if they share the same monarch, or per cross (four ways) if they do not.
If a crest bears a baton sinister - a diagonal bar running directly from top-right to bottom-left - this is a sign that the bearer is a bastard of a noble house. The left side of the shield is reserved for the noble house's crest, while the right side of the shield is either left empty or charged with the bearer's personal insignia.
Charges are the symbols and insignias employed on the foreground of a shield's field. Only a sovereign may grant a house the right to the use of a new charge, after which the house may then grant the use of the charge to any of its vassals. For instance, the manticore is a charge that only the Earl Drandeur may use: if a manticore appears in an individual's crest, one can safely assume that the bearer is or was somehow related to the Earl Drandeur.
Being granted the use of a new charge by a king always goes hand in hand with the right to a noble title, the right to own land (and collect taxes from that land), the right to raise an army, and the right to start a new house. This charge is then emblematic of the charge-holder and his family, and when the noble grants a vassal the use of this charge, he is essentially swearing in the vassal as a baronet or knight.
Charges can be depicted in the following ways:
- Rampant: rearing up on one's hindlegs
- Passant: walking, with right foreleg raised
- Dormant: as if asleep
- Salient: forelegs raised and off ground
- Statant: all legs on the ground
- Naiant: (fish) swimming horizontally
- Displayed: (flying) with wings spread open
- Caboosed: with just the head showing, facing front (as if mounted)
- Couped: side-view of the head, with neck cleanly cut
- Engorged: with a coronet around neck
- Erased: side-view of the head, with neck cut raggedly
- Slipped: (plants) with the stem
- Eradicated: (plants) as if uprooted
Charges can also be described by its facing, also known as its attitude:
- Sinister: to the right of the viewer (shield-bearer's left)
- Dexter: to the left of the viewer (shield-bearer's right)
- Affronte: facing the viewer
- Guardant: facing sinister or dexter, but with its head turned affronte
- Regardant: facing sinister or dexter, but with its head turned, as if looking behind
The exact depiction of a charge will depend on the individual crest-bearer. For instance, the Earl's shield shows a manticore rampant dexter, but his son's shield shows a knight mounted upon a manticore passant dexter.
A field is the background against which a charge is presented. Formally, an insignia is described as "being charged onto a field" of a certain tincture.
There are three main categories of tinctures employed in heraldry: metals, colours, and furs. It is important to note that although furs are so-called, actual fur is not used in the depiction of the crest; rather, fur tinctures are so-called because they resemble the fur patterning of certain creatures.
- Or: gold, often reserved for royalty or (in some kingdoms) oligarchs, as the only way to get the exact colour required for heraldry is to actually paint gold-leaf onto the crest. Yellow is never used in heraldry.
- Argent: silver or white.
- Gules: red
- Sable: black
- Azure: blue
- Vert: green
- Sanguine: dark red
- Murrey: tan
- Ermine: white field patterned with black spots. Counter-ermine is a black field patterned with white spots; erminois is a gold field patterned with black spots; paen is a black field patterned with gold spots.
- Vair: alternating white and blue field.
Field tinctures are not held or restricted in the same way that charges are, but they are often used to honour and convey relationships with other houses that may have employed the same tincture over many generations. For instance, if a male noble marries a female noble of higher rank and is later granted a personal insignia, he may choose to place the charge against a field of his wife's family.
Attendants are the figures depicted on both sides of the shield holding it up. They are not necessary for a crest to be considered complete, and many older crests actually do not feature attendants.
As attendants are not considered charges, one does not require special dispensation by the charge holder to use it, nor do they necessarily indicate any sort of allegiance with the charge holder. A common use of an attendant is to formalise an alliance between one kingdom and another; such as when the Earl Drandeur's son married the Baroness Caister's daughter, whereupon their new crest was attended to by a dragon rampant (the charge of the Earl Drandeur's king) and a gray unicorn rampant (the charge of the Baroness Caister's king).
The Earl Drandeur's shield is divided per fess, with the royal crest chief and his personal insignia - a manticore rampant dexter charged onto a field of sable - in escutcheon. His entire household will use this crest, as will his sons and their sons after them, unless the King chooses to grant one of them the right to a personal insignia.
The baronet Chesterfield is a vassal of the Earl Drandeur who has married the baronet Whitefalls, also a vassal of the Earl Drandeur. Upon marriage, they both forsake their individual crests for a shared crest divided per pall, with the Earl Drandeur's crest chief, the Chestefield crest on the left, and the Whitefalls crest on the right.
Through great service to the Earl, their son - whose shield ordinarily follows that of his parents - is landed and knighted by the Earl. However, because he is the vassal of the Earl, his insignia must incorporate the Earl's charge - the manticore - in one form or another. He chooses the manticore segreant sinister against an argent field, and his crest is now divided per fess with the Earl's crest chief and his chosen insignia in escutcheon.
- Keorid: murrey stag caboosed charged onto an argent field.
- Aunoral: three argent vendace naiant sinister charged onto an azure field.
- Heweth: murrey oak eradicated charged onto an ermine field.
- Yaniel: gules wolf erased dexter charged onto a paen field.
- Qadal: or eagle displayed charged onto a sable field.
- Wethorp: sanguine galley dexter charged onto a vair field.
- Aewith: vert trefoil slipped charged onto a murrey field.
- Caburh: five murrey wheat slipped charged onto a vert field.
- Beawold: argent coatl displayed charged onto a erminois field.
- Lacio: sable dragon guardant sinister charged onto an or field.