Adventurers like to brag, correct? Correct! What better way to do so, than walking into a room and have all eyes on you. That dragons head, emblazoned in the middle of your breastplate. The pair of crossed scimitars stitched onto your leather pauldrons, displaying your victory in an exotic arena!
With this, I aim to give you some ideas with which you can make your armour, truly yours!
With adventurers being obsessed with fighting, coin, religion, it is no wonder that many of them choose to decorate their armour. Some with grim icons, religious symbols, and accolades of battle. In fact, some adventurers not only add personalized effects to their protective wear, but they also add bannes, colours and cloaks, which are deemed vital on the battlefield where, through fog, smoke, and screams, it is sometimes difficult to tell friend from foe.
Consequently, in addition to the luck charms, and tokens of faith. Some adventurers (usually those with a military background) elect to wear the colours of their provinces and masters.
Inscription of Armour and Gear
Inscription, employed mostly by the elite, adds personal elements to a suit of armour. Whereby an armourer engraves religious inscriptions, family mottos, curses, or even the names of the armours former owners.
Though nobles and other wealthy warriors are the only ones who can really afford such outward displays of wealth, it is becoming an increasingly common trend for mercenaries and adventurers alike to inscribe their armour.
Though their armour usually features curses on their enemies and names of old battlefields, or even terrible foes they have personally slain. Lesser warriors, those who cannot afford such armours, take to adding the elements of other pieces of equipment. Some carve invocations to the Gods on the hafts of their spears or the leather of their backpacks, or they incorporate lucky charms, or battle cries onto their shields. Some will even go as far as to wear rune-inscribed plates on chains around their necks.
Aside from the myriad of Gods and their symbols decorating soldiers and travellers across the world, many carry banners of their province, wear amulets and uniforms, or incorporate other symbols important to their province or country into their clothing and/or armour.
Through there are many variations, most of the following symbols and elements are used from one side of the kingdom to the other.
- Cross - The cross is a symbol of unity and strength in numbers. One arm for each of the four corners of the kingdom. It is also a symbol of honour and oaths fulfilled. On occasion the bottom arm of the cross is elongated into a sword.
- Crown - Usually combined with some other symbol, the crown signifies nobility and rulership. Some powerful nobles use it to denote their familial connection to one of the old kings. Serving as a reminder of their divine right to rule. The crown has gradually replaced the wreath in modern day.
- Eagle - The symbol of the kingdoms rulers. The Eagle symbolises the ruler, and the kingdom as a whole, favour in the court or a regiment that undertakes some duty for the king. In this regard it is often attached as a secondary standard as a campaign badge for regiments fighting under decree.
- Hourglass - The hourglass is a reminder that all things must pass, that a man is judged by his deeds in this life, and the time he has to prove himself is finite. The hourglass also has particular significance from the Battle of Elberign, when an army came from the north and fell into the lands of the kingdom. Lord Elberign took an hourglass to the walls of his besieged castle and entreated his men to hold for a single hour. He turned the glass upside down as the attacking troops advanced, and for an hour, the defenders held against the vastly larger army. As the last of the sand ran out, a great storm broke out and the attackers were forced to abandon the assaul. Because of this, the hourglass has became a symbol of defiance and stubbornness amongst regiments of the north.
- Lion - The lion is the oft-used symbol of courage, potency and virility. Many of the proudest regiments across the kingdom use this to show their prowess in battle. However, because it is widely used, it lacks the meaning it once held.
- Sword - Though the sword is seen as the symbol of Law, it is also a symbol of martial prowess. Many regiments in service to a leader claiming noble descent incorporate this symbol into their units.
- Wreath - The laurel wreath is the symbol of leadership and victory. Before creation of the kings crown, the laurel wreath was the symbol of status for the rulers of the lands. If the ruler himself was not present then his herald or a champion might bear this mark to show their approval. Thus, a laurel or victory may be presented to a warrior or regiment that fought particularly hard in a battle or campaign, or proved their worth in some other fashion.
Though most men across the kingdom do not carry an official crest, there is still a long tradition of heraldry and decoration. Painted armour, embossed jewellery, inscribed weapons, relics, charms, are all exceedingly common.
The most popular form of this, at least among the commoners, is the decorated shield. Amongst the nobility, this commoner's tradition is scoffed at as a base born, simplistic practice. Proper amorial bearings are a popular means for identifying nobles, lords, and various minor houses on the field of war. Because knights are encased in plate armour, family colours aid knights and other warriors in distinguishing friend from foe on the battlefield.
What at first was a simple system of colours and symbols has since evolved into an aristocratic discipline incorporating lineage and history, tracing genealogies and legitimizing ancestry. Commoners of course don't give a hoot about this.
Additional Ideas (1)
The PCs buy a set of ornate decorated armour but unknown to them, it was stolen from a wealthy noble, who turns up with several City Guards/bodyguards/armed retainers and demands his armour back.
The runes on an ornate suit of armour turn out to be racist insults in Elvish. Leading to trouble if the PCs encounter Elves whilst wearing this armour.