his guide is intended to provide help for those wishing to create their own device. The rules in it are a mixture of period English and SCA heraldry. Where possible, the examples are actual devices. The remainder are from the SCA Armorials. What follows is a brief overview of heraldry.
Period armory was meant to easily and quickly identify you to those around you. On the battlefield, a device identified you to friend and foe as quickly as possible. The 5 second test for period armory: You are on the battlefield. An enormous fighter comes charging at you sword and shield raised high. Is he going to hug you or smite you? You have maybe 5 seconds to decide. His only identification is the device on his shield. Period armory would be identifiable in that short amount of time.
A device is not meant to describe the bearer or tell a story. In general it should be bright, bold, and simple. It should take 10 words or less to blazon (describe in heraldic terms) the device. Often period devices are a simple play on words on the bearer's name. These are called canting arms. For example, a man named Bearnson (I made this name up) might have a large bear on his arms.
A device consists of a field of ordinaries covered with charges in different tinctures. The field is the background of the device. Ordinaries are basic geometric shapes such as waves and stripes. Charges are objects and animals on top of the field such as lions, wreaths and swords. Tinctures are the colors and patterns on charges and ordinaries.
Note: When designing devices with your Lord/Lady, you will want
to make different devices. In period armory, a man and woman
using identical colors and/or charges would be brother and sister,
not husband and wife.