Thursday, August 27, 2020

Helmet Headdresses and Statuary

Summary: Solomon VK at World Building and Wool Gathering commented on my helmet post expressing an interest in a d100 table for helmet headdresses. Well, one thing led to another.

I closed my eyes and pictured these.

This knight’s helmet has atop it, in miniature:

1. A sword. This is an actual sword and can be broken off and wielded in an emergency. 2. Bronze spikes in the shape of waving sunrays extending from the lip of the rim, the helmet all in gold. Headbutts from this knight are likely to kill. 3. A knight menacing a peasant woman, who has fallen down and spilled a basket of apples; the apples are, in fact, tiny unblossomed rose buds collected for this purpose before a tourney. This knight is a villain. The roses were cut from someone’s garden and are affixed to the helmet with hairpins. 4. A raised tablet with the charter of this knight’s organization, that all may know his purpose. The tablet is stone and shaped like a tombstone, and this knight executes death warrants approved by a set of castle courts generally held to be legitimate. 5. A pile of hay with a fence around it; perhaps an ideal spot for a warhorse, serving as a kind of spirit-deal in the knight’s mind between him and his horse, or perhaps a fond memory from days as an overworked squire. 6. A big purple and red toadstool. This knight is a berserker. The toadstool is real and will induce combat psychosis that will forever destroy his mind; but if the enemy already surrounds him, he thinks it a fine last meal. For mundane needs, he draws tiny shriveled things from a little steel box built into the back of his helmet. Soon this will be banned from tourneys, but will remain common at the bridges. 7. A plot of rich, dark soil in a raised wooden planter of handsome make. This knight believes that he will lose his finger, nose or pecker in the clash of arms; when he does, he will bury it in this soil. This thought gives him great comfort and as such he is a brave man, and wise in counsel. 8. A garden of sand which this knight has cultivated atop his crown; unlike the knight above, the sand sits very close indeed to the black lacquered boards enclosing it, and this knight has attended to it closely with a fine-toothed brush intended for his horse. So skilled is he at using his legs like pistons that he can ride his horse at a full gallop without disturbing the lines in the garden and, indeed, once carried a full pint of beer atop his head while doing the same. He is preparing for his first tournament. 9. A giant; a ferocious ogreish block of a beast in a green tunic hung with actual human heads that this knight has cut off and forgone pickling so that it might add to the barbarous aspect of the titan atop his crown. This perfidious knight has grown rich because when a foe comes near to touch blades with him before a challenge, he suddenly falls forward and bashes his foe in the brainpan with his headpiece before poniarding him most treasonously.
10. A green and black checkered serpent that appears to be splashing in and out of a similarly-colored sea; in fact this all depicts a single organism, namely an amoeba whose body contains within it several symbiotic serpents whose bites can crush bone. This knight has slain one, but alas the other knights have yet to see such a creature and regard his headdress with wariness.
11. The knight’s mother at her oven; she holds a baker’s board and is peering into the oven, which has the appearance of being lit inside because it is lined with amber. In lieu of bread, the oven contains a single cookie baked by his mother; the knight will eat it once the tournament is over, win or lose. 12. A racing coach with a team of a dozen horses; the front of the knight’s helmet is shaped like a cobblestone bridge so that the full team can be accommodated in the design. However, the knight pictures himself controlling the coach, and so despite the detail there is no coachman and the reins are tied off at a baluster in a wooden armrest. Inside the carriage in miniature are the knight’s wife and mistress; the two are sitting together sharing tea. They remain unbeknownst to each other in reality.

13. This knight has a brown but black-snouted watchdog atop his helm. Its eyes blaze and a growling noise comes from within it whenever it is in the presence of opium, gunpowder, methanol, and other unchivalrous things. Alas, this knight is on the brink of corruption. 14. A huge, bronze scorpion rests atop this knight’s head. When it is boiled in the knight’s own helmet, it comes to life again. When plucked from the pot and dropped by the tail, it will move straight forward and attack whatever it comes near. It carries the essence of this boiling within itself, and its poison will boil in the blood it touches. 15. There is a large, white, friendly spotted dog atop this knight’s helmet, It’s mouth is open and its tongue hangs out. When something roughly pencil-sized is placed in this dog’s mouth, the mouth will close and hold it fast. This is mechanical. The knight’s preferred use of this is to grip the handle of a small lantern for night journeys, but the knight has used it to hold an improvised umbrella, his quill, and a rose from a favored lady. 16. A teakettle. This is not considered glorious or fearsome but it serves an obvious purpose; the helmet can be placed conveniently over the fire, and this very practical and conscientious knight is not interested in what irresponsible dandies think of him. 17. A huge quantity of hair in a brilliant variety of colors; a round updo is currently formed with several braids hanging down the knight’s crimson cloak; one blonde, one brown, one ginger. In his younger days this knight collected locks of hair from maidens who would be his inamorata for the tourney’s hour; but as his favor with the highest courts waned, his time was spent more and more with poor peasant girls, whose locks he now treasures where he once laughed at the silky stands of nobility. Alas, this knight’s fortunes did not fall for any lack of derring-do; unbeknownst to him, he fell from grace because he left goddamned fucking hairs all over the fucking place. 18. A black cat, perched with eyes half-lidded, tail wrapped around the helmet. Nobody wants to make this cat move because when will it sit like that again? Get the easel! 19. A Jack o’ Lantern. The knight is a welcome sight when he rides through villages at night, for he updates the carve of his pumpkin seasonally or as the mood strikes him. For tournaments he prefers elaborate designs such as octopi or hydras, torchlit; when traveling about the country, he contents himself with interesting but prosaic designs such as open books, flocks of birds, and sheep on the hillside, lit by a candle. There are several farmers who grow pumpkins for his preferred specifications for tournaments, but for general purposes he will buy appropriately sized examples from the common farmer he meets upon the way. Alas, the malign correlations of the jack o’ lantern are not entirely out of place for this knight; for when he defeats a foe upon the high road, he takes his chisel and gimlet to the face of his fallen adversary; and not all are killed by his handiwork. 20. A castle. Somewhat unremarkable from the outside, this knight loves to take his helmet off, open up the castle by its hinge and show people the incredibly intricate cross-section he’s created within. Details include hidden spies, prisoners rotting in oubliettes, and peasants defecating at long range into pits crewed by gong farmers. The castle is the knight’s life work and should it be smashed in the lists, this knight will take one last look at it before falling upon his sword. 21. A yellow and black rattlesnake with long, dusty white fangs exposed. These fangs were created by the Hermetic society; powdered ivory pressed with a powerful coagulating agent. When this cruel knight has unhorsed a foe and seized his arms, he asks no further bounty but that the supplicant must pay homage to the serpent by pressing some part of his body into its fangs; relieved, most comply immediately. 22. A winged stone gargoyle. At night, when the thunder is crashing and the wind blows leaf from limb, when the rain lashes this gargoyle and strange lunar mist plays across all God’s creation, this knight is proud as shit of this gargoyle. 23. A crown of ships; a golden ring with tiny vessels of every precious stone at regular intervals along the rim. Set into an angular gray helmet bearing heavy red eyes, blazing light needlessly but terrifyingly, above a skull-jawed vocoder; this was the reward for the first to board a capital ship. Captain Cabinisi of the Astronaval Boarding Regiment had been the same as the others; his EVA armor black with chalky white handprints here and there, or painted with grim red bloodstains, or inlaid with snakescale, which always made them jump. But he earned this crown when he first laid hands upon the AI lovers’ dreadnought, hacked the sensors himself, cut the hull himself, nerve gassed the HVAC himself, and melted the command staff with a flash-DEP himself while his squad waited for his orders. Hahahahaha! 24. A second helm on top of the first. People think it looks idiotic but they’re wrong; it is very, very practical for this knight. 25. A beautiful little crib. The wood is rich, dark and tropical, the pillow goosedown, the blankets arabesque. This knight’s wife is expecting, and when their child is born, it will rest in this crib.

And then this one actually kicked the process off: A painter knight whose helmet contains integrally or has perched upon it a segmented wooden block in which a number of paintbrushes, picks and stick-sponges rest, each of which is connected by a delicate red cord to a hinge on the helmet. Each paintbrush has a large and unusual grip for one’s fingers built into it, so that the knight can quickly identify which is which even if he is wearing gauntlets. It also makes it easy for him to recognize his brushes when they’ve been stolen; woe betide the hands of the knave that carry such ill-portended tools.

(Credit to Stephen Biesty for #20)


  1. No. 16 seems like something Carrol's White Knight would be carrying around. No. 14 and No. 21 are perfect in their villainous ferocity. No. 20 is fascinating as a vignette.

    No. 4 suggests the Ten Commandments. Which suggests the Ark of the Covenant. Which suggests a helmet crest that can down a Near Eastern city's walls and melt an SS Officer at fifty yards.....

    1. Thanks for weighing in! Truly venomous, yes?
      I could see the creation of miniatures being a common practice in medieval times, but examples of such are unlikely to have survived the times. More recently, I remember there was a British crew in Spanish captivity who created a scale model of their ship while in prison, something like 6' x 6'. I saw a picture of it and it was damn good

      You're right about the ten commandments! I was trying not to call them to mind actually but it's difficult when one is dealing with a grave stone tablet and a figure of judgement. The knight is supposed to be more of a mercenary, but actually I suppose associations with rules and divine wrath are not so bad when it comes to a character who brings death to those who breach legitimate laws. You make a good point following that, actually; it is rare to see helmets with magical/divine attack powers outside obscure 3.5 D&D books, but with the head's connection to light and cognition it is a perfectly good source for energy attacks; sort of a mythologized alternative to laser eyes


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