|Counting Complexity in Devices and Badges|
Articles > Armory
Counting Complexity in Devices and Badges
An Unofficial Look at the Complexity Rule-of-Thumb
by Dmitrii Volkovich
© 1996, 1997 John Polzinetti (Dmitrii Volkovich)
The rules for submission provide a guideline for determining whether a design may be excessively complex. Specifically: "As a rule of thumb, the total of the number of tinctures plus the number of types of charges in a design should not exceed eight." (RfS VIII.1.a). What does this mean?
Think of it this way: If you count up the total number of different charges and different tinctures in a device, and the number comes up more than seven, be aware that you're pushing the envelope of what is normally allowable. Does this mean that a device with five different charges and three different tinctures will be returned for being too complex? Probably not. What about a device with six charges and three tinctures? Very possibly (but not, and I repeat myself, not necessarily).
Let's go through some examples:
Gules, on a mullet between flaunches argent, a roundel
sable. (A roundel sable may also be blazoned a pellet, or
sometimes an ogress).
Sable, on a mullet between flaunches argent, a pellet.
A more difficult one:
Per pale embattled ermine and azure, three roundels counterchanged
and on a chief Or three roses gules.
Sable, a wolf rampant argent charged on the shoulder with a
trillium gules, on a chief ermine three roses sable.
Okay, what am I trying to say here? First I explain how to count how complex a device is, and then I show all these exceptions. What's the deal?
First, I'm not trying to show you how to "count how complex a device is". There's no way to look at a device, add up the elements, and reliably say that it is or isn't complex (well, okay - if you add up all the different charges and tinctures, and it comes to fifteen, yes it's too complex). What I've tried to do is show how to use the "complexity rule-of-thumb" (often referred to as the "complexity count"). This can be important, since it is a part of the rules, items can be (and are) returned for being too complex, by this rule-of-thumb. However, it is not an end-all and be-all for determining whether a device is or isn't too complex. Basically what I'm saying is "Here's this yardstick. If you know how to apply it, it can be helpful in advising people as to whether something they've suggested will pass or not. But be aware that there are exceptions. If you don't know what the exceptions might be, that's okay. Just as long as you're aware that it's not a hard and fast rule, you won't go too far wrong when advising people about their devices."
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