I just realized, looking back at your pictures of the semi-illusory Ten Moons ghosts, that Hoodwink's clan is comprised not only of unicorns, but of pegasi and earth ponies as well. Funny that I didn't comment on that before considering my interest in Night Bred Earth Ponies (sadly, I've yet to see one Night Pony earthie outside of your work.)
I've noticed that, among the "upper crust" or "nobles" that appear in the show, almost all of them are either Unicorns or Earth Ponies with very few, if any, Pegasi to be seen. I wonder if that has to do with strict breeding or marriage alliances within noble families or if most Pegasi were not naturally attracted to the life of an aristocrat due to cultural reasons. Or maybe it's just because Canterlot is primarily a unicorn/earth pony town with few Pegasi residing there. At any rate it's interesting to see how diverse Hoodwink's family is.
I sort of imagine Earwig's close family being almost entirely unicorns due to inbreeding with many of his more distant relatives being Earth Ponies. My concept of the area of Southern Hayseed (it's actually considered to be situated more in the border-lands between Equestria and monster-territory) where Earwig's family lives is completely devoid of Pegasi due to cultural and geographical barriers. Average Pegasi tend to fear and dislike the steamy, fever-wracked jungles of Earwig's home as well as the unstable weather conditions along the storm-battered tropical coast. Hence, without Pegasi influence, the weather conditions there are completely chaotic and prone to more deadly and destructive storms. Also, the lack of pegasi caused the ponies of the Southern Swamps to develop different methods of defense than those with pegasi to help with weather-based warfare. More on that later...
Now that I think about it, Earwig's hereditary "castle" and lands would probably look like an ancient and overgrown temple-fortress slowly being swallowed by the jungle marshes, with lots of weird, stylized statuary and exotic architecture everywhere and an abandoned, sunken civilization surrounding it.
Well on the matter of Earth Ponies I just designed one. One who could probably be described as a Timber Wolf farmer. I believe I may have given him a more traditional pre-Nightmare Moon Ten Moons look with a more obviously... "savage" appearance.
I know I've said this before, but the Ten Moons clan were rather feral and uncivilized by most ponies standards. That doesn't mean that they were stupid though. The Ten Moons clan had a fully functioning pony society even if they were somewhat "barbaric" from the viewpoint of contemporary mainstream pony culture. However they were quite adept at picking up and even improving technology any time anypony ever called them "primitive" to their face.
I suppose any land where the Ten Moons really built up shows a sort of "Savage" but technologically adept culture with very little interest in looking either noble, peaceful or heroic but more on looking intimidating and powerful. Like the sorts of ponies who just aren't going to roll over or be marshmallowy or soft in any manner at all.
So I suppose to describe their architectural style I would say that it would be defined varying between solid and sturdy in that powerful "unbreakable" looking manner and cunning, sharp and sleek. With various more primitive burrows scattered about since I imagine that Night Bred just generally don't like building where the sun will shine into their stuff. Buildings on the surface tend to be designed to provide lots of shade or otherwise minimize exposure to bright light. They skies usually are also rendered rather gloomy directly above their settlements during the day because they really don't like the light bothering them while they sleep.
But yeah, it makes sense that there might be locations without a significant Pegasus pony populace who need to find ways to deal with it...
I do wonder how your Hayseeds would react to the rather vicious seeming Ten Moons clan or what Earwig would think of them from a historical perspective. Also considering that not all current sources list them as having been real ponies.
On the matter of Pegasi, they really seem to have the most distinct culture of all of the ponies which I suppose makes sense seeing as how the other ponies are forced to live together on the ground while the Pegasi live alone in the clouds. I think that maybe due to preferring to live in the skies kind of keeps them somewhat separate from other ponies.
Since the Ten Moons were effectively in many ways Caveponies, even culturally to a degree but more in the sense of the non-stereotypical manner, their Pegasi used to live with the rest of them. Just more on the ceiling of the caves.
I do think it's fun to imagine some poor ancient Day Pony stumbling into one of their cave settlements and lighting a torch to see better only to have it's light revealing their reflective pupils all creepily staring in the day ponies direction. I don't believe the average pony would stick around long after that.
Sorry for not writing back sooner. I saw your new Ten Moons Earth Pony and I am most pleased! For some reason, his plaited hair and beard and garb makes me think "dark dwarf" but he seems too large for that.
Also, I just realized that Hayseed Swamps is actually spelled "Haysead". Herp dee derp.
Ancient Hayseadling architecture would actually be just about the opposite of Night Bred architecture I imagine. You see, modern Haysead is actually the remnants of a once influential culture that was originally separate from Equestria, like the Crystal Empire, and was only incorporated after the alicorns consolidated their power in all three nations.
I doubt that Equestria was settled all at once by one single wave of migration like the Hearth's Warming Eve fable relates. I see the Hayseadlings, as well as other pony groups, as being descended from a somewhat earlier wave of migration from the Frozen North. I also have an idea of Palomino Pony tribes in the Western Desert (based on the canon map obviously) who are descended from another pre-H's-Warming migration.
The Hayseadlings were the sort of "civilized", but brutal and cruel, ponies that might have actually culturally and militarily dominated their less developed Equestrian neighbours to the North before the alicorns took over everything and forced everypony to get along. The sort of conquerors that would drag captured rebels and civilians from the fledgling Equestrian nation back to their tropical homeland and subject them to either a cruel and unusual execution/sacrifice or use them for slave labour on their plantations.
As opposed to Night Bred having "undertowns" or cave-like houses, some Hayseadlings would have giant "climbing cities" that would almost look like a massive network of stilt houses, reinforced by huge Earth Pony-bioengineered vine-structures and connected by catwalks and ladders, sprouting above the feverish, murky jungles and swamps to grasp at the sun and cool, fresh air while choking out the light to everything below it like strangling weeds. The hellish, malarial settlements below would only be occupied by field slaves and those who had lost their "place in the sun".
Later buildings, made for the nobility after alicorn colonization, would utilize towering, stepped structures made of stone and built on top of drained ground (also Earth Pony handiwork) in the middle of the swamps.
Their architectural style that Earwig's tribe favoured would also be quite different from the Ten Moons style. If the Ten Moons were "caveponies" with advanced technology and armor, The Mourning Sun clan (tentative name based on their necromantic abilities compared to other Day Ponies) were a "civilized" society that heavily modified their surroundings but mostly relied on Earth Pony bio-tech and stone-age tools to do so. As opposed to a sturdy, unbreakable look, the Mourning Suns' art and architecture would reflect a kind of ornate, spindly, almost lacy beauty with a bit of an eerie mystical feeling mixed in; much like an abandoned spider's web laced with drops of morning dew. Sinister beauty with a "flexible" aesthetic might be an apt description of their style.
Their armour and weaponry on the other hand was less beautiful and was neither designed to look intimidating or heroic-looking, rather it was designed with mostly combat practicality and ease of production in mind. Hence, their armies' war-gear gave off more of an aura of bland, vaguely sinister banal evil. They would probably seem to some ponies like an army of exterminators, gardeners, and butchers. As I mentioned though, they had mostly only biotech and very primitive tools to work with as there was little access to metals of any kind in their sphere of influence and so the only metal weaponry and armour they had would have been gained through trade with the northern kingdoms or plunder. Of course, the Hayseads were extremely good at utilizing biotech to a much greater degree than just about any other group of ponies, making their lack of metals a relatively small inconvenience to their empire-building and cultural advancement.
Of course, the fall of the alicorns and later political changes in general eventually caused their society to collapse with many "cityslicker" ponies now seeing them as primitive inbreds ruled by corrupt hicks occupying what is seen as a lawless, third-world hellhole within Equestria's borders.
So, basically, the Ten Moons were techno-savvy "savages" and the Mourning Suns were "civilized" stone-age conquistadors. That would make for an interesting meeting of cultures wouldn't it?
Ah, but size is no reason to dismiss such an aesthetic choice. I hope he looks sufficiently like a master of plants.
I think one Ten Moons clan saying probably goes something like, "Let those who refuse us at their side be made to cower at our hooves." It's sort of their way of saying that they will either be your equal or your superior, your ally or your conqueror. They used to be more or less prominent depending on exact time period and they've usually dealt with all diplomatic affairs through this concept.
It's true that they've been conquered themselves often enough but this "motto" so long as it's remembered tends to lead them towards rebellion and conquest if they aren't satisfied with their place in the world.
Which I suppose to better describe their architecture it wasn't so much simply unbreakable looking, it was defiant and unsubmissive even when they made statues for others larger than their own that was only for ponies who they had accepted as more or less one of their own and worthy of their respect and loyalty and not one who they felt inherently deserved higher status. They're willing to serve and praise/exalt a pony who they feel has earned it, but they won't really submit to them.
They did have a strict honor code but not one typical to Equestria. They valued honesty primarily because a reputation for doing as ones says they will lead to others taking their words very seriously. "I would kill you if you did that" said in a serious tone from someone with a reputation for meaning what they say is a lot more effective than it being said by someone who you know is probably just angry and not truly meaning the threat. And an offering of ones services are likewise more readily trusted.
One other trait that stems from their motto may also be described that those who have accepted them at their side, as more or less "equals", were treated in turn by the Ten Moons(Also translatable as "Ten Months"). Any pony who claimed superiority or oppressed their "equals" were seen as insulting the status of the Ten Moons by claiming superiority to them by proxy. As such an insult to their allies was an insult to the Ten Moons and they could be expected to retaliate and put the offender in their place. Which of course was "cowering at their hooves".
So I suppose that once they're allied to you they prove to be quite loyal even if it's just to boost their own ego. Of course they're likely to try to prod you towards their ideal of perfection.
But yes, advanced savages sort of describes them. Well, advanced savages with dark magic and a sound knowledge of weapon smithing and building useful architecture. With necromancy.
So yeah... Unsubmissive is their style. It wasn't that they weren't capable of art or extravagance, they were fully capable of that and did indeed use artistic designs... It's just all of their style was essentially designed in such a way that it screamed "Don't #^%@ with us." Sinister beauty might be incorporated but not any sort of spindly or fragile appearance. Similarly their favored tactic was in fielding a relatively few powerful and skilled soldiers that had been suited in armor with strong weaponry.
A few nigh-unstoppable soldiers with enchanted weapons and armor composed of stronger and more expensive than average metal that other materials couldn't penetrate was just more effective in their minds. It didn't matter if the enemy outnumbered you ten to one if they couldn't put a dent or scratch in your armor. They might be in command of other Nightbred clans but their own forces would be an elite few. This tactic was also useful in scaring the hell out of ponies the second they were spotted upon the field.
Really, how the two would interact would depend upon how the Mourning Suns would treat them. I don't think the primitive weaponry of the Mourning Suns would really frighten them, the Ten Moons would probably consider it laughable.
I was just wondering how the Mourning Suns would view them from their own perspective.
Um, just so you know, I did write a comment as a reply to myself about how the Mourning Suns might interact with the Ten Moons but perhaps the comment isn't visible on your messages screen.
Yes, your earth pony certainly does look like a master of plants. His design was actually rather similar to an idea I had for the Hayseads having biomagitech implants that sometimes caused them to sprout weaponized plant growth from their bodies. An example might be flowers that release a kind of neurotoxin or pods that scatter an anthrax like substance into narrow airways where they could cause the most damage. Kind of like Bioshock Plasmids. During the Nightmare Wars The Mourning Suns were the first to use biological warfare. It's not that their weapons were all primitive, they just don't use much metal because they don't have much access to it and they are able to get along fine with plants and other more readily available substances. They do use metals, just not in as great amounts as other ponies. Their technology might be comparable to that of the Yuuzhan Vong from the Star Wars book series: incredibly advanced in its engineering and application but primitive in aesthetic and appearance. Hell, they could probably even have made primitive flying biomachines to firebomb cities using their biomagitech. Though, even then, I could still see the Ten Moons finding their biomagitech laughable just because.
Instead of using valuable metal to make armour the Mourning Suns might prefer to make it from the scutes of the Dread Turtles or the nigh impenetrable carapace plates of the giant crawdaddies that infest their swamps. The same would go for their cutting and stabbing weaponry. Their heavy utilization of animal products in the manufacture of their biotech would likely contribute to the perception of them as "butchers".
One reason I suppose the Mourning Suns would prefer a softer image is because they are seen as overly pliable, bland, and "common" by other alicorns and have grown oddly proud of this. Few creatures take pride in being seen as boring and unlikeable, the Mourning Suns have made it their philosophy. If you aspire to heroic appearances and airs you'll be painted as a hypocritical villain and if you're big and intimidating, they'll mock you as insecure bullies and fools. But if you present yourself as boring and dull? How can anyone turn that against you? It's hard to find anything to make fun of and use as propaganda against you and if you prove yourself worthy in battle then your bland appearance and manner itself will gain prestige and be feared on its own merit. They don't see themselves as nice or even good ponies but they aren't really dishonest either, they would also be the sort who would really only say something if they meant it. In fact, they mostly are a tight-lipped bunch and only speak when they feel it appropriate. However, they would attach little importance to seeming intimidating as that, to them, would be seen as just another kind of dishonesty anyways. Why act intimidating when there is nothing truly intimidating about you? Of course, that wouldn't apply to the Ten Moons because they actually are intimidating. I suppose the Mourning Suns just see themselves as glorified peasants who help run an admittedly unpleasant system whose highest rulers would have viewed their family as mangy, repulsive curs to be kicked when they got out of line, but which they supported anyways because it benefitted their subjects.
When I described their artistic style as spindly or lacy-looking, I meant to imply that it would still look rather unnerving to some ponies. Mourning Sun bioengineered spears, for instance, would probably look a lot like these: [link]
They wouldn't kill instantly or do massive damage like big, heavy metal spears but thanks to their biomagitech poisoned tips they could be used to do alot of very nasty things to a pony's nervous system and the ornate, lacy but severe design would reflect that.
Basically, they preferred eerily light but dangerous-looking weapons. Even their necromantic skills were mostly limited to simple evocation of ancestral spirits in a mystical "wisp" like form. However, with a talented evocator, such spirits could be marshalled and attached to certain structures and organisms in a manner akin to possession, wherefore said spirits could cause great havoc among enemies by taking control of their war machines or causing the very trees, rocks, and water to come alive and attack them. They tend to have a "light-themed" but primitive society at the same time.
Too delirious to write any more right now, sorry. Talk to you later.
Slight reworking of history, I imagine the Ten Moons had created what they saw as their own little eternally dark paradise on a patch of Dragon owned land that was later gifted to Equestria. The Ten Moons weren't a hugely populous clan as I might have mentioned earlier, really the Ten Moons was more comparable to say the Apple clan than anything else. Just focused more upon martial might than apples.
One of the reasons they particularly dislike day ponies was that their land was taken from them by the more numerous diurnal types and transformed from the dark and gloomy environ that the Ten Moons preferred into the standard happy pony bright land. While most ponies might have seen this as an improvement the Ten Moons saw it as a "rape" of their land as it was transformed into a more hostile environ that was no longer welcoming to their kind.
I actually imagine that the Ten Moons would have tried to deliberately grow their preferred ecosystem wherever they conquered, likely involving large and often bioluminescent fungal structures. They were certainly the sort of ponies who had reached the point where they no longer cared much if the Day Ponies had their little magical "Happy land", they used to have their own version and they wanted it back.
So to make things a bit clear, they weren't the sort who were very happy with any pony who they felt might try and take their stuff. A pony who wasn't intimidated by them would have been considered slightly "foalish" or viewed with suspicion. And Lord Blackmail at the very least wouldn't take any remotely alcoholic beverage at any diplomatic meeting, offering him a mentally debilitating drink, at an occasion where subtle political maneuvering could be expected no less, would only result in a cold hard stare lasting until the drink was taken away.
That's not to say that he wouldn't meet with Blowhard, it's just that Blackmail would be unlikely to do anything on his part to make it particularly comfortable. The other Ten Moons might have been a bit more talkative at such meetings but while they might have loosened things up none of them would have been very subtle about their desires or threats.
I think one of the Ten Moons largest flaws was their hypocrisy in many ways and they certainly were that. They may have despised the nobility and their ways, but in many ways they saw themselves as a sort nobility anyhow. Just nobility that actually did things for their subjects. They disliked other ponies presuming superiority over them but had little issue doing the same to others. Nor did they have a problem with justifying conquest of lands that had never been theirs after they lost their own.
If the whole eternal night thing had gotten finished the Ten Moons would have probably effectively become an influential Noble House of the Empire of Eternal Night, Equestria converted to a perfect nocturnal habitat with a good chance that the Night-Bred would have Nightmarified a good portion of the former Daypony populace.
That would actually make an interesting alternate timeline, a Nightmare Moon victory that resulted in something more than everypony dying from a lack of crops but rather resulting in a successful Empire of Eternal Night. An empire whose ponies were feared and respected by even the Dragons, one the Changelings never would have invaded but if they had they would have likely been soundly defeated without the power of love. Simply put, a proud martial empire with unique conditions its populace has adapted to and eventually learned to thrive within.
And it could have a very interesting version of the Mane six as well... A very, very interesting one. Events would of course be somewhat different, Twilight would have likely been summoned to prevent a recent dungeon escapee Celestia from stealing a set of artifacts capable of toppling the Empire... The rest of the Mane Six would just be Ponyville's local militia that Twilight was assigned to take command of...
And what Nightmare Moon would do to Celestia... Well I think power draining and brainwashing might be in order though that might have a very different emotional impact... And as a reward for her loyal services Twilight might just be given command of the Ponyville militia permanently and effectively become the true ruler of Ponyville with the mayor no more than the one assigned to handle trivial matters...
Well, isn't that all a delightfully grimdark thought experiment?
Oh, and some ponies would just be dead of course, never having been born due to their ancestors being dead. So no Blueblood! And the Gala would be in the Everfree Forest... And as mentioned earlier, the nobility would have been effectively replaced by prominent Night-bred military families who while a bit less stuck up than standard nobility would almost certainly have their own issues.
And I just realized that Cadence would never have been born, so a Canterlot Wedding would probably have been replaced with a diplomatic marriage between Shining Armor(Former "day" ponies could still gain prominence) and Queen Chrysalis. Undisguised. To form an alliance after some period of conflict, though both sides are suspicious of eachother and the slightest misstep could cause everything to blow up in everyponies faces.
And Discord would probably be used as a Power generator.
I hope that sets a good mood!
It's also the exact Environment the Ten Moons would have loved.
Regarding the general appearance of Earwig's ancestral castle, here's a better picture that demonstrates the basic desired look: [link]
Basically, the Mourning Suns liked elegant, decadent, but kind of primal-looking architecture rather than "fragile". As I may have mentioned, they could care less about seeming either intimidating or heroic and were more interested in displaying their wealth and their control of others as well as their environment. Being viewed as "not really Equestrians" and not having taken part in the Hearth's Warming event gave them a sense of needing to outdo their neighbours in terms of social and cultural advancement in order to show them that a "declining" older culture can keep up while maintaining its distinctiveness. Despite living in a much harsher, semi-chaotic part of Equestria, they often made their palaces even more opulent than their northern neighbours just to rub their noses in the fact that "ugly, outdated semi-foreigners" like them could do some things much better than they could. As a culture, the Hayseads could be compared to the street-smart old guy who wants to prove to the younger crowd that they still have their mojo and that they aren't just "past their prime".
One example of Haysead cultural influence bequeathed to Equestria was the introduction of sea-travel. The Hayseads not only mastered the rivers and lakes of Equestria, they also were the first to take to the seas, chart the unknown areas of the world, and engage with foreign, overseas nations. This was part of the reason for their rather "exotic-looking" architecture.
Blowhard himself was often involved in marine warfare against the Nightmare Armies and their foreign allies. His powers of wind could whip up severe storms and whirlpools, wreck enemy ships, and fill his own vessel's sails with speed-giving wind while leaving his enemies' ships dead in the water and ripe for plundering. He was kind of a privateer before it was cool. *hipster*
Anyway, I'm sure Blowhard would have been intimidated by Blackmail but that wouldn't stop him from registering his displeasure, no matter how reserved and polite, with being threatened and his manner would make it clear that he didn't like to be pushed around either. And Rousing Speech was a huge, barrel-chested alicorn with hooves the size of dinner plates and ugly, ragged buzzard-like wings. He was maybe close to Blackmail in height, though maybe a bit shorter, but his impressive barge-like girth and boar-like face was enough to terrify most other Day Ponies. I imagine, though, that he would view Blackmail and his clan more as equals on the opposite side of a conflict rather than just "evil Darkspawn savages".