Like many fans of fantasy, science fiction, and comic book projects, I was sucked into the world of Daredevil on Netflix recently. I won’t spoil anything here, but thought a few things were quite intriguing as far as the use of color in such a dark world.
Certain characters tend to remain fairly monochromatic through most of it. Dark suits. Dark masks. White dresses. Bright colors. It reminded me a bit of the westerns of old where the good guys wore white hats and the bad guys wore black. But the designers put that palette to good use in this series.
As moral and ethical and personal decisions started to collide, some characters change. Some shift from black to white. Others to red. But many slip into the grey. That middle ground where things are not quite as clear to distinguish.
I wonder if we could use color in our RPG campaigns in a similar way. Start with a black and white world and shift to a grey palette signifying the muddying of ethical and moral waters.
The real world is a very gray place, though many people choose not to see it that way. Every day we make a million little decisions for many different reasons. Sometimes those decisions benefit us. Sometimes they benefit others. But they always are selfish even if we think otherwise.
That sounds negative, but I don’t think it is.
Look at it from a gaming point of view. A villain is nothing more than a character who has chosen a path in opposition to yours. Perhaps your hero doesn’t like bad guys killing innocent people because it makes life complicated. Change is hard. Sudden death goes against the status quo. It’s messy and requires cleanup.
Perhaps your hero is different. He or she does what he does because it’s the right thing. But if that’s the case, they’re doing it because it makes them feel good. That’s a selfish desire, isn’t it? Sure, being the hero helps people who need help. But it’s not all so cut and dried.
So the next time you come up with a villain for your game… think about the color of their hat (or suit, tie, dress, or shoes). Use color cues to suggest more than a particular style. Use color to indicate psychology, philosophy, or behavior. And then mess with those choices to see your players (and their PCs) get confused.
Will it work? I don’t know. Something to try though. 🙂
And enjoy Daredevil. It’s worth the watch. Brutally violent in more than a few places, but the writing is phenomenal. And the characters have a great sense of style in their color palette. 🙂