Monday, July 23, 2012

More than meets the eye

After recently seeing a piercing photograph that drove home the old adage "Eyes are the windows to the soul" (no, it wasn't Salvador over there), I've been thinking about Eyes and Magic in role playing games.  There are many different aspects of this that someone could explore, of course. Ancient mythology provided many links (Egyptian and Greek and Norse, oh my!) and so do some more modern strands of all-seeing conspiracy theory.  I guess I'm also inspired by the alternative medicinal practice of iridology, in which some claim that all sorts of physical and mental aspects of a person can be divined via detailed analysis of their irises...

I'm sure there are many RPGs in which characters can roll dice to determine their eye color (hey, there's one), but usually the result of that die roll has no in-game importance.  Here's my crazy idea:

If your character can do magic, then that character's eye color determines what type of magic he or she can do.

In some ways, this idea is related to proposed schemes for splitting up magic spells by color-themed schools.  OSR bloggers have suggested several options, from a simple white/gray/black axis to a more varied palette.  Of course, in some games it doesn't work to limit a spell-caster to just a small subset of the available ways of breaking the laws of physics.  This idea is probably best for worlds in which magic is rare and difficult to learn.

Anyway, here's my initial take on how it breaks down...

According to superstition, people with GRAY eyes are obstinate and resolute, like stone.  Thus, the gray-eyed magician specializes in manipulating concrete physical elements:  moving them around (telekinesis, teleportation), changing their form (transmutation, making them hot or cold), and enchanting them (e.g., forging magical weapons).

Best known amongst the fiery Celts, people with GREEN eyes are passionate, creative, and prone to jealousy.  The green-eyed magician is a master of spells that go on the direct offensive:  fire bolts, lightning, ghostly punching fists, noxious gas, and so on.  The cleric's special role of repelling or blasting the undead with holy symbols also falls to the emerald-eyed casters.

BROWN eyes may be the most common throughout the world, so they correspond to the most commonly found type of magician: the shaman, witch, and medicine man.  Brown-eyed magicians thus are expert at nudging and persuading the natural world to do his or her bidding:  weather control, healing, communicating with animals and plants, and general luck modification (blessing or cursing).

You've got to watch out for HAZEL eyed people!  As a blend of the brown and the green, they've got a soaring, martial spirit, but with their feet planted firmly on the ground.  Thus, they're best at spells of defense and protection (force fields, strengthening walls and doors), as well as sneakiness (invisibility, silence), and also being able to nullify or disrupt an enemy magician's spells.

BLUE eyes are the rarest, being tied to a delicate, recessive gene.  These magicians command the subtle powers of the mind.  Not just those manipulative Jedi tricks, but also telepathy, clairvoyance, creating visual illusions, and sensing when people are lying.

It may be difficult to tell someone with very dark brown eyes from a truly BLACK eyed person.  The latter are rare, too, and the magical among them are the deep seers -- the ones who communicate with spirits, demons, and angels to learn things that may not be best for humans to know.  They're also experts at all forms of divination (tea leaves, Tarot cards, and so on).

Anyway, I have no idea if this makes any kind of practical sense to include in a role-playing world.  But what's a blog for if not to toss these ideas out there?  :-)

And what would an iridologist do with Fionna and Prince Bubblegum?


  1. I thought I might have black eyes. I just went to the mirror to go look (I don't look in mirrors a lot.) They are *very* dark brown with violet rings.

    What a stimulating topic for a post!

  2. Thanks! Many web sites assert that completely black eyes don't exist, but that shouldn't stop creative Game Masters from including them! :-)

    (Cygnus = sneaky hazel, by the way...)