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Mage Aesthetics: Robes and Colors

Black_ElkBlack_Elk Member Posts: 30
Doing a Mage playthrough for the first time in a while reminded me about certain aesthetic gripes that have been kicking around since the late 90s, namely how all the mage robes look way too similar. Really it extends to all armors where the basic color scheme for the metal, cloth, or leather components is preset, but its particularly rough with the robes, because the dominant color is always some garish high saturation version of Red, Yellow, or Orange. Only half the rainbow to begin with, and the more powerful the robe, the more prominent and flashy that dominant color becomes.

It would have been cool if the default colors for the resistance and adventure type robes had more variety, basically to cover the full spectrum ROYGBIV.

For the Archmagi robes a much more satisfying aesthetic would have been to set the cloth colors so that they play off the selected Major/Minor colors of character. Or failing that at least having some presets there that don't totally up-end the character's portrait aesthetic. An example of the later idea might have been using Black for Evil, White for Good, Gray for Neutral (used sparingly, not the dominant color for the whole robe but for the details) as much more in keeping with classical color associations, and probably easier to work into an existing portrait than having them all blown out with a default Red for Evil, Yellow for Good, Orange for Neutral. The way its set up right now (pretty much across the board) the more powerful the armor/robe the less control the player has over their character's aesthetic or basic color scheme of their avatar, when it should really be the exact inverse.

Getting closer to the way you want to look over time is an important way to chart character progression, which is why I'm not a huge fan of throwing out aesthetic restrictions altogether (what happens if you give over complete control either with dyes or a freewheeling keeper tweak etc). But it really should move in the direction of more control the more advanced you get, not the other way round.Save the garish clown look for the regular or weaker robes/armors in the game, and give the players more freedom to make something look more badass as they get further along. Obviously for a game that's like 20 years old there's only so much you can expect, but this is one area where I haven't seen any significant enhancements, and no new workarounds built into the base game that wouldn't require other outside modifications. BG2 is better than BG1 in this regard, but the same sort of issue persists over both games. I'm sure the robed appearance for Dual or Multi-Class characters has come up plenty of times as well, but that would be nice to have built in as a choice in the appearance tab for all characters.

Another missed opportunity (not exactly related to robes, but which could be) would have been to give a color association for each school of arcane magic. We've seen these set up a bunch of different ways in graphs or matrices. The colors for the schools are basically arbitrary, but at least you could use them to set up clearer oppositions, or even just base it off which color would look best for the various Specialist Companions in the game and the dominant colors in their standard portrait.

If you use a complimentary color scheme in blocks to set up the oppositions between the schools of magic, you can go around the color wheel and still match the defaults for the associated NPC companions pretty well.

So for example, maybe you go something like...

Conjuration: Red - Edwin
Divination: Blue

Illusion: Orange - Tiax
Necromancy: Green - Xzar

Enchantment: Indigo - Xan
Evocation: Yellow - Dynaheir

Abjuration: Cyan
Transmutation: Violet

Wild/Universal: White - Neera

Anyhow, color would probably be helpful there since it's not always the easiest thing for peeps to figure out. Also sometimes they are referenced in different ways Evocation=Invoker, Conjurer=Summoning, Enchantment=Charm, Alteration=Transmuter etc. There can also be confusing overlaps in other areas like with Healing/Necromancy or Universal magic, or where priest spells are described with reference to the arcane stuff. Maybe more colors would help there too.


ps. a circlet of the 'specialist school' as a generic equip-able item that set one of the default detail colors of the robe to the associated school of Magic would be pretty cool. That would have been ideal for BG1 at least, since the helmet slot goes largely unused for that game, and it wouldn't get under anyone's skin by changing existing or already familiar items. Could be an alternative way to give more color options without messing around with other stuff. Just drop them on Thalantyr or something?

Post edited by Black_Elk on


  • DhariusDharius Member Posts: 435
    Interesting post, but I’m ok with the mage robe colours, icons and paperdoll effects on all classes as they currently are, personally.

  • Black_ElkBlack_Elk Member Posts: 30
    edited July 2019
    Just out of curiosity how would you feel then about a generic item that gave the player control over robed appearance, or which can add or remove say something like the hood?

    A colored hood or cloak as an equipable item that overrides one of the clothing detail colors all by itself would be pretty novel. I can't see any problem with having that as an item with no class restrictions. The Red Hood, the Green hood, the Blue cloak etc. I'm imagining the most useful for Multi-Class/Dual would be the generic cloak of color X, which just sets their avatar to Mage appearance with the selected color for the detailing on the robed appearance.

    If someone wants to give up the helmet slot in favor of aesthetic preference it would work for any class really offering some way to adjust the colors there too at least along one dimension of the detailing. Might be cool for fighter types or clerics, multi dual types of whatever. Maybe have the trash talking carnival threadbare sell them as just a regular equipment type?

    I'm kind of surprised nothing like that made it in, since it seems kind of straightforward. I think its cool to have a trade off with the helmet, cloak, belt or neck slot since often one of those may be unused anyway do to conflicts with other items already worn, but its not a total freeforall like an editor. Just something to add or switch a little color. You could do it a couple different ways, but the easiest would be to just stick a tailor somewhere that has some items with color overrides.

    Lots of things can be done in an editor but its better if its part of the game, and easy to support for multiplayer etc.

    Post edited by Black_Elk on
  • SkatanSkatan Member, Moderator Posts: 5,162
    I never shy away from more options, but I think you'll have a greater chance of success if you post this request in the modding section and ask if any of the talented modders wanna give it a shot.

  • DJKajuruDJKajuru Member Posts: 3,279
    I use Near Infinity to edit Robe colors or even if it should be hooded.

  • ZaxaresZaxares Member Posts: 1,138
    Same. I modified the Robe of Vecna to use the Robe of the Archmagi's appearance, for instance. I love the hooded robe appearance, but the Robe of Vecna's benefits are just FAR too handy to pass up.

  • BelgarathMTHBelgarathMTH Member Posts: 5,605
    I'm pretty sure there's already a mod for this. I've never tried it, so I can't describe it or say for sure it would give you what you like, but it might be worth a shot. @subtledoctor , Do you know which mod I'm talking about, and where to find it? It added more mage appearance options, and also more mage weapon options, including staff projectiles, iirc.

  • ZaghoulZaghoul Member, Moderator Posts: 4,134
    edited July 2019
    The mod More Style for Mages is a good one.

    It allows for more color choices for robes, as well as the option to switch between a regular robe and a hooded robe. It also adds magical colored staves that have a missile component built in.

  • Black_ElkBlack_Elk Member Posts: 30
    edited July 2019
    Right on I'll have a look at it for sure. Part of me was holding off on Weidu, because I have all these memories of endlessly installing and reinstalling my CDs every summer to try and get something clean up before tangoing with mods. Part of the attraction for me to buy this newer version on steam was just to have something multiplayer compatible ready to roll that I didn't have to fuss with overmuch, but I'm already back in the portrait game, and find myself missing some of the BG1 NPC project content that I had gotten used to. Someone in a thread the other day mentioned SCS too, and I think I remember enjoying some earlier iteration of it way back when. I imagine I'll have to mod up here at some point, since I don't know that anything else I'm interested in is likely to find its way into the base game at this point.

    Running through the big list I saw Portraits Portraits Everywhere which seemed like it might be up my alley. The NPC project since I remember really enjoying some of Domi and the gang's additions back when we were still proofing it. I guess I'll add the mage style one to the wishlist.

    Still I think there's something to be said for optional aesthetic enhancements to the base game, since its a lighter footprint and typically what I'm more interested in, moreso than added companions or whatever. I know sometimes its a package deal where in order to mod in something you want, you have to take other content along for the ride too. That's all well and good, just kind of wish some more stuff was built in. For example the new appearance tab in the char sheet is pretty useful for charname, but I wish it had a bit more in the way of avatar/paper doll adjustments, and that you could do the same for the NPC companion's appearance.

    The idea to differentiate spells/specialist schools by color was more ease of use oriented, since I know people can find some aspects of the arcane game kind of overwhelming. Just seemed relatively straightforward at least on a conceptual level. Really what would be even more useful are menus/information accessible during char creation, not just for spells although that one stood out to me on my most recent playthrough.

    Frequently 2nd ed and D&D generally was criticized because so much of the info you need to make informed char creation decision requires prior experience or extensive outside reference materials, and unlike PnP you don't have the DM to step in and offer advice or find ways to forgive errors made at the outset due to inexperience. A way to access a complete spell book from a game menu would be very helpful. I wouldn't put that right up front, since there is entertainment and rp value to learning as you go, but tucked off in a drop down menu by spell lvl or something maybe. A player would have a better picture of what they actually give up or gain by specializing in the actual game or compare which spells progression paths are actually on offer.

    I think Baldur's Gate is a legacy game that people will still use as an intro to D&D just generally, even well after we've moved into double digit editions. Just as a historical marker. Anything that brings more polish to aesthetic options or making the learning aspects more uservfriendly aspects would be cool and increases replay value.

    Anyhow just ramibling now. I know most ships have probably sailed already and it'll be down to the modding community. But long as the boards are still active thought I'd necro a discussion that's probably been had a few times before haha.

    If this thread is more appropriate to that mods section maybe a Moderator could help teleport it for me?


    Post edited by Black_Elk on
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