The Colours of Elements



The base Elements of reality, or of mystical power, vary greatly between settings. In the real world their number is undefined (if we look at chemical elements they become increasingly shortlived as we go down the periodic table, with many being incapable of chemical interactions due to their tiny half-lives, while if we look at fundamental particles the list is incomplete and uncertain), but most settings that make use of them limit them rather more strictly – having them be well-understood phenomenon with a very definite list.

The Classical Elements

All can agree that Fire, Earth, Air and Water are classical elements, but there is commonly a fifth – Spirit, Void or Aether – representing things that are truly immaterial and cannot be felt in any way.

Looking at them in order of the complexity of assigning a colour to them:

Fire is always red.

Although the knowledge of white-hot flames is old, red fires were, and still are, by far the most common to encounter, with white flames requiring significant active effort to maintain in a forge or furnace.

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The Colours of Elves

Elves are a popular element of modern fantasy.

Elves are a popular element of modern fantasy.

Original Dungeons and Dragons made it easy to tell which elves are the Evil ones – they’re the Drow, the ones with the coal black skin. Whilst this might have been more socially acceptable in the 1970’s when the first edition was published, most modern gamers tend to shy away from that specific form – even those who are otherwise happy to have “evil races” be easily distinguished by their form.

It might seem useful to backtrack the appearance of elves from DnD back to Middle-Earth, and so to the mythic originals from which Tolkien drew his inspiration. Unfortunately it’s not. The Norse sagas have two kind of ‘elf’ – the lios-alfar, which are your basic elves, and the svart-alfar, which are dwarves. Arguably the Vana might be the inspiration for the High Elves, but the distinction between Quenya and Sindarian is largely linguistic rather than genetic, and the Vana are more close kin to the Aesir (both are Norse gods) than the Alfar (who are just elves), so I’m guessing not so much.

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Colour Coded Dragons


Dragons! Huge beasts with bright red scales! Or is that green? What, maybe they’re golden? Hold on, they’re four-legged serpent-like creatures with feathers…
Dragon is an evocative word, and there is no doubt dragons come in a variety of shapes and colours in myth. From the battling red and white Dragons which fell castles in Welsh myth, to the symbol of the emperor in Chinese history – the one things they all have in common is power and strength.

In most fiction there is only one type of dragon. Most commonly in the west it is a huge fire-breathing lizard with wings, often intelligent but cruel, always symbolic of power. Sometimes the greatest ruler will command a dragon or three, other times the heroes will consult a dragon to discover ancient wisdom and forbidden lore, and sometimes they will  battle one to prove their prowess or outwit one to prove their intelligence.

But what about colour? In most fiction it makes no difference – there is only one type of dragon because no more than that is needed. In a few instances, however, dragons come in more than one colour, and you can tell a lot about the dragon by what colour its scales are.

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Fairy Colours


This month’s theme is colour and what it can mean in story and games.

Art Produced by Nolan Nasser for Letiman Games upcoming Kickstarter

Fairies’ Colours

Colour is a big part of our world, we use it in many contexts and each colour can have multiple important meanings, so it only makes sense that colour is a big part of the fae world too. Different colours can show what powers the fae may have or what they are linked to within the world. This time I’m going to talk about the small ones with wings, fairies themselves (especially the small pixies), since they can come in all the colours of the rainbow though the most common colours for these little guys are green, blue, white, purple and orange.

This piece talks about how they can be seen within popular culture: stories, books, and games.

They show their colour in a few different ways: skin, wings, clothing, their fairy dust, or their glow. A lot of fairies have peach coloured skin and wear clothing or have wings of one particular colour, this can be any colour, such as pink or yellow or reddish-brown/orange but that colour usually links them to something like a flower or season.

Plant fairies are one example of these nature-linked fae, each fairy is linked a type of plant, most often flowers but those can include the flowers found on trees. They not very powerful and their job is to help their plant grow and spread. The flower fairies that were depicted by Cicely Mary Barker in the 1920s are a form of this type of fairies, the art work is less than a century old but the concept that there are little fairies for plants helping them grow and that live within them is eons old.

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