Colour puzzle

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Prominent mention of colour may just be for thematic effect, as (for instance) in Photopia (Adam Cadre, 1998, Z-code), but it frequently appears as a central component of puzzles.

Uses of colour

  • Colour may just be a simple symbol to distinguish or identify an object, or to associate it with another object of the same colour.
    • Coloured keys may fit doors of the same colour. This is perhaps the archetypal colour puzzle.
    • If you're playing with electronics, wires (and resistors) are likely to be identified by colour.
    • Pills, mysterious liquids, and so on tend to follow this pattern.
  • Any number of symbolic meanings, arbitrary or culturally determined, can be attached to colours. Sometimes the appropriate meanings may be explicitly flagged up, but more often you'll have to guess from context.
    • Signalling. Before Theseus sailed off to confront the Minotaur, his father arranged a colour-coding system for the sails so that he would be able to know if his son had survived when the ships returned. (Theseus clearly failed to get the last lousy point on this occasion). You might come across any number of similar schemes for communication.
    • Social cues. If you can be sure about the social meanings of colours, you can use them to affect your interactions with NPCs.
    • The symbolic roles of colour can become very concrete indeed if magic is being thrown about.
  • Certain colours may be invisible or indistinguishable to certain species, individuals, or visual scanners.
  • Colour has close associations with various pyschological effects: it often figures prominently in [synaesthesia], for instance.

Cheating colour

If a colour puzzle relies on the colour itself, rather than using it as a convenient symbol, it may be possible to 'cheat' the puzzle by changing the colour of objects.

  • Dye or paint things.
  • Mix different pigments.
  • Fill the air around the object with coloured gas or smoke.
  • Shine a coloured light on the object in question; you may need to find a filter for a light source.
  • Apply chemicals or extreme temperatures to the object.
  • If a PC or NPC's perception of colour is all that matters, employ tinted glasses.

See also