A gamer… asks:
My GM seems hands out magic items that simply can’t be used together! Skull wands, then flower motif rings that glow softly… Seriously?? How can I get some simple fashion tips across?
Dear A Gamer…
I understand your vexation. As the most stylish goblin in my gaming group, I face similar irritations. The short answer is “Talk to you GM and have realistic expectations”. (Is that ever NOT the short answer?).
Know your GM and your game. If you’re playing in any sort of organized play situations (like Pathfinder Society), I’m afraid these tips won’t help you. You probably won’t be allowed to make any changes, and you’ll have to be content knowing in your fashionable heart-of-hearts that the purple Robe of Arcane Heritage you found is actually a lovely shade of green that flatters your character’s complexion. If your GM and the rest of the players in your group are very by-the-book, you may have to content yourself with this as well.
Talk to your GM. Sadly, not all gamers posses impeccable fashion instincts. Your poor GM may not know any better. Start small and simple. Ask what colour an item is. Ask if it could be periwinkle instead. Ask her whether the in-game town has a jewel-smith who can recast your ring into something less last-year (without changing the mechanics). You should probably do this away from the gaming table. You’d be surprised at how many Pathfinder players don’t want to talk about clothes while they’re playing.
GMing is hard work, and takes a lot of time. Many GMs are looking for ways to share responsibilities. Your GM is probably excited that you have taken such an interest in the world and your character. If she’s smart and/or lazy she’ll take advantage of your enthusiasm. Offer to write descriptions of items you’d like to have, not the mechanics, just the appearance. Can you draw? Draw you character (and the other players), to help give everyone a better visual sense of each other. It’s easier to see that an orange cloak is going to look garish over red armour, than to read it.
Have reasonable expectations. There will always be occasions where, for whatever reason, the GM will not give you free rein to design the look of your items. “I’m sorry, cleric of Desna, I know you were hoping to find a butterfly pendant on these cultists of Zon-Kuthon, but they are really committed to their skull and chain aesthetic.” Remember, NPCs (even evil cultists) have as much right to match their accessories as PCs do.
(What you wanted: Valentino*; What you got: Alexander McQueen*, 2011)
Certain items, like rings, are often described in ways that provide hints to their purpose. A ring of swimming, for example, is described as having fishlike designs. Organization may have official or unofficial uniforms. A Red Mantis Assassin, will not be wearing olive green, no matter how much it flatters your complexion.
(Not a Red Mantis: Mugler, Fall 2011 Ready-to-Wear)
Embrace the Contrast. Finally, if you end up with the skull wand and glowing flower ring, never underestimate the visual power of the hard/soft dichotomy. Yes, it’s overplayed and cliché right now, but done well it can still create a visually stunning aesthetic.
(Prabal Gurung, Fall 2013 Ready-to-Wear)
* I couldn’t find an complete reference for these, if any one knows season/year/designer, please let me know, and I’ll make corrections.