Monday, April 09, 2007


Elves and gnomes ought to be colorblind. Unless their low-light vision is magical, which the rules don't indicate.

I'd say orcs and dwarves, too, except that darkvision basically has to be magical. No animal on earth can see in absolute darkness. Animals that can see in the dark are just very efficient with the available light.

One of the ways to maximize this efficiency is by having lots of rod cells and few cone cells. Cones register color, but need more light to function. Rods only register greyscale, but don't need as much light. Since there's a limited amount of real estate in an eye, a creature can either be good at seeing color or good at seeing in the dark.

Maybe I'm missing something. Or maybe elves and gnomes just have extra-dimensional spaces inside their eyes.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I hope night-vision isn't the only science problem you see in DnD. It's not even the only biological problem (seeing as elves, orcs, and humans are the same species in a biological sense).

  3. I don't mind that the explanation's probably magical. I just wonder what the explanation is.

    And I think it'd be interesting if elves were colorblind.

  4. Biologically, I don't think there's anything stopping creatures from both seeing in the dark and seeing color. It might just be a matter of a higher protein density. If it were really important in the species' environment, they could develop eyes that switched between using different types of proteins (very sensitive vs. color-detecty). I think. It's possible with magic anyway. Even if there's no active magic, it could be that magics past have changed genes in ways that would take evolution eons.