Skin Tone Choices

I’m writing a story which is taking place in a fantasy world which lacks our definition of ethnicities and races. Thus instead of asking players to choose their ethnicities, I’ll be asking them to choose their skin tones.

I’ve played many games where my skin color wasn’t an option and sometimes that stopped me from fully integrating with the game. I do want my options to inclusive, so if you feel that you aren’t represented by any of the choices listed below, please let me know what tones you’d want me to add.

Skin Tones: Fair, Beige, Olive, Tanned, Bronze, Tawny Brown, Deep Brown.


I don’t find these kind of choices useful if they have absolutely no impact on the game whatsoever. If no character mentions about your appearance and the choices are presented just so you can visualize the character (which you can do without the need of those options), then it is useless.
And honestly? In the games I’ve played, I would rather not choose it at all, since I didn’t find absolutely any reason for it.


I take the view that its useful to visualise the character I’m controlling in the game and immersing me in the story. I prefer the details to be impactful even if only in flavour text. I’m really not a fan of games like diabolical where that kind of character creation doesn’t exist - my brain just transplants “me” into the story when I want to map a personality onto a character I created.


I’d suggest putting “Fawn” instead of Beige, maybe adding “Pale” as a skin tone, and maybe one more on the other end of the spectrum, but I personally don’t know that many words for skin tone.


I think I wrote this before. Things like race, or skin tone, or ethnicity are great and all, but if they don’t have a point then I find them unnecessary. I get eye color and hair, but still the same goes for that.

If you’re in dragon invested France, no ones gonna care about if you’re brown or white, or if your hair is neon green. But if your in say, Nazi Germany with brown hair and brown eyes, then there’s a reason.

All the more power to you though, and good luck.


It may not have an impact on story, but lacking a character creator can have an impact on immersion.

For those of you who dislike its inclusion:
Does the inclusion affect your enjoyment of the game at all? Does having the choice bug you afterward? Does the option, even if meaningless, truly take you out of the game?

Because for me, not including a customizable options really does bother my enjoyment of a game, does bug me for at least a few scenes after, and in some cases can truly take me out of a game, all because it keeps me from immersing myself fully into the game. Even if it only affects flavor text. It feels disorienting to me when the game describes other characters but hardly ever touches on mine.

I love A Study In Steampunk, it is literally my favorite IF game (Wayhaven is a very close second) but I had so much trouble playing the first time around because I didn’t have the option of customizing my character, and for the first three chapters, my mind couldn’t settle on what the MC looked like. I actually had to stop playing, gather my thoughts, and genuinely had to try to conjure an image in my head…but I couldn’t, so I gave up and just imagined Martin Freeman as my MC, but it still bugs me to this day because Martin Freeman is blonde and the MC canonically has dark hair (but vague in its actual description).
Again, I love this game, its one of the few that I’ve never deleted from my phone, but that’s because I love the story and the characters. The same thing with Wayhaven Chronicles. I didn’t get to choose my skin tone, but the characters and the story far make up for that, and at least we’re allowed to pick our hair and eye color, which goes a long way for letting me imagine the MC.

@LordOfLA brought up Diabolical, which was a fun game, but yeah, I couldn’t get into that one at all because…what the hell does my character look like? idk, My brain kept morphing between the Joker and Rick friggin’ Sanchez, and it was so freakin’ disorienting.

I’m an intensely visual person. I need some sort of anchor or description (even if I don’t get to choose) of the MC or else I get distracted trying to imagine the MC and it really does ruin my enjoyment of the game.

In short, I like seeing the impact of my choices, even if it’s as simple as changing a text variable.


I’m going to provide a resource I’ve found very helpful when writing about skin, color and descriptions.

The key here, is that the information in this blog is written by a person of color in an attempt to highlight the issues and concerns that we writers deal with, such as why it is offensive to use food as descriptors … things that some of us may not be aware of to begin with:

Writing with Color

Hope this helps because it has helped me.


Considering in this format it’s usually shoehorned in, most of the time. At the end of the day I pretty much only not get bothered when it’s brought up by others because it feels less awkward to me, since I very rarely think about my appearance. But even with that if we go for the all inclusive insert color here, I feel like it has no meaning because nothing will be personalized. Which will bug me more. And most people here don’t deal with color or physical preferences so :man_shrugging: The effect will be of different severity depending on pov.


Most of the time I have no problem visualising my character, so the cosmetic descriptions that’ll only show in stats screen are useless to me. Unless they change gameplay or add nice storytelling elements (yet to see one).

What does irk me is having to go through sometimes up to 5 choices with 25 options each for customization that won’t change the game whatsoever. ZE:SH did it great, IMO, by allowing to choose if you want to play appearance constructor or jump straight in.


Actually it can. I don’t mind a quick what’s your hair/eye/skin colour even if the only difference is the occasional piece of flavour text, and if it’s worked into the story more naturally it can sometimes even be a good addition. What I find annoying and immersion breaking is having to wade through a number of questions about things that you never see again in the story before you can proceed. (There are games that do this.) It’s not so bad on the first round, but every time I replay, it annoys me more.

I think a happy middle ground if someone wants to put in extensive (but non-story important) customisation, is to give the reader a chance to skip it or offer a couple of pre-mades for non-story essential details vs select everything one by one.


I tend to go for pale character whenever there the option. That being said, i would like a pale option, (maybe stark/milky white intead? i mean its a fantasy world so i would assume it should be okay to fantasize a bit, dont mind me though) if possible. If its not, ill just use ‘fair’ then.

I liked that some chars will comment on MCs appearance. You get a discont if you have tatoos piercings or dyed hair Its pretty cool.

Since mostly everybody here prefer to point out their opnion than answer the topic, i’ll do the same. I like and i want whenever possible to be able to create my char, no matter if the only impact in the hole story is some thing like "...running my hands through my <hair_color> hair i let out a heavy sigh, my <skin_color> was glistening with sweat, my <eye_color> eyes where dull. Looking at my face reflection in the mirror i thought to myself..." i still want it, simply cuz its immersive. Its more appealing for me this way, and easier to immerse myself into each playthrough.


Maybe for the people who dont like/dont care about. You could add a “skip” option and they would either play a " default " char or (if youre willing ) a randomized one. Problem solved. Now there is no reason for anyone to be whinning around.


In my game, I don’t intend to have a wall of pages solely for character customization because yes, that is utterly exhausting. I intend to litter the choices through the first chapter so you’ll always get some story between the questions about customization. I’m not adding any “input your eye/hair color” options because I plan on altering the text slightly according to each choice to add some individuality to the writing. I’m mostly including the character customization options for immersion rather than for the sake of simply visualizing a character.

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Yep, your suggestions are great and that is exactly what I plan on doing. But I don’t think I will add an option to skip the character creation or randomize the entire thing because the character creation choices are littered through the first chapter (I’m still a beginner coder) and they do have an impact from the very beginning.

Also, if I add two options for light skin, which ones do you suggest I add? There many: porcelain, alabaster, ivory, warm ivory, sand, etc. ‘Fair’ seemed sort of all-encompassing, so I stuck with it.

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Since im assuming there is no issue with unnatural-like color im going for porcelain or alabaster (mostly porcelain, but your book your choice). Just remembered its two so i would say porcelain (since its milky White) and ivory ( i’m really torn between this and the warm version since ivory is bit dark than normal normal White and warm ivory is like a lighter beige :thinking: )

-porcelain and ivory (both light)


-porcelain and warm ivory (one very light and one with a bit more color)


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I found this chart when I went searching for warm ivory.
I sort of want to include colors for pale white skin and darker white skin, so if you have any suggestions for those, please let me know.


pale ivory and rose beige for the darkerwhite


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I don’t like having to choose a character with premade details to avoid slogging through customization. Adjectives are not necessary for a grammatically correct sentence and “He looked into her eyes” is just as correct as “He looked into her blue eyes” without forcing an apperance on the character or going through pages of character creation that doesn’t have a big impact on the story. You can accomplish this by setting the default input color choice to space or " ".

Character appearance creators can be useful to avoid the author accidently setting the MC apperance- like mentioning the MC blushing when the player thought the MC was too dark to blush or mentioning the MC being lifted by a damsel when the player thought MC was a huge unliftable muscle tank.

Character appearance creators can also go overboard and seem like a boring and long quiz of unused info that hurts replayability.

I guess you could naturally place apperance info where it comes up in the story to avoid too many questions at once, but some people may want to have a fully created character (appearance wise) at the beginning. Or you could just write a plain MC where skin color (tanning, sunburn, blushing) isn’t mentioned.


I’d say so. I usually envision a character I’m playing in my head, without needing in-text description. I find it annoying to have to provide a description, because at best I’m giving the game a description that it won’t use and I already have, and at worst I wind up searching a long list of descriptors that don’t actually match what I have in mind. For example, there’s a fairly comprehensive skin tone chart up there that doesn’t have anything close to my skin color. Or there’s the games I see that give a dozen or so hair options, but all of them assume the hair in question is either soft and pliant or in an afro.

In those cases, I’d much rather the game simply didn’t ask and let me envision the character myself.


@Malvastor, I’m curious here, and please feel free to ignore my question if you wish to, but how would you describe your skin color?

It’s kind of a pet peeve of mine when stories ask you to input the skin colour of your character, since usually, I don’t want to settle on one at the start and also, it’s never ever mentioned again. Ever. And I’ve played a good 50 IF games.

I feel like it’s just an extra click or tap at the start of the game which wastes my time. I also prefer being able to visualise characters myself.

I really enjoyed Study in Steampunk like you, and I liked the no fuss intro. You don’t choose your name, you don’t choose your gender and you don’t choose your appearance. You’re just given a character to work with.

I prefer stories like this, to an extent, where the story gives me a character - maybe one I can name or customise slightly, but not one of my one creation.

A good example of my reasoning is found in a lot of the superhero IFs I find abandoned on the forums. A lot of them let you pick a power from a huge list at the start, but that just creates a ton of work for the author to make scenes for every single one of those powers.

Usually, the scenes end up generic and/or not adhering to specific facts (electricity powers not having an extra effect in water etc).

Something I prefer more is the Heroes Rise trilogy. You’re given a character with a backstory, a power and you work with that. There’s less work for the author and frankly, I find it more immersive, rather than less.

I’ve gone quite a bit off topic here but hopefully, that explains the gist of my argument.

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