It's Hard Not to Make any Modern-setting Game about the News

It really is.

Anyway, here's some random notes and thoughts and stuff that's we've dreamed up for the "long hair = crazy sorcery in a modern setting" game.


Yer a hairy, wizard.

The really short summary:

1. If you have magical ability at all, long hair = how much power you have.
2. Too long/too much hair, and you'll go crazy.
3. The government recruits the powered before they're even out of high school to go into an Enforcement branch of the government to deal with dangerous Unregulated threats. These agents get their power level dictated to them; how long and how much hair you can have (volume, not just length, matters, so you can have super long hair, provided half your head is shaved or something.
4. Even those with powers who aren't in the Enforcement Agency are careful manage their hair, because there is strong belief that if your hair gets too long, the power takes over.
5. All this hair-awareness has led to some crazy cultural obsessions with hair styles. Super-long hair is seen as subversive or an indicator of insanity/danger, even if you don't have any magical ability.
6. Magic use may or may not make your hair turn crazy colors (depends on the person), so the government agents might have really bizarre hair styles in wild colors, and that's just… how it is. The real LN types dye their crazy hair black or something to cover it up.
7. No incantations. It's all "willpower and focus."

History (read: the part were Doyce goes down a background/GM rabbit hole)

In the western European tradition, the classic imagery is all wizards with big beards and long hair; your basic Gandalf. These days, it's just as likely guys with Brooklyn fades and hipster lumberjack beards.

There was at one point a trend in western thinking that people were 'beyond' such things until the age of English imperialism, because England was heading out into the world to take things over ('civilize' people) and getting its collective ass handed to it by locals who had in no way given up their magic traditions.

So all that stuff was revived, and any cultures that didn't do things the western way (same hair styles, same icons/tools/etc) were deemed dangerous, lesser, suspicious, and generally hostile. (Unless you rip it off from said culture and pretend it was yours all along.)

I might do something with the magical paraphernalia as well, where channeling tools like staves and wands are seen as okay, but such things from other cultures (knives, spears, juzu beads, kongosho) are 'lesser' or 'dangerous' or both.

Cultural/Social/Government Implications and Random Thoughts

In western culture any non-western head covering that conceals the wearer's hair (gele, hijab, turban, tichel, dupatta, chador, burqa, et cetera) are collectively and unironically referred to as 'terrorist head garb,' which should indicate how well we're getting along with other magical traditions and cultures, worldwide.

Hair with really strong, tight locks (notably African) are often forced through societal pressure to keep their hair shorter or straightened (because 'all those curls conceal volume in less obvious length'). Dreadlocks are also viewed with great suspicion, because the locked curls mean higher density in less obvious length. A dreadlocked African woman wearing some kind of gele is the default 'criminal silhouette' on Enforcement publicity posters.

Oh and if you want to dive into gender issues, you can easily get into the bullshit arguments about men being inherently better at magic than women because they can grow facial hair.

The whole thing is basically YA near-future magic dystopia, so… yeah.


In Album 3/21/17


  1. Does weave/hair extensions made from other magician's hair do anything?

    For some reason I want to call this 'The Sampson Protocol.'

  2. Oooh oooh, does all hair count, or just head hair, or just the top of the head hair and not the beards? Like, are there bald guys with a ton of body hair who can hide in plain sight?

  3. Seems like weaves and toupees would be a one-way street to crazy-town. Not that you can't use the power, but that there are tons of stories about why you really, really shouldn't.

    I can't figure out whether Delilah is a hero or villain in this world.

  4. And then there was that attempt by supers to take over the American government in the middle of the 19th Century through the organization known as the Wig Party.

    (Okay, if you can lead off this article with "You're a hairy, wizard," I will take no shit for that pun.)

  5. From a 'show design' point of view, there's an aesthetic that very closely adheres to "forces of Order look Orderly" – neat, tidy, everything all slicked back and trimmed up.

    Which again, puts many PoC on the wrong side of things. Even and especially Native Americans, who don't have traditional braiding or head coverings to mistrust, but instead go for long unbound hair. "Barbarians."

    "And their men can't even grow beards, so really…"

    Attached picture: the sort of thing I picture with the older Enforcement Agents. (Actually, I could do a couple albums with both 'sides', and another for the ones you're not sure about.)

    Visual cue: the more unkempt/unruly/chaotic the hair, the more likely they're working against the regime.

  6. +Remi Treuer I think the borrowed hair thing is rich with both interesting story and probably some good cultural appropriation stuff.

    Jeez, you could even do some kind of serial killer… serial scalper, anyway. Yikes.

  7. Oh … scalping. I hadn't even made the connection. That is some nasty, nasty, mystical proxy-war stuff between the French and the English during colonial times.

  8. +Doyce Testerman My instinct is always gonzo, but I'm glad my more 'sober' idea struck a chord with you. Like, hair sheds out naturally, does it retain its power this way? This might make a hairball in a magician's shower drain super-dangerous.

    Also, hair can last a long time, decomposing long after most organic matter is gone. Zombies?

  9. A bracelet (necklace (belt)) woven of the hair of your enemies (or your mentor (or a beloved family member)).

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