D&D General 5 Color Alignment

Bupp

Adventurer
I'm looking into using the five colors as an alignment chart, as opposed to nine axis alignment, the good/neutral/chaos trinity or 4e's five alignment sliding scale.

It's an idea I've tinkered with in my head, but never had a chance to implement.

Plane Shift: Ixalan was the thing that really got me thinking about this. If you don't want to dig thru the whole Ixalan pdf, I pulled out the pertinent part on my blog.

Many discussions try to shoehorn some white=good while black=evil stereotypes into the color wheel. The color wheel does not work that way. Each color, when taken to an extreme, is capable of evil. Planeshift Ixalan does hint at this a bit.

For those of you that want to really dig into it, Mark Rosewater (Maro), Lead Designer of Magic wrote about each of the colors in the color pie. He wrote about them each having a belief system. He did this so that from a design standpoint, but in doing so really explores what each color believes, and isn't that what alignment really is? Boils down to what does the color want, and how does it get it?

He asks six questions to really delve into it.
  • What does the color desire? What is its end goal?
  • What means does the color use to achieve these ends?
  • What does the color care about? What does the color represent?
  • What does the color despise? What negatively drives the color?
  • Why does the color like its allies and hate its enemies?
  • What is the color's greatest strength and biggest weakness?
Here are those articles:
White
Blue
Black
Red
Green

In Pie Fights, Maro delves into the conflicts between the colors, and in Thank You For Being a Friend, he explores the allied color pairings. Edited to add... Hate is Enough, discussing why the colors hate each other.

Finally, while searching for those articles, I came across "How the Color Wheel Explains Humanity" by Duncan A. Sabian. The first half he more or less rephrases each of Maro's articles above, but also delves more into what the two and three color pairings believe. It's also home to some helpful diagrams that explain these conflicts and alliances between the color pairings, such as this one illustrating the conflicts between individual colors:
1*Yf59VVey9kS6yuHo5Cs41g.png


Mr. Sabian explains the good/evil dichotomy not fitting any of the colors well.
It’s worth noting that the colors speak largely to goals and means. Traits like “good” or “evil” do not map to the color wheel, since every color has ways in which it can be either. Similarly, emotions like love and hate can crop up in every color, as can characteristics like compassion or gregariousness or elegance — the difference is in how people respond to those emotions and those characteristics. All of the colors can feel strong emotion, but red responds to them by following them, while blue responds to them by investigating them. All of the colors can be polite, but white does so out of pro-sociality, whereas black does so transactionally.
 
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I always loved those articles. Except Black. Black seems totally nuts.
Indeed better use purple, deep indigo, but not black!
and after thought, red is risky too, better use orange.
Damned you use White! this is forbidden, gold or silver maybe.
 

NotAYakk

Legend
Green: Continuity is life; your grandchildren should have what you do.
White: Everyone has a duty to the group; this is the highest calling.
Black: You should perfect yourself; nothing lives forever.
Red: Morality is rooted in emotion; cages are intolerable.
Blue: The mind is the one thing that matters; bring everyone to their full potential.

I think that is a morality for each of the 5 colors of mana that is positive for each one.
 
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cbwjm

Seb-wejem
I love reading those articles and have copied some of them into a google doc for easy access. There is an article that I need to find again that had the values of one colour vs their opposites, I don't think it was the pie fights article, I think it used terms similar to what you find on the colour wheel and had things like logic vs. impulse, (blue vs. red) and order vs. chaos (white vs. red) which I think could form a good basis for creating colour alignment. I think it was similar to the image in the opening post but with more detail. Could be an interesting way to describe a character for a MtG game by saying choose 2 or 3 things that you strongly identify with, you might choose emotion and working with a group which means your character is red/white which might make a difference if you decide to include magical effects and colour abilities in your game.

I actually think this is better than the standard alignment, rather than saying you are lawful good you describe what values your character has, similar to the background bonds and flaws.
 

Aylowan

Explorer
Yep, I love 5-color alignment. As a non-MtG player, it was initially difficult for me to grasp some of the concepts, even though I've read a decent chunk of color theory articles. But I recently came across Sabian's article, and the in-depth explanations -- and examples -- were super helpful. Perhaps because that article mostly related it to people, and not Magic decks.

For my purposes, the 5 colors (plus combinations) give me more details to work with, while still feeling more flexible than 9-fold alignment. So it's enough leeway to not feel like a character is hemmed in by a particular alignment, but still enough guiderails to be a useful framework in thinking about a character. (Both how they generally act & feel now, as well as how their actions & feelings have changed over the course of a campaign.)

I understand the character I'm currently playing way better after figuring out the colors he is (and was previously) -- and I definitely plan to use it when creating my next character.
 

I think the color of mana are closer to the resonance from Mage: the Ascension

 

cbwjm

Seb-wejem
I found the article I was thinking of which described the differences between the opposing colours: Hate is Enough. A quick overview of the differing values of each colour and their opposites.
 

GMMichael

Guide of Modos
I'm looking into using the five colors as an alignment chart, as opposed to nine axis alignment, the good/neutral/chaos trinity or 4e's five alignment sliding scale. . .

He asks six questions to really delve into it.
  • What does the color desire? What is its end goal?
  • What means does the color use to achieve these ends?
  • What does the color care about? What does the color represent?
  • What does the color despise? What negatively drives the color?
  • Why does the color like its allies and hate its enemies?
  • What is the color's greatest strength and biggest weakness?
That's a lot of thinking/questioning for a metagame concept. Alignment's not a religion; it's a tag that follows a character around.

If you're playing 5e, you have tools for deciding on behaviors. Ideals and flaws cover a lot of the bases with minimal effort.

It's a great analysis though. I'd use it for in-game religions or possibly political factions.
 

Voidrunner's Codex

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