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5E Re-Imagining the D&D Planes as MtG Color Pie

Aldarc

Legend
Discussion in the "Are evil gods necessary" thread got me thinking about the alignment setup of the Great Wheel and how extraplanar entities factor into that setup: good/evil, law/chaos, and everything in-between. (And it's a lovely Wheel for what it does and represents.) But I was curious about alternatives. I am aware of the World Axis (4e), the World Tree (Forgotten Realms), the Orrery (Eberron), and so on. But I also began thinking about Magic the Gathering and its Color Pie. My thoughts of late have drifted on how the Color Pie could be used to create a planar model that is distinct from the alignment-based setup of the Great Wheel.

Disclaimer: At the outset, I know that there will be the invariable person saying "Why bother? It's more trouble than it's worth" or ever positive contribution of "The Great Wheel is already perfect in every inconceivable way possible" or even "That's not how planes in MtG works." None of these comments really address the point of this thread. This is brainstorming. This is play. This thread is about taking the concepts of the MtG Color Pie and apply them to creating a new planar setup.

It seems like there could be at least four different viable models using the MtG Color Pie as a basis.

Basic Model: Five Colors (Five Planes)
This minimalist model just uses the basic five colors as the planes: e.g., Blue, Black, Red, Green, White.

Transitional Ring Model: Base Five Colors plus Transitional Colors (10 Planes)
This slightly more advanced model takes the five colors as is, but also includes the outer transitional blends: e.g., White/Blue, Blue/Black, Black/Red, Red/Green, and Green/White.

"Theros" Model: Base Five Colors plus Two-Color Blends (15 Planes)
The "Theros" model takes the above, but also includes the five blend combinations from opposing colors: e.g., White/Red, Red/Blue, Blue/Green, Green/Black, and Black/White.

"Ravnica" Model: No Base Colors, Only Two-Color Blends (10 Planes)
The Ravnica Model removes the base colors and only utilizes the two-blended colors.

So if we operated with these four different models, where would the various planar entities of D&D fit (or not) in their respective setups? I'm not expecting everything to fit, because some things were developed in the Great Wheel to "fill in the blanks" with planar alignments. But I'm curious which of these models people would prefer and how they would rearrange the furniture, so to speak, with the planar entities we have in D&D.
 

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Li Shenron

Legend
There is a faint correlation between colors and alignments: blue = lawful, black = evil, red = chaotic, green = neutral and white = good. This could be used as a basis draft for mapping.

At the same time, there are also possible correlations with elements and energy types: blue = water, red = fire, white = air/positive energy, black = poison/negative energy.

First draft that comes to my mind:

Blue: Astral, Plane of Water, Arcadia, Mechanus
Black: Shadowfell, Abyss, Hades, Carceri
Red: Plane of Fire, Ysgard, Limbo, Nine Hells, Gehenna
Green: Feywild, Arborea, Beastlands
White: Plane of Air, Mount Celestia, Elysium

Ethereal, Plane of Earth, Bytopia, Pandemonium, Acheron and Outlands more ambiguous. Some of these however are already fillers in the great wheel, so there is no harm in just ditching them completely.

As usual with any categorization exercises, soon enough it gets irritating and you start to feel that something is wrong with what doesn't fit the given categories, while in reality it is the original idea of categorizing which is ill-fated. Give it a couple of posts more and we'll be arguing that "Nine Hells can't be red because they are lawful" but "how can they not be red if most of them are on fire".

But I really want to try and not be that invariable person...

So I review the previous draft, remove some weakly-conceived outer planes, and exempt some transitive planes from belonging to a color:

Blue: Plane of Water, Arcadia, Mechanus
Black: Shadowfell, Abyss, Hades, Carceri
Red: Plane of Fire, Ysgard, Limbo, Nine Hells, Gehenna
Green: Feywild, Arborea, Beastlands
White: Plane of Air, Mount Celestia, Elysium

Colorless: Astral, Ethereal, Outlands

This still leaves out the Plane of Earth. It's not really green, as it is usually depicted as mineral and almost lifeless. But it's also not really black.

Material planes are made of all colors.
 

Krachek

Adventurer
Cool way to add fresh air in DnD.

Im not an expert so I give this as reference
How the ‘Magic: The Gathering’ Color Wheel Explains Humanity

Some fiends will go black, but Red too, and some Black&Blue.
i think at least dual color will be necessary to match monster complexity.

but more important, leave out any correlation with the old system.
Find new name for plane, for devils, for demons,
otherwise it will be a struggle to return to the old good evil, chaos law opposition.
 
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TwoSix

The hero you deserve
Supporter
Personally, I'd go with mono-color plus the 5 allied color pairs. The 5 colors obviously have a definition, and the 5 allied pairs also have their own strong thematics, since they're defined as the antithesis of their shared enemy. (Such as how White-Green's Altruism opposes Black's selfishness.) The 5 enemy pairs struggle to find that kind of resonance. It works in Ravnica because it's OK for a guild to be somewhat incoherent, but I think it waters down a planar "big picture" concept.

Of course, that being said, I suppose planes that are naturally in tension might make interesting points for adventuring! I could see a White-Red plane as an Ysgard analogue, high mountains and deep valleys where armed camps clash for territory during the day and party all night. Or Green-Black as a "violence of nature" plane, filled with acid swamps and deep jungles like some of the layers of the Abyss are often described as.

Ok, I might have talked myself into the 15 planes, lol.

Just looking at the Great Wheel planes, I can see some extant locations that fit a lot of the color tropes and would make a good baseline.

Arcadia = White/Blue
Elysium = White/Green

Some mix of Celestia and Bytopia for White. Sort of like a productive worker village at the base of a mountain, and self-sacrifice and virtue as you ascend to the peak.

Green would be a mix of Arcadia and the Beastlands.

Red/Green would be sort of like Olympus, I think? Emphasis on hedonism and non-stop parties. Unchecked emotion.

Red/Black would be some sort of libertine city, combined with the greatest bazaar in the multiverse. Grazzt's Argent Palace mixed with Sigil.

Black/Blue would be some kind of mix between Dis, Minauros, Cania and Acheron. Cold and sterile, with a military vibe.

The pure colors are a little harder. I see Blue as sort of like the Library and the Neitherlands from The Magicians, or Borges' Library of Babel, where all the secrets in the multiverse are stored. Not sure about Black and Red.
 



Parmandur

Legend
Discussion in the "Are evil gods necessary" thread got me thinking about the alignment setup of the Great Wheel and how extraplanar entities factor into that setup: good/evil, law/chaos, and everything in-between. (And it's a lovely Wheel for what it does and represents.) But I was curious about alternatives. I am aware of the World Axis (4e), the World Tree (Forgotten Realms), the Orrery (Eberron), and so on. But I also began thinking about Magic the Gathering and its Color Pie. My thoughts of late have drifted on how the Color Pie could be used to create a planar model that is distinct from the alignment-based setup of the Great Wheel.

Disclaimer: At the outset, I know that there will be the invariable person saying "Why bother? It's more trouble than it's worth" or ever positive contribution of "The Great Wheel is already perfect in every inconceivable way possible" or even "That's not how planes in MtG works." None of these comments really address the point of this thread. This is brainstorming. This is play. This thread is about taking the concepts of the MtG Color Pie and apply them to creating a new planar setup.

It seems like there could be at least four different viable models using the MtG Color Pie as a basis.

Basic Model: Five Colors (Five Planes)
This minimalist model just uses the basic five colors as the planes: e.g., Blue, Black, Red, Green, White.

Transitional Ring Model: Base Five Colors plus Transitional Colors (10 Planes)
This slightly more advanced model takes the five colors as is, but also includes the outer transitional blends: e.g., White/Blue, Blue/Black, Black/Red, Red/Green, and Green/White.

"Theros" Model: Base Five Colors plus Two-Color Blends (15 Planes)
The "Theros" model takes the above, but also includes the five blend combinations from opposing colors: e.g., White/Red, Red/Blue, Blue/Green, Green/Black, and Black/White.

"Ravnica" Model: No Base Colors, Only Two-Color Blends (10 Planes)
The Ravnica Model removes the base colors and only utilizes the two-blended colors.

So if we operated with these four different models, where would the various planar entities of D&D fit (or not) in their respective setups? I'm not expecting everything to fit, because some things were developed in the Great Wheel to "fill in the blanks" with planar alignments. But I'm curious which of these models people would prefer and how they would rearrange the furniture, so to speak, with the planar entities we have in D&D.
Don't forget the three color combos, and five-color (Sigil, Material Plane?). All told, there are 26 combos in the Color Pie.
 

SkidAce

Hero
Supporter
So I review the previous draft, remove some weakly-conceived outer planes, and exempt some transitive planes from belonging to a color:

Blue: Plane of Water, Arcadia, Mechanus
Black: Shadowfell, Abyss, Hades, Carceri
Red: Plane of Fire, Ysgard, Limbo, Nine Hells, Gehenna
Green: Feywild, Arborea, Beastlands
White: Plane of Air, Mount Celestia, Elysium

Colorless: Astral, Ethereal, Outlands

This still leaves out the Plane of Earth. It's not really green, as it is usually depicted as mineral and almost lifeless. But it's also not really black.

Material planes are made of all colors.
I like this one, thanks, I will keep it for a future campaign idea.
 


Aldarc

Legend
Don't forget the three color combos, and five-color (Sigil, Material Plane?). All told, there are 26 combos in the Color Pie.
Sure, but I think that the prior models plus tri-color is a bit unwieldy. So I decided to focus on four models: basic, a ring, Ravnica, and Theros.
 

Dausuul

Legend
I think the place to start is with the idea of what it means to have a plane devoted to one of the M:tG colors. And, conveniently, we have a model for something like that: Alara, a M:tG plane which was shattered into five shards. Each shard represents one "arc" of the Magic wheel, that is, three adjacent colors centered on a primary color. For example, the plane of Jund represents the green/red/black arc, which is centered on red as its primary color.

Now, the shards of Alara look more like the Outer Planes than the Elemental Planes. That is, they are not voids full of raw elemental matter--they have landscapes that more or less resemble the Prime, but certain forces are dominant and others are weakened or absent. This manifests both in the physical nature of the plane, in its denizens, and in the more metaphysical "atmosphere."

Each color of mana is associated with one type of terrain: Plains for white, forests for green, mountains for red, swamps for black, islands for blue. So, if one color is dominant, that should be the most common terrain in the plane. Thus, Jund is a plane dominated by mountains and volcanoes, with plenty of swamps and forests. There are no flat areas and no large bodies of water.

Going beyond the physical, each color represents a constellation of attributes and behaviors. For example, red represents impulsiveness, emotion, violence, and passion, so those are the traits most prevalent in Jund. Instinct and nature (green) and ruthless selfishness (black) are also powerful forces. At the same time, civilization and technology are absent, since those are attributes of white and blue respectively. Thus, Jund is a plane of savagery and predatory competition.

You could take this same model and apply it to other color combinations. For example, if you wanted a pure "red" plane, take Jund and strip out the black and green elements. It would be a plane of mountains, earth, and fire, whose denizens were ruled purely by passion and emotion. That said, I think you get more interesting results from combinations of colors. (There's a reason why "gold" sets are always super popular.)
 
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Dausuul

Legend
Moving on to how to align the Magic color wheel with the Great Wheel... aligning each color to the D&D plane that best represents that color's ideals, I would say:

White: Mount Celestia (LG)
Blue: Mechanus (LN)
Black: Gray Waste (NE)
Red: Ysgard (CN/CG)
Green: Beastlands (CG/NG)

In this arrangement, some colors are "stretched" while others are "squidged." The gap between black and red is enormous, spanning Carceri, the Abyss, Pandemonium, and Limbo, while the gap between white and blue consists of Arcadia and nothing else. That's to be expected--the alignment system of Magic and the alignment system of D&D emphasize different things, so distinctions that loom large in D&D are trivial in Magic and vice versa.

However, what stands out to me is that the overall ordering is the same. If you go around the Great Wheel, you hit the colors in the same order as in the Magic color wheel. And I didn't have to force that--I just picked the planes that seemed to best match the colors, and lo and behold, they were in the right order.

Next I tried the ally-color guilds. Here is what feels most natural to me for those:

Azorius: Arcadia (LG/LN)
Dimir: Carceri (CN/CE)
Rakdos: The Abyss (CE)
Gruul: Ysgard (CN/CG)
Selesnya: Elysium (NG)

Again, they are in the right order, so that's nice. However, they don't fall in neatly with the single-color planes. The Dimir plane (Carceri) is not between the Blue and Black planes (Mechanus and the Gray Waste), and Gruul is competing with pure Red for the plane of Ysgard.

The enemy-color guilds don't line up well at all. I can think of no plane that seems like a good fit for any of them. So I would focus on single color or ally-color planes.
 
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Aldarc

Legend
But at what cost?!?!?
Not much, as it turns out.

I will point out that with Eberron, it has less planes than the Great Wheel, but it reshuffles a lot of planar entities around. It does not, for example, put all the devils in one place or demons in another, but, rather, it says that Risia is the plane of ice and here you find ice demons, ice devils, ice elementals, etc. So the planes are more thematically packed and oriented.

Ok, I might have talked myself into the 15 planes, lol.

The pure colors are a little harder. I see Blue as sort of like the Library and the Neitherlands from The Magicians, or Borges' Library of Babel, where all the secrets in the multiverse are stored. Not sure about Black and Red.
I hope you don't mind that I cut your post down a bit.

In the Ravnica model, it would not be too difficult to have fiends gravitate towards Black. So Black/Red represents amoral chaos of demons, while Black/White represents the organized amorality of devils, and Blue/Black being the puppetmasters daemons.

I like the idea of pure blue being something akin to a library or a bastion of knowledge. A concept like the Astral Sea may work. An ocean realm where concepts, knowledge, and the abstract thrive.

Note: I would also say that things don't have to map perfectly. Like, the elemental qualities of MtG don't have to also be preserved. Or even which Great Wheel plane would map to the respective MtG color plane. I just kinda like the idea of five (or more) planes that are based on things more than simple binaries: e.g., Law vs. Chaos and/or Good/Evil. There's almost something to be said about having demons be Red/Black and relatively close to Fey, which may be Green/Red as chaotic, fickle beings of nature.
 

TwoSix

The hero you deserve
Supporter
I hope you don't mind that I cut your post down a bit.
Considering it was quite the stream-of-consciousness ramble, not at all. :)

In the Ravnica model, it would not be too difficult to have fiends gravitate towards Black. So Black/Red represents amoral chaos of demons, while Black/White represents the organized amorality of devils, and Blue/Black being the puppetmasters daemons.
Yea, having a "type" of each extraplanar entity associated to each color would make a lot of sense. Like fey would be Green, and angels would be White.

I like the idea of pure blue being something akin to a library or a bastion of knowledge. A concept like the Astral Sea may work. An ocean realm where concepts, knowledge, and the abstract thrive.
In my own re-arranged Great Wheel I've used in some of my campaigns, the Astral Sea takes the place of Nirvana/Mechanus in the LN slot. Considering Blue shades hard towards LN, I think there's some obvious thematic resonance.

Note: I would also say that things don't have to map perfectly. Like, the elemental qualities of MtG don't have to also be preserved. Or even which Great Wheel plane would map to the respective MtG color plane. I just kinda like the idea of five (or more) planes that are based on things more than simple binaries: e.g., Law vs. Chaos and/or Good/Evil. There's almost something to be said about having demons be Red/Black and relatively close to Fey, which may be Green/Red as chaotic, fickle beings of nature.
Yea, I think the fun is putting your own spin on them. The current Great Wheel is just a nice set of building blocks to build off. I've used a lot of Great Wheel material in my own Eberron planar focused game, just as an example.
 


cbwjm

I can add a custom title.
I quite like the shards of Alara model and it has the benefit of already providing details of these planes of existence if you can find the original articles. Other planes are mentioned in the cards, some of which might make the basis for a plane of existence (for instance, Serra's Realm is a plane of floating earth motes populated by angels).

As for entities, using the base 1 colour model:
White: angels/celestials
Blue: air/water elemental-typed (elementals, genies, etc). Also clockwork entities like the modron.
Black: any and all fiends, undead
Red: earth/fire elemental typed, chaos creatures (slaad).
Green: fey

There would certainly be a bit more nuance with more colour combos (for instance, maybe unicorns are celestials from the white/green plane and night hags are from the green/black plane), but for a basic 5 colour model this is how I would assign creatures to them.
 


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