Use the Color Pie instead of the D&D Alignment Chart | Why and How
Even though it’s synonymous with the game now, the D&D alignment chart as we know it hasn’t always been a part of the game. The nine piece alignment chart that comes to your mind actually was introduced in the 1977 version of the Dungeons and Dragons handbook, three years after its initial release.
It was created as a way for players to declare their moral alignment and in turn guide their decisions through their campaigns.
I believe the alignment chart was a great tool for many years, but I feel over time it has lost what made it so great, and I believe that this is in part due to how people make characters these days.
Modern characters are complex, with morals that don’t fit so easily into static boxes like good and evil or Lawful and chaotic, and that’s why I intend to explain to you why you should throw that old way in the trash and instead use the color pie of Magic the Gathering instead, when building your characters. I strongly believe that after finishing this video, you will see why the Color Pie of Magic: the Gathering is a better way to make more nuanced PC’s. Ones that aren’t defined by being good or evil but rather are closer to the moral diversity that we see in the world around us.
The most important thing to keep in mind about people, and as an extension their characters, is that no one is truly good or evil, instead everyone contains a set of personal morals that are based on their experiences and perspectives from their life lived. Morals that are influenced by our motivations and history. With this in mind it only makes sense to then define those characters with a mechanism that has more room for nuance, and that is where the color Pie comes in. The reason I want you to utilize the color pie in constructing your characters is because the colors of MTG, especially when combined, tell us more about what motivates your character than the alignment chart can ever hope to do.
The alignment chart asks your character how it would react to certain situations, while the color pie tells us what motivates your characters decisions. Is your character a Red/Blue personality? Someone who is expressive, creative, and curious, in turn being driven to search for every hidden secret, not for the loot but for the satisfaction of discovery. Or is your character mono Black someone driven by their inflated ego to strive for ever greater success, causing them to take any advantage they can to gain more for themselves even if it can sometimes clash with the rest of the party.
Even with these limited examples you begin to see that the color pie shapes a personality instead of defining its morality, which I believe is a stronger way of expressing your character, not just in your own head but to the rest of the table.
I have seen many attempts to make one to one comparisons of the color pie and the alignment chart but in my mind this can never really work. You see even if a color may find itself represented as things like good or evil, each color has within them potential for these traits and so that system shows its faults once you take the time to analyze it.
Sure, colors like White would be lawful and colors like Red would be chaotic, but it begins to fall apart when you realize that white isn’t inherently good or that neutrality can be expressed by either Green or Blue.
As you begin to see each color can have a version within the alignment chart and because of this you cannot apply them one on top of the other. I do believe that they can be used along side one another in order to further define your characters, but for the purpose of clarity I want to focus on the color pie on its own.
I have studied the color pie extensively for the last few years and on many occasions have applied it to characters across media, across philosophies and have dived deep into the many faces of each color and combination. With this breadth of knowledge, I have come to learn that much can be defined by the color pie and in turn a better perspective can be gained.
Unlike the alignment chart, with its static definitions that only give us part of the whole picture, the color pie is something malleable and dynamic and by applying these colors to your character, you might in turn find out more about them through asking how the chosen colors affect your PC. The color pie is a wonder in that it is more than a simple guide of morality it is something with a life of its own and in turn applying that essence to your character’s and will help you understand them better; in turn making role playing much more satisfying, with opportunities for surprises, even for the person playing the character.
How to apply it
So, you want to use the color pie in your next campaign, but you want to know how to do it. Well, the first step of course is to understand the color pie. If you know nothing of the color pie then don’t worry I have you covered I have made many videos covering each of the five colors of magic, the ten two color combinations as well as all ten of the three-color combinations and much more. These videos will teach you everything you need to know about the color pie and will guide you as you move forward with enhancing your next campaign, but for a bit of a taste lets go over each of the five colors briefly and how they can be applied, that way you have a better idea of what I mean.
First up is white. White is the color of order, structure, selflessness, and discipline. A white character might be someone who looks to act on behalf of society, someone who stands up for those too weak to stand up for themselves, or on the other side of it might be someone who is authoritarian and shrewd.
Blue on the other hand is the color of cold efficiency, someone who is calculated and devoted to learning and perfecting. This might be a character who studies magic in order to better themselves and allow for greater learning. The downside is that a blue character might not have much charisma and instead is more focused on tangible goals.
Next is Black. Black is the color of realistic amorality, of ruthless resourcefulness. A black character is one who’s motivations lie with the self and how to gain the most out of their life. They can tend to be a bit selfish in their decisions and don’t allow things like societal morality to dictate their actions. Don’t confuse this for someone who is villainous though, instead a black character realizes that it’s a dog-eat-dog world and no one is going to look out for you but you.
Then there is Red. Red is the color of honest emotional action, of impulsiveness and passion. A Red character might be one who tends to act before they think, getting themselves into trouble sometimes and yet is trustworthy because they wear their heart on their sleeve.
Finally, we have Green. Green is the color of harmony and destiny, someone who sees the bigger picture and their place within it. A Green character is someone who wants to live a simple life alongside the planet and its inhabitants. It understands who it is and acts in turn, this can sometimes make them feel out of place in big cities but right at home in the wild, where things are simple. Of course, these descriptions only scratch the surface, but I do hope it nudges you into doing more research.
Now that you have a bit of an idea, I am sure you want to begin, but how exactly will you work the color pie into your games? I think there are two approaches. Let’s talk about character first approach. In this method you design your character, their backstory and personality and then apply the color pie to them. This method will give you the most straight forward result and once you have your colors chosen you will then place letters or symbols into the alignment section to show where your character sits on the color pie. Once selected you can then use it as a tool for when you are not sure what might guide your characters decisions.
You can reflect on the colors present and, in this way, through the combination of your bio and the colors, your character will almost play itself and lead to times where even you are surprised by its actions.
Leading to games that flow nicely and still allow for fun RP moments. What’s more is that through declaring you color pie alignment the rest for the table will have a simpler time understanding your character and even giving your dm more to work with if they also have a strong understanding of the color pie.
The second method is the color first method. This method is a way to spice up the character creation process of your next campaign, as well as a way for the table to step outside of their comfort zone and play characters they might not otherwise play. In this method the table decides on the number of colors they want while constructing their PC’s. Choose a number between 1-3 and roll xd6 based on the number chosen and note the colors you land on.
1 for white 2 for blue 3 for black 4 for red 5 for green, and 6 means a re-roll. Once everyone has noted their colors you then build your characters base on the colors you receive. This way requires a bit more knowledge of the color pie, but the results can lead to some dynamic parties and characters that you might not normally play. Remember though the color pie represents personalities and not classes or races. You might be tempted to make all green character’s elves or all white character’s paladins or clerics, but I encourage you to not let those things come into play, this is about personality, find creative uses for the color pie instead of falling into simple traps.
I hope this video gave you some inspiration to spice up your next sessions. I know the title of this video is rather strongly worded but I do believe the color pie is a great way to add more to the character creation process. Like I said before the alignment chart still has its uses and can indeed add more when applied to the color pie, but I do think that adding the color pie to your games will make things far more interesting. Your characters will be clear with their motivations, and it will add a lot to your games. Whatever your opinion is though, I’m happy you listened all the way to the end. If you have anything to add to the conversation, then feel free to let me know. As always that’s the one thing I hope with all of my videos, good discussion, and community building.
Alright it’s been fun friends, with that I’ll catch you in the multiverse, bye!
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