The Color Wheel differs from the traditional D&D alignments in that the five Colors possess both literal incarnations (such as Outsiders) and non-literal philosiphies; that is, they are both ideologies and forces that shape the cosmos. While no part of this system falls apart when dealing with literal incarnations, the following is centered around mortals, for whom the colors are ideologies. That last bears repeating - any given character's color-alignment is not irrevocable, and does not represent some cosmic force nesting in their soul; it serves merely as a baseline descriptor for personality and methodology.
Each character, then, has a Primary Color - this represents the greater portion (or most fundamental portions) of their personality, ideology, and goals. For a character who only possesses a Primary Color, it also represents their most commonly used methodology. Primary Color is very intrinsic to the character; while it can change, it should only change after long, involved character development, or after especially severe or sudden stress, trauma, or magical interference. The death of a loved one, the birth of one's child, systemic magical torture, or witnessing an incarnate deity are all examples of events that might change a Primary Color.
Each character also has up to two Secondary Colors, which modify their Primary Color. Secondary Colors combine with the Primary Color to create a new philosiphy and outlook on life, but the Primary Color retains precedence; that is, the goals and outlooks of the Primary Color are still a greater part of the alignment mix than those of the Secondary Colors. Most often, Secondary Colors represent the lengths that a character is willing to go in order to fulfill the goals postulated by their Primary Color; that is, Secondary Colors most often represents methodology, as opposed to ideology. This isn't always the case, but it is important to note that a character needn't support or believe in their Secondary Colors - merely use them. Secondary Colors are much more fluid than their Primary counterparts, and change as a character's belief in what is acceptable or effective changes.
Each color has two Allied Colors - colors closely related to them. A color shares certain aspects of ideology and methodology with its allies, and societies based on those colors often get along to a certain extent. What this means is that a given character doesn't necessarily have to take on Secondary Colors or change their Color alignment if they're dipping into the methods/ideas of their Allied Colors.
Additionally, each color has two Enemy Colors - colors opposed to them in both ideology and methodology. It is important to note that a character can have a Color Alignment that includes Enemy Colors; the combinations are not impossible, but do create sources of self-conflict. Generally speaking, any given color actively opposes its enemy, even if only out of self-interest, but this needn't necessarily be the case, and it's certainly possible for a mixed-color group to cooperate, even if they bicker and fight over methods (or ideas) whenever they have the chance to sit down with a few pints. Generally speaking, repeated or prolonged participation in the methods or ideas of an Enemy Color should necessitate taking it on as a Secondary Color or an alignment shift to include that color.
The five colors are broken down as follows:
White - Order and Community: White believes in the rule of law. Only by upholding the fabric of society can life become peaceful and ideal. White believes in a clear-cut sense of right and wrong, and works with unity, intelligence, and planning in order to accomplish its goals. To White, the individual is not as important as the society; though it might regret it afterwards, the sacrifice of the one to save the many is perfectly acceptable to White. At its best, White creates utopian societies where well-managed rules ensure peace, tranquility, and happiness. At its worst, White creates war-driven dictatorships ruled by fanatics and madmen. Good luck explaining that to White. Allied Colors - Blue and Green. Enemy Colors - Black and Red.
Blue - Knowledge and Discovery: Blue believes in perfection; every thing and every being has infinite potential, and all it takes to unlock that potential is enough knowledge. Thus, the "Platonic" goal of Blue is omniscience - if one knows all the answers, one can do anything, be anything, and change anything. Blue loves learning secrets, and trickery, roundabout solutions, logical thought and careful, methodical planning are all hallmarks of its methods. At its best, Blue's is the enlightened scientist, fulfilling an obligation to society in order to improve and perfect all aspects of life. At its worst, Blue is an emotionless torturer, prying into forbidden secrets and vivisecting its victims for the sheer sake of knowledge. Allied Colors - Black and White. Enemy Colors Green and Red.
Black - Power and Individuality: Black believes that everyone is selfish. It's a cold, bleak philosiphy, but it's there - everyone's going to look out for Number One, and so should you. Black's "Platonic" goal is omnipotence; only if you have all the power are you assured of your freedom. Those who espouse Black's philosiphies often end up participating in some rather unwholesome and/or bizzare practices (blood sacrifice, for example, or ritual scarification), but it is important to note that the profit-centric shopkeeper is just as Black as the soul-trading sorcerer. At its best, Black creates societies of enlightened self-interest, where individual rights and opportunities take precedence over communal rules. At its worst, Black creates societies where the worst atrocities are permissable so long as one is capable of committing them without retribution. Allied Colors - Blue and Red. Enemy Colors - Green and White.
Red - Freedom and Emotion: Red believes in acting on one's emotions, and in the freedom to do so; if you love, act upon it. If you rage, attack, if you feel sorrow, weep. Red believes in absolute freedom, and that people are happiest when they're honest with themselves. Trickery, spontenaity, and direct solutions are all hallmarks of Red's methodology; Red is far more likely to simply smash a wall or blow it up than it is to, say, build a door through it. At its best, Red is genuinely loyal, caring, and committed to the idea of personal freedom. At its worst, Red is random and pointlessly destructive, smashing through restricting obstacles, laws, and people simply because they're there. Allied Colors - Black and Green. Enemy Colors - Blue and White.
Green - Growth and Harmony: Green believes in the concept of predestination; in Green's view, there's a Plan to create a perfect world, and a being can be happiest simply by discovering their role in the Plan and fulfilling it. Green trusts its instincts and harmonizes with the world around it, using intuition and observation to "grow" their way around problems either physically, mentally, magically or spiritually. Green dislikes using new ideas and inventions when more naturalistic or traditional solutions will work, and distrusts influences such as artifice, logic, and selfishness that hinder a being's personal growth and potentially endanger the Plan. Green characters often associate heavily with the natural world in their quest to grow personally and seek their role in the multiverse. At its best, Green is wise, understanding, and insightful. At its worst, Green is savage, short-sighted and hidebound. Allied Colors - Red and White. Enemy Colors - Black and Blue.
Shifting the nine traditional alignments to the Color Wheel isn't as hard as it might seem. Certain classes require certain alignments; all one has to do is examine why they require those alignments and then translate to a color restriction. Paladins, for example, are required to be Lawful Good because they are expected to produce the most good for the most people whenever possible; this translates easily into a requirement that Paladins have White in their alignment mix. Monks, on the other hand, are required to be Lawful because they need strict self-discipline and control to learn their art; thus, a Monk's alignment requirement would be "Any Non-Red".
Abilities such as Smite translate simply into Smite Enemy Color; any given character/monster is treated as all of its colors for the purposes of such abilities. Similar methods can be applied to spells which require certain alignments.
The following changes are recommended (but certainly not required) for games that include the Color Wheel.
- Smite [Alignment] becomes Smite Enemy Color. In the case of paladins, it becomes Smite Red/Black (affecting creatures who are red, black, or both).
- Detect [Alignment] becomes Detect Alignment; creatures are entitled to a Will save to avoid the affect. The Detect [Alignment] group of spells is otherwise unchanged.
- The following alignment restrictions change: Paladins must have White in their alignment mix, monks may not be Red, Clerics must have at least one of their deity's colors in their alignment mix, Barbarians may not be Blue, and Bards no longer possess an alignment restriction.
Mind you, there's nothing actually wrong with these spells or abilities revealing a creature as "Blue" or "Black", but, in all honesty, it would sound a little silly at the gaming table, no?
The following are general examples of what might happen when you start mixing two colors. It's important to note that these mixes can be done with either color Primary. One's choice of Primary color shifts the focus of the mix a bit, one direction or the other; for example, a White primary character with Black as a secondary color would more often put the agenda of their group as a whole first.
Black/Green: Black's conflict with green is one of individualism vs. predestination; their compromise is found in the idea of fluid destiny. In essence, a Black/Green individual or organization has a different idea of "natural" than a purely Green organization, while still adhering to the idea of conforming to Nature that would be distasteful to a purely Black one. The biggest self-conflict facing a Black/Green character is one of motivation and the definition of "acceptable" - how far can one push the boundries before one has left "nature", however vaguely it is defined. Pushed too hard or too far, Black/Green becomes paralyzed by indecision or else snaps into manic fanatacism.
Black/Blue: Black/Blue combines knowledge with the ruthless will to pursue it. Black's focus on individuality and selfishness gains a serious edge when combined with Blue's trickery and pursuit of knowledge, creating characters and organizations that delve deep into forbidden lore, make extensive use of blackmail, and other, similar maneuvers. Power corrupts, though, and combining knowledge and raw power can very easily lead Black/Blue to showcasing the worst examples of both colors. Black/Blue's biggest weakness is indecision - should it take a direct approach, or try something more subtle?
Black/Red: Anarchy ascendant; Black/Red "organizations" barely qualify as such. Black/Red believes in both selfishness and absolute freedom, and while this can, occasionally, lead to genteel philosiphers espousing the virtues of both, it most often ends up with hedonistic sociopaths gleefully seeking their next thrill without heed to the consequences or the collateral damage. Their unwillingness - or inability - to empathize with others is their biggest weakness; very often, Black/Red fails to understand the concept of consequences to their actions, let alone anticipate them.
White/Green: Harmony is the key word when talking about this color pair; White/Green integrates nature into its society, combining White's love of order with Green's belief in predestination. White/Green's greatest weakness is pride; all too often, it falls into the trap that its way is best, and that no one else can possibly know what's good. At its best, White/Green is genuinely caring, wise, and harmonious. At its worst, White/Green creates emotionless hive-minds, where each individual is enslaved to the will of the whole.
White/Blue: White/Blue believes in the rule of law, and creates and enforces laws that it believes will benefit the most number of people. It also uses those laws as a weapon and a shield, turning them so deliberate and obtuse that, in some of the most extreme cases, it can take a lifetime to learn all of the rules. White/Blue's greatest failing is overanalyzation; White/Blue has a very reactionary nature, and would often prefer to do nothing until it has more information rather than take a risk.
White/Red: White/Red believes in societies which support and protect individual freedoms while still looking out for the common good. Very often, White/Red is willing to use less-than-ordered means to achieve order or defend the public good; a vigilante might be White/Red, as might the leader of the mob out to lynch a local pedarast. White/Red's greatest source of self-conflict is when personal freedoms conflict with societal good; they must decide where to draw the line or go mad with the unresolvable conflict.
Red/Green: Savage is the term to describe Red/Green - raw emotion mixes with instinct to create a being that acts less on thought than it does intuition. Red/Green is brutally direct, preferring quick physical solutions over more lengthy intellectual social ones. Red/Green does not mix well with societies in general; Green's love of nature combines with Red's raw emotion (in this case, rage) with predictable results. Its greatest failing is an utter lack of thought; unless they fight to retain some form of self-control, Red/Green often barrels headfirst through life, unaware and unheeding of the consequences for their recklessly destructive actions.
Red/Blue: Red/Blue combines intuition with logic; mad tinkers, eccentrict old wizards, and gibbering oracles might all be Red/Blue. A Red/Blue character might resemble an obsessive fanboy, researching and practically worshipping their object of interest, but they might also easily resemble an absentminded genius, leaping from one project to the next without testing or sometimes even finishing their previous work. Red/Blue's greatest weakness is consistency; all their brilliance won't help them a lick if they can't carry a project, plan, or thought to completion.
Blue/Green: Blue/Green believes that nature's basic blueprint can be improved. At first, this attitude seems purely Blue, but Blue/Green is adamant that nature has the right idea; they're just speeding things along. Blue/Green mixes Blue's intelligence and foresight with Green's penchant for direct solutions, applying just the right amount of brute force to a weak point in a problem for maximum results. Blue/Green's greatest weakess is self-denial; rather than deal with the paradox of change vs. destiny, Blue/Green ignores it, and thus often misses vital flaws in its plans, thought patterns, and personality.
White - Order: White distills into pure cosmic order; the force that resists chance and independance. Where purely White forces pass, ironclad patterns and laws are left in the fabric of reality; overexposure to the distilled essence of White can leave local reality in a kind of feedback loop, forever caught in the same predictable chain of events.
Blue - Change: Distinct from the idea of Chaos, Blue distills into pure change; anything that can be changed is in the wake of Blue energy, refining or debasing itself into entirely new forms. Fabulous inventions of magic and technology are the result of the application of raw Blue energy - so are world-shattering catastrophes.
Black - Entropy: Individual cases may very, but the cold stark truth of it is that Black takes; in the presence of raw Black energy things break down, fall apart, and die. Left unchecked, raw Black energy consumes whole worlds, attempting to feed its endless hunger.
Red - Chaos: Red's love of freedom distills into pure Chaos; anything that can happen, will happen, and the passing of pure Red energy would often be hilarious if the effects weren't so devastating. Red leaves spells unstable and unsafe, rewrites the laws of physics, and turns the universe upside down; toying with it is not reccomended.
Green - Life: Unchecked growth is the consequence of pure Green energy; new forms of life emerge and change at a terrifying rate which, if left unchecked, will result in the rapid consumption of available resources and then itself. Raw Green energy spreads like a cancer; uncontrollable life, inevitably destroying all around it.
What this means for beings that are shaped by the raw Color forces, yet have intelligence (such as Outsiders with alignment subtypes) is that they either embody the color's "distilled" form and espouse whatever morals they wish or that they embody the philosophy and are only marginally shaped by the "distilled" form. In the first case, the being's alignment mix isn't affected by their color; that is, their motivations are their own to choose, and they may be any color, or none of them. In the second case, their alignment subtype is also their Primary color.
Regardless of their actual alignment mix, any creature with an alignment subtype is treated as though it included that color in its alignment mix for the purposes of being targeted by spells and abilities.
Black, on the other hand, is amoral. Note the important difference between the terms "amoral" and "immoral"; Black does not believe in the concepts of Good and Evil. Black believes it's a cold, stark universe and that when push comes to shove, you can be damn sure that people are going to prioritize themselves. To Black, the ideas of Right and Wrong are, at best, tools used to manipulate others and at worst justifications for horrid atrocities, and as far as Black's concerned that's just low. If you're going to slaughter thousands of innocent people for power, at least have the courtesy to say so.
What this means is that White sees Black as a threat to the common good - a maverick at best and a foul source of infernal corruption at worst. Black, on the other hand, sees White as foolish, naive, and a threat to its freedom. It's interesting to note that, in a way, Black is less concerned with White than White is with Black; Black doesn't care if you choose to live your life kowtowing to someone else's set of rules, which often makes White the aggressor in their conflicts.
White vs. Red - Conformity vs. Freedom: The core of the conflict between White and Red are the concepts of rules and restrictions. White believes in the rule of law, and that the greatest good can be achieved by following laws. White is quite willing to enforce its laws with dire penalties, and members of White societies who don't conform are ostracized at best and may face much worse.
Red, on the other hand, upholds freedom as a moral ideal. Red hates restricting rules, laws, objects, spells, et cetera. More often than not, a Red character will flout or break a law or rule she doesn't like simply to demonstrate that the law does not rule her - and react savagely to any attempts to make her conform.
This definitely makes Red the aggressor in the relationship; White's laws are reactionary in nature, while Red is pro-active. That said, both sides of the debate hate each other, and a White/Red conflict can turn savage and bloody, especially between two organizations.
Blue vs. Red - Thought vs. Emotion: Blue thinks, Red feels. This basic conflict, much less visceral than that between, say, White and Black, is the reason that Blue and Red drive each other absolutely nuts. Blue prizes logic and learned, tested reasoning, eschewing emotion as unreliable and unsafe. Red, on the other hand, prizes emotion as the truest expression of who a person is; Red trusts its feelings. This only rarely leads to the kind of conflicts found between more viscerally opposed colors, though when it does, it should be pointed out that Red, following its impulsive nature, is usually the aggressor.
Blue vs. Green - Choice vs. Destiny: Blue believes in infinite potential; anything can be improved and anything can be perfected, if one has the will and knowledge to do so. Indeed, many Blue characters feel a sense of obligation - their knowledge can be used for good, so it should be used for good. Blue sees no problem whatsoever in changing and improving its environment into something wholly different if that's what it takes for improvement.
Green, on the other hand, sees Nature as something that as gotten it right; every creature has its own niche that it fills perfectly; to Green, perfect happiness and harmony is achieved when one finds one's own niche and fills it. Blue's "progress" is frightening and threatening to Green, because it endangers the entire system - change one thing out of its niche, and who knows how many others might be affected?
Like most conflicts in which one side is motivated by fear, Green is often the aggressor in these disputes, attacking and destroying that which it feels is threatening to its environment. Occasionally, the sitution reverses, usually because some profit-motivated Blue organization wants to exploit the resources that Green is protecting. Very often, these conflicts turn extremely savage, extremely quickly, with Green lashing out in overwhelming attacks and Blue responding with superior destructive technology/magic.
Black vs. Green - Entropy vs. Growth: The conflict between Black and Green is one of ideological consequences. Green sees Black as pointlessly destructive, consuming without creating and divesting people, places, and the environment of all its resources. Black, on the other hand, sees Green as hopelessly naive, incapable of comprehending that unchecked growth leads to the same kind of over consumption that Green accuses it of. Like the conflict between Blue and Red, this only rarely leads to open, bloody conflict. However, when it does, one side or the other is usually the underdog; either a Green force is attacking a well-established Black organization (which is consuming/tainting the land around it), or a Black force is desperately trying to hold Green in check as an unrestricted tide of Nature threatens to overwhelm all else.
A colorless creature suffers from indecision or lack of motivation; general apathy pervades their belief system and methodology. Colorless creatures might resemble hell-in-a-handbasket depression cases, unmotivated slackers, or office drones who labor each day just to get by and get through without really knowing why. Alternately, a creature who has had their ability to make moral choices stripped from them is also treated as colorless; those who suffer from the Soulless template, for example, or creatures under the influence of dominate monster.
Colorless has no allied colors and no enemy colors. A colorless creature has no secondary colors. No creature may have colorless as an alignment subtype. For the purposes of determining the effects of friendly/hostile magics, a colorless creature is treated as a creature who is possessed of both an allied and an enemy color to the caster (meaning, generally, that the caster chooses the effect their spell has upon them).
A lack of color has no effect on any given part of the cosmos.
I'll gladly take any questions, clarify any confusions and, if requested, provide examples of color combinations to create alignments.
Good flavor articles for the individual colours: Green, White, Blue, Black, Red. Including character examples.
Articles on the colour pair combinations, also with good examples: Green\White, Black\Green, Black\Blue, Red\White, Red\Green, Blue\Red, White\Black, White\Blue, Green\Blue, Black\Red.