Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Color Schemes: An Interlude

As I take a breather in outlining my color magic scheme, it's interesting to note that Lord Kilgore has done a pretty neat conversion of the spellcasting classes and traditional D&D spell lists to the five colors of Magic:The Gathering.

It's worth noting that each color he comes up with is a viable class unto itself with a variety of different effects. I've been taking more liberties with the spells and my colors function more like the "Enchantment, Abjuration, Illusion" categories from AD&D on.

In the meanwhile, click to enlarge the image at left and consider how the five colors in Magic could also be an alignment system ....

Addressing how my color spectrum can be combined back into classes will be my last point, after I outline the four remaining schools which have been more associated with traditionally clerical or druidic magic. I've decided that those schools don't need what was looking to be a five-post preface on alignment as a proper introduction. The issues of Protection from Evil and so forth can be postponed if I just substitute "Unholy" for "Evil" and let the definition of that be open to the GM. It seems like too much of an imposition on the referee's handling of alignment to do otherwise, especially when the options have multiplied in the proliferation of retro campaign settings and rulesets.

I may be posting a little less often in the coming month. I have a lot of travel coming up, including New York City and GenCon. I hope to be able to share some of the gaming experiences with you all ...


  1. In many ways, alignment is largely a "team" name rather than a coherent ethos, so colors would certainly work as well as anything else, and if given particular associations (like you've donw) good add an interesting element to the game.

    Enjoy your upcoming travels.

  2. Thanks for the link. I've been reading through your write-ups and like how you've got them in "schools" or "spheres" more directly related to the sort/type of magic it is, rather than the surface appearances of the spells like I've done with the five color thing.

    I always kind of liked the way 2e did the sphere/school system and your color system appears to be a more playable old-school feel version of that.

    Regarding alignment, we aren't quite sure what to do about that in our five color game. We may use the colors instead of alignment, with "protection from green"-type spells and everything, or we may simply (as you wrote) let the GM decide what's "evil" and so on. Or we may actually stick with the three alignment system or a version thereof.

    Looking forward to seeing more.

  3. Thanks for the good word guys.

    It wouldn't be too much of a stretch, I guess, to map the Magic colors (starting white and going clockwise) onto LG, LN, NE, CE, and CG. But then you'd be missing out on the specific flavor and psychology of each one.

  4. Actually I would think the alignment to color mapping is more fluid than that. The closer to Green you are from White the more Good but not Lawful you become, for instance. It could also give a basis of color overlap to fine tune the alignment system.

    Let's just say that casting (as a generic term for utilizing the abilities granted by being aligned with a color) is based on where you fall on the color spectrum, and it coincides with the tendencies of someone's behavior.

    You could give someone, say, 2 level one 'spells' at first level. If they are a 'Blue' person, they would have two Blue spells, while if they are Blue-Black, they would have one Blue and one Black spell.

    Even greater fine-tuning could come in when the 'caster' reaches 2nd level. At that point they could have, say, 3 first level spells. Then if they were Blue-Black, they would have two Blue and one Black, but if they were Black-Blue then they would have two Black spells and one Blue spell.

    All of these possibilities would then affect the 'caster's' alignment as well, since alignment would be the color wheel rather than the 9 alignment D&D grid. If a player (or DM) wanted to, they could even go so far as to further fine-tune the system to represent a 3-color 'caster' by figuring out the situations where a character might behave in the fashion of a particular color, or color combination.

    I didn't spend a couple of days having thoughts like this running through my mind after reading the article, I swear.

    Ok, maybe I did.

  5. Stick around Howard, a full discussion of alignment and what it means to various people and systems, complete with backup from psychology research, is a-brewing!

  6. Stick around? You make it sound like I'm not disappointed when I check in and don't see a new update.

  7. Ha ha, fair enough Howard. See you at GenCon!