Alignment is a system for classifying the behavioral tendencies of sentient entities into a few broad categories. It is not the same as "personality", being just one component of any being's mindset.
The alignment system is mostly meant to be used in a roleplaying context, to guide the actions of characters; however, it still has an "in-character" reality, reflecting concepts understood by the Heplionverse's denizens themselves.
Across many milennia of study, Iriondan philosophers, psychologists and sociologists have developed a theory of psychosocial classification based on two axes, which has proven quite effective, and works well within the framework of telepathic powers and many other psychic phenomena. Politics is largely centered around this alignment system, with different forms of government reflecting the prevailing alignment of each civilization. Different alignments have their own positive and negative points, and the relative merits of each on the moral and ethical arenas are highly debatable - in fact, the main driving point behind the different alignments consists of one's interpretation of which moral values are most critical, and how to best uphold them through ethical behavior.
The Two Alignment Axes
The two axes (which may be combined to form a total of nine alignments) are:
Collectivism vs. Individualism
This axis reflects how one weighs the good of the many vs. the good of the individual.
Collectivists tend to view the greater well-being of the largest possible number of people as the highest value to be aspired to; while they are often compassionate to the plight of the needy, they can also be willing to sacrifice a few individuals for what they view as the greater good, which indicates a certain ruthless practicality.
Individualists consider that each individual's welfare and interests take precedence, which usually translates into holding freedom and self-determination as the ultimate value, and also protecting disenfranchised minorities from the tyranny of the mob; on the other hand, their lack of concern for communal welfare may also be seen as egotistical and self-centered.
Centrists (along the collectivist-individualist axis) are somewhere in the middle, usually considering that one ought to balance one's own interests with the community's, and that it's best to consider the common good while also respecting individual rights and freedoms.
Regulatism vs. Anomism
This axis reflects one's philosophy on how to regulate society and make sure it serves its purposes, and how the individual should work in relation with the community.
Regulatists believe that well-defined and strongly-enforced rules are necessary to uphold the common good, since lack of regulation leaves a community wide open to abuse by ill-meaning individuals; however, their penchant for control and rigidity may be stifling and overly bureaucratic.
Anomists consider that the best course of action is to leave people to their own devices and regulate as little as possible, as the sum of their individual actions will naturally tend toward a balance that is fairer and more effective than any arbitrarily conceived rule; the downside is that the uncoordinated and conflicting efforts of anomists may lead to chaos and mayhem.
Centrists (along the regulatist-anomist axis) are in the middle of the road, believing that rules are necessary to guide the behavior of individuals, but need to maintain a good dose of "elbow room" and flexibility.
The four compass points (north, south, east and west) are often used as analogies for the four "base" alignments, after the regions where said alignments are most prevalent in Iriond. The traditional association is north-anomism, south-regulatism, east-individualism and west-collectivism. These analogies are used mostly in a political context, in colloquial phrases such as "Harmony's government took a turn to the west after last elections".
These two classifications can be combined to determine an individual's alignment. Characters that are centrist along one axis are generally designated only by their alignment along the other axis (for example, a character that is neither Collectivist nor Individualist, but rather Centrist along that axis, and who is also a Regulatist, will be called simply a "Regulatist"). Characters that are centrist along both axes are often called "Core Centrists".
For characters that have a non-centrist orientation along both axes, there are the four following alignments:
Paternalist (Collectivist/Regulatist): Such characters usually believe that individuals must be contained through rules, so that their egotistical interests do not interfere with the common good. While they tend to be champions of the downtrodden and disenfranchised, they may also be tyrannical and authoritarian.
Cooperativist (Collectivist/Anomist): Cooperativists usually believe that the natural tendency of an unregulated society is to favor the community, and laws are merely the tool that the powerful use to oppress the majority. While they tend to foster harmony and peaceful cooperation, their tendency for inaction may also hamper progress and give too much leeway to the ill-intentioned.
Bureaucratic (Individual/Regulatist): These characters usually believe that the "mob" is both unthinking and malicious, and needs to be reined in through strong laws and strong institutions so that the truly inspired can thrive. While they tend to provide a great environment for talented individuals to shine and act most effectively, they may also promote unfair privilege and stifle social mobility.
Libertarian (Individual/Anomist): Such characters usually believe that the most prosperous society is that which arises naturally from a combination of individual actions and interests, and any attempts to hinder people from pursuing their own individual happiness will only harm society in the long run. While they tend to favor freedom and the right to pursue one's dreams, they may also foster selfishness and indifference.
The alignment system above is made to mirror the d20 System's Alignment. For the purpose of using d20 System material in roleplaying, the correspondence between the two alignment systems is as follows:
Collectivist -> Good
Individualist -> Evil
Regulatist -> Lawful
Anomist -> Chaotic
Composite alignments function along the same logic (e.g. a Heplionverse "Bureaucratic" character is equivalent to "Lawful Evil" in D&D terms).
Please note, however, that this correspondence is to be used strictly for the application of d20 system mechanics - for instance, to see which "spells" (powers in Heplionverse roleplaying) can be used by a particular character, how are different characters affected by specific effects, class restrictions, and so on. When it comes to roleplaying and/or interpreting a character's actions, the concepts of good/evil and law/chaos should not be confused with Heplionverse alignments. For instance, a Collectivist character could behave in a good, evil, or completely ambiguous manner, and it wouldn't change the fact that their alignment is still "Collectivist". The concepts of D&D alignments are completely irrelevant here.