On Monochromes, Bichromes, and Polychromes
Most drafters are monochromes: they are able to draft only one color. Drafters who can draft two colors well enough to create stable luxin in both colors are called bichromes. Anyone who can draft solid luxin in three or more colors is called a polychrome. The more colors a polychrome can draft, the more powerful she is and the more sought after are her services. A full-spectrum polychrome is a polychrome who can draft every color in the spectrum. A Prism is always a full-spectrum polychrome.
Merely being able to draft a color, though, isn’t the sole determining criterion in how valuable or skilled a drafter is. Some drafters are faster at drafting, some are more efficient, some have more will than others, some are better at crafting luxin that will be durable, some are smarter or more creative at how and when to apply luxin.
On Disjunctive Bichromes/Polychromes
On the light continuum, sub-red borders red, red borders orange, orange borders yellow, yellow borders green, green borders blue, blue borders superviolet. Most bichromes and polychromes simply draft a larger spectrum on the continuum than monochromes. That is, a bichrome is most likely to draft two colors that are adjacent to each other (blue and superviolet, red and sub-red, yellow and green, etc.). However, some few drafters are disjunctive bichromes. As could be surmised from the name, these are drafters whose colors do not border each other. Usef Tep was a famous example: he drafted red and blue. Karris Guile is another, drafting green and red. It is unknown how or why disjunctive bichromes come to exist. It is only known that they are rare.
There is a small and controversial movement claiming that there are more than seven colors. Indeed, because colors exist on a continuum, one could argue that the number of colors is infinite. However, the argument that there are more than seven draftable colors is more theologically problematic for some. It is commonly accepted that there are other resonance points beyond the seven currently accepted ones, but those points are weaker and much more rarely drafted than the core seven. Among the contenders is one color far below the sub-red, called paryl. Another equally far above superviolet is called only chi.
But if colors are to be so broadly defined as to include colors only one drafter in a million can draft, then shouldn’t yellow be split into liquid yellow and solid yellow? Where do the (mythical) black and white luxins fit? How could such (non)colors even fit on the spectrum?
The arguments, though bitter, are academic.
On Subchromacy and Superchromacy
A subchromat is one who has trouble differentiating between at least two colors, colloquially referred to as being color-blind. Subchromacy need not doom a drafter. For instance, a blue drafter who cannot distinguish between red and green will not be significantly handicapped in his work.
Superchromacy is having greater than usual ability to distinguish between fine variations of color. Superchromacy in any color will result in more stable drafting, but is most helpful in drafting yellow. Only superchromat yellow drafters can hope to draft solid yellow luxin.
The basis of magic is light. Those who use magic are called drafters. A drafter is able to transform a color of light into a physical substance. Each color has its own properties, but the uses of those building blocks are as boundless as a drafter’s imagination and skill.
The magic in the Seven Satrapies functions roughly the opposite of a candle burning. When a candle burns, a physical substance (wax) is transformed into light. With chromaturgy, light is transformed into a physical substance, luxin. Each color of luxin has its own properties. If drafted correctly (within a tight allowance), the resulting luxin will be stable, lasting for days or even years, depending on its color.
Most drafters (magic-users) can only use one color. A drafter must be exposed to the light of her color to be able to draft it (that is, a green drafter can look at grass and be able to draft, but if she’s in a white-walled room, she can’t). Each drafter usually carries spectacles so that if her color isn’t available, she can still use magic.
Luxin has weight. If a drafter drafts a luxin haycart over her head, the first thing it will do is crush her. From heaviest to lightest are: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, sub-red,* superviolet, sub-red.* For reference, liquid yellow luxin is only slightly lighter than the same volume of water.
(*Sub-red is difficult to weigh accurately because it rapidly degenerates to fire when exposed to air. The ordering above was achieved by putting sub-red luxin in an airtight container and then weighing the result, minus the weight of the container. In real-world uses, sub-red crystals are often seen floating upward in the air before igniting.)
Luxin has tactility.
Sub-red: Again the hardest to describe due to its flammability, but often described as feeling like a hot wind.
Red: Gooey, sticky, clingy, depending on drafting; can be tarry and thick or more gel-like.
Orange: Lubricative, slippery, soapy, oily.
Yellow: In its liquid, more common state, like bubbly, effervescent water, cool to the touch, possibly a little thicker than seawater. In its solid state, it is perfectly slick, unyielding, smooth, and incredibly hard.
Green: Rough; depending on the skill and purposes of the drafter, ranges from merely having a grain like leather to feeling like tree bark. It is flexible, springy, often drawing comparisons to the green limbs of living trees.
Blue: Smooth, though poorly drafted blue will have a texture and can shed fragments easily, like chalk, but in crystals.
Superviolet: Like spidersilk, thin and light to the point of imperceptibility.
Luxin has scent. The base scent of luxin is resinous. The smells below are approximate, because each color of luxin smells like itself. Imagine trying to describe the smell of an orange. You’d say citrus and sharp, but that isn’t it exactly. An orange smells like an orange. However, the below approximations are close.
Sub-red: Charcoal, smoke, burned.
Red: Tea leaves, tobacco, dry.
Yellow: Eucalyptus and mint.
Green: Fresh cedar, resin.
Blue: Mineral, chalk, almost none.
Superviolet: Faintly like cloves.
*Black: No smell/or smell of decaying flesh.
*White: Honey, lilac.
(*Mythical; these are the smells as reported in stories.)
Any drafting feels good to the drafter. Sensations of euphoria and invincibility are particularly strong among young drafters and those drafting for the first time. Generally, these pass with time, though drafters abstaining from magic for a time will often feel them again. For most drafters, the effect is similar to drinking a cup of kopi. Some drafters, strangely enough, seem to have allergic reactions to drafting. There are vigorous ongoing debates about whether the effects on personality should be described as metaphysical or physical.
Regardless of their correct categorization and whether they are the proper realm of study for the magister or the luxiat, the effects themselves are unquestioned.
LUXIN’S EFFECTS ON PERSONALITY
The benighted before Lucidonius believed that passionate men became reds, or that calculating women became yellows or blues. In truth, the causation flows the other way.
Every drafter, like every woman, has her own innate personality. The color she drafts then influences her toward the behaviors below. A person who is impulsive who drafts red for years is going to be more likely to be pushed further into “red” characteristics than a naturally cold and orderly person who drafts red for the same length of time.
The color a drafter uses will affect her personality over time. This, however, doesn’t make her a prisoner of her color, or irresponsible for her actions under the influence of it. A green who continually cheats on his wife is still a lothario. A sub-red who murders an enemy in a fit of rage is still a murderer. Of course, a naturally angry woman who is also a red drafter will be even more susceptible to that color’s effects, but there are many tales of calculating reds and fiery, intemperate blues.
A color isn’t a substitute for a woman. Be careful in your application of generalities. That said, generalities can be useful: a group of green drafters is more likely to be wild and rowdy than a group of blues.
Given these generalities, there is also a virtue and a vice commonly associated with each color. (Virtue being understood by the early luxiats not as being free of temptation to do evil in a particular way, but as conquering one’s own predilection toward that kind of evil. Thus, gluttony is paired with temperance, greed with charity, etc.)
Sub-red drafters: Sub-reds are passionate in all ways, the most purely emotional of all drafters, the quickest to rage or to cry. Sub-reds love music, are often impulsive, fear the dark less than any other color, and are often insomniacs. Emotional, distractable, unpredictable, inconsistent, loving, bighearted. Sub-red men are often sterile.
Associated vice: Wrath
Associated virtue: Patience
Red drafters: Reds are quick-tempered, lusty, and love destruction. They are also warm, inspiring, brash, larger than life, expansive, jovial, and powerful.
Associated vice: Gluttony
Associated virtue: Temperance
Orange drafters: Oranges are often artists, brilliant in understanding other people’s emotions and motivations. Some use this to defy or exceed expectations. Sensitive, manipulative, idiosyncratic, slippery, charismatic, empathetic.
Associated vice: Greed
Associated virtue: Charity
Yellow drafters: Yellows tend to be clear thinkers, with intellect and emotion in perfect balance. Cheerful, wise, bright, balanced, watchful, impassive, observant, brutally honest at times, excellent liars. Thinkers, not doers.
Associated vice: Sloth
Associated virtue: Diligence
Green drafters: Greens are wild, free, flexible, adaptable, nurturing, friendly. They don’t so much disrespect authority as not even recognize it.
Associated vice: Lust
Associated virtue: Self-control
Blue drafters: Blues are orderly, inquisitive, rational, calm, cold, impartial, intelligent, musical. Structure, rules, and hierarchy are important to them. Blues are often mathematicians and composers. Ideas and ideology and correctness often matter more than people to blues.
Associated vice: Envy
Associated virtue: Kindness
Superviolet drafters: Superviolets tend to have a removed outlook; dispassionate, they appreciate irony and sarcasm and word games and are often cold, viewing people as puzzles to be solved or ciphers to be cracked. Irrationality outrages superviolets.
Associated vice: Pride
Associated virtue: Humility
Chi (pronounced KEY): The postulated upper-spectrum counter-part to paryl. (Often referred to in tales as “far above superviolet as paryl is below sub-red.”) Also called the revealer. Its main claimed use is nearly identical to paryl—seeing through things, though those who believe in chi say its powers far surpass paryl’s in this regard, cutting through flesh and bone and even metal. The only thing the tales seem to agree on is that chi drafters have the shortest life expectancy of any drafters: five to fifteen years, almost without exception. If chi indeed exists, it would mostly be evidence that Orholam created light for the universe or for his own purposes, and not solely for the use of man, and would move theologians from their current anthropocentrism.
Black: Destruction, void, emptiness, that which is not and cannot be filled. Obsidian is said to be the bones of black luxin after it dies.
Paryl: Also called spidersilk, it is invisible to all but paryl drafters. It resides as far down the spectrum from sub-red as most sub-red does from the visible spectrum. Believed mythical because the lens of the human eye cannot contort to a shape that would allow seeing such a color. The alleged color of dark drafters and night weavers and assassins because this spectrum is (again, allegedly) available even at night. Uses unknown, but linked to murders. Poisonous?
White: The raw word of Orholam. The stuff of creation, from which all luxin and all life was formed. Descriptions of an earthly form of the stuff (as diminished from the original as obsidian supposedly is from black luxin) describe it as radiant ivory, or pure white opal, emitting light on the whole spectrum.
Students at the Chromeria are encouraged to use the proper names for each color, but the impetus to name seems unstoppable. In some cases, the names are used technically: pyrejelly is a thicker, longer-burning draft of red that will burn long enough to reduce a body to ash. In other cases, the reference becomes precisely the opposite of the technical definition: brightwater was first a name for liquid yellow luxin, but Brightwater Wall is solid yellow luxin.
A few of the more common colloquialisms:
Red: Pyrejelly, burnglue
Blue: Frostglass, glass
Superviolet: Skystring, soulstring, spidersilk
Black: Hellstone, nullstone, nightfiber, cinderstone, hadon
White: Truebright, starsblood, anachrome, luciton
On the Old Gods
Sub-red: Anat, goddess of wrath. Those who worshipped her are said to have had rituals that involved infant sacrifice. Also known as the Lady of the Desert, the Fiery Mistress. Her centers of worship were Tyrea, southernmost Paria, and southern Ilyta.
Red: Dagnu, god of gluttony. He was worshipped in eastern Atash.
Orange: Molokh, god of greed. Once worshipped in western Atash.
Yellow: Belphegor, god of sloth. Primarily worshipped in northern Atash and southern Blood Forest before Lucidonius’s coming.
Green: Atirat, goddess of lust. Her center of worship was primarily in western Ruthgar and most of Blood Forest.
Blue: Mot, god of envy. His center of worship was in eastern Ruthgar, northeastern Paria, and Abornea.
Superviolet: Ferrilux, god of pride. His center of worship was in southern Paria and northern Ilyta.
On Technology and Weapons
The Seven Satrapies are in a time of great leaps in understanding. The peace since the Prisms’ War and the following suppression of piracy has allowed the flow of goods and ideas freely through the satrapies. Cheap, high-quality iron and steel are available in every satrapy, leading to high-quality weapons, durable wagon wheels, and everything in between. Though traditional forms of weapons like Atashian bich’hwa or Parian parry-sticks continue, now they are rarely made of horn or hardened wood. Luxin is often used for improvised weapons, but most luxins’ tendency to break down after long exposure to light, and the scarcity of yellow drafters who can make solid yellows (which don’t break down in light), means that metal weapons predominate among mundane armies.
The greatest leaps are occurring in the improvement of firearms. In most cases, each musket is the product of a different smith. This means each man must be able to fix his own firearm, and that pieces must be crafted individually. A faulty hammer or flashpan can’t be swapped out for a new one, but must be detached and reworked into appropriate shape. Some large-scale productions with hundreds of apprentice smiths have tried to tackle this problem in Rath by making parts as nearly identical as possible, but the resulting matchlocks tend to be low quality, trading accuracy and durability for consistency and simple repair. Elsewhere, the smiths of Ilyta have gone the other direction, making the highest-quality custom muskets in the world. Recently, they’ve pioneered a form they call the flintlock. Instead of affixing a burning slow match to ignite powder in the flashpan and thence into the breech of the rifle, they’ve affixed a flint that scrapes a frizzen to throw sparks directly into the breech. This approach means a musket or pistol is always ready to fire, without a soldier having to first light a slow match. Keeping it from widespread adoption is the high rate of misfires—if the flint doesn’t scrape the frizzen correctly or throw sparks perfectly, the firearm doesn’t fire.
Thus far, the combination of luxin with firearms has been largely unsuccessful. The casting of perfectly round yellow luxin musket balls was possible, but the small number of yellow drafters able to make solid yellow creates a bottleneck in production. Blue luxin musket balls often shatter from the force of the black powder explosion. An exploding shell made by filling a yellow luxin ball with red luxin (which would ignite explosively from the shattering yellow when the ball hit a target) was demonstrated to the Nuqaba, but the exact balance of making the yellow thick enough to not explode inside the musket, but thin enough to shatter when it hit its target, is so difficult that several smiths have died trying to replicate it, probably barring this technique from wide adoption.
Other experiments are doubtless being carried out all over the Seven Satrapies, and once high-quality, consistent, and somewhat accurate firearms are introduced, the ways of war will change forever. As it stands, a trained archer can shoot farther, far more quickly, and more accurately.