The basis of chromaturgy is light. Those who use this magic are called ‘drafters’; a drafter is able to transform a color of light into a physical substance within their body. Each color luxin 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 (usually wax) is transformed into light. With chromaturgy, light is transformed into a physical substance, luxin. If drafted correctly (within a narrow allowance), the resulting luxin will be stable, lasting for days or even years, depending on its color.
Most drafters (magic users) are monochromes; they can draft only 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. Many drafters carry delicate and expensive colored spectacles developed by Lucido- nius himself, and later improved upon by the Technologist, so that if her color isn’t available where she stands, she can still use magic.
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 one who can draft all seven colors in the visible 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, and some are smarter or more creative at how and when to apply luxin.
Disjunctive (Discontiguous) Bichromes/Polychromes
The spectrum of visible light exists in a consistent order: paryl, sub- red, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, superviolet, chi. 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 (or discontiguous) 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. The Iron White 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.
Subchromacy and Superchromacy
Subchromat: 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 dis- tinguish between red and green will not be significantly handicapped in his work.
Superchromat: One who has greater-than-usual ability to distinguish between fine variations of color. Superchromacy in any color will result in more stable drafting, but it is most helpful in drafting yellow. Only superchromat yellow drafters can hope to draft solid yellow luxin.
For more than four hundred years—from the time of Prism Vician until the beginning of the Age of the Lightbringer—knowledge of outer-spectrum colors (i.e., paryl and chi) was suppressed by the Chromeria. Paryl exists far below sub-red on the spectrum; chi is equally far above superviolet. During this age of suppressed knowl- edge, very few people understood the unique properties of these types of luxin, much less their usefulness. The idea that there are more than seven draftable colors was theologically problematic for some; paryl and chi were considered not only blasphemous but quite deadly.
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 black and white luxins fit? How could such colors even fit on the spectrum? As ancient knowl- edge of the four suppressed colors—white, black, chi, and paryl—is carefully rediscovered by luxiats, our understanding of their prop- erties and distinctions will propel us beyond our horizons, into uncharted academic waters. The prospect is thrilling to many of us.
Luxin has mass. If a drafter creates a luxin haycart directly over her head, the first thing it will do is fall to the ground and crush her. Luxin density, from heaviest to lightest, is as follows: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, sub-red,* paryl, superviolet, chi. For reference, liquid yellow luxin is only slightly lighter than the same volume of water.
(*Sub-red mass is difficult to determine accurately because it rapidly disintegrates into 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.)
Each type of luxin has a unique feel, as follows:
- 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 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.
The foundational scent of all luxin is lightly 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 citrusy sweet and sharp, but that isn’t it exactly. An orange smells like an orange. The below approximations are close.
- Sub-red: Charcoal, smoke, burned.
- Red: Tea leaves, tobacco, dry.
- Orange: Amandine, rich.
- Yellow: Eucalyptus, mint.
- Green: Fresh cedar, resin.
- Blue: Light mineral or coca.
- Superviolet: Faintly like cloves.
- Paryl: Saffron.
- Chi: Metallic, like the air during a lightning storm.
*Black: No smell, or smell of decaying flesh.
*White: Honey, lilac.
(*Mythical; these are the smells as reported in histories and legends.)
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. 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 them- selves are unquestioned.
Effects on Personality
The benighted before Lucidonius believed that passionate men became reds and 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 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 spouse 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 person. 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 lux- iats 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: 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, distractible, unpredictable, inconsistent, loving, bighearted. Sub-red men are often sterile.
Associated vice: Wrath
Associated virtue: Patience
Red: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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 (Gratitude)
Superviolet: Tend to have a detached 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
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 (apart from a paryl drafter’s) the lens of the human eye cannot contort to a shape that would allow seeing such a color. Paryl is the color of dark drafters and night weavers and assassins because this spectrum is usually available at night. Renders the drafter much more susceptible to empathy, able to absorb emo- tions in a way other drafters cannot.
Chi (KAI): The upper-spectrum counterpart to paryl. (Often referred to in tales as ‘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 possibly 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.
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 in the whole spectrum.
Luxin and Lifespan
General Effects. At this point, it has been established beyond question that drafting shortens the lives of those who do it, and almost all scholars accept that this is not because those who draft are intrinsically more fragile, but because of the act of drafting itself. The reasons for this are unknown, but the more luxin drafted, the shorter the drafter’s life. It is believed that the body will heal some amount of the damage drafting does. Thus, a drafter who drafts minimally daily will be able to draft far more cumulatively than one who attempts to draft a great deal in a short period of time. The Chromeria encourages drafters to honor Orholam’s gift of our lives by drafting in moderation, except in emergencies.
Various Colors and Lifespan. It’s been noted that, even as drafters of the various colors tend to evince particular personality traits, so too do those who draft certain colors seem to live longer. Only one color has been proven to the Chromeria’s satisfaction to never be safe to use: chi always kills its practitioners, almost always within five to ten years. As Life is one of Orholam’s Seven Great Gifts and being party to the wanton destruction thereof cannot be within Orholam’s will, the Magisterium successfully enjoined the Chromeria to cease teach- ing chi-drafting three hundred forty-two years ago.
As for the rest, debate rages on the exact causal connections, but it has been noted that superviolet drafters tend to break the halo ear- lier, while at the opposite end of the spectrum, paryl drafters may live to a full natural span. Lightsplitting paryl drafters may, indeed, live much longer than most munds. However, this last is uncertain, given their overall small numbers and the fact that many of those recorded as such belonged to the Order of the Broken Eye, where names were often handed down to give the illusion of immortality to enhance the Order’s reputation and intimidate opponents.
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 currently experiencing an age of great leaps in understanding. The peace since the Prisms’ War and the follow- ing suppression of piracy has allowed the flow of goods and ideas freely through the satrapies. Affordable, high-quality iron and steel are available everywhere, 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 tend 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 a 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 is possible, but the small number of superchromatic yellow drafters able to make solid yellow luxin creates a bottleneck in pro- duction. 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 once 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 currently, a trained archer can shoot farther, far more quickly, and more accurately.
ON CHROMERIA PROHIBITIONS
Tattoos. From a time when factionalism ran high, before all the noble houses had intermarried so much, before single families existed with a kaleidoscope of skin tones within single generations.
At the time, for a number of reasons, the Parians had been more isolated and were more uniformly dark-skinned, which gave numerous drafting advantages that some of them interpreted as being expressions of Orholam’s favor on them as the people who had united under Lucidonius first.
Colored lenses could be lost or unavailable when needed, and were initially prohibitively expensive, so lighter-skinned drafters had taken to tattooing blocks of their own colors on their skin so they’d always have a source available. But color tattoos didn’t work nearly as well for darker-skinned drafters, which included most of the Parians, who were the politically dominant force at the time.
Rather than lose their advantages, several of the most powerful families united to argue that wights were hiding incarnitive magic behind tattoos. They successfully rammed through a prohibition on tattoos, conveniently ignoring that naturally very dark skin could hide incarnitive magic and luxin-packing just as well.
Incarnitive luxin. A term for luxin when it is incorporated directly into one’s body. This is forbidden by the Chromeria as debasing or defiling Orholam’s work (the human body itself) with man’s work and is seen as a slippery slope to trying to fully remake the body and become immortal. In certain cases, the luxiats have turned a blind eye to more minor or prosthetic uses.
Dogs: Being highly susceptible to will-casting, dogs are not allowed on the Jaspers. Ships carrying dogs that so much as dock without permission face a small fine, while disembarking with a dog may result in seizure of the ship and striping for shipowner and the dog’s owner and death for the dog.
Cats: As they are necessary to control the populations of mice and rats, cats are allowed on the Jaspers. That they’re highly resistant to will-casting also plays a part. The Beneficent Hiram D., the renowned will-caster of Blood Forest, testified on the matter before the Magisterial High Court, saying, ‘Cats shrug off all attempts at either being mastered or cajoled to do what they don’t wish to do, either amused or profoundly insulted that a human would even make the attempt. Before investigating this matter on your lords’ instigation, I wasn’t afraid of cats. Now I am.’
Other: Other animals are allowed, prohibited, or subject to taxation in accordance with how domitable they are. Horses, for example, must display a registered brand, pass yearly inspection, and pay a duty, making them a luxury item beyond even the already heavy expenses of keeping them fed and stabled on an island.