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Elementary Magic

The characteristics of the magic used in both Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross vary greatly. In Chrono Trigger no one except for the Enlightened Ones of Zeal and Crono's team could use magic. Yet in Chrono Cross anyone could use magic - and in fact it was much more versatile as well. Why is this?

First let us be clear on what magic really is. There are actually two forms of it being practiced in the series. First of all we have the magic of Zeal. Humanity acquired this form through technology and the discovery of Lavos. In fact, we can say all the magic in Chrono Trigger was just a manipulation of Lavos' energy. In Chrono Cross, though, Lavos has been defeated. Zeal is just an ancient myth. Humans no longer have access to the form of magic the Zealians practiced. Instead, Dragonians had crossed dimensions as a result of the Time Crash. With them they brought their own forms of magic. This magic drew upon the natural energy of the planet. Through the course of events humans eventually came to learn of this type of magic. With that, let us begin.

I. The Dark Force

In Chrono Trigger we know that the people of Zeal received their magic as a result of Lavos' influence. After the Mammon Machine was built the raw energy of Lavos was channeled into it, thus giving Queen Zeal access to unbelievable powers. In time, the citizens of Zeal were granted magical abilities as well, yet they were undoubtedly very weak in comparison to the queen's. Despite this, Schala notes that the Enlightened Ones were once the same as the Earthbound Ones - that is, there was once a time when neither group had access to magic. This is important as it indicates there was really nothing special about the Enlightened Ones aside from their self-imposed superiority.

We do not know the exact process of how the Zealians were granted their magic. It is more than likely they accessed the Mammon Machine and were infused with some of Lavos' energy. However it is interesting to note that despite this, the Zealians complain of having lost their magic after the Kingdom of Zeal is destroyed. Might the residents have had to visit the Mammon Machine on a regular basis to maintain their powers? If we think of the Mammon Machine as an intermediary, then we can view this scenario as a chain:

Humans    à    M. Machine    à    Lavos

In other words, the Zealians needed the Mammon Machine to access Lavos. If the Mammon Machine is destroyed the link to Lavos is broken and the people no longer have access to the energy. It is quite possible Queen Zeal deliberately designed the system like this to prevent any uprisings among her people. If all the citizens were able to retain their magic after just one session with the Mammon Machine they could easily acquire enough power to overthrow her. Yet if she kept their powers diluted and forced them to rely on this link she could avert any potential revolts by simply keeping the machine from her people. Though the queen, and even her aide Dalton, retained their magic after the fall of Zeal. This leads one to believe that trusted high ranking officials need not rely on the previously mentioned method. Instead they were likely subjected to a different form of infusing which enabled them to keep their abilities when away from the kingdom for extended periods. Moreover the queen's children also seem to have been granted permission for this procedure. Janus is able to keep his magical capabilities after arriving in AD 600. He is even able to amplify his strengths over the years as he later becomes a powerful wizard.

II. One's Inner Strength

If we jump ahead to the time of Chrono Cross we see the population of El Nido has learned to use Elements. These Elements are physical objects that the Dragonians had manufactured at "Power Spots" - areas at which the natural energies of the planet congregated. By performing certain rituals the Dragonians could manufacture Elements. We can think of Elements as utilizing the energy of the planet and transforming it into a visible display that we would call "magic". Anyone skilled enough to handle such energy could use Elements, as they were widely available for sale throughout the islands.

Chrono Cross also introduces the concept of "innate color". Each individual has a certain innate color attribute which he is born with. Someone with an innate color of red, for example, would be more proficient in handling Elements corresponding to the Red energies of the planet (usually associated with fire). It is known that all humans - not just those of El Nido - are born with such innate abilities. Porre soldiers on patrol in El Nido for the first time are observed to have innate colors. Other characters such as Norris, Kid, and Greco - all of who came from the Zenan mainland - have their own innate attributes. Even demi-humans such as Irenes and Sprigg have innate colors. Therefore we can conclude the characters of Chrono Trigger had innate color attributes as well. During a visit to the End of Time Spekkio tells us that Crono and his friends are "strong of will", after which he bestows upon them magic. If we consider the types of magic each character was given we can then compare that to the innate color traits described in Chrono Cross. We can then draw the following chart:


  Innate Color  















The similarities are uncanny. Both Marle are Frog were given water-type abilities which parallel the nature of the blue Elements of Chrono Cross - ice and water. Thus we might say both characters truly had an innate color attribute of Blue throughout their lives. Spekkio recognized this and gave them each the type of magic they would best be suited to use. Likewise, Lucca's red innate trait allowed her to utilize fire magic better than the others. Because Magus had retained his magic from Zeal Spekkio had no need to give him any more abilities. Yet we can still say Magus had a black innate attribute. Perhaps Spekkio recognized each character's innate color and chose a magic for them which would best utilize their natural abilities.

III. Clarifying the Connection

In viewing this chart you may notice some oddities. Three of which are cause for concern, yet can be explained. In either case, let us begin with Crono.

• Crono:

There is still debate as to which color Crono could be affiliated with. Some believe he would be yellow, based upon his abundance of lightning skills. Other say his innate color should be white. At this stage perhaps it is still impossible to say. But we do know that in the Japanese release of Chrono Trigger Crono's elemental affiliation was not with lightning, but with "Heaven". It seems this heaven type combines healing and lightning into a single group. Thus anything related to luminesence or sky would fall under this category. This makes sense when we consider each of the four forces is in opposition to another. So water-based spells keep those of fire in balance, just as heaven magic would counterbalance the shadow magic that Magus uses. If we look below to the chart detailing the nature of the Chrono Cross elements, we can see the yellow attribute is connected to metals (lightning and earth) something that does not seem to fully match Crono's magic.


While I would much prefer to list Robo as having no innate attribute as he is not a living creature, Chrono Cross makes it clear that robots can (and indeed do) possess innate colors. How this can be is not explained, but perhaps these types of innate attributes are different than those of organic creatures. In Chrono Cross most of the robots Serge comes across have either yellow or red innate colors. A select few have other colors. There are a few thoughts behind why this could be:

• The robot takes a color based upon the type of its attack. Robots with yellow innates (such as the Cybot or Guillot) could be labeled as such due to their electric nature. They can emit sparks, which is essentially electricity. If one is to take this to an extreme he can say this is merely a less powerful form of lightning, or yellow-based Elemental magic. Robots with red innates typically specialize in spewing flames or firing projectiles, such as the Combots within Chronopolis. They could be labeled red as a result of their fire power.

• Robots with other innates could be infused with an Elemental proficiency. If we look to Vita, it can take on any one of three innate colors. Perhaps the builders of such robots equipped them to use Elements of a specific color and so the robots could be said to, in a sense, be that color.

So perhaps machines truly are neutral and possess no innates, yet humans label them as such based upon the way the robots were built, taking into consideration their attacks. Robo can be listed as having a black innate because Spekkio tells us his lasers are capable of inflicting shadow-type damage. Grobyc also is labeled as a black innate, and he is capable of using lasers as well.

• Ayla:

But where does such an interesting quality come from? It is worth noting that Spekkio says Ayla cannot use magic because she was born in a time before magic existed. Since the source of the Zealian's magic was Lavos, we can begin to find connections between Lavos and innate attributes. We are told that around the year 3 million BC humanity was exposed to the Frozen Flame. This act began a series of mutations inside the human body which rapidly expanded the human brain to three times its normal size. Now there are two theories on the subject:

• Such an increase in mental power made it possible for humans to understand and use the magic drawn from Lavos. More primitive humans could not hope to grasp such a concept so the granting of magic to Ayla would have had no effect.

• Contacting the Frozen Flame not only affected the intellect of the human race, but subtly altered their bodies to be more responsive to certain frequencies of the planet. From this point onward, innate color attributes were created which were genetically spread to the human's descendants until the time of Zeal where the people were able to acquire magic based on their inner traits. Ayla was born before this happened so she had no inner color attribute for Spekkio to read.

If the first theory is true then perhaps Ayla does have an innate color attribute afterall. However it would be very difficult to determine what it is. Some speculate that she might be yellow innate, as per her (possible) relative Leah from Chrono Cross. Their attacks seem to be very closely related, and Leah happens to be of the color yellow. Others suggest Ayla would be green innate, as she utilizes nature oriented skills such as Tail Spin (generates wind). It really is impossible to say at this point.

IV. Lavos vs. Nature

But when it all comes down to it, is there really a correlation between the two types of magic? Well perhaps not; that is for you to decide. Let me make it clear that the magic drawn from Lavos was entirely separate from the Elements. Each came from opposing sources. Each was classified into different categories. Lavos based magic was a balance between four forces. Elements were balanced between six. Use these charts for guidance:

Chrono Trigger Magic Types

Type Name

Elemental Affiliation



holy and lightning

  Life, Lightning, Luminaire  


shadow and death

  Dark Bomb, Black Hole  


water, ice, curative

  Ice, Water, Cure


fire or explosions

  Fire, Flare  

Chrono Cross Element Types

Type Color

  Elemental Affiliation



  Heaven (holy, light, celestial)

  Meteorite, Revive, Purify, UltraNova


  Darkness (gravity, death)

  Gravitonne, Gravity Blow, HellBound, Black Hole


  Water (ice, water, cure)

  IceBlast, AquaBall, Deluge, Iceberg, Cure


  Fire (magma, fire)

  MagmaBurst, FirePillar, Inferno, Volcano


  Wood (plants, wind)

  Bushwacker, AeroSaucer, Carnivore, Tornado


  Metal (earth, electricity)

  ElectroJolt, Earthquake, Upheaval, ThundaStorm

Note that yellow can be associated with metal as such minerals are mined from the
earth (earth affiliation) and metal can conduct electricity very well (lightning).


Though they came from different sources, we can still see some relations between the two types of magic. In that regard the magic of Zeal seems very similar to Dragonian magic. Perhaps if given enough time Zealian magic would have evolved to encompass a greater scope of elemental affiliations. As it was, the magic was Zeal was somewhat primitive in comparison as it hadn't been divided into as many groups, thus blurring the distinction between some types. Perhaps Dragonians, realizing that their species had six innate color variations, purposefully classified the planet's elements into the six types we see in Chrono Cross. The people of Zeal may not have had this knowledge, and being novices at magic to begin with, did the best they could with what they knew.

The point I am making with this essay is that Lucca was given fire magic for a reason. The same applies to the rest of Crono's team. If one with a red innate is proficient at using fire-oriented Elements, than should she not also be well prepared to handle other fire related magics, even those stemming from different sources? Since all humans have innate colors it stands to reason Spekkio gave them the type of magic which matched their innate attribute the best.

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