This page describes the magic system of the Sublight Universe. It summarizes everything I have already discusses in this blog, as well as across social media. When in doubt, this page is the authoritative source, and it will be kept up to date as the system evolves and develops.


The goal of the Chromodynamic Magic System is not to explain how magic works, so much as to provide a framework on which to organize all of the magical tropes from literature. My gold standard is to be able to classify every spell and ability from Dungeons and Dragons. Being able to also classify spells from the Harry Potter universe, Star Trek, and Star Wars are considered a stretch goal. Though, as you will see, they all draw on deeper tropes and are not as dissimilar as you would think.

In classifying magic, I have notices a few underlying rules:

  1. Every system seems to have low-level spells that mages of any persuasion seem to be able to cast.
  2. These low-level spells are also accessible enough for non-mages to also use.
  3. Beyond these entry level abilities, magic systems all require that a practitioner pick a particular area of study to the exclusion of all others.
  4. Mages from different approaches to magic often have conflicting theories about how fundamental magic works, what rules seem to exist for it, etc.

In D&D there are magic schools. In the Harry Potter universe, mages tend to specialize. In Star Wars, you have two diametrically opposed Jedi and Sith.

The key to Chromodynamics is the use of the color wheel. Each "approach" to magic is a color. I use the Hue/Lightness/Saturation (HLS) color space. Some effects are described as different hues. Some effects are different lightnesses. We can describe mundane non-magical effects as simply being a neutral grey:

Well all know our primary colors by now: Red, Green, and Blue. But those are only the primary colors of light. When you go to stock your printer, you need Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow. These are the primary colors of dark. I.e. When you are trying to create a color by absorbing light instead of emitting light. Each color of light has an opposing color of dark. Abilities of opposites negate one another. D&D has 8 schools of magic, so I align each of those 8 with either a primary color on the center of the shape, or with an extreme of lightness or darkness:

Mana Hue Lightness Opposite D&D School
white    - 100 black Abjuration
red    0 50 cyan Evocation
yellow    60 50 blue Conjuration
green    120 50 magenta Divination
cyan    180 50 red Illusion
blue    240 50 yellow Transmutation
magenta    300 50 green Enchantment
black    - 0 white Necromancy


Each of the colors of mana can be thought of as an approach to magic. In CDM, the personality of a mage determines the type of magic they do. In this way, we can also think of each color of mana as a strategy. For the purposes of this discussion, white and black lack a specific approach.

Mana FATE Approach
red    Forceful
yellow    Quick
green    Careful
cyan    Sneaky
blue    Clever
magenta    Flashy


color white
school Abjuration
hue -
lightness 100
opposite black
Full Spell List

White magic is a balance of the light magics: red, green, and blue mana. Mages who specialize in this field must meticulously maintain a balance of all three, and they must avoid involvement in any of the darker arts: cyan, yellow, and magenta.

White mana concerns magic that creates barriers, blocks and protects against harm. It can ward a person or place against the presence of evil (or good), turn aside the blade of a sword, or guard the mind against outside influence.

Wizards who study white magic excel at banishing evil spirits, protecting against extraplanar incursions, and defeating practitioners of the other schools.

Sample Spells:
  1. Defense Field - Level 1 - You surround yourself with a barrier of magical force, granting temporary hit points and inflicting cold damage on enemies that attack you.
  2. Dispel Magic - Level 3 - Negate a magical effect on a person or object.
  3. Banishment - Level 5 - You hurl a creature into another plane of existence, momentarily trapping it inside a demiplane of your own creation, or – if it’s a demon, devil, powerful fey, or djinn – returning it to its native plane, maybe forever.
  4. Imprisonment - Level 9 - You magically restrain a creature, either in a prison deep beneath the earth, inside a gemstone, bound by chains of magical iron, or place them in an enchanted sleep from which they are unable to wake.


color red
school Evocation
hue 0
lightness 50
opposite cyan
approach Forceful

Red magic focuses on channeling and conjuring elemental effects. Usually by hurling fireballs and calling down lighting. It also has the power to heal and bolster the mage's force of will.

Red mages tend to address problems with a forceful approach: direct action, applied with brute strength, and nothing in the way of subtlety.

Sample Spells:
  1. Magic Missile - Level 1 - You create three glowing darts of magical force. Each dart hits a creature of your choice that you can see within range.
  2. Sending - Level 3 - You send a short message of twenty-five words or less to a creature with which you are familiar. The creature hears the message in its mind, recognizes you as the sender if it knows you, and can answer in a like manner immediately.
  3. Hallow - Level 5 - You touch a point and infuse an area around it with holy (or unholy) power. Supernatural beings and the undead can't enter the area, nor can such creatures charm, frighten, or possess creatures within it. Any creature charmed, frightened, or possessed by such a creature is no longer charmed, frightened, or possessed upon entering the area.
  4. Mass Heal - Level 9 - You can stabilize all critically injured creatures around you, and cure them of all diseases, blindness, and deafness. This spell does not effect undead or constructs.


color yellow
school Conjuration
hue 60
lightness 50
opposite blue
approach Quick

Yellow magic is all about pulling things from thin air, or from another reality. It can also move things and people from one place to another. Yellow mages can create small inanimate items.

Yellow mages tend to address problems with a quick approach: high energy movements, dexterity, dodging, racing deadlines.

Sample Spells:
  1. Find Familiar - Level 1 - You gain the service of a familiar, a spirit that takes an animal form you choose.
  2. Create Food and Water - Level 3 - You create enough food and water to sustain 15 humanoids for 24 hours.
  3. Dimension Door - Level 4 - You teleport yourself from your current location to any other spot within range.
  4. Wish - Level 9 - By simply speaking aloud, you can alter the very foundations of reality in accord with your desires.


color green
school Divination
hue 120
lightness 50
opposite magenta
approach Careful

Green mages seek to part the veils of space and time in order to master the skills of scrying, discernment, otherworldly knowledge, and foresight.

Green mages tend to address problems with a careful approach: Taking their time, paying attention to details, doing a thorough job.

Sample Spells:
  1. Detect Magic - Level 1 - For the duration, you sense the presence of magic within 30 feet of you.
  2. Translate - Level 3 - This spell grants the creature you touch the ability to understand any spoken language it hears. Moreover, when the target speaks, any creature that knows at least one language and can hear the target understands what it says.
  3. Contact Higher Plane - Level 5 - You mentally contact a supernatural power from another plane, and can ask up to 5 short-answer questions.
  4. Foresight - Level 9 - You touch a willing creature and bestow a limited ability to see into the immediate future.


color cyan
school Illusion
hue 180
lightness 50
opposite red
approach Sneaky

Cyan mages manipulate the senses of others. As they increase in power, they start to be able to take ideas from their own mind and make them seem real.

Cyan mages tend to address problems with the sneaky approach: misdirection, stealth, deceit.

Sample Spells:
  1. Disguise self - Level 1 - Make yourself (including clothing) look different. A foot shorter, or taller. Thin, fat, rich, poor. Adopt the uniform of an enemy. Impersonate a celebrity. Or just don't look like yourself.
  2. Major Image - Level 4 - Create an illusion that seems completely real, including sight, sound, smell, and warmth.
  3. Simulacrum - Level 7 - You shape an illusory duplicate of one beast or humanoid that is within range for the entire casting time of the spell. The duplicate is a creature, partially real and formed from clay and it can take actions and otherwise be affected as a normal creature
  4. Weird - Level 9 - Drawing on the deepest fears of a group of creatures, you create illusory creatures in their minds, visible only to them.


color blue
school Transmutation
hue 240
lightness 50
opposite yellow
approach Clever

Blue magic deals with transformation. At low levels, transformations of material from one form to another. At higher levels, transformation of living beings.

Blue mages tend to address problems with the clever approach: Solving problems by operating on a higher level of thought.

Sample Spells:
  1. Disguise self - Level 1 - Purify Food and Drink - All nonmagical food and drink within a 5-foot-radius sphere centered on a point of your choice within range is purified and rendered free of poison and disease.
  2. Gaseous Form - Level 3 - You transform a willing creature you touch, along with everything it's wearing and carrying, into a misty cloud for the duration.
  3. Awaken - Level 5 - Imbue a non-sentient creature or plant with thought.
  4. Time Stop - Level 9 - You briefly stop the flow of time for everyone but yourself.


color magenta
school Enchantment
hue 300
lightness 50
opposite green
approach Flashy

Magenta magic focuses on influencing the minds and perception of others. It compels and charms people.

Magenta mages tend to address problems with the flashy approach: Using style and panache to draw attention and notoriety.

Sample Spells:
  1. Charm Person - Level 1 - Make a target non-hostile and pliable in social interactions.
  2. Suggestion - Level 2 - Magically influence a creature, and have it carry out a short instruction.
  3. Modify Memory - Level 5 - Alter a being's recollection of the events they experienced within the last 24 hours.
  4. Killing Word - Level 9 - Utter a word of power that compels a creature to die instantly.


color black
school Necromancy
hue -
lightness 0
opposite white

Black magic is a balance of the three dark magics: cyan, yellow, magenta. It focuses on manipulating the boundaries between life and death. This power is generally at odds with white magic, as suck a black mage generally avoids red, blue, or green magic.

Sample Spells:
  1. Vampiric Touch - Level 2 - Siphon mana from a creature you touch.
  2. Summon Karite - Level 3 - Summon a "borrower" who will inhabit a corpse that you touch, bringing the body back to life.
  3. Magic Jar - Level 6 - Transfer your soul to a magical container, from which you can re-occupy your body later, or attempt to possess any other creature within 100 feet.
  4. Clone - Level 8 - Grow an inert duplicate of a living creature inside a specially prepared vessel.