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Everything and everyone in existence has an Element color. This color determines the nature of the person or object. Every character has an Element color associated with them, and this determines how and what Elements that character may use. While any character can use any Element of any color, characters who cast Elements that match their Innate color have damage multipliers. A character is resistant to attacks of their own color, but weak to attacks of the opposite color. Characters are also influenced by the Field Effect. Specific Elements, called Tech Skills, are exclusive to individual characters and always match their Innate color, with the exclusion of Pip, who evolves into different creatures and thus changes innates, and Sprigg, whose Tech Skill Doppelgang allows her to transform into creatures with different innate elements.
Elements can be special attacks, magic spells, consumable items, or summons.
There are six element colors:
- Red - The element color associated with Fire and Lava.
- Blue - The element color associated with Water and Ice.
- Green - The element color associated with Air and Nature.
- Yellow - The element color associated with Earth and Lightning.
- Black - The element color associated with Shadow and Space.
- White - The element color associated with Light and Life.
The elements also exist in opposition to one another:
- Red <-> Blue
- Green <-> Yellow
- Black <-> White
Every character and enemy has an Element Grid into which they can allocate Elements. This grid varies for each character, but can be a maximum of eight spaces long, signifying the eight Element levels. As a character levels up, their Element grid expands.
Each Element has an allocation level and an offset. The allocation level indicates what level of the grid the Element is intended for. The offset indicates how many levels above or below the allocation level the Element can be set in the Element grid. For example, a 3/1 Element can be put into levels 2, 3, or 4. By putting an element into a lower level than its allocation level, it is de-powered and will not be as effective. By putting an Element into a higher level, it becomes more powerful / effective.
To use Elements, characters must first "unlock" the Element grid by way of combat. At the start of combat, no Elements are available for casting. In order to cast an Element, a character must attack an opponent with either a weak, an average, or a strong attack. Weak attacks add 1 to the Element Grid level, seen above the blue bar on the battle screen. Average attacks add 2 and Strong attacks add 3. Each attack increases the level of Elements that can be cast. For instance, to cast a fourth level Element such as Numble (if it is allocated at level 4), a character must accumulate 4 Element Grid levels. To do so, the character could use four Weak attacks, 2 Average attacks , or 1 Weak attack and one Strong attack. Once an Element of a specific element is cast, it subtracts from the Element Grid Level; and needs to be built back up to, for instance, cast another 4th level Element. Additionally, characters can go over the level of the Element they want to cast,
People and objects are not the only things that are affected by an Element color. Every point in the world also has an Element color. Being the world itself, it is innately ALL Elemental colors. It is the actions of people in those areas that have an effect on the local Elemental field, called the Field Effect.
By using Elements, the Field Effect is altered. Simply using Elements changes the primary color of the local Elemental field. The local Elemental field is three levels deep. As Elements are used, their innate colors are "pushed down" in the Elemental field until they are pushed out altogether. The local Elemental field also has an effect on characters, empowering them if the local field color is partly or fully their innate color, and de-powering them if its is opposite.
Completely changing the local field effect color (so that all three levels are the same color) unlocks more powerful Elements such as summons.
There are several types of elements. (Magic, Consumable, Tech Skills, Field Effect, Traps, and Summons)
These magic spells call upon the Element of their color to either harm the enemy or buff / protect allies. They target either one or all enemies / allies.
Consumables are the equivalent of items. They can be used repeatedly, and must be in your inventory to use. When your inventory runs out, you can no longer use consumables in combat.
Characters in Chrono Cross have Techs that match their own innate color and cannot be used by other characters. This has the same effect on the Elemental field as any other Element. Certain characters can link their Techs together to form a Double Tech and even a Triple Tech. These three Techs are learned at a certain number of stars and are auto-allocated into levels 3, 5, and 7, respectively. Character Techs are listed on each character's profile: List of Chrono Cross characters.
All Techs are indicated by a circular shape near the first letter in the tech's caption. This circle is half-white and half-gray, similar in shape to the Yin yang.
These Elements alter the local Elemental field color directly, changing it entirely to one type. This is advantageous as well as dangerous, since, when the Field is entirely one color, Techs and Elements of that color receive large damage multipliers. BlueField, for instance, changes the entire field color to Blue. Performing a tech other than Blue would remove the multiple. Additionally, normal physical blows do not alter the Field Effect.
Traps are Elements that are used to capture Elements from enemies. Trap Elements are indicated by a downward arrow (↓) adjacent to the Element name in which they trap. To Trap an Element, the Trap must be placed prior to the foe casting it. Should the foe be defeated before casting the desired Element, the Trap is lost. The Shaker Brothers provide a demonstration of Traps when encountered in Mount Pyre.
Summons are rare Elements that call forth beings of incredible power. They are so powerful that the local field must be entirely of the same Elemental color as the summon, or else it will not work.