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Roughly in the year 3,000,000 BC, humans came into contact with a piece of Lavos. This initiated a genetic alteration that would lead to the evolution of human beings to be able to use magic.
It is unclear exactly when human beings first discovered the magic. It was after the year 60,000 BC but before the year 12,000 BC. By the year 12,000 BC, magic was in common use by humans, and the world was segregated based on the ability to wield it: the Enlightened Ones, who could use magic, and the Earthbound Ones, who could not. The Enlightened lived on the floating islands of the Kingdom of Zeal, while the Earthbound huddled in caves on the world's surface - looked down upon by the Enlightened and often being recruited forcefully to do the latter's will.
Based on what the Enlightened Ones said, magic is the use of spirit energy to evoke paranormal effects. At first, magic was very strong, enabling powerful mages - like the Gurus - to bring to life strange and inherently magical beings that they later called Fiends (or Mystics, as in the SNES/PS version).
Crono, Marle, and Lucca - all from 1000 AD - were able to learn magic by visiting Spekkio, the Master of War, at the End of Time. Later on, Frog is able to learn magic as soon as he becomes a party member again, thus making it possible to obtain magical abilities before fighting Magus.
It is unknown if this means that magic itself has been reawakened or if these four can use it simply because they met Spekkio. After the floating cities of Zeal crashed into sea and continent, most magic-wielding Enlightened Ones perished. A scant few survived. These survivors probably bred into the population of Earthbound Ones in Algetty and Last Village, sometime after magic stopped working, therefore leaving the descendants of the Earthbound Ones and Enlightened Ones to remain segregated. After many generations, most if not all humans were the descendants of Enlightened Ones, but unrecognizable after the dilution of their magical blood. Enlightened Ones typical have blue hair, and the Earthbounds, light to dark brunette and blond. Mixed offspring may have a combination of the two: green hair. Glenn has green hair. The party members from Present Guardia are descendants of the Last Village tribes, thus magical genes must exist in their DNA, even if dormant. Spekkio could have amplified that affinity, or awoken the dormant genes.
There are four elements in magic:
- Light, also known as Heaven or Lightning.
- Water, which can also manifest as Ice.
- Shadow, a catchall for darkness, space, and other magics.
Every character in Chrono Trigger save Ayla and Robo can use magic, either naturally (as in the case of Magus), or by visiting Spekkio. They are signified in the character's Tech list by a star (*) to the left of the name.
Magic spells are Techs that use magical power. This differs from regular Techs in that a character's magic stat factors into how powerful the spell is. The magic stat for the two non-magical characters factor into other Techs in various ways, such as with Robo's energy and explosive-based Techs along with some of Ayla's techs.
Below are lists of magic spells, separated by character:
Non-magical Techs that use the Magic stat
Some Techs that are not classified as Magic nevertheless have elements associated with them and use the Magic stat when calculating their damage (or healing power). They follow their user's innate element when applicable.
- Cure Beam
- Laser Spin - Shadow elemental
- Heal Beam
- Proximity Bomb - Fire elemental
- Electrocute - Light elemental