I use element not in the periodic table sense, but fire, air, water, etc.

I am trying to create a world with 6 main elements, based on primary and secondary colors. Red (fire/heat), purple (air/steam), blue (water), green (growth), yellow (earth), and orange, which the best option I have been able to think of is either lava or metal.

Lava is the more natural feeling choice, but I can't think of enough aesthetic characteristics that would distinguish a lava plane from a fire plane. Metal is an easier design choice, but I am having a much harder time justifying it as the intermediate element between heat and earth.

EDIT: I've taken a lot from many of the comments and answers, so I want to put up a sort of modified state, and elaborate on some things that people have noted in their responses:

  • Yellow - earth (sharp, cold, slow),
  • Green - nature/growth (dull, hot, slow),
  • Blue - water (dull, cold, fast),
  • Purple - Air (sharp, cold, fast),
  • Red - Fire (dull, hot, fast),
  • Orange - Metal? (sharp, hot, slow),
  • White - Light (ether - sharp, hot, fast),
  • Black - Dark (void - dull, cold, slow), and
  • Center/Colorless (chaos)

Further combinations of any adjacent elements will likely be possible, but I am not certain if they will be strictly defined. Dark + fire = famine (Henry Taylor), earth + darkness = decay (Xavon_Wrentaile), light + growth = life, dark + air = curse, etc.

EDIT 2: This also isn't to say that there is a hard connection between light and good, dark and evil. For example fire + light could be blindness, air + light could be lightning (which I perceive as an almost exclusively destructive force). My intention isn't to conflate elements with intention, though character personalities will likely have some basis on their attunement (fire might tend toward brash, nature towards serene, and the like.

Attempt to clarify question: What is an element that has the attributes sharp, hot and slow that could logically be placed between Fire (red) and Earth (yellow) in a magical spectrum?


closed as unclear what you're asking by L.Dutch, Mołot, Ash, Vylix, sphennings Oct 29 '17 at 22:46

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    $\begingroup$ Umm, what is the question here? There isn't a single question mark in your entire question. This makes it rather difficult to answer. I would suggest putting an additional sentence containing your main question at the end of the body. $\endgroup$ – Gryphon Oct 29 '17 at 5:46
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    $\begingroup$ @Kebitz, accepting an answer before users from different timezones have had a chance to answer is discouraged. The minimum time to wait before accepting an answer usually suggested is 24 hours. $\endgroup$ – Gryphon Oct 29 '17 at 14:59
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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to Worldbuilding, if nobody did that already! While every Stack Exchange site has its own distinct differences, Worldbuilding is “more different” in some ways. In particular, you ought not Accept an answer before waiting at least 24 hours. A full explaination can be found on this meta post. $\endgroup$ – JDługosz Oct 29 '17 at 15:10
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    $\begingroup$ You might find this post, Lessons in writing Questions useful. $\endgroup$ – JDługosz Oct 29 '17 at 15:13
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    $\begingroup$ When writing my setting I had a similar problem. Ended up having fire to be orange and made red blood. Maybe this is overly specific to be useful to you, so I'm keeping it as a comment. $\endgroup$ – FFN Oct 29 '17 at 17:38

I think stone/rock can be a fitting choice.

Your primary elements are:

  • red (fire/heat)
  • blue (water)
  • yellow (earth)

Secondary elements are mixes of these colours/elements:

  • blue (water) + yellow (earth) = green (growth) [when you water the earth plants start to grow];
  • blue (water) + red (fire) = purple (steam/air) [when you heat water you get steam];
  • red (fire) + yellow (earth) = orange (stone) [when you heat earth it melts into stone]

Lava essentially is melted rock mixed with water. Once it cools down we perceive it as stones and rocks. Stone/rock might be easier to justify considering how other elements relate to each other.

Metal, however, has an advantage of having unique properties. It is also not possible to confuse it with earth (unless you define earth strictly as dirt/soil). Metal can be also explained as heating earth (especially if the earth is defined as land surface [i.e. includes rocks, mountains, etc.]). Most metals are not available in their pure form. You have to smelt (heat) ore (stone/'earth') to get metal.

  • $\begingroup$ Aesthetically speaking, I don't see a huge difference between stone/rock and earth. Though, your description of metal, and the inclusion of smelting makes me feel much better about it being the intermediary. It doesn't really 'feel' orange, but it definitely fits as a juxtaposition of earth and fire. $\endgroup$ – Kebtiz Oct 29 '17 at 6:33
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    $\begingroup$ You can go with copper and red gold (a gold and copper alloy) as representations of metal. Both have a very distinct orange colour. $\endgroup$ – Olga Oct 29 '17 at 6:38

Red (fire) plus Yellow (earth) equals Orange (scorched earth), a Roman military strategy which involves the deliberate destruction of life-giving resources which might feed an enemy army advancing into a territory. It was an entrapping strategy meant to starve, diminish and demoralize the enemy troops before they reached your main combative forces.

In your system of magic, Orange could therefore be the power of hunger, or more fundamentally, the opposite of Green (growth),... death.

  • $\begingroup$ I didn't lay out the entire system I have in my mind so far, but thinks like life, death, blood, protection, curse, doom would likely be lightly colored attributes on the light/dark axis, rather than the two rainbow axis. Death and starvation being dark aspects of that side of the spectrum is something I will have to think on. $\endgroup$ – Kebtiz Oct 29 '17 at 6:55
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    $\begingroup$ All of the colors have both life-giving (light) and life-taking (dark) uses within their realms. Orange Hunger's bright side is called desire and it leads mere mortals to obtains great things. Green Life's dark side is overgrowth which strips the nutrients from the soil leading to desertification. Fire can get you through a winter night while water can either sustain or drown you. And if you think that air is just for breathing, you have never been through a hurricane. There are many shades to each hue. $\endgroup$ – Henry Taylor Oct 29 '17 at 7:01

Personally, I would focus more on the elements and try to fit them to colors, than the other way around.

For example, you could make Earth orange instead of yellow.

So then what would your sixth element be?

If you are going for opposed pairs, you need an opposite for Growth. So something like Decay. In which case I would shuffle Earth to orange, and Air to yellow, freeing up purple for Decay.

If you don't want opposed pairs, you could have Light for your sixth element, which could fit for orange or yellow.

You also might want to try a search here; there are lots of questions related to 'elements', that could provide you with a good idea, if not a full answer.

  • $\begingroup$ My intention is not hard opposites, maybe destructive compliments is a way to word it. Fire destroys growth, but ash aids it, etc. Light and dark are probably going to be the only true opposites, but I except they would be the 3rd dimension of the elemental model, whereas the rainbow is the 1st two. Growth as a name is probably a placeholder, growth, nature, green, something along those lines. $\endgroup$ – Kebtiz Oct 29 '17 at 6:01
  • $\begingroup$ As well, I think that pushing earth and air together might be a bit hard to explain. They are about as distinct as two things can be. $\endgroup$ – Kebtiz Oct 29 '17 at 6:03

Clasically, any element can combine with two other elements, and opposes one element, as follows: Fire and earth - lava (orange) Fire and air - smoke (dark grey) Earth and water - mud (dark brown) Water and air - mist (white)

Fire and water oppose each other Earth and air oppose each other

Combining three elements will allows one element to combine two opposing elements and are the source of civilization: Fire, earth and air - smelting, metallurgy (silver) Fire, earth and water - clay, pottery (dark brown) Earth, water and air - farming (green) Water Air Fire - steam, propulsion (light grey)

Now as you can see, the as I see them don't correlate with yours at all. But that's one way, and you can perhaps fiddle with the color scheme. Only the gods themselves have successfully combined the four elements and used this to fashion the world and all the living and non-living things on it (or so the tale goes in my head).

If you want to work with the color wheel, and since there are three primary colors, there would have to be three elements, as follows:

Red - Fire Yellow - Sun (Day) Blue - Water You could add translucent as Air

Red + Yellow give Orange = Dusk and Dawn (Transition) Red + Blue give Purple = Moon (Night) Blue + Yellow give Green = Earth

Combining Red, Yellow and Blue on the light spectrum gives White (air, light), but in the paint spectrum (theoretically) gives black (but usually just looks brown; absolute darkness, underground).

The first model brings in the metal requirement by combining Fire, Earth and Air, while the second brings in the color orange. Perhaps you can find some way to combine the two models to work for you.

  • Red: Fire, heat (Red + Yellow = magma)

  • Purple: Air

  • Blue: Water, rain (Red + Blue = steam)

  • Green: Plants, life, growth

  • Yellow: Earth, dirt, stone, rocks

  • Orange: Lightning

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