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Posts posted by Confused

  1. I theorize...

    • A Command is a directive for Investiture to do something.
    • Intent determines how Investiture does that something.
    • Adonalsium used the four Commands to create the cosmere from raw Investiture.
    • The four Commands are different aspects of one Command: “Create!”
    • “Change” is the process of creation. A second Command relates to the substance/structure Change acts on. A third defines the cosmere’s operating rules that limit Change’s scope. The fourth Command, which @asmodeus first suggested, grants life – sentience.
    • Shard Intents represent different aspects of each Command.

    What Is a Command?

    Posters point out how Awakening Commands resemble what I’ll call Divine Commands in this paragraph. The power of an Awakening Command largely depends on how well the Awakener visualizes the Command. Adonalsium's omniscience – the “understanding of a deity” – makes his Divine Command so much more powerful and precise than any Awakening Command could be. Yet text suggests the “Change” Command is the Investiture equivalent of between 50 (aura recognition) and 200 (perfect pitch) Breaths. At most Change equates to 600 Breaths (perfect color recognition).

    Relationship Between Commands and Intents

    A Command can direct any Investiture. I believe that Investiture’s Intent determines how the Investiture executes the Command. Example: I think cosmere Change means changing a person or object's Spiritual aspect. To me that involves making, changing, or breaking a person or object’s Connections, or destroying the person/object altogether. I believe Honor, Cultivation, Odium, and Ruin respectively perform those functions.

    Commanding Honor to Change an object will bind the object to something else. Commanding Cultivation to Change an object will transform the object into something else. Commanding Odium to Change an object will break that object’s Connections to something else (IMO). And Commanding Ruin to Change an object will destroy the object. FWIW, coincidentally (and conveniently) Change and these Shards are now all on Roshar in force, Ruin via Nightblood.

    The Four Commands

    “Change” seems sufficient to create by itself if given something to act on. I think Change is the means of creation. Everything new derives from something else, just as Adonalsium changed raw Investiture into the cosmere. Commands like “Join” or “Persist/Endure” or “Destroy” to me are just forms of Change or resistance to it.

    Change acts on some substance or “Structure.” I suggest a second Command might relate to what Adonalsium Changed raw Investiture into – the cosmere’s Investiture/matter/energy matrix made manifest in the Physical Realm. This includes the three Realmic aspects of everything from subatomic particles to planets, stars, and space itself. There’s no necessary reason the cosmere should look like our universe. I speculate it does because Adonalsium “Structures” the cosmere that way.

    A third Command might relate to the cosmere’s operating “Rules. Rules limit Change’s scope. Examples include Realmic interactions, cosmere thermodynamics, and other cosmere physics principles. Perception’s cosmere role may also fall under the Rules rubric.

    I agree with Asmodeus the fourth Command may relate to the grant of “Life/Sentience.” Brandon says one of the Dawnshards is different from the rest. That means the person who holds the Command (the Dawnshard) is different from the other persons who hold Commands. I believe the Life/Sentience Dawnshard is the one who’s different. IMO, granting life is the most godlike of all the Commands. (I think of Michelangelo’s depiction of the divine hand extending towards Adam.) The Life/Sentience Command may require an Ascended being to hold it.

    Do Intents Derive from Commands?

    The Akinah mural hints Shard Intents may derive from the four Commands. I speculate that’s true. Known Shard Intents IMO each seem to represent a different aspect of a Command.

    I show above that Honor, Cultivation, Odium, and Ruin IMO are different aspects of Change – different ways to make Change. I think Preservation is an aspect of Structure. Stasis seems like an important element of Realmic Structure.

    Dominion to me expresses Rules. Sel’s magic users access magic through geographic-based forms. I attribute that to Dominion. It’s as if that Shard says, “Gain dominion over your homeland before you can use its magic.” Brandon likens AonDor’s topography-derived forms to a programming language. The greater the Elantrian’s knowledge of local topography, the more precise their use of AonDor.

    Autonomy and Endowment both grant Life/Sentience, to Avatars and Awakened objects. That leaves Devotion and Ambition among known Shards. Their magic is unclear to me. I believe Devotion involves the free use of Investiture (unconditional Love?) that Dominion’s Rules control the flow of. Maybe Devotion is an aspect of Structure? Ambition’s magic is part of why Threnody’s so spooky, which is all I know about that Shard.

    The Shattering

    Nikli says the future Vessels used the Commands to Shatter Adonalsium. Adonalsium pre-Shattering WAS the cosmere, it’s mind, body, and spirit. The cosmere’s body and spirit (in Changed form) persist post-Shattering. Adonalsium himself – the cosmere’s mind – is dead. I speculate the future Vessels Commanded Change to undo Adonalsium’s Sentience, thus killing him but leaving the cosmere intact. Change and the other Commands then divided Adonalsium into the Shard Intents. Maybe...?


  2. This post recapitulates a recent Discord debate on this topic. In honor of the late Justice Ginsburg, contrarian me dissents from the majority view. The issue concerns the meaning of the WoR Chapter 42 Epigraph:


    But as for Ishi’Elin, his was the part most important at their inception; he readily understood the implications of Surges being granted to men, and caused organization to be thrust upon them; as having too great power, he let it be known that he would destroy each and every one, unless they agreed to be bound by precepts and laws.

    The debate asks these questions:

    • What did Ishar do?
    • Who did he do it to?
    • How and when did the Oaths arise?



    Ishar “thrust organization” upon Surgebinders but did not impose the Oaths. Oaths inhere in each Order’s spren. Surgebinding required five Oaths even before Ishar. Within an Order each Knight and their spren agree on an Oath’s specific wording. “Perception is a big part of the Oaths.” Ishar’s “precepts and laws” were not magical but a set of mundane rules established for the Knights’ and each Order’s self-governance. Ishar threatened to kill any Surgebinder who wouldn’t accept his “precepts and laws.”


    Ishar’s Ashyn experience taught him how dangerous unchecked magical power can be. Recognizing Nahel bondable spren mimic Honorblades, Ishar insisted on an “organization” that mimicked the Oathpact. He created the Orders and imposed the First Oath, “Life Before Death...” (IMO, the Oathpact’s Oath). I think Ishar, perhaps with Shardic help, threatened to “destroy each and every one” to obtain their agreement: First the spren by forcibly breaking their bond while the Surgebinder lived, and then the former Surgebinder. Killing spren stops them bonding someone new. Killing former Surgebinders stops other like-minded spren from attempting to bond them.

    Honor wanted Dalinar to see the Nohadon vision for a reason. Alkavish’s revolt showed Nohadon “not all spren are as discerning as honorspren.” A single Oath’s grant of full power to humans didn’t stop the pre-Desolation carnage. With so few humans left, spren would have to wait many human generations before they could return to the Physical Realm. Nohadon may have been a Bondsmith. Perhaps with Shardic help and “Way of Kings” inspiration, Nohadon persuaded each spren Order to add four unique Oaths and permanently change the bond. Spren might willingly accept Nohadon’s solution to avoid another spren-wide catastrophe. Five Oaths incrementally ratchet up the Knight’s power as the Knight, through epiphany and self-scrutiny, attains each ideal. Oaths mark that ideal’s attainment. Incremental power growth minimizes the damage a traitorous Knight can do.



    What Did Ishar Do?

    Ishar did not impose Oaths. Oaths don’t create “organization.” Even within an Order each Knight and their spren agree on their own version of the Oath “though the concept is the same.”

    Malata proves Oaths don’t constrain Knight behavior. Malata and Spark agree she made proper Oaths and is deservedly Radiant. Yet she and Spark spy on Dalinar and the other Knights and actively sabotage their plans. To quote one Discord post, “the Oaths don't stop people from misusing their powers, so long as they can justify it and the spren agree.”

    If Oaths don’t “organize” Surgebinders, Ishar’s “precepts and laws” must involve some non-magical change. Consensus believes Ishar created the rules for the Knights Radiant and each Order’s self-governance. They cite the Knights’ execution of Kazilah as an example of those rules’ enforcement (WoR Chapter 51 Epigraph).

    Consensus also argues even a powerful Bondsmith like Ishar can’t change a magic system. They believe imposing Oaths changes Surgebinding. Shards themselves don’t actively create magic systems. Magic systems are the unplanned result of Shard Investiture in a planet. Except for Leras and Sazed, we don’t know any Shards that changed a magic system. How can a non-Shard make these changes?

    Who Did Ishar Do It To?

    Consensus reads the WoR Chapter 42 Epigraph (quoted at the top) to mean that Ishar organized and imposed his precepts and laws solely on the human Surgebinders and threatened only them with death.

    How and When Did the Oaths Arise?

    Consensus believes Oaths arise from the nature of each spren Order. They cite the diversity of Oaths among spren Orders as evidence. The variability of Oath wording within an Order further proves that Oaths arise from the spren themselves. Consensus believes Surgebinding required five Oaths even before Ishar.


    What Did Ishar Do?

    I believe Nahel bondable spren evolved as personifications of the Heralds’ Divine Attributes. They are attracted to humans who manifest the Primary Divine Attribute. Oaths mark the Knight’s progress to the Secondary Divine Attribute. At the Fifth Oath, the Knight and their spren merge Spiritual aspects and the Knight now personifies their spren’s Divine Attributes.

    I agree with Consensus that

    • All Oaths arise from the nature of Nahel bondable spren.
    • Spren grant power to anyone who fulfills their Oaths. Spark grants Malata power because she is Brave. He chose her from among other Brave people because she too wants to settle grudges. Malata will progress through her Oaths as she gains insight into the Dustbringer Divine Attributes of Brave and Obedient. Nothing about that process mandates who Malata should be Brave for or Obedient to.
    • Shards don’t intentionally create magic systems.

    IMO, these points of agreement don’t compel Consensus’ conclusions. Oaths are natural to Nahel spren because they grow directly from the Divine Attributes the spren personifies. That doesn’t make Oaths a necessary part of the Nahel bond.

    Syl and Kaladin show Oaths are not necessary to form an incipient bond, at least for honorspren. She grants Kaladin power before he vows the First Oath at the Tower. Other Orders differ on when to grant power. Syl and Kaladin, IMO, prove Oaths regulate power but are not necessary to enter a bond and grant power.

    No wonder seeing human Surgebinders scared Ishar. Unregulated, unorganized full Radiants without any understanding of their powers or the deeper meaning of their ideals? Ishar rightly feared Rosharan Apocalypse. I believe Ishar organized the Orders and imposed the First Oath but not the others.

    Who Did Ishar Do It To?

    I believe Ishar threatened spren, not mortal Surgebinders. Spren initiate the Nahel bond. Killing mortals wouldn’t stop spren from trying to bond other mortals through whom to experience the Physical Realm. To end human Surgebinding altogether, Ishar needed to break each spren’s bond while their Surgebinder was still alive. He probably also killed the human Surgebinder after the bond breaks to stop them attracting another spren. Faced with eternal mindlessness and mortal death, spren and Surgebinder agreed to accept Ishar’s Oath.

    Consensus claims Ishar’s Oath changes Surgebinding. They believe only a Shard can change a magic system, and Ishar is no Shard despite his godly ambitions. IIRC, we have no evidence a powerful magic user like Ishar can’t change a magic system. Adding the First Oath as an Initiation condition seems slight compared to Sazed’s Spiritual changes to snapping. Bondsmiths Connect things. The first and (until Dalinar?) most powerful Bondsmith should have some say in the Nahel bonds’ terms. Spren capitulation shows they thought Ishar could break a Nahel bond.

    If Ishar’s own power was insufficient to the task, Honor could have given Ishar what he lacked. The Stormfather says Honor shared Ishar’s fears. Notum hints Tanavast’s death makes spren less trustworthy, as if Tanavast himself enforced spren compliance.

    How and When Did the Oaths Arise?

    I think Ishar imposed the generic First Oath when Surgebinders began to appear. IMO, the Order-specific Oaths followed Alkavish’s revolt. Like Ishar before him, Nohadon somehow secured spren agreement to change the terms of the Nahel bond. The spren themselves were likely appalled at the human losses. Too many spren lost the human bond that Connected them to the Physical Realm. With so few humans left, spren would have to wait many human generations before they could return to the Physical Realm. Spren might willingly accept Nohadon’s solution to avoid another spren-wide catastrophe. Nohadon’s Way of Kings outlines each Order’s ideals. Perhaps that and Shardic mediation inspired spren compliance.


    There’s the debate. Now vote...


  3. A recent Discord discussion about the possible Shard Prudence prompts this post. Brandon said in October 2019 that “Prudence sounds an awful lot like a Shard name. That's some excellent theorizing there.” Prudence is not “Wisdom” or “Ingenuity,” other possible Shards whose names may even have been changed to Prudence. (To me, prudence is an aspect of wisdom, and ingenuity is something else altogether.) This post assumes Brandon settles on Prudence for its specific meaning.

    What kind of magic would Prudence offer? Ruin (entropy), Preservation (stasis), and Honor (voluntary bonds between people) provide the templates. Each name is an apt metaphor for the Shard’s underlying magic. Let’s start, then, with the dictionary definitions of prudence:


    1: the ability to govern and discipline oneself by the use of reason

    2: sagacity or shrewdness in the management of affairs

    3: skill and good judgment in the use of resources

    4: caution or circumspection as to danger or risk

    [Merriam-Webster online definition.]

    Based on those definitions, we might style Prudence the “risk management” Shard. My speculations:

    1. Magic users must exercise self-discipline as part of their Initiation. Balance and judgment will be key Cognitive components of the magic.

    2. Prudence’s magic users must carefully manage their resources to use the magic effectively.

    3. Prudence’s magic will be efficient, with little leakage and a high output-to-input ratio.

    4. Prudence’s magic will involve the “accumulation of small advantages.” I envision a magic that builds on itself, turning each earned advantage into a better one.

    As metaphor, I see Prudence as a conservative blue chip banker, measuring the risks of taking action against the costs of the action. I contrast this with Endowment, whom I see as the “angel investor” that funds the fledgling Breaths market.

    More on Shard Intents


    Brandon says all Shards are a mix of their “primal force/fundamental law/something natural” and a “cultural component.” In this post I avoid that distinction, focusing instead on a more general understanding of Prudence’s magic. But I do wonder what scientific principle Prudence metaphorizes. I welcome your suggestions.

    I also wonder why everyone seems to ignore Brandon’s distinction between primal force and cultural interpretation. This absence of commentary befuddles me. Why is Shard duality such an unappealing topic? Why does everyone prefer focusing on Shard names and not what the Shards actually do?

    I remain Confused...



  4. Thanks, @Ubeka, for your kind words! Though the “pathways to power” concept is speculative, I believe there’s something to it. I’m just uncertain how far it extends and in what contexts.

    My theory analogizes pathways to “inter-Realmic power lines,” but that description misleads. Mechanically, kinetic Investiture runs through the Spiritual aspects of metal, EMR and water to the magic user’s Spiritual aspect. All magic happens in the Spiritual Realm. Mortals perceive the Physical Realm results of magically reprogramming reality. With that understanding, I will continue to use my inter-Realmic analogy/metaphor.

    As you asked, here are my “thoughts on these discrepancies” you note.

    On 5/14/2020 at 3:56 AM, Ubeka said:

    You theorize metal is Hemalurgy's pathway to power - however, I think this is conflating your own pathway concept with the focus.

    First, each Shard has a pathway to power, not each magic system. A pathway is a substance that delivers a Shard’s kinetic Investiture anywhere in the Physical and/or Cognitive Realms regardless of the Intended magical effect. Focuses OTOH arise from the interactions of a planet and its culture with the Shard that Invests that planet. Focuses shape the magic to cause some Intended magical effect. Some Focuses exist solely as mental commands. Pathways are hoses; Focuses are “nozzles.”

    You seem to believe once a Shard Invests a planet the Focus that develops there applies everywhere: “The effects and focus are decided by the planet the magic originated on....” This common theory doesn’t explain how Ruin Invests Nightblood. Nightblood is made from steel, yet that steel doesn’t Focus any Allomantic, Feruchemical, or Hemalurgic abilities (Steelpushing, physical speed, and theft of physical Allomantic abilities).

    The Metallic Arts seem the only magic systems in which Shard pathways and planetary Focuses coincide. “Color” (IMO, Investiture-carrying photons) is Endowment’s pathway to power. Yet Awakening’s Focus is visualized commands, not color or photons. Khriss confirms Autonomy forges a Cognitive bond between Sand Master and microflora through water, but I believe Sand Mastery’s Focus is a visualized command the Master sends down this water pathway to shape the microflora’s growth.

    I agree not all pathways to power work the same way, just as Focuses differ. As you point out, Ruin magic users do not consume metal like Allomancers do. But IMO a substance that carries all of a Shard’s kinetic Investiture (a pathway) differs from something that shapes Investiture into a single magical effect (a Focus).

    On 5/14/2020 at 3:56 AM, Ubeka said:

    Clearly, what metal the spike is made of influences what can be stolen or transferred - but so does the hemalurgic bind point.... Perhaps blood? There is the reference that Hemalurgy owes its very name to requiring the flow of blood past the spikes - and perhaps this is where the pathway to power is actually hidden.

    Bind points matter for Hemalurgy (and maybe other magic systems), but they are not Ruin’s pathway to power. Bind points dictate spike placement, but the Investiture that transfers sDNA flows through the metal.

    Blood slows Hemalurgical decay and is in some way necessary for an effective attribute transfer. But Ruin Invests Nightblood without blood; and Feruchemy likewise is bloodless. Hemalurgy may need blood, but Ruin doesn’t.

    On 5/14/2020 at 3:56 AM, Ubeka said:

    A similar argument can be made for Surgebinding and its proposed pathway of bonds. Where are these bonds consumed? Also the proposed pathway here is not what provides the Investiture necessary to perform Surgebinding. The Investiture is already available from Stormlight and needs only be breathed in. Now, perhaps the "pathway" is somewhere in that breathing in moment or perhaps just in gems and spheres being able to store stormlight. These are some options I could see.

    To review my theory’s elements:

    1. Each Shard is a unique primal force/fundamental law/something natural combined with personality/culture.

    2. Magic users access a Shard’s Investiture through that Shard’s unique primal force.

    3. Once “released,” each Shard’s Investiture travels some pathway to the magic user or an object the magic user wishes to Invest.

    Bonds are Honor’s primal force, not Honor’s pathway. Surgebinders access Honor’s magic through the Nahel bond. I don’t know what Honor’s pathway is, though I speculate “Honor” would use some Cognitive pathway for its Investiture.

    On 5/14/2020 at 3:56 AM, Ubeka said:

    I may have missed it but I think a magic user's actual position in the cosmere is relatively unimportant for how their magic works. The effects and focus are decided by the planet the magic originated on - but the pathway, as I understood it, is defined by the correlating Shard and its Spin. Except for Selish magics (and perhaps Surgebinding cause you can't really get Spren off-world as far as we know), this, to me, does not imply that a magic user shouldn't be able to access and work their abilities off-world, so long as they can get Investiture as fuel. Allomancy and Awakening were shown to work just fine off-Scadrial/Nalthis.

    Shard “spin” IMO relates to a Shard’s primal force and not its pathway. Spin (like entropy, stasis, and bonds) is unique to a Shard. Some Shards share pathways like I believe Ruin and Preservation share metal. Regardless, pathways seem unrelated to planets. I agree PR location doesn’t generally matter except on Sel.

    @A Radiant In Shiny ArmorBrandon does state color is fundamental to the cosmere. But he also says he’s not changing Awakening to make specific hues relevant. Color may be a “Spiritual attribute,” but its importance to Soulcasting (where hue matters) differs from its importance to Awakening (where hue doesn’t matter).

    On 5/18/2020 at 9:36 AM, spaidapig said:

    My main problem with that would be, that awakening can be performed everywhere in the cosmere, even the cognitive realm. That would mean, Endowments invested photons are everywhere in the cosmere, and not limited to [Nalthis].

    Check out this thread where I go further into Awakening. Yes, Awakening can be performed everywhere in the cosmere; and Awakeners can use any Investiture to program Breaths for animation. But IMO that Investiture must be in quantum form to travel Endowment’s EMR pathway. Stormlight, for example, must be quantized before Vasher can use it. I believe he drains gemstones of their color to access Investiture. Breaths are indivisible quanta of Endowment’s Investiture that IMO can only process Investiture in quantum form. I believe Endowment's primal force – how that Shard gives access to its Investiture – is quantum physics.

    On 5/18/2020 at 9:36 AM, spaidapig said:

    I believe that it is in fact the sand, more precisely the microbes in the Sand that are invested. I think this is similar to the invested worms on Patji on First of the Sun. The only difference is the way these organisms gather Investiture. On FotS I think it had to do with lake on Patji that acts like a Perpendicularity in some way. On Taldain it is in fact the Sun that provides the Investiture. Iirc the Taldain System was designed by Automony as it is.

    To back up my believe concerning Taldain I can only bring up the Sandlings that seem to feed of invested sand to survive without water (It seems to me this works just the other way round like Lifts ability to create Investiture from food.

    Lifeforms do live off Investiture; and Taldain’s Dayside sun does Invest the sand’s microflora. Any Investiture (not just Autonomy’s) will turn the microflora white. Add water to the microflora, they grow explosively. These phenomena (IMO) are part of Taldain’s pre-Shattering ecology.

    Brandon says, however, these phenomena “are not really using the magic, it's just charging it with other Investiture.” Khriss describes “the magic” as the ability to control microflora growth to shape the sand. This control comes through an Investiture-created Cognitive bond forged through water. (AU, “The Taldain System,” Kindle p. 369.)

    Thanks again to all for the questions. Regards! C.


  5. Thank you all for an excellent discussion! Especial thanks to @Brgst13 for providing a step-by-step quantum explanation for how Nalthis objects absorb Investiture (and for agreeing with me!) Electrons like photons are subatomic particles, the subject of quantum physics.

    On 4/21/2020 at 0:53 PM, RShara said:

    I'm positive that color would be drained from something that had never been exposed to EMR at all.

    RShara, I agree with this. My theory posits EMR is Endowment’s Investiture carrier, like metal is for Preservation and water is for Autonomy. EMR can carry any Shard’s Investiture as Awakening’s fuel if that Investiture is in quantum form. I think Breaths (Endowment’s quanta) can only process that Investiture in quantum form. Awakening drains “color” cosmere-wide IMO because Awakeners pull Investiture from an object along this EMR pathway. It is the same mechanic as burning metals and dehydrating, both of which also pull Investiture into a magic user.

    Among known planets, “EMR exposure” only explains Nalthis’ and Taldain’s Investiture. I speculate Nalthis’ sun spews Investiture because I can’t find another ambient Investiture source available both on Susebron’s rooftop and in Vasher’s cloak. Not much evidence, but there it is.

    On 4/20/2020 at 3:58 PM, Master_Moridin said:

    This is not how this works. Photons do not continue to exist within a thing. They cease to exist as their energy is transferred to electrons/atoms.

    Master_Moridin, agreed. My point is that the energy (Investiture) transfers into the object through absorbed photons, not the ones that bounce off. That’s why “color” can’t be fuel. You and Brgst13 explain that process well.

    On 4/20/2020 at 11:29 PM, R J said:

    It does take colour

    RJ, I’ve always read that WoB as referring to the Heightenings. Each Breath lost or gained affects a holder’s color. Divine Breath loss should have the same effect. And thank you and @Subvisual Haze for recognizing how black’s Awakening superiority over white favors my theory!

    Thermodynamics Challenge

    Alas, no one took the challenge. I'm curious how many people share the Discord view that diminishes thermodynamics’ role in magic systems. FWIW, here’s how I read the WoB I quote in the OP.

    WoB’s Backdrop: Cosmere thermodynamics first law says the sum of energy, matter, and Investiture is constant (assuming a closed system). Matter, energy, and Investiture cannot be created or destroyed but merely change form into one another.

    My Interpretation: Even “end-neutral” Feruchemy really isn’t end-neutral. It requires external Investiture to “facilitate the magic.” I read this to mean external investiture runs Feruchemy’s “operating system.” Without that facilitating Investiture, some of the Investiture created from attribute conversion would have to be diverted to “facilitate” Feruchemy.

    Here’s what I consider the most relevant passages, which say the same thing:


    even what they call end-neutral is relying a little bit on the power of Investiture to facilitate. So even an end-neutral magic system as they define it on Scadrial is actually not end-neutral. What you get put in you get out, but the power is facilitating that transfer….

    Feruchemy, you are putting Investiture in from your own body, it's your energy transferring to Investiture, which is being stored, which you are then drawing out, and things like that. But that changing forms is facilitated by the magic.

    Brandon acknowledges end-neutral Feruchemy needs external Investiture. That argues strongly in favor of thermodynamics’ cosmere importance. To make this point Brandon overrides the earlier WoB that coins the end-neutral concept.

    Brandon elsewhere describes Investiture as his "get out" for thermodynamics, the thing that allows the cosmere to break our universe's thermodynamic rules. He does sometimes break the cosmere's version of those rules, as with speed bubbles and FTL. Flawed or not, thermodynamics IMO is the essential guide to magic system mechanics that theorists ignore at their peril.


  6. Quote

    The way magic from Nalthis works, for example, the system is just looking for any available Investiture to power itself--and so basically anything will do, regardless of the source. This includes consuming your own soul, in some cases... [General Reddit (April 25, 2019).]

    Despite Brandon’s statement, I find no obvious Nalthian Investiture source to fuel Awakening. Please help me solve this mystery.


    I see Awakening’s color drain the same as Allomancy’s metal burning and Sand Mastery’s dehydration. Magic lasts in those systems only while color, metal, and water last. Yet none of these substances is Investiture or otherwise serves as the magic system’s fuel. I view color (electromagnetic radiation really), metal, and water as the kinetic Investiture carriers for their respective Shards, substances that transport kinetic Investiture to magic users.

    Here are Nalthian Awakening’s fuel possibilities:

    Color as “Spiritual Attribute

    Many believe color is a “Spiritual attribute.” I agree, but that doesn’t tell us how color could act as fuel. Most (all?) Spiritual attributes are Connections. A Spiritual aspect is raw Investiture mixed with Connections. Connections IMO carry the data that turns raw Investiture into a unique lifeform or object. An object’s color is unique data like its weight and dimensions. Because Connections are not Investiture, I think color couldn’t fuel Awakening even if color is a Spiritual attribute.

    Specific colors are magically significant in the cosmere. Color affects Soulcasting, for example. But Brandon says in that WoB, “I didn't work that into the Warbreaker magic,” and he chooses not to “retcon the magic.” He confirms specific colors don’t matter for Awakening in this 2019 WoB.


    @RShara opines an object’s “pigment” is fuel. Pigments are substances that selectively absorb visible light wavelengths. Selective absorption causes the object to reflect the other wavelengths, which our eyes perceive as color. RShara says breaking the pigment’s bonds yields the energy Awakening needs.

    This is a neat solution, but I have questions. What happens to the object’s Spiritual aspect when those Physical Realm bonds break? Why and how does that fuel Awakening? In our world, to break molecular bonds requires external energy; otherwise, stable molecules like pigments remain intact. What supplies this external energy in the cosmere?

    How does Awakening work if the object holds no pigment? Pigments are separate molecules from the objects they color. Brandon says an Awakener can drain color from gemstones. Gemstone color depends on internal impurities that affect light absorption, not pigments. How is that consistent with the pigment theory? If an Awakener can drain color from an object without pigment, then pigment’s bonds seem unnecessary as fuel.

    Something Else

    Because of my questions, I look elsewhere for Nalthian Investiture. No obvious source jumps out at me. Breath can be used as fuel but generally isn’t. Dyes made from the Tears of Edgli are best for Awakening and contain Endowment’s Investiture. But Awakeners can Awaken from other color sources too.

    That leads me to ask, Why does Awakening drain color? Color is the perception of reflected light. Objects absorb the other light wavelengths in the form of photons. Absorbed photons – the ones that don’t give off color – are all that’s left in the object. Why should draining the absorbed photons turn an object gray when the absorbed photons are not responsible for color?

    Best Guess

    My best guess: Draining those photons drains Investiture the photons hold. Like a Shardblade severs a limb from its Spiritual aspect and turns the limb gray, draining Investiture-laden photons IMO causes the object to turn gray. Endowment Investiture “sticks” to the object that absorbs the photons. My limited imagination can’t see another explanation that both grays an object and sources Investiture.

    The following vague WoB supports the possibility but with caveats. “A connection” can mean most anything. It’s also unclear which “two things” from among drained objects, Shardblades, and gemstone color Brandon refers to. Here’s the WoB despite these flaws:



    Objects used for awakening turn gray. A limb cut with a shardblade turns gray. You mentioned earlier in this thread that the color of gemstones on Roshar is important. Is there a connection between these?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Between those two things? Yes.

    /r/books AMA 2015 (July 3, 2015)

    Investiture Source?

    Where might Investiture-laden photons come from? As quanta of electromagnetic radiation (EMR), the Invested photons’ most likely source is Nalthis’ sun. On Taldain, Autonomy’s Investiture “beats down” from its sun onto that planet. Nalthis’ sun could function similarly. I speculate Nalthis’ sun has always radiated Investiture onto Nalthis as part of that planet’s pre-Shattering ambient Investiture cycle.

    I do not suggest the sun’s Investiture necessarily comes from Endowment. It might be Autonomy’s or some other Shard’s Investiture. I think Awakening can use any Investiture as fuel IF the Investiture is in a form Breaths can process (discussed below). Breath holders can theoretically Awaken objects on any planet. But on Nalthis, Investiture stuck to the photons an object absorbs is the only fuel I can find that relates to color draining.

    Awakening on Roshar

    Comparing Nalthian with Rosharan Awakening is instructive despite how inconclusive the relevant WoBs are. It’s hard to know if Brandon means Stormlight can substitute as Awakening’s fuel or substitute for Breaths.

    When asked, “could you fuel Awakening using Stormlight, or do you have to bring Breaths?,” Brandon answered, “Yes, you could.... there are tricks to making it happen on each world. Some are easier than others, but yes you can.” [Calamity Release Party (Feb. 16, 2016).] Since the questioner asked if you can fuel Awakening with Stormlight, I believe Brandon assumes the Awakener has Breath, though that’s unclear. [Hint: Don’t ask Brandon compound questions! We can’t tell what “yes” means.]

    Brandon also says, “You can make a Returned feed off of Stormlight very easily. You can't use Stormlight to power Awakening very easily, but if you still have those Breaths, you can use them and reclaim them.” [Starsight Release Party (Nov 26, 2019).] This also sounds like Stormlight can fuel Awakening “if you still have those Breaths.”

    And Brandon says you can convert Stormlight into Breath by “Refining the power somehow into a more pure form.” [General Reddit (April 25, 2019).] Neither Hoid nor Vivenna knows how to do this, “so it’s not like a simple thing to achieve.”

    With limited confidence, I interpret these WoBs to mean Rosharan Awakeners need Breaths to Awaken. Otherwise a Rosharan Awakener would have to convert Stormlight into Breaths, which no one knows how to do yet. That suggests, for now, Rosharan Awakening relies on Breaths and some Rosharan fuel. 

    Rosharan Fuel for Awakening

    I see two possible Rosharan fuels for Awakening: Stormlight and gemhearts. Brandon says here, here and here that Awakening drains Rosharan gemstones of color and ruins their Soulcasting properties. Gemhearts are made from Investiture leaking into the Physical Realm. That supports but doesn’t prove that Awakening drains Investiture, not color. When @RShara asks, can you Awaken using an underground gemstone that’s never been exposed to light and doesn’t hold Stormlight, the answer is “Yes,” if that gemstone is made from a gemheart.

    The more interesting question is whether mined gemstones can substitute. Most gemstones come from gemhearts: “Some are mined. Mining is not easy on Roshar.” Mined gemstones are “very similar. Not 100% chemically identical” to gemhearts because they contain more mineral impurities. Brandon hasn't said whether Rosharan Awakeners can use mined or artificial gems as color sources (though the latter can be used for fabrials). I believe if the gemstone holds Stormlight the Awakener could remove that Investiture to fuel Awakening, which will drain the gemstone's color.

    Endowment’s Magic

    Brandon (IMO) says Shards grant magic users access to Investiture through the Shard’s unique “primal force/fundamental law/something natural.” Ruin magic users Intend an act of entropy (spiking, converting attributes into Investiture, destroying evil). Windrunners Intend a bond to change gravity’s vector (lashing). I believe Endowment gives Awakeners access to Investiture through quanta.

    Breaths are quanta of Endowment’s Investiture. The Heightenings are the quantization of Breaths, since Breaths vary due to age, illness, and other factors. Photons are quanta of electromagnetic radiation (EMR), which includes visible light. Endowment IMO gives Awakeners access to Investiture through quanta (Breaths), fueled by any Investiture carried in quantum form.

    Conclusion: Breath Can Use Any Quantized Fuel

    This post’s opening WoB says Awakening “is just looking for any available Investiture to power itself.” I don’t think Awakeners can use Investiture in any form. A Rosharan Awakener cannot simply inhale Stormlight and Awaken an object with that fuel even if they do hold Breaths. The reason IMO is Endowment’s “quantum” primal force.

    I think Breaths need to process Investiture in quantum form. Like metal and water carry their Shard’s kinetic Investiture, I believe photons carry Endowment’s kinetic investiture. You can Awaken anywhere in the cosmere with any Investiture, but you must access that Investiture by draining the “color” from an Invested object. That Investiture reaches the Awakener down an EMR pathway. I speculate on Nalthis that Investiture radiates from its sun, like on Taldain.

    And for those who think draining “color” by itself suffices to fuel Awakening, this “Poster Challenge” is for you.


    Folks on Discord surprised me the other day by rejecting the idea cosmere thermodynamics helps explain magic. They feel cosmere thermodynamics itself is broken or has so many exceptions as to limit its value as an analytical tool. Many think Awakening and other magic systems don’t need fuel and don’t have to comply with thermodynamics’ rules. They accept magical solutions that I think involve too much “hand wavium.”

    I therefore offer this POSTER CHALLENGE: Read this WoB carefully and summarize its main conclusion. What do YOU think Brandon says here? Thanks for playing!



    So for the Old Magic, in this classification system of end-positive, end-neutral, and end-negative, where would that fall under?

    Brandon Sanderson

    So, almost every magic in the cosmere is end-positive, almost every magic is relying upon an external source of Investiture to power it. So that phrasing is mostly more relevant to Scadrial than anywhere else, because that concept is how I'm dealing with things like the laws of thermodynamics, and even what they call end-neutral is relying a little bit on the power of Investiture to facilitate. So even an end-neutral magic system as they define it on Scadrial is actually not end-neutral. What you get put in you get out, but the power is facilitating that transfer… So that phrasing is kind of a... Take that as a science on.. Scadrial that does not extrapolate well, and may not even be 100% accurate.


    That would have been a great thing to know before we did the cosmere magic panel. *laughter*

    Brandon Sanderson

    I look at it as, is an Investiture externally powering the magic, and if you look at Allomancy, yes it is. You are drawing that power out. Feruchemy, you are putting Investiture in from your own body, it's your energy transferring to Investiture, which is being stored, which you are then drawing out, and things like that. But that changing forms is facilitated by the magic. Whereas you're stealing stuff with-- So you could look, for instance at the magic on Nalthis, you could look at that one as being-- as kind of working as end-negative, meaning "I am taking it away from someone else", or end-positive depending on if you're the one receiving it or not. So again, it's a phrasing that can be useful as a tool but doesn't scale well to the other magics.

    JordanCon 2016 (April 23, 2016)

    And for my Discord friends, I offer this quote:


    You may know that there is a unifying theory of magic for all of my worlds--a behind-the-scenes rationale. Like a lot of people believe there's unifying theory of physics, I have a unifying theory of magic that I try to work within in order to build my worlds. As an armchair scientist, believing in a unifying theory helps me.

    [FAQFriday (August 25, 2017).]

    Brandon violates his own rules more often than one would like. But those rules exist and IMHO should guide the development of our magic system theories. All the best! C.


  7. On 4/11/2020 at 8:40 PM, Dreamer said:

    @Confused, you believe Taldain's water cycle is involved in its Investiture cycle? I didn't manage to follow your flow of thought. Though, that's an elegant solution to the Autonomy Invested the sun vs Taldain's atmosphere debate, and a possible explanation for the faces in the clouds

    I think Nalthis' Investiture cycle functions well as Breaths keep getting transferred or going back to Endowment (or seeping into the Earth, possibly helping the Tears of Edgli to grow?). I don't see how light is involved here.

    Thanks, @Dreamer, for the kind words. To be clear, I describe pre-Shattering Investiture cycles that IMO largely remain in place. These pre-Shattering cycles circulate a planet’s ambient Investiture and are part of the planetary ecosystem. Breaths and the Tears arose post-Shattering. Breaths recycle as Nalthians are born and die. The Tears’ Investiture recycles through the Tears, Endowment’s perpendicularity.

    My preceding post speculates, “Nalthis’ sun always radiated Investiture onto that planet” as part of its Investiture cycle. Solar radiation is the EMR part. I don’t identify the radiated Investiture as Endowment’s and I don’t think it matters which Shard’s it is. Awakening can use any Investiture as fuel on any planet.

    My focus instead has been on EMR as Endowment’s energy carrier. EMR is to Endowment what metal is to Preservation and water (IMO) is to Autonomy. These substances each bring Investiture to their Shard’s magic users. Breath has to process Awakening's Investiture. IMO, the Investiture must first be quantized before photons can carry them. Rosharan Awakeners can’t simply inhale Stormlight. They must drain the gemstone’s color to capture the Stormlight. Stormlight moves along an EMR pathway to the Awakener.

    The commonality between Breaths and photons is that both are quanta. I believe Endowment is the “quantum” Shard, the way Ruin is entropy and Honor is bonds. Endowment gives the ability to Awaken through quanta (Breaths) and fuels that ability through quanta (Investiture-laden photons). FWIW, I think Nightblood is so destructive (in part) because he disassembles matter into its subatomic particles (quanta). Poof!

    @Eternal Khol, the most maddening part of cosmere theorizing is Brandon’s inconsistency. I interpret the 2015 WoB to say microkinesis is a post-Shattering magic. The transcript itself can be read either way, but the WoB’s recording includes more dialogue. The questioner assumes Dragonsteel takes place after the Shattering and that microkinesis is a post-Shattering magic system. Brandon corrects him to make clear microkinesis is possible, but not at the time of Dragonsteel. That’s how I hear it anyway.

    The 2016 WoB says nothing of when such a magic system existed or might exist, only that it was one of the first systems Brandon conceived and is still canon. I interpret “canon” to mean the system still fits Brandon’s cosmere rules. I don’t think he’s trotted that system out yet.

    There’s also this WoB that references the cosmere term for atom as “coming from one of the original magics used on Yolen pre-Shattering.” A magic that manipulates atoms can take many forms including Yolen Lightweaving. I’m unsure we can conclude much from that WoB. I mention it for completeness’ sake.

    Having said all that, we’re left with uncertainty. You think there were pre-Shattering perpendicularities (other than Adonalsium’s). I don’t but acknowledge the possibility. I prefer Brandon’s two thoughtful, unambiguous WoBs about pre- vs. post-Shattering magic systems over ones that seem more off-the-cuff and confusing. But who knows. Regardless, I still believe my association of perpendicularities with magic systems and Major Shardworlds is correct even if small exceptions may exist here or there.

    I am curious on one point: Do you deliberately distinguish between “people with magic” and “humans with magic” systems? As you know, Brandon defines “people” as any sapient entity. They don’t have to be human. Do you think the dragons and Sho Del had pre-Shattering magic systems like the human post-Shattering types?

    Finally, FWIW and without meaning to be patronizing, I’d like to praise you two. You always have interesting things to say and think them through. I appreciate your good questions and analysis. I’ve changed many theories on my journey to solving the cosmere puzzle. Folks like you make me refine and focus my approaches. I just wanted to say, “Thanks!”


  8. @Eternal Khol, I know there were magic systems before the Shattering. But they were a different kind of system, involving interactions with nature:



    What differentiates a minor Shardworld like First of the Sun?

    Brandon Sanderson

    The amount of Investiture, and whether there is actually a Shard in presence.


    I'm assuming there is not one there?

    Brandon Sanderson

    There is not one there.


    So it's like a Splintered one from something else?

    Brandon Sanderson

    No what you'll find is that the worlds were all created with a level of-- a little bit of sort of ambient magic. What you'll find in worlds like that is things like, Shadows for Silence and things like this, the magic, it's not necessarily "people with magic" it's you can interact with nature...


    So there is inherent Investiture...

    Brandon Sanderson

    There is inherent investiture in every world created but you are going to see-- You aren't going to find Mistborn on a world like that but what you might find is a way there are magic aspects to the setting. Spren could exist on a world like that but they would be like the minor spren, you wouldn't find Syl, but you would find something like lifespren.

    Salt Lake City Comic-Con 2014 (Sept. 4, 2014)

    Brandon later confirmed this distinction in the WoB about assigned Investiture, Autonomy, and their Avatars, excerpted for relevance:


    I still consider one of the major dividing lines between "major" and "minor" Shardworlds (other than Shard residence) to be in strength of access to the magic, and control over it. I intend the minor Shardworlds to involve interactions with the magic as setting--coming back to spren, you could have a minor Shardworld with people who use, befriend, even bond spren. (Or the local equivalent--Seon, Aviar, etc.) But you'd never see power on the level of the city of Elantris, the actions of a Bondsmith, or even the broad power suite of a Mistborn.


    I read these WoBs to mean people pre-Shattering could interact with magical settings. Yolen Lightweaving, for example, allows Hoid to create realistic and captivating illusions. His illusions cannot create a new audiovisual identity that sticks to him. (He has other ways of doing that.) Pre-Shattering magic does not give people access to large enough amounts of Investiture for Hoid’s Lightweaving (pre-Cryptic) to emulate Shallan’s.

    Shards created “people with magic” systems when they massively Invested planets. We agree the perpendicularity “is nothing compared to the actual shard who powers the magic.” But perpendicularities show where Shards placed their massive Investiture concentrations. That’s why I associate “people with magic” systems with perpendicularities.

    Examples of each magic system type on the Major Shardworlds:

    “Interactions with Nature” (my best guess)

    Nalthis - Heightenings
    Roshar – Pre-Shattering ecosystem; “Old Magic” (through Nightwatcher)
    Scadrial – Mists
    Sel – Don’t know enough
    First of the Sun - Aviar
    Taldain – Darkside magic (IMO)

    “People with Magic”

    Nalthis – Awakening
    Roshar – Surgebinding, Voidbinding, Fabrials
    Scadrial – Allomancy, Feruchemy, Hemalurgy
    Sel – AonDor, Bloodsealing, Dakhor Dor, Forgery
    First of the Sun - None
    Taldain – Sand Mastery

    On 4/10/2020 at 6:55 PM, Dreamer said:

    I think Autonomy does not limit herself to one part of the spectrum. She definitely uses visible light since that's the part that plants (assuming including Dayside ones, in particular the microscopic ones on constituting White Sand) need, UV seems to be integral to Darkside, infrared probably as well since that's the light that can travel the furthest which might be of importance in the space age.

    Endowment's Investiture is Breath, Khriss refers to it as such, it fits her Intent.

    Even if Autonomy does Invest the full spectrum, they might still choose to concentrate their Investiture in the infrared frequencies. Based on text, WoB, and logic, I believe Autonomy distributes Investiture through heat. The microflora can gain that Investiture through heat just as easily as light. Khriss says Autonomy's Investiture "beats down" on Taldain. An Internet search found multiple references to "heat beating down" but none to light.

    Khriss says Darkside’s UV light emanates from Darkside’s white dwarf star: “The ultraviolet light that shines through the [particulate] ring causes a certain reflective luminescence in much of the plant and animal life.” (AU, “The Taldain System,” Kindle p. 369.) I don’t think that star is the source of Darkside’s Investiture. I believe instead it flows from Autonomy, distributed to Darkside through Taldain’s water cycle.

    Of course Endowment’s Investiture is Breath. But Breath may not be her Investiture’s only manifestation, just as honorspren and Stormlight both manifest Honor’s Investiture. Even if Nalthis’ sun Invests photons with, say, Autonomy’s assigned Investiture, Awakening can still use that for fuel. Endowment’s magic IMO uses quanta – Breaths and photons. I believe Awakening can use any Investiture in quantum form that photons can carry. Hence the need to “drain color.”

    FWIW, I believe all planets have their own Investiture cycle, some means to circulate their inherent Investiture. IMO: Roshar’s highstorms always blew Investiture. Taldain’s Dayside sun always radiated Investiture onto Dayside, circulated through Taldain’s water cycle. Nalthis’ sun always radiated Investiture onto that planet. I suspect the Vessels chose their Shardworlds knowing how their Shards would fit in there and the changes they could make.


  9. Pre-Shattering Perpendicularities

    On 4/2/2020 at 8:51 PM, Eternal Khol said:

    I think they had to have existed pre-shattering too. As there were worldhoppers back then.

    I can see this going either way. Your cited WoB makes clear Worldhopping may not have happened pre-Shattering (“it’s possible...I don’t know if there [were]”) and in only “very very very few instances” if it did. I still think the safer bet is that pre-Shattering perpendicularities didn’t exist. Logic supports that tenuous conclusion.

    All planets have inherent Investiture, but pre-Shattering the planets had much less. Magic then involved “interactions with nature” using the planets' ambient Investiture. “People with magic” systems like Surgebinding and Awakening arose after the Shards Invested their Major Shardworlds through their perpendicularities. Few if any planets pre-Shattering held the “massive collection of Investiture” that pulls a perpendicularity from the Spiritual Realm. Otherwise “people with magic” systems would have existed before the Shattering. Such systems need perpendicularities’ massive Investiture.

    It’s possible one or more Vessels explored the Cognitive Realm through the Yolen perpendicularity to prepare for the Shattering. They could have gone in and out the one entrance. FWIW, I think the Vessels killed Adonalsium by killing his mind, his personhood, leaving his unattended raw power behind for the Vessels to Connect to. I once posted the Vessels killed Adonalsium’s mind with an aluminum “bomb”:


    I speculate the Vessels dropped an aluminum “bomb” into the godpool. Aluminum is “magically inert” and acts as an “Investiture sink.” The aluminum neutralized Adonalsium’s Cognitive Realm Investiture – his mind – making him “brain dead.” The Spiritual Realm Investiture ... survived undamaged. [Source.]

    And it may be worth a chuckle to look at my short parody of the Shattering.

    Taldain’s Perpendicularity

    On 4/2/2020 at 9:25 PM, Karger said:

    That is not necessarily true.  Their exists no law that says a shard or avatar MUST for a perpendicularity.  Only that it tends to happen over long periods of time.

    I agree with you, but there’s strong evidence of a Taldain perpendicularity. Taldain wasn’t always isolated. Khriss got off-world somehow. I distinguish between this perpendicularity (whichever Avatar’s it is) and Autonomy’s own perpendicularity because the latter is clearly not on Taldain. Khriss says, “The Investiture beats down from the sky.”

    Autonomy and Endowment

    On 4/2/2020 at 9:59 PM, Dreamer said:

    Although one could argue the physics of it, that there are three methods of transferring heat: conduction, convection and electromagnetic radiation, the latter emitting photons and that this is what the WoB is referring to but for now I'll take him verbatim ("light particles").

    I would never argue physics with you or anyone else, Dreamer! I was an English major whose last college science class was almost half-a-century ago. But despite Emerson’s admonition, my little mind still insists on a foolish consistency when it comes to cosmere theorizing. That means periodically updating my stale science knowledge with the Internet’s fake news. That venerable source tells me you are correct.

    Before getting to my lay understanding of Shard science, here’s context for the heat-light distinction. I theorize at least some Shards move their Investiture to magic users through some substance magic users consume. Sand Masters dehydrate (burn water) to draw Investiture, Awakeners drain “color,” and Allomancers burn metal. Marasi calls Allomantic metal a “pathway to power,” and Khriss describes it as a “catalyst.” When the pathway/catalyst is gone, the magic stops. Yet none of these substances is fuel or Investiture.

    Heat and Light

    I speculate heat and light are how Autonomy and Endowment each disperse their Investiture. I think both Shards flare Invested photons onto their planets from their suns. Photons, as you know, are quanta of electromagnetic radiation (EMR) and carry both light and heat energy depending on the photon’s frequency. I think Brandon calls photons “light particles” because that’s how most people view photons. But I interpret him to mean if you can see starlight, you will get the energy its photons carry regardless of that energy’s form.

    I theorize Autonomy Invests photons mostly in the infrared frequencies and Endowment Invests photons mostly in the visible light frequencies. Autonomy’s photons cause irradiated objects to heat. Endowment’s photons cause irradiated objects to absorb some light frequencies and reflect the frequencies our eye perceives as “color.”

    Autonomy Uses Heat

    Heating water seems important to Autonomy’s magic systems. Sand Masters dehydrate to forge a Cognitive bond with Invested microflora. They literally burn water to shape the sand. I believe Patji’s land predators form Cognitive bonds with their prey through the island’s “dense humidity.” Ocean predators are more dangerous than land predators IMO because the Cognitive bond is stronger in water. By placing their Investiture in the infrared frequencies, Autonomy ensures their Investiture will release into the atmosphere through evaporation and the planet’s water cycle. Autonomy chooses to Invest in hot climates like deserts and jungles.

    Endowment Uses Light

    Brandon says any Investiture can fuel Awakening including Stormlight. I think the photons an object absorbs carry Awakening’s Investiture. IMO, “color draining” turns objects gray because, like with Shardblade wounds, the drained object no longer holds Investiture. This has been a controversial view, but I’ve not seen another explanation for how Awakeners fuel their magic. Breath is not fuel since all the Breath is returned after Awakening. Like Feruchemy, Intent alone works for non-animating Breath transfers to a person or object; but Brandon says Awakening an object needs Investiture as fuel.

    I think Rosharan Awakeners access Stormlight through color, or more accurately through Investiture-carrying photons. Awakeners can drain a gemstone of its Stormlight until the gemstone’s color turns gray and it disfigures. Photons absorbed by the gemstone somehow carry Stormlight to the Awakener. I suspect this is how Vasher gets his Stormlight. His colored rocks may be drained gemstones.

    IMO, photons must always carry Endowment’s Investiture to the Awakener. Inhaling Stormlight like a Surgebinder won’t work for a Rosharan Awakener. The Awakener uses Breath, not Radiant spren, to process Investiture. I theorize Endowment gives Awakeners access to her Investiture through a quantum physics “primal force.” Breaths are quanta of Endowment’s Investiture, and photons are EMR quanta. I think Stormlight somehow has to be quantized before the Awakener’s Breath can use it as fuel.


  10. On 4/1/2020 at 2:15 PM, Karger said:

    They have actually become one shard.

    Yes, I know. My question is, why should that have happened? It seems odd to me for the reasons stated.

    On 4/1/2020 at 2:15 PM, Karger said:

    Certain investiture would try and avoid being consumed by Nightblood.

    Yes, but I read that WoB to refer specifically to the mists pulling away. Nightblood is filled with Ruin. Just like the mists pulled away from Vin when she wore Ruin’s earring, they'll pull away from any Ruin manifestation including Nightblood. Diametrical opposites.

    10 hours ago, Dreamer said:

    Autonomy's Investiture is distributed to Taldain in the form of light from the Dayside blue sun, which is pointed out by Khriss to be a simplified explanation of the process in the Arcanum Unbounded. Unless there's newer info on this, their Perpendicularity being located on the sun is just conjecture

    When and where was this discussion? I know some of these questions have come up before, but I didn’t see this one. I’ll quote Khriss’ language and then give my reading:


    For years we assumed that our Shard, Autonomy, had Invested only Dayside, through the sunlight itself. We know now it is not as simple as this, though the mechanism is best explained under those assumptions. The Investiture beats down from the sky...” (AU, “The Taldain System,” Kindle p. 369.)

    First, I distinguish between Autonomy and their (likely) Avatar the Sand Lord. The Sand Lord will have their own perpendicularity on Taldain. My guess is that’s the blocked perpendicularity. But if Autonomy themselves “resides” anywhere, it is in the Dayside sun or someplace in a direct line with the sun. Khriss is definitive in saying the Investiture comes from the sky.

    When Khriss says, “it is not as simple as this,” I think she means Autonomy Invests more than Dayside. I believe Autonomy’s Investiture falls into its oceans. Taldain’s water cycle causes that Investiture to circulate throughout Taldain, including Darkside. If you’ve read my Autonomy theories, you’ll know how important I think water is to Autonomy’s magic. Darkside may look lit by blacklight, but IMO its magic comes from Autonomy’s Investiture.

    “The mechanism is best explained under those assumptions” because sunlight does carry the Investiture. Khriss’ initial mistake was not seeing how Investiture beating from the sky hits water as well as land. Having said all this, I agree it’s still conjecture.

    Also, @Dreamer, why do you believe light carries Autonomy’s Investiture? I think heat carries it, not light. I think light carries Endowment’s Investiture to Nalthis.

    And to anyone who may read this, my purpose in writing the OP was to spark discussion, not assert conclusions. Perpendicularities are very puzzling to me. I still hope you might find something new in my observations to comment on or lead you to your own ideas. If not, I’ll keep looking for other stuff to excite and entertain you! Stay safe and healthy, everyone.


  11. Perpendicularities IMO are the cosmere’s most important post-Shattering structural element. They spike the Realms together. They are the conduits through which massive amounts of Investiture pass. They are a critical part of a Major Shardworld’s system of recycling Investiture. They make Worldhopping possible.

    Here I analyze and interpret some perpendicularity WoBs. (I edited these WoBs to focus on the relevant parts). I start with perpendicularity basics. I then ask (and try to answer) about a dozen questions on perpendicularities, their properties, and their role in the cosmere.


    What a Perpendicularity Is

    To confirm what you all know, here’s a few WoBs defining what a perpendicularity is:


    “Let's just say that large concentrations of Investiture will cause a puncture through the spiritual realm straight to the physical realm....” [OdysseyCon 2016 (April 8, 2016).]

    “What happens with a perpendicularity is, where there is a massive collection of Investiture, it pulls a conduit through.... [] A huge concentration of Investiture will warp the realms.” [Arcanum Unbounded release party (Nov. 22, 2016).]

    “[O]ne surefire way to create a perpendicularity is a massive collection of Investiture in the Cognitive or mostly Physical realm. But Cognitive’s weird, doesn't always work the right way. But there are ways to do it that way too.” [(Salt Lake City signing (Dec. 16, 2017).]

    I believe “perpendicularity” refers to the conduit a massive Investiture concentration creates. IMO, the word does not refer to the Investiture that flows through the conduit.

    Perpendicularities need not be permanent. If Investiture continues to flow through the conduit, the perpendicularity remains even if the Vessel dies. But “there are ways that a perpendicularity could vanish.” Brandon doesn’t describe those ways.

    Perpendicularity Formation

    Relevant WoBs:


    Shardpools, as they are called, are a natural effect of a Shard spending a lot of time on a world. [/r/books AMA 2015 (June 24, 2015).]



    The more a Shard stays on a world--

    Brandon Sanderson



    --the Investiture kind of seeps--

    Brandon Sanderson

    It does.....


    Can a Shard choose to just instantly invest in a place?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah, they just need to start making some stuff.

    Arcanum Unbounded Chicago signing (Dec. 6, 2016)

    These WoBs show a slow way and a fast way to make a perpendicularity:

    1. A Shard can “stay” on a planet and start to seep Investiture onto that planet’s Physical Realm location. This stalactite perpendicularity allows the Investiture to integrate slowly into the Physical Realm as matter or energy. I speculate “stay” means the Vessel’s mind is focused on that Physical Realm location.

    I also speculate some minimum amount of Investiture, a critical mass slowly collecting in the Physical Realm, causes the Spiritual Realm to puncture. Does every Shard’s Investiture have the same critical mass before a perpendicularity forms? If Investiture is the same except for each Shard’s “spin or magnetism,” the critical mass for “seeping” perpendicularities should be a constant. But who knows... This assumes, of course, we can measure Investiture, something Brandon’s team has supposedly been working on but has yet to share.

    2. Or a Shard can instantaneously Invest a Physical Realm location. The Shard must use this massive Investiture infusion “to start making some stuff.” Presumably any unused Investiture would find its way back to the Spiritual Realm rather than integrating with the Physical Realm as matter or energy. Some of this Investiture could also stay manifest in the Physical Realm.

    Realmic Compression

    Perpendicularities push the Realms closer to one another: You can see into the Spiritual Realm through a perpendicularity. The Cognitive emptiness of space makes Worldhopping possible, but the Cognitive Realm’s proximity at perpendicularities gives Worldhoppers easy access. I suggest possible explanations for Realmic compression after quoting the relevant portions of these WoBs:


    [Investiture] draws the three Realms together. So it's got like-- Imagine a gravitational pull piercing Realms.... [(Salt Lake City signing (Dec. 16, 2017).]


    Brandon Sanderson

    Let's just say that large concentrations of Investiture will cause a puncture through the spiritual realm straight to the physical realm....

    Questioner # 2

    Now that's a very interesting analogy you just made, you said "punctured" almost as though it were a spike.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes, yes, that was intentional.

    [OdysseyCon 2016 (April 8, 2016).]

    Two possible (and not mutually exclusive) causes of Realmic compression:

    1. “Puncturing” or “spiking” will draw the punctured barrier after it. Imagine a tack going through paper. You see the perforated edges of the paper following the tack through to the other side. In this way the Spiritual and Cognitive Realms move closer to the Physical Realm, the repository of that Investiture.

    2. OR maybe the Cognitive Realm collapses a bit at a perpendicularity, drawing the other two Realms closer together. My reasoning: Space and location are irrelevant in the Spiritual Realm. (Brandon applies this rule to Dalinar’s perpendicularity.) If space is irrelevant there, maybe the Spiritual Realm can’t be “moved” except right at the place the Investiture punctures it. And to human perception, the Physical Realm itself has defined limits. Maybe perpendicularities compress the Cognitive Realm alone, squeezing the Realmic sandwich at that spot?

    FWIW, when I first read Brandon I conceived the three Realms as alternate “phases” of the same reality, different aspects. The idea the Cognitive Realm comprises physical space people can walk through still boggles me.


    Massive Investiture concentrations cause perpendicularities and Realmic compression, but that’s about all we know. The rest are questions and speculations.

    What Causes Investiture to Concentrate in the Physical Realm?

    IMO, the Spiritual Realm doesn’t spontaneously seep massive amounts of Investiture onto some Physical Realm location. There are no “accidental” perpendicularities (excluding the one near Threnody). Shards choose to “stay” or instantaneously Invest there. They either drip Investiture through the equivalent of an intravenous tube or inject the Investiture all at once. In both cases Shards willfully make their perpendicularities.

    Perpendicularities are why there are Major Shardworlds. They are the residue of the Shards’ massive post-Shattering Investiture in planets. This Investiture made the Major Shardworlds more magical – and more unbalanced. Adonalsium wove the cosmere tapestry with an eye towards the whole, but the Shards didn’t. They disrupted Adonalsium’s vision and remade the Major Shardworlds to suit themselves and their Investiture. Perpendicularities brought magic to mortals.

    Does Investiture Flow Only Through Perpendicularities?

    No. Perpendicularities are reserved for massive amounts of Investiture collecting in the Physical Realm (usually). Investiture also flows from the Spiritual Realm to fuel magic systems or to manifest in gaseous form. Perpendicularities are only one form of Investiture seepage into the Physical Realm.

    Cultivation’s perpendicularity, for example, is in the Horneater mountains. Yet the Nightwatcher’s Valley fills with gaseous Cultivation-light. Preservation’s mists permeate the Final Empire, though the Well of Ascension lies hidden beneath Kredik Shaw. These gaseous Investitures don’t appear to flow directly through a perpendicularity.

    Did Adonalsium Have a Perpendicularity?

    I think Adonalsium did have a perpendicularity – the one on Yolen that got him killed. I speculate Adonalsium created the entire Physical Realm through this perpendicularity. I do not believe he needed to create planets with their own perpendicularities. Adonalsium was the entire cosmere by himself, omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent. He could change his Physical Realm “body” at will without needing to inject massive amounts of a particular Investiture “flavor” like the Shards did.

    Example: Roshar’s pre-Shattering ecology already depended on Stormlight’s precursor to energize its life cycle. But lesser amounts of that Investiture filled the pre-Shattering highstorms – maybe not enough Investiture concentration to form a perpendicularity. The Parsh Rider of Storms pales in Investiture concentration compared with the Tanavast-fortified Stormfather. Even the metaphor of their names shows this: The Parsh great spren “rode” the storms. The human Stormfather commands them (though with still-limited powers).

    Even pre-Shattering planets have inherent Investiture. As with Cultivation-light and the mists, those Investitures somehow cycle through those planets’ systems without a perpendicularity. Otherwise every planet would have a perpendicularity, and Khriss says they don’t.

    What Happens to the Investiture that Makes the Perpendicularity?

    Brandon says the Shards that form “instantaneous” perpendicularities “just need to start making some stuff.” Thermodynamics’ first law applies to this Investiture. It must be converted into matter or energy or some other Physical Realm manifestation. The only difference between this and the “seeping” perpendicularities is the rate of thermodynamic conversion.

    Can Shards Change Their Perpendicularity?

    Yes, with difficulty. Brandon says, “Once you've got a Perpendicularity, you are starting – That's trouble for going other places.” Presumably the massive Physical Realm Investiture concentration ties the Shard to the planet. Maybe a Shard like Odium wouldn’t scruple to destroy a planet (Roshar) to recover his Investiture and leave. Most Shards I suspect have some appreciation for the people and things they’ve Invested in over the millennia. I also suspect Shard divestment from a planet requires vast amounts of Investiture to execute.

    Which Shards Have “Seeping” vs. “Instantaneous” Perpendicularities?

    Except for Ruin and Preservation, it’s hard to know. Investiture continues to flow through all perpendicularities including the “instantaneous” ones. Ruin and Preservation created Scadrial in a cosmere moment, but Investiture still condensed in the Pits of Hathsin and Well of Ascension afterwards. Investiture manifests in the Physical Realm through perpendicularities regardless of how they were created. They are an essential part of a Major Shardworld’s “Investiture cycle.” Without perpendicularities, pre-Shattering planetary plumbing might flood trying to handle the new Investiture infusion.

    Other than Scadrial (and Dalinar’s), I think the clearest examples of “instantaneous” perpendicularities are Autonomy’s Avatars. I believe Autonomy creates these perpendicularities when they Invest their Avatars including Patji. Autonomy’s assigned Investiture is already present (I believe in the form of matter with the same “spin”); and Autonomy further Invests this “gathering” of Investiture to give it consciousness. The additional Investiture IMO passes the “critical mass” threshold and creates the perpendicularity. But all of this is speculation.

    Is a Perpendicularity’s Size Related to How Much A Shard Invests There?

    I don’t think so. Kelsier and other prisoners had to crawl through narrow spaces in the Pits to find atium geodes. Yet through that perpendicularity Ruin created half a world.

    Why Do Different States of Investiture Collect in Different Perpendicularities?

    These differences seem to relate to the Shard, the planet, and the Vessel. Shards can manifest in the Physical Realm in any state and do. But these different Investiture states do not all flow from a perpendicularity, as we see with Cultivation-light and the mists. It’s unclear why Shards manifest in their perpendicularities as different Investiture states.

    Brandon describes the general causes of Investiture state differentiation:


    In my head it's just like when some of that power permeates, some of it distills, just like water. There's some water in the air, there's some that freezes: that's temperature. But it's not always temperature whether it's in the air, or whether it's falling. Imagine a Spiritual version of humidity, that is influenced by what's happening on the Spiritual Realm and the Cognitive, and that's what you'll get.

    Manchester signing (Aug. 6, 2014)

    I find that WoB vague and unhelpful, but there it is. Most perpendicularities hold liquid Investiture. The known exceptions are Ruin, Honor, and Autonomy. Atium collects in the Pits of Hathsin as solid Investiture. Stormlight’s gaseous Investiture fills Honor’s “moving” perpendicularity. Autonomy’s perpendicularity sits in Taldain’s Dayside sun. It presumably holds gaseous Investiture. We don’t know anything about Odium’s or Dominion’s perpendicularities.

    Does Harmonium Condense in a New Perpendicularity?

    Harmonium (ettmetal) is a different substance than either atium or lerasium. The Shards are now combined. My guess is Sazed formed a new perpendicularity when he re-shaped Scadrial, and harmonium condenses in that perpendicularity. Brandon says Scadrial’s cycle of Investiture leaves the Well and Pits empty “for now,” suggesting there may still be some uncombined Ruin and Preservation about.

    ASIDE: Off topic, but why should Ruin and Preservation combine into Harmony with a new god metal just because the two Shards now have one Vessel? This is especially weird given the 180° difference between the Shards. I don’t think this is “resonance” given how opposite the Shards are. Just curious for your thoughts.

    What’s Different About Dalinar’s Perpendicularity?

    Brandon says Dalinar’s perpendicularity is “both the bug and the feature at the same time.” At least five things distinguish Dalinar’s from other perpendicularities:

    1. It’s the only known perpendicularity to form without a massive Physical or Cognitive Realm collection of Investiture pulling it through the Realms. Dalinar plucked the Investiture directly from the Spiritual Realm by collapsing the Realms at Thaylen City.

    2. It’s the only perpendicularity created by mortal action. (Dalinar’s still mortal even if he’s now a sliver. I ignore Elsecalling’s “mini-perpendicularity.”)

    3. It’s the only “instantaneous” perpendicularity we’ve seen on-screen.

    4. Dalinar’s is the only perpendicularity seen on-screen while filled with kinetic Investiture.

    5. Dalinar’s and the Well of Ascension are the only two perpendicularities described from within the Cognitive Realm. Kaladin, Shallan, and Adolin see Dalinar’s. Kelsier sees the Well.

    I’m not sure what conclusions we should draw from any of this. “Seeing” a column of Investiture spike through the Realms is pretty cool though.

    Why Does Nightblood Collapse Some Perpendicularities But Not Others?



    What would happen if Nightblood was drawn inside of a perpendicularity?

    Brandon Sanderson

    It depends on the perpendicularity. It has a good chance of collapsing it.

    [Starsight Release Party (Nov. 26, 2019).]

    A preliminary question: Is simply drawing Nightblood enough to start him eating Investiture? Doesn’t he feed on Investiture only to fulfill his command to “destroy evil”? What would Nightblood do if Vasher, for example, draws him and is the only person there? Maybe there’s a WoB I’m unaware of that addresses this. If there isn’t, I suggest Nightblood might not eat Investiture in any perpendicularity unless he first determines he must destroy evil.

    Moving past that, I think the Physical Realm outlet for the perpendicularity matters. I can see Nightblood collapsing Honor’s “moving” perpendicularity but not the Pits of Hathsin. Even if Nightblood ate the atium, the Pits as conduit would remain. If Nightblood ate all the Stormlight, there’s nothing left to Honor’s perpendicularity.


    Perpendicularities are strange and perplexing. That’s all I’ve got to say. What do you folks think?


  12. Quote

    Gary Singer (paraphrased)

    Could Lift convert food from other cosmere worlds into Stormlight?

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    Yes. Lift's Spiritweb has something changed about it to allow converting mass to Investiture directly.

    [Out of Excuses 2016 (Sept. 23, 2016) (last bold added).]

    I theorize each Shard gives access to its Investiture through a unique “primal force/fundamental law/something natural.” I believe the quoted WoB shows Cultivation’s primal force is the cosmere’s First Law of Thermodynamics: the inter-convertibility of mass, energy, and Investiture. Lift is a “hint” of Cultivation’s magic. Odium styles Cultivation’s primal force “transformation.”

    Roshar’s natural spren are an example of Cultivation’s transformative magic (from my magic theory post):


    Khriss describes spren as “transformative Cognitive entities.” Spren transform from their Cognitive aspect into the Physical Realm energy or force they personify. Fabrial design manipulates these transformations. Capture the spren in the right gemstone; add Stormlight; and flamespren become fire, painspren become pain, and heatspren become heat. The transformation lasts as long as the Stormlight fuels it.

    Cultivation tells Dalinar, “I CONTROL ALL THINGS THAT CAN BE GROWN, NURTURED.” (OB, Chapter 114, Kindle p. 1079.) I believe Cultivation exercises her transformation magic through the pre-Shattering life “natural pathway”:



    From what I understand, Ruin and Preservation create the world together, and they created humanity as copies of the original humankind. So how did they give Allomancy to Scadrial?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes. So the magic systems are kind of built into the setting and the world. And there are certain natural pathways that exist, in the same way there are certain natural pathways for them to create life. Which is my explanation for why life is so similar on all the different planets, is that they're following natural pathways, and these magics are kind of the same way. For instance, Lightweaving predates the Shattering of Adonalsium. A lot of these other things are suggestive of magics that existed before that were built around Adonalsium. They weren't 100% created by the Shards, but they also do have the Shards' influence on them.

    Skyward San Diego signing (Nov. 7, 2018)

    Conclusion: Cultivation represents evolution – a Shard that’s primal force is mass-energy-Investiture conversion exercised through life’s natural pathway. Brandon says Cultivation would be a mono-green M:tG deck.

    TL;DR? Cultivation’s personally met with Taravangian, Lift, and Dalinar. Does that mean she’ll also meet with someone whose name begins with an R? Rlain? Idle thought.

    P.S. - All of you, wherever you live, please take care of yourselves and your loved ones during this plague. All the best, C.


  13. “Once more unto the breach, dear friends...”

    “Odious” means “extremely unpleasant; repulsive.” I raise this (again) because my magic theory tries to match “primal forces” with Shards. Shards are “primal forces attached to certain aspects of personality.” Odium’s primal force, IMO, is a cosmere repulsive force that breaks Connections. “Repulsive” captures Odium as metaphor (Hoid calls Rayse “loathsome”) and the physics concept of repulsion: “the force that acts between bodies of like electric charge or magnetic polarity, tending to separate them.”

    I think Odium breaks Connections of every kind, not just electromagnetic ones. Two of Dalinar’s visions show this: Kholinar disappearing into dust (WoK, Chapter 75) and the second Nohadon vision breaking into bits (OB, Chapter 109). FWIW, the humans in the Nohadon vision wither into husks just like the Shade-touched on Threnody, another Odium-influenced planet. Only Dalinar exercising Honor’s bonding power holds the broken Connections together where he stands.

    IMO, a more precise name for Voidbinding is Surge-Breaking (and it is not a Surgebinding hack):

    On 9/18/2019 at 9:55 PM, Confused said:

    My theory defines magic systems by how magic users access their Investiture. Odium “takes your pain” by breaking your Connection to who or what causes the pain. (“I’m not to blame...It wasn’t my fault.”) Odium’s assault on Dalinar at Thaylen Field left Dalinar “Alone. So alone.” The Broken One’s Investiture fills the broken Connections. The loss of these Connections leaves you numb, adrift in an emotional void.

    I believe the Fused also perform their magic by breaking a Connection – one of the Surges. They break their gravity Connection to fly, their abrasion Connection to glide, and their progression Connection to speed carapace growth. The Fused dis-Connect and re-Connect each Surge with the same skill and precision as Kaladin adjusts his lashings.

    Fantasy writer Robin Hobb also notes that giving up pain deadens one’s human connections:


    I’ve seen folk who numbed their pain with strong drink or Smoke or other herbs and always the loss of their pain made them less connected. Less human.

    [R. Hobb, Assassin's Fate, Chapter 48, Kindle Book III of the “Fitz and the Fool” trilogy, Loc. 15375 (bold added).]

    Mine may be a unique view. I keep raising it (as I do the “primal forces” approach to understanding Shards) because of my confidence in ultimate vindication and my hope someone may (at long last) agree with me. Thanks for reading. C.

    “Will you join in [my] crusade? Who will be strong and stand with me?”


  14. Many posters have analyzed the WoB that says this. Here is the WoB again. I highlight the critical language. My interpretation follows.


    Overlord Jebus

    Is all Investiture in the cosmere associated with a Shard?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes, well, okay. So this is a complicated one. *pauses* So, Investiture predates the Shattering of Adonalsium, all Investiture was from Adonalsium, all Investiture got assigned to one of the 16 Shards when Adonalsium was Shattered. Some of the Investiture was not on Yolen but location is irrelevant. So Investiture is related to Shards even on planets where none of the Shards are inhabiting. 

    Overlord Jebus

    Are they aware of that Investiture?

    Brandon Sanderson

    That's part of the whole seeing into the infinite, being beyond even the power of a Shard. So, technically you could make the argument that Harmony could feel the sense of Preservation on every world in the cosmere, right? Because the building blocks of all life and creation are these things.

    Overlord Jebus

    So the Shard of Preservation embodies all preservation in the cosmere?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes but he just can't do that, right? Like, he's not infinite. The Vessels are not, even if their minds are enormously expanded by holding a Shard, they are not infinite. The Connection is all there in the Spiritual Realm

    [Oathbringer London signing (Nov. 28, 2017).]

    IMO, Adonalsium was “infinite” because his mind inhabited his soul and was co-extensive with it. (Adonalsium is an anagram for “a mind, a soul.”) Adonalsium was both “transcendent” – occupying the Spiritual Realm – and “immanent” – pervading the Physical Realm. Adonalsium’s spirit, mind, and body were one.

    Shards are slices of Adonalsium. The Vessels’ minds Connect to those slices – “The Connection is all there in the Spiritual Realm.” Vessel minds are not co-extensive with their slices the way Adonalsium was with the entire cosmere. Vessels don’t know the Physical Realm location of their Shard’s “assigned Investiture” and instead must search for it. IMO, that is the sense Vessels are “not infinite.”


  15. On 2/7/2020 at 6:17 PM, Pagerunner said:

    The WoB you linked in Point 1 explicitly says that not all Splinters are self-aware, which contradicts your definition:

    My (unedited) Point 1 says Splinters “generally” are self-aware. I acknowledge there are exceptions.

    On 2/7/2020 at 6:17 PM, Pagerunner said:

    We've seen Splinters like Divine Breath and the Honorblades which are not self-aware, they're just pieces of power.

    These are not “just” pieces of power. Brandon in your linked WoB describes Divine Breath and Honorblades as “special things”:


    Divine Breath is its own special thing, and it’s more like what happened with the Honorblades, in that the god is pouring a bit of its Investiture, infusing the magic.

    These “special things” do lack self-awareness. The Shard instead programs the Investiture (“infuses the magic”) for some specific purpose and with specific powers. The Shard intends this pre-programmed Investiture to attach to a mind that can direct it. Divine Breath and Honorblades rely on Cognitive Shadows for direction. Szeth and other humans also temporarily bond an Honorblade to direct its magic. IMO, Shard pre-programming and Cognitive Shadow (or human) direction transform these “pieces of power” into Splinters.

    Instead of a Cognitive Shadow, Bavadin directs the non-sentient Avatars. Though these Avatars lack sentience, Bavadin may pre-program them for some purpose. Bavadin may be the only Vessel that personally directs free-floating gobs of Investiture. To amend my prior statement: I do not believe non-self-aware, unprogrammed, undirected gobs of Investiture are Splinters. Those are “just pieces of power.” Atium, for example, is not a Splinter.

    The “Is an Avatar a Splinter?” WoB concerns in-world definitions. Some in-world people may question whether Bavadin-directed Avatars are true Splinters. But this question doesn’t even arise in-world if all Avatars are self-aware as your WoB interpretation presupposes. I see that as a potential flaw in your interpretation, but reasonable minds can differ.


  16. Hey, @agrabes. Let’s recap how we got here:

    • You and others questioned my comment that Kaladin as Windrunner head is a “leader of leaders.” Pathfinder focused on the Windrunner military role as scouts.
    • I responded that the Windrunner Secondary Divine Attribute is Leading.
    • Karger then said, “Divine attributes are what you want them to be. They [are] cultural not magical and based on hearsay.”
    • I replied that on Roshar, a world of living ideas, culture makes the Divine Attributes magical. Radiant spren are Invested Primary Divine Attributes.

    You now say,

    On 2/10/2020 at 9:17 AM, agrabes said:

    I think where we get apart is that you seem to be implying two things that I don't think are correct: 1) A radiant must be a perfect (or very high quality) embodiment of the divine attributes in order to stay a radiant and be able to use surge binding, and 2) The divine attribute of a radiant must be that character's greatest strength or primary character trait in order for them to be a radiant of that order.

    I don’t think I imply either of your statements. Like you, I disagree with both of them. I view the Primary Divine Attributes as the ones that attract Radiant spren. For Windrunners, it is Protecting not Leading. Lopen in his way emotionally Protects people. Syl comes to Kaladin because he exudes the compulsive need to Protect. Other Windrunners share this Protecting trait at some level of intensity. I agree Protecting need not be their “greatest strength or primary character trait.” Brandon says proximity to Radiant spren helps; and Windrunners as a group attract honorspren.

    I view the Secondary Divine Attributes like Leading as the aspirational ones. IMO, as a Windrunner shows more Leading ability they progress through their oaths (and rise in the ranks) until, at the fifth oath, the Spiritual aspects of the Windrunner and honorspren merge. The Windrunner then fully embodies their Secondary Divine Attribute of Leading. I envision a five-tier pyramid of Windrunners, with the base consisting of 1st oath-ers and the top with maybe one 5th oath-er – likely Kaladin. That pyramid structure explains my comment, Kaladin is a “leader of leaders.”


  17. I feel many of you misinterpret my OP (and even I got sidetracked earlier). Kaladin becomes King because he engineers the Singer-human peace. Alethi don’t get to unilaterally choose him. I speculate Kaladin is the only person both Singers and humans trust and can agree on. Dalinar IMO will not be a candidate. That is not his role.

    On 2/4/2020 at 8:09 AM, Pathfinder said:

    So first and foremost, at least for myself, I am not arguing that Kaladin does not display leadership qualities. I just personally do not think those leadership qualities lend itself to kingship, or being a successful ruler. Kaladin has said multiple times he has trouble thinking/dealing with the bigger picture. For example when focusing on his bridge crew to the detriment of the rest of the army. And that is not the only time he has done that. I guess what I, and a few other people are saying is we see Kaladin as more of a direct military leader, than a ruler. But again as I posted before, I am not saying it is not possible. Just I personally do not think it will happen. I wish you luck!

    You’re very gracious, thank you. @Karger and @agrabes agree with you.

    Kaladin so far has the most volatile arc of any SLA character. He enters adulthood a surgeon’s assistant. In turn he becomes a spearman, a leader of spearman; a slave, a leader of slaves; a bridgeman, a leader of bridgemen; a battalion captain, and now Windrunner leader. Kaladin already learns generalship from Adolin. We’re only in Book 3. Like Dalinar he rises and falls – and each time rises higher. That’s an important SLA theme.

    There are many reasons Kaladin may never become King. Lack of leadership talent or skill IMO won’t be one of them. He will have the next five to seven books of experience to learn how to rule.

    On 2/1/2020 at 3:39 PM, Karger said:

    We have no idea who set up the ideals or how they connect. 

    On 2/3/2020 at 2:49 PM, agrabes said:

    You are right that cultural ideas do manifest as radiant spren.  That doesn't mean that the "Divine Attributes" are magical or 100% binding on the radiants or that they manifest in the exact same way every time. 

    This debate reminds me of the line from Cool Hand Luke: “What we have here is a failure to communicate.” We agree there’s nothing “magical” about the Divine Attributes themselves. We agree they are not “100% binding on the radiants [nor] manifest in the exact same way every time.” We don’t know “who set up the ideals or how they connect.” I acknowledge the Divine Attributes are culturally determined and arbitrary.

    BUT – for whatever reason these are the ideals that become Invested. Radiant spren personify Primary Divine Attributes, and these Invested Attributes (the Radiant spren) are essential to Surgebinding. In that sense culture on Roshar does make the Invested Divine Attributes magical. If you don’t see this, we’ll just have to agree to disagree.


  18. On 1/22/2020 at 6:59 PM, Tglassy said:

    I think Dalinar or Sazed will become the new Adonalsium.  Probably Dalinar, as I think the "Unite Them" refers to the Shards, not the Alethi or Rosharans or Honor's Shards in particular.

    I share Tglassy’s speculation that Dalinar as Unity becomes the Vessel for all sixteen Shards. Vessels that hold more than one Shard unbalance the cosmere. Only Harmony can (barely) make it work. Once Vessels begin to bundle Shards, Unity becomes necessary. Plus I like the idea Vessels play a cosmere version of Survivor or Highlander. Here’s my narrative:

    Ending – “Unite Them” vs. “Survival of the Fittest

    It ends with Dalinar and Autonomy. Autonomy’s Avatars cast her Physical Realm dominion across a wide swath of worlds. IMO, unlike other Vessels Bavadin controls all Autonomy’s Investiture including their Avatars and Splinters. (I explain why in this post.)

    I believe Bavadin is a shape-shifting Yolen dragon that, Khriss says, resides in Taldain’s Dayside sun. Taldain and First of the Sun both show Bavadin favors extreme “survival of the fittest” ecosystems. Their OB letter to Hoid confirms this attitude.

    Bavadin searches the cosmere for more and more Avatars. Bavadin’s extreme ecosystems on more and more worlds endangers life in ways “pious/guiding” Dalinar may not tolerate. I see this as the “final conflict.” Not of good and evil but of contrasting worldviews: “Unite Them” vs. “Survival of the Fittest.”

    On 2/1/2020 at 4:30 PM, Coda said:

    Less literally, the cosmere as a series will most likely end in despair, bloodshed, and death as many factions each believe they are doing the right thing. 

    Coda’s comment reminds me of this line from Shakespeare in Love, the 1999 Oscar winner for Best Picture:


    Lord Wessex: “How is this to end?

    Queen Elizabeth: “As stories must when love's denied: with tears and a journey.”

    Poor Dalinar! Left all alone with no Navani. :(

    Beginning – Ascension as Vessel for the Three Rosharan Shards

    It starts on Roshar. Brandon has trolled Rayse may not survive SLA, but this may turn out true. Maybe Dalinar’s Challenge of Champions forces Odium into the open. Cultivation then smites Rayse, as the Stormfather foretells, revenge at last taken for Tanavast’s murder.

    I predicted in “Cultivation’s Long-Term Plan” that with Tanavast dead and Odium defeated Cultivation’s Vessel will relinquish her Shard. I thought Navani might pick it up because of her interest in fabrials. But now I think Dalinar will take all three. IMO, Honor’s “primal force” makes Connections (voluntary bonds), Odium’s “primal force” breaks Connections (some cosmere repulsive force), and Cultivation changes Connections (to convert matter, energy, and Investiture into one another). As Vessel for these three Shards Dalinar can make them all work together to bring Roshar renewed growth.

    Middle – Who Knows?

    This is beyond my ability to even guess at. I suspect some Vessels may try to pick up Splintered Shards; some may try to kill other Vessels; and some may voluntarily relinquish their Shard to another Vessel.


  19. @Quantus, the distinction I make between Taldain's system and other Avatar planets is active vs. passive Investing. Autonomy themselves actively distributes their Investiture from Dayside's sun. They may also have an Avatar on Taldain (the cloud face), but Brandon says Avatars generally arise from "assigned Investiture" that Adonalsium left in the cosmere. He says, for example, that Adonalsium left a "gathering of [assigned] Investiture" on Roshar. Brandon makes clear these Investiture "gatherings" predate the Shattering. He expressly says Autonomy never Invested First of the Sun. The relevant WoB also makes clear that a Shard's "assigned Investiture" might take the form of matter or energy that the Shard can convert into Investiture if needed. I say in the OP I believe Autonomy's assigned Investiture consists of large fractal formations located on the Avatar planets.

    If you mean that Autonomy Invests the Dayside sun but not Taldain itself, I agree and thought I said that. Your "present" vs. "resident" distinction technically (and correctly by that measure) excludes Taldain. But Taldain unlike the Avatar planets gets a bunch of pure Investiture beating down on it. It is a Major Shardworld for that reason even if Autonomy resides in the sun (presumably where their perpendicularity is). Short answer: I think we're both right, just looking at different things. Good observation!


  20. 6 hours ago, Karger said:

    Divine attributes are what you want them to be.  They a cultural not magical and based on hearsay.  Personally I see them more as middle management then full on kings.

    No, no, and no. I’ve had this debate often (probably at some point with you). Divine attributes are cultural, but on Roshar that makes them magical. Roshar is a world of living ideas. Cultural ideals like Protecting, Just, Brave, etc. become Invested as Radiant spren. Human manifestation of the Primary Divine Attributes attracts Radiant spren. Divine Attributes are an important magical component of Surgebinding without which there would be no Radiant spren as we know them.

    Could Rosharans have come up with a different set of ideals? Of course. They are arbitrary. But once Rosharans collectively accept those ideals – which is how they see the Heraldic virtues – then those ideals take life in the Cognitive Realm.

    Regardless, my point is that a man who IN FACT shows incredible leadership skills that match his Order’s Divine Attribute is more likely than someone else to assume the leadership role of King. As I said in the OP, Kaladin as leader of the Windrunners is a leader of leaders.

    8 hours ago, Pathfinder said:

    As to "He must pick it up, the fallen title!" I always took it as the title "knight radiant". Which ultimately he did. I didn't feel it was associated with any kingship. 

    The key words are the “tower and the crown.” That is the House Kholin glyphpair (except for Elhokar, who replaces the tower with a sword). [WoK, Chapter 28, Kindle p. 420.) The Kholin family rules Alethkar. That suggests (to me) that the “fallen title” is King. Since the Chapter 53 Epigraph adds “spear” to the glyphpair, it makes sense (to me) that Kaladin is the one who picks up the fallen title of Alethkar’s king.

    And, @Karger, I don’t pretend to be the first (or nth) to promote Kaladin’s future kingship. The thrust of my post is that Kaladin will be the one who ends the Singer-human war and brings peace to Roshar. All hail, Kaladin Peace-Blessed! It’s obvious Zahel/Vasher/Peacegiver suggests the name!

    8 hours ago, Pathfinder said:

    True an Odium spren was harassing a scared little boy, but that is not necessarily Odium's influence to me.

    7 hours ago, Karger said:

    Gavilar is a baby who was tormented by spren who delighted in petty cruelty.  We have no evidence whatsoever of corruption taking place.

    Of course there’s no evidence. That’s why the OP is speculative fluff. BUT – It strains credulity to think this was the ONLY time voidspren “tormented” Gavinor. What effect would such repeated “harassment” have on a two or three-year-old child? Here’s the scene:


    Here a child—two or three years old—huddled and trembled, clutching a stuffed soldier. Several spren with soft red glows were picking at him like cremlings at a corpse. The boy tried to turn his head, and the spren pulled on the back of his hair until he looked up, while others hovered in front of his face and took horrific shapes, like horses with melting faces. [OB, Chapter 84, Kindle pp. 812-813.]

    This is scary stuff for a young mind to absorb. It normalizes terror for him. I did use the word “corrupt” to describe the effect, but that connotes direct Odium influence that changes Gavinor’s Spiritual aspect like spren corruption changes theirs. I didn’t mean that, just that Odium (through his voidspren) has so messed with the kid’s head he will never be normal or capable of rule.

    There’s also another interpretation: Maybe the voidspren are Gavinor’s friends. I doubt Aesudan/Yelig-nar allows her son to play with other boys. She even tells Elhokar, “He’s playing with friends.” Maybe misunderstanding, “Kaladin reacted with swift, immediate rage.” [OB, Chapter 84, Kindle pp. 812, 813 (italics in original).]

    When Kaladin reaches for Gavinor to leave, “the boy screamed and scrambled away from him.” Gavinor doesn’t know Kal, and some children react poorly to strangers. Still, this seems an extreme reaction. The boy even “scooted away from his father, crying” until “Elhokar whispered something to his son [and] the child stopped weeping...blinked away tears, and finally let his father pick him up.” [OB, Chapter 84, Kindle pp. 813-814.] Elhokar probably said he was Gavinor’s father, whom the boy must not remember. Added together, the boy seems more comfortable with voidspren than humans. But who knows? Just throwing out possibilities.


  21. 23 hours ago, Thanatos said:

    I thought Autonomys investiture is from the star light in her invested solar system.

    You are correct. Khriss says Autonomy’s Investiture radiates from the Dayside sun to bake that hemisphere. I believe much of that Investiture falls into Taldain’s oceans, where it circulates through that planet’s water cycle.

    5 hours ago, Quantus said:

    It's complicated.  The First of the Sun is classified by Brandon as a Minor Shardworld, despite there currently being an avatar present there, which makes it uncertain which shard might be the source (or if it's even associated with any specific Shard).  Autonomy is not Invested in a Single System, rather they have Avatars in several, but we dont yet know how that works in terms of normal Shardic Investment into a Planet, where the limtations have a lot to do with having a single Vessel and and finite Cognitive Aspect to channel the Power; Autonomy appears to have sidestepped some of that with whatever "Avatars" turn out to be. [Bold added.]

    Autonomy IS Invested in Taldain (or at least in the Dayside sun). Brandon says Autonomy seeks their “assigned Investiture” on other planets to turn into Avatars. IOW, this Investiture already exists on those planets (in some thermodynamic form). I believe in most of these cases Autonomy’s additional Investiture (if any) awakens the “assigned Investiture” to sentience/sapience.

    Also Brandon confirms Patji’s Eye holds Autonomy’s Investiture:


    When I said Patji was a Shard, I was meaning Automony [sic]--but it is not quite that simple.

    Take this post to mean "no, you should not be looking toward another Shard for Patji's origins. Autonomy is the one relevant." But Autonomy's relationships with entities like this (not sure entity is the right word, even) is complex. I'm not trying to confuse the issue, though. [Source.]



  22. 1 hour ago, Pathfinder said:

    Windrunners are the scouts/shock troops of the radiants. That doesnt come off as rulers to me. True jezerien was a king and called herald of kings, but his radiant order for myself seems to be scout/mobile infantry.

    The Windrunners’ Secondary Divine Attribute is leadership. The fact that potential Radiants all seek Bridge Four lends credence to the OP.

    1 hour ago, Pathfinder said:

    Elhokar already has an heir in Gavinor. So my expectation is for him to take over rulership after jasnah. Jasnah i could see world hopping when gavinor comes of age

    Odium has influenced Gavinor for as long as he has influenced Aesudan. I believe Gavinor is now Odium’s creature. If he ever does become Alethkar’s king, Gavinor will not last long in that role. This may explain the OP’s quoted epigraph’s first sentence: “He must pick it up, the fallen title!”

    1 hour ago, Pathfinder said:

    Side note, just curious, why do you think jasnah is going to die?

    I don’t necessarily. She could abdicate. But she can’t remain Queen for Kaladin (or anyone else) to reign.

    51 minutes ago, asmodeus said:

    I don't really agree with the whole of OP's theory, but on the Leader thing, they aren't completely wrong.

    Wow! Gee thanks! The OP is speculative fluff with only a remote chance of coming true. I don’t think “right or wrong” enters into it. But it’s good to know you think I’m not “completely wrong!” Ironically, the idea of Kaladin fostering a Singer-human peace seems to me much more likely than Kaladin's kingship. 

    54 minutes ago, Zachary Holbrook said:

    Also, the 'Singer Bridge Four' is mostly dead and were scorned by other singers even before the devastation at Kholinar. So Kaladin has a long way to go before being able to win the trust of the majority of the singers.

    Moash, Khen, Nam, Pal, and a “handful” of others survived. Their palace assault earned them the “Passion of Mercy,” freeing them from slavery. (OB, Chapter 122, Kindle p. 1222.) The actual Bridge Four also suffered horrible losses. Yes, Kaladin has a long way to go to win Singer trust – the war must first end. We’re books away.

    26 minutes ago, Karger said:

    Considering the shear number of people that would have to die but at the same time the political system of alethkar would have to stay intact I really don't see this happening.

    If Jasnah abdicates and a corrupted Gavinor replaced, I don’t see that a “sheer” number of people would have to die. And it’s pretty obvious the political system of Alethkar will not stay intact. Governments in exile during war rarely return to the same situation they left. France, for example, founded its Fourth Republic after WW II. (They’re now on their Fifth, following a 1958 failed military coup.)


  23. Jezrien is dead. Jezrien was a king before he became a herald. He was a “Windrunner” before there were Windrunners. Leadership is the Windrunner Secondary Divine Attribute. Kaladin is a Windrunner who leads the Windrunners. That makes Kaladin the “leader of leaders.” I believe he may ultimately replace Jezrien and become King of Alethkar: “He must pick it up, the fallen title! The tower, the crown, and the spear!” [WoK Chapter 53 Epigraph (italics added).]

    Kaladin sympathizes with the Singers and wants to protect everyone including them. SLA’s narrative IMO points to a human-Singer treaty and a strifeless Roshar. (Unite them – one of many meanings.) I won’t speculate how or when that happens or what happens to Rayse/Odium and the Fused. But to me, human-Singer rapprochement is inevitable.

    I believe Kaladin will be at the forefront of that truce. Kal wants to stop the killing. He sees the war from both sides. The “Singer Bridge Four” (Moash, Khen, and their group) respects Kal, as does Rlain. I believe Venli will also respect him, especially when she learns he was the human strong enough to wound Eshonai. After Rayse/Odium’s defeat, Kaladin may be the only person both sides trust to lead the reconstruction.

    What of Dalinar, you say? Dalinar by then may have fully ascended. If he remains a Bondsmith, his Divine Attributes are pious/guiding. A Bondsmith provides moral direction, not political leadership. And Jasnah? If my musings turn out true, Jasnah will die or maybe abdicate to go off somewhere with Hoid.

    I can’t imagine Kaladin happy in a political role. It’s hard to imagine him happy at all. But he may feel compelled to rule if necessary to protect everyone immediately post-war. Kaladin may follow Jezrien’s footsteps as both “Windrunner” and king: King Kaladin the Peace-Blessed!

    It could happen.


  24. 14 hours ago, Honorless said:

    Can you go over your reasoning behind your prediction regarding the Sibling's nature?

    In addition to the OP, you might also look at a post I wrote last year, about “Gemhearts and the Sibling.” The basic logic is this:

    1. Adonalsium raised the Rosharan pangaea from the ocean floor using fractal geometry principles (the Julia Set).

    2. Roshar holds a “gathering of [Autonomy’s assigned] Investiture.” Autonomy’s Rosharan assigned Investiture is part of the “very fabric of matter and existence” of that land mass.

    3. The “Gemhearts” post I link above says,


    Singers need three things for their transformational life cycle: Stormlight, spren, and a gemheart. I hypothesize each Great spren personifies Singer pre-Shattering perception of these three necessities.

    4. I believe the Sibling is the Eila Stele’s “Spren of Stone” and is responsible for gemhearts. The Sibling’s Physical Realm manifestation is a gem-encrusted pillar in Urithiru’s basement.

    5. Gems – and gemhearts – are fractals. I believe gemhearts are part of Autonomy’s Rosharan assigned Investiture.

    6. Both the Sibling and Autonomy are non-binary: “they,” not he, she, or it. Fractals are progressively smaller-scaled versions of the same pattern, all of which make one whole – like Autonomy’s pantheon of gods of every gender.

    7. The OP says Shards differ in how they give access to Investiture, not in what the Investiture can do. I theorize Autonomy gives their Investiture through fractals. Brandon says gemhearts are “Investiture leaking into the Physical Realm” like atium does. The Sibling/Autonomy uses gemheart fractals as the means to push Investiture into the Physical Realm.

    I infer from all this that the Sibling in constitution and behavior resembles an Autonomy Avatar. I don’t believe the Sibling currently is an Avatar. Autonomy hasn’t found the Sibling yet or Connected minds with it. The Sibling probably won’t become an Avatar during SLA (if ever), since Brandon says those books only concern the three resident Shards. But that doesn’t change my belief that the Sibling funnels Autonomy’s Investiture through gemheart fractals.


  25. This is excellent work, Skaa! Well-reasoned and presented. 

    But I read Kabsal’s words literally. There ARE ten Divine Attributes – the ten Primary ones. Those are the ones that attract a god – Radiant spren. I posit in this post, “Fifth Oath Achieves Secondary Divine Attribute,” that Radiant oaths progress them to full ascension when they merge with their spren. That coincides with their achievement of their Secondary Divine Attribute. They then become the equivalent of Heralds.

    From a religious perspective, it makes more sense to teach how to achieve godhood, the Primary Divine Attribute. Only a handful of the faithful will ever need to worry about the Secondary Attribute.