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  1. I theorize each Shard has its own “pathway to power.” This pathway is the conduit down which a Shard’s Spiritual Realm power enters the other Realms. Each pathway is a unique medium for the transmission of magical energy between the Realms. Metal, spren, water, and electromagnetic radiation (EMR) are examples. The idea and term “pathway to power” comes from Marasi’s POV in this Bands of Mourning passage (Chapter 28, Kindle p. 359, emphasis added): Here’s how I think pathways work in my magic systems model: 1. A magic user consumes a “catalyst” to start the magic (burns metal, infuses Stormlight, dehydrates, drains “color,” etc.) 2. The catalyst activates each Shard’s pathway to Spiritual Realm power. 3. The Spiritual Realm releases power down the pathway. 4. Each magic system’s Focus shapes the pathway to choose which power is released. 5. The Focused power Invests the magic user. 6. The magic user directs the Invested power for some magical effect. Brandon says, “The 'role' of the Shard has to do with the WAY the magic is obtained, not what it can do [emphasis added].” Elsewhere he says, @Jofwu calls the “unchanging/unchangeable” aspect of a Shard its “nature.” Because power isn’t “related to the Shards,” I believe a Shard’s pathway solely causes its nature. Each pathway transmits power differently. Ruin could use the same powers as Preservation; but Ruin’s increased net entropy pathway (“decay”) directly opposes metal’s crystalline molecular pathway (“stasis”). It’s “more natural” for Ruin to steal Allomantic powers by increasing net entropy (spiking). Jofwu calls a Shard’s changeable aspect “the Vessel’s expression of the Shard.” I think the Vessel’s expression embodies Brandon’s axiom that perception guides the use of power. IMO, a Vessel’s expression decides “the WAY the magic is obtained,” “the means of getting powers”: “Ruin stealing, Preservation gifting.” Ruin, for example, could give magic users power in ways other than spiking to express entropy. Brandon may have “flavored” pathways and expressions to correlate with Adonalsium life stages, a Jordan-esque “Wheel of Life.” I’m going to try to weave each Shard into a matrix of expressions, pathways, energy transmission mechanics (each pathways’ “science”), life stages, and narrative. I list the Shards in order of their “life stage.” Lots of speculation here. Enjoy the ride! Fortune [SPECULATION] Expression: Grants Foresight Pathway: Space-Time Continuum Mechanic: Special and General Relativity Life Stage: Conception Narrative: Adonalsium conceives the Physical Realm as a space-time continuum We don’t know whether “Fortune” is a Shard, but it’s a good candidate as hinted by its name. Here’s some speculation: Space-Time in the Cosmere Fortune tells Hoid (the most accomplished seer, says Azure) where and when he needs to be, but not why. It sounds like Hoid taps into the cosmere’s space-time continuum. Brandon believes in probabilistic time: “Possibilities upon possibilities, compounded upon one another. Infinite, overwhelming. The future.” (M:SH, Part Three, Chapter 3, Kindle Locs. 1055-1056.) Since our physics and the cosmere’s are the same except for Investiture, I think space-time constitutes the Physical Realm’s fabric, the substance that permeates the Physical Realm. Except possibly for Cognitive Realm splinters, Adonalsium’s mind and soul are alone until he creates the Physical Realm. IMO, conceiving space-time must precede the Physical Realm because the Physical Realm begins linear time, something unknown in the Spiritual Realm: “Time…had no relevance here. It was not a place. Location had no relevance. Only Connection…” (M:SH, Part Three, Chapter 3, Kindle Locs. 1031-1032.) IOW, space-time doesn’t exist in the Spiritual Realm except as a Connection between a soul and its place and time. How Fortune Works? Surprised by the Diagram’s accuracy, Odium tells Taravangian, “You did this without access to Fortune, or the Spiritual Realm?” (OB, Chapter 122, Kindle p. 1215, emphasis added.) This suggests accessing Fortune is an alternate means of seeing the future, different from looking directly into the Spiritual Realm like Kelsier does in M:SH. Fortune seems to avoid the “mind-breaking” Preservation warns Kelsier about. I think Riino’s globe (the “Rii Oracle”) is an example of an “interaction with nature” magic system. “Invested” mortals like Kaladin can interact with Fortune, but they can’t direct its magic. The Oracle seems filled with Fortune’s Investiture (a “milky light” that changes colors, unlike the Ire’s “blue-white light.” (M:SH, Part 5, Chapter 2, Kindle Loc. 1356.) Touching the Oracle IMO Connects Kaladin to space-time. Through that Connection, Kaladin sees Dalinar’s future confrontation with Odium in Thaylen City. Riino later places his bartered Stormlight in “some kind of globe.” (OB, Chapter 99, Kindle p. 926.) If this “globe” is the Oracle, it’s possible Riino needs to replace Stormlight Kaladin consumes to Connect to Fortune. This makes thermodynamic sense, because you need energy to access the Spiritual Realm, even “at the beginning of the highstorm…when realms blend.” (OB, Chapter 97, Kindle pp. 910, 911.) IOW, Kaladin may have accessed Fortune by consuming a Stormlight catalyst the Oracle holds to fuel his Connection to the Spiritual Realm. The Oracle’s magic to me resembles Aviar as much as atium. Aviar warn their bonded mortals about imminent danger. The Oracle sees farther than Aviar or atium, as we might expect from Fortune. Like Aviar, the Oracle creates a Cognitive Connection with Kaladin – the Investiture seems to know he’d want to see Dalinar’s dilemma. Other Thoughts It’s unclear whether Fortune has its own Shardworld. It may be the “Shard that isn’t on a planet,” appropriate for the Shard whose pathway is space-time. Maybe black holes are Fortune’s perpendicularities? I’m curious if we’ll find mortals who can direct Fortune’s magic along its space-time pathway – starship navigators like Dune’s Guild? Fortune may make FTL space travel possible, through black holes or as a navigation guide. FWIW, Feruchemical “Fortune” and the Shard Fortune (if there is one) may not be 100% the same thing: “when they use the word ‘fortune,’ do they mean exactly what the Feruchemical – and the answer is no. But it is a very similar concept.” Endowment Expression: Grants Life Pathway: Electromagnetic Radiation (EMR) Mechanic: Quantum Mechanics Life Stage: Birth Narrative: Adonalsium creates the cosmere: “Let there be light.” Quantum mechanics describes the behavior of matter and energy at the level of atoms and subatomic particles. Photons are a quantum of light. Breaths are essentially a quantum of Investiture. Quantum mechanics metaphorically fits the “Let there be light” moment, as does Endowment’s EMR pathway. Brandon says Endowment wants to start a cosmere market for magic. She creates Breaths by, IMO, adding life to photons, the “bio” in “biochroma.” Each Breath grants more life (the Heightenings). Even non-Nalthians can hold Breaths. This portability, Breath scarcity (related to the number of native Nalthians), and the fact Breaths as quanta are Investiture’s smallest usable “unit,” make Breaths the ideal currency for Endowment’s magic market. I believe that’s why Endowment chose Nalthis to reside on. I characterize Endowment as an “angel investor.” Her investment (uncoincidentally IMO) gives birth to the magic market. Endowment “endowed” Nalthis with a nest egg that, “Invested” wisely, could generate wealth for millennia. Her name shows how she interprets her pathway. Her social endowment includes the Returned, the prophetic avatars of her divine ideals. Devotion Expression: Sustains Life Pathway: Sub-Surface Ground Mechanic: Geothermal Energy Life Stage: Newborn Narrative: Adonalsium creates planets AonDor seems particularly location-dependent even for Sel. To me, Elantris resembles a newborn who fully depends on its mother. Aon Rao infuses Elantris and Elantrians with the Dor (like mother’s milk). Once the Shaod takes them, Elantrians don’t need any other form of sustenance – Devotion “nurtures” them eternally. The broken chasm line deprives Elantrians of their ability to heal and draw Aons, but they remain immortal. Elantrians lose Aon Rao’s power amplification as they distance themselves from Elantris (and their mother’s Spirit). I associate planet formation with Devotion. After its sun, a planet’s secondary energy source is geothermal energy, left in a planet’s mantle and core when formed. (The warmth of a mother’s love?) Geothermal convection at a planet’s core causes tectonic plate movement on a planet’s surface, like what happened with the chasm. I believe Devotion and Dominion chose Sel because their pathways and mechanics suit a world that (IMO) holds Adonalsium’s inherent Investiture in its ground. Honor Expression: Makes Cognitive Connections Pathway: Neural Synapses Mechanic: Synaptic Plasticity – affects the strength of synaptic connections Life Stage: Infant Narrative: Adonalsium begins to Connect his creations into Spiritwebs Infants start to explore and Connect to the people and things in their world. Neural synapses are how the brain makes Connections. Synapses are the gaps between neurons across which the neurons electrically communicate. IMO, synapses are Honor’s pathway. “Synaptic plasticity” refers to the ability of synapses to strengthen or weaken over time in response to synaptic activity levels. Perceived Connections between people, planet and things, reinforced with use, strengthen synaptic connections. Spren enter the Physical Realm through a Cognitive bond with their host. I believe Roshar’s spren bonds attracted Honor to Roshar. Surgebinders get Honor’s magic from the Nahel bond, a form of Cognitive Connection. IMO, oaths reinforce the Connection by strengthening the synapses in the KR’s brain hooking him to his ideals (the Radiant spren). Broken oaths end the synaptic Connection, leaving a mindless spren that’s missing “a piece of [its] soul.” Dominion Expression: Sets Rules Pathway: Ground Surface Mechanic: Gravitational Potential Energy Life Stage: Toddler Narrative: Adonalsium creates the cosmere’s “unifying laws” Dominion’s form-based “programming” gives access to the Dor. IMO, these forms are 2-dimensional representations of local landscape features, an “overlap between language, location, and magic on the planet…” (AU, “The Selish System,” Kindle p. 18.) On Sel, each unique magical population culturally interprets its native landscape. I think these interpretations become Dominion’s forms. My choice of gravitational potential energy for Dominion’s mechanic may seem weird. Potential energy is stored energy that doesn’t do anything until motion turns it into kinetic energy – like a rock that begins to tumble. Gravitational potential energy depends on the relative height of different parts of the landscape. Even minor elevation differences can yield energy. On Sel, “Vast continents and sweeping oceans create a diverse landscape, with an extreme amount of variation on this one planet.” (AU, Kindle p. 17, emphasis added.) Khriss describes “powers that permeate the landscape.” (AU, Kindle p. 17.) I speculate Dominion’s landscape-based access codes unlock Sel’s gravitational potential energy. At least some Selish magic seems activated by motion: Elantrians draw, JinDo dance, and Bloodsealers and Forgers impress essence stamps. Is Forton’s potion stirred? Perhaps this motion converts the potential energy into the kinetic energy that summons the Dor? Other Shardworlds’ magic systems don’t seem to start with motion. Linking gravitational potential energy with the toddler stage seems appropriate. A sedentary infant’s potential energy becomes the mobile toddler’s very kinetic energy as they learn to resist gravity and move. As the toddler’s world expands, authority needs to set boundaries on that energy. Dominion says, “Know your land and take dominion over it before you can extract its magic.” Cultivation Expression: Transforms Pathway: Life Mechanic: Evolution Life Stage: Puberty Narrative: Adonalsium “transforms” the cosmere to create life I leave Cultivation’s “life” pathway vague. If all cosmere life existed only in the Physical Realm, her pathway might be “living cells.” But spren, seons, and skaze are alive too. I believe Cultivation’s life pathway also winds through them. I think Roshar’s spren are the pathway that brings Cultivation’s power to Roshar’s native flora and fauna, the KR, and fabrials. Stormlight activates the spren pathway to manifest the power each spren personifies (fire, wind, gravity, growth, etc.). Khriss says, “this pattern (the bonding of spren to human) is merely an expansion of what already exists in the nature of the planet.” (AU, “The Rosharan System,” Kindle p. 536.) I believe Cultivation causes this “expansion.” IMO, Radiant spren are Adonalsium spren until Cultivation transforms them. Mutation is an evolutionary process. To me, the source of a KR’s power is the Radiant spren, made from some combination of Honor's and Cultivation's Investiture. The Nahel bond’s Cognitive Connection gives the KR the ability to direct the Radiant spren’s power and enjoy power’s benefits (like self-healing). I believe Cultivation also transforms Dalinar, Taravangian, Lift, and Renarin to help them resist Odium. Dalinar recovers his memories in time to assimilate and integrate them before Odium uses those memories to assault him. Cultivation knows Odium will come to Taravangian on his "bad" days, and I suspect Taravangian’s compassion – his Connection to others – will aid him. Cultivation changes Lift so she can metabolize food into Stormlight. Cultivation (IMO) changes both Renarin and Glys so they can bond each other. Renarin's name shows his uniqueness: “Like one who was born unto himself.” (OB, Chapter 52, Kindle p. 515.) Puberty transforms a person and makes them capable of creating life. That seems the natural life stage for Cultivation’s expression and pathway. Autonomy Expression: Grants Self-Sufficiency Pathway: Water Mechanic: Fluid Mechanics Life Stage: Parenthood Narrative: Adonalsium makes a planet with (IMO) its own self-sufficient consciousness Life needs water for self-sufficiency. Like Autonomy, water easily changes form. Autonomy prefers ocean worlds like Taldain and First of the Sun. Fluid mechanics (which includes aerodynamics) seems an appropriate choice for Bavadin, whom I believe is a shape-shifting dragon. Khriss says a Sand Master’s body water forges a temporary bond between him and the sand microflora. (AU, “The Taldain System,” Kindle pp. 369-370.) This bond lets the Sand Master draw Investiture from the Spiritual Realm to control the microflora’s growth and, consequently, the sand. IOW, water is the pathway down which the Sand Master pulls power from the Spiritual Realm and pushes it into the microflora. Brandon calls Roshar a “created” world. I think Adonalsium made Roshar last. The closeness of Roshar’s Cognitive and Physical Realms suggests Adonalsium gave Roshar its own self-sufficient consciousness. Roshar may represent Adonalsium’s Planet 2.0, a child planet that will grow itself. Roshar, FWIW, is also an ocean planet. I think the Urithiru basement icon of a figure with arms out-stretched above a blue disk refers to whatever consciousness raised the Rosharan continent from the water. Autonomy later does the same when its avatar raises the Pantheon. I suspect much of Autonomy’s “assigned Investiture” is found on Roshar. Preservation Expression: Maintains Stasis Pathway: Metals Mechanic: Metal Science Life Stage: Middle Age Narrative: Adonalsium is content with the cosmere as is Metals form regular crystal structures and have the lowest entropy of the matter states – closest to stasis. Adonalsium looks at his creation (the cosmere) with middle age’s self-satisfaction. He wants to keep what he has. Odium Expression: Breaks Cognitive Connections Pathway: Neuron Death Mechanic: Nonsynaptic Plasticity – affects neurons’ intrinsic excitability; overexcited neurons can cause cell death Life Stage: Later Age Narrative: Adonalsium ages, loses Connections, and foresees his death As people age, they lose Connection with family and friends. They become less responsive and lose their affect. Perhaps the Fain causes Adonalsium’s slippage – is the Fain a Physical Realm representation of Adonalsium’s Cognitive decline? Does Adonalsium foresee the need for heirs? I believe Odium’s magic users get their power by breaking their Cognitive Connections to other people. That’s my lesson from Odium’s failed attempt to turn Dalinar. Empty of feeling – “Alone…So alone” – Odium’s magic users fill their void with power. “Passion” can break these Connections – hate blinds, as does lust, gluttony, and shame. Though not passion, irresponsibility also breaks Connections – “It’s not my fault…” I think Odium’s pathway is neuron death. One way: high neuron stimulation over time (like from passion) can overexcite and kill neurons (“excitotoxicity”). To regain their power, a returned Fused IMO must lose more neurons to break more Connections. This may explain why many Fused can’t speak and appear imbecilic – they’ve come back so often and suffered too much brain damage. Odium is the Shard murderer. He kills the Vessel’s mind, leaving the Shard’s power undirected. IMO, Odium holds “the most frightening and terrible of all the Shards” because of his neuron death pathway. Ruin Expression: Decay Pathway: Increased Entropy Mechanic: Second Law of Thermodynamics: Entropy Life Stage: Death and Decomposition Narrative: Adonalsium dies and “decomposes” – Shatters into 16 pieces of greater entropy “Hemalurgy has a huge cost, ending in net entropy,” since power is lost in attribute transfers. I think a Hemalurgical victim’s decaying blood and Feruchemical attribute conversion into Investiture are examples of Ruin’s pathway of increased entropy. Hemalurgy uses metal as a Focus, but metal is Preservation’s essence, not Ruin’s. I think Ruin uses metal because it has the lowest entropy. Other choices would lose too much power in transit. To me, it makes thematic sense the Ruin-Preservation war should oppose entropy with the cosmere’s most entropy-resistant substance. Ruin ruined Ati. It decayed his will and personality until he gave in to Ruin’s destructive impulse. In Ati more than any other Vessel, nature and expression merged. Other Shards I omit Ambition because we only know its magic inferentially. I also agree with many posters that Wisdom is a Shard, but again, we don’t know its magic. I can certainly envision Ambition and Wisdom as Adonalsium “life stages.” Ambition falls between “self-sufficiency” and middle age. Wisdom should come between middle age and Cognitive decline (or so I’m told). Other Topics I discuss these topics in the following Spoiler: Recent WoB Supports Pathways Theory Meaning of “Essence” “Catalyst” as Cosmere Word Why Non-Metal Catalysts Are Invested The Role of Catalyst in Cosmere Thermodynamics: Awakening Catalysts and Identity
  2. A Forum “well-established theory” (WET) states a User powers magic with Fuel and shapes the magical effect through a Focus. I agree with WET, with some tweaks. I believe there are different types of magic systems that share different WET components. IMO, all magic systems have Focus and Fuel. All “people with magic” systems additionally have a User. “Catalytic people with magic” systems add what Khriss calls a “Catalyst.” I detail each magical component in related posts to isolate those topics for separate discussion. In this post, I’ll first summarize the differences among magic systems. I then state how I think the components relate to one another and how they apply to specific magic systems. I call “revised” WET, “Re-WET.” Types of Magic Systems I theorize there are two main types of magic systems: "Interaction with nature” systems and “people with magic” systems. IMO, the “people with magic” systems – systems where sapient beings can direct the magical effect – are subdivided into those that use “Catalysts” and those that don’t. I think Catalysts are substances Users consume to Invest themselves with Shard “power” (Spiritual Realm Investiture not part of a Spiritweb – IMO the cosmere’s Spiritual energy). Shards created “people with magic” systems post-Shattering, and they are found only on Major Shardworlds. In summary: “Catalytic people with magic” systems – Sapient beings (“people”) can direct Shard power. Examples: Allomancy, Surgebinding, and Awakening. “Non-Catalytic people with magic” systems – People can direct local Shardworld Investiture, but not Shard power. Examples: Feruchemy, the Returned, and non-Awakening Breath Transfers. “Interaction with nature” systems – People can interact with local Shardworld Investiture, but cannot direct magic of any kind. Examples: Threnody’s shades, the Patji’s Eye ecosystem on First of the Sun, and Roshar’s pre-Shattering magical ecosystem. Preliminary Thought IMO, Adonalsium created the “interaction with nature” systems when he formed the cosmere. The first WoB above states, “There is inherent Investiture on every world created.” Shards later added their Investiture to some of these systems, but these systems are still “natural” in the sense they are built into their planets, part of their planets’ Spiritwebs. “People with magic” systems OTOH are IMO artificial constructs the Shards created to approximate how the Shards themselves make magic. Shards think, and magic happens. “People’s” minds are too weak to direct large amounts of power by themselves. Magic system components IMO are “work-arounds” to fill this gap. For this reason, some components don’t fit neatly into a model. Focus, for example, overlaps other components like a User’s commands and Catalysts. WET Here’s @Spoolofwhool’s succinct and representative expression of WET: Re-WET Here’s my suggestion to revise WET’s components. I discuss each Re-WET component in the linked posts. User: A person whose mind directs the Fuel. Focus: A component that determines which power is available for magic. Fuel: The power or local Investiture that causes a magical effect. Catalyst: A substance Users consume to Invest themselves with Shard power. Note on “User”: I think a User must be a sapient being, a “person.” I also think the User component includes magical “Identity,” “innate Investiture,” and “Initiation.” Identity IMO is the relationship between the User and their native Shardworld’s Investiture. Innate Investiture is the Investiture grafted onto a User’s soul that makes them a User. Initiation is the process by which a potential User becomes an actual User. I discuss these in the “User” post. Note on “Focus”: I believe a Focus determines the power available for magic. IMO, local Shardworld Investiture cannot be further Focused. It already embodies the “essence” of the power that created it. Note on “Fuel”: I follow WET’s convention of naming magic-causing Investiture “Fuel.” As so defined, upper case “Fuel” seems more of a magical engine than that engine’s “fuel.” Lower case “fuel” is a substance consumed to provide energy to a process, like gasoline energizes a car’s motion. I believe all magic does have such “fuel,” which I discuss in the “Fuel” post. Please bear in mind, though, that both WET and Re-WET identify “Fuel” as the substance that causes magic to happen, not the substance consumed to add energy to the magical process. Note on “Catalyst”: I believe each Catalyst is made from a Shard’s “essence,” the Shard’s converted power. On Scadrial, metal is Preservation’s “concentrated essence” (BoM, Chapter 28, Kindle p. 359). On the other Major Shardworlds, I believe that “essence” is a form of the Shardworld’s local Investiture. I theorize this Investiture is found in Roshar’s highstorms, Taldain’s irradiated oceans, Nalthis’ electromagnetic radiation (EMR), and Sel’s ground. Catalysts add energy to the magical process (and hence are “fuel”); but unlike chemical catalysts, the process consumes them. Note on “magic systems”: WET equates the term “manifestation of Investiture” with “magic system.” While I don’t think it matters much, I’m unconvinced the terms mean the same thing. In the Mistborn Ars Arcana, Khriss describes the Metallic Arts as “manifestations of Investiture.” She doesn’t describe magic systems in other books that way, which suggests the term isn’t definitional. I interpret the term literally – a “manifestation of Investiture” is how Investiture manifests in a planet’s Physical Realm. Thus, I see Stormlight and Radiantspren as Rosharan “manifestations of Investiture.” Neither is a “magic system.” IMO, they are components of the Surgebinding “magic system,” its Catalyst and Focus, respectively. I believe the “interaction with nature” systems have only the Fuel and Focus components, and non-Catalytic “people with magic” systems add a User. IMO, the Catalytic systems have all four magical components and work as follows: A. The User consumes a Catalyst, like metals, Stormlight or body water. B. The Catalyst causes a Shard’s power to “begin [and ‘keep running’] an Investiture” of the User (BoM Ars Arcanum – “On the Three Metallic Arts – Allomancy.”) The Investiture ends when the User fully consumes the Catalyst. C. The Focus determines which power Invests the User. D. The User’s mind then directs the Invested power to “shape” the desired magical effect. Specific Systems @SpoolofWhool’s post includes examples of how WET applies to some magic systems. After quoting Spool’s WET examples, I suggest how Re-WET would apply to the same systems. Allomancy: The User is the Allomancer. I think the metal they burn is both a Catalyst and a Focus. Any Allomantic metal will act as a Catalyst to enable the Allomancer to Invest himself with Preservation’s power. The specific metal chosen will act as a Focus to determine the specific power the Allomancer Invests himself with – rioting, soothing, leeching, etc. IMO, the Allomancer himself shapes the power’s specific effect – how and when to use that power to riot, soothe or leech. While metal Catalysts are consumed in Allomancy, its Fuel is Preservation’s power. Feruchemy: The User is the Feruchemist. He directs Feruchemy’s magical effect when he chooses to time-shift an attribute. IOW, I think the conversion of “some of themselves into investiture” is Feruchemy’s magical effect, not its Fuel. I think the Fuel that causes this magical effect is the Feruchemical gene, the Feruchemist’s “end-neutral” internal Investiture. I believe even “end-neutral” Feruchemy consumes a “fuel” to make the magic. IMO, Brandon confirms this when he says “end-neutral” systems rely on a “facilitating power.” I believe this “facilitating power” keeps the Feruchemist’s internal Investiture “end-neutral” and thermodynamically sound. I think each Feruchemical metal is a Focus for the specific power that “facilitates” time-shifting the corresponding attribute. (I discuss this more in my Fuel post.) Awakening: The User is the Awakener. Brandon says Awakening’s Focus is the visualized command. The User’s command both selects the power to Invest the User and directs that power to Awaken the object for the visualized task. “Draining color” (as I describe it below) Catalyzes Awakening and Invests the Awakener with Endowment’s power. I don’t believe Awakening’s Fuel is Breath (though maybe I missed a WoB that clearly says that). I think Breath is Endowment’s Invested “life-force,” the target of the Awakener’s command, not its Fuel. Breath held by the Invested object just gets old and loses potency like Breath does in humans. IMO Breath decay is not consumption. Color loss from simple Breath Transfers (an end-neutral magic) comes from the transferor’s reduced Breaths, lowering his Heightening. IOW, color loss from simple Breath Transfers does not act as a Catalyst that summons power. I think Awakening’s Catalyst is the Invested electromagnetic radiation (EMR) colored objects absorb. Awakening’s Fuel is the Endowment power that Catalyst summons through the Focus of the Awakener’s command. “Draining color” withdraws the absorbed Investiture from the colored object. Awakeners can easily “drain” black (fully absorbed EMR), but cannot drain white (fully reflected EMR). This Investiture withdrawal causes colored objects to turn gray, just like a Shardblade-severed limb that’s lost its connection to the soul. I theorize Endowment Invested the Tears of Edgli with vivid color because that narrows the reflected light EMR spectrum (and is more noticeable). The broader absorbed EMR spectrum remains, leaving more Investiture for an Awakener to withdraw. The “sticky” dyes the Tears create mark where an Awakener can find Investiture. Surgebinding: The User is the Surgebinder. I agree with @SpoolofWhool that it probably doesn’t matter whether the Focus is the spren or the bond, but IMO spren are Roshar’s Focus. Each “natural” (pre-Shattering) spren personifies a different power, like life, fire, or gravity. These “natural” spren can Focus “anti-gravity” power, for example, into sky eels and greatshells. I believe Radiantspren’s mixed Investitures make them dual Focuses. (I haven’t thought through whether gems are soulcasting’s additional Focus and don’t address that.) IMO Surgebinders consume Stormlight to Catalyze Honor and/or Cultivation’s Investiture of them. The Radiantspren determines which power Invests the Surgebinder. I think the Surgebinder “binds” the Surges by cognitively directing the Invested power to create some magical effect – choosing gravity’s vector or drawing a new persona. Conclusion I analyze each Re-WET component in detail in my posts on Fuel, Focus, Users and Catalysts. Those are the threads to post your comments about the components themselves. Here I try to address how I think these components fit together. In summary, All systems have Fuel and are Focused. Shards added a User and Catalyst. Mortals now can direct Their own magic effect, Like becoming a soul-forging analyst. [Da-dum… The first of several such summaries. Blame @Calderis, the Adonalsium of cosmere limericks. He inspired me to summarize theory in verse and even write an English sonnet about my three favorite fantasy writers. I enjoy writing theory, but @Calderis has added some entertaining challenges. He’s also the source of the phrase “well-established theory” I use to describe the “User-Focus-Fuel” model.] Regards!
  3. I suggest you read Magic System Components – General Theory before reading this post. Introduction I theorize “Catalysts” are substances Users consume to Invest themselves with Shard “power.” IMO “power” is Spiritual Realm Investiture that’s not part of a Spiritweb – the cosmere’s Spiritual energy. I believe Catalysts cause the User himself to become an Invested object capable of directing the power that infuses him. I believe cosmere Catalysts add energy to the magical process. This energy breaks down the Realmic barriers or otherwise creates a conduit between Realms. Catalysts are a form of lower case “fuel” in their systems. Catalysts are the least common magical component, and IMO give mortals access to the cosmere’s most powerful magic. Allomancy, AonDor, Awakening, and Surgebinding are examples of Catalytic systems. I believe only these systems rely on Shard power as Fuel. For that reason, I think only Catalytic systems allow mortals to change Spiritwebs other than their own souls. What Is a Catalyst Here’s what Khriss says about Allomancy’s metal Catalyst (BoM Ars Arcanum – “On the Three Metallic Arts – Allomancy”) (emphasis added): Khriss uses the word “catalyst” to distinguish the “consumed metal” from the “power itself” that doesn’t come from the metal. She then compares metal with the Selish “form-based Investitures.” This comparison suggests Khriss views metal as a Focus, like Sel’s forms, despite calling metal a “catalyst.” Focus and Catalyst do coincide in metals, but these components don’t seem to coincide in the other magic systems. As I detail below, I think each non-metal Catalyst is a form of its Shardworld’s local Investiture – Stormlight, Invested body water, Invested electromagnetic radiation (EMR), and Invested ground. None of these Investitures are their planet’s Focus. Metals and these local Investitures share a common source – each is the “essence” of a Shard’s power – a “pathway to power” in Marasi’s words (BoM, Chapter 28, Kindle p. 359). IMO Users consume each substance, each Shard’s “essence,” to build this “pathway to power” in every Catalytic magic system. Why Catalysts Work I believe this WoB helps explain the idea of Catalyst: Here’s what I find interesting about this often-quoted statement: 1. I think Vin substitutes the mists for metals. “Vin burns the mists…to fuel Allomancy.” This “super-fuel” causes so much power to Invest her that her body vaporizes. That’s one function of a Focus – to limit the power flow a Catalyst summons. 2. Brandon equates the mists with “the essence of Preservation.” I interpret this to mean that Physical Realm Investiture like the mists is a Shard’s magical “essence.” 3. Brandon says a Shard’s essence “can act as super-fuel for…any of the powers.” IOW, consuming Physical Realm Investiture itself can “fuel” any magic anywhere (subject to the User’s Identity). 4. Scadrial is the only planet without Adonalsium Investiture. It is also the only planet that uses a non-Investiture substance, metals, as its Catalyst. Marasi describes metals as Preservation’s “Concentrated essence.” (BoM, Chapter 28, Kindle p. 359.) IMO, this is because Scadrial, unlike every other planet, is made entirely from Shard essence, including the metals. I believe, based on this WoB, that Adonalsium’s essence dominates the other Major Shardworlds. (I also think the reference to Preservation’s “Concentrated essence” – as opposed to the above quote’s “condensed” essence – means metals don’t contain any Ruin essence. Some metals may rust, but the non-oxidizing, non-radioactive ones don’t “decay.”) 5. We know Adonalsium left “inherent Investiture” on each planet other than Scadrial. IMO, Shards later Invested the same substance on each planet that already held Adonalsium’s inherent Investiture. I think these are Roshar’s highstorms, Taldain’s irradiated oceans, Nalthis’ EMR, and Sel’s ground. I think that’s what Brandon means when he says the “interaction between Shards and Shardworlds” creates the unique magic systems of the Major Shardworlds. The Shards adapted to their Shardworld and the magic that already existed there, the “inherent” magic built into each planet’s soul. 6. I believe the Investiture in Roshar’s highstorms, Taldain’s irradiated oceans, Nalthis’ EMR, and Sel’s ground are those planets’ Catalysts – the “condensed essence” of Shard power that can “super-fuel” any magic. IMO, these substances mingle Adonalsium’s inherent Investiture and Shard Investiture. Major Shardworld Catalysts The following discussion is based on my (now much edited) post, “Pre-Shattering Magic.” For additional information on this topic, please look at that post. Roshar’s Invested Highstorms. Surgebinders consume Stormlight to perform Surgebinding, but I believe Stormlight doesn’t make the magic. Rather, like metals, I believe Stormlight is a Catalyst that causes Honor/Cultivation’s power to Invest Surgebinders. Surgebinders then direct the power (Focused through their Radiantspren IMO) to Windrun, Regrow, or Lightweave how and when they choose. I believe Honor Invested Roshar’s highstorms, but highstorms already held Adonalsium’s Investiture. The main evidence is the listeners’ pre-Shattering Rider of Storms. Highstorms are “natural” on Roshar, meaning Adonalsium created them. Pre-Shattering spren types still exist on Roshar, showing Adonalsium’s ongoing magical influence. Taldain’s Invested Oceans. Khriss says Sand Masters use “water from their own bodies to forge a brief Cognitive bond. They can draw Investiture…directly from the Spiritual Realm, and use that to control the sand.” (AU, Taldain Essay, Kindle p. 369.) IOW, a Sand Master’s body water is the Catalyst for drawing Autonomy’s power from the Spiritual Realm. I theorize Taldain’s oceans hold Adonalsium’s inherent Investiture. Taldain’s natural Water Cycle (Evaporation-Condensation-Precipitation, etc.) circulates that Investiture throughout the ecosystem and into human lungs and stomachs. Autonomy’s Investiture, held in the larger sun, begins the Water Cycle by irradiating and evaporating Taldain’s oceans. IMO, that mingles the two Investitures. Sand Masters dehydrate as they consume that Invested body water to summon power and “control the sand” (or rather, the lichen in the sand). Nalthis’ Invested EMR. I think Awakening’s Catalyst is the EMR colored objects absorb. IMO, Nalthis’ EMR holds both Adonalsium’s and Endowment’s Investiture. “Draining color” withdraws the absorbed Investiture from the colored object. Awakeners can easily “drain” black (fully absorbed EMR), but cannot drain white (fully reflected EMR). This Investiture withdrawal causes colored objects to turn gray, just like a Shardblade-severed limb that’s lost its connection to the soul. I believe Endowment Invested the Tears of Edgli to restrict reflected EMR (color) to a narrow spectrum. The vivid, saturated color marks dyed objects as portable repositories of Investiture. The broader remaining spectrum holds most of the colored object’s absorbed EMR for “draining.” Sel’s Invested Ground. I believe Devotion and Dominion created their landscape-based magical language because Adonalsium placed Sel’s inherent Investiture in its ground. I think Sel’s Catalyst is this ground Investiture. IMO, the ground Investiture leaches into the surrounding ecosystem and its lifeforms, like what happens at Patji’s Eye. Shai uses squid ink for her soulstamps. The Bloodsealer uses Shai’s blood. Dakhor monks transform their bones. Each Selish User IMO consumes some substance imbued with Sel’s ground Investiture to Catalyze the Dor’s Investiture of them. I think Sel’s ground Investiture Catalyzes Raoden’s completion of Aon Rao. As a Reod Elantrian, Raoden couldn’t draw any other lasting Aons. Yet he drew this one with a stick. I think it’s because the ground he drew on held the Investiture that Catalyzed the Dor’s infusion of Elantris and Elantrians. As long as Aon Rao retains its shape as a Focus, the Dor will continue to infuse Elantris. The “mostly Spiritual” Elantrians can then draw their own Aons to use the Dor as needed. One counter is that Elantris doesn’t work unless Aon Rao is complete. Thus, Elantrians couldn’t draw Aons until Aon Rao Focused the Dor into Elantris. That’s true. But Raoden could have drawn a perfectly shaped Aon Rao in the air, and I believe nothing permanent would have happened. Otherwise, he would have simply done so. I think Raoden had to draw Aon Rao on the ground for the Dor to Invest Elantris because ground Investiture is needed to Catalyze the Dor’s Investiture of the city. (I predict we’ll discover a Fjordell form drawn on the ground that amplifies Dakhor power at the monastery.) Speculation About Adonalsium’s Investiture I wonder whether non-metal Catalysts must use both Adonalsium and Shard Investiture to work properly or whether it matters? The non-Scadrial Major Shardworlds are mostly comprised of Adonalsium, who created them. The Shards later Investitures conformed to the constraints Adonalsium’s magic imposed. I think the Shards could modify his existing systems, but couldn’t supplant those systems. Each non-metal Catalyst mingles Adonalsium and Shard Investiture. That may be coincidental, a natural outgrowth of the “Shard-Shardworld interactions,” but maybe not. The Shards already Fueled systems with their power; perhaps they wanted Adonalsium to contribute the bulk of the Catalyst? Maybe it’s unimportant, but who knows. Conclusion A “Catalyst” this substance Khriss calls, For Shard power a Catalyst installs. Composed of Shard essence, Its heated tumescence Adds energy to break through Realm walls. (Inspired by W.B. Yeats’ sonnet, “Leda and the Swan,” particularly lines 9-10.) That’s the last limerick, @Calderis. Great respect! You’re a terrific wordsmith with a terrific ear. Thanks for bringing limericks to the Shard! You can read the other magic component posts at General Theory, Fuel, User, and Focus. Regards!
  4. There are two questions that have been nagging me lately... First and foremost, I am a very dedicated fan of sanderson's work but I don't lurk too much in these forums, so something like this might be common knowledge, but my Search Surge isn't strong enough to find an answer, so I decided to ask. Please excuse me if there are already answers to this. When an Awakener (the guys with powers on Nalthis, Warbreaker novel) uses his Breaths to animate something, he/she gives them to the object, and in turn this object gains pseudo-life and is suddenly capable of moving by itself. That implies that it should be USING the breaths to power this movements, it needs energy to move. But it's not the case. When the awakener ends the effect, recovers all the breaths used, intact. So... there is a surplus of energy in the world. This definitively doesn't follow the laws of thermodynamics and it makes me wonder: Is there something I don't get? Yeah, color is used as a catalyst... Like Allomancers use metals, I guess. But still... And the second question: If I had a stage light with some color filters pointing at the floor just at the feet of an Awakener... could he/she use the color that the light is granting to the floor to Awaken things, and thus Awaken continuously, as long as he/she still has Breaths?
  5. I've tagged this White Sand spoilers as the graphic novel is still pretty new, but it's critical to the pattern that I've observed that has convinced me my previous thoughts on how investiture worked were insufficient. (I had been thinking I was missing an element due to Nalthis' magic already, but I didn't have a second example that made me absolutely certain) We're probably all familiar with the term Focus. It's a necessary element for anyone to use Investiture to perform magic, and it's the part of the "spell" that determines how that power/magic manifests in the world. For Allomancy, that means metals determine which power you access. For AonDor, that's symbols. We also know that shards manifest their power in solid, liquid, and gaseous forms. I started thinking about this in detail after reading Secret History and noting that in the Cognitive Realm there, everything manifested as mists. There is sometimes some overlap between these manifestations and focuses, so it's not a clean delination. I call these Manifestations of Investiture, or just Manifestation for short, and they represent a Shard's power/body. I would argue, for instance, that Atium is both a Focus and Manifestation at the same time, wheras the Scadrian mists and Well of Eternity are simply Manifestations. I had convinced myself that one of these manifestations would determine the appearance of a planet's cognitive aspect, as we had an ocean of sphere in Shadesmar, and a sea of mists in cognitive Scadrial. On reflection, it seems to be more that one part of the equation is heavily reflected in the cognitive seas, but I don't have enough data yet to make a reasonable hypothesis as to which one. It's especially confusing that spheres are used on Roshar, as gems actually seem to be the relevant part of the equation that sphere would resemble. This could be due to the cognitive seas simply being composed of whatever people most clearly associate with magic- in which case, we would probably expect seas of symbols in Sel, seas of Colour in Nalthis, and maybe seas of Sand or Sunlight on Taldain. This system described Scadrial pretty well, and as it was the magic system we best understood, I was content with it, for a while. But it troubled me that while it arguably extended pretty well to Roshar, it has trouble decribing magic on Nalthis, which very clearly had three elements to it. A Command, which we knew via Word of Brandon is their focus, a variable number of Breaths, and of course, colour to drain. The Breaths seemed relatively obvious as a Manfestation of Endowment, as she literally grants Splinters of herself to the Returned that manifest as Divine Breaths. Arguably the colour could also be said to be a Manifestation if you believe that every bit of dye and paint in Hallandren was derived from Tears of Edgli, but I actually don't buy that argument, as we're explicitly told that those dyes are more effective for awakening, implying that mundane dyes and paints were often drained by Awakeners. I also felt skeptical that a magic system would require two manifestations at once, it seemed like I was missing a variable. I was stumped for a while, as I was convinced Manifestations were important, but that I was missing two crucial variables to the equation, one a third part that enabled magic, and one an element that determined where that third part of the equation was actually necessary, a multiplier of sorts to the constant of Colour on Nalthis. And then we had the newsletter confirming how Sand Mastery works. (this is where the spoilers come in) Apparently there is a barely-visible algae within Taldain's sand, which when depleted of magic, appears black. The sand master dehydrates himself to drain magic from the algae, mastering the sand, and then after four hours of exposure to sunlight, the algae is replenished and good to go again. At first, I wasn't particularly excited by reading this. Sure, the algae is their focus, and it's recharged by the Sun, the manifestation of Autonomy's power. But today I realised I was missing something, and went back and compared Taldain's and Nalthis' magic. So the drained colour, our final element of Awakening, was more of a catalyst than a necessary component of our magical equation. It can sometimes be done without, (as there is no obvious catalyst in Allomancy) but the stronger the catalyst, the stronger the magic, especially if your catalyst is also a Manifestation. In fact, this retroactively made sense of Atium being such a powerful metal too, as it was a focus and a manifestation of Ruin's power. Likewise, Water acted as a reserve of magic for Sand Mastery, although you also needed algae that had been charged with sunlight. Here we had a third element, and a consistent pattern of manifestation, focus, and catalyst that made sense. So... under this Focus/Manifestation/Catalyst system, Scadrial is missing one element but definitely has a Metal focus and the Mists and Godmetals are Manifestations. Arguably, feruchemical attributes could be considered a catalyst on Scadrial, but that might be stretching. Nalthis has a Command focus, a Breath manifestation, and a Colour catalyst. And Roshar is a bit more difficult to determine, but probably fits in some combination of gems, stormlight, and oaths to that structure. I would guess that it would be an Oath focus, with Stormlight as a gaseous manifestation of Honour, and a Gem catalyst. (This would explain nicely why Stormlight adheres to cut gems so well but gems aren't actually required for most Surges, as it seems like the necessity of the Catalyst part of the magic seems to vary by world) Selish magic has the form of various engravings, dances, Aons, or soulstamps as their focus, and obviously the Dor is their manifestation. This leaves Soulstone as either a solid manifestation of Aona or Skai, and/or as a catalyst that's required for Forgery, but presumably not for the other Selish magic. This pattern also seems to imply that more heavily invested worlds seem to have a more optional catalyst, as we know that the three worlds that don't have universally required catalysts (Sel, Roshar, and Scadrial) have a lot of loose investiture running around, or in the case of Scadrial, humans were artificially created by Shards investing themselves in the planet, saturating the whole thing with their power. So, in summary, magic requires a focus, and in less heavily invested environments, a catalyst. A manifestation can also be a focus or catalyst, which seems to enhance the power of the interaction. It also seems that a manifestation can stand in for a focus altogether, in the case that the magic user is highly attuned to the relevant Shard, as Vin demonstrated in Hero of Ages, but that might be a special case for those who are being attuned as Vessels. Any thoughts?