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  1. I highly recommend the November 2019 Autonomy Shardcast. @Chaos, @thegatorgirl00, @Argent, and @Overlord Jebus do a great job going over the Autonomy essentials with relevant text and WoBs. Their Trell analysis alone is worth the listen. The Shardcasters, though, offer no unifying principle to explain Bavadin/Autonomy’s many oddities. My “Comprehensive Magic Theory” proposes such a principle: fractals. Fractals are progressively smaller-scaled versions of the same pattern, all of which make one whole. Avatars seem smaller-scaled versions of Autonomy, and I speculate Autonomy’s magic (Sand Mastery and Aviar) relies on Splinters that are still smaller-scaled Autonomy versions. All remain “one whole,” since (a recent WoB suggests) Autonomy controls their Avatars through an inter-Connected mind. Don’t hang up yet...Let me explain. Background: Shard “Primal Forces” My theory posits Shards magically differ only in how they give access to their Investiture, not in what their Investiture can do. Ruin’s magic users access Investiture through some act of entropy; Preservation’s through some act of stasis; and Honor’s through a voluntary bond between people. Brandon alternately calls these different means of access to Investiture “primal forces,” “fundamental laws,” and “something...natural.” Shards are “primal forces attached to certain aspects of personality...[a] cultural component, I would say, that is trying to represent something that is also natural.” Brandon cites his fascination with fractals. I think he wants a “personality aspect/cultural component” to represent a fractal primal force. Fractals are too common in nature for him to ignore. I believe Brandon settled on “Autonomy” as the “charged term” for a Shard that gives access to Investiture through fractals. What Are Fractals Mandelbrot (of @Extesian's Mandelbrot Set icon) coined the term “fractal” in 1975: "a fractal is a geometric shape that can be separated into parts, each of which is a reduced-scale version of the whole." Here’s another description: The main points: Smaller-scaled fractals show the same pattern as the whole. Fractals can infinitely self-replicate that pattern. Smaller-scaled fractals remain part of the larger whole (the most important point, IMO). Why I Associate Fractals with Autonomy Brandon himself asks: If you get rid of the charged term “autonomy” – the sense of freedom, self-reliance, etc. – I think you’re left with a primal force that focuses on fractal self-containedness. Each fractal bears the same pattern as the others but is its own autonomous unit. The ongoing looped process that creates fractals ensures each fractal will continue to make more, smaller-scaled autonomous fractals of the same pattern. What Are Avatars Fractal creation seems to me exactly what Autonomy does when they create Avatars, smaller-scaled versions of themselves that remain part of the whole. Brandon describes the “standard” Avatar – a smaller, less-powerful-than-a-Shard combination of mind and Investiture: Questions: (1) What are the non-standard types of Avatars; and (2) how do Avatars differ from other large forms of sapient Investiture like Roshar’s great spren? Two recent WoBs give some insight: Answers: These WoBs say, 1. Avatars can spawn spontaneously without Bavadin consciously creating them. 2. Bavadin is always aware of their Avatars including spontaneously spawned ones. 3. Bavadin personally directs the Avatars that lack self-awareness. I speculate these non-self-aware Avatars are the non-standard ones. These Avatar characteristics match the fractal behavior I describe above. Avatars spawn spontaneously because fractals can infinitely self-replicate their pattern. Bavadin is always aware of their Avatars because all fractals are part of the larger whole. Maybe other living Shards spontaneously Splinter and maybe they retain some awareness of their Splinters, but the extent of their attention is unclear. Odium does not seem aware of Sja-anat’s treachery, for example. Item 3 in particular may be unique to Autonomy. I don’t recall another Shard whose Vessel personally directs large independent chunks of its Investiture. The only known large Investiture chunks are Roshar’s great spren and the nascent Mother Sel (AU, “The Selish System,” Kindle pp. 18). Yet the Stormfather, Nightwatcher, and Sibling each have their own mind and personality; and Mother Sel seems to be forming her own mind. In contrast to Autonomy’s control of their Avatars, Cultivation encourages the Nightwatcher to grow her own abilities, as befits that Shard. Hypothesis: Maybe Avatars differ from other sapient Investiture chunks because Avatars remain subject to Autonomy’s control – just like fractals are smaller-scaled versions of the whole. Bavadin writes to Hoid as “us” and “we.” I suspect Autonomy at some level controls even the self-directing Avatars that have their own personality. We know Autonomy creates pantheons where they are every god of every gender – smaller versions of Bavadin. This would explain why Brandon says, “The being called Patji still exists, and is a Shard of Adonalsium.” Since Autonomy maintains their control of Patji, a smaller-scaled version of themselves, Patji IS a Shard, part of Autonomy. How Fractals Fit Autonomy’s Magic Honor is not the only Shard that bonds, Ruin isn’t the only Shard that destroys, and Autonomy is not the only Shard that creates fractals (Pattern, anyone?). But IMO each of them ARE the only Shards that give access to their Investiture through bonding, entropy, and fractals respectively. Avatar Creation Autonomy creates standard Avatars by first finding a “gathering” of their “assigned Investiture.” Brandon says, “in the cosmere matter, energy, and Investiture are one thing” and all share the mark of the Shard’s “spin,” its primal force/fundamental law/something natural. This maintains the 16-Shard balance when Investiture converts into matter or energy and back again. I believe Autonomy searches for sources of Physical Realm fractals large enough to sustain an Avatar. Autonomy’s only known Avatar is Patji on First of the Sun. Bavadin mentions “Obrodai” and its nascent Avatar in their letter to Hoid, but that may just be their name for First of the Sun. Roshar also holds a “gathering of [Autonomy’s assigned] Investiture” that does not (yet?) appear to be an Avatar. First of the Sun/Obrodai and Roshar are ocean planets with little land. In their letter, Bavadin seems to enjoy oceans: "But we stand in the sea, pleased with our domains....” (OB Chapter 48 Epigraph.) Adonalsium built the Rosharan continent from Roshar’s ocean floor using the Julia set, a fractal geometry equation. I suggest Roshar’s many fractals (including its gemstones/gemhearts) form Autonomy’s “gathering” of assigned Investiture. IMO, the Patji pantheon (and the Obrodai Avatar if different from Patji) are also land masses built from the oceans on fractal geometry principles. I speculate Autonomy Connects each Avatar to Bavadin’s mind to retain control of the whole. Autonomy programs the Avatar as they choose. Standard Avatars may have a separate personality. Bavadin’s letter to Hoid describes Obrodai’s Avatar: “She is young yet, and – as a precaution – she has been instilled with an intense and overpowering dislike of you." (OB Chapter 50 Epigraph.) Through this inter-Connected mind, the Shard remains a whole comprised of many smaller-scaled versions of themselves. Sand Mastery Sand ribbons are my only evidence Sand Master innate Investiture is a fractal. More powerful Sand Masters can simultaneously control more ribbons. Younger or weaker magic users can only manipulate a single ribbon. This suggests each sand ribbon has a separate source, a separate Autonomy fractal the Sand Master directs. Through training, more powerful Sand Masters may strengthen whatever in their character, talent, and skill Initiated them into Sand Mastery. Those strengthened conditions may cause the fractal to self-replicate. I speculate each new fractal allows the Master to direct a new ribbon. Aviar My analysis here is equally speculative, but I do have support. Brandon says the Aviar-human bond I believe the language I bolded highlights fractal characteristics. Brandon says he chose fractals for the Rosharan continent’s shape because “I like the blend of structure and spontaneity they can sometimes exhibit.” Fractals can spontaneously self-replicate to shift a bond. Fractal flexibility allows them to take any shape in any medium, as earth’s natural features show. The Invested entity is the Aviar’s human bond-mate. Aviar are “an intermediary” because unlike spren the magic isn’t really the Aviar’s. They acquire it by eating Invested worms, fulfilling the role of “the person that’s bonding the spren.” How does the human become an “Invested entity”? My guess is Aviar Initiation is like Sand Mastery’s. Patji’s trappers must prevail against the planet’s most dangerous predators and hazards. Bavadin tells Hoid: “If you wish more, seek these waters in person and overcome the tests we have created. Only in this will you earn our respect.” (OB Chapter 51 Epigraph.) I speculate when trappers “overcome” their tests, Patji rewards them by Splintering off a new fractal into their sDNA to bond an Aviar with. Aviar magic, like Sand Mastery, relies on a Cognitive bond between lifeforms. Water forges and maintains the Sand Master’s bond with Invested microflora (AU, “The Taldain System,” Kindle pp. 369-370); and I believe it maintains all Patji’s Cognitive bonds. Dusk thinks, “Nobody knew why beasts like the shadows only lived here, in the waters near the Pantheon.” (SotD, Kindle Loc 49.) We know the answer is Patji’s Eye, whose Investiture-laced water flows into the sea. These sea predators “did not hunt by smell or sight, but by sensing the minds of prey.” (SotD, Kindle Loc 20.) On Patji Dusk observes, “the beasts that hunted minds on the island were not as large or as strong of psyche as the shadows of the ocean.” (SotD, Kindle Loc 100.) Dusk describes the “dense humidity of Patji’s jungle.” (SotD, Kindle Loc 784.) I speculate land predators catch their prey’s thoughts through the moisture-laden air. Humidity is a weaker water bridge than oceans, which seem to conduct thoughts better. The weaker bridge IMO comparatively weakens the land predators. Conclusion Every Shard IMO accesses Investiture through a different “primal force/fundamental law/something natural.” Avatars, Sand Mastery, and Aviar make fractals my best guess for Autonomy’s primal force (for now). Regards! C. Predictions: