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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!
I suggest you read Magic System Components – General Theory before reading this post. I follow current convention in defining “Fuel” as the power or local Investiture that causes a magical effect. Capital “F” Fuel is thus akin to a magical engine. It differs from small “f” fuel, which is a substance consumed to add energy to that engine, like gasoline adds energy to a car. I believe Shard power “fuels” the non-Catalytic magic systems, and Catalysts “fuel” the Catalytic systems, in this small “f” sense. (Again, I think Shard “power” is Spiritual Realm Investiture not part of a Spiritweb – the cosmere’s Spiritual energy.) Feruchemy may provide the clearest example of this difference. Brandon says a Feruchemist’s Internal Investiture alone causes Feruchemy’s magical effect – time-shifting attributes: I interpret this to mean a Feruchemist’s Feruchemical gene – his internal Investiture – is the Feruchemist’s magical engine, his Fuel, the Investiture that causes the magical effect. But Brandon also says this: Brandon says power is “how I’m dealing with things like the laws of thermodynamics.” Even in the first quote above, he describes Spiritual Realm “energy” as “my get-out for the laws of thermodynamics.” I read these statements to mean the cosmere is not magically frictionless. A Feruchemist can’t keep whole his internal Investiture if he also uses that Investiture as the “facilitating power.” I think Feruchemy needs “a little bit” of power just to keep the Feruchemist’s internal Investiture “end-neutral” and the magical transaction thermodynamically sound. This power is “fuel,” because it lends Spiritual energy to the magical transaction, but it is not “Fuel” because it does not cause the magical effect. The internal Feruchemical gene alone causes the magical effect, a form of local Shardworld Investiture. I think local Shardworld Investiture causes the magical effect of every non-Catalytic system, whether such systems are “interactions with nature” or “people with magic.” Local Investiture is their Fuel, though Shard power remains their “fuel.” Power as “fuel” replaces any local Investiture used to achieve the magical effect or otherwise “facilitates” the magical effect. Power thus ensures compliance with the cosmere’s thermodynamic laws even when it doesn’t directly cause the magic itself. I believe Catalytic systems, OTOH, use power directly to cause their magical effect. Shard power in these systems is Fuel, but the Catalysts seem to be fuel. Catalysts cause power to Invest Users by adding energy to the magical system. Some posters call Fuel “Kinetic Investiture.” I agree as to the Catalytic systems only, since only they draw power from a different Realm: Kinetic Investiture is energy/power that is being actively (currently) used.” Brandon gives this example: I read Khriss’ BoM description of “an Investiture” (Ars Arcanum, “On the Three Metallic Arts – Allomancy”) to mean the moment when power moves from the Spiritual Realm into the User. Power in this moment of Realmic transition is what I believe Brandon means by “Kinetic Investiture” (that is, Investiture “in motion”). The Nightblood example shows Kinetic Investiture Invests an Allomancer while he burns steel and the power is in transit. Nightblood intercepts this Investiture and instead consumes it. I think this example shows Kinetic Investiture doesn’t Fuel magic until it reaches its destination (the User). At that point, it becomes “static” Investiture (my word), held within the User and subject to his direction. In summary, Each system is powered by Fuel Without which no magic can do. Fuel’s usually Physical, But sometimes it’s Spiritual, Since Catalysts bring power too. [@Calderis, you’re a terrible man.] You can read the other magic component posts at General Theory, Focus, User, and Catalyst. Regards!
The fuel for Awakening is colour. The royals can change their hair colour by their mood. The royals can have essentially infinite awakening fuel by draining their hair colour. Not that colour is too hard to find in a pinch, but, for instance, in a spotless white prison, you have that and your blood to catalyze an Awakening. Because Breaths are finite quantities as well, giving a much less overpowered effect than, for instance, infinite metal for a Scandrian, the ability to use Awakening no matter what the circumstances seems all right.