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For some months now, I’ve been working on creating a framework for all of the magic systems of Roshar that combines everything we know about them and makes predictions for that which we don’t know. This topic is the end result. Since I’m aiming for completeness, there will be things here that are already well understood, as well as things that I haven’t seen proposed before. So, with apologies for the sheer length that it has become, allow me to present my framework. Magics by Shardic Composition Let's start by listing the various Rosharan powers and classifying them by the Shards which power them. Magic Shardic Composition Surgebinding Honour & Cultivation Ancient Fabrials Honour & Cultivation Modern Fabrials Cultivation Old Magic Cultivation Voidbinding Honour & Odium Voidbringer Powers Cultivation & Odium Surgebinding My classification of Surgebinding shouldn't be raising any eyebrows since it is well understood that each type of Radiant spren is some mix of both Honour and Cultivation. However, let's take a moment to consider how the two powers manifest in Surgebinding as this will provide insight into how I've classified the other magics. While there are many different interpretations of honour, they ultimately all come down to the interaction between two or more people: in a universe with only one person, it would be impossible for them to act honourably (nor to act dishonourably), for there would be no one for them to act honourably towards. This duality is reflected, I believe, in Honour's magic. The most obvious example of this would be the necessity to bond spren in order to perform it. Now, you could argue that since the listeners were bonding spren long before the Shards came to Roshar, this would mean that bonding spren is not related to Honour specifically. However, the listener bond is, by its very nature, very different to the Nahel bond; seemingly less a mutually beneficial partnership, and more a natural process. I would contend, therefore, that this is an example of Honour incorporating this aspect of the Rosharan environment into his magic out of necessity. I do not think that this idea of duality is limited only to the bonding of spren, however; I think that it extends even to the way that the powers form. You likely noticed that in my listing of the various magics that there is no system that is entirely of Honour. I think that Honour's nature means that he requires a second Shard to mix his power with in order to form a magic system. In other words, it would not be in his nature to form a magic that is purely his own. Another example of Honour's effect on Surgebinding is in its structure: the way that Surgebinders are divided up precisely into distinct predetermined Radiant Orders based off of their interpretation of honour, and their determination to emulate that ideal. And also, the way that the powers are divided up between the different orders. This is a rigid and inflexible framework, much like the Radiant’s Ideals can be. In short, this is where the "binding" in Surgebinding comes from: Honour is bound to another Shard and the Radiants to their spren, their Orders, and their Ideals. So if Honour provides a structure to Surgebinding, what does Cultivation provide? I think that it is through Cultivation that Surgebinders get to manipulate the Surges. If we look at the spren associated with each of the Shards, Honour's spren are those of emotion, again linking back to human interaction. Cultivation's spren, however, are the spren of nature, so it makes sense that it is Cultivation's power that gives access to the natural Surges. Now, I can imagine it being argued that since on Scadrial, all the magic systems revolve around metals, surely all the magic systems of Roshar should likewise revolve around the Surges, not simply the ones associated with Cultivation. However, I would argue that this is a false analogy: the metals on Scadrial act as a focus, the Surges on Roshar do not. The powers produced by the Metallic Arts (with the exceptions of Allomantic iron, steel, aluminium, and chromium) are not related to metal themselves. Therefore, whilst all of the Rosharan magic systems should share a common focus, it should not necessarily be the case that they all share the Surges. Modern Fabrials Now with that established, it should be obvious why I think that Fabrials are a magic system purely of Cultivation. They lack the rigid structure that I have associated with Honour, and while the spren are still part of the magic, they are trapped inside the gemstones rather than working with the user as you would expect in Honour’s magic. This leaves Cultivation as the only reasonable candidate, which in turn means that they must be utilising the surges in some way. Although, without the rigidity of Honour’s framework, the way they manifest is apparently quite different. Ancient Fabrials The first thing to note here is that these fabrials do not seem to have much in common with modern fabrials, to the point that I suspect that calling them fabrials at all is a misnomer. Modern fabrials all function by trapping a spren in a gemstone, ancient fabrials do not appear to do this. Spren are clearly involved in some way, just as they are in every other magic; we in fact see this in the operation of the Oathgates. In order to activate them, you need a Shardblade, i.e. the physical manifestation of a spren that is part Cultivation and part Honour. Moreover, the spren needs to be alive. This implies that the person operating the Oathgate needs to be working together with the spren, which sounds just like an Honour based magic. This would mean that the ancient fabrials are far more closely related to the Surgebindings than they are to modern fabrials. Which makes sense given that the effects we have seen (Soulcasting, Regrowth, Transportation) appear to be the same as various Surgebindings. In fact, when Nale heals Szeth with one of these ancient fabrials, he actually refers to it as a Surgebinding. Ideally I would compare the operation of the Oathgates to that of other ancient fabrials, unfortunately though, we haven’t really seen enough of these yet to be able to draw anything meaningful from them. The Old Magic This isn’t a magic like others on this list: it's not something that people can perform; instead, it seems to be practised solely by the Nightwatcher, about whom the only things we can really say with confidence are that she is some kind of “mega-spren”, closely related to Cultivation. This would suggest then that the Old Magic can be described as similar to a sapient, self-operating fabrial. I don’t think that there’s much more that can be said at this point without additional information about the Old Magic or the Nightwatcher. Voidbinding This brings us to the only magic system on the list which I believe to be unrelated to Cultivation. If we look at the Voidbinding chart from the back of The Way of Kings, it is immediately obvious that the structure of the magic is the same as Surgebinding. It even has "binding" in its name, hence why I think that it is of Honour. However, if we look at the symbols where, on the Surgebinding chart, the Surges are placed, we see not the symbols for the Surges, but a twisted version of them. Hence I do not think that Voidbinding will be related to the Surges at all, and hence Cultivation has no part in Voidbinding. Voidbringer Powers And finally, we come to the powers that were demonstrated at the end of Words of Radiance by the Voidbringers. Why do I think that this isn't Voidbinding? We have a WoB that we haven't seen Voidbinding yet, but we have seen these powers, therefore they must be something different. Additionally we have the following WoBs: Since the Voidbringers are forms of the Parshendi, and the Parshendi are not of Honour, if my classification of Voidbinding as being of Honour is correct, then the Voidbringers cannot be Voidbinders. So, why do I think that the Voidbringers are related to Cultivation rather than purely of Odium? If we have a look at Dalinar’s vision of the Purelake, we see him looking for a voidspren, which ultimately ends up animating a thunderclast. The voidspren is described to him as: “A spren that doesn’t act like it should”, not as a new type of spren. And apparently this is a result of the spren interacting with Sja-anat, an Unmade. What’s more, the spren they end up chasing has a resemblance to a riverspren, a type of nature spren, which is therefore related to Cultivation. I would propose, therefore, that the Unmade corrupt spren to make voidspren. When the spren was originally of Cultivation they go on to form Voidbringers and thunderclasts and the like. And when the spren was originally of Honour, they will bond to form Voidbinders. On Initiation The first thing to note here is that not all magics require an Initiation in order to be used. Some, such as Haemalurgy, are universal and can be used by anyone. Modern fabrials also seem to fall under this category. In order to use a magic, you need three things: intent, Investiture, and a focus. In the case of fabrials, the Investiture and the focus are both incorporated into the device itself. In other words, the user only needs to provide the intent to use the fabrial in order for it to work. The crucial part here is that the user does not need to access an external source of Investiture themselves: the fabrial does that for them. The Old Magic is not relevant to this discussion since it is restricted to the domain of the Nightwatcher. Also, I don’t think we’ve seen enough of the ancient fabrials yet in order to determine whether they would also be universal or not, so, for the time being, I’ll pass over these two magics. The remaining magics all seem to require Initiation. Khriss’ comments on Initiation in Elantris’ Ars Arcanum suggest that the method of Initiation across all of the magics on any given world is consistent. I think it should be fairly obvious, therefore, that the method of Initiation here is the spren bond. All of the remaining magics utilise a spren bond in some form, and Syl has openly admitted to Kaladin that she is the reason that he is able to Surgebind. On the Rosharan Focus So far I’ve seen theories on the focus claim that it’s either the gemstones, or the spren, or the spren bond. Firstly, I don’t think that it can be the spren bond: I have already demonstrated that it is the method of Initiation and I don’t see how it can be both. Also, as previously noted, not all magics require a spren bond, but all magics require a focus which is consistent across all Rosharan magics, therefore if the spren bond were the focus, this would be a contradiction. Things get interesting when we start to examine the spren and the gemstones as candidates for the focus, however. When examining Soulcasting, the gemstones act exactly as you would expect the focus to, the type of gemstone used determines the result of the transformation. However, this does not appear to be the case with any other magic that we have seen, which should mean that the gemstones can’t be the focus. The spren seem like an ideal candidate for the focus since they are, like the gemstones, present in some capacity in all Rosharan magics. Moreover, as they are capable of changing their form at will, if they are the focus then they should be able to direct the form that the power takes by themselves. And, we saw in the climax to Words of Radiance, Syl was able to accurately determine the weapon that Kalaldin wished her to form without him having to actively communicate it to her, it would follow then, that the Radiant spren could do the same thing to provide their Radiant with the power that they wished to use. And since in modern fabrials, the spren would presumably be trapped in a single form, it would account for why fabrials each have only a single function. There is, however, a problem with using spren as the Rosharan focus, and it is essentially the same problem that we ran into when we tried considering the gemstones as the focus: when considering Soulcasting, it is clearly the gemstones, not the spren that is determining the result of the transformation. So both the spren and the gemstones must be the focus, but neither the spren nor the gemstones can be the focus! To resolve this, I think we’re going to need to take a closer look at what a focus actually is. To start off with, I don’t think that a focus is actually physical. Everything in the Cosmere exists to some extent across all three Realms, so that we might be able to see or interact with it in the Physical Realm does not mean that this is where the magical interaction is happening. If we look at AonDor, the focus like in all Selish magics is shapes, however, an Aon will continue to function even if you were to destroy its physical representation. Indeed Elantrians can draw Aons in the air, which shouldn’t have a physical body at all. And of course, on Nalthis, they use Commands as a focus which, being auditory, likewise shouldn’t have a physical body. I suspect that it is in the Cognitive Realm that these gain a more concrete, not to mention, permanent, form. So, Investiture flows from the Spiritual Realm to the Cognitive Realm where it interacts with the focus and is filtered down into the Physical Realm in the form determined by that focus. But, if the focus is cognitive, then shouldn’t it be possible for it to be something more abstract in nature, such as a function? We know that gemstones and spren have some kind of relationship with each other. Just consider Navani’s notebook: Could it be the case that spren and gemstones are bound together as variables in a cognitive function that is acting as the focus on Roshar? When spren are imprisoned in gemstones, is that what’s really happening, or are they instead being constrained to the same space as part of such a function? This is what I think is happening here: neither the spren nor the gemstone is the focus, but they are both components in a kind of complex focus. How the Honourblades Work So, I’ve been repeatedly coming back to the idea that the spren are involved in some way in every magic on Roshar, yet you might have noticed that the Honourblades are an exception to this. They allow their wielder to Surgebind, but they are not themselves spren. In fact, originally, the Honourblades would power Surgebinding by opening a direct conduit to Honour, similar to how Allomancy opens a conduit to Preservation, meaning that even gemstones wouldn’t be needed to provide Stormlight. Thus, the Heralds might not have needed either part of the focus that I specified above. Does this not contradict my argument for the focus? I don’t think so; I think that the way Honour hacked the magic in the Honourblades means that this isn’t an issue. When Preservation hacked Allomancy so that Vin was able to burn the mists, she no longer needed the metals for Allomancy. And similarly, when Vin became Preservation, she was able to power Allomancy for Elend without him having access to the metals. Based off of this, I think it’s clear that a focus is not required when a Shard directly intervenes like this. One final point: it could perhaps be argued that the Honourblades represent the true form of Surgebinding and that the Nahel bond is the true hack since the spren copied the Honourblades. I disagree with this interpretation, though. I think that the Radiant spren have always been able to form the Nahel bond and create Surgebinders since Honour first Invested in Roshar, they simply didn’t know that they could do this. When Honour hacked the system by creating the Honourblades though, the spren were able to figure out that they had this ability from seeing what the Honourblades could do. TL;DR Given the size and scope of this treatise, it is impossible to easily summarise the entire piece, however, a few key points are as follows: Honour’s influence causes a magic to take on a predefined, rigid structure. Voidbinding does not manipulate the Surges at all. Spren Bonds are the basis for Initiation. Roshar has a complex focus which utilises both spren and gemstones as components. The Honourblades negate the need for a focus.
I think we all agree that the access to the Investiture is related to the Intent of the Shard which the magic belongs to. Examples: Surgebinding - bond and oaths, Allomancy - self-preservation (Snapping), Feruchemy - ruining yourself to later preserve, Hemalurgy - Ruining, Awakening - Endowing Breaths et cetera. Now, we don't know much about Sel systems. We suspect that Shaod takes those who are devoted to something and that Dakhor is related to domination. What about Forgery? Shai states anyone could do it, but it requires long studies... And that's it! You have to be really devoted to spend many years learning and studying and if you are enough devoted, you gain Forgery! That's kind of self-fulfilling mechanism - what allows you to use Forgery is what you need to be to learn it. Anyone devoted enough can be a Forger and to become a Forger you need to be really devoted. I also suspected that rewriting Spiritual Aspect is kind of forcible act, so it can be linked to Dominion, but I feel I'm grasping at straws here.
This is my theory for the reason about the only people of specific location (ex. Arelon and Duladel) are take from the Shaod. Before of this I had to remember some of the Realmatic aspect of the Cosmere. - The Cognitive aspect of someone (or something) is build about how is views and how he views himself. - The Spiritual aspect is a set of connection (less or more strong) with other Spiritual Aspect (place,time, idea, people, religion,ecc...) - On Sel there is just one "magic system" and the many forms that take are just different use of the same magic system. Now at the true Theory (that is specific of AonDor but can probably works with all the Selish way to use the Dor): I suppose the reason of only the right cultures have a chance to be take by the Shaod, is because their people have an Aon in their name. This simply fact put a minimal connection through the Spiritual Realm to the AonDor (something like bein a Scadiran give a little connection to Preservation). Growing with that name a people "imprint" that Aon as part of self in his Cognitive Aspect that improve his conncection to the AonDor. This theory works pretty well with all the Selish magic system (just remove "Aon" and put "Alphabeth of X") but has some problem with the AonDor without any other fact.... The AonDor is strange, is bein manipulate to offer much power of any other Selish Magic, using Elantris as a "super boost". I suppose that before Elantris was made any people with Aon-name and the right connection with the AonDor may use this magic (As seems to happen with the other selish magic). But for some reason they decided to concentrate the AonDor in a more mighty form. And any people with the "enough strong" connection was take by the Shaod and become Elantrian. Any though about this theory ? Pro or Contros ?