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I’ve been thinking lately about nicrosil in Allomancy/Feruchemy and I was wondering why Brandon wanted to make the protagonist of Era 3 a Nicroburst. I think I figured out the answer: medallions make Allomantic nicrosil insanely overpowered. There will always be the standard effects of Allomantic nicrosil: duralumin-flaring your allies’ misting powers (or opponents in some cases). Which is a decent ability. But if Era 2 medallions become available to our Nicroburst protagonist, they will be able to use compounding to create their own Keyed medallions permanently. Theoretically they would only need a shaving of any medallion. Say we have a Connection medallion. The medallion would appear to have two components: a full Nicrosilmind which grants the user Feruchemical nicrosil and fConnection and an empty Duraluminmind that the user can then use (we’ve seen it used to a blank one’s Locational Connection thus far). Our Nicroburst could instead swallow the medallion and burn the nicrosil. This would grant tenfold the Feruchemical nicrosil and Feruchemical duralumin which the Nicroburst can then store inside their own Nicrosilminds which would be Keyed to their Identity. (Sidenote on tapping medallions. It seems to me that tapping a Nicrosilmind can be done by anyone as long as it is either Unkeyed or Keyed to them. This may be turn out to be a false axiom). Since our Nicroburst has natural Allomantic nicrosil, they can always compound their existing feruchemical abilities stored in their Nicrosilminds and thus have that power in perpetuity. A small shaving of any medallion would be enough because of the power of compounding. I don’t see any reason why medallions couldn’t grant Allomancy, so theoretically a Nicroburst could have Fullborn abilities given the right resources. Or any other ability that can be stored in a Nicrosilmind. All of this makes a resourceful Nicroburst an immensely powerful individual in the cosmere. I hope to see these mechanics play out in Era 3; I guess we’ll see in 5 years!
Because a pandemic of some sort has left me unoccupied recently, I'm writing up this highly speculative theory about the creation of medallions. Long text is long, so there is a point you can skip to if you don't care about the justification behind some of the spectulation. This topic has seen a lot of research, the most reasonable being, in my opinion, Calderis' theory: One thing that makes me doubt this is the method employed by the Southerners is that Allik speaks about multiple power medallions as if they are an accumulative work: There is much we don't know about the topic, and it seems Brandon won't tell us much until he finally unveils the answer in TLM, so we have to make due with what he have. What I propose is one way a medallion could be made, which is most likely not the way they currently make them. I will work on the assumption that this WoB is correct: Which coincidentally allows me to speak about something that doesn't feel right about Calderis' theory: it is straightforward. Yet there have been multiple ocassions where Brandon has been asked about the creation of medallions, and his reply is, like in this instance, that he would have to check his notes, or ask Peter, and the answer apparently needs a flowchart: That being said, this is what I got. I address the fact that the nicrosil portion is never tapped, and the fact that no hemalurgy should be required if Brandon was not mistaken in the first WoB. As a summary, the idea relies on priming cubes to accumulate multiple powers into a single nicrosil storage, and then to use priming machinery like the one on BoM's airship to create the auto-tapping nicrosil ring. There are multiple points I can't explain, but I think there is some merit to this thought process, and perhaps someone else will be able to build something stronger from this theory. Let's begin with small assumptions, namely about the way priming cubes behave under the effects of Allomancy and Feruchemy. We have seen priming cubes used with A-Steel, A-Cadmium and A-Chromium. In all cases the observed effect is that the output of the allomancer's burn is reproduced by the cube, with some harmonium burned away, as if the cube was metal burning inside the allomancer. From Irich's PoV we know there is a method of operation that allows some mechanism to be primed so that it makes something else ligher, and the priming involves a ferring: I believe it would be consistent to expect that storing into an iron metalmind while holding the primer cube would cause it to work as if it was iron being stored into by a feruchemist. This would have the effect of funneling weight from nearby people, though apparently it can be worked to funnel weight from its environment as well (airship becoming lighter). Of course we don't really know how the ship gets lighter, and it would be a valid criticism of this text. It would be somewhat reasonable that the cube could funnel feruchemical attributes from people, as it could be doing so by preventing investiture from flowing from the Spiritual Realm to the Physical making the attribute stop being manifested (i.e. weight being removed), the excess being stored in the ettmetal as any other feruchemical store or getting shunted back to the SR. But what would it mean to prime the cube by tapping an attribute? In particular, the important question is what effect should that have on inanimate objects. When the cube replicates allomancy, it gets burned, presumably to fuel the allomancy. When it draws attributes, it is just behaving as a metalmind, storing a charge, (though I don't think the charge would actually be stored, it just gets siphoned into oblivion, like some people think happens when you store into aluminum). If it were primed by tapping a charge, the cube would have to provide the excess investiture like it does with allomancy. This is problematic, as either you would need to store before being able to tap, or the investiture that makes up the ettmetal would have to fuel the effect. I don't think it makes sense for the ettmetal to fuel the feruchemy by decreasing its investiture level (i.e. desaturating itself) or something like that. If the ettmetal fuels the feruchemical output, I think it would have to work like it does with allomancy, burning itself to provide the effect, as if it was a metalmind being compounded. These are the assumptions I am working on, and I concede they are wildly speculative, but under these premises this is how I envision the origin of the Bands of Mourning: IF LAZY, SKIP HERE! We will require a ferring and misting of each type along with some strategic twinborns, some ettmetal, and no spiky things. Arbitrary Unkeyed Metalminds. The first step is to be able to produce an unkeyed metalmind. An aluminum ferring stores Identity while holding a primer cube. The cube responds by drawing Identity from anyone close by. Any feruchemical charge stored while the cube is working will be clear of Identity, free to be used by any ferring of that metal. Adding Powers to Nicrosil. The second step is to create an unkeyed nicrosil metalmind, with a storage of F-Nicrosil. This can be done by a nicrosil ferring storing their ability under the influence of the Identity-clearing grenade. The resulting metalmind allows any twinborn with access to A-Nicrosil to store their feruchemical ability into a nicrosil metalmind, which can easily be cleared of Identity with the same procedure. The twinborn burns the nicrosil metalmind, compounding the charge that gives them access to F-Nicrosil, allowing them to store their feruchemical power into a nicrosil metalmind. Notice that at this point we can create a sealed version of the Bands of Mourning that can only be used by nicrosil metalborn: To add an Allomantic power, we need a twinborn with that power and F-Nicrosil. The individual stores their allomantic ability while being identity-cleared, resulting in a net power addition to the master nicrosil metalmind. To add a Feruchemical power, we need a twinborn with that power and A-Nicrosil. The individual burns an unkeyed nicrosil metalmind that has been filled with the ability to use F-Nicrosil. During the burn, the charge gets compounded and the twinborn becomes a nicrosil ferring for the duration of the burn, allowing them to store their feruchemical ability into the master nicrosil metalmind. The limit to the amount of powers that can be added is the availability of suitable twinborn and ettmetal. If this was no issue, once all allomantic and feruchemical powers had been stored, the master nicrosil metalmind could be burned by a A-Nicrosil misting while priming the cube producing a Fullborn grenade, though it's effects would by necessity be temporary: A powerless person could perhaps store all powers while under the effects of the grenade, but once its effects decayed they would no longer have access to F-nicrosil. So this method of granting powers is short-lived, and can only be initiated by a nicrosil ferring, and does not qualify as a mechanical mean of accessing Invested Arts like medallions or honorblades do. The next section provides even more outrageous speculation in order to provide a solution to this problem From the excerp I quoted from BoM, it would seem an airship can be primed into being made lighter. While there is a perhaps deceivingly obvious implication, there are a couple extra details that we can infer from this fact. Objects, not only people, can store feruchemical atributes, or at the very least they can see their flow of investiture altered in such a way that the physical manifestation of those attributes are dimishised. The duration of the decrease in the attribute needn't be the same as the duration of the priming. Otherwise the ship would not be viable, because you would need to prime its weight for as long as the expected duration of the flight, which at any reasonable pace would take hours if not days. Ultimately, this weight-changing airship implies that a being without innate feruchemical powers can be forced to store an attribute. This strikes suspiciously close to giving a person a power they don't have! Sadly I can't see any additional info about the weight changing mechanism to explain it's inner workings. From Irich's chapter the ship appears to have a lattice of some lightweight metal couple with some other set of metal wires, plus a golden plate in the shape of a ship. I do believe these are somehow trying to reinforce the cognitive aspect of the ship, somehow making it more aware. In fact I think the pattern of metals going all over the ship is very similar to the lines of strata on the walls of Urithiru, with the gemstone pilar being replaced by a golden plate. In any case, I don't have any additional ideas on this. Therefore, I will assume that the weight changing machinery can be primed by storing an attribute while holding a priming cube, with some unknown extra steps. So if storing weight causes the cube to expand the effect, forcing its surroundings to store weight, what would tapping imply for other feruchemical uses? This is where the amount of unknowns is too big to form a coherent argument with supporting evidence, and so at this point everything is unsupported and likely invalid. I assume that priming the airship works because something in the weight changing machinery defines the airship as the target, and because the ship is in contact with a decent amount of iron it can store its weight into the iron. Perhaps that same machinery could be made to target a ring of nicrosil filled with an unkeyed charge of F-Nicrosil. If you were to store your ability to use your allomantic/feruchemical power while priming the cube -which is set to target the ring and only the ring- the piece of nicrosil would try to store its investiture into its environment. Now, I accept that this is wishful thinking, but maybe this ring would not be able to store anything because there is no amount of nicrosil metal nearby. The physical/spiritual makeup of the nicrosil is what allows it to be a recipient of that specific kind of charge: of Innate Investiture, the ability to use allomancy/feruchemy. Just like only iron has a structure such that it can hold a charge of weight. But nicrosil is not the only suitable recipient of Innate Investiture that grants access to Metallic Arts: people can hold a lot of the stuff. So, a nicrosil ring is looking for a suitable recipient, its charge having no way out but is under pressure to escape because it has been primed to do so by the effect of the ettmetal. A person touches this nicrosil ring, the charge finds an outlet it can flow into, and the person receives the ability to use allomancy/feruchemy as it was originally stored into the ring. This is the reason we never see anyone tap the nicrosil portion of the medallions: the nicrosil is not working as a metalmind, it is working as an entity with access to f-nicrosil, and the wearer is the metalmind being stored into. Of course this doesn't fully work, as it doesn't explain why there is an apparent limit of three powers to a medallion. I cannot explain the fact that the nicrosil ring never runs out, or that the charge is 'given back' to the medallion once the user stops touching it. I don't believe this is how the Southerners are actually making the medallions, as I believe they do use hemalurgy, which could explain both the three power limit (see Calderis' theory) and the nicrosil charge being 'discrete' like memories in a coppermind. Perhaps replacing the steps that involve storing F-Nicrosil with stealing (Excising ) f-nicrosil would give rise to the medallions we know and love. I do want to add some thoughts about the three power limit: could it be that this is a Cosmere-wide limit to the number of abilities granted by the same mechanical method? Medallions are limited to three powers, as Allik tells us: It doesn't mean there is a hard limit on the number of powers, as it could simply be that the tech level is not quite there but could be reached. If we do operate on the assumption that it is a hard limit, where else have we seen anecdotal recalling of three powers being granted, at most? There is this from Sixth of the Dusk: Same situation, we have an observer telling us about a grand maximum of three powers, but no explicit mention that more is impossible. Finally, there is this from Kaza's Interlude in Oathbringer: Which implies Fabrial Soulcasters have three modes of operation, whatever they might be. The most obvious inference is that each 'mode' is one essence, corresponding to each of the three gemstones each Soulcaster can hold. I believe these quotes add credence towars a Cosmere hard limit of three powers given by the same mechanical means. Of course more than three can be achieved through different systems (three powers from medallions and three from hemalurgy, as we know it can be done as we see Suit use a medallion while having three spikes) or through hacks (granting a single power, that of F-Nicrosil, that allows access to a unkeyed storage of any arbitrary set of powers). But this system-specific limit is reasonable even without an in-world reason, as it would prevent scenarios in Era 4 where everyone can be a Fullborn Radiant of ten surges. Though I acknowledge a major flaw: there are WoBs that mention you could bond 5 Honorblades, but this should not be feasible if this limit exists.
I have been thinking about the medallions lately, and the scene between Vin and Sazed where she tried to burn one of his metalminds crossed my mind. Is it possible for an allomancer to use a medallion to compound that particular metal even though they themselves aren't feruchemists? Kinda tagging onto that, could a twinborn compound an unkeyed metalmind made by another feruchemist? Is this as obviously yes as I assume or is there something I'm missing?
LiquidBlue posted a topic in Cosmere DiscussionSo not to be too dramatic, but I think that the Bands of Mourning are pretty simple to explain, and don't require any deeper knowledge than has already been revealed. The bands of mourning are just a single-power medallion with a bunch of metalminds layered together. As a single power medallion you avoid having to figure out how to make a crazy many-multiple-power medallion function. The single power granted by the Bands? Feruchemical Nicrosil. It then has nicrosilminds attached filled with the other feruchemical and allomantic abilities (or, I suspect, just 2 nicrosilminds one filled with "Feruchemy" and the other with "Allomancy"), and whatever other metalminds you want to have available for the feruchemical powers. PS: This might not be a novel theory, or maybe the bands of Mourning aren't as mysterious as my first impression made me believe.