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Confused posted a topic in Cosmere DiscussionI 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