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Going through my second read through of the current set of books in the SA... And I can't believe I didn't catch it. If Syl, or presumably any bonded spren can become anything, almost at the whim of the radiant, to whatever is needed or thought of, that alone might have a potential lethality far beyond that of even nightblood. Why not, just imagine a shiny metal surface that is in the perfect shape to be instantly summoned that would be from your hand, to have a piece jutting into the eye slits of 100 shardbearer's around you? I know size limits seem to be largely figurative, but even if there was a limit there in size, toned down, why not something similar to nearly instantly KO anyone you are in a duel with even near you? It would take aiming and having to pretend to work around your opponents defenses much easier. Think multifaceted, and then take away all your opponents potential dodge options by having that spike also there. One could do this with less than the 6' of metal that we got already, but the pure unavoidable lethality radius would be much closer, but still more than possible if you could control you imagination enough, and simply get in range. This would be a far more dangerous attack to use in a huge amount of the close in fighting we have seen in the books. With a full knight radiant, it is almost described as being almost an instant transition, not even waiting for heart beats, with the spren forming to custom shapes near instantly, this could be done so easily to be so very hard to dodge from simply by manipulating the shape to just abstract pointy object that bear no semblance of a normal weapon at all, that would have a point part inside your opponents body's location rn, through any gaps in armor, with it's handle where your hand is already. Also, this is related, but why not simply summon Syl in a very thin piece of metal that envelops your entire body as a second skin? Sure, you couldn't breathe, see or move that well, but with high control, this could save you a lot of effort in defending for split seconds at a time in crucial spots, especially in times where one might not have sworn the oath for plate, and against other shardbearers...
I was thinking about Kandra in Bands of Mourning and something occurred to me. In Bands of Mourning it talks a lot about Identity, but it's all in reference to Feruchemy and Allomancy. I was wondering if Identity could be important for Kandra. Specifically, I was thinking that it may be part of how they are able to so convincingly take the forms of other people. This eventually lead me to thinking about other shapeshifters as well, but first I'll talk about Kandra. Young Kandra are only able to shapeshift into the form of a person after consuming their body. After a lot of time spent taking on various forms they're eventually able to take liberties, mixing and matching, adding, subtracting, adapting, etc. But at first they're only able to consume a body and then turn into a copy of that body. Once they're in a form they have a hard time not acting like the person that form belongs to (like when MeLaan takes on the form of the Governor Innate at the end of Shadows of Self, she knows she's supposed to be placating the crowd, but that's not what Innate would have done. This could be from training and practice, but I think that would only take you so far. Particularly when she didn't actually know much about Innate.). Anyway, so I'm proposing that when a Kandra consumes a body they are able to consume a portion of the person's Identity. This helps them to not only copy the person's physical appearance, but their mannerisms, their speech patterns, etc. It wouldn't give them the person's memories, but they would instinctively be able to tap into the way that person would do things. This is similar to when Shai is testing pieces of the pattern for Ashravan's essence mark on Gaotona. This effectively gave Gaotona a copy of a small portion of Ashravan's identity. Sometimes Shai would incorporate actual memories into the stamps as well, but like with the part about how his favorite color was green. I feel like that had more to do with Identity than memories. For a Kandra I feel like they would get more of the person's Identity than Gaotona was getting, though not the whole thing. For a Mistwraith I bet they get the bits of Identity as well, but without sapience it doesn't do them any good. So that brings me to other kinds of shapeshifting in the Cosmere. Here's a list of all the kinds of shapeshifting I can think of: Kandra/Mistwraith, Aimian, Dician Aimian, Forgery (minimal, but it does still happen), and Returned/Royal Locks. Aimians and Dician Aimians we don't see enough for me to judge how much has to do with Identity, but I suspect that it does play a part. Forgery you're only changing to different versions of yourself, but I still think that your identity is changing. Returned we don't see too much of it, but the parts we do see seem to me like it's totally about Identity, and the Royal Locks we already know work the same way, just on a smaller scale. Illusions aren't actually shapeshifting, but I think Identity frequently plays a part in them as well. Anyway, I thought this was interesting. Thoughts?
Just a short little opinion on shapeshiting within the cosmere, and the most powerful form of it we’ve seen (from least to most): Siah Aimians- shapeshifting is limited to adding pigment to the skin, as far as we know. Decendents Of Returned- Siri and Viv, have the ability to change hair color, as well as mildly modify their features, such as Viv adding scars and folds to her eyes. Dakor Monks- Easily forgotten about, but they have shown the ability to change facial features and body composition. This is what begins to separate the shapeshifters in my opinion. The ability to change the mass of your person as you shapeshift. Kandra- Now I know it is stated that Kandra cannot change their mass while shapeshifting, but given Ten Soon’s ability to “eat” a dog, horse, and a human. We are going to assume that is not quite true. Dysian Aimians- In truth this spot is interchangeable with kandra imo. We do not know enough about these cremlingbodied fellows to tell for sure the limit of their abilities, but they can flawlessly replicate a human body and features and can presumably replicate anyone’s faster than a kandra can and without killing them. Returned/Heralds/Cognitive Shadows- This is where we start getting into the least understood and arguably most powerful, and versatile forms of shapeshifting. Due to their nature as cognitive entities, Returned can change their features and body composition simply by thought. It is extreme enough to allow Vasher to take a significant amount of his mass away as he is in his human disguise. Heralds either highjack a body of a human and change it to match their features, or form a body out of pure investiture, which is pushing the boundaries of what I call shapeshifting but is an important magical ability. Kelsier also may posses similar abilities to the heralds. Dragons- Now the shapeshifting abilities of dragons are teetering on the edge of cannon, that said within dragonsteel prime they have shown extreme mass reduction from a full size dragon form to human. Whether this is the limit of their abilities is something I would love to discuss in the replies. I hope everyone enjoyed a refresher list of shapeshifting in the cosmere, if I missed anything, or you disagree with my list let me know!
So, shapeshifting. That does not have a large position in the cosmere books. I don't think we have really seen it at all, so your curiosity should be piqued. Instead, let me walk you through healing: We know that the reason Kaladin did not heal his slave brand, but Lopen healed his arm was due to their perceptions of themselves. Kaladin saw himself with his slave brand. Basically, healing is modelled after a certain pattern defined by self perception. I think most people having read the night angel trilogy notice something here (massive night angel spoilers): I should introduce the following assumption here: Healing occurs whenever someone's physique differs from the perception/pattern proposed. Basically, it amounts to this. If someone who can heal changes how they see themselves, they will shapeshift, and this could be used to powerful ends. What do you think? Please tell me if I missed something. EDIT: Added a spoiler tag