43 posts in this topic

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:

Quote

QUESTION

Are the Parshendi of Odium?

BRANDON SANDERSON

Not originally.
Quote

QUESTION

Are the Parshendi of Cultivation?

BRANDON SANDERSON

Not originally.
Quote

QUESTION

Are the Parshendi of Honor?

BRANDON SANDERSON

No.

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:

Quote

The cut and type of the gem determines what kind of spren are attracted to it and can be imprisoned in it.
There must be thousands of possible combinations.

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.
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50 minutes ago, BlackYeti said:

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.

This is precisely why I think bonds are the Rosharan focus. Gems hold spren in the same way as a Parshendi bond. They are bound.

There is a Cognitive bond between the color of a Gemstone and the essence it represents. 

The Nahel bond is a single type of bond, and looking at it as the focus exclusively underestimates the complexity of what a bond is. 

The Honorblades themselves being a hack works along the lines that you say, up until the point of Honors shattering, after which they still allow surgebinding via Stormlight. I again think it's the bond with the blade, but regardless of my opinion the direct essence of the Shard is no longer the fuel so the focus should again be needed. 

Sorry to harp on about this. It's a strong opinion for me and is the cause of the only places I disagree with you. 

On the whole I like what you've done and agree other than the parts I mentioned. 

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Lots of good stuff. Lots of stuff I disagree with, but that you have anticipated disagreement on and already addressed (which came first, Radiants or Honorblades). I also disagree with your interpretation of Honor, but that's because I have a different interpretation of Honor that I am quite fond of, not because I see anything wrong with yours. (And they're actually not that different, when I think about them.) A few questions/comments:

Why do you say that ancient fabrials don't appear to have spren in them? In the specific example of the Oathgates, the Blade that was used to operate them was not one of the spren that could grant Transportation, so how could it have accessed that Surge (if that was what truly happened)? There must be additional spren involved, either one of the kinds of spren that can grant Transportation, or the spren that match the Surge of Transportation itself (if you hold to that interpretation). They must have been hanging out in the lanterns or elsewhere in the Oathgate until it was filled with Stormlight and activated using Pattern. (I think requiring a live Blade is more of a lock, as opposed to an inherent function, but that's neither here nor there.)

I like your distinction between Voidbinding and the Voidbringers. However, I don't quite like your definition of Voidbringing powers; I think Listeners must be able to bond spren of Honor. The Stormfather betrayed the Listeners by abandoning them, along with the other Radiant spren, so I think the Listeners must have had ancient Forms of Power with spren associated with Honor. (That's the phrase I use to refer to what you call Voidbringing powers.) The phrase "of Honor" or "of Odium" doesn't actually mean all that much; the first place we saw it used, with the Kandra, said that even though everyone thought they were "of Ruin," they were actually "of Preservation." But they were still created using Hemalurgy, Ruin's magic system. I've always taken the phrase to mean "on such-and-such Shard's side," which can be true even if they use Investiture of another Shard entirely. I think Listeners take on any spren, adopting the characteristics of the spren they bond, whether it be of Honor, Cultivation, or Odium. When they bond a spren that can cast red lighting, they can do that, too; it's not like it's a magic system, any more than the spren's ability to act like that is part of a magic system. More powerful spren make more powerful Listeners, but also open up the Listener to Cognitive Realm influence (like Hemalurgy does). Whether or not Odium creates his own Splinters, or corrupts other spren... it's an interesting question, but I don't think it's really necessary for this topic. But I do think this whole phenomenon is a thing of the Listeners, predating the arrival of the Shards, so it shouldn't be aligned with any of the Shards in particular even though it utilizes spren from some or even all of them.

As for Voidbinding itself, I hesitate to separate that from the Surges. We know that the glyphs on the Surgebinding chart are the names of Orders and Surges; but since we don't know their Rosharan names, we can't actually decipher the letters. But we can see that the same building blocks are used for the Surges and the Voids; even though the symmetry is different, it's still built out of the same letters, in the same arrangement, so it's the same word. The Radiant/Voidbinder glyphs are even more similar - most of the time, it's the same shape, just spread out (not even rotated or flipped). I think Voidbinding needs to be a very similar thing to Surgebinding; kind of like Hemalurgy, which by definition grants the same powers as Allomancy and Feruchemy.

For Initiation, I think you're not quite using the term correctly. I've recently come to understand that Initiation isn't when you get the magic, it's who can get the magic. The Initiation of Allomancy isn't Snapping; it's described as genetic. Not everyone who can become an Allomancer does. Same with Returning; Endowment chooses people, but they are given a choice to return, so that means that not everyone she chooses will Return. That also shows it's different among magic systems on the same world; Hemalurgy has a universal Initiation (anyone can learn and perform it), while Allomancy and Feruchemy are limited to a specific gene pool. I think you're right that fabrial science has a universal Initiation, as well; but I would limit the Initiation of Surgebinding to behavior. Not everyone who acts according to the ideals of the spren will attract one. But you will not be able to attract one unless you act in the appropriate manner.

As for Focus, can you go into more detail about why you believe gemstones are necessary? The kind of gemstone determines the kind of spren you can capture in it, true, but that seems to get back to spren again. In Hemalurgy, you need to place spikes at specific points, but the spiritweb isn't the focus, it's still the metal of the spikes. That's how I see gemstones fitting in; it's an important restriction of the capture and application of spren, but at the end of the day, it's still the spren.

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25 minutes ago, Pagerunner said:

For Initiation, I think you're not quite using the term correctly. I've recently come to understand that Initiation isn't when you get the magic, it's who can get the magic. The Initiation of Allomancy isn't Snapping; it's described as genetic.

I disagree here. Khriss' use of "Initiation" in the Elantris AA points toward it being the acquisition of power, not the potential access to power.

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3 minutes ago, PallonianFire said:

I disagree here. Khriss' use of "Initiation" in the Elantris AA points toward it being the acquisition of power, not the potential access to power.

Which if true, contradicts the point she made in that essay. 

The actual acquisition method on Sel differs greatly, through learning of Forgery, sacrifice for Dahkor, and spontaneously manifesting in Elantrians. 

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Okay, I'm gonna remove my foot from my mouth here. I totally forgot one line from that AA:

"It does not appear to be tied to family descent, as one finds on Scadrial, nor is it a specific Shard's Decision, as on Nalthis."

So @Pagerunner is right, it's not Snapping, it's genetics. But that becomes a bit of a blurry line, because on some planets, Initiation automatically grants power, while on others, it doesn't.

 

EDIT: It's also worth nothing that the Elantris AA section on Initiation only refers to AonDor, so I'm not sure how it would contradict anything about Forgery or the Dakhor Monks.

Edited by PallonianFire
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24 minutes ago, PallonianFire said:

So @Pagerunner is right, it's not Snapping, it's genetics. But that becomes a bit of a blurry line, because on some planets, Initiation automatically grants power, while on others, it doesn't.

I believe the term you're looking for is "Investiture," believe it or not. As Taravingian put it, 'the consequences of their potential Investiture,' or as Khriss said in the Drominad AU essay, 'I am becoming more certain there is Investiture here.' (Both quotes are paraphrases, but they each definitely use the term, even if I can't recall the exact words around them.) I believe this usage of 'Investiture' is the act of actually obtaining the magical abilities (which is different than Kinetic Investiture, the raw power of a Shard acting in a specific manner). Initiation (for which we are only given two concrete examples, genetics on Scadrial and a Shard's decision on Nalthis) will determine who can and cannot receive Investiture in this manner. Like I said before, I don't think Initiation always results in Investiture. (There are many people who could be Allomancers, but only some who truly do gain the abilities.) But for a magic system with an Initiation, it will always precede Investiture. (If you do not have the proper genes, you will not Snap into an Allomancer.)

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29 minutes ago, PallonianFire said:

EDIT: It's also worth nothing that the Elantris AA section on Initiation only refers to AonDor, so I'm not sure how it would contradict anything about Forgery or the Dakhor Monks.

Because this was the initial point made about the Elantris AA

2 hours ago, BlackYeti said:

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.

Which for Sel seems to have something to do with connection to the location that each particular magic system originates from. 

That AA entry says that the mechanism should be the same worldwide, which contradicts it being the actual acquisition of power. 

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4 minutes ago, Pagerunner said:

I believe the term you're looking for is "Investiture," believe it or not.

Yep, definitely. I got so caught up in the use of Investiture as a noun that I didn't even think of "Invest" as a verb. That said, the Nalthis example still doesn't totally line up, because while Returned are Initiated through a Shard's intention/decision, everyone on Nalthis is naturally born with Breath. 

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8 minutes ago, PallonianFire said:

Yep, definitely. I got so caught up in the use of Investiture as a noun that I didn't even think of "Invest" as a verb. That said, the Nalthis example still doesn't totally line up, because while Returned are Initiated through a Shard's intention/decision, everyone on Nalthis is naturally born with Breath. 

Because Endowment altered them in order for Breath to be provided as such. A shard can personally see off everyone who passes to the Beyond. It's not beyond reason that Endowment could also personally bestow a Breath to each child. 

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2 minutes ago, Calderis said:

Because Endowment altered them in order for Breath to be provided as such. A shard can personally see off everyone who passes to the Beyond. It's not beyond reason that Endowment could also personally bestow a Breath to each child. 

If that were the case, there would be no difference between a Breath and a Divine Breath, aside from a DB's use of stapling a Cognitive Shadow back into a body. 

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2 minutes ago, PallonianFire said:

If that were the case, there would be no difference between a Breath and a Divine Breath, aside from a DB's use of stapling a Cognitive Shadow back into a body. 

And magnitude of investiture, and identity. A breath rekeys it's identity to the current holder. A Divine Breath is keyed to the Returned who holds it so it can effect others but not be held by them. (speculation) 

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I'm just saying that there appears to be a fundamental difference between Breaths and Divine Breaths. Brandon refers to Divine Breaths as splinters, but doesn't with Breaths. That indicates (to me, at least) that DBs are something Endowment is specifically breaking off of herself and giving to people, but Breaths are more like ambient Investiture that merges with someone at the beginning of their life.

I might need to add this to my list of questions for the next time Brandon comes around...

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@PallonianFire I don't disagree here. I was using Endowment personally bestowing each breath as an extreme example. 

Altering the Nalthians on a spiritual level though had to have happened and I still think fulfills the role of it being intentional. Whether she is personally doing it or not, every Nalthian born receives a Breath derived from Endowments investiture. Her mandated intent lends itself to this method, but it isn't something that could happen against her will. Her intent is to give. If it isn't something she wills it isn't a gift.

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I can understand that line of reasoning. I'm not entirely convinced normal Breaths are given intentionally, though Endowment being her intent lends more credence (than, say, the fact that we know Ruin and Preservation didn't specifically create the Metallic Arts, but rather they arose naturally from their interactions with each other and the world—their intents weren't based around giving stuff to people).

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2 hours ago, BlackYeti said:

[Surgebinding] is a rigid and inflexible framework, much like the Radiant’s Ideals can be.

I don't know if this is accurate. The obvious counterexample are the Lightweavers, I think - very... ephemeral, with virtually no structure to their oaths, and generally free-spirited and creative people. Ironic, considering that strict mathematical nature of their spren...

2 hours ago, BlackYeti said:

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.

In both books and interviews Brandon has suggested that Honor's role in the whole thing has to do with bonds. Syl's "I bind things" is a good example of this, but if what I am saying doesn't ring true, I could try to find a WoB about how Honor is about forming bonds. So in this light, he is more involved in the means of Surge manipulation.

3 hours ago, BlackYeti said:

Modern fabrials all function by trapping a spren in a gemstone, ancient fabrials do not appear to do this.

In all fairness, we haven't had much chance to look into how the ancient fabrials work. It's possible that they too trap a spren, just in a different way. Maybe they are a spren in a way similar to how Shardblades are. The evidence is insufficient, I think.

3 hours ago, BlackYeti said:

This would mean that the ancient fabrials are far more closely related to the Surgebindings than they are to modern fabrials.

I can buy that.

3 hours ago, BlackYeti said:

Also, as previously noted, not all magics require a spren bond

This assumes everything you've mentioned classifies as a magic system. I, for example, see fabrials as technology, not magic.

... 

and I think I need to finish addressing the rest of it another time, when I have more time.

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To address the OP...

I'm unsure about modern fabrials being related to the Shards. The short version of the argument is that these fabrials appear to be very "scientific". They observe and research a natural phenomenon, and then create a "mechanical" device which harnesses that natural phenomenon. As far as I can see, all of the components predated the Shards on Roshar. So while I could be convinced otherwise, I tend to assume that these work naturally without some tweak made by a Shard.

In any case, I feel more strongly about the Old Magic. I definitely think that one predates the Shards. Khriss doesn't know what to make of it and Brandon lists it off to the side as something other. And the name itself? All signs point to something very ancient. Nightwatcher's current association doesn't mean the Old Magic is "of" Cultivation.

I agree with your classification of ancient fabrials. I have something to add, but it's Oathbringer spoilers:

Spoiler

The recent interlude about the soulcaster Kaza mentions the presence of a spren when she uses her soulcaster. I would theorize two points from this:

(1) It reinforces that the focus of the magic is a spren (or something more complex involving spren).

(2) It makes me wonder why the spren is there, and your points about Honor's involvement with Surgebinding gives me an idea. Theory: the creation of ancient fabrials involves the formation of a bond between the fabrial and [a] spren.

I'm more hesitant to make assumptions about the "void" magic. I AM very skeptical that the actions of the Voidbringers are a case of Voidbinding. But I'm also skeptical that spren-monsters (e.g. thunderclasts) are a case of Voidbinding. Honestly, I don't know what to make of Voidbinding. :) I can definitely see how it may be a twisted form of Surgebinding.

But I don't really like the idea that Voidbringer Powers, as you call them, are related to Cultivation. Because if we're going with the theme of "Odium took existing magic and corrupted it", I don't know how to trace this one back to Cultivation. I've theorized before that the Forms of Power are totally natural. Just listener bonds with voidspren rather than normal spren. The Everstorm-bringing song doesn't seem any more magical to me than the Rhythms. So I'm afraid to attribute to a Shard.

I think that spren are the focus on Roshar. At least in most cases? The gem type/color is definitely suspicious... But that oddity seems to be specifically related to soulcasting. So I'm betting it's not right to call gem type a focus. Maybe it's a second focus, if that's possible, in a particular case. Otherwise it's just an oddity of how soulcasting works. Not enough to sway me from the simple answer that works 90% of the time.

Edit: Oh, and a comment about Surgebinding... One notable aspect of the magic system is the growth that we see in the surgebinder and the spren. The surgebinder seems to undergo development of some kind. You could attribute this to the oaths and the structure that was set up... But it's odd to me that the oaths come so naturally. And even more interesting is the effect of the bond on the spren. They willingly enter these relationships because of the growth they receive. These both point at Cultivation, to me.

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@jofwu spoilered for response to your spoiler

Spoiler

It mentions a presence or force that intercedes during the soulcasting. It does not say it is a spren. Her ability to perceive the Cognitive actually argues against it being a spren, as she was able to see the Cognitive forms overlaying normal spren appearing, but she saw nothing to go with the presence that help guide the soulcasting. 

 

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I wonder if we analyze these magic systems with too much of an eye on the intent of the shards. The Intent Honor or Cultivation is only relevant to how one gains the powers, not what those powers entail.

Quote

so it makes sense that it is Cultivation's power that gives access to the natural Surges

So this idea seems incorrect to me in the light of this WoB:

Quote

Brandon Sanderson

As a note here, the powers granted by all of the metals—even the two divine ones—are not themselves of either Shard. They are simply tools. And so, it's possible that one COULD have found a way to reproduce an ability like atium's while using Preservation's power, but it wouldn't be as natural or as easy as using Preservation to fuel Allomancy.

The means of getting powers—Ruin stealing, Preservation gifting—are related to the Shards, but not the powers themselves. (Source)

Emphasis mine. This makes sense with what @Argent said about Honor being about bonds (IIRC that's correct, but brief search didn't find anything). The nature of Honor is expressed in how surgebinding is attained, not in the particular powers being expressed. Furthermore, it isn't necessarily true that all spren capable of forming a Nahel bond are a mixture of Honor and Cultivation.

Quote

BRANDON SANDERSON

Nyeaaahhh... The spren still has to choose. If you want to be a Surgebinder, the choice is being made. You can't fake your way into it. Decision and Honor are too much a part of Surgebinding for you to be able to fake your way into that. Other magics you might be able to do that. Other magics that don't require, like, Surgebinding works because a piece of Honor or Cultivation or a mix has chosen you specifically. There is will from the actual Investiture involved in it in Roshar. (Source)

Emphasis mine.

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7 minutes ago, Emerald101 said:

Furthermore, it isn't necessarily true that all spren capable of forming a Nahel bond are a mixture of Honor and Cultivation.

Yeah, pretty sure Syl is a pure honorspren (e.g. splinter of just Honor) and Wyndle is a pure cultivationspren (just Cultivation).

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8 hours ago, Pagerunner said:

kind of like Hemalurgy, which by definition grants the same powers as Allomancy and Feruchemy.

 

Except I'm pretty sure we have a WoB somewhere (can't find it) that Hemalurgy could work with other magics as well.  

Edit: Found it (#62)

INTERVIEW: Sep, 2012

ODIUM'S_SHARD

Lastly, less pressingly, do Spirit Points (hemalurgic spots) apply to ever magic system, and through the Cosmere at large? Ie. could Hemalurgy be used to take any other magic systems aspects, and do other magic systems also have these 'Points', such as Body Focuses, that work in similar ways?

BRANDON SANDERSON

Hemalurgy crosses magic systems. You could steal things from people on other worlds, if you knew the right places for the spikes.
Edited by Steelheart
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Oh wow, this seems to have generated a far larger reaction than I anticipated it getting: 8 upvotes, a downvote, and 20 responses all in the space of 10 hours! I was hoping to start some discussion with this, and to that extent at least, I seem to have succeeded :D. There’s a lot that I want to respond to here, and I’m not sure how long it’s going to take me (I’m battling a very unstable internet connection at the moment, that’s actually the reason that I hadn’t posted in almost a month before today). Let’s see how much of this I can get through before I need to go to bed at least. 

9 hours ago, Calderis said:

There is a Cognitive bond between the color of a Gemstone and the essence it represents. 

The problem I have here is that, as I understand it, bonds are Spiritual in nature, not Cognitive.

One of the functions of the listener-spren bond is that it removes a block from between the listener’s physical and cognitive aspects, similar to the block that the mistwraith have. In fact, we have a WoB that the Parshendi could be given new forms using Haemalurgy, and we know that Haemalurgy functions by stapling part of one person’s soul onto another. Which means that removing the Cognitive block is something that happens on the Spiritual level, not the Cognitive.

9 hours ago, Calderis said:

The Nahel bond is a single type of bond, and looking at it as the focus exclusively underestimates the complexity of what a bond is. 

I completely agree: the Nahel bond is a subset of spren bonds. I did try and be consistent in only using the term Nahel bond when referring to Surgebinding, otherwise calling them spren bonds.

9 hours ago, Calderis said:

The Honorblades themselves being a hack works along the lines that you say, up until the point of Honors shattering, after which they still allow surgebinding via Stormlight. I again think it's the bond with the blade, but regardless of my opinion the direct essence of the Shard is no longer the fuel so the focus should again be needed. 

I don’t think that this is much of a problem. Remember that Honour set up a system whereby, thousands of years after his death, key individuals would be sent interactive visions of the past. That being the case, I doubt he would have much of a problem adding an exception that would cause the Honourblades to resort to drawing Stormlight from the spheres in the event that they couldn’t establish a conduit to Honour. Or any number of other potential solutions to the problem.

My point in bringing up this conduit was to show that they could function without a focus as I had presented the focus. Granted we disagree on what that is, but within the context of the framework I’ve built, it’s a sound argument.

9 hours ago, Calderis said:

Sorry to harp on about this. It's a strong opinion for me and is the cause of the only places I disagree with you. 

On the whole I like what you've done and agree other than the parts I mentioned. 

Oh, no need to apologise, I actually like it when people disagree with me, it gives us more to talk about :).

8 hours ago, Pagerunner said:

Why do you say that ancient fabrials don't appear to have spren in them?

This is based off of the Soulcasters. Granted we haven’t seen a non-fake, non-broken one up close, but it appears that all of the gemstones in the fabrials can and do get replaced.  Given that the only way we know to trap spren is in gemstones, unless the gemstones added to the Soulcaster have spren in them, there can’t be any spren trapped in the Soulcaster at all. Shallan never comments on seeing spren in the gemstones of Jasnah’s fake soulcaster, and when Jasnah has to Soulcast Shallan’s blood at the end of The Way of Kings she says that she needs garnet, not a special garnet with a spren. So that was a fake Soulcaster, and that restriction might not exist for Radiant Soulcasting, but would Jasnah settle for a less than perfect replication for her fake? It would be very out of character for her if she did in my opinion.

8 hours ago, Pagerunner said:

In the specific example of the Oathgates, the Blade that was used to operate them was not one of the spren that could grant Transportation, so how could it have accessed that Surge (if that was what truly happened)? There must be additional spren involved, either one of the kinds of spren that can grant Transportation, or the spren that match the Surge of Transportation itself (if you hold to that interpretation). They must have been hanging out in the lanterns or elsewhere in the Oathgate until it was filled with Stormlight and activated using Pattern. (I think requiring a live Blade is more of a lock, as opposed to an inherent function, but that's neither here nor there.)

This is an excellent point, and I’ll certainly admit that this aspect of my framework is one of the weakest, simply because we’ve seen so little of the ancient fabrials. My best explanation right now would come down to the focus not simply being the spren, but the gemstones as well. Since all of the Radiant orders could operate the Oathgates (except maybe the Bondsmiths given their lack of Shards), it would need to be the gemstones that are specifying the Transportation effect, and the spren being the final part of the focus that “unlocks” it. While these fabrials are producing the same powers as the Surgebindings, the method of accessing them is different to what we are familiar with.

The explanation isn’t without problems certainly, but it’s the best that I can come up with without seeing more of them.

Okay, it's now really late here, I'll answer the rest of your questions tomorrow @Pagerunner, and respond to as many other comments as I can too.

Edited by BlackYeti
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7 hours ago, PallonianFire said:

I'm just saying that there appears to be a fundamental difference between Breaths and Divine Breaths. Brandon refers to Divine Breaths as splinters, but doesn't with Breaths.

There's a difference, but I don't know if it needs to be fundamental or a difference of degree rather than kind. IMO, the huge difference in relative power could be enough for Divine Breath to qualify.

Splinter is likely an in-world term (there's an old WOB that Sliver is) so the definition could be somewhat fuzzy... as it does seem to be in the case of Divine Breaths, since the WOB definition of Splinter is power that has attained sentience, and Divine Breaths don't seem to be mentally separate from the Returned-human personality.

Also, all Investiture coming from a Shard is part of that Shard, and if the Shard is still alive/unSplintered, still the same thing on the Spiritual Realm. On Scadrial, Atium is a piece of Ruin; Atium is not considered a Splinter, but I don't know how fundamental the distinction between a chunk of Atium and a "dead" Shardblade is.

6 hours ago, jofwu said:

To address the OP...I'm unsure about modern fabrials being related to the Shards. The short version of the argument is that these fabrials appear to be very "scientific". They observe and research a natural phenomenon, and then create a "mechanical" device which harnesses that natural phenomenon. As far as I can see, all of the components predated the Shards on Roshar. So while I could be convinced otherwise, I tend to assume that these work naturally without some tweak made by a Shard.

I agree. IMO, modern fabrials are a human 'technology' based on use of Roshar's pre-Shardic "natural magic" that leads to spren bonds seen in Rosharan non-human life.

6 hours ago, jofwu said:

But I don't really like the idea that Voidbringer Powers, as you call them, are related to Cultivation. Because if we're going with the theme of "Odium took existing magic and corrupted it", I don't know how to trace this one back to Cultivation. I've theorized before that the Forms of Power are totally natural. Just listener bonds with voidspren rather than normal spren. The Everstorm-bringing song doesn't seem any more magical to me than the Rhythms. So I'm afraid to attribute to a Shard.

I agree that the Forms of Power seem to be voidspren intruding into the Parshendi pre-Shardic natural magic. The Everstorm song specifically, however, seems pretty dramatic for that kind of thing. 

Some modern fabrials have a short range (Navani's emotion bracelet and drying fabrial), but the other effects we see from natural bonding on Roshar are self-only (chasmfiend lightening, skyeel flight, Ryshadium general superiority to normal horses); the Parshendi forms-not-of-power (dullform, warform, nimbleform, etc.) seem to stick to altering the body and mind, not 'external magical' abilities.

I think the red lightning and Everstorm are actually drawing on Odium's Investiture, not just on the individual voidspren.

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9 hours ago, FiveLate said:

There is a WOB where he lists the magic systems on Roshar as Surgebinding, Voidbinding, Fabrials, and Old Magic(but it's kind of different).

It's very possible he was only referring to Ancient Fabrials, not the modern variety. 

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Just now, FiveLate said:

Ok how about this one.

  Hide contents

INTERVIEW: Sep, 2012

RAGS

You have told us there are more than 30 magical systems on Roshar. I am assuming there are 10 surgebindings and 10 voidbindings. Do the next 10 belong to another such classification? If yes, can you give us the name for it.

BRANDON SANDERSON

Fabrials are part of it.

 

Again, he did not specify which Fabrials he was talking about. I believe he considers Modern Fabrials similar to Southern Scadrian tech - uses Investiture, but not a separate magic system in itself 

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