Jofwu

[OB] Theory: How Ancient Fabrials Work

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I agree with everything except the shardplate. I think we have enough evidence on screen to assume that shardplate is the collective assembly of lesser spren associated with the particular order. We see it in Kaladin's scene where the lesser spren respond to his powers. I don't think shardplate qualifies as a fabrial, because I don't believe that shardplate is naturally a permanent entity. It is formed on need, new each time. I think the only reason that shardplate is even available to be used the way it is by non-radiants is because the spren are dead, the same as a shardblade, and can no longer move apart or back into the cognitive. A house of corpses if you will.

But generally, I think this theory is spot on. Something else in favour of it is the nature of spren. Spren want to do the things that their idea's embody. They don't take a lot of convincing to do it. The only value I can see in trapping them, is when you don't really know how to communicate with them. If you were able to just ask them, they'd probably say yes anyway.

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Great theory, Jofwu. I've been thinking similar things recently, and I like the way you laid it out here.

I'm not sure what other sentient spren we know of that aren't Radiant spren. Furthermore, I think the spren in the fabrial must at least be related to the Radiant spren, as presumably the spren for any individual fabrial would be related to the order of KR that can access that Surge. I don't think an honorspren in a fabrial would give you an Oathgate, for example. I don't know that any of the Radiant spren would want to be trapped in a fabrial forever, but I'm not sure how else you could access surges. The only other thing I can think is, if there are Surgespren (like gravitationspren, adhesionspren, etc), you could use those instead.

The fabrial spren being KR spren may also help us to understand why some fabrials use multiple spren, as you suggest might be the case for some Soulcasters and we know to be the case with the Oathgates. We know now that the different orders can access the Surges in different ways, e.g. Dalinar can use Adhesion differently than Kaladin (might be getting the specific Surge wrong here). Perhaps having multiple different spren allows the fabrial to access the Surge in all possible ways? This may explain the limiting factor on the Soulcasters, though we don't know much about the difference between Lightweaver and Elsecaller Soulcasting. I'll toss out another idea here related to the Oathgates. When Jasnah used the Transportation Surge to escape the ship in WoR, it looked like she ended up in Shadesmar in a corresponding location to where she was in the Physical Realm. I think it's possible that the Willshaper use of Transportation involves moving around within Shadesmar, and the combination of these two effects in the Oathgate (through the two spren) allows you to travel quickly "through the Physical Realm". One spren pops you into Shadesmar, the other transports you to another Oathgate in Shadesmar, and then the spren at that gate pops you back into the Physical Realm.

Many possible questions to ask Brandon here. Knowing more about the differences between the ways the orders access the surges would be a huge help.

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1 hour ago, aemetha said:

I agree with everything except the shardplate. I think we have enough evidence on screen to assume that shardplate is the collective assembly of lesser spren associated with the particular order. We see it in Kaladin's scene where the lesser spren respond to his powers. I don't think shardplate qualifies as a fabrial, because I don't believe that shardplate is naturally a permanent entity. It is formed on need, new each time. I think the only reason that shardplate is even available to be used the way it is by non-radiants is because the spren are dead, the same as a shardblade, and can no longer move apart or back into the cognitive. A house of corpses if you will.

I don't have a problem scratching Shardplate from the list, but I'm still leaning in it's favor.

"collective assembly of lesser spren" -- I'm not convinced by the evidence. It's compelling, but not conclusive to me. And I don't think these two theories are mutually exclusive.

"naturally a permanent entity", "spren are dead" -- Yeah, it could be the same as Shardblades in the way they could be summoned. The dead blades naturally remained physical originally, so you can argue Shardplate is the same. Perhaps it doesn't scream because the spren aren't/weren't sapient. But at the same time this feels like a lot of assumptions to me. 

Unfortunately we don't have many descriptions of "living" Shardplate so that we can draw comparisons. The only two differences we know, off the top of my head, are that it glows with light/glyphs and that sections of it can appear/disappear at will. I don't think either of these necessarily suggests that it isn't a fabrial. Dalinar hasn't mentioned a lack of gemstones in the armor, so I think we should assume it had those. But if it isn't a fabrial then why? Also, a hole I see in the simple cousin-spren theory is the fact that Plate does MORE than act as a mere barrier. It strengthens. It grips things well. It absorbs stormform lightning. I don't quite see how these can be explained without handwaving. A fabrial on the other hand? Makes perfect sense that it could have complex capabilities. 

In the end, it feels more to me like a low-functioning "sleeping" fabrial than a dead Shardblade.

 

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2 minutes ago, Jofwu said:

Also, a hole I see in the simple cousin-spren theory is the fact that Plate does MORE than act as a mere barrier. It strengthens. It grips things well. It absorbs stormform lightning. I don't quite see how these can be explained without handwaving.

Well, a dead shardblade still cuts the soul too. It's because spren can't ever actually die, they can lose the majority of their sentience though, and just remain stuck doing what they were doing when they died.

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8 minutes ago, BeskarKomrk said:

I'm not sure what other sentient spren we know of that aren't Radiant spren.

First of all, I think you mean "sapient" here? Important difference. Also, three obvious answers are the Oathgates, some Unmade, and probably the Sibling. Maybe these are just very anomalous. And apparently some people think the Oathgates are Elsecaller/Willshaper spren. But I figure it's worth pointing out. More generally, I'm not sure I like the assumption that there's no room for other types of sapient spren which we just haven't heard about yet. I mean, we haven't even (maybe) gotten a good glimpse at all of the KR spren.

In any case, I don't have a problem with non-sapient spren having access to Surges. Windspren certainly seem to.

And I think it goes too far to assume that they are "trapped" with the fabrial. The example given for the Soulcaster, at least, didn't feel that way to me.

4 minutes ago, aemetha said:

Well, a dead shardblade still cuts the soul too. It's because spren can't ever actually die, they can lose the majority of their sentience though, and just remain stuck doing what they were doing when they died.

Ah, I totally forgot to say one other thing relevant to this. My two biggest problems with the dead spren Plate idea are:

1. I don't quite see how it would become attached to the KR oaths. Feels to me like these spren would just be released back to normal. Not be trapped in some other form. Plate that works this way doesn't feel as intimately connected as the Blade does. 

2. And we know there's a very specific reason that KR spren become Blades when they die. They are imitations of Honorblades. I don't see great logic for why the lesser spren would be locked into a particular form in the same way when they die.

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3 minutes ago, Jofwu said:

First of all, I think you mean "sapient" here? Important difference.

Yes, I did mean sapient. I always get those mixed up (though you'd think arguing over categories on the Coppermind would help me keep them straight). What spren did you have in mind that are sentient and not sapient. Do windspren qualify for that category?

 

5 minutes ago, Jofwu said:

Also, three obvious answers are the Oathgates, some Unmade, and probably the Sibling. Maybe these are just very anomalous. And apparently some people think the Oathgates are Elsecaller/Willshaper spren.

I do personally think that the Oathgate spren are Elsecaller/Willshaper spren, as the picture looks like how Ivory is described to me. But I'll grant you that's far from confirmed, and it isn't good to assume. I would probably count the Sibling as a Radiant spren though, since it seems pretty agreed-upon that it bonds a Bondsmith. And the Unmade are sort of in a class by themselves.

7 minutes ago, Jofwu said:

In any case, I don't have a problem with non-sapient spren having access to Surges. Windspren certainly seem to.

Referring to how windspren play pranks by sticking things together, I'm assuming? That's interesting, I'll have to think about that further.

8 minutes ago, Jofwu said:

And I think it goes too far to assume that they are "trapped" with the fabrial. The example given for the Soulcaster, at least, didn't feel that way to me.

It's not clear from the Soulcaster example whether Kaza is interacting with a spren that's in the device or whether the device somehow calls a spren to help. The Oathgates, on the other hand, seem pretty clear that the spren are always there. If they work under similar principles, it would make sense that the Soulcaster is the same way. It's also possible that they worked differently when the KR were still around. Perhaps it requires a spren to be in the device, but Radiants were able to release the spren and get a new one, or something like that.

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I like this theory a lot. It's almost like instead of trapping spren, ancient fabrial were created in tandem with it's own spren. See that's what spren really are, the cognitive representation of something that exists in the physical world. It's almost as if while creating the physical fabrial, the intent of what it was to accomplish or what it was to do was so strong that it's spren imprinted with that intent and became a willing part of the process. The modern process then becomes a real travesty and a perversion of the original way that spren relationships were supposed to work.

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12 minutes ago, BeskarKomrk said:

What spren did you have in mind that are sentient and not sapient. Do windspren qualify for that category?

Referring to how windspren play pranks by sticking things together, I'm assuming? That's interesting, I'll have to think about that further.

I can only speculate, honestly. We just don't know enough I think. Windspren would probably fit. In general, I mean--not for soulcasters.

You're right about Sibling, wasn't thinking! Though ultimately my thoughts are that if we have ANY exception cases then it's points in favor of the idea that the spren can't be neatly categorized.

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Ancient fabrials used stormlight to pay the spren who operated it. The spren agreed to operate the fabrial, and the humans paid them with stormlight. Or something like that.

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11 minutes ago, SilverTiger said:

Ancient fabrials used stormlight to pay the spren who operated it. The spren agreed to operate the fabrial, and the humans paid them with stormlight. Or something like that.

Yeah! I was wondering about that possibility. A problem I see with it is that these actions often need Stormlight to fuel the action. Soulcasting, for example, requires giving Stormlight to the thing you are changing. A spren can't just do that for you at no cost and then take your "money". But perhaps they are taking their cut off the top. :) 

Not convinced this is (always) what's going on. But it's an interesting and plausible concept, I think. At least in some cases.

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I think you are on the right Track with most of the Fabrials. I think that some of the older Fabrials like the healing Fabrials might work by useing flavored storm light. In Kolinar Kalidin attempts to draw in some of Shallan's storm light but can't. This Seems similar to how Feruchemist cannot use other Feruchemist's Reserves. in Feruchemy even after you dump identity while storing the Investiture is still flavored with the attribute.  Maybe there's a way for a edge dancer to reclaim store light that been given the property of regrowth and then store in gems stones for later use. this would explain why there are no more healing Fabrials as they have all run out of the proper stormlight.  The Radiant in Dalinar's vision in wok also talks about conserving regrowth as if the Fabrial could not just be refilled with normal stormlight after use.

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On 12/13/2017 at 4:37 PM, aemetha said:

I agree with everything except the shardplate. I think we have enough evidence on screen to assume that shardplate is the collective assembly of lesser spren associated with the particular order. We see it in Kaladin's scene where the lesser spren respond to his powers. I don't think shardplate qualifies as a fabrial, because I don't believe that shardplate is naturally a permanent entity. It is formed on need, new each time. I think the only reason that shardplate is even available to be used the way it is by non-radiants is because the spren are dead, the same as a shardblade, and can no longer move apart or back into the cognitive. A house of corpses if you will.

But generally, I think this theory is spot on. Something else in favour of it is the nature of spren. Spren want to do the things that their idea's embody. They don't take a lot of convincing to do it. The only value I can see in trapping them, is when you don't really know how to communicate with them. If you were able to just ask them, they'd probably say yes anyway.

I think you're right about the lesser spren. but maybe they're not dead. Each radiant seems to attract them:
 

Dalinar: Gloryspren(end of oathbringer)

Kaladin:windspren(when he flys)

Shallan:creationspren

Any thoughts?

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All entities in the Cosmere have or are drawn to have some presence in all 3 Realms.  Spren, without help from others, don't have a Physical aspect.  THAT is their payment for work done, THAT is why they bond, why they enter gems, why they pop their heads in when someone does something in line with their Intent.  They are drawn to the idea they represent AND willing to die to get a greater Physical aspect

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That gemstone, Taravangian said, imprisons the kind of spren that gives things substance, the kind that holds the world together. We have entrapped in that shield something that, at another time might have blessed a Knight Radiant.

 

Isn't he telling us here that Half-Shards are powered by trapped Knight spren? Or am I taking that too literally? If it is the case, which order might it be? The ones we definitely know(honorspren, highspren, inkspren, cultivationspren, cryptics, Greatspren) don't seem to fit that description to me. And neither do the ones we might/kinda know(ashspren, Glys). I've read theories that lightspren might be the spren of Willshapers or it might be Timbre, but they don't sound like they give things substance and hold the world together. That just leaves the spren of Stonewards. I've found no theories to what their spren might be( and I certainly don't have one;) but the idea that the Stonewards bonded the type of spren that gives things substance and holds the world together, appeals to me.

Edited by NotBurtReynolds
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On 12/13/2017 at 1:29 PM, Jofwu said:

1. I don't quite see how it would become attached to the KR oaths. Feels to me like these spren would just be released back to normal. Not be trapped in some other form. Plate that works this way doesn't feel as intimately connected as the Blade does. 

I think this happens because the Radiant spren acts almost as a bridge to the Shardplate spren. There really isn't much of a bond between the person and the Shardplate spren, there are two bonds that go through the Radiant spren. That would explain why modern Shardplate can't be summoned or dismissed as well. It took a bond through the gen to be able to summon and dismiss Shardblades again. If that bond wasn't possible with the person in the first place, it couldn't be recreated. There is some evidence of this when Dalinar goes to the Starfall vision as a Radiant. When he claims he is having trouble with his helm, the Windrunner's first response is talk to your spren. Why would he need to do that if the spren wasn't involved in the process? 

On 12/13/2017 at 1:29 PM, Jofwu said:

In any case, I don't have a problem with non-sapient spren having access to Surges. Windspren certainly seem to.

We know Chasmfiends have some kind of bond with a spren that allows them to grow to giant sizes and not be crushed by their own weight, presumably using gravitation. 

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I like the theory but I also feel like Shardplate is more akin to a Shardblade but I also do see the logic to @Jofwu point that it is a complex tool that serves multiple purposes. We are assuming "cousin" spren tied to a particular order like windspren but could this be off base that it actually requires multiple types of lesser spren? Ok assuming that plate is a fabrial this brings up a question to me. Did people construct the ancient fabrials and then spren powered them? I ask because I do not assume they are like Shardblades which are a manifistation of the spren in the PR. If people did construct the fabrials does that mean KR will have to construct their plate if it is in fact a fabrial? If this is the case then I do not understand why it would be tied to an oath. 

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7 hours ago, thegatorgirl00 said:

Why would he need to do that if the spren wasn't involved in the process? 

I feel like your point here only affirms my opinion being expressed, which is that I don't see why killing the Nahel bond spren would leave the theorized Shardplate (1) dead and (2) in a physical state. The Nahel spren is deeply rooted. When the oaths die, it dies. The concept of these other spren feels too disconnected from the spirit for that kind of reaction. I'd think of the connection dies (Nahel spren) the Shardplate wouldn't ALSO be dead. It would just be released from being Shardplate. Those spren would either be alive and totally fine, or they'd at least be dead in a non-physical state. 

But anyways, to answer this question under my theory... (It's a really good question) I'm not entirely sure. It's possible that this is Brandon misleading us a little bit. That when the person says "your spren" here, he's actually talking about the Shardplate's spren. I think that could totally fit. But a more mundane explanation would be that the Nahel bond spren is still involved in some way. Could be an intermediary with the fabrial spren or something.

Re: chasmfiends. Yes! I was thinking about that earlier today. 

4 hours ago, StormingTexan said:

Did people construct the ancient fabrials and then spren powered them? I ask because I do not assume they are like Shardblades which are a manifistation of the spren in the PR. If people did construct the fabrials does that mean KR will have to construct their plate if it is in fact a fabrial? If this is the case then I do not understand why it would be tied to an oath. 

Very good question. For ancient fabrials in general, I think we'd have to suppose they are physically "constructed". I do suspect that, at least in some point of the construction, there's something somewhat mystical going on. Not sure what that looks like.

I have to agree that it feels off that Shardplate would be built in a physical way and then "fabrial-ized". I'm not sure how to fit that together. I could throw out some wild theories, but I don't have a great answer right now. This is perhaps the strongest argument to assume it isn't a fabrial.

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My thought has been that if humans have the Nahel bond, and Parshendi have their own bonds, for making forms, then Aimians have a different kind of bond, specifically for fabrials. 

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3 minutes ago, Jofwu said:
4 hours ago, StormingTexan said:

 

Very good question. For ancient fabrials in general, I think we'd have to suppose they are physically "constructed". I do suspect that, at least in some point of the construction, there's something somewhat mystical going on. Not sure what that looks like.

I have to agree that it feels off that Shardplate would be built in a physical way and then "fabrial-ized". I'm not sure how to fit that together. I could throw out some wild theories, but I don't have a great answer right now. This is perhaps the strongest argument to assume it isn't a fabrial.

Agreed but I really like the rest of your theory it makes a lot of sense.

I was really hoping we’d see how plate is acquired in OB but we will have to wait another 3 years in the least. Guess it’s something to look forward to.

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25 minutes ago, Jofwu said:

I'd think of the connection dies (Nahel spren) the Shardplate wouldn't ALSO be dead. It would just be released from being Shardplate. Those spren would either be alive and totally fine, or they'd at least be dead in a non-physical state.

My thought that the spren was like a on/off switch. When they were killed, the switch was pushed to on and the controls were torn out so it couldn't be flipped again. Shardplate doesn't scream, however, and you would think any sentient being would scream if they were trapped like that, even if they weren't sapient. It's an idea with lots of holes that I'm not particularly attached to. 

I don't think Shardplate is a fabrial because it has always felt alive in a way that Shardblades never did. It needs food to work in Stormlight. It can grow back broken parts, even if the he sees is as small as a grain of sand. Shardblades are just there to swing around, not nearly as interactive. 

I just had any idea. Maybe we've been thinking about Shardplate wrong. We've been assuming that if it is a spren, it would need to be dead lol me the blades. What if they're alive, but slumbering like the Sibling? Like Urithiru, Shardplate still has some functionality, just not to the extent it once did. And it would explain why there isn't any screaming. The spren aren't dead. 

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7 hours ago, thegatorgirl00 said:

think this happens because the Radiant spren acts almost as a bridge to the Shardplate spren. There really isn't much of a bond between the person and the Shardplate spren, there are two bonds that go through the Radiant spren. That would explain why modern Shardplate can't be summoned or dismissed as well. It took a bond through the gen to be able to summon and dismiss Shardblades again. If that bond wasn't possible with the person in the first place, it couldn't be recreated. There is some evidence of this when Dalinar goes to the Starfall vision as a Radiant. When he claims he is having trouble with his helm, the Windrunner's first response is talk to your spren. Why would he need to do that if the spren wasn't involved in the process? 

This is my take on it as well until proven wrong. Although it was kind of goofy I think we saw a little bit of this interaction when Kaladin  was rescuing the human captives during the storm and Syl told the wind spen Kal was his. Kal needs another oath and she’s just got to get over her jealousy lol.  

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1 hour ago, thegatorgirl00 said:

I just had any idea. Maybe we've been thinking about Shardplate wrong. We've been assuming that if it is a spren, it would need to be dead lol me the blades. What if they're alive, but slumbering like the Sibling? Like Urithiru, Shardplate still has some functionality, just not to the extent it once did. And it would explain why there isn't any screaming. The spren aren't dead. 

That's what I was saying in my post. :) 

I think your argument would be that the suit itself IS the sleeping spren. My argument would be that the suit itself is primarily a physical thing... but that it's somehow (by virtue of being a fabrial) "linked" or "bonded" to [one or more] spren who are "sleeping".

I think it may be possible to merge those theories as well. I've been assuming that a fabrial is some physical thing "linked to" and "powered by" a spren. You could absolutely argue that the item is a physical representation of the spren. For the Urithiru analogy... I'm saying that the tower itself is somewhat distinct from the Sibling. But you could argue that the tower is somehow a physical manifestation of the Sibling. 

But I don't really want to go too far down that road. It's outside the scope of my argument.

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There is a scene at one point where Kaladin is talking to Syl about whether spren can have children, in which she refers to the windspren. I would think it's possible that this is foreshadowing for a situation whereby a Radiant bonds a greater radiant spren, granting it greater ability in the physical realm, and the greater radiant spren upon reaching a certain level of ability in the physical realm is able to bond the lesser radiant spren, granting them abilities in the physical realm. If this were the case, then there's a plausible scenario that the death of the greater radiant spren would have a flow on effect to the lesser radiant spren without a need for the lesser radiant spren to have sapience in the same way as the greater radiant spren.

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“Eshonai…?” she whispered, and nudged the corpse again. Demid gasped. Touching the bodies of the fallen was taboo. The old songs spoke of days when humans had hacked apart listener corpses, searching for gemhearts. Leave the dead to peace instead; it was their way.

Sanderson, Brandon. Oathbringer: Book Three of the Stormlight Archive (pp. 339-340). Tom Doherty Associates. Kindle Edition.

Perhaps the source of the gem is important somehow. None of the humans appear to know about the gemhearts (which is interesting considering Kaladin's harvesting of the Parshendi bones in TWoK) so obviously none of the modern fabrials could incorporate them. While Voidspren/spren in general might be able to bond with anything with a gemheart (e.g. the spren associated with/apparently leaving the greatshells) the expression of the bonding is presumably different depending on what the spren bonds with. Or possibly gems from different sources can bond with different kinds of spren.

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