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[OB] Cosmere Fundamentals: Shard “Pathways to Power”

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I 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):

Quote

Then she burned her metals. All of them….

Blue lines exploded from her, first pointing at metals, then multiplying, changing, transforming. She saw through it all, everything in blue. There were no people or objects, just energy coalesced. The metals shone brilliantly, as if they were holes into someplace different. Concentrated essence, providing a pathway to power.

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,

Quote

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 added).

@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 Fortuneor 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

Spoiler

Recent WoB Supports Pathways Theory

This WoB (emphasis added) IMO supports the pathways theory:

Quote

Overlord Jebus [PENDING REVIEW]

Is all Investiture in the cosmere associated with a Shard?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

Yes, well, okay. So this is a complicated one. *pauses* So, Investiture predates the Shattering of Adonalsium, all Investiture was from Adonalsium, all Investiture got assigned to one of the 16 Shards when Adonalsium was Shattered. Some of the Investiture was not on Yolen but location is irrelevant. So Investiture is related to Shards even on planets where none of the Shards are inhabiting

Overlord Jebus [PENDING REVIEW]

Are they aware of that Investiture?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

That's part of the whole seeing into the infinite, being beyond even the power of a Shard. So, technically you could make the argument that Harmony could feel the sense of Preservation on every world in the cosmere, right? Because the building blocks of all life and creation are these things.

Overlord Jebus [PENDING REVIEW]

So the Shard of Preservation embodies all preservation in the cosmere?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

Yes but he just can't do that, right? Like, he's not infinite. The Vessels are not, even if their minds are enormously expanded by holding a Shard, they are not infinite. The Connection is all there in the Spiritual Realm.

All “Investiture Is related to Shards

I think each Shard’s unique pathway to power is why “Investiture is related to Shards even on planets where none of the Shards are inhabiting.” IMO, “all Investiture got assigned to one of the 16 Shards” based on their energy pathway. I believe the pathways are slices of Adonalsium’s mind-soul Connection the Shattering “broke off.” Adonalsium used these pathways when he made water, EMR, etc. The Shards inherit the Investiture in all three Realms that relates to their pathway.

Based on the gemstone WoBs (quoted in @RShara's post), I now agree pathways can appear on any Shardworld, not just where the Shard resides. IMO, all cosmere water is Autonomy’s pathway, all EMR is Endowment’s pathway, all metal is Preservation’s pathway, all increased entropy is Ruin’s pathway, etc.

The gemstone WoBs also prove Catalysts don’t need to be Shard-related. The power Catalysts summon down each pathway creates the Shard-related Investiture (and Shard-related matter and energy). Shard-created Investiture, matter and energy are each a form of the Shard’s essence all across the cosmere.” (I discuss “essence” below.)

The Connection is all there in the Spiritual Realm

I believe Adonalsium was the cosmere. Pre-creation chaotic power developed its own mind, Adonalsium. “A mind, a soul” (Adonalsium’s anagram) decided it wanted a body too and formed the Physical Realm. Pre-Shattering, everything in the cosmere was Adonalsium and his essence (his Physical Realm presence). He was infinite, the cosmere’s co-extensive mind, body and soul able to sense everything everywhere and know its meaning.

Along come the Vessels. They have their own minds and souls. They kill Adonalsium and Shatter his power into 16 Shards, which the Vessels now hold. IMO, “holding” power and BEING power are different things. HoA shows Vessel bodies re-form upon their death. That suggests their souls always remain their own (even if, like Ati’s, the Shard warps it). IOW, a Vessel’s soul holds power like a paper cup holds water, but the cup is not water itself.

Instead, a Vessel wields the power that saturates its soul through “the Connection…there in the Spiritual Realm.” I believe this Connection is their pathway to power, their slice of Adonalsium’s mind-soul Connection that allows the Vessel’s mind to direct the Shard’s power.

Seeing into the infinite is…beyond even the power of a Shard

IMO, Shards can only see what their own pathway shows them. Even then, Harmony can’t sense his Preservation pathway – metals – on worlds he didn’t create (that aren't made from his essence). And though “greatly expanded,” Vessel minds are still mortal minds (except IMO for Bavadin’s), limited by mortal imagination and perception. As Preservation tells Kelsier, “It takes an infinite mind to even begin to glean information from those tendrils of the future. Even then you are likely to be wrong.” (M:SH, Part Three, Chapter 3, Kindle Locs. 1070-1071.)

Meaning of “Essence

“Essence” seems to be a canonical term without clear definition. I think WoBs and text imply a god’s essence is its entire Physical Realm presence, whether in the form of matter, energy, or Investiture. (The Spoiler quotes these sources in full.) The other two Realms are pure Investiture, unlike the Physical Realm. IOW, I think everything in the Physical Realm is the essence of Adonalsium or a Shard in whatever form their power manifests.

Spoiler

In this 2008 WoB (emphasis added), Brandon equates Scadrial’s mists with Preservation’s essence. That suggests a Shard’s Physical Realm Investiture is its essence.

Quote

KAIMIPONO

Allomancy is fueled by Preservation's body? How exactly does that work? And how does that interact with Atium—it's fueled by both gods' bodies?

BRANDON SANDERSON

The powers of Ruin and Preservation are Shards of Adonalsium, pieces of the power of creation itself. Allomancy, Hemalurgy, Feruchemy are manifestations of this power in mortal form, the ability to touch the powers of creation and use them. These metallic powers are how people's physical forms interpret the use of the Shard, though it's not the only possible way they could be interpreted or used. It's what the genetics and Realmatic interactions of Scadrial allow for, and has to do with the Spiritual, the Cognitive, and the Physical Realms.

Condensed 'essence' of these godly powers can act as super-fuel for Allomancy, Feruchemy, or really any of the powers. The form of that super fuel is important. In liquid form it's most potent, in gas form it's able to fuel Allomancy as if working as a metal. In physical form it is rigid and does one specific thing. In the case of atium, it allows sight into the future. In the case of concentrated Preservation, it gives one a permanent connection to the mists and the powers of creation. (I.e., it makes them an Allomancer.)

So when a person is burning metals, they aren't using Preservation's body as a fuel so to speak—though they are tapping into the powers of creation just slightly. When Vin burns the mists, however, she's doing just that—using the essence of Preservation, the Shard of Adonalsium itself—to fuel Allomancy. Doing this, however, rips 'troughs' through her body. It's like forcing far too much pressure through a very small, fragile hose. That much power eventually vaporizes the corporeal host, which is acting as the block and forcing the power into a single type of conduit (Allomancy) and frees it to be more expansive.

The mists are Preservation’s essence, but so is metal. In BoM, Marasi describes metal as Preservation’s “Concentrated essence.” That suggests Shard essence is more than Investiture, since metal isn’t Invested.

This recent WoB (emphasis added) states a Shard’s essence is “in the Physical Realm,” but doesn’t specify whether Shard essence takes the form of matter, energy or Investiture, whether its form matters, or whether the entirety of the Shard’s Physical Realm presence constitutes its essence because of the inter-convertibility of these substances.

Quote

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

Do splinters require proximity to their Shards?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

Do they require it for what?

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

Function--

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

Function. It's very hard for most Splinters to leave the realm where they were Splintered, but this gets into tricky stuff because the Shard mostly occupies the Spiritual Realm, but what do you mean by the Shard? Because the essence of the Shard is in the Physical Realm, it's all across the cosmere, and things like this. Usually once something is Splintered it is difficult for them to leave that area, so yes….

Sazed describes a Shard’s Physical Realm presence as its “body” (HoA, Chapter 78 Epigraph, emphasis added):

Quote

It may seem odd to those reading this that atium was part of the body of a god. However, it is necessary to understand that when we said "body" we generally meant "power." As my mind has expanded, I've come to realize that objects and energy are actually composed of the very same things, and can change state from one to another. It makes perfect sense to me that the power of godhood would be manifest within the world in physical form. Ruin and Preservation were not nebulous abstractions. They were integral parts of existence. In a way, every object that existed in the world was composed of their power.

Sazed implies every Physical Realm form of a Shard’s power is its “body,” whether matter, energy or Investiture. Taken together with the other sources, I conclude without certainty that a “god’s essence” is the entirety of its Physical Realm presence regardless of form.

CATALYSTS

I think Catalysts activate pathways by signaling the Spiritual Realm to release power down the pathway. I believe all Catalysts except metal are Investiture. I explain why after addressing...

Catalyst” as a Cosmere Word

On 1/21/2018 at 9:50 PM, Calderis said:

And Brandon's use of the word Catalyst for metals is weird, because in the real world, a Catalyst is something that facilitates a chemical reaction without being consumed, which is not at all what the metal does. The filter comparison is far more fitting. 

This comes up often. Cosmere Catalysts are technically not chemical catalysts for the reason you mention. “Chemical reagent” may be more accurate, but it’s a clunky term. Even if “weird” and non-canonical, I prefer textual words like Catalyst and Mandate to “reagent” and “intent.” (I also don’t use “intent” to avoid confusion with Khriss’ “rule of intent” – the requirement that magic users “intend” a magical effect.) You can add “pathway” to my non-canonical text list. My pre-OB Cosmere Glossary gives (mostly non-canonical) definitions of other common cosmere terms.

Why Non-Metal Catalysts Are Invested

On 1/21/2018 at 9:01 PM, RShara said:

I don't think that color or reflected light needs to be of Endowment to be a fuel for Awakening.  The catalysts are not investiture, and have no particular origin requirement. [Emphasis added.]

I still believe every non-metal Catalyst is Investiture. IMO, Catalytic Investiture amplifies the magic user’s power summons to puncture the Physical-Spiritual Realm barrier blocking the Shard’s pathway. You do persuade me Catalytic Investiture has “no particular origin requirement.”

Metal isn’t Invested (and I never said it was); but metal on Scadrial is a Physical Realm form of Preservation’s power (his essence). Brandon says, Scadrial is “goofy,” because it’s Shard-created. IMO, “burning” metals uses the Allomancer’s own energy to cause a “resonance” along Preservation’s static molecular pathway. IOW, Allomancers use Preservation’s body (metal) to draw down Preservation’s power, an internal Connection.

Adonalsium built the other Shardworlds. His essence (his Physical Realm presence) comprises the substance of the pathways there, as the “goofy Scadrial” WoB implies. Pathways on these Shardworlds link Adonalsium’s body to their Shard’s Spiritual Realm power, an external Connection. I theorize sending the signal down a pathway made from Adonalsium’s body requires more energy than sending the signal down a Shard’s own body. It’s like attaching an electrode to your brain for an electrical signal rather than relying on internal brain functions.

Non-Allomancers IMO need Catalytic Investiture’s additional external energy to summon power. Magic users’ innate Investiture converts their Catalyst into that energy. Condensed 'essence' of these godly powers can act as super-fuel for Allomancy, Feruchemy, or really any of the powers.” This WoB refers to Vin using the mists instead of metals to “super-fuel” her Allomancy. (The preceding Spoiler quotes the 2008 WoB in full.) I think the WoB means any Physical Realm Investiture (a Shard’s “condensed essence” like the mists) “can act as super-fuel for…any of the powers” (that is, any magic system, like Allomancy and Feruchemy). IOW, Catalysts “super-fuel” the non-metal magic systems.

IMO, the gemstone WoBs confirm Awakening drains gemstone Investiture, not “color.” I look at that in this Spoiler.

Spoiler

Gemstone Investiture has two possible sources: Stormlight infused as EMR (absorbed light); and/or the Investiture that composes natural gemhearts (which Brandon acknowledges is “Investiture leaking into the Physical Realm in a similar kind of process to atium”). Regardless of source, I think a Breath holder can use this Investiture to activate Endowment’s EMR pathway to power.

In the last gemstone WoB (emphasis added), Brandon says draining a gemstone’s “color”

Quote

would leave behind something that is like a cloudy quartz and is going to make it work not as well for holding Stormlight. That's our answer right now, I'm going to talk to my scientists and see what they think because draining the color from something doesn't just leave it white, or clear, it kind of ruins it, it's gray-ish, it's dun. It clouds. So I think it would ruin things for Stormlight.

To me, Brandon confirms that “draining color” does withdraw the Investiture held in an object. Nightblood turns parts of Szeth and Lift gray when he drains their Investiture. Azure’s Awakened blade leaves corpses gray. A Shardblade cut leaves the severed limb gray. Brandon acknowledges “a connection” between Awakening’s color drain and a Shardblade wound, on the one hand, and gemstone color on the other (FWIW).

The Role of Catalyst in Cosmere Thermodynamics: Awakening

To show Catalysts’ unique cosmere role, I walk through what I think are Awakening’s thermodynamics. FWIW, I think magic system thermodynamics – “following the energy flow” – explains a lot about how these systems work.

Spoiler

Brandon says Breath transfers by themselves (to other mortals or where the object doesn’t animate) are “end neutral.” When I give you my Breath, I’m minus one and you’re plus one. IMO, Brandon’s statement, “You use your own color” to transfer Breaths, means you Heighten one Breath and I lower my Heightening one Breath. Otherwise, Breath transfer would not be “end neutral” – I would lose the transaction’s color “cost,” but you would not gain it.

I think we all agree the additional energy for object animation doesn’t come from Breaths. There are no “partial” Breaths – they’re the cosmere’s closest thing to a quantum of Investiture – and Breaths are not lost in transfers. Instead, Endowment’s Spiritual Realm power, Focused by the Awakener’s visualized command, supplies the magical energy for the animation.

BUT – where does the energy come from to summon Endowment’s power? Focuses and commands don’t by themselves open the door to the Spiritual Realm. They only choose and direct a power once the door opens. Non-Scadrian magic systems that use Spiritual Realm power need energy to breach the Realmic barrier.

IMO, this is the role of Catalysts. In my Fuel post, I distinguish between “Fuel” – the Investiture that causes a magical effect – and lower case “fuel” – the Investiture that adds energy to a magical transaction but doesn’t cause the magical effect. I think Catalysts are lower case “fuel,” and Endowment’s power is Awakening’s “Fuel.”

Catalysts and Identity

Catalytic Investiture may not have an “origin requirement,” but I believe “Identity” limits which Catalyst the magic user can use. IMO, this is a function of the magic user’s innate Investiture, their internal “magic processor.” Innate Investiture turns a mortal into a “conduit to/from the Spiritual Realm.” Each Shardworld has its own form of innate Investiture: Allomantic and Feruchemical genes, Breaths, Radiantspren, etc. Innate Investiture IMO is part of what defines a magic user’s Identity.

Innate Investiture can’t process every Catalyst. An Allomancer can’t dehydrate to steel push. A Breath holder can’t burn metals to Awaken. A Surgebinder can’t absorb EMR to Windrun. Brandon does say some magic users can process non-native Investiture if it’s like their own. Vasher replaces Breaths with Stormlight because they’re similar Investitures that are both inhaled. Brandon says Vasher could also do well on Taldain, where IMO he can inhale ambient Invested water vapor. Vasher must still “hack” these systems – IMO change his Soul – to use non-Breath Investiture. I think Vasher specifically changes his Identity.

I still define Identity as the relationship between a mortal and their Shardworld that permits the mortal to use their Shardworld’s Investiture. Maybe I should call that “magical Identity,” one of many attributes that define who an individual is?

This Spoiler responds to @RShara and @Spoolofwhool about my non-canonical Identity definition:

Spoiler

I don’t believe Brandon supplies a canonical definition of Identity except for “Feruchemical Identity.” Brandon implies that “Identity” and “Feruchemical Identity” are not “exactly” the same thing, though “very similar.” Because a Feruchemist stores his/her own attributes, the ability to use metalminds should be tied to his/her individual Identity. Otherwise, I can steal Brandon’s metalmind and learn all the cosmere truths we theorize about.

I see VanDell’s BoM description of Feruchemical Identity as part of a broader concept. My Identity definition comes from this WoB: “People born on Scadrial have an Identity tied to it and its magic.” I think my definition encompasses Feruchemical Identity because Feruchemists’ Investiture is internal and unique to them. Allomancers have an Identity tied to Preservation, but IMO their (magical) Identity is not unique or personal like a Feruchemist’s.

Identity may also apply to Cognitive Shadows and spren: their Investiture ties them to their planet (emphasis added):

Quote

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

Could a Threnody Shade survive on another world?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

Theoretically, yes. But they are highly Invested and leaving a world where you're highly Invested behind when you have that Investiture is difficult, as Kelsier discovered, and as most spren discover.

 

 

Edited by Confused
Clarity and focus.
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First off... wow. Take an upvote; this is amazing. The work and theorizing done is evident.

however.

I do not believe that Fortune is a shard. It is actually a function of a spirit web (which if you look at my spiritweb post) I discussed as part of the way a spiritweb contains information such as when and where you are.

the rest is awesome.

Edited by TheHeadHancho
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I reorganized and edited the OP for clarity and focus. After I posted the OP, @Jofwu “Shard Framework” theory came out. Jofwu distinguishes between a Shard’s “nature” and the Vessel’s “expression” of its nature. The Shard’s nature is the “unchanging/unchangeable” aspect of a Shard. The Vessel’s expression of that nature is the changeable aspect.

I follow this dichotomy in the edited OP. I theorize pathways to power must cause the Shard’s nature because all Shards use the same powers. The only difference among Shards IMO is how they give power to magic users.

Check out the revised theory and let me know what you think. You may disagree with some of my pathway choices, but I think the theory is sound and supported by WoB and text. Thanks!

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That reminds me, Brandon actually went a bit about Color being an important mechanic in the cosmere.  I thought you'd like to see it.

Quote

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

With Soulcasting, we know what can be Soulcast based on the color of the gem. With Awakening, say you have emerald, green *indecipherable* if you were Awakening straw or some other form of plant matter, if you used a source of green for the color, would it be more efficient than using red?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

So I haven't built that into the magic system yet. Part of me feels I should have. But I did not. I want color to be relevant to each of the cosmere magics. It's an essential part of it, and it's part of where we stray more into the magical sense. Like, in my books we treat magic scientifically but they're still magic. And it was  a thing when I was building Stormlight, I'm like, "So the difference between these two gemstones is matter of a slight impurity.  Chemically they are 99% the same thing. Am I actually going to have them do different things or not?"  And my judgement call was yes, because I want color to be relevant in the cosmere.  But by that point, when I was really getting that magic system to work, I had already written Warbreaker.  And I had  known that I wanted color to start being a big part.  I'd already written Mistborn where I worked in color in different ways

But I didn't work that into the Warbreaker magic. I felt like it already had enough restrictions.  I say my worry about the Warbreaker magic is the color feels tacked on.  Like, the magic could work without it, narratively, so why is it there? And that's the question I asked myself while I was building; that's the question I continue to ask myself when I continue to work on-- for that magic system, to make sure it works for me.  But my instincts say adding restrictions like that, particularly when they weren't covered in the first book, feels like the wrong way to go.  It'd be like retconning the magic.  It's something I considered.

source

 

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@RShara, @Calderis, and @Spoolofwhool, I periodically visit Discord and saw last week’s comments about my theory. I prefer you ask all your questions here. @Yata, I will get back to you soon on the Sja-Anat/Glys thread. This post may hold some answers for you.

I base the pathways to power theory on text analysis supported by WoBs. If you value collaboration as you say, please collaborate with me on this theory. Thank you in advance for your persistence and patience.

Response to RShara’s Post:

On 3/14/2018 at 10:39 PM, RShara said:

That reminds me, Brandon actually went a bit about Color being an important mechanic in the cosmere.  I thought you'd like to see it.

Quote

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

With Soulcasting, we know what can be Soulcast based on the color of the gem. With Awakening, say you have emerald, green *indecipherable* if you were Awakening straw or some other form of plant matter, if you used a source of green for the color, would it be more efficient than using red?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

So I haven't built that into the magic system yet. Part of me feels I should have. But I did not. I want color to be relevant to each of the cosmere magics. It's an essential part of it, and it's part of where we stray more into the magical sense. Like, in my books we treat magic scientifically but they're still magic. And it was  a thing when I was building Stormlight, I'm like, "So the difference between these two gemstones is matter of a slight impurity.  Chemically they are 99% the same thing. Am I actually going to have them do different things or not?"  And my judgement call was yes, because I want color to be relevant in the cosmere.  But by that point, when I was really getting that magic system to work, I had already written Warbreaker.  And I had  known that I wanted color to start being a big part.  I'd already written Mistborn where I worked in color in different ways

But I didn't work that into the Warbreaker magic. I felt like it already had enough restrictions.  I say my worry about the Warbreaker magic is the color feels tacked on.  Like, the magic could work without it, narratively, so why is it there? And that's the question I asked myself while I was building; that's the question I continue to ask myself when I continue to work on-- for that magic system, to make sure it works for me.  But my instincts say adding restrictions like that, particularly when they weren't covered in the first book, feels like the wrong way to go.  It'd be like retconning the magic.  It's something I considered.

source

 

RShara, you know your “gemstone” WoBs made me change my theory. I do listen to you. This WoB doesn’t move me.

IMO, Brandon does NOT say, as you do, “color being an important mechanic in the cosmere.” He says instead, “I haven't built that into [Soulcasting] yet.” Brandon recognizes color is “where we stray more into the magical [away from the scientific] sense.” IOW, even when it becomes “relevant to each of the cosmere magics,” color will be influential “flavor,” not a scientific “mechanic.” If that proves to be wrong, I'll acknowledge my error, amend the theory, and move on.

Our prior conversation was about Awakening. Of that magic system, Brandon says, “the magic could work without , narratively.” That’s because (IMO) Awakening drains Investiture, regardless of color. Nightblood and Azure’s blade prove it, as does the last of your “gemstone WoBs.” As I keep saying, “color” doesn’t exist – it’s how the human eye perceives reflected light frequencies. Again, in Awakening color is “flavor,” not a “mechanic.”

Pathways Theory Explains Cosmere Phenomena

I think the “pathways to power” theory explains older and recent WoBs and known cosmere phenomena. At bottom, it’s just an extension of @skaa's “L-Theory of Realmatic Strings” with more textual grounding. Here again is the BoM quote (Chapter 28, Kindle p. 359, emphasis added) that underlies the theory:

Quote

Then she burned her metals. All of them….

Blue lines exploded from her, first pointing at metals, then multiplying, changing, transforming. She saw through it all, everything in blue. There were no people or objects, just energy coalesced. The metals shone brilliantly, as if they were holes into someplace different. Concentrated essence, providing a pathway to power.

I think this passage says metal is Preservation’s pathway to Spiritual Realm power. To me, it makes sense each Shard would have its own magical energy transmission mechanic – Brandon’s “spins and magnetisms.”

Brandon says cosmere Connections are “quantum connections,” not Investiture. Quantum entanglement explains why Connected souls stay in Spiritual contact regardless of Physical Realm distance. I believe a pathway to power is the Physical Realm aspect of each Shard-to-magic user Spiritual Realm Connection, its quantum entanglement.

Surgebinding’s Pathways to Power

On 3/6/2018 at 7:34 PM, Calderis said:
On 3/5/2018 at 1:24 PM, The Chosen said:

The second theory I have, which I think I actually read somewhere, is that Surgebinding is actually a magic system that is combining Honor and Cultivation. It consists of bonding with spren and then cultivating those bonds to advance. This could be explained as the Roshar equivalent to feruchamy, the interaction between Honor and Cultivation, but there are two more systems, one completely of Honor and one completely of Cultivation (maybe the Old Magic but as I already explained I don't think so).

This is the version that I believe. Oaths for Honor, a guiding set of ideals to bind the behavior, and progression and advancement through the those ideals representing the growth of Cultivation. 

Calderis, this is a fair way to look at Surgebinding, but I see the Shards’ relationship differently. Surgebinding IMO has two magical elements: the Radiant spren and the Nahel bond. I believe Cultivation supplies the spren; the spren supply the power; and Honor’s Nahel bond gives Surgebinders control of the power.

I believe spren are Cultivation’s pathway to power. Spren are “transformative cognitive entities.” (OB, Ars Arcanum, Kindle p. 1238.) Add Stormlight (Surgebinding’s catalyst IMO), and spren manifest the idea they personify. Fabrials are solely Cultivation’s magic system – the same pathway to power as Surgebinding (spren), except gem-enslavement replaces the Nahel bond.

The Nahel bond Connects a Surgebinder’s mind with the Radiant spren. That gives the Surgebinder the ability to control the spren’s power. It’s why I think KR brain synapses – IMO, the Physical Realm aspect of the Nahel bond – is Honor’s pathway to power. It fits Syl’s self-description (OB, Chapter 31, p. 316):

Quote

“Besides, I’m less a force of nature and more one of the raw powers of creation transformed by collective human imagination into a personification of one of their ideals.”

IOW, Syl personifies a human ideal – IMO, “protection,” a Windrunner’s primary Divine Attribute. Syl  is the Spiritual Realm aspect of the protection ideal in Kaladin’s mind. Kaladin’s thoughts and behaviors strengthen his synaptic connection to protection. That strengthens the Nahel bond, his Spiritual Realm Connection to Syl (protection in Spiritual form). The strengthened bond gives Kaladin more power. Oaths are Honor’s vehicle to strengthen synaptic connections and widen Honor’s pathway to power.

Autonomy’s Pathway to Power

I think Khriss confirms water is Autonomy’s pathway (AU, “The Taldain System,” Kindle pp. 369-370).

Quote

Giving water to the tiny plant causes a chain reaction of sudden growth, energy, and Realmic transition. Certain people can control this reaction, using the water from their own bodies to forge a brief Cognitive bond. They can draw Investiture (in very small amounts) directly from the Spiritual Realm, and use that to control the sand.

I interpret this mean the “brief Cognitive 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.

Calderis, you claim water is Sand Mastery’s Focus. But water doesn’t meet your Focus definition of “shaping the Investiture.” Unlike substances like metals or the Selish forms, water is always H2O (barring isotopes). I think Sand Mastery resembles Awakening, since it animates objects. Sand Mastery’s Focus IMO is the Sand Master’s visualized command that changes the sand’s configuration. Water is the medium that relays the Sand Master’s commands, the “pathway to power.”

Shards, Investiture, and First of the Sun

I think my pathways theory explains Brandon’s dissertation on Shards, Investiture, and FotS:

Quote

Brandon Sanderson

I stand by them. Though, as always, quotes and WoBs at signings aren't always as deliberately thought out as I'd like them to be. Answering questions on the fly can be challenging, and my phrasing can be bad in retrospect.

But no shard was in residence on First of the Sun during the events of that story. The investiture on that planet is residue, normal investiture from Adonalsium. Everything happening there could happen with or without a shard present. Indeed, I would say that no shard was ever "in residence" on First of the Sun.

The being called Patji still exists, and is a shard of Adonalsium. Shards in the past have been interested in First of the Sun, and have meddled in small ways there. (Like they have on a lot of shardworlds.)

Note that I might have been a little misleading in the first quote by bringing up Threnody, which is a real corner case in the cosmere because of uncommon events there.

That said, I'm sure that every story I write about a planet will bring up the quirks and unusual interactions of the magic there, because that's kind of what I do. (First of the Sun has its own oddities, as mentioned in Arcanum Unbounded.) Every planet is likely to end up as a corner case in some way, just like every person is distinctive in their own way, and never fully fits expectations.

I still consider one of the major dividing lines between "major" and "minor" shardworlds (other than Shard residence) to be in strength of access to the magic, and control over it. I intend the minor shard worlds to involve interactions with the magic as setting--coming back to spren, you could have a minor shardworld with people who use, befriend, even bond spren. (Or the local equivalent--Seon, Aviar, etc.) But you'd never see power on the level of the city of Elantris, the actions of a Bondsmith, or even the broad power suite of a mistborn.

But, as ever, the cosmere is a work in progress. The needs of telling a great story trump things I've said about what I'm planning. (I do try as much as I can to avoid having two texts contradict one another. And when they do, that's often a lapse on my part.)

Oversleep

Wait.

I'm confused.

So the Investiture on First of the Sun is associated with a Shard or is it residue, normal investiture from Adonalsium?

Cause the question was a follow up (on this) where you revealed that all Investiture in Cosmere got assigned to a Shard even if it wasn't part of a Shard.

And then you said that the one on First of the Sun is directly associated with one of the Shards (and since later you revealed Patji to be an avatar of Autonomy (also, what are avatars and how do they work?)) we took it to mean that at one point Autonomy Invested in First of the Sun.

But now you're saying it didn't?

If there was no Shard ever on First of the Sun but Patji is a Shard/avatar of a Shard then where is Patji, actually?

Could you please clarify all that?

Brandon Sanderson

So the Investiture on First of the Sun is associated with a Shard or is it residue, normal investiture from Adonalsium?"

The reason I have so much trouble answering these questions (and you'll see me struggling to get an answer in the 10-15 seconds I have when someone asks me in a signing line) is because this isn't an either or. Is this computer I'm using matter associated with Earth, the Big Bang, or such-and-such star that went supernova long ago? Well, it's probably all three.

When people ask, "What shard is this investiture associated with" it gets very complicated. Shards influence and tweak certain investiture, giving it a kind of spin or magnetism, but all investiture ever predates the shattering--and in the cosmere matter, energy, and investiture are one thing.

I always imagine investiture having certain states, certain magnetisms if you will, associated with certain aspects of Adonalsium. So it's all "assigned" to a shard--because it's always been associated with that Shard. To investiture, Adonalsium's shattering meant everything and nothing at the same time.

We generally mean the term "Invested" to mean a Shard has taken permanent residence in a location, a kind of base of operations--but at the same time, this is meaningless, since distance has no meaning on the Spiritual Realm, where most Shards are. So imprisonment of a Shard like Ruin or Odium is a crude expression--but the best we have.

Autonomy never "invested" on First of the Sun. But even answering (as someone else asked) if they created an avatar without visiting is a difficult thing to explain--because even explaining how a shard travels (when motion is irrelevant) is difficult to manage. It's a subject that I intend to be up for debate, discussion, and argument by in-world philosophers and arcanists.

You can see why I have such troubles explaining these things at signings--and why I fail when I try to, considering the time limitations and (often) fatigue limitations placed upon me. These are concepts I intend to spend entire, lengthy epic volumes explaining and exploring.

Let's say you were Autonomy, and you have--through expanding and exploring your understanding--found a gathering of investiture that has always been there, you always knew about, but still didn't actually recognize until the moment you considered and explored it. (Because even though your power is infinite, accessing and using that infinity is beyond your reach.) Were you "invested" there? No, no more than you're invested on Roshar, where parts of what were Adonalsium still exist that are associated with you (in the very fabric of matter and existence.) But suddenly, you have a chance to tweak, influence, and do things that were always possible, but which you never could do because you knew, but didn't know, at the same time.

And...I'm already into WAY more than I want to be typing this out right now. If it's confusing, it's because it's practically impossible for me to explain these things in a short span of time.

I'm going to leave it here, understanding that no, I haven't fully explained your question. (I didn't even get into what avatars are, what Patji was, and what happened to Patji the being--and how that relates to Patji the island.) But hopefully this kind of starts to point the right direction, though I probably should have just left this question alone because I bet this post is going to raise more questions than it answers...

Source (emphasis added).

Key Points: Brandon says Autonomy didn’t invest FotS: “The investiture on that planet is residue, normal investiture from Adonalsium.” Though no Shard was ever “in residence” there, Patji is a Shard of Adonalsium. Autonomy “found a gathering of investiture that has always been there,” which she recognized when she explored it. “Shards influence and tweak certain investiture, giving it a kind of spin or magnetism…associated with certain aspects of Adonalsium.”

Analysis: My theory says a Shard’s “spin or magnetism” is the Spiritual Realm aspect of its pathway to power (expressed as quantum physics) – a unique medium for transmitting magical energy. In Autonomy’s case, water seems to transmit power. On a water world, she discovers a “gathering of Investiture.” Autonomy recognizes that Investiture as something she can control through her water pathway, her “aspect of Adonalsium.”

IMO, Patji is a “Shard of Adonalsium” in the same sense a Shard’s splinter still is part of the Shard. Patji’s Investiture seems much greater than most splinters’. “Patji” is the name FotS natives give the avatar – one of the “cultural” interactions Brandon says is so important to cosmere magic. (I can cite text and WoBs on this if you’d like.)

FotS’ Avatar and Roshar: I believe Bavadin “expresses” the Autonomy Shard (in @Jofwu's terms) by granting self-sufficiency. IMO, her avatars are self-sufficient Physical Realm representations of her power. I believe Autonomy gives consciousness to FotS’ “gathering of Investiture.” IMO, “Patji the being” is this conscious Investiture. Patji the being then raises Patji the island from FotS’ oceans. The Patji perpendicularity shows Patji Connects to Autonomy’s Spiritual Realm power. Trapper-Aviar bonds show Patji too rewards self-sufficiency. Bavadin gives consciousness to her assigned Investiture wherever she finds it.

I think Adonalsium left a similar consciousness on Roshar. This consciousness raises Roshar’s supercontinent from Roshar’s ocean according to “fractal mathematics” principles. I believe these events are magically related: Though Autonomy’s not “invested” on Roshar, “parts of what were Adonalsium still exist that are associated with you (in the very fabric of matter and existence.)” Those “parts” IMO are the matter, energy, and Investiture Adonalsium creates on Roshar using a water pathway to power, Autonomy’s Spiritual “spin and magnetism.”

FWIW, Brandon again distinguishes between “interactions with nature” systems and “people with magic” systems. That’s now the dividing line between Major and Minor Shardworlds.

Also, apologies, @Oversleep, if I anticipate any part of your avatar theory. I look forward to reading your theory. You did impersonate me in the above WoB:

Quote

Oversleep

Wait.

I'm confused.

Magical Inputs (Shard Power) vs. Magical Outputs (Magical Effect)

With that background, Calderis, I’ll respond here to your question from the Sja-Anat/Glys thread:

On 3/16/2018 at 6:34 PM, Calderis said:

My issue remains with your idea of the way the powers work. From the evidence available, I believe that that the magic systems are separate, and the WoB on access only refers to the individual magic systems themselves, and not that all magic systems are capable of the same things. 

IMO, you and SpoolofWhool spotlight a magic system’s outputs, its magical effects. I’ve told you I agree those are different across magic systems (more or less). I believe Brandon’s statements mean something else.

Again, the two critical WoBs: “The means of getting powers…are related to the Shards, but not the powers themselves”; and “The 'role' of the Shard has to do with the WAY the magic is obtained, not what it can do.”

I believe Shard inputs – the Spiritual Realm powers available to Shards – are the same, not their outputs (the magical effects Shards and their magic users produce). Many factors cause magical effect, including the Shard’s pathway, the planet’s culture, Vessel personality, and the planet’s forms of Adonalsium’s essence (including its inherent Investiture). WoBs and text confirm how these factors affect magic systems.

IMO, the quoted WoBs instead mean any Shard can use any Spiritual Realm power to “do” anything – but only in their own way. Ruin could theoretically use the same Spiritual Realm powers as Preservation to create an Allomancy-like magic system (implies the first WoB). But his increased net entropy pathway (“decay”) directly opposes metal’s crystalline molecular pathway (“stasis”) and makes this difficult or impossible. It’s “more natural” for Ruin instead to steal Allomantic powers by increasing net entropy (spiking).

These WoBs do not “only refer to the individual magic systems themselves” (the Metallic Arts):

Quote

Chaos

Allomancy provides many very dramatic effects, which some have noted is not very much like Preservation. Could you walk me through how Allomancy is of Preservation, though it does dramatic, dynamic things?

Brandon Sanderson

One of the 'basics' of the magic in all of the worlds is that the energy of Shards can fuel all kinds of interactions, not just interactions based on their personality/role. I did this because otherwise, the Magics would all be extremely limited.

The 'role' of the Shard has to do with the WAY the magic is obtained, not what it can do. So, in Preservation's case, the magic is a gift--allowing a person to preserve their own strength, and rely upon the strength granted by the magic. While Hemalurgy has a huge cost, ending in net entropy.

Source (emphasis added).  

I think Brandon’s statement the powers are not “related to the Shards” is too fundamental to restrict to Scadrial. The cosmere follows “unified laws.” He says this principle applies “in all of the worlds.” If Brandon says two directly opposing Shards use the same powers, then it must also be true of the other, less directly opposite, Shards.

Rosharan Magic

The Discord group also questions my Rosharan magic analysis. IMO,

Honor’s pathway to power are Connections. Honor grants power by making Connections. On Roshar, a world of living ideas, that means Cognitive Connections, the Nahel bond. I explain above how that works.

Cultivation grants Fabrials and Surgebinding’s magical effects through spren, her Rosharan pathway to power. Stormlight (a catalyst) transforms a spren’s “idea” into its Physical Realm manifestation – gravity, fire, rain, etc.

Odium’s pathway IMO is the Void, maybe dark energy? He grants his power through broken Connections. On Roshar, that means broken Cognitive Connections.

I believe the Fused Voidbind. They don’t rely on Cultivation’s spren pathway because Voidbinding doesn’t access power through spren. I believe Odium gives power to the Fused when they break their Cognitive Connections to others. TONS of textual evidence show this. It’s why the Fused are imbecilic – every time they return they suffer more brain damage as they regain their powers. It’s also why the Fused don’t heal – Odium’s Connection-breaking magic can’t stitch living tissue together – and why there is no Bondsmith equivalent for Odium (IMO).

To summarize: On Roshar, Honor gives magic by making Cognitive Connections (the Nahel bond). Cultivation gives magic by transforming spren (Cognitive entities). Odium gives magic by breaking Cognitive Connections. I can point you to scores of passages (hundreds?) that prove all this.

On Roshar, each Shard uses a Cognitive pathway. On other Shardworlds, with different Focuses, Rosharan Shards IMO would express themselves differently – making, transforming, or breaking some other Connection as their pathway to power.

Another personal note:

I am content to debate this stuff piecemeal, thread by thread. I prefer, however, to try and resolve the big cosmere issues – how magic works, etc. – in one place. We can do that now, on this thread, or we can pick a date and time and get together on Discord. I feel, with patience and persistence, we can find common ground.

We’re in a dead mountain of time anyway. What say you?

Edited by Confused
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Actually, he says he hasn't built it into Awakening yet.  He's already built it into Soulcasting.  Also, color, or rather pigment, does indeed exist.  I believe that's what gets drained when something is Awakened.

Edited by RShara
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1 hour ago, Confused said:

Cultivation gives magic by transforming spren (Cognitive entities).

How does the nightwatcher work then?

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Since my post here somehow teleported into another thread, here's it quoted. 

45 minutes ago, Calderis said:

On every world, when the magic system develops and the focus is decided, it can do multiple things in multiple magic systems. Take any single variety of metal in Scadrial and it does something distinct in all three systems. In fact, tin is the only metal that has anything linking the effects together across all three systems. 

On Taldain, where yes, I do believe that water is the focus, the Sand Master provides water to the lichen to gain access to the investiture. Every sand master has the exact same ability. Their strength and skill with that ability may vary, but it is all the same ability. 

The exception to this of course is slatrification, which Brandon himself has said doesn't fit the magic system and if he were to write the events of white sand again, it would be removed. 

As such, the moment we discover the darkside system, I imagine that it will be a separate system and all be a single unified power, also using water, a true second system, or this idea will be dead. 

 

Edited by Calderis
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@Calderis, I saw your Discord exchange with Yata about my previous post. You MISUNDERSTAND ME (and my theory).

1. I now see we define “powers” differently, and that confusion causes you to see impasse where it isn’t. You define “powers” as the specific abilities each magic system grants (like steel pushing or lashing). I define “powers” as Spiritual Realm Investiture not part of a soul (what Syl, Wax, and Marasi call the “powers of creation”). IOW, when I say the powers are the same for every Shard, I mean the raw material available to them, magic system “inputs.” You focus on system “outputs,” a system’s magical effects. I think our disagreement disappears with that clarification.

2. My request for questions here rather than on Discord wasn’t because I wanted one discussion place. It was because the Discord discussion was rude and scornful. If people want to behave that way, at least give me the courtesy of doing it where I can respond.

3. I am not looking for argument, I am looking for cosmere truth. I do change my mind when presented with new facts or better analysis. All I ask for is patience and persistence, which should be the hallmark of every 17th Shard theorist.

So, before responding to your post, here is another quick “pathways to power” tutorial. I hope you actually read this one:

To me, a pathway is the Physical Realm aspect of the Connection between a magic user and its Shard’s Spiritual Realm power. I think a pathway is a river and the Focus is the valve controlling the river’s flow.

My second post’s description of the Nahel bond explains:

On 3/22/2018 at 8:17 PM, Confused said:

It’s why I think KR brain synapses – IMO, the Physical Realm aspect of the Nahel bond – is Honor’s pathway to power...

IOW, Syl personifies a human ideal – IMO, “protection,” a Windrunner’s primary Divine Attribute. Syl  is the Spiritual Realm aspect of the protection ideal in Kaladin’s mind. Kaladin’s thoughts and behaviors strengthen his synaptic connection to protection. That strengthens the Nahel bond, his Spiritual Realm Connection to Syl (protection in Spiritual form). The strengthened bond gives Kaladin more power. Oaths are Honor’s vehicle to strengthen synaptic connections and widen Honor’s pathway to power.

I do appreciate your post. As I go through it, I ask you the kinds of questions I ask myself when I think through a theory. I expect you already have answers and hope you don’t mind sharing them.

On 3/23/2018 at 0:11 AM, Calderis said:

On every world, when the magic system develops and the focus is decided, it can do multiple things in multiple magic systems.

1. What causes a “magic system [to] develop”?

2. Who/what brings the magic to that world, and how/when/why is it placed there?

3. What “decides” the focus?

4. What do you mean, “it can do multiple things in multiple magic systems”?

5. What causes the “multiple things” phenomenon and how does it relate to the cosmere as a whole?

On 3/23/2018 at 0:11 AM, Calderis said:

Take any single variety of metal in Scadrial and it does something distinct in all three systems. In fact, tin is the only metal that has anything linking the effects together across all three systems. 

6. Why is this relevant to any other system or the cosmere generally? (I just want to understand this statement better.)

On 3/23/2018 at 0:11 AM, Calderis said:

On Taldain...I do believe that water is the focus...

7. Again I ask, why is water Sand Mastery’s Focus? You define Focus as something that “shapes the Investiture.” How does the Sand Master use the same water to make a dune versus a spear? Isn’t it more logical the Sand Master’s commands direct the microflora like in Awakening, IMO a similar system?

On 3/23/2018 at 0:11 AM, Calderis said:

the Sand Master provides water to the lichen to gain access to the investiture.

8. I’m unsure: do you mean the sand-controlling Investiture is the lichen’s? Khriss says water creates “a brief Cognitive bond” between the Sand Master and the lichen; but Spiritual Realm Investiture “controls the sand” (through the bonded microflora). Is this how you see it? Does this affect your Focus analysis?

On 3/23/2018 at 0:11 AM, Calderis said:

Every sand master has the exact same ability. Their strength and skill with that ability may vary, but it is all the same ability.

9. Why do you think it matters that every Sand Master “has the exact same ability”? Why and how does that affect the Focus or any other aspect of the magic system?

I believe Awakening and Sand Mastery share this “exact same ability” – the power to animate objects. Raw Spiritual Realm Investiture inputs the same power to animate into each system (by my “powers” definition), but the difference in Shards and planets produces a different output, a different expression of the power to animate (a different “power” by your definition). Both systems manifest on a single-Shard planet, and we might glean something from the comparison.

On 3/23/2018 at 0:11 AM, Calderis said:

As such, the moment we discover the darkside system, I imagine that it will be a separate system and all be a single unified power, also using water, a true second system, or this idea will be dead. 

10. Why must Darkside be a “separate system”? Unlike Scadrial, there’s only one Shard present. (And the Scadrial southland had no magic before Kelsier.) How “separate” is “separate”?

11. What do you mean that the “separate system” will “all be a single unified power”? One magical ability? Where does this one power/ability come from? Why and how will it be different from Dayside’s magic?

And some more questions I think all cosmere magic theories need to answer:

12. What IS the difference among Shards? What does Brandon mean by Shard “spins and magnetisms”?

13. What are the cosmere’s “unified laws”? How do they apply to magic systems and can we develop a uniform magic system model based on them?

14. How do you interpret the recent WoBs about Investiture “assignment,” pieces of Adonalsium “breaking off” at the Shattering, and the “Patji” WoB? (I link or quote these in the OP and second post, and I analyze them there.) How do they fit within a cosmere of “unified laws”?

15. What questions do you have for me, on pathways or any other subject? I saw on Discord your doubts about the OP’s Fortune theory and Fortune’s “space-time” pathway. Ask me about it – the theory may make sense to you.

@RShara“color” in magic systems is tangential at best to the pathways theory, whether as flavor or mechanic. I didn’t immediately respond to your first post for that reason. You could be completely right, and IMO it wouldn’t change a thing. If you have some good reason why color undermines the pathways theory, I’d like to hear it. But otherwise, let’s move on. I’d MUCH rather you address the theory itself (maybe after you read more than 20% of it?) And for the record, I still disagree with your interpretation :D.

On 3/22/2018 at 9:29 PM, John203 said:

How does the nightwatcher work then?

Thank you for your question, @John203. The quote refers to how Cultivation gives magic to mortals, not spren like the Nightwatcher. When exposed to Stormlight, spren manifest in the Physical Realm the idea they personify – fire, wind, etc. IMO, this is the basis for Surgebinding and fabrials. I think spren are Cultivation’s Rosharan pathway to power.

The Nightwatcher precedes Cultivation. The Eila Stele identifies three Parsh “gods” – spren, stone, and wind. I believe “spren” is the Nightwatcher’s antecedent and represents “transformation” on Roshar. At the Shattering, I think the Nightwatcher’s Investiture was “assigned” to Cultivation, and the Nightwatcher became Cultivation’s spren after Cultivation settled on Roshar. As a “godspren” like the Stormfather, the Nightwatcher independently makes magic.

The Nightwatcher transforms mortals by giving a boon and curse. While I list evolution as Cultivation’s scientific mechanic (and still believe she only transforms living things), I first considered thermodynamics’ first law as her science – the inter convertibility of mass-energy-Investiture. Cultivation giveth and Cultivation taketh away. The Nightwatcher boon/curse represents this.

Btw, did anyone get this fantasy reference?

On 3/22/2018 at 8:17 PM, Confused said:

We’re in a dead mountain of time anyway. What say you?

Regards, all!

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On 2/27/2018 at 9:01 PM, Confused said:

Fortune [SPECULATION

I can't agree with fortune as a shard. It makes too much sense as a phenomenon like connection and identity. Do you really think feruchemists tap into a third, completely separate shard?

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@Confused yes I define the powers as the output. The investiture that fuels them is largely the same there, but the "powers" are the individual effects.

For example, in comics a standardized grouping of super powers is often referred to by people as a "power set." 

If by powers you are simply referring to the investiture itself, then yes, I largely agree. I just refer to this as investiture, and as I've said many times in reference to Nightblood, or leechers, or larkin, "investiture is investiture."

1 hour ago, Confused said:

1. What causes a “magic system [to] develop”?

Most simply, the presence of investiture. This can be simple, like Threnody and the shades and forms of "ecological" magic where there are no true magic users. 

Most we've seen I think are due to the presence of a Shard. On most worlds, I believe that this would be a single system per shard, though I believe that if a Shard were to intentionally split the power somehow that it could result in multiple. Considering the things that we've learned recently about Autonomy, I believe this is what has happened on Taldain. 

Scadrial is unique in what we've seen, in that the world was created and had no preexisting magic system created by Adonalsium. Feruchemy as the balance system between the two Shards is a direct result of the magic suffusing the world so heavily with no preexisting system to direct their power. 

1 hour ago, Confused said:

2. Who/what brings the magic to that world, and how/when/why is it placed there?

Depending on when the world was created, either Adonalsium or the Shard. I think for most it was Adonalsium, and shards coming to a world with a preexisting system can only expand upon what already exists. 

1 hour ago, Confused said:

3. What “decides” the focus?

The planet. We have been told multiple times that the focus of Scadrial is metal. The focus of Sel is forms. The focus of Nalthis is commands. These are the only confirmed foci, but in every case the focus has been attributed to the world, and not the Shard. Once a magic system is developed between  that world and shard, I believe the focus will carry outward to wherever the system is used, as we've seen with Allomancy, but it's determination is a product of the interaction of the Shards investment, and the world where the system develops. 

1 hour ago, Confused said:

4. What do you mean, “it can do multiple things in multiple magic systems”?

Exactly what I said. All systems that develop on a single world are required to use that worlds focus. The expression of the power within that system is going to differ from the other systems though pewter is not going to produce an identical effect in each of the three Metallic Arts, and as such assuming that the surges themselves are the focus of Roshar, a surge is not going to produce an identical effect in both surgebinding and Voidbinding. And I believe this answers questions number 5 and 6.

1 hour ago, Confused said:

7. Again I ask, why is water Sand Mastery’s Focus? You define Focus as something that “shapes the Investiture.” How does the Sand Master use the same water to make a dune versus a spear? Isn’t it more logical the Sand Master’s commands direct the microflora like in Awakening, IMO a similar system?

Water is what causes the lighten to release its stored investiture. When water is poured directly into the sand, the investiture is still released and the sand turns black, but without a mind to guide that investiture, there is no effect. 

1 hour ago, Confused said:

8. I’m unsure: do you mean the sand-controlling Investiture is the lichen’s? Khriss says water creates “a brief Cognitive bond” between the Sand Master and the lichen; but Spiritual Realm Investiture “controls the sand” (through the bonded microflora). Is this how you see it? Does this affect your Focus analysis?

Yes. The lichen absorbs the investiture, and through providing water to the lichen, just as when it is released when water is poured in the sand, the investiture is let loose to be used by the sand master. Just as with breath this investiture can then be shaped, and there is a command element, but that is not the focus as it is on Nalthis. The investiture is manipulated until the sand is released or the steam of investiture is interrupted, and until that point, as long as the master keeps providing water from his body, the investiture remains under his control, just as breath is not consumed. 

 

1 hour ago, Confused said:

10. Why must Darkside be a “separate system”? Unlike Scadrial, there’s only one Shard present. (And the Scadrial southland had no magic before Kelsier.) How “separate” is “separate”?

As I've tried to explain, there are three possibilities. 1: water is not the focus. 2: the systems are separate. 3: the darkside magic is identical to Sand Mastery. 

It would be as separate as Allomancy and Feruchemy. 

1 hour ago, Confused said:

11. What do you mean that the “separate system” will “all be a single unified power”? One magical ability? Where does this one power/ability come from? Why and how will it be different from Dayside’s magic?

The exact same as I describe sand mastery as a single unified power. Without knowing more about darkside, I don't have further answers. But just as on First of the Sun, another Autonomy related system, the investiture is not imbued on the people of this world, but on some external factor that they can interact with. I am making an assumption here that darkside functions similarly to dayside and the power is stored and accessed through something external. 

1 hour ago, Confused said:

12. What IS the difference among Shards? What does Brandon mean by Shard “spins and magnetisms”?

I'm not sure. He appears to be using quantum physics terminology. My understanding is that there is a fundamental difference between the investiture associated with each individual Shard. 

1 hour ago, Confused said:

13. What are the cosmere’s “unified laws”? How do they apply to magic systems and can we develop a uniform magic system model based on them?

As far as what we know? Investiture can be neither created nor destroyed. Investiture requires a guiding mind. There is a fourth law of thermodynamics related to Adonalsium that Brandon has not told us... 

How they apply is the constant question here, and can we develop a unified system? I don't believe so yet. 

1 hour ago, Confused said:

14. How do you interpret the recent WoBs about Investiture “assignment,” pieces of Adonalsium “breaking off” at the Shattering, and the “Patji” WoB? (I link or quote these in the OP and second post, and I analyze them there.) How do they fit within a cosmere of “unified laws”?

Prior to the Shattering, all investiture was Adonalsium. When the Shattering occurred all of the investiture, everywhere in the Cosmere, was divided between the Shards. Due to the limited nature of the minds of the Vessels, they are not able to access all of this investiture, regardless of it being theirs, because they cannot handle something so close to infinite.  

I believe this is the entire reason for Autonomy to create the Aspects/Avatars that she is. By creating new minds that are still a part of a whole shard, she can access more of the total investiture alloted to her, even if each portion is relatively weaker than a standard Vessel and shard. 

I believe that Patji is one of these aspects. Although Bavadin has never been to FotS herself, she reached out through the Spiritual to a place strongly connected to her power and spawned a mind to wield her power independent of her. 

2 hours ago, Confused said:

15. What questions do you have for me, on pathways or any other subject? I saw on Discord your doubts about the OP’s Fortune theory and Fortune’s “space-time” pathway. Ask me about it – the theory may make sense to you.

I don't. But that's because I disagree with the fundamentals of the statement. 

I don't believe that fortune can be a Shard, because it is a fundamental spiritual attribute to which all shards have some level of access. 

Your pathway system seems to be trying to take the focus of magic systems and attribute them to the Shards instead of the world's on which the systems developed. I don't see a fundamental difference between the means of access and the rate at which the power flows, as from what we've seen that's determined by factors if the user, be it sDNA providing a higher capacity, or the depth/progression of a bond. 

I've read all of your theories that you've tagged me in, and many of the earlier ones. 

As to the Discord thing, I can't speak for others, but personally, I meant no offense, and did not mean for anything to sound scornful. I have tried my best to be honest with you about my disagreements. I often don't understand how you have come to the conclusions that you do. You do it honestly and fervently though and I can respect that without agreeing. 

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Sorry, these days, I don't have the mental capacity to address the entire theory with the detail, thought, and coherence that it deserves, so I just focus on the parts that I can answer decently :(

I'll just agree with Cal for now, and discuss more when I have some decent thoughts to share.

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Thank you, @Calderis, for taking the time to write such clear answers. I generally agree with you. Let’s see if we can close the gap further.

Meaning of “Powers

I’m okay calling a magic system’s granted abilities (its outputs) “powers.” Can we use the term “Spiritual energy” to describe the Shard's inputs: Spiritual Realm Investiture not part of a soul (what Syl and Wax call the “powers of creation”)? And can we call the Spiritual Realm Investiture that composes souls “Spiritual matter”? These names highlight how the Realms correspond. The names also fit cosmere thermodynamic laws. But I’m okay if you want to call this stuff “SRI-1” and “SRI-2,” if we understand each other.

You now seem to agree that Spiritual energy is the “investiture that fuels [system abilities and] is largely the same” in the Spiritual Realm. What does your “largely” exception exclude? To me, Spiritual energy gives all Shards the same capacities (the same inputs into magic systems) or it doesn’t. IMO, this question underlies every cosmere theory, and I’m curious how you answer.

"Pathways to Power" and Focuses

On 3/24/2018 at 10:12 PM, Calderis said:

Your pathway system seems to be trying to take the focus of magic systems and attribute them to the Shards instead of the world's on which the systems developed. I don't see a fundamental difference between the means of access and the rate at which the power flows, as from what we've seen that's determined by factors if the user, be it sDNA providing a higher capacity, or the depth/progression of a bond. 

It is not MY “pathway system,” it is Brandon’s. Again, both the idea and term “pathway to power” come from BoM. Pathways IMO cause a Shard’s “unchanging/unchangeable nature” (in Jofwu’s terms). For comity and clarity, I’m willing to replace a text term with “pathway to Spiritual energy,” though I believe Shard “power” is textually correct .

You misread me if you think the theory attributes Focuses to Shards. I agree Focuses tie to planets. Pathways tie to Shards. A Shard’s local magic uses the local planet’s Focus. On a different planet, a Shard’s pathway IMO would use that planet’s Focus to shape the pathway:

On 3/22/2018 at 11:17 PM, Confused said:

On Roshar, each Shard uses a Cognitive pathway. On other Shardworlds, with different Focuses, Rosharan Shards IMO would express themselves differently – making, transforming, or breaking some other Connection as their pathway to power.

FWIW, my “river/valve” analogy refers to “shaping the Investiture,” not restricting power flow. I do think Focuses also restrict power flow, to prevent the magic user’s vaporization. But I don’t believe pathways or Focuses change individual magic users’ power consumption rates.

Magic Systems

Except for Scadrial, I would fine-tune your third answer to say Adonalsium determines the Focus. It means the same, but IMO we tend to undervalue Adonalsium’s ongoing presence. Other than Scadrial, his essence permeates the cosmere, with many ramifications. These include both Focuses and (IMO) non-metal Catalysts. I discuss this at length in the OP’s Spoiler section.

On 3/24/2018 at 10:12 PM, Calderis said:

All systems that develop on a single world are required to use that worlds focus. The expression of the power within that system is going to differ from the other systems though pewter is not going to produce an identical effect in each of the three Metallic Arts, and as such assuming that the surges themselves are the focus of Roshar, a surge is not going to produce an identical effect in both surgebinding and Voidbinding. And I believe this answers questions number 5 and 6.

Now that I understand your definition of “power,” I can accept this statement (except the Surge = Focus part). I do think more factors than just Focus explain magical effect differences. I list these factors in my earlier posts.

Sand Mastery

We still disagree about this. I’d let it go if it were only about Taldain’s Focus, but your Sand Mastery description raises broader questions.

On 3/24/2018 at 10:12 PM, Calderis said:
On 3/24/2018 at 7:54 PM, Confused said:

7. Again I ask, why is water Sand Mastery’s Focus? You define Focus as something that “shapes the Investiture.” How does the Sand Master use the same water to make a dune versus a spear? Isn’t it more logical the Sand Master’s commands direct the microflora like in Awakening, IMO a similar system?

Water is what causes the lighten to release its stored investiture. When water is poured directly into the sand, the investiture is still released and the sand turns black, but without a mind to guide that investiture, there is no effect. 

On 3/24/2018 at 7:54 PM, Confused said:

8. I’m unsure: do you mean the sand-controlling Investiture is the lichen’s? Khriss says water creates “a brief Cognitive bond” between the Sand Master and the lichen; but Spiritual Realm Investiture “controls the sand” (through the bonded microflora). Is this how you see it? Does this affect your Focus analysis?

Yes. The lichen absorbs the investiture, and through providing water to the lichen, just as when it is released when water is poured in the sand, the investiture is let loose to be used by the sand master. Just as with breath this investiture can then be shaped, and there is a command element, but that is not the focus as it is on Nalthis. The investiture is manipulated until the sand is released or the steam of investiture is interrupted, and until that point, as long as the master keeps providing water from his body, the investiture remains under his control, just as breath is not consumed. 

I think magic systems must be thermodynamically sound. We agree Sand Master body water causes the lichen to respond to the Sand Master. But I don’t see you address Spiritual energy’s role; or how the bond forms, water gets to the lichen, and the Sand Master directs the lichen’s Investiture. I’d like to hear your thoughts on this and on Sand Mastery’s energy-matter-Investiture flows.

I’m still unsure how water acts as a Focus to shape the lichen’s Investiture. We agree water activates the Investiture and the bond communicates the command. IMO, Adonalsium and the Shards direct Investiture by visualizing an intended result. Maybe visualized commands are a default form of Focus? Nalthis and Taldain are the only single-Shard-in-residence planets we’ve seen.

Writing this makes me see Brandon’s metaphor (maybe?) Autonomy Invests water worlds that bake beneath hot suns. Bavadin the dragon (IMO) breathes fire onto those worlds in the form of solar radiation. Mortals must tame the dragon’s breath to gain the dragon’s powers – with water they sacrifice from their own bodies! A combination of Excalibur and The Half-Blood Prince!

On 3/24/2018 at 10:12 PM, Calderis said:
On 3/24/2018 at 7:54 PM, Confused said:

11. What do you mean that the “separate system” will “all be a single unified power”? One magical ability? Where does this one power/ability come from? Why and how will it be different from Dayside’s magic?

The exact same as I describe sand mastery as a single unified power. Without knowing more about darkside, I don't have further answers. But just as on First of the Sun, another Autonomy related system, the investiture is not imbued on the people of this world, but on some external factor that they can interact with. I am making an assumption here that darkside functions similarly to dayside and the power is stored and accessed through something external. 

I still don’t understand this. I read “a single unified power” to mean a single ability like Sand Mastery’s and Awakening’s power to animate. Maybe single power magic systems only need commands as a Focus? I agree Darkside likely manifests “ecological” magic. (IMO, “ecological” magic doesn’t use or need Focuses because the system’s Investiture is already Focused to do what it does.)

Cosmere Fundamentals

On 3/24/2018 at 10:12 PM, Calderis said:
On 3/24/2018 at 7:54 PM, Confused said:

12. What IS the difference among Shards? What does Brandon mean by Shard “spins and magnetisms”?

I'm not sure. He appears to be using quantum physics terminology. My understanding is that there is a fundamental difference between the investiture associated with each individual Shard. 

Brandon says Connections are “quantum connections” and not Investiture. I think that means the “mind-soul” Connection that enables Shards to direct Spiritual energy is a quantum entanglement.  IOW, pathways themselves are a form of quantum entanglement, since I believe pathways are the Physical Realm aspect of the Shard’s Connection to its Spiritual energy: “The Connection is all there in the Spiritual Realm.”

To me, this confirms all Spiritual energy is the same, just Connected differently – a matter of quantum physics, not Investiture. I believe Spiritual energy changes only when a Shard or magic user Focuses Spiritual energy into matter, mundane energy, or some other form of Investiture. How do you read the “quantum connections” WoB?

On 3/24/2018 at 10:12 PM, Calderis said:
On 3/24/2018 at 7:54 PM, Confused said:

13. What are the cosmere’s “unified laws”? How do they apply to magic systems and can we develop a uniform magic system model based on them?

As far as what we know? Investiture can be neither created nor destroyed. Investiture requires a guiding mind. There is a fourth law of thermodynamics related to Adonalsium that Brandon has not told us... 

How they apply is the constant question here, and can we develop a unified system? I don't believe so yet. 

I agree: Thermodynamics above all. I’m not sure Investiture “requires” a guiding mind, particularly smaller bits of it, but I take your point.

I await Brandon’s “fourth law of thermodynamics.” I’ve taken heat (pun intended) for claiming cosmere thermodynamics violate regular thermodynamics’ second law (entropy). The cosmere is now a “perpetual motion machine.” For years, I’ve proposed a solution: nothing converts back into Spiritual energy. Substances instead convert only into mundane matter and energy and other forms of Investiture. This complies with thermodynamics’ first law since the sum of these substances plus Spiritual energy remains constant.

I believe the “fourth law” will return the cosmere to normal thermodynamics. This makes both scientific and narrative sense. Narratively, all Spiritual energy begins as Adonalsium’s soul. The Shattering doesn’t change that. Unless Investiture convertibility remakes souls, Spiritual energy is a declining resource, Adonalsium’s Spiritual Realm corpse.

I believe we can develop a uniform magic system model, and most of us already have some version of one. I state mine in the OP, and I’ve seen the “well-established theory” you endorse. I think there’s consensus, just a little mushiness around the edges and (my usual lament) a failure to clearly define terms. Otherwise, I think we’re already there.

On 3/24/2018 at 10:12 PM, Calderis said:
On 3/24/2018 at 7:54 PM, Confused said:

14. How do you interpret the recent WoBs about Investiture “assignment,” pieces of Adonalsium “breaking off” at the Shattering, and the “Patji” WoB? (I link or quote these in the OP and second post, and I analyze them there.) How do they fit within a cosmere of “unified laws”?

Prior to the Shattering, all investiture was Adonalsium. When the Shattering occurred all of the investiture, everywhere in the Cosmere, was divided between the Shards. Due to the limited nature of the minds of the Vessels, they are not able to access all of this investiture, regardless of it being theirs, because they cannot handle something so close to infinite.  

I believe this is the entire reason for Autonomy to create the Aspects/Avatars that she is. By creating new minds that are still a part of a whole shard, she can access more of the total investiture alloted to her, even if each portion is relatively weaker than a standard Vessel and shard. 

I believe that Patji is one of these aspects. Although Bavadin has never been to FotS herself, she reached out through the Spiritual to a place strongly connected to her power and spawned a mind to wield her power independent of her. 

First, that’s a GREAT observation why Autonomy creates avatars. I’m not sure that’s Autonomy’s “entire” reason; but it’s a sufficient one.

You say Autonomy “reached out through the Spiritual to a place strongly connected to her power”: FotS. True, but WHY is FotS “strongly connected to her power”? My pathways theory explains this. What is your explanation?

I’d hoped you’d have more to say on these WoBs. They seem important. What do you think “broke off” at the Shattering? How was Investiture “assigned” to the Shards?

Fortune

On 2/27/2018 at 10:59 PM, TheHeadHancho said:

I do not believe that Fortune is a shard. It is actually a function of a spirit web (which if you look at my spiritweb post) I discussed as part of the way a spiritweb contains information such as when and where you are.

 

On 3/24/2018 at 8:26 PM, John203 said:

I can't agree with fortune as a shard. It makes too much sense as a phenomenon like connection and identity. Do you really think feruchemists tap into a third, completely separate shard?

 

On 3/24/2018 at 10:12 PM, Calderis said:

I don't believe that fortune can be a Shard, because it is a fundamental spiritual attribute to which all shards have some level of access. 

Three strikes, I’m out?! I think Fortune makes sense as a Shard, but who knows? It fits the profile nicely and would explain some WoBs and the possibility of FTL travel. I like black holes as the perpendicularities of a Shard “not resident on a planet.” But I’m more confident (1) a space-time continuum permeates the Physical Realm; (2) Feruchemists tap Preservation/Ruin not Fortune; and (3) all Shards have some level of foresight.

I believe (1) because the cosmere is our universe and its physics, plus Investiture. Brandon has no reason to exclude space-time from the cosmere. Whether he associates space-time with Fortune is a different question. Fortune’s space-time pathway would explain how Hoid knows where and when to be but not why.

I believe (2) and (3) because Brandon says, “The 'role' of the Shard has to do with the WAY the magic is obtained, not what it can do [emphasis added].” IOW, any Shard can do anything, but only in its own way. As Calderis says, other Shards can see the future too, with varying success. Cultivation foresees better than Honor, for example.

I thus believe Spiritual energy includes the foresight ability, just as it includes every magical ability. Again, IMO Spiritual energy is all the same, and the Shard’s pathway determines how strong its foresight ability is. I speculate a Shard Fortune would use a space-time pathway that makes her particularly good at foresight.

Feruchemists rely on Preservation and Ruin for the Feruchemical attribute “Fortune.” Brandon says that attribute is not exactly the same as Fortune elsewhere. Maybe that’s because “Fortune” elsewhere comes from other Shards; or maybe Fortune is a separate Shard; or maybe Scadrial’s uniqueness as a Shard-made planet distinguishes Feruchemy; or maybe Feruchemical Fortune is just different for its own reasons. Unclear.

Conclusion

On 3/24/2018 at 10:12 PM, Calderis said:

I often don't understand how you have come to the conclusions that you do. You do it honestly and fervently though and I can respect that without agreeing. 

As Gandalf says of Merry, “A fool…but an honest fool…” Thanks? But I know how you feel…Same here (both as to understanding and respect).

I think our disagreements mostly stem from definitional differences. I hope this post clears away the confusion, and we understand each other better now.

Some disagreements remain, like how Sand Mastery works thermodynamically. But if you agree “Spiritual energy” provides the same capacities to every Shard, regardless of how a Shard manifests that energy, then we can solve anything. The uniformity of Spiritual energy is my theory’s core. Everything else is branches and twigs.

On 3/25/2018 at 4:13 AM, RShara said:

Sorry, these days, I don't have the mental capacity to address the entire theory with the detail, thought, and coherence that it deserves, so I just focus on the parts that I can answer decently :(

No problem. I know a young’un near at hand can distract anyone. For “mental capacity” perspective, I’m at my Mom’s this week. She’s in her mid-90’s and had me in her 20's. There’s a reason I call myself “Confused.” Just don’t define “deserves” like the Nightwatcher does....

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