The Historian

Hemelurgy in the Greater Cosmere

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With the publication of the new Hemalurgy Table, it has be thinking about the implications of the Metallic Arts on the Cosmere as a whole. Emphasis on the Arts, not simply the powers. 

Nicrosil - Steals/Stores Investiture

Some thoughts here. Basics first. 

Investiture is the base definition of magic in the Cosmere. It is like the quarks that make up the protons and neutrons of the magic systems. Investiture, in and of itself, is not determined by the end result. Investiture is not Breath or Stormlight, but instead Breath and Stormlight are made of Investiture. It is the parts out of which the magic systems are fueled. At least to a degree. I imagine Brandon would give some Spiritual Realm explanation, but this was my interpretation. 

This lends itself to the idea that storing or stealing investiture through the use of Nicrosil stores the parts by which the magic is made, or even more simply the magic itself. If an Awakener of, say, the 5th heightening were spiked properly by Nicrosil, they would lose their stored Breaths, and the Breaths themselves would now be stored in the metal mind, or stolen by the Hemalurgist and stored in them by their spike. The same would probably be true of a Knight Radiant holding Stormlight or a Metalborn burning metals.

It would be a subject of debate if the metals in their body not being burned, and therefore the investiture not being accessed, would be stolen as well. I would hazard a guess that they would not. 

Alternatively, the investiture might be broken down to a pure state, not formed into something like Breath or Stormlight. It would be a pool of pure Investiture that could serve as a battery for a machine that runs on magic. While I am not sure how likely this is, it would mean that Nicrosil Hemalurgy is like draining a battery, and Nicrosil Feruchemy is like charging a battery. 

Applications

Spike Gun: A firearm or other projectile weapon that shoots Nicrosil spikes. If they landed in the right bind point on in invested person, they would sap their investiture completely, giving an opening or killing them outright. Possibly used by an assassin who specializes in hunting Invested peoples. Mixed with aluminium this could not only drain someone of their power supply, but also cut off their ability to use magic entirely (presumably). It would seem like a natural progression of the magic of the Cosmere, and I could see a group like the Ghostbloods wanting this technology. 

Magic Machines: A machine that runs off of batteries powered by pure Investiture. Could be used to run many different machines and possibly even recharge fabrials. This would depend on if they needed specific forms of Investiture or just the substance in general. A machine with a copper core to store information with a line of the metal that allows anyone to access the metal mind (I cant remember) could make for an interesting computer network. Or constructs that have near infinite knowledge and are powered by Investiture Batteries. Possible base for AI?

Just some thoughts. Discuss. 

(Note - I may have missed something, or misspelled words. It happens. I'm not the best historian.)

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Yeah, Hemalurgy is probably the most interesting to deal with through the larger cosmere, with the power stealing (Khriss herself notes this in one of the Ars Arcanums) and Feruchemy, once anyone can use it, will be a close runner-up.

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It's not only Nicrosil, but also metals like Iron and Tin. They can steel aspects universal to the cosmere. Say I stabbed Adolin with an Iron spike. Would I steel his strength?

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5 minutes ago, beantheboy12 said:

It's not only Nicrosil, but also metals like Iron and Tin. They can steel aspects universal to the cosmere. Say I stabbed Adolin with an Iron spike. Would I steel his strength?

Yep. Copper and zinc do things that would be in high demand across the cosmere as well. Copper takes "mental fortitude, memory, and intelligence" and zinc takes emotional fortitude.

Pretty much all the Spiritual metals would be useful cross-cosmere.

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I would suspect you could, and it remains to be seen if he would be able to regain that strength back, provided he survived the spiking. Like if you stole just his current level of strength of his overall capacity. I should also think it possible that, with the right spike, you could steal his bond with his shardblade as well. 

I see my oversight in only bringing up Nicrosil. It was the one that caught my attention the most, especially after the discussion on the Shardcast. Hemalurgy as a whole has frightening implications for the Cosmere in general.

That being said, we would need some hard confirmation on how Hemalurgy functions from the perspective of one who is performing the art. We gave seen its effects, but I dont think we have seen someone actually performing the deed. So what is required for someone to be a Hemalurgist? Could someone not from Scadrial perform Hemalurgy? Brandon is good at building magic systems so that they dont get too OP, but even still under tve right circumstances, this particular section of the metallic arts holds much to be anticipated. 

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Hemalurgy is of Ruin. Does it only work with Ruin’s investiture?

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1 minute ago, The Historian said:

So what is required for someone to be a Hemalurgist?

To make a spike, you need to want to make the spike (the Intent of the action is incredibly important) and you need to know the bindpoints and, of course, you need to have a spike of the right kind for what you're trying. Knowledge, Intent, and resource.

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You may even have to go as far as obtaining the metal on Scadrial, where Ruin is invested. Metal is available everywhere, but maybe only the metal from his planet would work?

The Intent I get. That makes sense. I guess the question is how could it be used off-world from Scadrial. Could someone native to Roshar, with the knowledge of Hemalurgy and the intent to make the spike, use metal from Roshar to create one? I could see it going either way, personally.

Might what's her name from the ghostbloods, the Scadrian native, be somewhat privy to this info? (I'm blanking on her name) depending on when she left and what she knew when she was there. 

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8 minutes ago, The Historian said:

You may even have to go as far as obtaining the metal on Scadrial, where Ruin is invested. Metal is available everywhere, but maybe only the metal from his planet would work?

 

None of the Metallic Arts require Scadrian metals to work, just the correct metal in the correct ratio for the alloys.

Anyone anywhere with the right knowledge and spikes can do it.

Quote

Questioner

The metals used in Allomancy are they naturally occurring on Roshar?

Brandon Sanderson

They do.

Brandon Sanderson

And all the alloys as well?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, the magics would...oh, all the alloys in Roshar naturally occurring… The magic of Mistborn is related to the actual metals' structure being the key. So, you can use metals from other worlds, there's no actual power in the metal. The metal is like a password.

Shadows of Self San Jose signing (Oct. 9, 2015)

 

10 minutes ago, The Historian said:

Might what's her name from the ghostbloods, the Scadrian native, be somewhat privy to this info? (I'm blanking on her name) depending on when she left and what she knew when she was there. 

Iyatil? It is unclear what she knows, but she is Southern, so depending on what the Excisors are, she might know, she might not. If she knows, though, Mraize knows. That could be...problematic.

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Good to know. I thought I remembered that WOB, but I wasn't sure. 

And yes, that's it. She and Mraize were the ones I had in mind with the "Spike Gun" comment at the start of tbe thread. At least as a jumping-off-point for my rather wild and vivid imagination. I should think if anyone might introduce Hemalurgy to Roshar, or any other planet even, it would be a native Scadrian. That said, with a power this potentially catastrophic? The secret would be well protected and sought after. We should probably hope the Ghostbloods dont get their hands on it. They could potentially become the mafia of the Cosmere, and nobody wants that. 

The other interesting idea would be how much spiking or of what kinds would be nessassary to make the art useful in open combat. I'm thinking to disable other invested peoples or to steal strategic things on the fly. Zseths martial art that he practices, when paired with specific spikes, could pave the way for some devastating battles. Imagine a single person or small group of insurgents in a battle between, say, Raidants and Singers (picked for their high saturation of investiture). They wield spikes that can steal connection, investiture, abilities and powers, etc. Might they be able to effectively ruin (pun intened) an Invested force? And to what extent, if the charge of the spikes was disregarded, i.e. wasted and not transferred, would it be a viable system? Embrace the Hemalurgic decay, and all that. 

I still think I am overthinking this. 

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I also have a theory that the blade Vyre used to kill Jezrien was some kind of Hemalurgic construct hooked up to a fabrial. I'll outline this in more detail in a separate post, as well as a few reasons I think it might not be. It is a bit of a crackpot theory, but I think these are the most fun. 

The short version is the the blade had all the components nessassary to destroy a Cognitive Shadow and store its investiture, by way of Nicrosil, in a gem. This is why we see the gem light up when Jezrien it killed. 

This would include stealing his connection to Honor, the investiture sustaining him, and a few more things I need to work out. 

But why would Odium turn to Hemalurgy? Well... uh... good question. I'm still working on that part. 

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3 minutes ago, The Historian said:

They could potentially become the mafia of the Cosmere, and nobody wants that. 

They already are. Mraize has everything he needs to get ahold of everything he could possibly want on any world between resources and Investiture sources. Dude has a storming Aviar. If he finds out about Hemalurgy, all that happens is he'll being harvesting the people he kills and leaving their spikes in jars of blood to quell the decay.

5 minutes ago, The Historian said:

The other interesting idea would be how much spiking or of what kinds would be nessassary to make the art useful in open combat. I'm thinking to disable other invested peoples or to steal strategic things on the fly.

That's definitely use. I think the biggest use would probably be taking the Investiture from prisoners so they can't accidentally get out via an aluminum spike, or even a Lerasium one if you want to regift it.

Long story short, if Mraize wanted Hemalurgy, he could have it at any time now just by popping into Scadrial.

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Which is one of the most frightening parts of the Ghostbloods af this point, to be perfectly honest. 

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1 minute ago, The Historian said:

Which is one of the most frightening parts of the Ghostbloods af this point, to be perfectly honest. 

You are correct. The fact that one man that doesn't have a vow not to harm people has access to that many different magic systems at any given time is terrifying. 

Also worth noting about the spread of Hemalurgy is that there's at least one worldhopping kandra somewhere, plus Felt and Demoux, all in addition to Iyatil and another Terriswoman that's hanging around somewhere. Hemalurgy could propagate at any time, from any direction.

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Which begs the question, what limitations to its potential will Brandon institute? I mean it seems like unchecked, a system like this could be the downfall of many different cosmere systems, or at least a wildcard/timebomb that could spring up and complicate matters at any time.

He has been good so far, with relatively contained series (series staying on a single world) to make magics that have their own limitations. This also means that the clash of magic systems seems like a far off threat. I think he will probably pull the creator card and just say that Hemalurgy dosent spread until he is ready for it to. Which one one hand works, but to think of the worlds as living, breathing things, these threats begin to feel real and almost imminent. 

I would like to see some kind of complication like this in the back half of stormlight. But I also think that it might be too much for books that are nearing half a million words in length already. 

I think we just dont know enough about Hemalurgy at current to properly project whet the future may hold. That said, I like where it is going. The next 20 years of Brandon books will be a ride, to be sure. 

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During a signing I went to, someone asked, "Will there be a book that incorporates all the worlds of the cosmere?" 

Brandon said, "Yes, but it won't be an avengers type crossover. It will be a magic system crossover. I think that will be interesting." Hemalurgy would indeed destroy many worlds.

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16 minutes ago, The Historian said:

I think we just dont know enough about Hemalurgy at current to properly project whet the future may hold. That said, I like where it is going. The next 20 years of Brandon books will be a ride, to be sure. 

Hemalurgy's limitations are built in: too many spikes is dangerous without a linchpin spike, and you can even overload the linchpin and end up killing yourself, plus the direct control from Ruin/Harmony. Plus, y'know, murdering people with the appropriate powers to make yourself stronger is morally abhorrent.

Edited by Invocation
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True, true. Seeking power at the expense of the self is the quickest way to a deserved demise. That and I do tend to think from the villains perspective, if for no other reason than to think of how the heroes would have overcome that circumstance. There are some truly deranged people in the Cosmere, or just plain sociopathic, that might consider these options. Also, Ruin as a shard would probably be just fine with the abhorrant use of his power. That's probably why he designed it that way. 

I was looking at it from the perspective of spiking someone to take their power away but just leaving the spike behind, charging the spike and leaving it to rust. No harm to yourself that way, if that is possible. A waste, yes, but better for the spikers. At least from a certain point of view. A cold hearted assassin who kills invested peoples but is not interested in gaing more power themselves. 

Now to store the powers? I could see spikes in jars to bestow on loyal henchmen or agents, if that's the route the mafia takes. Or to barter. It think the allure of "free" powers would cause many to become indebted to whomever held the spikes to give out. A force of powers collected from across the cosmere, but undetectable and uncontrollable by Harmony, and all indebted to the Cosmere-spanning mafia. Ruin would be proud. 

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2 hours ago, beantheboy12 said:

Hemalurgy is of Ruin. Does it only work with Ruin’s investiture?

Any shard can replicate any magic system(there's a wob about this) but it is most investiture efficient with Ruin's essence because obviously it is his magic system.

Besides to make that magic system work you apply Ruin's intent. I don't think Sazed can stop anybody from using it as well.

The magic system definitely has a unique place and will be used in future cosmere according to Sanderson. It is basically the most universal magic system people has access to and is specifically made for Cosmere longterm.

Edited by goody153
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10 minutes ago, The Historian said:

I was looking at it from the perspective of spiking someone to take their power away but just leaving the spike behind, charging the spike and leaving it to rust. No harm to yourself that way, if that is possible. A waste, yes, but better for the spikers. At least from a certain point of view. A cold hearted assassin who kills invested peoples but is not interested in gaing more power themselves. 

If you've gotten to the points where you're successfully spiking people and drawing their power out, you're going to do something with the spike, regardless of how good of a person you were to start with.

12 minutes ago, The Historian said:

Now to store the powers? I could see spikes in jars to bestow on loyal henchmen or agents, if that's the route the mafia takes. Or to barter. It think the allure of "free" powers would cause many to become indebted to whomever held the spikes to give out. A force of powers collected from across the cosmere, but undetectable and uncontrollable by Harmony, and all indebted to the Cosmere-spanning mafia. Ruin would be proud. 

Why would they be uncontrollable by Harmony? Theoretically, not every godmetal spike would react like Paalm's spike did and hide you from Harmony, and if you're over the limit and Harmony is focused on you, that's not going to help anyway. Plus not everyone is going to have a godmetal spike. Scadrial and Roshar are spoiled when it comes to godmetal usage compared to everywhere else.

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Quote

Why would they be uncontrollable by Harmony? Theoretically, not every godmetal spike would react like Paalm's spike did and hide you from Harmony, and if you're over the limit and Harmony is focused on you, that's not going to help anyway. 

Ah, good point. I had forgotten those bits. So yes, that would change things, would it not? Still, one way or another this will be a problem in the long run, especially if Harmony continues his streak of inconsistent intervention. (At least, that's how I read his character around Era 2.)

It would seem the limitations make the system a little more finicky, which makes sense. Frankly I am a little rusty on Mistborn things, and am thus misremembering important aspects if the arts, but I still think there might be applications beyond that of transferance, you know? Taking advantage of the diminishing aspects of the Art. While it is wasteful, to skipena donor and just never have a recipient for that spike seems advantageous in certain situations. 

 

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2 hours ago, The Historian said:

Which begs the question, what limitations to its potential will Brandon institute? I mean it seems like unchecked, a system like this could be the downfall of many different cosmere systems, or at least a wildcard/timebomb that could spring up and complicate matters at any time.

What would you actually steal? Almost all magics of the Cosmere are a result of a symbiosis. Supposing that you steal a Nahel Bond, you would find that the Spren would just break it afterwards. I suppose you could spike a skyeel if you want to become lighter, or spike the ability to manifest shard plate out of a Knight Radiant.

Sand Mastery and Selish magics are pretty good targets in theory, but outside their native lands their use is difficult. And while you could spike Breath out of an uncooperative hostage, torturing him until he transfers it to you would also serve your purpose.

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13 hours ago, The Historian said:

While it is wasteful, to skipena donor and just never have a recipient for that spike seems advantageous in certain situations. 

Could be useful for handling someone that's a majorly dangerous criminal that has a good amount of Investiture, sure.

11 hours ago, Oltux72 said:

What would you actually steal?

It doesn't have to be just powers. You can take other stuff, like strength and senses, plus there's some interesting ideas there with spiked Elantrians and other multi-Investiture spike subjects.

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