Confused

A Comprehensive Magic Theory – Post-OB Edition

10 posts in this topic

With no new cosmere books on the horizon, I thought the time ripe for my post-OB comprehensive magic theory. I update my iteration from two years ago to reflect OB, intervening WoBs, and the Forum’s endemic (but helpful) hypercriticism. As always, these are MY INTERPRETATIONS, not canon or even consensus.

My goal is to show how cosmere magic fits together. No theory is perfect and there will be jagged edges here and there. Theory has text and WoB support. Speculation expands on and logically flows from theory but lacks specific support. The Appendix applies my conclusions to known magic systems. Please read the main body first.

Topics:

Cosmere Origin [Speculation]
Spiritual Aspects and Connections [Theory]
Perception’s Cosmere Role [Theory]
Cosmere Thermodynamics [Theory]
The Shattering [Theory and Speculation]
Shard Magical Uniqueness [Theory]
Assigned Investiture [Theory]
Types of Magic Systems [Theory]
Magic System Rules [Theory]
The Role of Planets in Magic Systems [Theory]
The Role of Shards in Magic Systems [Theory]
“Pathways to Power” [Theory and Speculation]
Conclusion
Spoiler: Appendix – Applications and Predictions [Speculation]
Postscript – What If?

Cosmere Origin [Speculation]

Raw Investiture pre-exists the cosmere. Raw Investiture spontaneously forms a mind – Adonalsium, an anagram for “a mind, a soul.” Adonalsium then creates the Physical Realm. Pre-Shattering, Adonalsium’s mind inheres in all Spiritual Realm Investiture. He is omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent – his mind is coextensive with his Investiture, and his essence comprises the Physical Realm.

Spiritual Aspects and Connections [Theory]

Brandon says Spiritual aspects are a mix of Connections and raw Investiture. Connections resemble our universe’s “quantum connections” and are not themselves Investiture. Spiritual aspects thus differ only as to their Connections. Each new or lost Connection changes that Spiritual aspect. IMO, Connections alone carry the information that defines every cosmere person and object.

Perception’s Cosmere Role [Theory]

Adonalsium’s cosmere is an Investiture-energy matrix that manifests to mortals as the Physical Realm. Mortals collectively perceive the Physical Realm’s physical and emotional forces as Connections. They interpret the Physical Realm through these Connections. Brandon says here, here, and here that cosmere magic is a “human construct.” Different planetary cultures perceive different Connections. Rosharans, for example, perceive the Surges as fundamental cosmere forces. Discrete cultural perceptions partly explain why each planet has a unique subastral.

Cosmere Thermodynamics [Theory]

Brandon says the cosmere generally follows our universe’s thermodynamic laws, but he adds Investiture as a third element to make the energy flows work. Investiture “is my get-out for the laws of thermodynamics.” Cosmere thermodynamics’ first law states the sum of cosmere matter, energy, and Investiture is constant and these three substances are mutually inter-convertible. The second law states the cosmere’s entropy never decreases over time. I believe the key to understanding magic systems is to follow each system’s energy flows.

Our universe’s thermodynamics requires physical and chemical reactions to begin with an “activation energy.” Most magic systems activate with the energy from a magic user’s metabolic or physical processes: Allomancers burn metal. Hemalurgists hammer spikes. Selish magic users move (dance, turn essence stamps, stir potions, draw Aons, bend bones). Sand Masters dehydrate (burn water). Surgebinders inhale Stormlight.

Feruchemy and Breath transfers (with or without Awakening) don’t seem to require an activation energy. These “end neutral” magics seem to rely on the bare Intent to perform an act of entropy or stasis (Feruchemy) or to transfer Investiture quanta (Breath transfers). That Intent summons a “facilitating power” from the Spiritual Realm to energize the magic and otherwise comply with thermodynamics.

The Shattering [Theory and Speculation]

Khriss hints the Vessels first kill Adonalsium and then Shatter his power (M:SH, Part Three - 2, Kindle Locs. 931-940.). Brandon confirms this. I believe the Vessels kill Adonalsium’s mind, his capacity to direct magic. The Vessels then Shatter the now undirected power into sixteen equal Shards. This WoB suggests the method:

Quote

Karthikeyan Eswaran

For a person to ascend as a [Vessel], is it enough to have a Connection with the Shard, or does their general intent/mindset have to align with the Intent of the Shard (like Rayse and Odium have both shown similar mindsets)? If the intent needs to be similar, how did Ati, who was described as a kind person, pick up a Shard like Ruin? And if the intent doesn't need to be similar, how did the people at the Shattering manage to ascend, as the Shards had just been created? Did they have to go through some process to create a Connection? Or did they all somehow already have a Connection with Adonalsium (and thus with all the Shards) which made it easier to Ascend?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, there did need to be some Connection created – there was a lot going on with this. But it is possible for intents to not align and someone to take a Shard. It's way easier if intents do align, but humans don't tend to align 100% to any specific intent.

Skyward Pre-Release AMA (Oct. 5, 2018) (bold added).

I speculate the Vessels allocate Adonalsium’s power by forging some unique Connection between each Shard and its Vessel. The Vessel’s “general intent/mindset” makes forging that Connection “way easier,” but aligning general intent/mindset to the Shard is unnecessary. Like with kind and generous Ati, the Shard always prevails.

Brandon describes each Shard’s “influence and tweak” of Investiture as a “spin or magnetism.” I think this phrase refers to the Connection that distinguishes one Shard from another. A Shard’s “spin or magnetism” Connects the Shard to all its Realmic states. These Connections mark the Investiture source when Investiture, matter, and energy inter-convert. This maintains the 16-Shard balance.

An April 2019 WoB says magic users can change Stormlight into Breath – Honor’s Investiture into Endowment’s. Brandon cites one method: “Refining the power somehow into a more pure form.” I think this method strips the Investiture of its Shard’s unique “spin or magnetism.” That undoes the Shattering as to that Investiture. If so, any Shard can now Connect with it. Odium can change his Shard victims’ Investiture into his, rather than merely Splintering the power.

This is a big deal. Permanent Investiture changes like this would upset the Shards’ balance. Brandon should clarify this WoB, or we’ll all have to revise our settled wisdom.

Shard Magical Uniqueness [Theory]

DISCLAIMER: Posters often use the non-canonical word “intent” to describe Shard magical uniqueness, but that term doesn’t distinguish between the role of the Shard’s Investiture and the role of its Vessel. Brandon has yet to canonize any term to express Shard magical uniqueness.

Brandon says Shards are

Quote

primal forces [or fundamental laws] attached to certain aspects of personality.... [A] cultural component, I would say, that is trying to represent something that is also natural. [Source (March 2018).]

I read this important WoB to distinguish (i) the Shard’s unique magic from (ii) the Vessel’s mind that directs the Shard and cultural perceptions of the Shard. I theorize a Shard’s unchanging “primal force/fundamental law/something...natural” refers to the Connection that marks that Shard’s Investiture, its “spin or magnetism.”

The quoted WoB identifies Ruin as the “charged term” for entropy and Preservation as the “charged term” for stasis. This other important WoB shows Honor grants his magic “through the filter of” bonds. Shard magical uniqueness IMO stems from this filter, this primal force/fundamental law Connection, not Vessel personality or cultural influence.

Assigned Investiture [Theory]

The Shattering caused all Investiture to be “assigned” to the Shard with the same “magnetism” as that Investiture:

Quote

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. [Source (2018).]

“Assigned” Investiture to me supports the Shard Connection theory. Without these magnetisms, these unique Connections, Shards couldn’t track their own or other Shards’ Investiture after it converts into matter or energy. Autonomy couldn’t find “a gathering of [assigned] Investiture” to create Avatars out of. IMO, Physical Realm matter, energy, and Investiture always Connects to the primal force/fundamental law that creates it regardless of its creator, Adonalsium or a Shard.

Types of Magic Systems [Theory]

There are two types of magic systems: “interaction with nature” systems, where mortals interact with the magic but can’t direct the magical effect; and Shard-created “people with magic” systems, where mortals can direct the magical effect. “People with magic” systems appear only on Major Shardworlds, where Shards reside. They result from magic users’ “greater strength of access to the magic, and control over it” on such planets. I believe Roshar’s pre-Shattering ecology and First of the Sun’s Aviar are “interaction with magic” systems. Allomancy, Awakening, and Surgebinding are “people with magic” systems. (Some posters name such systems an “Invested Art,” following Khriss.)

Magic System Rules [Theory]

With some exceptions, I believe all known “people with magic” systems follow the same general rules:

1. Magic users Intend some magical effect.

2. Magic users in most systems infuse their own energy into the magical process to activate it. Feruchemy and Breath transfers – two “end neutral” systems – activate solely on Intent.

3. The magic system uses that energy (or Intent) to summon Shard power from the Spiritual Realm (or Cognitive Realm for the Dor). Spren-based magic converts Physical Realm Investiture into power.

4. The magic user Focuses that power as it Invests them or an object.

5. The magic user directs the Focused power for the Intended magical effect.

Khriss describes the magic system rules of Intent and Perception. (AU, “The Selish System,” Kindle pp. 18.) A magic user must Intend to make magic. Magic is a deliberate act. Perception refers to a culture’s influence on magic. On Sel, “language – or similar functions – directly shapes the magic as it is pulled from the Cognitive Realm and put to use.”

The Role of Planets in Magic Systems [Theory]

Brandon says a planet’s pre-Shattering magic (its “inherent Investiture”); the planet’s culture; and the local population’s sDNA all influence a planet’s magic systems. Most posters including me believe Focuses derive from the system’s planet. A Focus IMO substitutes for the mortal inability to think a magical effect into being (like Shards can). Besides “shaping the magic,” a Focus limits Investiture flow and prevents magic user vaporization. I think all three planetary influences contribute to that planet’s Focus.

The Role of Shards in Magic Systems [Theory]

I think these are Brandon’s most important statements about the Shards’ magical role:

The 'role' of the Shard has to do with the WAY the magic is obtained, not what it can do,”

The means of getting powers…are related to the Shards, but not the powers themselves.”

Honor doesn’t belong to gravity. But bonds, and how to deal with bonds, and things like this, is an Honor thing.”

I read these WoBs to say Shards have two roles in magic systems: They determine how magic users (1) access Investiture, and (2) perform their magical abilities. IMO, magic systems grant access and performance through their Shard’s unique Connection, its primal force/fundamental law:

Ruin magic users Intend an act of entropy. A Feruchemist converts their attributes into Investiture. A Hemalurgist spikes through Spiritual aspects. Nightblood destroys evil.

Preservation magic users Intend an act of stasis. A Feruchemist returns to their prior state (the status quo) when they re-convert Investiture into attributes. An Allomancer pulls power down metal’s static molecular structure.

Honor magic users Intend to enter a bond. A Surgebinder chooses to enter the Nahel bond. Windrunners “lash” (re-bond gravity) to fly.

Brandon confirms those three Shards’ primal forces/fundamental laws. I speculate in the Appendix what others might be. Again, I believe a primal force/fundamental law is the “spin or magnetism” that Connects the Shard’s Investiture to its other Realmic states, including to its Vessel and magic users.

Pathways to Power” [Theory and Speculation]

Investiture energizes magic. I believe magic systems move that energy down inter-Realmic power lines. Marasi sees Preservation’s metal “pathway to power” when she draws Investiture from the Bands of Mourning:

Quote

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.

(BoM Chapter 28, Kindle p. 359.)

Metal is Preservation’s pathway to power (and Scadrial’s Focus). It is not Preservation’s Investiture. From this example, I speculate other magic systems have their own pathways to power. Pathways generally have these characteristics: They aren’t made from Investiture. In several systems, the magic consumes the pathway. In these systems, the magic ends when the consumed pathway ends. Like metal’s static molecular structure ties to Preservation’s stasis, each Shard’s pathway also seems tied to its “spin or magnetism,” its primal force. I speculate about each Shard’s pathway in the Appendix.

I believe pathways differ from Connections. Connections convey information. Pathways seem to convey Investiture. I think “pathways to power” overlap with Brandon’s “natural pathways.” The latter seem to refer to pre-programmed Investiture delivery methods:

Quote

Questioner

From what I understand, Ruin and Preservation create the world together, and they created humanity as copies of the original humankind. So how did they give Allomancy to Scadrial?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. So the magic systems are kind of built into the setting and the world. And there are certain natural pathways that exist, in the same way there are certain natural pathways for them to create life. Which is my explanation for why life is so similar on all the different planets, is that they're following natural pathways, and these magics are kind of the same way. For instance, Lightweaving predates the Shattering of Adonalsium. A lot of these other things are suggestive of magics that existed before that were built around Adonalsium. They weren't 100% created by the Shards, but they also do have the Shards' influence on them.

Skyward San Diego signing (Nov. 7, 2018) (bold added).

This WoB confirms magic generally follows natural pathways “built around Adonalsium” that the Shards now influence. Even pre-Shattering Physical Realm manifestations of Spiritual Realm Investiture break Realmic barriers somehow. To me, it makes Realmic sense magic systems might funnel Investiture through a natural pathway other than perpendicularities.

Conclusion

Like you, I seek cosmere truth. How does this stuff work? Because we don’t yet know cosmere truth, I ask you judge my theory by a three-part “validity” test: (1) Is the theory self-consistent, and does it fit together on its own terms? Would Pattern approve (hmmm)? (2) Is the theory consistent with text and WoBs? (3) Does the theory predict how newly-unveiled magic will work?

Precedent suggests readers will focus on the Appendix, where I speculate about individual Shards and their magic systems. If past is prologue, I’ve made many mistakes for you to correct. But I prefer you focus on the main theory, the “big stuff.” The little stuff like magic systems will fall into place if we can get the big stuff right.

If nothing else, consider this post red meat during these lean times between books. All the best. C.

Appendix – Applications and Predictions [Speculation]

The Spoiler applies the magic theory to each Shard with a known “people with magic” system. EVERYTHING in the Spoiler is raw to informed SPECULATION. (Probably true of the whole post, really...) Each time I update a theory, you help me plug more holes – (cough) Awakening – but I feel this iterative process gets us closer to cosmere truth. Here we go!

Spoiler

The three confirmed primal forces/fundamental laws are entropy (Ruin), stasis (Preservation), and bonds (Honor). Below are my always CONTROVERSIAL GUESSES as to the others. These are MY INTERPRETATIONS only, no matter how definitively I express them.

ROSHAR

Planetary Focus – I believe Roshar’s Focus are Shard Splinters. Spren shape the natural ecology and fabrial and Radiant magic. Honorblades shape their wielder’s magic. Odium Splinters shape each Fused and Unmade’s magic.

Cultivation

Shard Uniqueness – Transformation (thermodynamics’ first law, as Ruin is its second)

I believe Cultivation’s primal force/fundamental law is the inter-convertibility of matter, energy, and Investiture.

Pathway to Power – Lifeforms

Cultivation tells Dalinar, “I CONTROL ALL THINGS THAT CAN BE GROWN, NURTURED.” (OB, Chapter 114, Kindle p. 1079.) Because the Shard’s “natural pathway” is lifeforms, transformation expresses itself as evolution. Brandon says Cultivation would be a mono-green M:tG deck.

Magic Systems – Unknown System, Radiant Surgebinding, fabrials, Regal forms of power

Brandon hints the unknown system is strictly Cultivation’s. Radiant Surgebinding, fabrials, and Regal forms of power IMO are mixed Shard systems in which Cultivation participates.

Brandon says Lift’s ability to transform food into Stormlight (matter into Investiture) anticipates the unknown system. I predict that system will access Investiture through matter-energy-Investiture conversion using a lifeform pathway. The Old Magic’s boon and curse exemplify an “interaction with nature” system with a similar thermodynamic conversion: Pruning Dalinar’s memories redirects his energy and focus from self-pity to new growth and redemption.

Cultivation’s words to Dalinar mark spren as subjects of her domain. Modern fabrials rely on Roshar’s “natural” sentient spren (and gemstones) for their magic. Khriss describes spren as “transformative Cognitive entities.” Spren transform from their Cognitive aspect into the Physical Realm energy or force they personify. Fabrial design manipulates these transformations. Capture the spren in the right gemstone; add Stormlight; and flamespren become fire, painspren become pain, and heatspren become heat. The transformation lasts as long as the Stormlight fuels it.

The Regal forms of power come from Odium and Cultivation. Odium’s Investiture seems to act like a virus that invades and changes the host spren. I think Odium’s Investiture grants the Regal forms of power while Cultivation’s Investiture plugs the spren into the Singer’s Spiritual aspect.

Honor

Shard Uniqueness – Voluntary bonds between people

Magic Systems – Honorblade Surgebinding, Radiant Surgebinding

Honorblade Surgebinding IMO is the only pure Honor magic system. Through an Honorblade bond, the Heralds and mortals wielding an Honorblade access Honor’s powers directly. Surgebinding proves Shards influence the means of accessing Investiture but not the magical abilities themselves: Radiant Surgebinding grants the same abilities as Honorblade Surgebinding but through two Shards and their spren.

Unlike Honorblade Surgebinding, Radiant Surgebinding is a mixed system. Honor’s Nahel bond grants Radiants access to Investiture. Spren give Radiants their magical abilities. Radiant spren are Connected to Honor, Cultivation, and rarely to Odium. They offer Radiants each of those Shards’ abilities including Odium’s foresight. Renarin IMO is not a Voidbinder. He is a Surgebinder who uses Stormlight, Honor’s Nahel bond, and a Radiant spren that also Connects to Odium to exercise Odium abilities.

Like Honorblade Surgebinders, Radiants inhale Stormlight to activate the system but use it more efficiently. Radiant spren transform the Stormlight into the powers the spren personifies. Unlike non-spren magic systems, Radiant Surgebinding converts Stormlight into power; it doesn’t summon power from the Spiritual Realm. Through the Nahel bond, Radiants direct that power for the Intended magical effect.

Pathway to Power – Unknown

I believe Honor has some Cognitive pathway to power. Two people freely choosing to bond is a Cognitive function. Radiant spren are personified ideas. Human minds bond ideas through the neural synapses in their brain. Maybe Spiritual Realm power Invests the Radiant through the pathway created by the Radiant’s synaptic Connection to their spren.

Odium

Shard Uniqueness – Breaking Connections (some cosmere repulsive force)

Magic System – Voidbinding

Contrary to consensus, I believe the Fused’s magic is Voidbinding, not a hack of Surgebinding. My theory defines magic systems by how magic users access their Investiture. Odium “takes your pain” by breaking your Connection to who or what causes the pain. (“I’m not to blame...It wasn’t my fault.”) Odium’s assault on Dalinar at Thaylen Field left Dalinar “Alone. So alone.” The Broken One’s Investiture fills the broken Connections. The loss of these Connections leaves you numb, adrift in an emotional void.

I believe the Fused also perform their magic by breaking a Connection – one of the Surges. They break their gravity Connection to fly, their abrasion Connection to glide, and their progression Connection to speed carapace growth. The Fused dis-Connect and re-Connect each Surge with the same skill and precision as Kaladin adjusts his lashings.

Voidbinding’s mechanics seem typical: The Fused Intend to break a Surge. Because of the constant Voidlight flow, Voidbinding doesn’t seem to need an activation energy, though the Fused may be doing something unseen to spark the magic. The Fused consume the Voidlight as fuel to summon Odium’s Spiritual Realm power. (Without spren, I do not believe Voidbinding uses Cultivation’s transformation mechanic to access power.) That power Invests the Fused, who direct it for the Surge-breaking magical effect they Intend.

Pathway to Power – Unknown

I speculate Odium like Honor uses some Cognitive pathway to power. The Unmade and voidspren show Odium’s Investiture invades the mind. Metaphorically, it does seem “Odium” – hate, hatred, etc. – should have a Cognitive pathway to spread his influence. Also, Brandon says the Odium Shard is best at Vessel-killing. I believe Odium breaks the Connection between a Vessel’s mind and its Shard. Without life-supporting Investiture, the Vessel’s mind dies, killing the Vessel (eventually). A Shard whose primal force breaks Connections and whose Investiture travels a Cognitive pathway should be good at Vessel-killing.

Autonomy

I speculate Autonomy is a fourth Shard Investing Roshar through “a gathering of [its assigned] Investiture.” WoB suggests Autonomy won’t have any SLA narrative impact. I discuss Autonomy in the Taldain section. Autonomy’s primal force/fundamental law IMO is fractals. Adonalsium built the Rosharan continent using fractal mathematics principles.

I think the Sibling may be a potential Avatar. Gemstones are fractals, and I believe the Sibling is the spren responsible for gemstones (and gemhearts). If the Sibling is an Autonomy spren, then fabrials are a mixed magic system because of gemstones’ role.

NALTHIS

Planetary Focus – Visualized commands

Endowment

Shard Uniqueness – Quantum Physics (the science of subatomic particles)

Magic System – Breath transfers (with or without Awakening)

Breaths are the cosmere’s only pre-packaged Investiture quanta. All Shards can probably quantize their Investiture (just as other Shards than Honor and Cultivation can bond or convert matter into Investiture). But Endowment alone grants access to her Investiture through quanta. Her magic system transfers Breaths to perform her magic.

A Breath holder can transfer Breath with or without Awakening it. I believe non-Awakening Breath transfers resemble Feruchemy. As Investiture quanta, no part of the Breath is lost in the transfer. The visualized command “My Breath is yours” expresses the Intent to transfer Investiture quanta. That Intent suffices to summon the Spiritual Realm “facilitating power” that fuels the transfer.

Awakening programs the Breaths for post-transfer animation. The Awakener speaks and visualizes his instructions to the Breaths. The Breath-holding object Awakens to perform as instructed.

Brandon says any Investiture can fuel Awakening including Stormlight. On Nalthis we see Awakeners consume only color, which is not Investiture. Color is how the eye perceives reflected light, which is visible electromagnetic radiation (EMR). I have two guesses as to Nalthian Investiture sources for Awakening. I keep wavering between them:

(i) Awakening breaks down an object’s pigment molecules into subatomic particles (the realm of quantum physics). Maybe the Investiture comprising the Spiritual aspect of those molecules fuels Awakening. The problem: Pigment is itself a Connection, a way to interpret the Physical Realm. Connections are not made from Investiture.

(ii) And so I return to my first hypothesis: Nalthis’ pre-Shattering “interaction with nature” system somehow Invests Nalthis’ photons directly like Roshar’s highstorms Invest that planet. Investiture held by the object’s absorbed photons fuels Awakening.

Pathway to Power – Electromagnetic Radiation

I think Endowment’s pathway is EMR. Like metal, EMR is not Investiture. Yet Awakening ends when a photon-drained object turns gray (or white for god-kings). Light-carrying photons are EMR quanta, which ties to Endowment’s unique quantum magic.

TALDAIN

Planetary Focus – Visualized commands

Taldain’s Focus IMO is the visualized command a Sand Master sends the microflora through their Cognitive bond. That command causes the microflora to shape the sand as the Sand Master visualizes.

Autonomy

Shard Uniqueness – Fractals (similar patterns replicating at progressively smaller scales)

As smaller scaled versions of Autonomy, Avatars are the best examples of Autonomy’s fractals. I speculate each of a Sand Master’s sand ribbons flows from a different Autonomy Splinter, a discrete “autonomous” fractal. FWIW, Brandon says fractals have always fascinated him.

Magic System – Sand Mastery

I think Sand Masters access Autonomy’s Investiture through these autonomous fractal Splinters. Sand Masters also perform their magic using fractals – sand. Here’s Khriss’ description of this magic system:

Quote

The Investiture beats down from the sky, and is absorbed by a microflora that grows like a lichen on the surface of the sand.... 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.

(AU, “The Taldain System,” Kindle pp. 369-370.)

I believe Taldain’s water is Invested. Autonomy’s Investiture falls on Dayside’s oceans and circulates through the planet’s water cycle. Taldain’s lifeforms drink or absorb this Invested water.

Mechanics: Sand Masters Intend to manipulate fractals, the sand. They dehydrate to activate the magic and, I believe, to consume the water’s Investiture. This Investiture summons Autonomy’s Spiritual Realm power. Khriss says this power enables the Sand Master to “control the sand” through a “brief Cognitive bond” between Sand Master and microflora. I believe the microflora detect and absorb Sand Master water as the Sand Master dehydrates. The “brief Cognitive bond” between Sand Master and microflora is made through the water contact.

Pathway to Power – Water

Autonomy’s power passes from the Spiritual Realm into the Sand Master and then to the microflora through the water-forged Cognitive bond. Like metal and EMR, water is not Investiture; yet the Sand Master consumes the water through dehydration. When the Master stops dehydrating, the magic stops. Water relates to Autonomy’s fractal primal force: As an erosion agent, water can carve fractals; and water can also form into fractals like ice crystals and snowflakes.

FWIW: Autonomy’s Patji Avatar, a fractal IMO, built the Patji archipelago. Adonalsium built the Rosharan pangaea through fractal mathematics principles (the Julia set). Roshar holds a “gathering” of Autonomy’s assigned Investiture. I link these “facts” to point out fractals built Patji and the Rosharan pangaea from the ocean floor – through water.

SCADRIAL

Brandon says Scadrial’s magic is not woven as tightly into the cosmere tapestry as later-revealed magic systems. It doesn’t quite fit the same rules and sometimes needs retconning (think savantism). Brandon’s original explanation for Preservation’s uniqueness: the Shard gives its magic as a “gift” to preserve the magic user’s own energies. It turns out almost every magic system also pumps external energy (Spiritual Realm Investiture) to the magic user. With that caveat, here’s how I see Scadrial’s magic.

Planetary Focus – Metal

Ruin

Shard Uniqueness – Entropy, the second law of thermodynamics

Magic Systems – Hemalurgy, Feruchemy

Hemalurgy is Ruin’s pure magic system. Feruchemy is a mixed system (with Preservation). Both systems increase the cosmere’s entropy (temporarily in the case of Feruchemy).

The Hemalurgist Intends to transfer sDNA. They swing their arm to strike the spike, which generates Hemalurgy’s activation energy. The energized Intent summons Ruin’s power from the Spiritual Realm to Invest the spike. The spike’s metal Focuses that power to transfer only the targeted sDNA.

The Feruchemist in Ruin-mode Intends to convert their attributes into Investiture, increasing entropy. That Intent alone, without any activation energy, causes Ruin’s power to Invest the metalmind with the power the metalmind Focuses. A Spiritual Realm “facilitating power” supplies the energy for the conversion. That “facilitating power” keeps Feruchemy end-neutral; without it, Feruchemy would cannibalize the Feruchemical gene.

Pathway to Power – Unknown

Best guess: Metal is Ruin’s pathway as well as Preservation’s. Were Ruin’s Investiture to travel a less stable pathway, the Shard’s entropy mechanic might destroy the pathway before the power reaches the magic user.

Preservation

Shard Uniqueness – Stasis

Magic Systems – Feruchemy, Allomancy

The Feruchemist in Preservation-mode Intends to convert Investiture back into their attributes, a return to the status quo. Intent plus the “facilitating power” causes Preservation to Invest the metalmind with the power the metalmind Focuses. Metalminds Focus both Ruin’s and Preservation’s power.

Allomancy, to me, is the cosmere’s most problematic magic system. I don’t see anything “static” about Allomancy other than metal’s static molecular structure. Brandon’s claim Allomancy is a “gift” is specious – almost all magic systems likewise gift Spiritual Realm power to their magic user. Brandon acknowledges his early magic systems are less consistent with his later-developed rules.

Pathway to Power – Metal

SEL

Planetary Focus – Topographically-programmed forms

Brandon says programming-type language is Sel’s Focus. Programmed forms IMO represent each magic system’s local topography. Aons, for example, mark the placement of Arelon’s mountains, coasts, and forests. Shai sees Mai-pan in the power surge that limns her activated essence stamp.

Khriss says the “rule of perception” is magnified on Sel. Sel’s emphasis on language and form as a Focus stems from the Dor’s Cognitive Realm location.

Shards

Sel had only one magic system before Odium mashed Dominion and Devotion’s power into the Cognitive Realm. I believe that original system and its local variants are mixed Shard systems and look at Dominion and Devotion together.

Shard Uniqueness

I speculate Dominion’s primal force is potential energy. Dominion’s Investiture seems to control magical access on Sel, setting the conditions under which potential energy becomes kinetic energy. Magic users gain more precise magical ability the more complex their topographic form. It’s as if Dominion challenges magic users to prove their knowledge of (and dominion over) their homeland before bestowing his most powerful magic on them.

Devotion IMO grants access to Investiture through kinetic energy. Once motion activates the magic system, Devotion’s Investiture flows freely through Sel’s Dominion-Invested Focus. I think “controlling” Dominion restricts the flow of Investiture, while “loving” Devotion seeks to freely bestow it. Without their Vessels’ direction, these antithetical Investitures clash in the Cognitive Realm.

Magic Systems

I speculate Sel’s magic users consume Investiture that leaches from the ground into the food chain. Sel’s location-based magics and topographical forms show the ground is Invested. Khriss confirms Sel’s “landscape” is becoming even more Invested. (Mother Sel?) Raoden had to draw Aon Rao on the ground, not in the air, to restore Elantris.

Shai’s essence stamp uses organic inks. Bloodsealers use their target’s blood. Dakhor monk bones hold Investiture deposited from their food. Forton’s potions use organic ingredients. The “mostly Spiritual” Elantrians can draw Aons with the Dor because ground-drawn Aon Rao amplifies the Dor in Elantris.

Mechanics: Sel’s magic users Intend to turn potential energy into kinetic energy. Each known Selish system begins with motion – drawing an Aon, turning an essence stamp, stirring a potion, dancing, or bending bones. Motion activates the user’s Investiture to summon the Dor from the Cognitive Realm. The Dor Invests the magic user or an object (essence stamps or potions) through a topographical Focus. The magic user directs the Focused power for the Intended magical effect.

Pathway to Power – Ground

Postscript – What If?

I urge you all to read Brandon’s short story Perfect State. Few posters comment about it. In a Matrix-like world, each live human participates 24/7 in their own virtual reality simulation.

Brandon’s penchant for foreshadowing makes me wonder: What if 16 virtual characters managed to kill the one live person (Adonalsium) in their simulation? Is the cosmere now a self-executing simulation? When Brandon releases Dragonsteel, will its epilogue show Hoid nattering about a computer program run amok and the failings of postmodern art?

Edited by Confused
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Despite our different views we agree far more than we disagree... 

But as usual, the places we agree aren't fun to discuss. :lol:

20 hours ago, Confused said:

The Shattering

For the most part I agree. Except I believe that the intents as we know them were pieces of Adonalsium's mind. I think that tearing his mind apart, creating the Shards, was the same action that "killed" him. 

Because of this, I think the "spin" is an inherent property of the Investiture itself, and as such it creates a Connection across all of the Investiture of that Shard. As a consequence, I think that that's what Splintering is. Stripping away the Connection. While the Investiture remains assigned, it isn't internally Connected making it unable to be accessed simultaneously and picked up by a new Vessel. 

When it comes to that transformation of stormlight to breath WoB... I absolutely agree. We need some clarification because the implications are staggering. If Investiture can be reassigned between the Shards, why did Odium not do this and empower himself with the Investiture of Shards he's beaten? 

20 hours ago, Confused said:

Magic System Rules

I believe we've discussed this before, but I disagree that any internal activation input is required beyond Intent. 

There are other minor nitpick, but we've discussed them at length before and I don't want to derail your thread. 

As usual, have an upvote. 

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I'm going to pick at a small detail here. Your second law of investiture thermodynamics:

Quote

The second law states the cosmere’s entropy never decreases over time. I believe the key to understanding magic systems is to follow each system’s energy flows.

I'd agree with you on a technicality. I don't believe that investiture has an equivalent to entropy. I know there have been long debates on how Preservation was weaker than Ruin when they both have apparently infinite power. The way I've taken this is that all investiture inevitably returns to its shard. We have some old WOBs where he compares investiture to water flowing over a wheel before continuing on its natural path. In this way, I'd argue that the amount of accessible investiture in the universe never decreases. However, this does make you comments about converting investiture being a big deal even more significant, as it would be the only way to prevent investiture from returning to a shard. Aside from however Preservation trapped some of Ruin's investiture into its own cycle of use and regeneration as Atium, that is.

Aside from that, I think you're theory is pretty good, and look forward to seeing how accurate you are with future books. 

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Happy New Year, everyone! I’ve been away from the Forums a few months and have a bunch to say about topics related to the OP: the futility of naming unknown Shards; over-anthropomorphizing Shards; where is Nalthis’ ambient Investiture; is Shard uniqueness inherent in Investiture; Connections and time; and pathways to power.

Naming Shards

@Ixthos and @Parallax, your Shard naming models and analyses are first-rate. But Brandon says Shard names are “charged terms” for certain unchanging principles the Shards embody. I think we can’t name a Shard without first identifying its unchanging principle.

Shards are “primal forces attached to certain aspects of personality.” I believe Shard magical uniqueness resides in these primal forces (which Brandon also describes as ”something natural” and “fundamental laws”). The OP theorizes each primal force grants magic users access to a different Shard’s Investiture. I think of primal forces as the keys to the “vaults” that hold each Shards’ 1/16th Investiture share.

Shard names IMO depict a cultural interpretation of the Shard’s unique magic. (“They” call me Odium, Rayse tells Dalinar.) Ruin and Preservation are “charged terms” for how these Shards’ grant access to Investiture – through acts of entropy and stasis. Honor is the “charged term” for a primal force that voluntarily bonds people.

Brandon only confirms Ruin, Preservation, and Honor’s primal forces. Text and WoB allow me to make controversial guesses as to the other known Shards’ primal forces. Without any knowledge of the unknown Shards, I think we can’t begin to guess what charged terms might name them.

Anthropomorphizing Shards

Many posters believe a Shard’s “intent” controls its Vessel’s non-magical behavior. Honor, for example, must act “honorably.” IMO, Shards only affect their Vessel’s magical behavior.

Tanavast himself may be an “honorable” man (“they [the assassin-conspirators] are all honorable men”). Honor the Shard, however, grants access to its magic through a voluntary bond between people. Culture calls that voluntary bond “Honor.” Yet Heralds and Surgebinders alike use their Honor-granted powers to murder and enslave. Kaladin has a different notion of “honor” than, say, Jasnah. Honor the Shard and honor the personality trait bear little resemblance.

Brandon says,

Quote

it is possible for intents to not align and someone to take a Shard. It's way easier if intents do align, but humans don't tend to align 100% to any specific intent. [Source. The questioner defines “intent” as “general intent/mindset.”]

I read this to mean a potential Vessel doesn’t have to share any personality trait with the Shard to ascend. Even where the initial Shard Connection is weak, as with Ati, living off the Shard’s power inevitably strengthens the Connection. Shards in the end overwhelm their Vessel, making a strong initial Connection unnecessary.

Even at that point, the Shard’s compulsions IMO remain magical in effect. Leras can’t kill Elend because Preservation’s magical nature bars it. Leras at the time is fully subject to Preservation’s influence. To direct Preservation’s power, Leras must Intend and perform an act of stasis. Killing Elend is destruction (entropy) – Ruin not Preservation. Full magical alignment squeezes out a Vessel’s ability to Connect to another Shard. Hence, Sazed's struggles.

In contrast, Kelsier and Vin are Vessels who wield Preservation’s power before they succumb to the Shard. Both remain capable of destruction. Kelsier is too Connected to Ruin to effectively direct Preservation against Ruin; but I believe if Kelsier holds Preservation long enough, he too would fully embody stasis. Vin is able to kill Ati because she has just ascended. Brandon says, “Vin could have understood and become [Ruin],” though her fear of abandonment made her better suited to Preservation. This WoB shows there is no necessary relationship between Vessel personality and Shard when the Vessel ascends.

Nalthis Investiture for Awakening?

What are everyone’s theories on the source of Awakening’s Investiture (as fuel) on Nalthis? Brandon says Awakening can use any Investiture including Stormlight as fuel. That’s great on Roshar, but where’s the Nalthian Investiture? (While Breaths can be used as fuel, Awakeners generally recover the same number of Breaths they initially transfer and don’t consume Breaths.) The OP presents two possible but inconclusive sources. What are your thoughts?

Is Shard Uniqueness Inherent in its Investiture?

@Calderis believes a Shard’s magical uniqueness is inherent in its Investiture, not forged through Connection:

On 9/19/2019 at 6:36 PM, Calderis said:

I believe that the intents as we know them were pieces of Adonalsium's mind. I think that tearing his mind apart, creating the Shards, was the same action that "killed" him. 

Because of this, I think the "spin" is an inherent property of the Investiture itself, and as such it creates a Connection across all of the Investiture of that Shard.

Both approaches are valid – not disprovable – and I think both approaches should work the same mechanically. The following discussion to me is thus interesting but academic. Two reasons I prefer my approach: the relationship between “raw Investiture” and Connections, and the unlikelihood Adonalsium’s mind could be equally divided into 16 personality traits.

Raw Investiture” and Connections

IMO, “raw Investiture” has no Connections. A Spiritual aspect is “a mix of [a person’s] connections to places, people, and times with raw investiture.” Take away the Connections and all that remains is the “raw” stuff of magic.

To me, Connections “program” raw Investiture with each Spiritual aspect’s unique identifying data – whom people love, how fast they can run, how heavy is a stone. I believe Connections collectively carry the cosmere's full data set. All else IMO is “raw Investiture.”

I think “spin” is a Connection – each Shard’s unique “primal force/fundamental law/something natural.” I believe pre-Shattering Spiritual Realm Investiture (Adonalsium) was blank of “spin.” Adonalsium imparted “spin” to Investiture when he used some primal force to direct that Investiture: entropy, bonding, stasis, etc. IMO, his direction stamped the Connection, the “spin” that permanently marks the primal force’s role.

16 Equal Shards

I think the Shattering for the first time marked “spin” on never-used Spiritual Realm Investiture. That became necessary to maintain the 16-Shard balance. While Adonalsium lived, balance wasn’t a problem. However the Vessels Shattered Adonalsium, they had to Connect themselves to previously raw, un-Connected Spiritual Realm Investiture. Brandon says “a lot [was] going on with” creating Connections at the Shattering.

We know Adonalsium could have Shattered into different Shards. That means the Vessels chose the 16 Shards they would direct post-Shattering. Frost confirms this in his letter to Hoid (WoR, Chapter 59 Epigraph): [Rayse] is what we made him to be, old friend. And that is what he, unfortunately, wished to become.”

Your approach, Cal, implies Adonalsium’s mind divided equally into the 16 Shards pre-Shattering. Otherwise some small pieces of Adonalsium’s mind beyond the 16 Shards would have survived the “tearing apart” that killed him. I would expect a Creator to have all possible traits of all the cosmere’s people regardless of culture or species – way more than 16 personality traits. Why did the Shattering result in these 16 traits and in equal measure? Do you think the Vessels gave Adonalsium a personality test?

I think the “primal force” analysis works because IMO the Vessels couldn’t divide Adonalsium evenly by personality trait. Instead they agreed on something they could do: access their 1/16th Investiture share with a different key, their unique primal force.

Splintering Shards

I agree, Cal, with your characterization of Splintering and agree Splintered Investiture does remain assigned:

On 9/19/2019 at 6:36 PM, Calderis said:

As a consequence, I think that that's what Splintering is. Stripping away the Connection. While the Investiture remains assigned, it isn't internally Connected making it unable to be accessed simultaneously and picked up by a new Vessel. 

But I think we’re talking about different Connections. I read you, Cal, to refer to the Shard’s internal mind-spirit Connection. Splintering occurs because the Vessel’s mind no longer directs the Investiture. I refer to the Shard’s “spin” Connection, the thing that causes Investiture assignment. “Spin” permanently Connects all the Shard’s thermodynamic states – Investiture, matter, and energy – assuming Brandon retracts that April WoB.

Is Activation Energy Necessary for Magic Systems?

Cal also questions the need for energy to “activate” each magic system. In our universe, thermodynamics requires some activation energy to begin a chemical or physical reaction. Otherwise, there’s nothing to shake the system’s components out of their pre-existing equilibrium. Brandon says the cosmere’s physics is the same as ours except that Investiture is a third thermodynamic factor. The OP shows known magic systems all have an activation energy except for the two nominally “end-neutral” systems, Feruchemy and Breath transfers.

Cal, you say you believe magic user Intent to perform magic is enough for all systems, and activation energy is unnecessary. I agree as to the two end-neutral systems, although both systems in all other respects comply with cosmere thermodynamics. My questions to you are (1) why would cosmere thermodynamics not comply with our universe’s rules on activation energy given Brandon’s general rule; and (2) why else does every magic system other than the end-neutral ones begin with the magic user instilling energy?

Connections and Time

Brandon says, “All times and all places are one” in the Spiritual Realm. One interpretation: All Connections that could ever exist already exist and have always existed, including time and place. Potential Connections exist even when nothing comes of them. Whether those Connections strengthen into actuality depends on the probability that certain events will occur.

I think this is what Brandon means when he compares cosmere Connections with our universe’s “quantum connections.” There’s a bit of Schrödinger’s Cat in the idea all possible Connections always exist but await unknown events to actualize.

Several times Syl and the Stormfather say they’ve “always known” something that Kaladin or Dalinar have just figured out. The spren don’t share the information until after their bonded human discovers it. Maybe these situations show the information-carrying Connection was always there. Some event actualized the Connection and brought the information to man and spren’s attention. Since spren are eternal Investiture, they’ve “always known” the information – have always held the Connection that carries it – and in retrospect can recall knowing the information even before the Connection-actualizing event occurs.

All Connections always present makes foresight more manageable. Shards can see all potential Connections. Their task is to figure out which Connections are more likely to actualize and at what strength. In a post about the subjectivity of Connections, I describe three possible foresight methods: a “brute force” review of all possible Connections; Shard-specific algorithms to streamline Connection data analysis (my vote); and a “time ribbons” method Leras mentions in M:SH (probably metaphorically).

Who knows what Brandon really means about time’s Spiritual Realm irrelevance. I throw out the “quantum connection” idea to prompt discussion.

More on “Pathways to Power

To restate the OP, I believe a “pathway to power” delivers Shard Investiture from the Spiritual Realm. If Investiture energizes magic systems, pathways carry that energy. Most pathways are neither fuel nor Investiture (e.g., metal, water, and “color”); yet magic consumes the pathway and ends when the pathway ends. Some observations:

Preservation’s and Ruin’s primal forces seem to share a metal pathway. It makes sense Preservation’s pathway should be metal, if only because Marasi says so. (BoM, Chapter 28, Kindle p. 359.) Preservation’s primal force is stasis, and metal’s static molecular structure serves well as a pathway for that primal force. But Ruin shares the metal pathway. Nightblood and Hemalurgy’s cosmere-wide availability both suggest metal may be Ruin’s pathway everywhere and not just on Scadrial. The OP speculates Ruin’s entropy primal force would destroy a less static, less durable pathway than metal. [Specific metals Focus Preservation and Ruin’s power, but all Allomantic/Feruchemical/Hemalurgic metals IMO serve as Preservation and Ruin pathways.]

Autonomy’s and Endowment’s primal forces both seem to use solar radiation to distribute ambient Investiture the way highstorms distribute Stormlight. Autonomy’s Investiture seems transported via the sun’s heat energy and falls mostly in oceans. The Investiture IMO then circulates through the planet’s water cycle. Based on Khriss’ description of Sand Mastery, I think water is Autonomy’s pathway to power. Endowment’s Investiture seems transported via the sun’s light energy. Invested photons (IMO) radiate onto Nalthis’ objects. Photons are quanta of electromagnetic radiation, and I think EMR is Endowment’s pathway to power.

I find it interesting Shards with different primal forces and pathways can distribute ambient Investiture from the same source, the sun. (Many posters believe the Autonomy and Endowment Vessels were dragons.) WoBs suggest these distribution patterns pre-date the Shattering. All this reminds me how much there is yet to learn about the cosmere and its magic systems. But I do believe “pathways to power” are an important cosmere magical component.

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Theory on Adonalsium makes sense! I like that a lot. The key insight for me being the WoB where he says that pure investiture, when there's enough of it, will spontaneously form a consciousness. That ties together the source of Adonalsium pretty nicely.

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This makes a lot of sense, but there is one bit that may be more relevant than alluded to in the OP: color. And I'm not just talking about Red=Corruption; Sanderson has stated that color is fundamental to the Cosmere, so I'd be willing to bet it's gonna play a bigger role than it seems for now.

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First off, big props to this well-put together theory! It was a delight to read and very interesting and -mostly- cohesive.

Now there are some parts that I kinda want to weigh in on with some skeptic comments and questions, mostly in regards to pathways to power.

On 5.1.2020 at 3:58 AM, Confused said:

To restate the OP, I believe a “pathway to power” delivers Shard Investiture from the Spiritual Realm. If Investiture energizes magic systems, pathways carry that energy. Most pathways are neither fuel nor Investiture (e.g., metal, water, and “color”); yet magic consumes the pathway and ends when the pathway ends.

 

On 5.1.2020 at 3:58 AM, Confused said:

Preservation’s and Ruin’s primal forces seem to share a metal pathway. It makes sense Preservation’s pathway should be metal, if only because Marasi says so. (BoM, Chapter 28, Kindle p. 359.) Preservation’s primal force is stasis, and metal’s static molecular structure serves well as a pathway for that primal force. But Ruin shares the metal pathway. Nightblood and Hemalurgy’s cosmere-wide availability both suggest metal may be Ruin’s pathway everywhere and not just on Scadrial. The OP speculates Ruin’s entropy primal force would destroy a less static, less durable pathway than metal.

There are several things I'd like to address here. Let's start with those that regard Hemalurgy. You theorize metal is Hemalurgy's pathway to power - however, I think this is conflating your own pathway concept with the focus. Clearly, what metal the spike is made of influences what can be stolen or transferred - but so does the hemalurgic bind point. Furthermore, you postulate that pathways are consumed in performing the magic. Hemalurgy, however, does NOT follow this if metal is truly its pathway. Spikes are not burnt like metals in Allomancy. They are not consumed by spiking to splice off sDNA or transplant it. I would argue that metal, just like in Allomancy, is Hemalurgy's focus (or at least part thereof - remember bind points). The pathway should be something different however. Perhaps blood? There is the reference that Hemalurgy owes its very name to requiring the flow of blood past the spikes - and perhaps this is where the pathway to power is actually hidden.

A similar argument can be made for Surgebinding and its proposed pathway of bonds. Where are these bonds consumed? Also the proposed pathway here is not what provides the Investiture necessary to perform Surgebinding. The Investiture is already available from Stormlight and needs only be breathed in. Now, perhaps the "pathway" is somewhere in that breathing in moment or perhaps just in gems and spheres being able to store stormlight. These are some options I could see.

I also am skeptical of the implications when you say "metal may be Ruin's pathway everywhere and not just on Scadrial". I may have missed it but I think a magic user's actual position in the cosmere is relatively unimportant for how their magic works. The effects and focus are decided by the planet the magic originated on - but the pathway, as I understood it, is defined by the correlating Shard and its Spin. Except for Selish magics (and perhaps Surgebinding cause you can't really get Spren off-world as far as we know), this, to me, does not imply that a magic user shouldn't be able to access and work their abilities off-world, so long as they can get Investiture as fuel. Allomancy and Awakening were shown to work just fine off-Scadrial/Nalthis.

 

Curious to hear your thoughts on these discrepancies I noted!

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On 5.1.2020 at 3:58 AM, Confused said:

Nalthis Investiture for Awakening?

What are everyone’s theories on the source of Awakening’s Investiture (as fuel) on Nalthis? Brandon says Awakening can use any Investiture including Stormlight as fuel. That’s great on Roshar, but where’s the Nalthian Investiture? (While Breaths can be used as fuel, Awakeners generally recover the same number of Breaths they initially transfer and don’t consume Breaths.) The OP presents two possible but inconclusive sources. What are your thoughts?

 

On 19.9.2019 at 6:55 AM, Confused said:

(i) Awakening breaks down an object’s pigment molecules into subatomic particles (the realm of quantum physics). Maybe the Investiture comprising the Spiritual aspect of those molecules fuels Awakening. The problem: Pigment is itself a Connection, a way to interpret the Physical Realm. Connections are not made from Investiture.

(ii) And so I return to my first hypothesis: Nalthis’ pre-Shattering “interaction with nature” system somehow Invests Nalthis’ photons directly like Roshar’s highstorms Invest that planet. Investiture held by the object’s absorbed photons fuels Awakening.


For the awakening process Color is necessary, so the conclusion, that the Investiture Comes from photons is logical. On top of that, the investiture eating sword nightblood leaves darkened wounds behind.

My main problem with that would be, that awakening can be performed everywhere in the cosmere, even the cognitive realm. That would mean, Endowments invested photons are everywhere in the cosmere, and not limited to Nachtisch. While this alone isn’t a big issue, the other thing is, again nightblood. NB Feeds of the investiture of its holder. We have seen it consuming Breaths from Vasher and Stormlight from Szeth. This obviously leads to the conclusion, Breath = Investiture. IMHO the difference between SL Awakening and Breath Awakening is the affinity of the Investiture to the object holding it. While humans are leaking Stormlight, Breath is being held perfectly. We see the same with the Fused holding Voidlight perfectly. I read a WoB where Brandon said, that Breath kind of holds the “Ideal” for the shape of a Human based on the divine Form of Endowments Vessel. That’s why I believe humans can hold Breath perfectly unlike Stormlight.

 

 

EDIT: on Taldain

I believe that it is in fact the sand, more precisely the microbes in the Sand that are invested. I think this is similar to the invested worms on Patji on First of the Sun. The only difference is the way these organisms gather Investiture. On FotS I think it had to do with lake on Patji that acts like a Perpendicularity in some way. On Taldain it is in fact the Sun that provides the Investiture. Iirc the Taldain System was designed by Automony as it is.

To back up my believe concerning Taldain I can only bring up the Sandlings that seem to feed of invested sand to survive without water (It seems to me this works just the other way round like Lifts ability to create Investiture from food.

Edited by spaidapig
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Thanks, @Ubeka, for your kind words! Though the “pathways to power” concept is speculative, I believe there’s something to it. I’m just uncertain how far it extends and in what contexts.

My theory analogizes pathways to “inter-Realmic power lines,” but that description misleads. Mechanically, kinetic Investiture runs through the Spiritual aspects of metal, EMR and water to the magic user’s Spiritual aspect. All magic happens in the Spiritual Realm. Mortals perceive the Physical Realm results of magically reprogramming reality. With that understanding, I will continue to use my inter-Realmic analogy/metaphor.

As you asked, here are my “thoughts on these discrepancies” you note.

On 5/14/2020 at 3:56 AM, Ubeka said:

You theorize metal is Hemalurgy's pathway to power - however, I think this is conflating your own pathway concept with the focus.

First, each Shard has a pathway to power, not each magic system. A pathway is a substance that delivers a Shard’s kinetic Investiture anywhere in the Physical and/or Cognitive Realms regardless of the Intended magical effect. Focuses OTOH arise from the interactions of a planet and its culture with the Shard that Invests that planet. Focuses shape the magic to cause some Intended magical effect. Some Focuses exist solely as mental commands. Pathways are hoses; Focuses are “nozzles.”

You seem to believe once a Shard Invests a planet the Focus that develops there applies everywhere: “The effects and focus are decided by the planet the magic originated on....” This common theory doesn’t explain how Ruin Invests Nightblood. Nightblood is made from steel, yet that steel doesn’t Focus any Allomantic, Feruchemical, or Hemalurgic abilities (Steelpushing, physical speed, and theft of physical Allomantic abilities).

The Metallic Arts seem the only magic systems in which Shard pathways and planetary Focuses coincide. “Color” (IMO, Investiture-carrying photons) is Endowment’s pathway to power. Yet Awakening’s Focus is visualized commands, not color or photons. Khriss confirms Autonomy forges a Cognitive bond between Sand Master and microflora through water, but I believe Sand Mastery’s Focus is a visualized command the Master sends down this water pathway to shape the microflora’s growth.

I agree not all pathways to power work the same way, just as Focuses differ. As you point out, Ruin magic users do not consume metal like Allomancers do. But IMO a substance that carries all of a Shard’s kinetic Investiture (a pathway) differs from something that shapes Investiture into a single magical effect (a Focus).

On 5/14/2020 at 3:56 AM, Ubeka said:

Clearly, what metal the spike is made of influences what can be stolen or transferred - but so does the hemalurgic bind point.... Perhaps blood? There is the reference that Hemalurgy owes its very name to requiring the flow of blood past the spikes - and perhaps this is where the pathway to power is actually hidden.

Bind points matter for Hemalurgy (and maybe other magic systems), but they are not Ruin’s pathway to power. Bind points dictate spike placement, but the Investiture that transfers sDNA flows through the metal.

Blood slows Hemalurgical decay and is in some way necessary for an effective attribute transfer. But Ruin Invests Nightblood without blood; and Feruchemy likewise is bloodless. Hemalurgy may need blood, but Ruin doesn’t.

On 5/14/2020 at 3:56 AM, Ubeka said:

A similar argument can be made for Surgebinding and its proposed pathway of bonds. Where are these bonds consumed? Also the proposed pathway here is not what provides the Investiture necessary to perform Surgebinding. The Investiture is already available from Stormlight and needs only be breathed in. Now, perhaps the "pathway" is somewhere in that breathing in moment or perhaps just in gems and spheres being able to store stormlight. These are some options I could see.

To review my theory’s elements:

1. Each Shard is a unique primal force/fundamental law/something natural combined with personality/culture.

2. Magic users access a Shard’s Investiture through that Shard’s unique primal force.

3. Once “released,” each Shard’s Investiture travels some pathway to the magic user or an object the magic user wishes to Invest.

Bonds are Honor’s primal force, not Honor’s pathway. Surgebinders access Honor’s magic through the Nahel bond. I don’t know what Honor’s pathway is, though I speculate “Honor” would use some Cognitive pathway for its Investiture.

On 5/14/2020 at 3:56 AM, Ubeka said:

I may have missed it but I think a magic user's actual position in the cosmere is relatively unimportant for how their magic works. The effects and focus are decided by the planet the magic originated on - but the pathway, as I understood it, is defined by the correlating Shard and its Spin. Except for Selish magics (and perhaps Surgebinding cause you can't really get Spren off-world as far as we know), this, to me, does not imply that a magic user shouldn't be able to access and work their abilities off-world, so long as they can get Investiture as fuel. Allomancy and Awakening were shown to work just fine off-Scadrial/Nalthis.

Shard “spin” IMO relates to a Shard’s primal force and not its pathway. Spin (like entropy, stasis, and bonds) is unique to a Shard. Some Shards share pathways like I believe Ruin and Preservation share metal. Regardless, pathways seem unrelated to planets. I agree PR location doesn’t generally matter except on Sel.

@A Radiant In Shiny ArmorBrandon does state color is fundamental to the cosmere. But he also says he’s not changing Awakening to make specific hues relevant. Color may be a “Spiritual attribute,” but its importance to Soulcasting (where hue matters) differs from its importance to Awakening (where hue doesn’t matter).

On 5/18/2020 at 9:36 AM, spaidapig said:

My main problem with that would be, that awakening can be performed everywhere in the cosmere, even the cognitive realm. That would mean, Endowments invested photons are everywhere in the cosmere, and not limited to [Nalthis].

Check out this thread where I go further into Awakening. Yes, Awakening can be performed everywhere in the cosmere; and Awakeners can use any Investiture to program Breaths for animation. But IMO that Investiture must be in quantum form to travel Endowment’s EMR pathway. Stormlight, for example, must be quantized before Vasher can use it. I believe he drains gemstones of their color to access Investiture. Breaths are indivisible quanta of Endowment’s Investiture that IMO can only process Investiture in quantum form. I believe Endowment's primal force – how that Shard gives access to its Investiture – is quantum physics.

On 5/18/2020 at 9:36 AM, spaidapig said:

I believe that it is in fact the sand, more precisely the microbes in the Sand that are invested. I think this is similar to the invested worms on Patji on First of the Sun. The only difference is the way these organisms gather Investiture. On FotS I think it had to do with lake on Patji that acts like a Perpendicularity in some way. On Taldain it is in fact the Sun that provides the Investiture. Iirc the Taldain System was designed by Automony as it is.

To back up my believe concerning Taldain I can only bring up the Sandlings that seem to feed of invested sand to survive without water (It seems to me this works just the other way round like Lifts ability to create Investiture from food.

Lifeforms do live off Investiture; and Taldain’s Dayside sun does Invest the sand’s microflora. Any Investiture (not just Autonomy’s) will turn the microflora white. Add water to the microflora, they grow explosively. These phenomena (IMO) are part of Taldain’s pre-Shattering ecology.

Brandon says, however, these phenomena “are not really using the magic, it's just charging it with other Investiture.” Khriss describes “the magic” as the ability to control microflora growth to shape the sand. This control comes through an Investiture-created Cognitive bond forged through water. (AU, “The Taldain System,” Kindle p. 369.)

Thanks again to all for the questions. Regards! C.

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Any Investiture (not just Autonomy’s) will turn the microflora white. Add water to the microflora, they grow explosively. These phenomena (IMO) are part of Taldain’s pre-Shattering ecology.

Wasn't the Taldain System created by Autonomy? I'm bout not 100% positiv on this but I thought Khriss wrote something like this.

 

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But IMO that Investiture must be in quantum form to travel Endowment’s EMR pathway. Stormlight, for example, must be quantized before Vasher can use it. I believe he drains gemstones of their color to access Investiture. Breaths are indivisible quanta of Endowment’s Investiture that IMO can only process Investiture in quantum form. I believe Endowment's primal force – how that Shard gives access to its Investiture – is quantum physics.

So do you mean that the EMR functions as a sort of catalyst similar to the metals in Mistborn.

That would make sense to me, because in this case, the color doesn't need to carry Investiture, but is indeed crucial for awakening.

Edit: I know you stated this in THIS post, but in the other post you have linked, it seems to me, you say that photons/EMR carries Investiture. But this is against your statement that Pathways are not Investiture, so I'm confused.

 

 

 

Edited by spaidapig
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