asmodeus

theory
The Unmagics of Roshar

50 posts in this topic

Note: I restored this from a saved copy I had, after I had completely deconstructed this here. Certain links and tags may be missing or inaccurate. I've also moved on from a lot of the ideas I discuss here - they've grown into a different model. If you received a notification for a tag, I'm sorry, I had removed the tags in the interim and had to re-add them for completeness.

In discussions on the nature of Rosharan magic, some of the many unanswered questions and mysteries are these: What is Voidbinding? What are the Unmade? How does everything we know of Voidbinding actually fit with what we know of Rosharan magic?

In this post, I aim to try and answer some of these questions. But a lot of what I'm about to say is heavily speculated, and so perhaps it would be wise to start with how I went down this road in the first place. About a month ago, some discussion on the nature of the Unmade brought forth this question: What sort of magic are the Unmade using? This entire theory is essentially trying to answer this one central question.

To even begin to fit the Unmade in the greater framework of Rosharan magic, let's first map it out. Others are more suited to answer on the history and realmatics of why this framework exists; I'm only looking at WoBs that tell us what sort of magic systems do exist on Roshar quantitatively. So, here, Brandon says:

Quote

So what do I mean by twenty or thirty magic systems in Kings? Hard to say, as I don't want to give spoilers. I have groupings of abilities that have to deal with a certain theme. Transformation, Travel, Pressure and Gravity, that sort of thing. By one way of counting, there are thirty of these—though by another way of grouping them together, there are closer to ten.

From here, and remember, this is before Oathbringer, and so this is before we saw most of the examples I'm gonna use in this post:

Spoiler

Questioner

How many magic systems are in The Stormlight Archive, and how many of them haven't been seen?

Brandon Sanderson

I would say the only major one you haven’t seen is Voidbinding, it depends on how you count them. I count fabrials as one, Surgebinding as one, and Voidbinding as one. And then the Old Magic is kind of its own weird thing.

Calamity Seattle signing (Feb. 17, 2016)

There's also this, where Brandon is explicitly asked about the magic count on Roshar, and this is a paraphrased description given by Brandon about the Way of Kings in 2009.

Basically, the framework we get looks something like this:

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It is pretty clear where the Surgebinding Chart fits in this diagram - the entire middle row covers all 10 Surges, and groups of two cells in that row cover all 10 Knight Radiant Orders. If you want to fit the Voidbinding Chart, then take the mapping we just did for the middle row, and apply it to the top row. There is an unknown third set that deals with Fabrials, and potentially more, so there's that too. This leaves us with the Old Magic.

There are two primary camps on this that I am aware of - one says that the Old Magic is the old Ashynite magic system of the Humans, and the other says that Cultivation/Nightwatcher's Boon-Curse magic is the Old Magic. To me, this WoB is a pretty strong indication towards saying that the Boon-Curse magic of Cultivation and the Nightwatcher is the Old Magic.

So finally, we come to the actual question. Now that we've got Voidbinding, Surgebinding, Fabrials, and even the Old Magic mapped out on the framework given to us by Brandon in WoBs, where do the Unmade fit?


There was an idea...

The first clue to the mystery comes from Taravangian, and a WoB. This WoB says that Taravangian calls them a phrase in this WoR Chapter 81 epigraph. He does, but he calls them several things. I speculate that the relevant phrase is not “a conundrum, a flair” or a “waste of time”, but rather “Like the spren of human emotions, only much more nasty.” Why?

Consider this WoB. Brandon says the Gravitation works in the way it does because it is filtered through the visual of Honor. This is why lashings are like bonds - you make a bond between a thing and other things or directions, and the influence of gravity changes according to these bonds. And this doesn’t just hold for Gravitation; there are four Surges which have a dominant influence of Honor - going anticlockwise: Gravitation, Adhesion, Tension and Cohesion. All of these deal with bonds in some form or another. Similarly, there are four Surges which should have a dominant influence of Cultivation - going clockwise: Abrasion, Progression, Illumination and Transformation. I don’t quite understand what the visual of Cultivation is to be able to say how it applies to these four. I think it is about serving change, or… well, cultivating. Two more Surges: Division and Transportation, are right on the line, and should have been influenced by both Honor and Cultivation. 

But if this holds, then Voidbinding should have the filter of Odium. And if the Unmade are truly Voidbinding, then his filter of “all emotion and passion” should apply, even if he is not completely right about it. Because that is what he thinks he is, and so that is the direction in which he channels Odium. So, in Voidbinding, all 10 of these Surges should still have the same core theme, the same core idea, but now it will be filtered through this “emotional” visual of Odium. In other words, the Voidish manifestation of… say Transformation, will still be dealing with permanent change brought forth by the interaction between realms, but instead of Soulcasting, where the constituent matter of something changes form (preserving mass), it will now do something Odious, something self-serving, hatefully destructive, and not restricted to affecting only the physical matter of things. 

The second clue comes from looking at Sja-anat, and her Enlightening. The question is simple in nature - if all magic on Roshar has to be either following one of 10 “themes” or fall into the category of the old magic, and Sja-anat is decidedly not at the Valley, then what is Enlightening? 

From what we know, Enlightening is the process by which Sja-anat corrupts spren and men. Now remember, we have two broad descriptors we are looking for in any Voidish manifestation: a.) it should deal with more esoteric emotional or nature-based properties and not all physical properties, and b.) it should be selfish, hateful and destructive by nature. With these in mind, one could say that Enlightening is Transformation as Odium sees realmatic change; i.e. causing permanent change in the nature of something, through corruption. In effect, if Soulcasting is Transformation applied to change the substance of things via their soul, then Enlightening is Transformation applied to (hatefully) change the spirit or nature of living beings, potentially also through their Cognitive aspects. One works on things, and on the substance of those things, through the filter of Honor and Cultivation; the other covers the changing of spirit and nature through the filter of Odium.

If this is true, then the backbone of Sja-anat’s effects is Voidish Transformation. This checks another tick-box: Any explanation of Voidbinding must also cover Khriss's comment in Arcanum Unbounded. There, she says that Voidbinding is a cousin to the old magic. The Unmade powers using Voidbinding as a backbone makes at least one manifestation of Voidbinding a cousin to, or similar to, the Boon-Curse magic of the Nightwatcher - both are not given to men to use as they see fit, but are manifest through powerful spren. And perhaps - and more importantly - it is one more clue in the bigger mystery of fitting Unmade magic in the greater framework of Rosharan magic - perhaps, they each use one Voidish “Surge” as the basis of their effects. 


Exploring Unmade Powers

With all of this, let’s take a look at all the known Unmade, and try and see which core idea seems to fit their effects the most, and why.

 

1. Sja-anat - Voidish Transformation

I covered Transformation extremely quickly up above, and since this was the root of this theory, it is only fitting that I start here. My original pitch for the distinction between Soulcasting and Enlightening was that one works on things, and the other works on beings. Now of course, the flaw in this seems to be that Soulcasting also works on people. Well, yes. But also no. Soulcasting has always been shown to work on the constituent Physical matter, and it does so by going through the Cognitive aspect of said matter and convincing it to be something else. When it works on people, it works on the Physical substance of those people, by changing their flesh and bones into something else. Not on their Spiritual aspects. It always changes a thing into a different thing.

Enlightening, however, is the exact opposite. It changes the Spiritual aspect of a being, potentially also using its Cognitive aspect as an interface. This may also play into why Sja-anat is called the Taker of Secrets. That name may be a clue to the Enlightening equivalent of “convincing the Cognitive aspect” of Soulcasting. My guess is that it involves torturing your victim or manipulating them to get into their heads, and touching their souls through this process. Regardless, Enlightening works on people, and it changes people into different people. It doesn’t focus on changing their constituent physical matter into different matter, but rather, it focuses on changing their souls, and turning them into corrupted versions of themselves.

The other thing with Enlightening is that Sja-anat is still learning its use; it has now been shown to corrupt and affect Radiantspren. So when I say people, I really mean every kind of living being, anything that has a degree of sentience (or sapience, I always get confused between the two). I suspect Enlightening is also what was responsible for corrupting the palace guard at Kholin Palace.

The last thing I wanted to point out was to look at both the Surge and Voidish variants of Transformation, and what they tell us about the general trend in Surgebinding and Voidbinding abilities. Surgebinding powers largely tend to focus on the Physical realm (with some exceptions), using the other realms to primarily supplement their effects. Transportation is a bit of an outlier, but even there, the Voidbinding variant seems to just focus on a different realm over the Surgebinding variant.

 

2. Yelig-nar - Voidish Division

Division is one of two Surges that lies exactly in between Honor and Cultivation on the Double Eye Charts. While we haven’t seen any first person uses, I subscribe to @Pagerunner's excellent ideas outlined in this thread, of it being capable of releasing chemical energy by breaking molecular bonds. This is thematically on point, as Division would then involve the breaking of bonds, which is a line right between Honor and Cultivation - using bonds to affect change. It is also perhaps relevant to note that in an older version of the Double Eye, there were two separate powers - Entropy and Decay, which seem to have been folded into one in the published books.

Coming back to Yelig-nar, there are two primary effects ascribed to him: the first and most spectacular is that it’s host is granted the ability to channel all 10 Surges, and the second is that the host’s body is consumed and crystals start growing out of their bodies.

I suspect that this second effect is the primary use of Voidish Division; to cannibalise souls for power. In much the same way as Surge Division breaks bonds in physical matter and releases energy in the physical world, the Voidish variant, maybe, burns or breaks apart spirit-webs and releases the investiture contained therein. People who cannot control him start having their souls uncontrollably consumed (read: burned like dry firewood) to release all the investiture they contain. In this case, the violet crystals we see growing on Amaram in the climax of OB could be crystalised or solidified investiture (a solid form of what is normally gaseous Voidlight), because the massive amounts of investiture contained in his soul (as a sentient being) are being released at an exorbitant rate, with nowhere to go. There is precedent for this elsewhere in the Cosmere; the pits of Hathsin also grow crystals from a spiritual leak. Atium can only grow in Hathsin once this crystal formation is complete. This and this WoB are also relevant. Credit to @Master_Moridin for pointing them out, and for @Extesian for helping out with looking up descriptions of the Pits of Hathsin.

There is also an indication that those who can control Yelig-nar aren’t thoroughly consumed. This “control the power” aspect could be that with enough will, one may be able to “suppress the flames,” in a manner of speaking. To sort of control this consumption process to only burn as much of themselves and release as much investiture from said burning as they need, instead of the alternative; uncontrollably burning all of their soul and releasing all of the investiture inside. The crystals are a hazard - a sign that the rate of burning is too high. You’re literally producing more investiture, and faster, than you can hold and expend, so it’s finding its own way out of your soul - by overloading the same channel using which the violet-black mist of Voidlight was coming through.

With this said, I don’t think Yelig-nar’s other effect - the granting of access to all 10 Surges - has anything to do with Voidbinding. That seems to be a unique ability given to Yelig-nar by Odium. This makes sense, as the only use of Odium’s manifestation of Division is to generate power at one’s own cost. Voidish Knights may have another surge where they can channel it, but Yelig-nar, by default, has only one. So Yelig-nar can generate power, but has nowhere to put it. Voidlight isn’t a part of any investiture cycle, so there’s no point to it leaking. So, instead, Yelig-nar gets to be an expression of ambition and greed and hunger for power; he gets his own unique twist, one where the massive amounts of power he allows for the generation of can be channelled into something. The fact that he grants all 10 surges creates a big temptation to try and bond him, which is a very insidious, Odium-like manipulation to do. Most people who give into their greed and ingest a gem will probably not have the willpower or “passion” to control him (because of that very flaw of giving in to one's desires), and consequently go on to fail, die, and do damage in their dying throes, and that serves Odium. Those that do control him may be more susceptible to Odium, by having a splinter of Odium bonded to their soul, and that may serve him too.

P.S.: Perhaps this is also how the Fused get Voidlight, and is also perhaps another factor contributing to their souls being so battered.

P.P.S.: This might be a clue to how gemhearts are made in the natural ecology of Roshar - crystalised investiture (stormlight?) that gently, gradually accumulates over a creature’s lifetime.

 

3. Nergaoul - Voidish Abrasion

Surge Abrasion lies on the Cultivation half of the Double Eye charts, though I do not know the rationale behind how its powers match up with the perspective of Cultivation. Though the fact that we’ve only seen this from the perspective of Lift, and that when she wasn’t aspiring to understand it at the time probably means we may have seen very little of its actual capabilities. Surgebinding Abrasion, also called termed “slicking”, allows one to control friction between two surfaces, to the point of completely negating it.

I think Voidish Abrasion is manifest through Nergaoul, in the Thrill. Many people over on the Discord have likened Nergaoul and Ashertmarn’s effects to Allomantic Rioting and Soothing (but not respectively), and while I think the comparison has merit, I think it’s also not completely accurate. See, Rioting and Soothing are manifestations of Preservation’s system, and so while they may work by inflaming or suppressing parts of one’s psyche, they do not cause any permanent harm to it. Preservation protects, and so its magic system tends towards not having the capability to directly cause harm to another - any harm done must come indirectly, and by the choice of the user. Odium however, is all kinds of Hatred compounded in one - his magic will tend towards destructive means to achieve its ends.

So, with the Thrill, Odium seems to be doing something similar to Rioting, but I speculate that this is not how Odium works. Odium would much rather burn then influence - and if he wants one thing to dominate over others, he would rather destroy every other thing than build that one thing up. So this is what I speculate - Voidish Abrasion is targeted mental abrasion of one’s psyche. In much the same way as friction causes its own kind of wound on one’s skin (Google tells me those are called abrasions), Voidish Abrasion can be used to scratch out the outer layers of one’s mind and expose the insides, even if it’s effects can be temporary. Nergaoul for example, could be eroding away the human mind to expose the more primal, feral, animal mind behind it - in some, exposing the thrill of physical challenge; in others, exposing a primal lust to hunt and fight and kill. Skillful use by an actual Knight may also allow this to expose fear, or other primal attributes. 

If this is true, prolonged exposure to the Thrill should also have the effect of actually damaging your psyche - the kind of abrasions it puts on your Cognitive aspect should eventually turn into real holes and cracks, more serious wounds. And this is something we actually get to see happen with Sadeas troops - for them to (forcefully) be bonded to voidspren must have required some kind of hole in their souls. 

P.S.: This may also have played a role in some questions with what happened to Dalinar. With this, Odium left his mind broken and exposed, knowing that even as it heals over time, the scars will remain. Cultivation, on seeing this, may have cleaned and made certain precise cuts to change the course of such natural healing, and affect the final product. Perhaps this is why Odium never noticed her manipulations - he was looking at only the presence of such residual mental scar tissue in a healed Dalinar’s mind, which he was expecting to see. So he was content in merely seeing it present, whereas Cultivation’s work was hidden in the shape of it.

 

4. Ashertmarn - Voidish Cohesion

I struggled with this one for a long time, and my explanation for this still isn’t very good. The idea here comes from a different reading of what the word Cohesion means, and it’s a little… you’ll see as you read this. 

See, I think Voidish Cohesion, in keeping with the other esoteric, mental and/or nature-oriented effects of Voidbinding, allows for the creation of a cohesive, almost hivemind-like entity with the caster at its center. It allows for people to then be influenced by this effect, and feel a pull towards it. To join it, they give up their individuality and become part of a greater whole. Voidish Cohesion keeps this thing together, by allowing to (perhaps forcefully) influence people to give up their own individual emotions and passions and lose themselves in the directions of this greater entity itself.

Ashertmarn’s effects have also (read: mostly) been described as causing an increase in indulgence of all kinds. I think Ashertmarn uses this Voidish Cohesion to create and maintain himself at the center of this Revel, as it’s Heart. However, he doesn’t have the mind to direct it - this is where the overindulgence aspect of the Revel comes into play. Voidish Cohesion isn’t responsible for it. Rather, each of the mindless Unmade compensate for their lack of mind by having given a very strong general focus to their effects. Moelach doesn’t direct what gets shown in individual Death Rattles, he just creates a general pull towards the Spiritual. Nergaoul can’t choose exactly which parts get eroded from any one person’s mind, he does a general thing for everyone. Both of them have a strong, general directive that they push through into their effects. I think Odium un-made Ashertmarn in such a manner that he doesn’t have a direct mind to control this Cohesive Cognitive entity (the Revel) - it instead pushes this overwhelming animalistic need for overindulgence into the Revel. That serves to give direction to the Revel, and what gives it the name. 

Tldr; the Heart of the Revel becomes the Heart of the Revel by Voidish Cohesion, and makes it a Revel by Odious intent.

In a Voidish Knight’s hands, this could serve to do something very similar to creating a mind control aura, by allowing the Knight to expand their mind and join up with and influence other people’s cognitive aspects, or to influence them to join up with his. Thematically, this effect is akin to the evil “will-casting” trope, but with Sanderson’s own unique take on it.

 

5. Re-shephir - Voidish Illumination

I didn’t know how this connected into Illumination, beyond a general sense of Re-Shephir and Shallan matching up in the way they see these powers. I suspect the primary use of Voidish Illumination - in the hands of a proper Knight - is to create Midnight Essence, and to then channel this into creating corporeal physical shapes made out of pure shadow. Why? Because this WoB implies that Midnight Essence is essentially the repurposed titular aether from The Aether of Night.

Thematically, this power would then contrast with Surge Illumination differently than other Surgebinding-Voidbinding power differentials. Most of the time, Voidish powers seem to be focused more in the Cognitive and Spiritual realms, whereas Surgebinding focuses more on the Physical realm. Here, Lightweaving has slight Spiritual and Cognitive components, but most of it focuses towards manipulating Light in the Physical realm to create incorporeal, or like Shallan does at the end of OB, semi-corporeal Illusions. Voidish Illumination seems to also be focused on the Physical, perhaps with even less of a Spiritual or Cognitive component.

The other things is, Re-Shepir creates these shadow creatures using Midnight Essence. And I do not know if these are a part of Re-Shephir's uniqueness, or if that applies to all uses of Voidish Illumination in general. If Renarin's arc is anything like the main protagonist's arc from Aether of Night, then most likely, the creatures will stay with Re-Shephir, and Renarin will be able to do other things with Midnight Essence. Though all of this is mere speculation at this point.

 

6. Moelach - Voidish Transportation

This one is a little easier to connect to a Surge, but very hard to figure out the actual mechanics of. In this WoB, Brandon describes Transportation as a force that pulls you through realms. Now, the Surgebinding variant seems to have two effects: one, to allow someone to transition between Physical and Cognitive realms; and two, to allow one to induce motion. There are indications that Transportation also deals with transitioning through the Spiritual, because it can also allow teleportation over some actual physical distance, and the Oathgates… well, they exist. But until we see this onscreen, I don’t know how that aspect works or looks like (although, if Oathgates are any hint, Surgebinding Transportation, even when using the Spiritual, does not allow one to see it, only to go through it, like a door. Thank @Calderis for the analogy). 

On the other hand, multiple sources say Moelach’s effects trigger only during realmatic transition. Mechanically, Moelach seems to be creating a baseline field, and any within that field feel a constant pull into the spiritual. Anytime you’re crossing between realms, this weak pull is enough to pull your mind into the Spiritual a little, and show you small glimpses of it. I think this is very well foreshadowed in Mistborn, with Elend and Kelsier being able to transcend/transition a little into the Spiritual at the moment of their deaths. There, Atium was the connecting cause - Elend sees a glimpse of the future because his Atium flares; Kelsier sees a glimpse of the past because his Malatium flares. Both these things should be possible under Moelach, his effects seem to be something similar - of pulling into the Spiritual a little and showing a small glimpse of it.

Thematically then, Surgebinding Transportation seems to deal with actually transitioning across realms, which is an effect that may overlap with Voidbinding Transportation. But, Voidbinding Transportation seems to emphasize using this transitional ability to send your mind into the Spritual to see/peer into it, whereas (heavy speculation) Surgebinding Transportation seems to emphasize actually going in and out of the Physical and Cognitive, and (on occasion, and dangerously) through the Spiritual.

On the Discord, and on the Shardcast, others have raised the possibility that Moelach is the Unmade, or potentially one of several Unmade, referred to by the Dysian in the Kaza interlude in OB. I do not know if Moelach can also peer into people and pull out information, when they are pulled towards the Spiritual during moments of realmatic transition.

It is also interesting to note that in Vorinism, seeing the Future is considered of the enemy. And this is one of two known ways where Voidbinding deals with looking at the Future; Renarin definitely does not have Voidish Transportation (right…?), and he’s still able to see the future. His future-sight seems to stem from the Voidish interpretation of Progression (or Time) instead, perhaps as a resonance between Voidish Illumination and whatever Progression he has, because his Progression is also weirdly normal.


Conclusion

At the end of these, we're left with four Surges: Gravitation, Adhesion, Tension and Progression; and three Unmade: Ba-Ado-Mishram, Dai-Gonarthis, and Chemoarish. This means that one of these Surges does not have a Voidish manifestation in any of the Unmade, and there are arguments for why this left-out surge could be Adhesion or Progression. This WoB says that among the Unmade, there isn't an equivalent to Bondsmiths. Which is fair, Bondsmiths are weird. But one could take that to mean that Adhesion is missing among the Unmade, because Bondsmiths primarily focus on Adhesion. Or it could be talking about the Divine Attributes. However, while we don't have much to go on, I would speculate that Ba-Ado-Mishram channels Voidish Adhesion, if only because the one bit about her tells us that she was "able to connect to the Parsh and supply them with Voidlight, like Odium once did."

Another option is Progression, which, I think is the more likely of the two to not get corrupted. If Adhesion and Progression are expressions of Honor and Cultivation, then Cultivation is alive, Honor isn't. If one of these two should still be uncorrupted, it should be Progression. Besides, the fact that Renarin has normal-ish Progression could be attributed to there not being a proper Voidish manifestation of Progression yet.

Another important aspect of Odium having any of his own magic on Roshar comes from this WoB. It implies that Odium had to take certain steps for Voidbinding to even exist. This leads directly into...

The Unmade are Dawnshards

This is not something that occurred to me. I do not know if this is true. But, it is something worth considering. There are several things that make this more likely. For one, there is this WoB, which says that one Dawnshard is not like the others. Then there is the name itself; this WoB has things to say. And lastly, and perhaps most importantly, the Fused most certainly don't Voidbind. This may deal with the history of Roshar a bit, but the reason most Fused don't voidbind may be tied to the fact that Odium hadn't Unmade any of the Dawnshards yet, there was no Voidbinding at the time. Perhaps, it was only through the corruption of each individual Dawnshard that each seperate manifestation of Voidbinding came to be. In this sense, Yelig-nar is certainly one of the first - he grants regular Surges, and he is present during Nohadon's time, which is before the formation of the Knights Radiant.

There is also the line that Dawnshards were used to destroy Ashyn, and I don't know how to interpret that, because a.) it breaks the "dawn" naming convention, and b.) how do you get a Shard to Ashyn without going through the intervening space, when spren are still bound to Roshar in modern day?

I think Brandon is being really coy with the name Unmade. It evokes the idea of the antonym of "made," but I don't think that is the case. I think Brandon intentionally chose the name to give that impression, whereas the real in-world meaning could easily be more along the lines of "made by His unholy hands", as in corrupted, or remade, into a fundamentally wrong form, or in a fundamentally wrong manner.

Ten Deaths

The last thing of any import that I want to talk about, is the concept of the Ten Deaths. This is something that one Knight Radiant mentions in one of Dalinar's visions, in respect to Midnight Essence. I think these are something that was part of Knight Radiant culture and teaching, and had roots in actual dangers they faced on the field. Specifically, I think the Ten Deaths were meant to reflect Radiant lore on the effects of Voidbinding. Because it makes sense, right? Every effect of Voidbinding is basically focused on user gaining at the cost of both their allies and enemies. In the case of Yelig-nar, which any Radiant could potentially have ingested and used (and they even had greater temptation, because of their greater power), the cost comes from themselves too. All of these effects are insidiously dangerous to the Radiants on the field, being caught off guard by Nergaoul or Ashertmarn sounds like a bad idea.

So... yeah.

The End

In conclusion, there is something I want to point out. The Knights Radiant are Brandon’s take on White Paladins - they are driven by Honor, channel divine power, have a selflessness about them, get heavy armor, fall into different categories where some heal, some fanatically seek justice, and they even have Oaths that primarily drive them to do good. 

In contrast, Voidish Knights should then be the quintessential evil, Black Paladin archetype - one that is primarily driven by hatred and selfishness. Sith to the Knight Radiant Jedi. Renarin is a good egg, but he’s one. And we don’t even know much about his powers. The Voidish powers I outline here seem to be much more suited to dark paladins - being able to burn or consume souls for power; to torture people or manipulate people with lies to get in their heads and corrupt them; to be able to mind control a group of people, making them lose themselves into a greater mob directed by the paladin at it's heart; of being able to bring out the base, feral, primal instincts of your allies to aid them in battle, or enhance the fear your enemies feel and break their morale; of being able to twist shadow to their will; all of it.

So, have I succeeded in finding Voidbinding? I don’t know. I’m certain that my specific descriptions of what each Voidish ability does aren’t right on target every time. But I do think that I’m looking in the right place for it. This is also my first proper theory on the forums, and I hope I haven’t managed to get too many details wrong. 

Thanks for reading!

Edited by asmodeus
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All in all this is a very well put together post and theory. It seems that at the very least your close to working out what void binding is if not having managed to crack it yourself.

 Now I myself have not taken a deep look into the Rosharn Magic system or the various surges. I did take note of one thing though. Is it possible Cohesion is actually of Ba-Ado-Mishram? With how the forms of power can effect a singers mental state and how she could connect with the parsh it seems to be more closely related to that surge than Ashertmarn is. While Ashertmarn does effect the people around the, cognitively it doesn't seem like a hive mind as you suggest. A hive mind seems closer to what we have seen Ba-Ado-Mishram. At least in my opinion.

 

Edited by Debarra
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Interesting idea. Not one I'm totally sold on, but it's the most complete framework for this kind of thing I've seen. 

But, well, to be perfectly honest, you kind of had to crowbar most of the Unmade powersets in order to fit the surge. Most conspicuously, you're ignoring the obvious interpretation that Renarin's future sight is Voidish Illumination. Which I consider a pretty serious flaw, because 'Renarin has future sight and doesn't seem to have normal illumination' is the only real concrete piece of information we have about Voidbinding. Like, if we're going down this road, why not just make Moelach the Illumination unmade. And then Re-shephir to Progression maybe? Her power is all about growing minions to do her bidding, and growth is totally progression.

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1) I'm not sure the Unmade's approach to the Surges is going to be the same as a Voidbinder's approach to the Surges, in the same way that fabrials can have wildly different expressions of the Surges than the Radiants do, despite all of them coming primarily from HxC's filter.

2) I map the Unmade to Surges differently than you do, I think Moelach ties to Illumination, since I think Renarin's futuresight is his expression of the same Surge, and I bump Midnight Mother over to Transformation. I actually give Sja-Anat to Progression.

3) I think you're barking up the wrong tree with the Dawnshards, personally. Sja-anat specifically says that she was "Made, and then Unmade", so I'm disinclined to think that Odium made them with his unholy hands directly. I'm not the only one who thinks this, but I tend to think that the Unmade were part of a "class" of ad hoc superspren with the Sibling and that Odium corrupted nine of them. (To that end, I think forming a proper Nahel bond with an Unmade would yield a Bondsmith)

Quote

Questioner

Can the Unmade be bonded?

Brandon Sanderson

Wow, plausible... Yes, or possible, I should say.

Words of Radiance Philadelphia signing (March 21, 2014)

[For what it's worth, I think the "plausible" is a more honest answer than the "possible"]

I think that's all I have for now, I'm always glad when posts like this go up

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21 minutes ago, Gilphon said:

Interesting idea. Not one I'm totally sold on, but it's the most complete framework for this kind of thing I've seen. 

But, well, to be perfectly honest, you kind of had to crowbar most of the Unmade powersets in order to fit the surge. Most conspicuously, you're ignoring the obvious interpretation that Renarin's future sight is Voidish Illumination. Which I consider a pretty serious flaw, because 'Renarin has future sight and doesn't seem to have normal illumination' is the only real concrete piece of information we have about Voidbinding. Like, if we're going down this road, why not just make Moelach the Illumination unmade. And then Re-shephir to Progression maybe? Her power is all about growing minions to do her bidding, and growth is totally progression.

There are two things that speak against that interpretation of voidish Illumination: First of all, transition between realms is the only really well-understood way of seeing the future. The Returned in Warbreaker are always picked after their death by Endowment, given a short glimpse at the Spiritual Realm and then given the option to return. That's how their visions work. Shards, who reside mostly in the Spiritual Realm are also good at seeing the future. Transportation between realms would be a way of seeing the future. Illumination meanwhile is all about "showing things", not "being shown things". Secondly, and more importantly, IIRC, we have seen a Voidbringer in the Rysn chapter in Oathbringer who used Illumination to disguise as a human. Also, Re-Shepir is said to have had a desire to copy things and an implied rivalry with Lightweavers as a whole, that, I think, heavily implies that she is connected to Illumination and/or Lightweavers as a whole.

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Wow, beautifully crafted @asmodeus! The part about Moelach fits the theory most beautifully but it might also be Tension.

Agreed with @Debarra in part, I would link Ashertmarn with Gravitation rather than Cohesion under this theory.

With what we've heard of Ba-Ado-Mishram, she could be associated with Adhesion. She connected with the Singers and granted them access to Voidlight. We've already seen Dalinar do something similar as Spiritual Adhesion by Connecting to to other people to speak their tongue or provide Stormlight to the Radiants.

I would wait to see the rest of the Unmade before anything more solid, though

Definitely agreed that what the Fused were doing was accessing normal Surges, they were also using Stormlight to power it. All the rest of Odium's influence on Roshar were either effects of the Unmade or recently other Voidspren but lesser Voidspren, not Nahel-capable spren's counterpart. Roshar is confusing, especially counting its more magical inhabitants, the Singers, the Dysian & Siah Aimians, whose intrinsic magic is more Adonalsium-derived. I think of the Old Magic as similar to Forgery and Hemalurgy due to how it affects the Spiritweb, modifying it by altering, grafting or tearing it. By that sense the comparison with Voidbinding makes sense since all the Voidspren function as a Spiritual hole (much like Hemalurgy did for Ruin) for Odium.

I've always considered Renarin's future sight to be a more natural side effect rather than a Void-ish Surge, tbh (future sight could be said to be Illumination of Progression). Brandon only ever pointed towards the Voidbinding chart when asked about Renarin's visions, I think people are overestimating the connection. Brandon has certainly done similar misdirections before. Truthwatcher see something. Plus, in the Urithiru gem archive, there was one gem that said "...I foresaw this"

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2 hours ago, Gilphon said:

But, well, to be perfectly honest, you kind of had to crowbar most of the Unmade powersets in order to fit the surge. Most conspicuously, you're ignoring the obvious interpretation that Renarin's future sight is Voidish Illumination. Which I consider a pretty serious flaw, because 'Renarin has future sight and doesn't seem to have normal illumination' is the only real concrete piece of information we have about Voidbinding.

Aha!

I knew this would come up in the comments to this. In response, I will point you to this other epigraph from the Diagram (WoR, Chapter 82):

Quote

There is one you will watch. Though all of them have some relevance to precognition, Moelach is one of the most powerful in this regard. His touch seeps into a soul as it breaks apart from the body, creating manifestations powered by the spark of death itself. But no, this is a distraction. Deviation. Kingship. We must discuss the nature of kingship.

Here, Taravangian speculates that all the Unmade, and by extension multiple Voidish powers, could correspond to having some sort of Futuresight. And this makes sense too, given the predisposition in Rosharan cultures regarding seeing the Future being of Odium. So I don't outright ignore it, I just didn't have much to add in that regard.

2 hours ago, Gilphon said:

Like, if we're going down this road, why not just make Moelach the Illumination unmade. And then Re-shephir to Progression maybe? Her power is all about growing minions to do her bidding, and growth is totally progression.

I did also consider this. And the reasons for me not doing it are several, and all of them more meta-textual. Which is saying something, considering how far out I go in this post itself.

Why did I eventually end up giving Illumination to Re-Shephir? This has more to do with the fact that Midnight Essence is repurposed from Aether of Night. See, there, the exact opposite of Night was Illuminous, an Aether that allowed light based powers. So if it was being repurposed, then it makes more sense for Midnight Essence to play into the Light/Night dichotomy here too. The other thing is that Midnight Essence does seem, by it's very name, to be pure, pitch black darkness (because midnight). And this also thematically opposes the manipulation of Light that Lightweaving allows for.

The other reason is the very evolution of Progression as a power. Earlier versions of the Double Eye chart had an axis on which the two powers were Time, and Life. Just like Entropy and Decay were seperate powers on opposite ends of the same axis. So, if for Division, these two were folded into one, then Progression could very simply have Time as it's core theme. Time, filtered through the perspective of Cultivation becomes Growth, thematically the forward passage of time, and Regrowth, thematically going back to a previous state, but both Brandon flavoured to make them more interesting.

So Odium's take on Progression then, has to have to stem from Time, and not Growth/Regrowth. And there, Re-shephir fails the test.

There is also another curious thing. See, Brandon always describes these as fundamental forces, right? But it doesn't make sense for a fundamental force to be accessible only through a magic system. There has to be a more natural process or manifestation of that force. And this epigraph makes me think that Transportation is the fundamental force that allows all investiture to be pulled out of the Spiritual and be pulled back into it. So, in the Cosmere, birth and death are literally natural manifestations of this force. On birth, it pulls investiture out and threads it through all of you aspects. When you die, it is Transportation that pulls you out of you physical form and into the Cognitive, and then eventually into the Beyond. In Mistborn, Kelsier feels this very pull. So, in the end, I chose to attribute Transportation to Moelach.

 

3 hours ago, Debarra said:

Now I myself have not taken a deep look into the Rosharn Magic system or the various surges. I did take note of one thing though. Is it possible Cohesion is actually of Ba-Ado-Mishram? With how the forms of power can effect a singers mental state and how she could connect with the parsh it seems to be more closely related to that surge than Ashertmarn is. While Ashertmarn does effect the people around the, cognitively it doesn't seem like a hive mind as you suggest. A hive mind seems closer to what we have seen Ba-Ado-Mishram. At least in my opinion.

1 hour ago, Honorless said:

Agreed with @Debarra in part, I would link Ashertmarn with Gravitation rather than Cohesion under this theory.

I did consider this. In fact, Moelach was to me Gravitation, because of the whole pulling affair. It was only that one WoB about there being a force that pulls people through realms that made me start looking at that as Transportation.

As it stands, I see two effects in Ashertmarn - one where he blanks out individualilty and the other where he directs them to over-indulge. It is his name as the heart of the Revel that made me push him towards Cohesion. Gravitation attracts, yeah, but that's where it stops. It doesn't do anything more. Cohesion, by definition, is about how well individual parts behave as a whole. And then there is also the way it manifests - it literally asks you to give up our own Passion, and to join them in revel. To be give up your own individuality and be part of a Cohesive whole. Shallan loses herself in the Revel, several times, and even comments on it.

We haven't really seen much of Ba-Ado-Mishram for me to actually think much about what she does.

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1 hour ago, Kon-Tiki said:

2) I map the Unmade to Surges differently than you do, I think Moelach ties to Illumination, since I think Renarin's futuresight is his expression of the same Surge, and I bump Midnight Mother over to Transformation. I actually give Sja-Anat to Progression.

That would be my guess too.

 

Yelig-nar - the whole wind theme makes me want to say Adhesion. Consuming someone might be seen, in a way, as an ultimate expression of forced, corrupted Connection. Also, maybe manipulating Connection is somehow responsible for granting all ten Surges?

Ba-Ado-Mishram - Adhesion (massive scale Connection)? Transportation (to get huge amounts of Voidlight from Braize)? Cohesion (hive mind)? We don't really know that much about her at this point. We also don't know if each Unmade has access to only one Voidish Surge (Voidbinding)

Nergaoul - emotional Gravitation, focusing solely on battle/competition

Ashertmarn - emotional Abrasion, removing inhibitions

Re-Shephir - Transformation, creating corrupted Essences

Sja-anat - Progression. Enlightening = spiritual growth. She probably removes parts of spren spiritweb, and regrowths something else

Moelach - Illumination. Mistborn spoiler:

Spoiler

We have seen Elend actually transporting himself to Spiritual Realm

and it looks very different from Renarin's ability

Chemoarish - seems like an obvious candidate for Division, but it's hard to prove anything at this point

Dai-Gonarthis - Cohesion would be useful for the Scouring of Aimia, but once again, hard to say. We don't really know for sure if he's even an Unmade

 

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I commend you for the depth and effort of your post, even if I disagree with most of it @asmodeus

I believe most of it we've discussed to some degree in Discord, but the main two points that I disagree on are somewhat fundamental to your theory. 

One, I don't think the unmade are purely of one surge, any more than I believe most spren map to any single Shard or surge. Emotions and concepts don't map that easily in my mind. 

Secondly... 

3 hours ago, asmodeus said:

But if this holds, then Voidbinding should have the filter of Odium. And if the Unmade are truly Voidbinding, then his filter of “all emotion and passion” should apply, even if he is not completely right about it. Because that is what he thinks he is, and so that is the direction in which he channels Odium.

Voidbinding, as a system, should not be effected by Rayse interpretation of Odium. The Shards don't craft their magic systems. It's a natural production of the Investiture and the planet interacting. 

Whatever Voidbinding actually works out to be, it should not be significantly changed if a new person picks up and reinterprets the Shard of Odium, or if that Shard is Splintered. 

Whatever Rayse does or doesn't believe about what his Shard is, it shouldn't be a factor in the magic unless it's a core part of whatever Odium truly is. Like Bonds are to Honor. 

Edited by Calderis
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I think enough of the theory depends on the Odium rather than Rayse that it can hold, at least on that front.

The main thing that runs contrary to it is the part where it only associates the Unmade with a single Surge. The WoB that stands at its base compares the Unmade to the Orders, which had a combination of Surges.

The spren, even the Nahel-capable ones that grant these Surges, were creations of Adonalsium, not Honor and Cultivation, so had bits and pieces of other Shards mixed in. This could, in fact, be why the colour red, which in the Cosmere signifies that Investiture is being co-opted by another Shard, is present as the colour of two Orders of Radiants. Though that might turn out to be unrelated.

However we do see that complex sociological ideas can get translated into magic within the system of Surgebinding. So a hatred-based magic doesn't seem completely unusual, there might be something more central to them though, than mere interpretation. Something like how the Orders seek to emulate a definition of the idea of honor and seek to grow as individuals. Something like not accepting responsibility and "giving up your pain" perhaps? Those might also be a matter of "rejecting" Honor and opening up your soul though, we do know that "broken" people have "cracks" in their Spiritweb through which Investiture can seep through. On the other hand, Odium does sound like his Intent might have more free expression than Honor, so he might not have anything integral to his magic. He might simply be divine hatred divested of context that gave it meaning. Maybe he just goes around corrupting other Investiture rather than Investing his own.

Edited by Honorless
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3 hours ago, bxcnch said:

Illumination meanwhile is all about "showing things", not "being shown things".

Well, no, not entirely. We've see Shallan do some weird clairvoyance stuff with her drawings from time to time, like that time in WoR she drew Yalb washing up on shore and then Shallash destroying a statue. Given that that's possible, and that the other Illumination order is called 'Truthwatchers', which sounds a lot like what that ability is, which implies that it's an Illumination thing, not a Transformation or Resonance thing. Presumably it's an application of the Surge that's harder for Lightweavers to pull off consistently for whatever reason. 

3 hours ago, bxcnch said:

Secondly, and more importantly, IIRC, we have seen a Voidbringer in the Rysn chapter in Oathbringer who used Illumination to disguise as a human.

This, meanwhile, is generally taken a sign that the Fused aren't Voidbinding. Or at least that the powers we've seen them use aren't voidbinding. All the surges we've seen them use work just the Radiant versions, and if Voidbinding is an entirely different magic system, you'd expect a lot more divergence than what we've seen.

3 hours ago, asmodeus said:

I did also consider this. And the reasons for me not doing it are several, and all of them more meta-textual. Which is saying something, considering how far out I go in this post itself.

[...]

All that strikes me as a bit too meta-textual to be persuasive. Which is not to say that its complete nonsense or anything like that, just that there's too much potential for Brandon to have changed his mind about stuff like that for it to be a reliable guide. Certainly not reliable enough to be prioritized over more direct textual evidence. But that's honestly a nitpick that doesn't actually matter; the larger issue is that you haven't sold me on the idea of associating each Unmade with a single surge. Like Ashertmarn and Nergaoul in particular seem to embody specific emotions rather than forces. 

That said, I do find it interesting that Taravangian's wording in that bit you quoted implies that some of other Unmade may have better future sight than Moelach. Which doesn't really match what we've seen, and drives home to me just how little we know about these guys. Like, if other Unmade have future sight that's just as good or better, then that implies that future sight can't be Moelach's primary purpose. And so we get that one of the ones we've known about for the longest has a purpose we can only speculate about.

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I've always thought of Lightweavers' encouraging positive change, "providing spiritual sustenance" and that possible instance of clairvoyance as more Spiritual aspects of their Surge.

What Kaladin did with the Bridgemen, though not necessarily magical, seemed similarly evocative of their divine attributes of leadership & protection. I have similar feelings for Skybreakers' purported knack for separating lawbreakers and innocents. A combination of the kind of people such spren seek out, their perspective, the social structure of ancient Radiants  plus a little bit of idea, which are tangible in the Cosmere, with an entire Realm of Existence filled with them.

Maybe the Orders at the centre, Bondsmiths and Truthwatchers can access the Spiritual component of their Surges more easily or lean towards it. Again, Truthwatchers do see something, maybe they had some degree of clairvoyance, psychometry or even retrocognition.

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4 hours ago, Calderis said:

One, I don't think the unmade are purely of one surge, any more than I believe most spren map to any single Shard or surge. Emotions and concepts don't map that easily in my mind.

2 hours ago, Gilphon said:

But that's honestly a nitpick that doesn't actually matter; the larger issue is that you haven't sold me on the idea of associating each Unmade with a single surge. Like Ashertmarn and Nergaoul in particular seem to embody specific emotions rather than forces.

This is one of those things that I knew I was going to have a hard time getting through, but after spending sooo much time on it, I still don't have irrefutable evidence for it, only circumstantial. Where do I even start with all this?

The first, most basic idea, is that while people only get to be Knights Radiant directly - and so get access to two Surges (as in, there isn't a known magic system on Roshar where you get access to only one surge) - the entire...sort of, organisation of Knight Radiant powers sits on top of the more fundamental Surges. We have a very well known WoB, where Brandon explicitly says that there's not much mechanical difference between how Surges are shared between orders. There's only some slight differences in how two different Knight Radiant orders access a shared Surge. So, for example, Gravitation works the same for both Windrunners and Skybreakers, mechanically speaking.

So if I assume that each Unmade has two Voidish Surges, and believe me, I tried working it out like this too, then I would have to explain overlaps between the Unmade powers, in such a way that say if Nergaoul and Ashertmarn share a Voidish Surge, then it works the exact same for them both. And I couldn't find any such overt pairings. The closest I got was perhaps Sja-anat and Re-shephir sharing Illumination, but it still didn't quite... gel. Or you could say Moelach is the Voidish Truthwatcher equivalent, but that also just doesn't work, there's no reference to Progression that I could find for him. You can try and try and try, and it'll just never work quite right.

Then there's this WoB, and I'll just quote it here:

Spoiler

XS-Terrain

Also, does each of the Unmade have a corresponding order of the Knights Radiant?

Brandon Sanderson

Eh... Kind of.

XS-Terrain

Ok. So there are nine Unmade right, so which one is left out?

Brandon Sanderson

Bondsmith. But it's not as one to one, there's some fuzziness in there.

Oathbringer San Francisco signing (Nov. 15, 2017)

And my understanding of the Knights Radiant has always been that there's sort of a focus surge for many of the orders. They all get two Surges, and they all can use both to do the exact same things in the exact same way, but because of the fact that spren seek specific kinds of people and there's sort of a personality aspect attached to each order in the form of the Divine Attributes, most members of... say Lightweavers would be pre-disposed towards mastery of Illumination over Transformation. This is not to say there won't be occasional exceptions, mind. Mechanically, Lightweavers are not limited in using Illumination over Transformation in any way - this is less of an actual mechanical limitation, but more of a sort of theme, or an outgrowth of the fact that certain kinds of people will always be more attractive to cryptics and so be more likely to be chosen to become Lightweavers over others. On the contrary, there are orders where both Surges play an equal role - Windrunners for example, are pretty much a product of both their Surges; there's no one surge that's thematically and statistically dominant for all members of that order. 

There's also the way Brandon further explains it - that there's not a one to one correlation, and that there is some fuzziness involved. So if you assume that each Unmade has two Voidish Surges, then there's no question at all, there's no avenue for there to be any fuzziness. There's only one order which would match to whatever combination that Unmade has, because no two orders have the same Surge-pair. That just makes it a one-to-one correlation, with Bondsmiths left out. But on the other hand, if an Unmade has just one Surge, right? Just one. Then there can be fuzziness, because then there's an open question of there being two Orders having access to that surge. Then you get a one-to-many correlation. Particularly in lieu of what I said above - of certain orders having thematic focus Surges. Then the entire WoB fits. So Re-shephir having Illumination puts her kind of in correlation with Lightweavers, but there's still fuzziness there because Truthwatchers also have Illumination, and so it's not a one-to-one correlation.

 

4 hours ago, Calderis said:

Voidbinding, as a system, should not be effected by Rayse interpretation of Odium. The Shards don't craft their magic systems. It's a natural production of the Investiture and the planet interacting. 

Whatever Voidbinding actually works out to be, it should not be significantly changed if a new person picks up and reinterprets the Shard of Odium, or if that Shard is Splintered. 

Whatever Rayse does or doesn't believe about what his Shard is, it shouldn't be a factor in the magic unless it's a core part of whatever Odium truly is. Like Bonds are to Honor. 

I know where your arguments would go with this, because as you say, we've had such discussions on the Discord. And this actually seems to be one of the common topics that just pop up a lot there. And I don't a big counter argument either, most of those points are solid.

I can say this: We know from WoBs that Rayse is lying to himself on the nature of Odium. We do not, however, know the degree of this falsehood. Hatred is a very emotional, passionate concept, so it is not unlikely that Odium's manifestations will always be more on the Cognitive and Spiritual side of things. So it really doesn't matter to my theory much. But then youn also say something like this... so, you know. I just wanted to say it too.

I would also say this, though this is mostly speculation: Most systems on planets come about by the investiture of a Shard becoming a part of the planet's innate ecology, to some extent. Odium has not invested in Roshar. He has to have put his power in there somewhere, but I think his solution is a bit of a hack - taking and corrupting existing magic sources and making them his, rather than actually going in and becoming a part of the planet's identity. This fact may have given him more control over his manifestation of magic.

 

2 hours ago, Gilphon said:

All that strikes me as a bit too meta-textual to be persuasive. Which is not to say that its complete nonsense or anything like that, just that there's too much potential for Brandon to have changed his mind about stuff like that for it to be a reliable guide. Certainly not reliable enough to be prioritized over more direct textual evidence.

This here is exactly why I had considered all of it, but never put it in the main post.

Edited by asmodeus
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You're gonna need to back up a step further than that to get at the heart of the disconnect between you and me there. I didn't intend to suggest that the Unmade are the combinations of two distinct surges. What I was saying was that I'm not sold on the idea of connecting the Unmade to the surges in any way beyond the incredibly broad 'well, the Surges are supposed to be fundamental forces, so everything's gonna tie back to them in some way.' Like they could all just be different mixes of all ten surges in ways that are tricky to precisely define. 

I do want to zoom in on Nergaoul in particular here, but I feel like he's the one we understand the most. He's embodiment of the urge to fight. A creature very similar to standard emotional spren we see all over the place, just on a much larger scale. It doesn't make sense to try to pin down exactly what surge the captive Painspren in Navani's Painrail is drawing upon, because it's probably a combination of all the surges in-universe scholars believe go into creating the sensation of pain. And, I'd argue that it's similarly odd to try figure out which surge is causing the Thrill. 

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30 minutes ago, Gilphon said:

You're gonna need to back up a step further than that to get at the heart of the disconnect between you and me there. I didn't intend to suggest that the Unmade are the combinations of two distinct surges. What I was saying was that I'm not sold on the idea of connecting the Unmade to the surges in any way beyond the incredibly broad 'well, the Surges are supposed to be fundamental forces, so everything's gonna tie back to them in some way.' Like they could all just be different mixes of all ten surges in ways that are tricky to precisely define. 

I do want to zoom in on Nergaoul in particular here, but I feel like he's the one we understand the most. He's embodiment of the urge to fight. A creature very similar to standard emotional spren we see all over the place, just on a much larger scale. It doesn't make sense to try to pin down exactly what surge the captive Painspren in Navani's Painrail is drawing upon, because it's probably a combination of all the surges in-universe scholars believe go into creating the sensation of pain. And, I'd argue that it's similarly odd to try figure out which surge is causing the Thrill. 

Ah... I see now. I think.

Well, that's sort of the point of my whole introduction. Brandon says there are close to thirty magic systems, and when one doesn't fit in it, he explicitly points it out, by saying that the Old Magic is it's own thing. So if the Unmade are then their own thing, he would also have... like said something about it. That there's also another asterisk, the Unmade.

And then there is also another reason, and that is simply that from a writing perspective, there isn't much space for Brandon to show Voidbinding and then also a third system if they aren't already seeded in, sort of hidden in plain sight in some form or another. Like we're 3/10s of the way there already, and we've not seen much of several aspects of Surgebinding yet. So there's also that.

Basically if it isn't Voidbinding, and it's not Old Magic at the Valley, and then it's also not Surgebinding or part of the third set of 10, then there simply isn't space for them in Rosharan magic.

Edited by asmodeus
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I mean, the 'third system' has been seeded pretty obviously, it's gotta be the whole 'putting spren in gemstones' thing that fuels Fabrials and various native Rosharan Fauna. And I kinda don't think we're gonna get a super in-depth look at all ten levels of Voidbinding.

But there's a vast gulf between 'the Unmade don't map cleanly on the Surges' and 'the Unmade are their own thing'. The surges are fundamental forces; which means that things that can map cleanly onto a single surge are gonna be rare and usual- most things are gonna be a complicated interaction between lots of surges. I'm sure they are using voidish surges to some extent- A lot of them fall into the similar general themes of manipulating emotions, power at a cost and weird time stuff, which feel like the right kind of thing- but where you're losing me is the idea that they're clean representations of the Voidish surges. They're more likely to complicated combinations of the voidish surges and the regular surges.  

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2 hours ago, asmodeus said:

Odium has not invested in Roshar.

The "ten levels" of Voidbinding make me doubt this strongly. If it were a system based of Braize, it should be 9, like most of his things. 

1 hour ago, asmodeus said:

And then there is also another reason that @TheFoxQR usually likes to point out, and that is that from a writing perspective, there isn't much space for Brandon to show Voidbinding and then also a third system if they aren't already seeded in, sort of hidden in plain sight in some form or another. Like we're 3/10s of the way there already, and we've not seen much of several aspects of Surgebinding yet. So there's also that.

Basically if it isn't Voidbinding, and it's not Old Magic at the Valley, and then it's also not Surgebinding or part of the third set of 10, then there simply isn't space for them in Rosharan magic.

I disagree with this logic. Not that it isn't seeded, but in that it's somehow to late to bring out something that's very overlooked. 

Mistborn spoilers. 

Spoiler

Look at the arch of Era 1. 

The only real hints we had to Hemalurgy before the halfway point of the story was the fact that Inquisitors were still alive despite their spikes. 

Until we learn of Zane's spike, there's not a really big clue that the spikes themselves are the answer, and we don't really start learning about Hemalurgy until book 3.

And none of it felt unnatural or out of place. 

I trust Brandon to bring out something that we've missed completely, or to refit something we've overlooked in a way that feels natural and compelling. 

Edit: more Mistborn spoilers. 

Spoiler

I hadn't actually thought about it in this light... But now that I have, I really can't help seeing the parallel in exposition between Zane's spike and Renarin's futuresight. 

 

Edited by Calderis
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5 hours ago, Calderis said:

The "ten levels" of Voidbinding make me doubt this strongly. If it were a system based of Braize, it should be 9, like most of his things. 

I disagree with this logic. Not that it isn't seeded, but in that it's somehow to late to bring out something that's very overlooked. 

Mistborn spoilers. 

  Reveal hidden contents

Look at the arch of Era 1. 

The only real hints we had to Hemalurgy before the halfway point of the story was the fact that Inquisitors were still alive despite their spikes. 

Until we learn of Zane's spike, there's not a really big clue that the spikes themselves are the answer, and we don't really start learning about Hemalurgy until book 3.

And none of it felt unnatural or out of place. 

I trust Brandon to bring out something that we've missed completely, or to refit something we've overlooked in a way that feels natural and compelling. 

Edit: more Mistborn spoilers. 

  Reveal hidden contents

I hadn't actually thought about it in this light... But now that I have, I really can't help seeing the parallel in exposition between Zane's spike and Renarin's futuresight. 

 

You're missing @asmodeus's point. And then you make practically the same point. I don't think there is a quantifiable way you can say at this point that Brandon hasn't seeded in Voidbinding with the Unmade.

In fact, one of the first WoBs used in the theory tells us that we hadn't seen much of Voidbinding pre-OB, and then we get to see much of the Unmade in the same book as the one we get to see Renarin's abilities in. Just like what happened with Mistborn, they're trying to figure out where Voidbinding is hiding in this one. It's as simple as that.  If Voidbinding is to be shown in the first half, then the third book is exactly the halfway point to put it, and as you say, this is the same book we get to see Renarin's abilities in. Then there is also the matter that in Mistborn, we didn't know to look for the magic, here it was announced at the end of book one, so it doesn't make much sense for it to be hiding until Book 6-7, especially if there's gonna be a writing break in between.

Also, we have a WoB that connects the Unmade and Voidbinding, by saying that it originates with the Unmade, if not always, then usually.

There is enough there to be able go out and try and fit Voidbinding to the Unmade, we've accepted theories that hang by far looser threads than this. It's actually the opposite that seems unlikely - if not here, where? The Unmade are not Voidbinding, but it still usually originates with them? 

Like, looking at the Divine Attributes, it's hard to say how Honorspren are living Adhesion and Gravtiation of all things, if you go by their description of blue people. Or how Honest and Creative leads to cryptics being the living surge of Illumination. But they are those things. Windspren, a subspren, is well known for sticking things together, which is Adhesion. And atmospheric pressure is the cause of Wind. Looking at both the Stormfather and Nightwatcher, you would never say that they both grant Adhesion and Tension, but they do.

Credit where credit's due, this does seem very consistent with what we know. I'm impressed with the sheer research that's gone into this.

Also, I did a quick ctrl+f to see if I missed it, but there's no mention of Braize?

The ten levels to Voidbinding may play into their own myths of Damnation, like how we consider there to be the layers of Hell, with one sin each.

Edited by TheFoxQR
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I think it's all a little big overcomplicated. My theory is that there are two different Odium magic systems:

  • 9-centric Braize Surgebinding. The Fused and most Forms of Power use this. Falls under ten Surges, technically. We have seen this before the end of Words of Radiance (Stormform)
  • 10-centric Rosharan Voidbinding. No longer fully exists (Odium is imprisoned on Braize), but the Unmade (corrupted Investiture, rather than pure Odium Investiture) were never imprisoned and continue to use/provide it. Those are ten Voidish Surges / corrupted Surges / Voidbindings. We have finally seen one example (future sight) in Oathbringer, but it was mentioned before (Hessi's Mythica for example)

BTW Thanks @Calderis for helping me come up with this.

I think the Unmade, as a whole, have access to all ten Voidbindings (I wouldn't be surprised if Ba-Ado-Mishram had all ten herself), but most have a, let's say, signature move based on one particular Voidbinding.

 

Also, one very important thing that I think no one has mentioned: the effects of magic are never filtered through Shard's Intent. It affects how Investiture is obtained or accessed. For example (Mistborn spoiler):

Spoiler

Allomancy is of Preservation and it preserves user's strength by using an external source of power (Preservation's Investiture). The effects are rather battle-oriented though.

On Roshar, Surgebinding (Honor/Cultivation magic system) requires oaths and progress, while Voidbinding would probably require hatred and giving up control ("your pain") to Odium.

Edited by KandraAllomancer
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On the Unmade being a combination of 2 surges, it doesn't have to have a 1-1 relationship with the Knight Radiant.  Like, there doesn't have to be a Lightweaver Unmade, where they use the Voidbinding version of Illumination and Transformation.  It could, instead, be Illumination and, say, Adhesion.  Or Transformation and Abrasion.  This would mean that there are still similarities to the Orders, but there's no 1-1 relationship, and the correlation gets fuzzy. 

 

Just a thought. 

Edited by Tglassy
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8 hours ago, Gilphon said:

I mean, the 'third system' has been seeded pretty obviously, it's gotta be the whole 'putting spren in gemstones' thing that fuels Fabrials and various native Rosharan Fauna. And I kinda don't think we're gonna get a super in-depth look at all ten levels of Voidbinding.

Agree on the first bit. And it would be super annoying if the second happens to be the case after showing Renarin, and the full chart of Voidbinding corresponding to Surgebinding at the end of the very first book. This could hypothetically happen.

I just don't think Brandon would do that to us, ya' know? :ph34r:

 

8 hours ago, Calderis said:

The "ten levels" of Voidbinding make me doubt this strongly. If it were a system based of Braize, it should be 9, like most of his things. 

I disagree with this logic. Not that it isn't seeded, but in that it's somehow to late to bring out something that's very overlooked. 

Mistborn spoilers. 

  Reveal hidden contents

Look at the arch of Era 1. 

The only real hints we had to Hemalurgy before the halfway point of the story was the fact that Inquisitors were still alive despite their spikes. 

Until we learn of Zane's spike, there's not a really big clue that the spikes themselves are the answer, and we don't really start learning about Hemalurgy until book 3.

And none of it felt unnatural or out of place. 

I trust Brandon to bring out something that we've missed completely, or to refit something we've overlooked in a way that feels natural and compelling. 

Edit: more Mistborn spoilers. 

  Reveal hidden contents

I hadn't actually thought about it in this light... But now that I have, I really can't help seeing the parallel in exposition between Zane's spike and Renarin's futuresight. 

 

I didn't mean to say it was a system from Braize. I was saying Odium never did what the Shards normally do when the reside on a planet - specifically investing in said planet. Odium isn't actually on Roshar. Yes, I know we have that other WoB on Shardic residences being weird, but Odium isn't on Roshar in the same way as Honor and Cultivation are. So what I was trying to say was that the way he's invested in Roshar is not in the traditional way that other shards do, but he's corrupted existing sources of magic to subvert them to his side. Specifically, i think the Unmade were originally Dawnshards, one Made for each Surge. And I don't mean like a giant fabrial, I mean to say that Dawnshards were actual living spren, perhaps with varying degree of sentience, each embodying one Surge. So to make his own magic to influence events on Roshar, he went about finding and corrupting as many if these he could, Unmaking them. So his manifestation on Roshar is a bit of a hack, not having invested in it and letting it stem from that, but by corrupting parts of existing manifestations to suit his needs.

So I think it is a Rosharan system, but instead of emerging about in the traditional sense, it's existence is a bit of a hack.

There is another WoB, I think one of the newer ones, which says that Trellium has a Godmetal, but to it to be of another Shard, that Shard has to actually come and invest in Scadrial.

 

2 hours ago, TheFoxQR said:

The ten levels to Voidbinding may play into their own myths of Damnation, like how we consider there to be the layers of Hell, with one sin each.

Intriguing idea. So the levels then are more cultural... like the Divine Attributes but more sinful and dark. Several kinds of destruction? So each of these attributes or attribute pairs can then map to a Surge or Order of Voidish Knights. This is worth considering, I think.

 

55 minutes ago, KandraAllomancer said:

Also, one very important thing that I think no one has mentioned: the effects of magic are never filtered through Shard's Intent. It affects how Investiture is obtained or accessed. For example (Mistborn spoiler):

On Roshar, Surgebinding (Honor/Cultivation magic system) requires oaths and progress, while Voidbinding would probably require hatred and giving up control ("your pain") to Odium.

I'm sorry, but no, I adamantly disagree with this sentiment in the fandom. Most likely, you're pulling from these WoBs:

Quote

Chaos

It's a little odd that Preservation would inherently give up its power to fuel Allomancy, because you'd think he would preserve himself, you know? Does that make sense?

Brandon Sanderson

Preservation, as a Shard, is about preserving life, people, and the like. Not about self. No more than Ruin is about destroying self, or Cultivation is about growing herself.

/r/fantasy AMA 2011 (Aug. 31, 2011)
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.

/r/fantasy AMA 2011 (Aug. 31, 2011)

And people take this to mean something other than what it actually means. I think this deals more with the fact that technically, Preservation's investiture shouldn't even be able to be used at all, because Preservation is all about stasis, about everything frozen exactly as is. That means moving energy from one place to another is technically opposing Preservation. But this is not how investiture works, a Vessel has few limitations on what they can direct the investiture to do, if they're willing.

Similarly, all magic can do whatever it wants, it's not going to be locked into following the exact intent of it's Shard at every step, because that's just not fun. But all magic of a Shard will always in some way try and channel the aspect of it's shard as a whole system. It will always have a tendency to do the things it does in accordance with it's Shardic intent. This is why I posted the WoB about how Gravitation works through the filter of Honor. There is a core fundamental force of Gravity, but how you go from there to actually going and manipulating it is heavily influenced by the perspective of Honor.

This holds for most magic we understand.

Spoiler

Hemalurgy is of Ruin and Ruin he definitely didn't design it, (because that's the next logical thing that's going to come up. That Shards don't get to design magic systems.) Well, true. But then if Ruin didn't design it, and a Shard's magic can do anything it wants, why is Hemalurgy so destructive in nature? It doesn't have to be, and Ruin couldn't push it in that direction. So then why is it so very aligned with Ruin?

Breaths and Awakening have the concept of Endowment ingrained into them - you literally Command something to do something, and you then Endow on it a proportional capability to do so. That's Awakening. You almost uplift something to be more sentient, which is very Endowment-y. And then you could look at that one instance in which Vasher uses it to wipe memory and say that's not Endowment. But it is, it's just not an imperative in every atomic movement of every quanta of investiture in that system.

Sand mastery has a smidgen of Autonomy built into it - you do not get to manipulate every single grain of sand, but each individual ribbon as an autonomous entity, which then manages every single sand particle contained in it so that it actually does what you want it to do as a whole. (Okay, this one's sketchy. But we haven't seen enough of it to know much about Taldaish magic or Autonomy either, so frankly, this should be a pass.)

 

55 minutes ago, KandraAllomancer said:

I think it's all a little big complicated. My theory is that there are two different Odium magic systems:

  • 9-centric Braize Surgebinding. The Fused and most Forms of Power use this. Falls under ten Surges, technically. We have seen this before the end of Words of Radiance (Stormform)
  • 10-centric Rosharan Voidbinding. No longer fully exists (Odium is imprisoned on Braize), but the Unmade (corrupted Investiture, rather than pure Odium Investiture) were never imprisoned and continue to use/provide it. Those are ten Voidish Surges / corrupted Surges / Voidbindings. We have finally seen one example (future sight) in Oathbringer, but it was mentioned before (Hessi's Mythica for example)

Again, this can't be, not without Voidbinding breaking everything we know of Rosharan magic. We know there's only (pfft, only) 30-ish systems in Stormlight, this is fundamental enough for it to be a part of Brandon's original pitch back in 2009. So on the map there's no place for there to be two seperate manifestations of Voidbinding. And I honestly don't think that there's any place in the 10 Books for there to be even more variations for different planets. We've barely understood one system as is, and have 2 more to go. And this makes that number even higher.

 

47 minutes ago, Tglassy said:

On the Unmade being a combination of 2 surges, it doesn't have to have a 1-1 relationship with the Knight Radiant.  Like, there doesn't have to be a Lightweaver Unmade, where they use the Voidbinding version of Illumination and Transformation.  It could, instead, be Illumination and, say, Adhesion.  Or Transformation and Abrasion.  This would mean that there are still similarities to the Orders, but there's no 1-1 relationship, and the correlation gets fuzzy. 

This is one of those things that technically could be, but also can't be from what we know. The Surges seem to be a cyclical spectrum, with the Knights radiant Orders just covering a larger, shifted continuous slices. This is the relevant WoB:

Quote

Khyrindor (paraphrased)

Do the Honorblades reflect the natural pairing of Surges, or did Honor decide which Surge pair to put in each Blade?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

The pairs are natural to Roshar in the same way as the metals on Scadrial.

When Worlds Collide 2014 (Aug. 9, 2014)

So, yes, theoretically what you say could definitely be true. Except we have a Voidbinding chart which follows the exact same pattern, and it wouldn't make sense for another aspect of this already esoteric system to break this pattern without any intimation that it is possible for the pattern to be broken.

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16 minutes ago, asmodeus said:

This holds for most magic we understand.

Brandon's quote is specifically "The 'role' of the Shard has to do with the WAY the magic is obtained, not what it can do."

Spoiler

The destructive part of Hemalurgy is how it's obtained. And the Hemalurgic Decay. How you get magic, not what it does.

To Awaken, you have to be given Breaths and give them away. Then you can create very un-Endowment things, like the Nightblood. Once again, how you get/use magic, not what it does.

 

23 minutes ago, asmodeus said:

Again, this can't be, not without Voidbinding breaking everything we know of Rosharan magic. We know there's only (pfft, only) 30-ish systems in Stormlight, this is fundamental enough for it to be a part of Brandon's original pitch back in 2009. So on the map there's no place for there to be two seperate manifestations of Voidbinding. And I honestly don't think that there's any place in the 10 Books for there to be even more variations for different planets. We've barely understood one system as is, and have 2 more to go. And this makes that number even higher.

Braize system, as far as we know, is only a slightly modified Surgebinding. Designed by Honor, I presume, to punish Odium and siphon his power. And I honestly don't see any other explanation for 9-centric magic (the Fused) and 10 Voidbindings.

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6 hours ago, asmodeus said:

This is one of those things that technically could be, but also can't be from what we know. The Surges seem to be a cyclical spectrum, with the Knights radiant Orders just covering a larger, shifted continuous slices.

Sure.  Because it's not like someone went and Unmade something that was the natural order and corrupted it into his own designs.

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16 hours ago, TheFoxQR said:

You're missing @asmodeus's point. And then you make practically the same point. I don't think there is a quantifiable way you can say at this point that Brandon hasn't seeded in Voidbinding with the Unmade.

And I didn't say that. My reiterating of his underlying point is stating the part of what he said is something that I agree with... But that like in Mistborn what emerges will be something that seems both natural and seemingly obvious in retrospect. Which I don't think this is.

16 hours ago, TheFoxQR said:

There is enough there to be able go out and try and fit Voidbinding to the Unmade, we've accepted theories that hang by far looser threads than this. It's actually the opposite that seems unlikely - if not here, where? The Unmade are not Voidbinding, but it still usually originates with them? 

I'm not disagreeing with almost any of that. The only point I disagree with is that the powers that the Unmade use need be voiding just because they are the source. 

Again, Mistborn spoilers. 

Spoiler

Spikes are Hemalurgy, but the powers they produce in people aren't. 

Considering the things we've begun seeing, and the hints we get in this book, I think that the Unmade are usually the source of Voidbinding because they are the key to reaching the "Void." 

The state we see Moash in. The state that Odium wanted to put Dalinar in. The state that, in retrospect, it seems Lin Davar was in. 

Quote

“I’ve found a way to control myself,” her father said. “I just have to let the anger out. I can’t blame myself for that anger. Others create it when they disobey me.”

We know an Unmade was involved with the Davar household, and that justification sounds an awful lot like "it's not my fault" from Moash, and "it's not your fault" from Odium to Dalinar. 

When paired with this from the Elia Stele... 

Quote

Beware the otherworlders. The traitors. Those with tongues of sweetness, but with minds that lust for blood. Do not take them in. Do not give them succor. Well were they named Voidbringers, for they brought the void. The empty pit that sucks in emotion. A new god. Their god.
—From the Eila Stele

So, personally, I think the Unmade are the source if Voidbinding because of an effect they have, not the powers they use. 

And why should they be? Yes, we've seen windspren and Syl use Adhesion. But the closest we've seen to any of the others using their powers is jn their physical forms, with Wyndle appearing as growing vines... But pattern grants access to illumination and yet can't actually hide himself, or transform anything. Ivory changes size, but not composition. Timbre...??? 

I can't think of a single instance outside of Adhesion that we actually see a spren use a power they grant access to. Why should the Unmade be different, when they are also just larger spren? Why should the Nightwatcher grant access to Tension and Cohesion and not the old magic? 

I think the Unmade are more akin to the Nightwatcher in this fact. Their powers are just them as spren. They don't need to map to what they grant in any way. 

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9 hours ago, Calderis said:

Considering the things we've begun seeing, and the hints we get in this book, I think that the Unmade are usually the source of Voidbinding because they are the key to reaching the "Void." 

The state we see Moash in. The state that Odium wanted to put Dalinar in. The state that, in retrospect, it seems Lin Davar was in. 

That is a vital part, I agree. But there is more to it. At the very least, Ba-Ado-Mishram provided Voidlight and Forms of Power to the Singers during the False Desolation.

9 hours ago, Calderis said:

So, personally, I think the Unmade are the source if Voidbinding because of an effect they have, not the powers they use. 

And why should they be? Yes, we've seen windspren and Syl use Adhesion. But the closest we've seen to any of the others using their powers is jn their physical forms, with Wyndle appearing as growing vines... But pattern grants access to illumination and yet can't actually hide himself, or transform anything. Ivory changes size, but not composition. Timbre...??? 

I can't think of a single instance outside of Adhesion that we actually see a spren use a power they grant access to. Why should the Unmade be different, when they are also just larger spren? Why should the Nightwatcher grant access to Tension and Cohesion and not the old magic? 

To be fair, Nightwatcher is special, as she grants access to two very different magic systems. Stormfather on the other hand... I can definitely see similarities between Highstorms, Merging the Realms by Dalinar and the Stormforms summoning the Everstorm. The underpinning theme here seems to be Adhesion.

As for the Unamade, some of their powers seem similar enough to pure Voidbinding (Moelach is a striking example), while other have more unique skills. I still think that these skills are ultimately based on Voidbindings. I treat Sja-anat's Enlightening as an expression of Voidbinding's equivalent of Progression, even if it probably provides a very different effect for human/singer Voidbinders.

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