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Staenbridge

A case for atium and lerasium on a post-Catacendre Scadrial

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Posted (edited)

Okay, so as most people will hopefully be aware by now, there isn't exactly a lot of atium or lerasium left over from the time of the Final Empire, as of Bands of Mourning. The Pits have not been producing atium due to an unfortunate terrorist attack involving one of the retired miners, and Leras was always a bit of a Scrooge when it came to lerasium. Since then, Harmony hasn't seemed to want to make more, though Brandon's naturally being coy about the why of that. 

Spoiler

Questioner

Could [Sazed] also bring back lerasium beads, if he wanted to?

Brandon Sanderson

It would be within his power to do so, yes.

Firefight Miami signing (Jan. 8, 2015)

 

Spoiler

Questioner

Before Preservation locked up Ruin, or whatever, or if Ruin had won. Would atium exist?

Brandon Sanderson

...There are timelines where there would be no atium.

Questioner

...So if Harmony exists, does atium exist?

Brandon Sanderson

Atium does not exist because there is no Ati. Well there is atium left over from before, but--

Questioner

So it was only part of Ati's body and not part of Harmony's body.

Brandon Sanderson

There is no atium, there is no Preservation any longer, there is no Ati.

Questioner

So does harmonium exist?

Brandon Sanderson

...There's no Leras and there's no Ati, there's no Ruin--

Questioner

Does harmonium exist then?

Brandon Sanderson

Good question.

Shadows of Self release party (Oct. 5, 2015)

However, I'd like to make the case that atium and lerasium will both return for Era 3 and beyond, if not in The Lost Metal itself, and that if not, it would be better if they did. There are three primary strands to this: one in-world, one from an authorial perspective, and one from a reader perspective. That is to say: it suits Harmony's goals, it's a case of Chekhov's Gun, and it would be really cool

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From an in-world perspective, there are good reasons to think that Harmony might wish to return to production of atium and lerasium in some capacity. As a Shard, he takes a much more active role in the management of his Shardworld than most other shards, with obvious exceptions being the three musketeers over on Roshar. The old Scadrian god metals offer unparalleled utility in creating strong tools for him to make use of, especially if he wants Marsh to stick around. Marsh will run out of atium eventually, and a chap with dozens of hemalurgic spikes and centuries of knowledge is a very useful tool indeed. It might also be desirable for Harmony to have other full Mistborn running around, as Atium shadows in an era of guns become actually insane in terms of utility, especially when no one knows that atium exists nor how to counter it. Even if they did, Electrum mistings are not typical combat Allomancers. If Harmony wants atium, then he must also have lerasium, because Atium Seers are no longer born. 

However, this still assumes that he would create atium, but keep it from the wider populace. Harmony may also wish to allow atium and lerasium into the wider Scadrian ecosystem, even if only in very limited quantities. Harmony seems disappointed in how little his people have innovated since the Catacendre; if the converse of this is true, and Harmony wishes for Scadrial to develop, grow, and change, then he may wish to provide them with more "toys", so to speak: atium and lerasium are incredibly potent god metals, and the potential for their use is almost limitless. Remember, they can be alloyed with every other Allomantic metal: for all of the possibilities of 16 metals interacting across 3 Metallic Arts, now you have 48. 

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From an authorial perspective, consider this: we still have many questions relating to the god metals which are unanswered and RAFOed. Some of these, Brandon does not want to answer because they relate to wider Cosmere things, which he either doesn't want to spoil, or hasn't pinned down yet. However, many of them do not. These two in particular stand out:

Spoiler

Questioner

Can lerasium alloys grant Feruchemy?

Brandon Sanderson

It c--RAFO, we'll RAFO that.

Skyward release party (Nov. 6, 2018)

 

Spoiler

Dwarven_Hydra

I asked what would happen if you burned lerasium or atium near ettmetal.

Brandon Sanderson

RAFO! :)

General Signed Books 2018 (Oct. 6, 2018)

If lerasium and atium were never going to feature again on Scadrial, there would be no good reason not to answer these two questions: they both directly imply that the answers will be relevant to some forthcoming book. 

Therefore, I propose that Brandon does still plan for one or both of them to return to Scadrial, or at least that he has not ruled out doing so. Atium would be the most likely, as it is "less potent", but as mentioned in the previous section, much of the utility of atium relies upon full Mistborn and full Feruchemists, which means probably lerasium. (yes atium spikes are an option, but it's also the most boring option). 

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Finally, let your own imagination run wild. It's crazy to ask that on a forum about fan theories, I know, but bear with me here. Atium and lerasium have incredible potential within the world of Mistborn — indeed in other worlds, now that we know that there are worldhopping Mistborn — so it would be such a tragedy if we never get to see them get used to their fullest. 

Picture a cyberpunk Scadrial where criminals on death row are executed by being spiked with Lerasium or Atium spikes, which allow for incredible fusions of technology and magic in new and diverse Hemalurgic constructs; you thought social media was bad? Just wait for an AI super intelligence which can use emotional Allomancy. Harmony is able to equip his kandra agents with a myriad of different Blessings, especially chosen for the given mission and individual — alloys of atium or of lerasium, each providing esoteric and much more specialised abilities than the traditional four. 

Picture a Cosmere-aware Scadrial, where promises of just a few lerasium beads can buy the alliance of an entire planet. Deeper understanding of lerasium and allomancy in its purest form has allowed for artificial Seers to return through the use of metalminds like those of the Southern Scadrians. Public speakers, assassins, bomb disposal teams, professional footballers — everyone in a high pressure environment wants to know the future, and now you can, for a price

Picture Harmony, actually having a good retirement plan for his agents. "Look Wax, I know I've been dragging you through the mud for the last... uh... well most of your life to be honest, but once we're done here I'll give you everything you need to live in peace and I'll never bother you again. Shardic pinkie promise."

Picture Twinborn, but they aren't just Metalborn Twinborn. They're Returned Oracles, Windrunner Coinshots and Lurchers, Edgedancer Sliders (speedbubbles).... The resonances which make Surgebinding such an interesting magic system are suddenly being considered across the entire Cosmere. 

Picture a secret society, selectively breeding humans so that they can train full Mistborn from birth in the use of multiple magic systems; the love child of the Envisagers and the Set.  

Hell, I can't even picture it, but just think about what Lerasium and its alloys, or Atium's alloys, might do as Feruchemical metalminds or Hemalurgic spikes. Would you finally be able to get lossless Hemalurgy? Metalminds for pure investiture in the different magic systems? 

---

If you made it this far, well you've got more patience than me. 

Edited by Staenbridge
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57 minutes ago, Staenbridge said:

However, I'd like to make the case that atium and lerasium will both return for Era 3 and beyond, if not in The Lost Metal itself, and that if not, it would be better if they did. There are three primary strands to this: one in-world, one from an authorial perspective, and one from a reader perspective. That is to say: it suits Harmony's goals, it's a case of Chekhov's Gun, and it would be really cool

The Cosmere looks more and more dangerous. Sazed had probably not expected an alien invasion.

57 minutes ago, Staenbridge said:

However, this still assumes that he would create atium, but keep it from the wider populace. Harmony may also wish to allow atium and lerasium into the wider Scadrian ecosystem, even if only in very limited quantities. Harmony seems disappointed in how little his people have innovated since the Catacendre;

He seems to be disappointed with their technological progress primarily. If, however, he and they have a reason to fear an invasion, war may indeed turn out to be the mother of innovation.

57 minutes ago, Staenbridge said:

Therefore, I propose that Brandon does still plan for one or both of them to return to Scadrial, or at least that he has not ruled out doing so. Atium would be the most likely, as it is "less potent", but as mentioned in the previous section, much of the utility of atium relies upon full Mistborn and full Feruchemists, which means probably lerasium. (yes atium spikes are an option, but it's also the most boring option). 

That is highly debateable as the alloys of lerasium are boring allomantically speaking. 16 new allomantic metals, however, are not.

And how do we know no new Seers are born? Without atium there is no way to test for them.

57 minutes ago, Staenbridge said:

 

Picture a cyberpunk Scadrial where criminals on death row are executed by being spiked with Lerasium or Atium spikes, which allow for incredible fusions of technology and magic in new and diverse Hemalurgic constructs

It looks far more likely to me that executions will be by feruchemy. Death by old age. You will be forced to fill up an unsealed atium mind.

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I do see the return of both, but on a small scale. Sazed keeping Marsh around, selectively making mistborn and/or/maybe feruchemists.

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From a purely Doylistic standpoint, I think the biggest indicator that we'll see Lerasium return at some point is the simply fact that it's supposed "true Purpose" never became relevant and he continues to reserve most questions realting to it for RAFO.  I do think there remains a possibility that by the time Era4 rolls around, there will be skilled enough realmic scholars and Investiture Engineers that they might be able to manufacture Lerasium without Preservation/Harmony's personal intervention.  We know it's technically possible to distill it from the Mists directly, and that it's possible (if difficult) to transform one form of Investiture into a completely different one, per that WOB that you could actually manufacture Breaths from Stormlight if you knew what you were doing.  

All that to say the re-emergence of Lerasium could be entirely independent of the Shard Vessel's will (whomever holds it by then).  By era 4 we are expecting much more worldhopping and cultural crossover, which so very often leads to War, and I could easily see a sort of Manhattan Project trying to re-make Lerasium to unlock some unique (and powerful) Spiritweb modification capabilities.  

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I see Atium returning in The Lost Metal, but not in a continuous way as it was with the Pits. Perhaps some hidden reserve that has escaped the end of the world. The god metal that will be produced continuously for the time being will probably only be Harmonium. But I doubt that we will see Lerasium, after all the plan is that in Era 3 the Mitborns are just legend things. But probably the science of Era 3 will allow Atium and Lerasium to be available again, probably through the distillation of the Mists.

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19 hours ago, Raphaborn said:

I see Atium returning in The Lost Metal, but not in a continuous way as it was with the Pits. Perhaps some hidden reserve that has escaped the end of the world. The god metal that will be produced continuously for the time being will probably only be Harmonium. But I doubt that we will see Lerasium, after all the plan is that in Era 3 the Mitborns are just legend things. But probably the science of Era 3 will allow Atium and Lerasium to be available again, probably through the distillation of the Mists.

I thought the Era 3 plan was supost to be an 80's spy thriller regarding a team of Mistings/Ferings hunting down a Mistborn. 

 

20 hours ago, Quantus said:

  

All that to say the re-emergence of Lerasium could be entirely independent of the Shard Vessel's will (whomever holds it by then).  By era 4 we are expecting much more worldhopping and cultural crossover, which so very often leads to War, and I could easily see a sort of Manhattan Project trying to re-make Lerasium to unlock some unique (and powerful) Spiritweb modification capabilities.  

If Harmony realy want's no Mistborn he can just stop creating the Mists. No Lerasium that way. Or reright everyone's Sprirtweb so that they have a Spiritul block preventing them from accessing the Metalic arts. Like the Kundra have. 

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32 minutes ago, Dancer said:

If Harmony realy want's no Mistborn he can just stop creating the Mists. No Lerasium that way. Or reright everyone's Sprirtweb so that they have a Spiritul block preventing them from accessing the Metalic arts. Like the Kundra have. 

That's an interesting line of thought.  He can certainly just go in and tweak the Scadrian's spiritwebs, as both side of their Creator he is more connected to them than even other shards like Endowment.  And he would certainly be Connected to any mistborn enough to fiddle as he chooses.  But Im actually curious how hard it would be to completely erase the Mists.  The mists, just like the shardpools or Ruin's Atium are sound like they are pretty fundamental to the shard's status as being Invested in their resident planet, and I get the sense that the Investiture needs to go Somewhere.  Preservation had a little lerasium and a lot of Mists, while Ruin had the Atium pits (the production of which was ultimately a trap).  If he were to entirely withdraw the mists, I suspect his Investiture would need some other physical manifestation.  That might be as simple as a larger Shardpool that handles it all, or a boatload more Harmonium naturally growing (however that's happening these days).  

 

 

Quote

 

Chaos (paraphrased)

Why is there such an imbalance between the amount of atium and the amount of lerasium in the world? Also, why are atium and lerasium very imbalanced in Allomantic power (Lerasium is far more useful than atium, really)?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

There isn't. Leras is just spread out further. He is in the mists, in the Well, and in the lerasium. Ruin's power however is condensed strictly in atium.

Ancient 17S Q&A (May 1, 2010)

 

 
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On 27/04/2020 at 7:45 PM, Oltux72 said:

He seems to be disappointed with their technological progress primarily. If, however, he and they have a reason to fear an invasion, war may indeed turn out to be the mother of innovation.

That's a good point, but it does also seem to be a much more deeply set mindset issue than a matter of just peaceful isolation.

However, I do think it is something which Harmony is trying to fix peacefully — as I recall, after Wayne stumbles into a disgruntled scientist, he then gives her a fat load of cash on behalf of Wax; it isn't so unreasonable to think that Harmony is trying to nudge these sorts of interactions to happen more often. 

On 27/04/2020 at 7:45 PM, Oltux72 said:

That is highly debateable as the alloys of lerasium are boring allomantically speaking. 16 new allomantic metals, however, are not.

 

True, lerasium alloys are boring allomantically, but at the end of the day we just don't really know what they're going to do in terms of Feruchemy or Hemalurgy. We don't even know what pure lerasium does as a metalmind, so unlike with the other two Arts we don't even have that as a basis to make guesses from. 

On 27/04/2020 at 7:45 PM, Oltux72 said:

It looks far more likely to me that executions will be by feruchemy. Death by old age. You will be forced to fill up an unsealed atium mind.

That does sound like a pretty fun idea too. It has a sort of Altered Carbon vibe with the rich having access to immortality. Perhaps you'd have a dystopian post-scarcity Scadrial, where age in atiumminds has replaced all other forms of currency, because nothing else is truly valuable. 

On 27/04/2020 at 7:45 PM, Oltux72 said:

And how do we know no new Seers are born? Without atium there is no way to test for them.

We have no indication that people were Snapping for anything other than the 16 "normal" Allomantic metals back when Snapping was a pretty grim process. Since the Catacendre, atium is no longer part of the normal table of Allomantic metals, which suggests that we would never get any atium mistings. 

On 28/04/2020 at 5:28 PM, Quantus said:

From a purely Doylistic standpoint, I think the biggest indicator that we'll see Lerasium return at some point is the simply fact that it's supposed "true Purpose" never became relevant and he continues to reserve most questions realting to it for RAFO.

Yeah, this is probably the best example of what I was referring to. We have these really important holes in our understanding of lerasium that don't seem to serve any purpose unless we're going to see lerasium again. 

On 28/04/2020 at 5:28 PM, Quantus said:

All that to say the re-emergence of Lerasium could be entirely independent of the Shard Vessel's will (whomever holds it by then).  By era 4 we are expecting much more worldhopping and cultural crossover, which so very often leads to War, and I could easily see a sort of Manhattan Project trying to re-make Lerasium to unlock some unique (and powerful) Spiritweb modification capabilities.  

Personally, I think Brandon is going to try to limit this one heavily. It would be a massive headache as an author to try and min/max your half dozen magic systems and come up with resonances for everything. Because you just know that if this were IRL, as soon as it became possible there would be thousands, if not millions, of researchers just trying to figure out all of the combinations and interactions. With multiple planets worth of Cosmere-aware scientists, there wouldn't be any good reason for an 'obvious' thing to have not be tried, i.e. all of the basic combinations of two separate magic systems. For example, why on earth would Selish scientists not have considered every metal in combination with their magics? Allomancy is shaping up to be an incredibly important magic system on a Cosmere level, and they would naturally have a lot of people who can use Doric (Dorish? Dor?) magics. 

6 hours ago, Quantus said:

a boatload more Harmonium naturally growing (however that's happening these days).  

It does seem that there is significantly more harmonium than there was either atium or lerasium in circulation, so it's possible that this is actually what's happened. Without the Pits producing atium, Harmony can just dump a lot more Investiture into his own god metal. 

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On 4/28/2020 at 9:39 AM, Elsecaller_17.5 said:

I do see the return of both, but on a small scale. Sazed keeping Marsh around, selectively making mistborn and/or/maybe feruchemists.

That's how I have always felt it would make a return, very small and subtle. We know from Harmony's conversations with Wax that he's learned over the years that he has to be subtle in how he does things. He has to give his people the freedom to choose for themselves, but at the same time he does things like nudging Wax around a little here and there so he'll be the right man in the right place at the right time. I could absolutely see him creating a new Mistborn, maybe without that person even being aware that Harmony was behind it, in order to either have that person be another Wax type figure, or even to influence events a generation or two down the line, so that Allomancy is running strongly in a certain family at the right time.

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