Lanaya

How did ancient Radiants + Heralds break?

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Hey everyone so I just finished reading RoW and after seeing Ishar seamlessly evade a few windrunners (he was purely defending and toying with them) and hear the stormfather say that Ishar was 'average' amongst the heralds...I am wondering how odium + fused did so much damage to break them? Kaladin is currently equal to the best heavenly one in combat (Leshwi) without the 4th ideal and I believe there were ancient radiants that already had already sworn the 4th ideal. Also, Urithiru seemed like a stable base for the ancient radiants + heralds while it has barely been explored by the current interation.

It just seems strange to me that raw skill + information + organization + numbers were on the side of the old but the new generation is faring better. Please help me understand! Thanks.

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11 minutes ago, Lanaya said:

Hey everyone so I just finished reading RoW and after seeing Ishar seamlessly evade a few windrunners (he was purely defending and toying with them) and hear the stormfather say that Ishar was 'average' amongst the heralds...I am wondering how odium + fused did so much damage to break them? Kaladin is currently equal to the best heavenly one in combat (Leshwi) without the 4th ideal and I believe there were ancient radiants that already had already sworn the 4th ideal. Also, Urithiru seemed like a stable base for the ancient radiants + heralds while it has barely been explored by the current interation.

It just seems strange to me that raw skill + information + organization + numbers were on the side of the old but the new generation is faring better. Please help me understand! Thanks.

Honestly I don't know what to tell you, the best answer I have is that maybe the Unmade were more active back then, and Humans were a lot worse and Singer were a lot better. But even then it's not an entirly satisfactory answer, I personally think it's a flaw in the writing.

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I feel like the Fused lost a step after not fighting a Desolation for 4,500 years. We really have no idea what ended up happening all those years when they were stuck with just Taln. 

It’s like watching a professional athlete that used to be the best in the league come out of a 5 year retirement and realizing that are way out of practice. 

And in RoW it also seems like many of the Fused are just as eager for the war to end as anyone else. They’re all sick of fighting endlessly, just like the Heralds were. 

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Yes I like the idea of the humans being weaker (makes sense since we had thousands of years of progression since the last desolation while the old humans were facing it frequently). Also, the fused/unmade being stronger in the past also makes sense since they didn't just wake up from such a long sleep.

However, the idea of a 'bondsmith unchained' seems so powerful. Ishar was going to steal Stormfather's bond from Dalinar which seems super OP. Nale overwhelming Szeth (who is a top 2 fighter currently) seems insane. I would love to know how the elsecaller herald performed in battle since transforming seems to do really well in a large battlefield. I still feel Urithiru should have been the biggest advantage for the old generation to lean on since its impregnable if the defenses are up.

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If I had to guess, I'd say the main reason humans were slowly being eradicated is because of the Singer's unique attributes that would allow them to recover from the Desolations better than humans. Singers have much more control over birth rates through regulation of mate form. Singers also mature at an earlier age than humans, so any efforts to repopulate are going to work quicker on average compared to humans. They also can switch their populace to work form to rebuild infrastructure. Humans on the other hand likely have a lengthier courting and mating process and need education/training before they'd be effective at rebuilding society. So, by the time Aharietiam happened, I'd guess the Singers outnumbered humans. While Heralds and upper tier Knights were extremely formidable, they can't fight a war with a serious disadvantage in numbers. Especially when the other side had Fused and Unmade who cancelled out the Heralds and Knights to a certain degree. 

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Posted (edited)

I want to point out, humans did win every desolation. Yeah, with every desolation the Singers got closer to victory, but they still lost every time. The Heralds went to Braize by choice at the end of each of them and then had to fight alone, and its only then that their weaknesses can more easily be exploited. For example, we don't know if the Heralds have bodies on Braize. Maybe the do, maybe they remain just cognitive entities like spren, and in which case, they might be a lot less capable. Or, they could keep their bodies, but the environment on Braize is so hostile that their regenerative abilities are pushed to their limit just to survive their, and their strength and skill degrades the longer they're on the planet. Or after so many times of the Fused getting lucky and capturing them, maybe the later desolations didn't even require them to be tortured, but they gave in merely upon being captured. There are just too many variables, and no matter how invincible the heralds may seem they are still just people who make mistakes and have fears and vulnerabilities. Plus, we can't ignore the power of sheer numbers. There's a huge difference between fighting one person less skilled than you and two people less skilled than you. When it comes to the Heralds, even if they can fight a thousand soldiers it might be the one-thousand-first person that turns the tide.

Edited by HSuperLee
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Yes all good points, the singers would eventually get the numerical advantage as the years passed by. And as per the first chapter, Kelek had already reached a certain madness and wasn't willing to go to Braize. In prior desolations, the fused had to wait until the next desolation to respawn if they died so if I was planning for a desolation, I would try to fight as many small scale battles as I could to suppress the number advantage and wipe out as many fused as possible.

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12 minutes ago, Lanaya said:

Yes all good points, the singers would eventually get the numerical advantage as the years passed by. And as per the first chapter, Kelek had already reached a certain madness and wasn't willing to go to Braize. In prior desolations, the fused had to wait until the next desolation to respawn if they died so if I was planning for a desolation, I would try to fight as many small scale battles as I could to suppress the number advantage and wipe out as many fused as possible.

fused could return, but it took a long time.

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Posted (edited)

28 minutes ago, Frustration said:

fused could return, but it took a long time.

I mean kind of. I know you know this, Frustration, so for those that don't remember, the Fused could return during the desolations until at least one of the Heralds either died or voluntarily went back to Braize to hold them back. 

Edited by HSuperLee
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1 hour ago, HSuperLee said:

I want to point out, humans did win every desolation. Yeah, with every desolation the Singers got closer to victory, but they still lost every time. 

I mean that depends on how you define winning, I'd say it's more that they survived each desolation. And at some point they started losing more than they were able to rebuild before the next one. The question here isn't if the humans were losing, it's how they were losing with what appear to be better circumstances than the current Radiants. 

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The power difference between a Herald and a Fused is probably not that higher than the difference between a Shardbearer and a solider, and these do sometime die

Also, aside from Pailiah and Vedel, Heralds can get OS by thundercasts

Also, Unmades

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In the past desolations, Heralds went through and prepared the humans, Fused came in and took over the singers, and the two armies clashed as equals and decimated each other until the Heralds died and went back to Braize. This one is different for several reasons.

In previous desolations, the human and singer forces were more balanced. Heralds were able to return first and prepare the humans and add to the ranks of the Knights Radiant. Balanced wars are brutal.

In the current war, humans have grown substantially, but have no real defensive answer for the Fused. Since the Heralds didn't come back early and prepare the field, human cities have fallen easily to the Everstorm, Fused and Regals. Oh yeah, the Everstorm is completely new and presents an insurmountable obstacle to mounting a defense against the Fused. Lopsided wars aren't nearly as brutal.

On the other side, the singer army is not nearly as ready and malleable as it was in the past. They grew up around humans, empathize with their previous slavers. Getting them to fight against humans has been more difficult than Odium anticipated. Radiants are building up their power and learning how to make use of it, and a few of them seem to have greater power than they did in Desolations past. However, human leaders have been hesitant to create collateral damage, so the real war hasn't really started yet. Then Dalinar makes a deal to end the war in 10 days. The power and knowledge of each side is evening out and these final 10 days will be balanced and brutal.

20 hours ago, Frustration said:

fused could return, but it took a long time.

Just clarifying: Odium had to actively return dead Fused from his prison on Braize. Now, the Everstorm does the returning so the Fused never have to make the journey back to Braize.

 

19 hours ago, mathiau said:

The power difference between a Herald and a Fused is probably not that higher than the difference between a Shardbearer and a solider, and these do sometime die

Also, aside from Pailiah and Vedel, Heralds can get OS by thundercasts

Also, Unmades

Heralds are orders of magnitude more powerful than the Fused. There aren't enough of them and the Fused keep returning until they're locked up again. Once the Fused are locked up, the remaining singer forces without Fused still battled the remaining human forces without Heralds. So the Heralds made sure the humans were up for the battle, tried to battle back the forces and create defensible space while they were there, then got killed and returned to Braize to remove the Fused threat. Humans and singers would then fight until exhausted, then retreat to their corners to lick their wounds until the next Return. I'm certain Heralds died on accident sometimes, but I'm willing to bet that most of the time they waited until every possible human defense was set, then picked a time to all die and return to Braize.

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21 hours ago, HSuperLee said:

I want to point out, humans did win every desolation. Yeah, with every desolation the Singers got closer to victory, but they still lost every time. 

I was gonna say this. They won every time. What made the Heralds quit was all the torture in between. 

This time it's easier because the humans had more time in between to recover and the Singers were all virtually braindead so they are building armies and societies from scratch. Humans had standing armies at the start of this desolation, Singers were all slaves with no armies. 

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If this is true why was each desolation so bad humanity forgot literally everything.

if it was an easy win they woudnt have forgotten so much I:e how to cast bronze, how to lead...

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17 minutes ago, Leuthie said:

Heralds are orders of magnitude more powerful than the Fused.

If this was true Nale would have killed Dalinar already

I agree with everything else you said though

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1 hour ago, mathiau said:

If this was true Nale would have killed Dalinar already

Nale's barely trying. He hasn't used Division a single time, he dismissed his Shardblade when fighting, etc.

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On 4/1/2021 at 11:59 AM, Bejardin1250 said:

why was each desolation so bad humanity forgot literally everything.

That one's actually pretty easy: Destroy the wrong city or kill the wrong people, and everything falls apart.

Take your computer, consider all the various parts that are necessary for it to function, then go backwards. Take one of those parts, and consider the parts/steps necessary for those to be created/function. Consider the specialized knowledge and equipment that's needed to do all of this. If you lose the ability to do one of those steps, the entire process grinds to a halt. Obviously things were less advanced than computers back then, but there's still a lot of complex operations involved in running each of the Silver Kingdoms.

Kill people who know how to make the infrastructure, kill people who know how to use the infrastructure, destroy the infrastructure, destroy tools needed to make the infrastructure, destroy texts that contain info on the hows/whys, kill people who decide what infrastructure is important, destroy something that actually is more important, any combination of these could prevent or delay rebuilding long enough that the specific knowledge could be lost, especially when you consider that Desolations started happening more often in the later centuries, compounding those losses with each successive Return.

Quote

THE CYCLE REPEATED. AT FIRST THE RESPITE BETWEEN DESOLATIONS WAS LONG. HUNDREDS OF YEARS. NEAR THE END, DESOLATIONS CAME SEPARATED BY FEWER THAN TEN YEARS. THERE WAS LESS THAN ONE YEAR BETWEEN THE LAST TWO.

Oathbringer, Chapter 38: Broken People

Based on the Stormfather quote above, they could've experienced upwards of 5 Desolations in the final century alone. The early Returns may very well have been relatively easy to bounce back from, but the modern characters simply don't have any record of that because so much of it was lost in the devastation at the end. The modern Vorin Church lacks the critical information, and simply assumes that the Desolations detailed in the records they do have are indicative of the ones that they don't.

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Posted (edited)

On 4/3/2021 at 7:20 PM, The One Who Connects said:

The early Returns may very well have been relatively easy to bounce back from, but the modern characters simply don't have any record of that because so much of it was lost in the devastation at the end. The modern Vorin Church lacks the critical information, and simply assumes that the Desolations detailed in the records they do have are indicative of the ones that they don't.

Nitpick: The pre-Radiant ones seem to be very very bad, considering Nohadon lost 90% of his population, and this was when Surgebinders were starting to be a thing. It's possible that the middle ones, where they had the Radiants but the Desolations were still coming further apart, could be less bad.

 

Something to keep in mind is the Unmade. The Midnight Essences in the Starfalls vision were capable of digging into and cracking Shardplate, and we know that Midnight Essence can even be "extracted" and used by someone besides Re-Shephir herself (as happened in that vision, actually). Ashertmarn was probably used during the starts of Desolations to collapse important centers, like happened in Kholinar. Nergaoul could exploit tensions between kingdoms and have the humans decimate themselves. Yelig-nar can grant someone all ten Surges, which in the right hands could be very deadly, especially if he attacks a place that is mostly undefended (it's mentioned in the Nohadon vision that almost every scribe he had was slaughtered during Yelig-nar's break-in, which would be a pretty massive setback in terms of keeping knowledge around). And some of the Unmade are still mysteries.

Ultimately, though, I do agree that the Radiants at Fourth Ideal and above should not have much of a hard time when they go all-out, especially the flying orders, and I'm curious how they were effectively countered.

Edited by LewsTherinTelescope
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I think there are a number of things that would have increased the performance of Odium's forces in the past

(1) More sane Fused.  Both in terms of numbers, as well as individual sanity.

(2) Thunderclasts.  From the wiki: "They were powerful enough to pose dangers even to the Heralds, with Kelek in particular dying to them several times".  So far they have been mostly absent

(3) The Singers hadn't spent the last few thousand years in slaveform.  A warform Singer probably has an advantage over a human soldier given equal training and weapons.  A warform singer also has built in armor.

(4) More Regals.  Humans might have the advantage in topline strength with the Knights Radiant.  But Odium would have the advantage in numbers of mid-tier troops.

(5) Gemstones.  Necessary for holding stormlight.  Maybe gemstones were less common, or less well cut, so Radiants had to be more careful of using stormlight in battle.

(6) Overrating of Knights Radiant combat abilities.  Windrunners are one of the top fighting orders, and Kaladin was basically a prodigy even before becoming a Radiant.  Jasnah, even at the 4th oath, was not as impressive.

(7) Ba-Ado-Mishram: Powerful enough to basically power a desolation on her own.  Currently imprisoned.  What did she do during the desolations?

(8) Increased human technology.  Bottom line human soldiers probably have better weapons and armor. See point 3.  

(9) No shardbearers.

So in summary.  Odium probably had better lower end and mid-tier troops.  While humans would probably had better higher end troops with the Heralds and upper-oath Knights Radiant.

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It doesn't matter how much ass you can kick when you've got a big strong body and superpowers and Shards, if you're spending centuries being flayed alive by a hurricane made of hate. You're going to snap.

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The damage done during the desolatons was not military.  Who won or lost a given battle is actually not particularly relevant when all of the physicians, farmers, and scholars are dead and the political landscape is too unstable for any lasting peace or alliance to be maintained. 

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1 hour ago, Karger said:

The damage done during the desolatons was not military.  Who won or lost a given battle is actually not particularly relevant when all of the physicians, farmers, and scholars are dead and the political landscape is too unstable for any lasting peace or alliance to be maintained. 

So this is where I argue for Urithiru. Shouldn't the heralds + radiants recognized that this place is the best base of operations they have? Shouldn't they have tried to recruit everyone they could to this tower? I doubt the people would disagree to go if they were asked by a god/radiant.

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Posted (edited)

On 4.4.2021 at 2:20 AM, The One Who Connects said:

That one's actually pretty easy: Destroy the wrong city or kill the wrong people, and everything falls apart.

Take your computer, consider all the various parts that are necessary for it to function, then go backwards. Take one of those parts, and consider the parts/steps necessary for those to be created/function. Consider the specialized knowledge and equipment that's needed to do all of this. If you lose the ability to do one of those steps, the entire process grinds to a halt.

But shouldn't Urithiru have been the repository of critical knowledge?  It never fell during either the true or the false Desolations. It was a big self-sustaining city. If they kept both the written records/manuals and a pool of people with requisite skills safe there, and had them train as many others as possible after a Desolation was over, they should have been able to maintain their tech level. It wouldn't have worked with 19th century and later technologies, but keeping  everything before that should have been doable.

The singers had an advantage back before the advent of the Radiants that the Fused, who were still largely sane, came back with their artisan/technological skills undiminished and could quickly re-teach them to their people, since they numbered in the thousands. The Heralds just didn't have the time for that, with there being just 10 of them.

Still, it does seem very odd that during the False Desolation the singers under Bo-Ado-Mishram's leadership were able to successfully oppose the Radiants even without the Fused, with just the Regals. Because in SoA newbie Radiants seem to greatly outclass the Fused and are all but unkillable. Sure, the Regals back then were likely much more capable, but they'd still die easily compared to the Radiants and unlike the Fused, they couldn't come back, so with every one lost, their skill and knowledge would have been lost too. I hope that Sanderson provides a good explanation for this discrepancy, beyond it being a hoary fantasy/video game trope that unlikely heroes are always much better and quickly grow to be dratsically more powerful than trained professionals.   

Edited by Isilel
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On 4/3/2021 at 8:20 PM, The One Who Connects said:

That one's actually pretty easy: Destroy the wrong city or kill the wrong people, and everything falls apart.

Take your computer, consider all the various parts that are necessary for it to function, then go backwards. Take one of those parts, and consider the parts/steps necessary for those to be created/function. Consider the specialized knowledge and equipment that's needed to do all of this. If you lose the ability to do one of those steps, the entire process grinds to a halt. Obviously things were less advanced than computers back then, but there's still a lot of complex operations involved in running each of the Silver Kingdoms.

Kill people who know how to make the infrastructure, kill people who know how to use the infrastructure, destroy the infrastructure, destroy tools needed to make the infrastructure, destroy texts that contain info on the hows/whys, kill people who decide what infrastructure is important, destroy something that actually is more important, any combination of these could prevent or delay rebuilding long enough that the specific knowledge could be lost, especially when you consider that Desolations started happening more often in the later centuries, compounding those losses with each successive Return.

Based on the Stormfather quote above, they could've experienced upwards of 5 Desolations in the final century alone. The early Returns may very well have been relatively easy to bounce back from, but the modern characters simply don't have any record of that because so much of it was lost in the devastation at the end. The modern Vorin Church lacks the critical information, and simply assumes that the Desolations detailed in the records they do have are indicative of the ones that they don't.

Thank you for providing an excellent topic. Before the Knights Radiant and spren bond, the Heralds did lots of the heavy lifting. Thanks to there being a long time between desolations things worked out ok. BUT humanity lost a little ground every time. It is likely the fused kept getting more and more of an edge until the Knights Radiant were formed. This in turn shifted the balance heavily in favor of the humans, until the Fused learned how to deal with it. Eventually, because of the high casualties, even the Knights Radiant wasn't enough. Radiants need time to train and progress with their powers. The Fused just need spare bodies. Also, singers with their different forms have a big advantage in terms of not needing armor or as much training, for whatever they are doing. The form provides natural talent. Warform provides strength and armor. Humans have to train to gain a soldier's physic which is still weaker than warform. I think as was said by Isilel that the humans were just ground down. 

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On 5.4.2021 at 10:31 PM, Lanaya said:

So this is where I argue for Urithiru. Shouldn't the heralds + radiants recognized that this place is the best base of operations they have? Shouldn't they have tried to recruit everyone they could to this tower? I doubt the people would disagree to go if they were asked by a god/radiant.

  1. Risk. All eggs in one basket
  2. Capacity. Urithiru is large for a city. Compared to a continent, it is small.
  3. Practice. The range of activities you can have in Urithiru is limited. No mining, no ship building, your farming is odd ...
On 31.3.2021 at 5:09 AM, Lanaya said:

Hey everyone so I just finished reading RoW and after seeing Ishar seamlessly evade a few windrunners (he was purely defending and toying with them) and hear the stormfather say that Ishar was 'average' amongst the heralds...I am wondering how odium + fused did so much damage to break them?

Ishar had his Blade and a custom-made body. And they needed to win every time.

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