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The real reason Atium is powerful: bad writing


Frustration

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On 12/11/2022 at 0:22 PM, Frustration said:

Why you wouldn't be flaring pewter the entire time is my question. You won't run out before the fight is over, and there's no downside other than the increased burn rate. And you would never want to turn your pewter off.

in the final empire ham tells vin about this and how it does not work like that, go read it.

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Welcome to the forums Clint (person with no name. . . )

1 hour ago, ..... said:

in the final empire ham tells vin about this and how it does not work like that, go read it.

Please do not Necro an old thread, especially to respond to a page 1 section of a four-age thread.  If in doubt, policies can be found here (last entry for that post):

Here are some other tips and tricks of which you may not yet be aware:

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2 hours ago, ..... said:

in the final empire ham tells vin about this and how it does not work like that, go read it.

As Treamayne said we don't want to bring back dead discussions, but for future note please never use any form of "Go read it" as an argument.

Instead please cite the relevant section, either by chapter or page number if possible, or quote the section being mentioned.

That's a lot easier to find than skimming through a several hundred page novel for a few lines of dialogue.

Edited by Frustration
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9 hours ago, Frustration said:

Instead please cite the relevant section, either by chapter or page number if possible, or quote the section being mentioned.

FYSA, I think this is the relevant passage they mentioned (TFE Ch 24):

Spoiler

Ham turned back to her. “All right, you wanted some tips on burning pewter?”

Vin nodded eagerly.

“The soldiers usually let me spar with them,” Ham said. “You can watch me fight—burn bronze to see when I’m using Allomancy. The first, most important thing you’ll learn about Pewterarming is when to use your metal. I’ve noticed that young Allomancers tend to always flare their pewter, thinking that the stronger they are, the better. However, you don’t always want to hit as hard as you can with each blow.

“Strength is a big part of fighting, but it’s not the only part. If you always hit your hardest, you’ll tire faster and you’ll give your opponent information about your limitations. A smart man hits his hardest at the end of a battle, when his opponent is weakest. And, in an extended battle—like a war—the smart soldier is the one who survives the longest. He’ll be the man who paces himself.”

Vin nodded. “But, don’t you tire slower when you’re using Allomancy?”

“Yes,” Ham said. “In fact, a man with enough pewter can keep fighting at near-peak efficiency for hours. But pewter dragging like that takes practice, and you’ll run out of metals eventually. When you do, the fatigue could kill you.

“Anyway, what I’m trying to explain is that it’s usually best to vary your pewter burning. If you use more strength than you need, you could knock yourself off balance. Also, I’ve seen Thugs who rely on their pewter so much that they disregard training and practice. Pewter enhances your physical abilities, but not your innate skill. If you don’t know how to use a weapon—or if you aren’t practiced at thinking quickly in a fight—you’ll lose no matter how strong you are.

“I’ll have to be extra careful with the Garrison, since I don’t want them to know I’m an Allomancer. You’ll be surprised at how often that’s important. Watch how I use pewter. I won’t just flare it for strength—if I stumble, I’ll burn it to give me an instant sense of balance. When I dodge, I might burn it to help me duck out of the way a little faster. There are dozens of little tricks you can do if you know when to give yourself a boost.”

Vin nodded.

“Okay,” Ham said.

Posting more to have the reference shown than for any point being made in the OP discussion.

Edited by Treamayne
SPAG
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  • 3 months later...

The only issue I have with atium is that its potency doesn’t seamlessly tie back into whatever sort of incompetent half-wittery is going on with Ruin’s precognition. I’m still mad that Ruin seemingly didn’t use an ounce of precognition, even though I do have a headcanon on it. Alternatively - and probably more realistically - I think Sanderson just didn’t develop Shard future sight yet.

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3 hours ago, Ale the Metallic Conjurer said:

I’m still mad that Ruin seemingly didn’t use an ounce of precognition, even though I do have a headcanon on it. Alternatively - and probably more realistically - I think Sanderson just didn’t develop Shard future sight yet.

I'm sorry you are still bothered by this, but Shardic Future Sight was very much a planned part of the setting, that's how Preservation Batman Gambitted Ruin.

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5 hours ago, Ale the Metallic Conjurer said:

The only issue I have with atium is that its potency doesn’t seamlessly tie back into whatever sort of incompetent half-wittery is going on with Ruin’s precognition. I’m still mad that Ruin seemingly didn’t use an ounce of precognition, even though I do have a headcanon on it. Alternatively - and probably more realistically - I think Sanderson just didn’t develop Shard future sight yet.

Keep reading Mistborn Era 2, when you read SH things will be explained a bit more. Shardic future sight was not only already planned but included in Era 1 - that's the whole reason Terris prophecies exist. They were made by Preservation. That's why Atium shows the future, because it's foreshadowing Fortune and the future sight in Cosmere.

Ruin used his precognitive abilities, that's why he exposed and showed himself to Vin in Fadrex storage cave - he saw that he had won, he saw that Vin couldn't do anything to stop him. At least that's what he thought. He either ignored, deemed impossibly unlikely, or simply he didn't see those possibilities where he was outplayed and defeated. Ruin isn't that good at future sight compared to other Shards, which didn't help him at all. 

Future isn't set in metal. It's not certain. "It’s as if the future is a shattering window. The further you look, the more pieces that window breaks into. The near future can be anticipated, but the distant future … I can only guess.

Spoiler

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Eighty-One - Part One

Prophecy

I wasn't certain how I wanted to treat prophecy in this book. On one hand, it's a staple of fantasy books—and my goal in this series was to take the fantasy staples and turn them upon their heads in a way that hadn't been done before. That meant I needed to include and use them, and so I did. In book two, the prophecies turned out to be false, and Ruin used them to trick Vin into releasing him.

However, the fact that he twisted the prophecies left me with the implication that they had once been true. What does that mean, though? If you look at prophecies in our own religions, very few of them are used like fantasy prophecies. In fantasy novels, it seems like prophecies are intentionally obscure, abstract things intended to confuse people and act as some kind of twisted guidebook for the hero to live his life. Yet, in modern religion—specifically Judaism and Christianity—prophecy is more general. Prophecy in these religions means things like "in the end, the faithful will win." They're general or symbolic. Of more use to the population as a whole, rather than applying to one distinct individual.

Sazed and Tindwyl have a great discussion about this in book two. Regardless, I make use of the prophecies here in the final book. As far as I'm concerned, they were given to the original Terris people by Preservation as a means of maintaining hope. They were a promise—a hero will come; that hero will protect you. Have faith.

The Hero of Ages Annotations (June 1, 2010)

 

Spoiler

Chaos

How were the Terris Prophecies created in the first place? Every other magic related thing is quite logically explained in terms of Ruin and Preservation, except that one.

Brandon Sanderson

The Terris prophecies were created by Preservation before he attempted his imprisonment. He knew that he wouldn't be able to do much for the world after he did what he did, and he foresaw a LOT of what was to come.

Hero of Ages Q&A - Time Waster's Guide (Oct. 15, 2008)

 

Spoiler

Questioner

So, in Allomancy, most of the metals are in pairs, they're equal and opposite, pushing and pulling, Rioting, Soothing, that kind of thing. The god metals have always-- lerasium and atium, have always struck me as kind of unbalanced in a way. Like, lerasium gives you the power to use all these metals, plus atium being one of them. Is there a reason for that?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, there is, and it kinda has to do with Snapping and some of the fundamental rules of the Mistborn world and the fact that people have Preservation and Ruin inside of them and all these sorts of things. So, the answer is yes.

Partially, narratively, I built that in partially just 'cause I wanted atium to seem odd in the placement, right, when people got to it it's like "What? Why is this one-- This one doesn't match the others. This doesn't really work." When I was building Mistborn, one of the big things I wanted was this idea of a periodic table that was, kind of a flawed construct, that, as you read the books, you came to understand better and better. And that was something I executed-- I don't think I executed that 100% right, but I'm pleased with the general concept and how it plays out. And so I wanted atium to stick out like a sore thumb.

The other thing is, I knew I needed some good foreshadowing for Fortune, for people being able to kinda see the future or versions of the future, for the whole cosmere to work. And, so, I built in atium specifically to do those things. And I built in lerasium to have, kind of, the ultimate sort of benevolent endowment sort of thing. (Not Endowment the Shard, you know what I mean.) But I also wanted to show these two magics were intrinsically tied together on Scadrial because the way that humankind was created. We're getting into some deep stuff, I'll just leave it there. But that was what was going through my mind as I was building those things all out. 

Oathbringer Chicago signing (Nov. 21, 2017)

 

Spoiler

JamesW

You said that Preservation created the Terris Prophecies. Why couldn't Ruin see into the future and counter Preservation's plan? Is it because Ruin's intent has him focusing more on the present than the future, while Preservation (wanting to preserve forever) looks more into the future for that goal.

Brandon Sanderson

Looking into the future was not something Ruin was good at doing. That ability is confined to certain shards, and not others.

17th Shard Forum Q&A (Sept. 28, 2012)
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Setting aside precognition for a minute, something fundamentally different between Ruin and Preservation is how they can interact with humanity. Ruin exerts his influence, corrupting minds and souls, altering texts, and controlling Hemalurgists. The way Ruin interacts with the world is by propagating his own mind and goals, speaking into the minds of those with fractured souls.. Preservation reinforces souls, hears the hearts of humanity and acts as an intermediate guide for the dying moving to The Beyond. By the very nature of the limits on communication, Preservation must understand the hearts of humanity and trust in their decisions in order to have a significant impact on the future of Scadrial. This is pretty important with how the conflict between Ruin and Preservation played out.

Nearly every major setback that Ruin suffered was directly related to the hearts of the people he assumed to be under his influence and control. Spook reversing his journey to becoming an Inquisitor, Marsh removing Vin's spike, allowing her to Ascend, the Kandra obeying the First Contract and committing to the Resolution, and Vin herself consistently resisting Ruin's influence despite her Hemalurgically charged earring. Preservation's plan would have failed had it not been for mere mortals repeatedly choosing to throw off a Shard's influence, again and again - and this was the core of Preservation's plan, set in motion from the moment he agreed to place more of his essence into humanity. It also seems noteworthy that the Hero of Ages was not one of the beings that had the greatest amount of Preservation's essence, a Mistborn, but one that had power from Ruin as well. It was not an Allomancer, but a Feruchemist holding joint power between Ruin and Preservation that was Preservation's final key player.

Now, back to precognition, perhaps the elements of each Shard's precognition can be tied to their own senses and abilities within their domain of influence. From that standpoint being able to make predictions based on the hearts of every living person is formidable compared to mere influence over the spiked or insane. Another option is that in attempting to subvert or otherwise gain control of Preservation's strongest players Ruin blinded himself to their possible future choices to throw off his influence by his own work to subvert them and gain control over their actions. All these options are hypothetical, but they seem plausible and not mutually exclusive. 

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8 hours ago, alder24 said:

Ruin used his precognitive abilities, that's why he exposed and showed himself to Vin in Fadrex storage cave - he saw that he had won, he saw that Vin couldn't do anything to stop him. At least that's what he thought. He either ignored, deemed impossibly unlikely, or simply he didn't see those possibilities where he was outplayed and defeated. Ruin isn't that good at future sight compared to other Shards, which didn't help him at all. 

 

Considering he should have seen Elend's future vision within his possibilities, I'm leaning towards Ruin seeing his outplayed moments as unlikely impossibilities. Which... in hindsight I can understand why. I have a problem with it in terms of writing competent antagonists, but I understand why. Rashek was dead, Preservation was impotent, and no one could stand up to him without Pres' intervention.

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1 hour ago, Ale the Metallic Conjurer said:

Considering he should have seen Elend's future vision within his possibilities, I'm leaning towards Ruin seeing his outplayed moments as unlikely impossibilities. Which... in hindsight I can understand why. I have a problem with it in terms of writing competent antagonists, but I understand why. Rashek was dead, Preservation was impotent, and no one could stand up to him without Pres' intervention.

It is the same trope as End Game.  Out of all the millions of possible outcomes only 1 would work for the protagonists.  Guess which one the writers choose?  

I totally see the issue.  It feels like some form of lazy writing. But I would say Ruins issue was the same as Rasheks. Who cares about the 1 in a billion shot your opponent has when you have every advantage under the sun? Plot armor pulls the protagonist through everytime.  

It would be far more boring to read about such a vastly overpowered character that there is virtually no danger to them in any form... which I could point to my issues with the Stormlight series for that easily.  While Ruins ignoring the one possible outcome points to him being incompetent I personally believe that it makes for a more interesting story to have the big bad guy decimating everything before some form of divine intervention saving everyone than the heroes being totally imba and still getting whooped over and over again.  

Stormlight spoilers to highlight personal thoughts:

Spoiler

Infinite healing... unbreakable shards.... one shot weapons... 

Yet the heroes are constantly getting wrecked.  I have half a mind to cheer for the fused in these fights against the Radiants. And somehow the immortal demigods are still losing over and over again.  That is incompetence far beyond Rashek and Ruin dismissing a 5ft tall little girl. Rashek and Ruin got caught celebrating before the fight was over.  

Having an overloaded kit and failing to capitalize while in the game is far worse than going AFK and getting assassinated by someone hundreds of levels under you while you were making a sandwich. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

I've been thinking about this for a bit, and I wonder if we have different takes on how we perceive precognition and future sight. I'll try to give a couple of examples with a bit of what I'm learning with data analytics.

Hmm... okay. The sheer complexity as I visualize it might be best illustrated with a 90 minute documentary on AlphaGo, one of the first artificial intelligence models attempting to solve the ancient game of Go. This is fascinating to me because it's a real world look at complexity and prediction. I'll give an explanation that doesn't require watching the documentary, though I personally found it a really cool watch.

The game of Go has very simple rules. The board consists of a 19 x 19 grid with 361 locations that pieces can be placed on the board. Players alternate taking turns, choosing to either place a piece or pass. That's the sole extent of input - place a piece or pass. Once a piece has been placed the player cannot move or remove it, though the opposing player can capture pieces. However the complexity is immense (from Wikipedia): The number of legal board positions in Go has been calculated to be approximately 2.1×10^170,[15][a] which is far greater than the number of atoms in the observable universe, estimated to be of the order of 10^80.[17] The sheer complexity of a 2-player game where input consists of taking turns placing a single piece is tremendous. Now imagine the probability space for all of Scadrial.

Something fascinating was revealed in the documentary where AlphaGo played 5 matches against the top Go player in the world at the time, Lee Sedol. In simplistic terms, the Go player with the most pieces on the board wins. What was notable is that AlphaGo wasn't trained to win by the greatest margin, AlphaGo was trained to win. Attempts to secure large captures early on were ignored if it meant that there was a higher probability of winning the overall game even at a very slim margin. In other words, Intent matters in predictions IRL, not just the Cosmere. What you are aiming to achieve matters, even for AI.

How does this relate to Ruin and Preservation? It matters because their minds are not infinite. I'm guessing their minds can't actually observe and comprehend the full probability space of an entire planet, and so they have to pick and choose what to focus on, because probability at thay scale is insanely complex. Intent matters. What is notable here is that Leras's plan never was to survive the conflict. If Ruin's plan was specifically to survive to leave Scadrial, that's a different probability space from something like kill Preservation and make good on their agreement that Ruin could destroy all that they create. Back to AlphaGo, spoiler, but a game was won against a world class Go player because AlphaGo aimed to win at any margin, ignoring current score or piece margins. Leras sacrificed practically everything, his mind, his life, nearly the entire planet, and relied on MAD (mutually assured destruction) with the goal of taking down Ruin and preparing the way for Harmony. He won by the slimmest margin possible with the Hero of Ages sustained by the powers of the Shards when otherwise he would have been immolated by the sun. Based on Intent, I don't think Ruin is stupid for assuming that MAD was off the table or that normal people wouldn't give up the powers of creation 3 times consecutively. I'll note that when viewing the infinite probabilities with the help of Leras, Kelsier's goal was to stop Ruin, not survive or stay as Preservation, and even then it relied on him letting Ruin almost destroy the world and relinquish the power of a Shard to Vin.

 

If this doesn't match your view of future sight and probabilities, feel free to explain it. It's something I think about as I'm learning about with data analytics and machine learning where forecasting and classification probabilities are part of the data analysis, so different views are quite useful to me actually. I'll note that in the realm of AI and predictions, the number of factors and how deeply you look for predictions can increase the computational power necessary by multiple orders of magnitude depending on methodology.

Edited by Duxredux
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