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Infusing Shardplate


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In light of this thread (which I stumbled across quite accidentally), a way that Shardplate could work has occurred to me. Here is the relevant Q&A:

Q: If you left Shardplate out in a Highstorm, would the Plate itself, not the the gemstones used to power it, become infused with Stormlight?

A: No, the Plate would not become infused with Stormlight. Now, you can take that to mean it can't hold Stormlight or that it already has Stormlight locked away inside it.

We know that you can "regrow" lost parts of a set of Plate by feeding it Stormlight. This means that Plate almost certainly already has Stormligh locked away inside of it.

Since we know that, the phrase "locked away" is interesting. That implies that the Stormlight can be released. We know that Shardplate derives its power from Stormlight in gems embedded in it, but what if that power is only accessed indirectly? By that, I mean that the gems could simply be feeding into the Plate's reserves as they diminish, maintaining operational power levels while the Plate itself did all the work. Like a wasteful laptop design that always draws power through the battery even when plugged into AC.

(I take the above as fairly obvious, while the below is speculation. You have been warned):

I would posit that Shardplate is capable of acting as a perfect or near-perfect "battery" of Stormlight, and that the current use of Plate leaves its "Stormlight levels" at only the absolute minimum amount of Stormlight necessary to retain its integrity, with large amounts of storage yet to be used. Presumably, this is a design feature so that Plate can repair itself while not being used, but not then go on to suck the life out of it's environment. It could also be the case that Plate stores Stormlight less and less efficiently the more it has, leveling off at the "default" state we see in WoK.

The reason modern Plate needs infused gems embedded in it, then, is because Plate's "power armor" attributes draw upon those Stormlight reserve. It was necessary, then, for non-surgebinders to "hack" Plate and attach gemstones to it so that it could use power.

Presumably, Plate refuses to use power that it absolutely needs to maintain its integrity. It also seems that Plate can only siphon a relatively small amount of Stormlight out of infused gems at any one time. So as Dalinar's Plate became more and more damaged, its movements grew weaker and weaker (IIRC) as more of the Plate's "gem bandwidth" was redirected to maintaining integrity.

Back in the days of the KR, then, Plate did not have any gemstones embedded in it (thus getting around Szeth's problem). So surgebinders would simply put reserves of raw Stormlight into their Plate--"supercharging" it and producing the glowyness, glyphs, and disappearing helmets of Dalinar's vision--and then both Surgebinders and the Plate itself would draw upon that spare Stormlight as needed.

On the matter of Dalinar glowing, Szeth disliking Plate, and Elokhar's gems being cracked:

Dalinar's Plate glowing could be a case of him unconsciously drawing upon the gemstones on his person or in his Plate and then re-infusing them into the Plate directly, either at a much higher rate than or, at the very least, in addition to the normal flow of Stormlight from the gems.

Elokhar, if he is drawing on his armor's gems instead of being sabotaged, could be doing the exact same thing, perhaps continually emptying his Plates gems every time he uses it, putting them under undue strain and leading to the excess cracking (pg 758).

Szeth. I hate that guy. He could be wrong, the gem-hack that modern plate uses could be what interferes with his Lashings, instead of the Plate itself, or I could be wrong. Assuming the second option, Dalinar isn't exactly Lashing things left and right, so it could be that Szeth would be perfectly capable of re-infusing stormlight into a set of Plate, he just prefers being able to use his Lashings.

I know I'm posting a lot of thread lately, but I don't recall this particular postulation (though my track record lately isn't a very good indicator of the quality of my memory) and I wanted to get it out there.

TL;DR: Plate is natively infused with Stormlight, which infusion can only be effectively increased and utilized by a surgebinder, and the current "gem powered" system of Plate is a hack so that non-surgebinders can use it. Edited by Kurkistan
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This makes sense. The ability to hold Stormlight like a surgebinder seems to me that it would enhance the Plate, and perhaps even the Blades as seen in Dalinar's visions. I'm not sure if all of your specifics are spot on, the process could be more simple or even more complex... but you seem to be on the right track.

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Wait, when does Dalinar's plate glow?

"Dalinar held back the claw and matched its strength, a figure in dark, silvery metal that almost seemed to glow" (pg 209).

There have been some theories that it actually was glowing and this is a sign that Dalinar has already attracted a spren.

Edited by Kurkistan
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Neat theory.

I beg to differ with the part about the gems being a hack, however (which, given my track record, probably means that your theory is perfect B) ).

I think Szeth is getting his windrunning in a different way (perhaps the sword), and that's why the armor interferes with his lashings.

I think the gems have always been a part of the Shardplate and didn't interfere with the Radiant lashings.

Consider the scene where Dalinar describes the footgear. He explains that they include the windrunner gems and can adhere inexplicably well (lashings anyone?). The gems seem too integrated to be part of an ignorant hack job.

The ideas about Dalinar and Elhokar seem to work whether or not the gems are a hack.

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Completely irrelevant to your post, but this made me sad :(

Szeth. I hate that guy.

I like a lot of things about Szeth. He has an over-zealous and unquestioning devotion to duty, but definitely has moral qualms about his actions that those who order him do not. I have hopes for him still.

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When I consider what might be the main point, I find this interesting.

What does Shardplate provide non-Radiants:

  1. speed
  2. strength
  3. regeneration using stormlight from attached gems
  4. adhesion
  5. balance
  6. protection which drains gems and ultimately explodes
  7. stops Shardblades

What else stops Shardblades?


How do Shardblades get stopped (speculation warning)?

Investiture. Investiture interferes with most magics. Shardblades are magic, ergo investiture interferes with their magic.

So Shardplate is invested (duh, it's magical, so we already knew that). There must be a "permanent" "spell" on it. This being Roshar, that spell is powered by stormlight which must be locked into the Shardplate. When Shardplate breaks, it explodes (with molten metal flying, as I recall). The explosion could be powered by the release of the invested energy.

So the Shardplate could lock the energy of investiture within itself without being permanently infused. I think the gems could power infusing the armor (if that's what happens) and Radiants can use them as effective batteries.


How are Shardblades able to block Shardblades indefinitely without exploding?

Could they be permanently linked to the spiritual realm, so they can draw stormlight anytime?

Would Shardplate work as well if you put the wrong gems in the wrong places?

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The easiest answer I can see for why Shardblades have no apparent need for any external power source is that they contain a Splinter.

First a small aside to explain how I think Splinters work. The way I see Splinters is that they have become separated from the Shard in much the same way that Shards separated from each other. (Although they can, of course, return to the Shard they came from) A Shard's power also seems to eventually return to it, much like how the Well recharges over time. A Splinter's power also returns to it, not to the main Shard, so the Shardblades have no need to draw power from an external source.

Shardplate on the other hand, seems to no longer, or never have had, that independence from a Shard. Plate doesn't contain a Splinter, so its power isn't exclusive to them so it needs to be recharged eventually.

There is a more sinister possibility though. Perhaps Shardblades gain power from the people they kill, drawing energy from their Spiritual aspect for fuel. Which is both terrifying and horrifying.

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Nightblood also destroys buildings. A T-rex is less nasty than Godzilla, but it's still pretty nasty.

Yeah, but it's running off a battery of a thousand Breath or so.

I just don't really see each breath representing a significant enough fraction of endowment to be called a 'splinter'.

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Well, Nightblood, in his active state, isn't running off of those Breaths. He draws in Breaths from whoever's holding him.

I don't see each individual Breath being a Splinter. But Vasher and Shashara did some pretty crazy stuff to forge Nightblood, I think it's possible that they've created an artificial Splinter by binding those thousand original Breaths together into one.

It would explain some of Nightblood's Returned-like tendencies. They both hold Splinters of Endowment.

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There is a more sinister possibility though. Perhaps Shardblades gain power from the people they kill, drawing energy from their Spiritual aspect for fuel. Which is both terrifying and horrifying.

How very "Elric of Melniboné", I like it.

What if shardblades actually were of both (odium and honour), explaining why KR of old had no problems using them (used to protect sways blade towards honour) - and their spren (if this is how it worked); and now syl hates them since by beeing "forsaken" by the KR and their constant use for petty and spiteful reasons, they were swayed towards odium.

This would explain why there is no possibility to recreate blades.

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  • 11 months later...

Yeah, but it's running off a battery of a thousand Breath or so.

I just don't really see each breath representing a significant enough fraction of endowment to be called a 'splinter'.

Night blood was awakened using 1000 breaths. By this point it has far more since it leeches the breaths, or investiture, from the wielder and has had centuries to accumulate more.

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