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Cosmere Magic Theory, Glossary of Cosmere Terms, and Mechanics of Every Magic System


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PART ONE - Statement of Theory

This and the following two posts in this thread present my revised theory of cosmere magic. I made major changes from prior theory versions to account for poster comments. Thank you all for helping refine my thoughts. I hope @Yata, @Calderis, @Extesian, @Blightsong, @Spoolofwhool, @Weltall, @Pagerunner and others who responded to the earlier versions will take another look at this one.

I try to understand magic because to me it’s the most “knowable” cosmere element. Understanding magic makes plot and character easier to figure out. This post describes my pre-Oathbringer conclusions. The other two posts on this thread complete my cosmere magic analysis: Glossary of Important Cosmere Terms and The Mechanics of Every Magic System (Alphabetically by Planet).

In the Beginning – The Cosmere’s Origin

I believe “power” is the “one substance” that predates and forms the cosmere. Brandon calls power "the godly powers," the "powers of creation," a "Shard's energy," the "energy of a Shard's being," and "true Investiture." I think power is “Spiritual energy,” the capacity to create – to form or change any Spiritweb. IMO, it’s the source of all cosmere substances and can convert into any other substance.

Brandon tells us power needs a mind to direct it or it may become self-directing. I believe Adonalsium (or some unknown predecessor) becomes the self-directing mind of the original chaotic power. Adonalsium then grows himself a body by converting his power (his soul) into the cosmere. Adonalsium is an anagram for “A mind, a soul.”

Basic Realmic Theory

Adonalsium’s cosmere has three Realms: Spiritual, Cognitive and Physical. Everything created has aspects in all three Realms.

The Spiritual Realm IMO has two components: Spiritual matter (souls and their Connections - "Spiritwebs") and Spiritual energy (power). The Cognitive Realm is the Realm of the mind – of ideas and perception, of the conscious and unconscious. The Physical Realm consists of mundane matter and energy, plus magical matter and energy (what I call “manifestations of Investiture,” though many limit that term to magic systems).

Pre-Shattering Magic

Adonalsium leaves inherent Investiture on “every world created” other than Scadrial. I believe he Invests Roshar’s highstorms, Nalthis’ electromagnetic radiation, Sel’s ground, and Taldain’s oceans. Adonalsium's inherent Investiture creates “interaction with nature” magic systems that lend “magical aspects to the setting,” “ambient magic.” Mortals can expose themselves to that magic, but they cannot direct the magic’s effect.  



These notes are based on my post Pre-Shattering Magic. For more detail and evidence, please look at that post.

ROSHAR – Highstorm-Invested Magic

Khriss describes current Rosharan spren-based magic as “an expansion” of pre-Shattering magic (AU, Kindle, p. 535). IMO, Adonalsium based Roshar’s pre-Shattering ecosystem on a Stormlight precursor that Invested the highstorms. The listeners personified the Adonalsium splinter responsible for the Stormlight precursor as their Rider of Storms.

Brandon says “minor spren…like lifespren” can exist on a world like pre-Shattering Roshar. Even then, bits of power “leaked” into the Cognitive Realm as splinters, as they became self-aware. Eshonai confirms listener transformations through symbiotic spren occurred during highstorms, when the listener’s “friend,” the Rider of Storms” appeared. Frost says the “touch and design” of this system was already in place when the Shards arrived.

NALTHIS – Electromagnetic Field-Invested Magic

I believe Nalthis’ electromagnetic field held Adonalsium’s inherent Investiture. IMO, Adonalsium based Nalthis’s pre-Shattering magic on quantum physics principles. Brandon says Breaths are the closest thing to a quantum of Investiture. I think Endowment’s life-giving Investiture mutated Adonalsium’s pre-Shattering Investiture to replace photons – a quantum of electromagnetic radiation (EMR) – with Breath. IOW, Endowment added the “Bio” to “BioChromatic” Breath.

Souls “Heighten” as they accumulate more quanta of Breaths. The Heightenings are a “quantization” of Breaths – a “continuous set of values” (because of Breath variability) turned into a discrete set of values. Awakening’s Catalyst IMO is the Invested EMR colored objects absorb. This all suggests Nalthis’ current magic is based on an underlying, pre-Shattering quantum physics system.

SEL – Ground-Invested Magic

I believe Adonalsium left his inherent Investiture in Sel’s ground. The main evidence is Devotion and Dominion’s use of topographic features as their programmatic forms – features rooted in Sel’s ground. Shards on other Shardworlds also Invested the planetary feature that held Adonalsium’s inherent Investiture. Khriss says (in AU, “Sel Essay,” Kindle, p 18), “the very landscape itself has become Invested to the point that it has a growing self-awareness, in a way unseen on other planets in the cosmere.”

Other textual evidence: Derethi prophesy Jaddeth will awake from his slumber “in the earth.” Arelenes use the phrase “Domi below.” As a Reod Elantrian, Raoden couldn’t draw lasting Aons, but completed Aon Rao on the ground. I believe the ground contains the Investiture that Catalyzed Aon Rao. Otherwise, Raoden could simply have drawn a correctly shaped Aon Rao in the air.

TALDAIN – Ocean-Invested Magic

I theorize Adonalsium placed his inherent Investiture in Taldain’s oceans. My main evidence comes from Khriss (AU, Taldain Essay, Kindle p. 369):


The Investiture beats down from the sky, and is absorbed by a microflora that grows like a lichen on the surface of the sand…. [¶] Giving water to the tiny plant causes a chain reaction of sudden growth, energy, and Realmic transition. Certain people can control this reaction, using the water from their own bodies to forge a brief Cognitive bond. They can draw Investiture…directly from the Spiritual Realm, and use that to control the sand.

Autonomy’s Investiture radiates from Taldain’s sun, which “charges” the microflora. Brandon says the microflora “can be charged in the presence of any Investiture.” Sand Masters use their body water to “control the sand.” The water enables Sand Masters to “draw Investiture…directly from the Spiritual Realm.” On every other Major Shardworld (besides Scadrial), Shards mutated Adonalsium’s inherent Investiture to act as the Catalyst for their magic systems. Since water is Sand Mastery’s Catalyst, I believe it once held Adonalsium’s Investiture.

Brandon also says that “Taldain would not be [a] bad” place for Vasher to survive without Breaths. Both Roshar and Nalthis enable Vasher to get his Investiture through his lungs. That suggests there’s Invested water vapor on Taldain.

The Shattering

To me, the Shattering’s mystery is how the Vessels could divide Adonalsium’s power into sixteen equal pieces. My answer: Adonalsium creates the cosmere and leaves a single “Godpool” at the place he chooses to reside: Yolen.

Because Adonalsium is the mind that directs his power, the Vessels “kill” him by destroying his mind. I speculate they drop an “aluminum bomb” into the Cognitive Realm through his Godpool. Aluminum neutralizes Adonalsium’s brain function. His power becomes undirected.

The Vessels then sluice his Godpool into sixteen equal Shardpools of liquid Investiture, the “most potent” form of Physical Realm Investiture. The Vessels enter their Shardpools and Ascend with one-sixteenth of Adonalsium’s power.

Shard Mandates

I believe Shard Mandates (intents) are Cognitive Realm filters on their power. Mandates IMO are not built into Spiritual Realm power as some posters theorize. Brandon says the powers are "not themselves of [any] Shard. They are simply tools.”

Mandates have magical meaning and I believe should not be interpreted by their dictionary meaning. Shards are not good or evil. Honor and Preservation are not good, and Odium and Ruin are not evil.

I think Mandates arise because mortals do not hold or direct pre-Shattering power. When power rushes into the Vessels, it permanently adapts to each Vessel’s Cognitive DNA. (Perhaps it’s coincidental there are sixteen Jung/Briggs-Meyers personality types?) Each Vessel’s 1/16th power portion becomes attuned to the mind that wields it. Successors must share similar Cognitive DNA.



My best guess on the known Shards’ Mandates and the “flavor” of their magic:

Ambition – Unknown.

Autonomy – Self-relying.

Cultivation – Changing, adapting.

Devotion – Loving.

Dominion – Controlling.

Endowment – Life-giving.

Honor – Bonding.

Odium – Bond-severing.

Preservation – Maintaining.

Ruin – Decaying.

Classification of Magic Systems

I believe Shards create magic systems by mutating their Shardworld’s Spiritual DNA to change Adonalsium’s inherent Investiture. (“Goofy” Shard-made Scadrial is the exception.) IMO, Brandon’s phrase “Shard-Shardworld” interactions refers to this Shard mutation of Adonalsium’s inherent Investiture.

I think there are two types of magic systems. Adonalsium leaves “interaction with nature” systems, where mortals interact with the magic. Shards create “people with magic” systems, where mortals direct the magic. “People with magic” systems appear only on Major Shardworlds.

I observe two kinds of “people with magic” systems: Catalytic and Non-Catalytic. In the Catalytic systems, magic users use Catalysts to Invest themselves or other objects with power. They then direct that power for magical effect. In Non-Catalytic systems, mortals can direct local Shardworld Investiture, but not power.

Magic System Components

I think there are four magic system components. Fuel is the Investiture that causes a magical effect. All magic systems use Fuel and have some means to Focus power. Magic Users are the “people with magic” in their systems. In Catalytic systems, Magic Users use a Catalyst to summon the power their Focus selects. The Magic User then directs the Focused power to make magic.  

IMO, every Catalyst is a form of Shard “essence” – either metals (Preservation’s “concentrated essence”) or the Investiture Shards mutated Adonalsium’s inherent Investiture into. I think Shard essence appears in Roshar’s highstorms (Stormlight), Nalthis’ electromagnetic radiation (the absorbed spectrum, not the reflected color spectrum), Sel’s ground (Raoden draws Aon Rao on the ground), and Taldain’s solar-irradiated oceans (Sand Masters consume their body water).

Part 3 of this Cosmere Magic Theory, The Mechanics of Every Magic System (Alphabetically by Planet), describes each known magic system by type and component.

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Part 2 - Glossary of Cosmere Terms

This is a glossary of terms I deem important to understand cosmere magic. Most are MY DEFINITIONS, NOT CANON. This glossary accompanies "My Revised Cosmere Magic Theory" post above. I capitalize all defined terms.

Adonalsium” – Adonalsium is the mind that Directs the cosmere’s Power immediately before the Shattering. I speculate Power is the cosmere’s original “one substance” that at some point develops consciousness on its own and becomes Adonalsium. Adonalsium is an anagram for “a mind, a soul.”

Ambient Magic” – This is how Brandon describes the magic of “Interaction with Nature” Magic Systems, “magical aspects to the setting.”

Bond” – I think a Bond is a mutually beneficial Connection. Most Connections aren’t symbiotic and aren’t Bonds. On Roshar, spren materialize in the Physical Realm in exchange for granting magic to their hosts. Dictionary definitions highlight that a bond "fastens" objects together.

Catalyst” – Khriss says Magic Users consume a Catalyst to Invest themselves with Power. (BoM, Ars Arcanum, “On the Three Metallic Arts – Allomancy.”) Catalysts differ from chemical catalysts, which are not consumed in their reactions. I believe the cosmere’s Catalysts are made from a Shard’s Essence. I think Stormlight, Scadrial’s metals, Taldain’s body water, Nalthis’ absorbed electromagnetic radiation, and Sel’s Investiture-imbued ground are Catalysts.

Catalytic Magic Systems” – This is my term for Magic Systems that use a Catalyst. Catalytic Magic Systems enable Magic Users to Direct Power. The Catalyst acts as fuel to summon that Power. In Allomancy, AonDor, Awakening, Dakhor Dor, Sand Mastery, Surgebinding, and Voidbinding, I think Magic Users consume the Catalyst to Invest themselves with power. In other Catalytic Magic Systems (like Fabrials, Hemalurgy, Forgery, and Bloodsealing), the Catalyst will cause power to Invest an object.

Cognitive DNA” – Brandon states “people have three sets of DNA.” Cognitive DNA is one such set. I believe the term refers to a person’s unique psychological profile, his or her Cognitive Realm makeup.

Cognitive Realm” – The Realm of the mind, of ideas, feelings and perception. Jasnah says the Cognitive Realm is the place of the unconscious as well as the conscious.

Cognitive Shadow” – The Cognitive Realm remnant of a person who does not pass “beyond” and suffer a final Spiritual death. Cognitive Shadows differ from other forms of Invested consciousness (like spren) because the consciousness comes from a dead person. Examples are Kelsier, the Threnody Shades and the Stormfather (Tanavast’s Cognitive Shadow). IMO, Cognitive Shadows retain their Souls, but their Connection to the Physical Realm severs; and some, like the Shades, seem to suffer Cognitive Realm damage.

Connections” – These are the relationships among Souls (“external” Connections) and the relationships that span Realms (the “internal” Connections between an entity’s mind, body and Soul). Collectively, I call the Soul and its Connections a SpiritWeb. Connections are not an “on/off switch” – a person can be “more” or “less” Connected to something.

Direction” – Sazed says Power needs a mind to Direct it. IMO, the ability to Direct magic distinguishes “People with Magic” Systems from the cosmere’s original “Interaction with Nature” Magic Systems.

Essence” – Brandon gives this term multiple meanings. I prefer the Mistborn meaning, where he describes Essence as a “condensed” or “concentrated” form of Power that manifests in the Physical Realm. He calls the mists, for example, Preservation’s “concentrated essence.” Other meanings: In TES, Shai describes an object’s Soul as an “essence.” The SLA Ars Arcana refers to an “essence” as a substance related to a Surge.

Focus” – I define Focus as the Magic System component that determines which Power is available to perform magic. Focuses include Scadrial’s metals, Nalthis’ commands, Sel’s forms and IMO Roshar’s spren. (Some posters believe Bonds are Roshar’s Focus.) I believe Focuses only Focus Power; once Power has been Focused into Local Investiture, that Local Investiture already does what it’s intended to do.

Fuel” – I define Fuel as the Power or Local Investiture that causes a Magic System’s magical effect. “Fuel” differs from “fuel,” which is a substance consumed to provide energy to the Fuel. For example, a Catalyst IMO “fuels” Power’s Investiture of a Magic User, but the Power itself is the “Fuel” that causes the magical effect. Brandon says Power “fuels” Feruchemy, but the Feruchemical gene is Feruchemy’s Fuel.

Hacking” – IMO, Hacking describes the changes a non-native Magic User must make to their Spiritual DNA to use a non-native Magic System. I think Hacking always requires changes to the non-native’s Identity and may require additional changes to Connections or other magical attributes: “if you can find a way to rewrite your Spiritual DNA, you can do all kinds of funky things.”

Identity” – I define Identity as the relationship between a person and its Shardworld that permits that person to use its Shardworld’s Investiture. Breaths are the only known Investiture that adjust themselves to their holder’s Identity. Identity is encoded in a Magic User’s Spiritual DNA.

Inherent Investiture” – Brandon says Adonalsium left Inherent Investiture on each Planet. I think Inherent Investiture is a Planet’s “magical energy,” Brandon’s magical analog to mundane energy. I believe Inherent Investiture is part of a Planet’s Spiritual DNA, its Soul. Examples IMO include the Investiture Adonalsium placed in Roshar’s highstorms, Sel’s ground, Nalthis’ electromagnetic field, and Taldain’s oceans. I believe Shard Investiture later mutated the Inherent Investiture on these Shardworlds. As a Shard-made planet, Scadrial never held Adonalsium Investiture.

Innate Investiture” – I think Innate Investiture is the substance that makes a Magic User a Magic User. Because Innate Investiture attaches to a Spiritweb, IMO it is a form of “magical matter,” the magical analog to mundane matter. Brandon says, innate Investiture is when a person is a conduit to/from the Spiritual Realm.

Intent” –  Intent is the non-canonical term Forum Head Administrator Chaos coined to explain the compulsive characteristics of each Shard. See “Mandate.”

“’Interaction with Nature’ Magic Systems” – These are the cosmere’s original Magic Systems that rely on Inherent Investiture. IMO Shards later changed the investiture in some of these systems. Mortals cannot Direct the magic in “Interaction with Nature” Magic Systems – mortals can only “interact” with them. Examples include the Patji Eye ecosystem and pre-Shattering Roshar.

Investiture” – Investiture is the cosmere’s magical substance. I believe “an Investiture” is also the process by which Power becomes Invested into Magic Users and other objects. For example, Khriss says burning metals causes “an Investiture” of the Allomancer. (BoM, Ars Arcanum, “On the Three Metallic Arts – Allomancy.”) Brandon calls Investiture the “building blocks of the cosmere.” Each Realm has unique forms of Investiture.

Kinetic Investiture” – Brandon says, “Kinetic Investiture is energy/power that is being actively (currently) used.” Nightblood can “feed off that Kinetic Investiture” when an Allomancer burns metals. I define Kinetic Investiture as Power in transition between Realms.

Local Investiture” – This is my term for a planet’s unique forms of Investiture. I use this term to distinguish a planet’s unique Local Investiture (like Stormlight or Breath) from Spiritual Realm Power, which is always the same.

Magic System” – I define a Magic System as any cosmere phenomenon that enables lifeforms to participate in magic. I believe there are two kinds of Magic Systems: “People with Magic” Systems, where mortals can Direct magic, and “Interaction with Nature” Magic Systems, where mortals and other lifeforms only “interact” with magic. “People with Magic” Systems are further divided into Catalytic and Non-Catalytic systems.

Magic User” – I define a Magic User as a sapient mortal who Directs magic.

Mandate” – This non-canonical term refers to the compulsion that attaches to a Shard’s use of Power. The term derives from Sazed’s observation that, without a mind to Direct the Powers, they have “only a vague will of their own, tied in to the mandate of their abilities.” (HoA, Chapter 79 Epigraph.) IMO, Mandates reflect each Vessel’s Cognitive DNA at the time it ascended.

Manifestation of Investiture” – I define a Manifestation of Investiture as the way Investiture manifests in the Physical Realm. I don’t think the term refers to Magic Systems. Thus, spren and Stormlight are both “manifestations” of Roshar’s Investiture. Neither is a Magic System, though both IMO are components of the Surgebinding and Fabrial Magic Systems.

Major Shardworld” – This is a Planet a Shard currently resides on. The term includes a Planet on which a resident Shard has been Splintered. Examples are Nalthis, Roshar, Sel, Scadrial, and Taldain.

Minor Shardworld” – This is a Planet a Shard Invests but doesn’t reside on. Minor Shardworlds hold less Investiture than Major Shardworlds. Examples include First of the Sun and Threnody.

Non-Catalytic ‘People with Magic’ Systems” – This is my term for “People with Magic” Systems that use Local Investiture as Fuel. Feruchemy and non-Awakening Breath transfers are examples.

“’People with Magic’ Systems” – Brandon says these are the Magic Systems Shards create that enable mortals to Direct a magical effect. I believe there are two kinds: Catalytic and Non-Catalytic. Mortals Direct Shard Power in the Catalytic Magic Systems, but not in the Non-Catalytic “People with Magic” Systems. These systems are found only on Major Shardworlds.

Perpendicularity” – A Perpendicularity is a conduit between the three Realms. A Shard’s residence on a planet creates a Perpendicularity, and they exist only on Major Shardworlds. The presence of a Perpendicularity makes it difficult for a Shard to divest itself from that planet.

Physical DNA” – This is the genetic makeup of the Physical Realm structure of lifeforms. It corresponds to Earth’s DNA. The term may also refer to the chemical structure of all things, whether or not alive, but Brandon has not clarified his meaning.

Physical Realm” – This term refers to the physical structure of the Cosmere, the “floor” in Preservation’s M:SH metaphor of the Realms. It corresponds to our own universe.

Planet” – I believe Planets Shards never Invest are just Planets and not Shardworlds. IMO, most Planets are not Shardworlds and hold only Adonalsium’s Inherent Investiture. I think both Major and Minor Shardworlds are Planets Shards Invest.

Power” – Power is my word for what Brandon alternately describes as the “godly powers,” the “powers of creation,” the “energy of Shards,” and similar formulations. Power is Spiritual Realm Investiture that’s not part of a Spiritweb. I think Power is the cosmere’s original “one substance” and predates Adonalsium’s consciousness. It is the Spiritual Realm’s “energy” (just as Spiritwebs are the Spiritual Realm’s “matter”). Power can convert into matter, energy or other forms of Investiture, but despite a directly contrary WoB, I believe matter, energy and other forms of Investiture cannot convert back into Power. I explain why in my Thermodynamics definition.

Realms” – The three aspects of cosmere reality: the Spiritual, Cognitive and Physical Realms.

Shard” – The “Shards of Adonalsium [are] pieces of the power of creation itself” that passed in equal parts to the sixteen Vessels that Shattered Adonalsium. The sixteen Shards originally were of equal Power, but at least four of the Shards have since been Splintered and two Shards are now held by the same Vessel (Sazed). Shards are “mostly Spiritual” but exist in all three Realms.

Shardpool” – This non-canonical term is commonly used to describe the liquid manifestation of a Shard on a Shardworld. The term is not a synonym for Perpendicularity, though many Shardpools are part of Perpendicularities. The Patji Shardpool, for example, is not a Perpendicularity while the Well of Ascension is.

Shardworld” –  IMO, this term refers to Planets Shards Invest.

Shattering” – This is the event by which the Vessels “killed” Adonalsium and broke his Power into sixteen equal pieces. These people used some “weapon” to accomplish the Shattering. I speculate they dropped an aluminum “bomb” into what I believe was Adonalsium’s sole Perpendicularity, on Yolen where he resided. The aluminum bomb destroyed Adonalsium’s mind. Because Adonalsium Shattered equally, I further speculate these people drained Adonalsium’s liquid Investiture into 16 equal pools, which they entered to ascend.

Soul” – This term refers to the Spiritual Realm aspect of each cosmere lifeform or object. A Soul is an ideal Spiritual Realm form for that lifeform or object. Thus, human Souls are “aware” of a human’s natural life span and will age a person to their “normal” age in the absence of magic; that’s what killed the Lord Ruler when Vin removed the Bands of Mourning.

Spiritual DNA” – A person’s “Spiritual DNA is what encodes the Magic System into them…” As with Cognitive DNA and Physical DNA, Spiritual DNA comprises the unique Spiritual Realm characteristics of lifeforms and objects.

Spiritual Realm” – The Spiritual Realm is the Realm of ideals and perfect forms. IMO, the Spiritual Realm has two components: Spiritual matter (Spiritwebs) and Spiritual energy (Power).

SpiritWeb” – This term IMO refers to a Soul and its unique network of Connections.

Spren” – A Spren is a “living idea,” an idea that Power Invests and through interaction with people “comes alive.” Unlike other Splinters, which are merely self-aware, Spren have personality. They are found on Roshar. In that WoB, Brandon says Sel’s seons are also living ideas, though with a “different power…pushing them.”

Splinter” – “A Splinter is a term used by certain people in the cosmere for the power of Adonalsium which has no person caring for it, no...no person holding it, which has attained self-awareness." Source. Confirmed examples of Splinters include Radiantspren (Honor and Cultivation), the Unmade (Odium), Divine Breath (Endowment), and Aons (Devotion).

Subastral” – A subastral is the Cognitive Realm region associated with each planet with a sentient population. Hoid uses the term in M:SH to describe Scadrial’s Cognitive Realm region.

Thermodynamics” – The cosmere’s laws of Thermodynamics resemble our universe’s laws of matter and energy conservation, but add Investiture as a third component. Brandon says the cosmere begins as “one substance” that converts into other substances. Matter, energy and Investiture are mutually inter-convertible, but must always add to a constant sum. Despite a WoB to the contrary, I believe matter, energy and other forms of Investiture are not convertible back into Power. Otherwise, the cosmere becomes a “perpetual motion machine” that violates the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

Vessel” – This term refers to the mortal consciousness that Directs a Shard. The Vessel’s mind and Soul remain after its ascension, but the Vessel’s mortal body is vaporized.

Worldhopping” – This term refers to a person’s movement between Shardworlds. Brandon has RAFO’d whether a person needs some magical ability to Worldhop. A person can Worldhop by travelling through the Cognitive Realm between Shardworlds and emerging through a Perpendicularity located on the destination Shardworld. We don’t know whether other means of Worldhopping are available.

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Part 3 - The Mechanics of Every Magic System

This post accompanies My Revised Cosmere Magic Theory and Glossary of Cosmere Terms. My theory’s framework rests on the difference between “power” and other forms of Investiture. I believe Spiritual Realm power is raw and undifferentiated – the same everywhere – but converts into unique forms of Investiture on each planet. I call each planet’s Investiture “local,” meaning found only on that planet, to distinguish it from power.

This WoB and the BoM Ars Arcanum (“On the Three Metallic Arts – Allomancy”) suggest there are three types of cosmere magic systems:

Interaction with nature” systems – People interact with local Investiture, but cannot direct magic of any kind.

Non-Catalytic “people with magic” systems – People can direct local Investiture.

Catalytic “people with magic” systems – People use Catalysts to direct power. In most cases, people consume the Catalyst to Invest themselves with power. In a few Catalytic systems, the Catalyst causes power to Invest an object.

Every magic system uses power or local Investiture as the Fuel that causes magic. Every system also includes a means to Focus power. Magic Users are the “people with magic” in their systems. Some “people with magic” systems add the Catalyst component to summon power.

IMO, Adonalsium and the Shards Focus their power by command. Gods think, and magic happens. I think divine command is the Focus of every planet’s inherent Investiture and most of the “interaction with nature” systems. Once power has been Focused into local Investiture (a process Khriss calls “an Investiture”), I believe local Investiture is not further Focused – it already does what it’s intended to do.

This post presents my best guess of how each known magic system works on each planet (in alphabetical order).

First of The Sun

Aviar (“Interaction with nature” system):

Fuel: Patji’s Eye Investiture
Focus: Adonalsium/Shard command

Brandon calls the Patji’s Eye ecosystem an “interaction with nature” system. IMO, mortals cannot direct Aviar, which choose whom they bond to. Dusk doesn’t direct the Aviar’s magic; he interacts with and benefits from his Aviar. When asked whether the pool is a “natural manifestation” or a perpendicularity, Brandon opts for the former. I think he means the pool holds Adonalsium’s inherent Investiture.

I suspect a Shard later added its Investiture to the pool, but doesn’t “reside” there; hence, no perpendicularity. I believe the Aviar choose “bond-buddies” only if those mortals show a self-reliant, independent temperament, like Taldain Sand Masters. Even if Autonomy didn’t lay a “dragon egg” in Patji’s Eye, the magic system still seems to reward certain behaviors. To me, that selectivity smacks of some Shard’s Mandated Investiture (Investiture subject to an intent), not Adonalsium’s Investiture.

Because Patji’s Eye is ‘natural,” I don’t consider Aviar a Focus even though island and mainland species produce different magical effects. Every Patji lifeform has some Investiture-granted cognitive ability. The Patji Investiture seems to interact differently with each species’ Spiritual DNA. IOW, I think the Investiture itself is always the same, already Focused by Adonalsium’s and/or a Shard’s command. I think Patji’s Eye is like the Old Magic, which also uses its Investiture to grant different magical effects – unique boons and curses.


Non-Awakening Breath Transfers (Non-Catalytic “people with magic” system):

Fuel: Breath
Focus: Command (“My Breath is yours”)
Magic User: Breath transferor

Like with Feruchemy, another “end-neutral” system, some “facilitating power” probably lends Spiritual energy to Breath transfers (its “fuel”). IMO, the Investiture that causes Breath transfer – its Fuel – is Breath itself. As innate Investiture that acts as Fuel in an end-neutral system, I think Breath resembles the Feruchemical gene.

IMO, color loss from Breath transfers comes from the transferor’s reduced Breaths, lowering his Heightening. I think color loss from simple Breath Transfers doesn’t cause the transferor to become Invested with Endowment’s power.

The Returned (Non-Catalytic “people with magic” system):

Fuel: Divine Breath
Focus: Command (“My Life is yours. My Breath becomes yours.” Warbreaker, Chapter 57, Kindle p. 629.)
Magic User: Returned

The Returned are Cognitive Shadows bound to the ideal their Divine Breath represents. Brandon says the Honorblades/Heralds are essentially the same magic system.

The Returned’s magic is a specialized form of Breath transfer. The Returned transfers its Divine Breath to heal the recipient. The equivalent Fifth Heightening of 2,000 Breaths grants the recipient perfect health, which is what Divine Breath does.

Awakening (Catalytic system):

Fuel: Endowment’s power
Focus: Visualized commands
Magic User: Awakener
Catalyst: Invested electromagnetic radiation (EMR)

I think Awakening’s Catalyst is the Invested EMR colored objects absorb. “Draining color” withdraws the absorbed Investiture from the colored object. Awakeners can easily “drain” black (fully absorbed EMR), but cannot drain white (fully reflected EMR). Investiture withdrawal causes colored objects to turn gray, just like a Shardblade-severed limb that’s loses its Connection to the soul.

I theorize Endowment Invested the Tears of Edgli with vivid color because that narrows the reflected light EMR spectrum. The broader absorbed EMR spectrum remains, leaving more Investiture for an Awakener to withdraw. The “sticky” dyes the Tears create mark where an Awakener can find Investiture.


The “Old Magic” (“Interaction with nature” system)

Fuel: Cultivation’s power
Focus: Adonalsium/Cultivation command

I think the Old Magic is an Adonalsium-created “interaction with nature” system that Shard Investiture changed. I speculate the Nightwatcher (by some other name) began as a large splinter that native Rosharans personified into a sapient spren. We don’t know its original magic. I think Cultivation’s Investiture and human personification of Cultivation morphed that spren into the Nightwatcher.

IMO, the Old Magic remains an “interaction with nature” system, though Shard Invested, because mortals don’t direct its magic. They can ask the Nightwatcher for a boon; but as Av tells Baxil, she “gives [the boon] she feels you deserve, then gives you a curse to go along with it.” (WoK, Interlude I-7, Kindle p. 709.) Like Aviar, the Nightwatcher’s magic makes only Cognitive changes.

Surgebinding (Catalytic system):

Fuel: Honor/Cultivation’s power
Focus: Radiantspren
Magic User: Knights Radiant
Catalyst: Stormlight

I believe Radiantspren’s mixed Investitures make them dual Focuses, giving each Surgebinder access to two powers. Some posters think Roshar’s bonds are its Focus.

IMO, Surgebinders consume Stormlight as their Catalyst to cause power to Invest them. The Radiantspren as Focus determines which power Invests the Surgebinder. I think the Surgebinder “binds” the Surges by directing the Invested power to create the magical effect – choosing gravity’s vector or drawing a new persona.

Fabrials (Catalytic system):

Fuel: Honor/Cultivation’s power
Focus: Adonalsium spren
Magic User: Fabrial user
Catalyst: Stormlight

Fabrials seem to rely on pre-Shattering Adonalsium spren, which Focus a single power like fire, life or gravity. Though these are Adonalsium spren, the power they draw comes from Honor or Cultivation.

IMO, the fabrial gemstone filters Stormlight to replicate the symbiotic conditions of a gemheart. Spren consume the Stormlight and Focus the power that Invests them on the machine they think is a lifeform. The spren-Focused power animates the machine for the desired magical effect.

Voidbringing (May not be a magic system):

Fuel: Odium’s power
Focus: Voidspren
Magic User: Unclear

Voidbringing may be something Odium alone does and may not be a magic system. It’s like calling the Nahel bond a magic system. Here’s what I think Voidbringing is.

I believe the listener spren are “Voidbringers.” “Listener spren” are spren the listeners personify and bond with to create listener forms. These spren differ from the spren humans personify. IMO, listener spren reside on Braize between Desolations.

Voidbringing to me means bringing listener spren into Roshar’s Physical Realm. Listener spren are Voidbringers because they easily succumb to Odium’s influence. I believe Odium’s voidspren invade listener spren like a virus and mutate the target spren’s Spiritual DNA. Odium then controls the target spren’s host.

I believe Odium Invests each voidspren with the power to change innate Investiture – Voidbringing’s Fuel. Like a mini-Hemalurgical spike, the voidspren then merges its Investiture with the target spren’s Investiture. IMO, stormspren are a fusion of windspren and voidspren that causes listener stormform.

Voidbinding (Catalytic system):

Fuel: Odium’s power
Focus: Voidspren
Magic User: Voidbinders
Catalyst: Voidlight

I believe Voidbinding is Odium’s form of Surgebinding. IMO, Odium’s power severs bonds but can’t make them. That’s why there are Nine Unmade – no Bondsmith analog. I speculate Voidbinding breaks bonds to bind the same Surges as Surgebinding. Just as Stormlight “makes things grow,” I believe Voidbinders infuse themselves with Voidlight as their Catalyst to sever their body’s bonds.


Allomancy (Catalytic system):

Fuel: Preservation’s power
Focus: Metal
Magic User: Allomancer
Catalyst: Metal

I think the metal Allomancers burn is both Catalyst and Focus. Any Allomantic metal is a Catalyst that causes the Allomancer to Invest himself with Preservation’s power. The specific metal chosen acts as a Focus to determine the specific power the Allomancer Invests himself with – rioting, soothing, leeching, etc. IMO, the Allomancer then directs the Focused power that Invests him to make magic: how and when to use the power to riot, soothe or leech. While metal Catalysts are consumed in Allomancy (its fuel), its Fuel is Preservation’s power.

Feruchemy (Non-Catalytic “people with magic” system):

Fuel: Feruchemical gene
Focus: Metal
Magic User: Feruchemist

While the Feruchemist’s “end-neutral” internal Investiture - the Feruchemical gene – causes attribute time-shifting and is its Fuel, I believe Feruchemy consumes a “fuel” to make the magic. Brandon says “end-neutral” systems rely on a “facilitating power.” This “facilitating power” keeps the Feruchemist’s internal Investiture “end-neutral” and thermodynamically sound. I think each Feruchemical metal is a Focus for the specific power that “facilitates” time-shifting the corresponding attribute.

Hemalurgy (Catalytic “people with magic” system):

Fuel: Ruin’s power
Focus: Metal
Magic User: Hemalurgist (the “spiker”)
Catalyst: Metal

I believe Hemalurgy’s Fuel is the power to transfer innate Investiture. The metal Focus/Catalyst causes this power to Invest the spike, but not the Hemalurgist.


AonDor (Catalytic system):

Fuel: The Dor (mix of Devotion and Dominion’s power)
Focus: Aons
Magic User: Elantrian
Catalyst: Ground Investiture

I believe Sel’s ground holds the Investiture that Catalyzes AonDor. Khriss says “early on…the powers…permeated the landscape.” After Odium splinters Sel’s Shards, “the very landscape itself has become Invested to the point that it has a growing self-awareness.” (AU, “The Selish System,” Kindle pp. 17, 18.) This suggests Sel’s ground holds Investiture, like Roshar’s highstorms hold Stormlight.

While a Reod Elantrian, Raoden must draw Aon Rao on the ground for power to pour through that Focus; air drawing Aons doesn’t work. Once Aon Rao Focuses the Dor into Elantris, I believe the “mostly Spiritual” Elantrians can draw any Aon without further catalysis. Distance from Aon Rao proportionally weakens an Elantrian’s ability to make magic.

We know little of Sel’s other magic systems. The following summaries are (even more) speculative.

Dakhor Dor (Catalytic system):

Fuel: The Dor (mix of Devotion and Dominion’s power)
Focus: Symbols inscribed on bones
Magic User: Dakhor monk
Catalyst: Ground Investiture

Hrathen’s arm glows when he summons the Dor. That suggests Dakhor Dor is a Catalytic system where power Invests the monk itself. I believe Sel’s ground Investiture Catalyst leaches through the ecosystem like Patji’s Eye Investiture does and enters Sel’s lifeforms, including the monks’ bodies (bones). IMO, Dilaf sacrifices monks to Catalyze teleportation with the investiture the monks have absorbed.

The bone-inscribed symbols and chanting twist the monks’ bones and bodies, which Brandon says reflects the twisting of their souls. In this, they resemble Elantrians, whose bodies the Dor also changes. Dilaf and Hrathen use Dakhor Dor in Elantris and Teod, far from Fjordell. It’s unclear (to me) how they do this. My best guess is the Dakhor monastery holds some power-amplifying form like Aon Rao that transmits Dakhor Dor power to them through their bone-inscribed symbols.

Forgery and Bloodsealing (Catalytic systems):

Fuel: The Dor (mix of Devotion and Dominion’s power)
Focus: Essence stamp forms
Magic User: Forger
Catalyst: Ground Investiture

Fuel: The Dor (mix of Devotion and Dominion’s power)
Focus: Bone stamp forms
Magic User: Bloodsealer
Catalyst: Ground Investiture

These systems have identical mechanics. Their Catalyst summons the Dor to Invest each systems’ soulstamps to change or mark the target’s Spiritual DNA. IMO, Shai’s squid ink Catalyzes her stamps, and her blood Catalyzes the Bloodsealer’s stamps. As with the Dakhor monks, I think these organic compounds hold Sel’s ground Investiture.

ChayShan (Non-Catalytic “people with magic” system):

Fuel: Ground Investiture
Focus: Dance forms
Magic User: JinDo ChayShan practitioner

ChayShan practitioners can use their magic far from JinDo. That’s why I believe the Dor doesn’t Fuel ChayShan, and it is a Non-Catalytic system. IMO, ChayShan gives JinDo the ability to redistribute their body’s energy.

Forton’s Potion (Non-Catalytic “people with magic” system):

Fuel: Ground Investiture
Focus: Unknown form
Magic User: Hrovell potion maker

Like ChayShan, Forton’s potion creates magical effects outside Hrovell, suggesting it’s a Non-Catalytic system that doesn’t use the Dor. I speculate the system’s Fuel is the ground Investiture held in each potion’s ingredients. Their Focus should be a form, but we’ve not seen a potion maker on-screen. Some posters suggest the potion stirring form is the Focus. I think the mix of ingredients also determines the potion’s effect. Maybe there’s a “hand-dance” as the potion maker adds his ingredients, plus the stirring forms?


Sand Mastery (Catalytic system):

Fuel: Autonomy’s power
Focus: Unknown, but I believe it’s an Autonomy splinter
Magic User: Sand Master
Catalyst: Body water

I speculate Sand Mastery’s Focus may be an Autonomy splinter that attaches itself as innate Investiture to the Sand Master’s soul. This splinter resembles Radiantspren, since it appears attracted to a “self-reliant,” autonomous temperament.

I believe Taldain’s oceans hold the planet’s inherent Investiture left by Adonalsium. Autonomy Invests the oceans through solar radiation, combining her Investiture with Adonalsium’s. Taldain’s Water Cycle – evaporation, condensation, precipitation – spreads the combined Investiture to the lungs and stomachs of Sand Masters. Sand Masters consume this Investiture, now held in their body, to Catalyze their magic and summon Autonomy’s power to direct the sand’s microflora.


Shades (“Interaction with nature” system):

Fuel: Ambition’s Investiture
Focus: Unknown

Brandon calls Threnody’s Shades an “interaction with nature” system. Khriss says “ripped off chunks of Ambition’s power twisted…both the people and the planet of Threnody.” (AU, The Threnodite System, Kindle p. 417.) Because power Invested both people and the planet, some people turn into Cognitive Shadows at death, their consciousness “imprinting” on their “extra Investiture.” Khriss says Shades are “barely self-aware.” That suggests there probably isn’t much “extra Investiture” added to people who become Shades or that there’s a long time between death and Shade-dom that causes Shades to lose most of their consciousness.

Edited by Confused
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Another thought-provoking read. Interesting spot on Adonalsium being an anagram. I'm not sure that's intentional on Brandon's part (he's said that he was inspired by the Hebrew word Adonai so the anagram could be an amusing coincidence) but interesting all the same. Also, I had to grin at your use of the quote about Taldain and Vasher as I spent a long time (re)finding that one during a discussion of magic system hacks. As a potential bit of support for the idea of water as a system-wide catalyst, Brandon mentioned that magic and ecology are very closely tied together on Taldain, in a discussion of how magic might work on Darkside.

On the Shattering, I have two observations. One relates to the 'creation' of the Intents (or Mandates). We have Frost's reference to Odium as 'God's divine hatred' which strongly suggests that it wasn't Rayse imprinting onto his sixteenth of Adonalsium's power but something already there. We also have WoB that while a Vessel can influence how their Shard's Intent is expressed, they don't leave any permanent imprint on the Shard. So I don't think that the sixteen parts of Adonalsium's power were shaped by the first people to take up each piece but they were already 'set' in some way at the time of the Shattering. There's also Hoid's observation that Ati used to be kind and generous, which doesn't seem like the sort of person who would 'create' Ruin. I think there might be WoB that Ati was especially incompatible with his Shard which is why he was so badly changed by it; I know there's one that Rayse is particularly attuned to his own and the degree to which Vessel and Shard align affects the extent to which the latter alters the personality of the former. On the formation of the intents themselves, Brandon has been RAFO-happy on the question of whether the Vessels all knew what they were getting before the deed was done but he has said that Adonalsium could have been divided in other ways. My own guess is that the Intents were created when Adonalsium's personality split along 'fault lines' as it were and what each one represented had more to do with how many pieces Adonalsium was split into than anything else. For example, if he'd been split into fewer pieces then perhaps Preservation and Ruin would have remained a single piece, or maybe Ruin and Cultivation would have become a single Shard, per WoB that those two were compatable.

The other observation is that I'm not sure aluminum would have been enough to do it. We know the material resists being Invested (Emperor's Soul) and can block at least some manifestations of Investiture (various uses of allomancy) but it doesn't seem to actively drain Investiture or damage it, for lack of a better term. For example, we know aluminum is used to make the guards used for Shardblade sparring but this doesn't damage the highly-Invested blades themselves and nobody we've seen so far has noticed any oddities in using Investiture that isn't explicitly directed at the aluminum while carrying it. I'm thinking of Shallan with her necklace, Kaladin around the wrapped Blades, anyone in Era 2 Mistborn who was simply carrying aluminum guns/bullets on them while using their powers normally) etc. And Brandon was asked if aluminum could be used to prevent someone from Returning and he said it wouldn't be enough. Specifically, he drew a distinction between being intert/blocking Investiture and actually absorbing it. So if you can kill someone with an aluminum weapon, leave it in their body and they can still Return, I'm not sure that dropping aluminum in a pool would do the kind of damage you're positing.

One other thought in that vein is that we have one example of a pool where someone tried to put something in it that the Investiture didn't like: Vin entering the Well of Ascension while wearing her hemalurgically charged earring. While this is painful for Vin, it doesn't seem to do any damage to the Well itself and she's able to use it even though she drops the earring into its depths. This isn't quite the same thing as aluminum but we know it's from an opposing power and it didn't seem to disrupt the functioning of the pool.

And that's all I have time for right now but I'll be back later after I've had time to read the rest of the posts.

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Thank you all for your kind comments. I do hope folks will also look at the “Cosmere Glossary” and “Every Magic System Analyzed” posts that immediately follow the OP. Additional fodder for discussion…

@Weltall, I appreciate the shout-out on the Adonalsium anagram, but this comes from a 2015 or -16 Reddit post. I think Brandon did intend the anagram, even if he wanted the “Adonai” reference. He added the letters to “Adonai” to make the anagram work.

Many people agree with you that Shards inherited their Mandates (intents) from Adonalsium. It’s a valid interpretation of ambiguous “facts.” I prefer my equally valid interpretation for these reasons:

1. Here’s another sentence from the OP’s “powers are simply tools” WoB (emphasis added): “The means of getting powers…are related to the Shards, but not the powers themselves.” Another WoB says (emphasis added), “The 'role' of the Shard has to do with the WAY the magic is obtained, not what it can do.” I conclude from this the powers are the same for all Shards; and Mandates are not intrinsic to power.

2. As you say, a different group of Vessels would have different Mandates. That suggests Mandates’ source is the Vessels themselves.

3. We’re parsing the words of a paraphrased WoB; but to me, the “permanent imprint” WoB doesn’t address the source of Mandates. Brandon says, “Holding a Shard is a contest of willpower…over time.” I think he refers to Mandate compulsion. IMO, to maximize power’s efficient flow, power permanently adapts to the first Vessel’s mind and compels each Vessel to align with that Mandate. Mandate permanence and compulsion keep wide a Vessel’s internal “mind-spirit” Connection that directs power.

4. Preservation tells Kelsier in M:SH that "Everything passes, nothing is eternal. That is what Ati always claimed. [Emphasis added.]” IMO, Ati “always” identified with Ruin (Mandate) despite being a “kind and generous man” (personality).

5. As gods, each Shard’s Mandate is “divine” and “separated from the virtues that gave it context.” That doesn’t mean Shards inherit their Mandate from Adonalsium, just that each Mandate is unsullied by the others.

6. “And in the end, it doesn’t even matter” (Linkin Park) whether Mandates are intrinsic to Spiritual Realm power or are imposed in the Cognitive Realm. Power and magic systems IMO would still work the same way.

Aluminum and the Shattering: I theorize aluminum makes Adonalsium brain dead. Your cited WoB says aluminum renders Investiture inert and blocks Investiture’s effects. Aluminum does not have to “actively drain or damage Investiture” to make it inert. The Investiture simply becomes non-reactive. When your mind is Investiture and becomes non-reactive, like Adonalsium’s, aluminum kills you.

In the cited WoB, aluminum doesn’t prevent a Returned from Returning because the Divine Breath causes the Return, not the Returned’s former body. When the Returned does Return, the aluminum sword prevents the Divine Breath from healing the Returned’s body at the point of contact. Aluminum renders the Divine Breath inert – non-reactive – where body meets sword. Hence, the hole.

The Shardblade example’s the same. The aluminum safety guard makes the Shardblade inert where it contacts the Blade – the Blade can’t cut the soul with the guard on. Shardblades suggest if the Returned removes the aluminum sword, the Divine Breath would activate and heal the hole.

I look forward to your further thoughts. Thanks again for your comments.

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Preface: I haven't finished Oathbringer and won't bring up anything from there until I have. I want to make sure I'm not missing any important context or new material from later in the book first.

On 11/25/2017 at 6:15 PM, john203 said:

We do?

Apparently we do not, I was misremembering the WoBs when I posted that and didn't think to actually look them up beforehand. Errorgance, I know. -_- It would be more accurate to say that a number of people think the guards are aluminum but Brandon has RAFO'd all questions on the subject that I've been able to find, though he's usually added some flavor of 'you're on the right track' that makes it sound likely that aluminum is involved. Anyways, thanks for keeping me honest here.

On 11/25/2017 at 6:04 PM, Confused said:

@Weltall Many people agree with you that Shards inherited their Mandates (intents) from Adonalsium. It’s a valid interpretation of ambiguous “facts.” I prefer my equally valid interpretation for these reasons:

1. Here’s another sentence from the OP’s “powers are simply tools” WoB (emphasis added): “The means of getting powers…are related to the Shards, but not the powers themselves.” Another WoB says (emphasis added), “The 'role' of the Shard has to do with the WAY the magic is obtained, not what it can do.” I conclude from this the powers are the same for all Shards; and Mandates are not intrinsic to power.

My counter-argument to your counter-argument would be that these WoBs are discussing the magic that comes from the Shards rather than the Shards themselves. We know that the Shards have some control over the magic systems they create but other things like the location they Invest in also plays a part (like the numerical aspects that are linked to the planets) so I'm not sure whether this supports your point or not. The one for instance is specifically responding to how some of allomancy's powers relate to the idea of 'Preservation' when they do flashy, dynamic things that seem to be all about change, and the other goes into a very different area but we could argue its meaning either way I think.

When the second linked WoB talks about how you could replicate one Shard's power with another, I think that was more along the lines of 'you can do all sorts of things with Investiture, it's just more natural with some than with others' which he's talked about elsewhere. For example, using Endowment's power to try to replicate Honor/Cultivation with the creation of Nightblood or how he's said that Hoid's 'plot detection sense' uses the same fundamentals as F-Chromium but may not necessarily be Feruchemy. I think that answer is more of a side-note than something directly relevant to the Shards and their nature.


2. As you say, a different group of Vessels would have different Mandates. That suggests Mandates’ source is the Vessels themselves.

3. We’re parsing the words of a paraphrased WoB; but to me, the “permanent imprint” WoB doesn’t address the source of Mandates. Brandon says, “Holding a Shard is a contest of willpower…over time.” I think he refers to Mandate compulsion. IMO, to maximize power’s efficient flow, power permanently adapts to the first Vessel’s mind and compels each Vessel to align with that Mandate. Mandate permanence and compulsion keep wide a Vessel’s internal “mind-spirit” Connection that directs power.

On the imprinting, I know that he wasn't directly addressing the source of the mandates but my own take on it is that if a Vessel doesn't have a permanent effect on the Shard, it's more likely that none of them did, rather than 'the first Vessel did and everyone else is stuck with that' which is sort of special pleading. But that's another argument where we could go back and forth on semantics and I don't think it would be very productive.

On the 'different Vessels, different Mandates' thing, I've come to appreciate that the WoBs in question are somewhat vague as to what that means. For example, one could interpret some of his responses as saying that Adonalsium could have shattered into different pieces if the number were different, rather than 'there could have been sixteen Shards in a different universe, but with different mandates than the ones you know'. I mentioned this in the hypothetical of a universe where Preservation and Ruin could have remained a single Shard had Adonalsium been divided into fewer pieces. So I think that one's inconclusive right now.

I've also found a newer WoB that, while still open to interpretation, suggests to me that Adonalsium was the source of the mandates.



I was just wondering if a Shard's Intent can change over time without changing holders?

Brandon Sanderson

Without changing holders? The holder can have a slight effect on how the-- a big effect on how the Intent is interpreted, but what the Intent is stays the same. So it's gonna be filtered. The way it manifests can change, and you'll see that happening, but it is the same Intent. When it was broken off, it took a certain thing with it.

I interpret this as Brandon saying the mandates were 'broken off' from Adonalsium and thus came with the Shards, rather than something that the Vessels had direct control over.


4. Preservation tells Kelsier in M:SH that "Everything passes, nothing is eternal. That is what Ati always claimed. [Emphasis added.]” IMO, Ati “always” identified with Ruin (Mandate) despite being a “kind and generous man” (personality).

Leras could be thinking of Ati after he took up Ruin (the latter explicitly discounts his life pre-Ascension having been anything particularly important so maybe it's an attitude Leras also held?) but that's a good observation so perhaps Ati wasn't as completely unattuned to Ruin as I've been thinking. That said, there are a couple of WoBs that suggest that there are degrees of compatibility and influence at work.



And those were all way back, in the history. So, we know that the Shards' personalities overrides the Vessel's personality over time?

Brandon Sanderson

Strongly influence, and depending on the individual, override.

Odium and Rayse are a good match:


Odium could pick up other Shards if he wants to, but, he doesn't want to. His Shard is a good match for his personality and he doesn't want to be influenced by another Shard.

There are Shards other than Harmony which are not as strongly influenced by their mandates:



You've mentioned that a person's personality eventually erodes and is replaced by the will of the shard they hold. Besides Harmony, are there any Shards holders that are still actively and significantly defying the intent of their shard?

Brandon Sanderson


Now, there's wiggle room here because Brandon could be thinking of Rayse, who's extremely well paired with Odium. But it's also a fair interpretation that there's at least one other Vessel out there who isn't as strongly controlled by their Shard, which then raises the question of why some and not others.

Ati did not have the willpower to resist his Shard twisting him:


Ruin's 'theme' so to speak is that all things must age and pass. An embodiment of entropy. That power, separated from the whole and being held by a person who did not have the willpower to resist its transformation of him, led to something very dangerous.

This suggests to me that even if Ati did have some sort of attunement to the idea of Ruin, it wasn't the same as what we see with Rayse, who Hoid at least thinks is still completely in control. If the Vessels created the mandates, you'd expect all sixteen to be strongly compatible with whatever they created, rather than having degrees of influence as we see with Ruin vs Odium and the possibility in the previous WoB that there's at least one more Vessel whose personality is less affected.


I look forward to your further thoughts. Thanks again for your comments.

Always an interesting discussion. I'll tackle the rest of your post (including the bits about aluminum in your response that I skipped over) in a bit.

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  • 1 month later...

Hi, @Weltall! Finally getting back to you…Check out @Calderis' excellent “Intents: Origin and Interpretation” post. You and he convince me the Shards did inherit their Mandates from Adonalsium. But Calderis also convinces me Mandate names are how each Vessel interprets the Mandate and not the “pure intent,” as he calls it.

I posted a theory that “pure intent” – the Shard’s true Mandate – is the magical means by which Shards give their power to mortals. Each Shard has its own thematic mechanic. That thread might be the best place to continue our discussion of Mandates. I address the “broken off” WoB there.

So far, no one on this thread has questioned what I think are the more controversial parts of my Cosmere Magic Theory – classification of magic systems, their mechanics, and the role of Catalysts. Also, no one’s commented on my definitions. When you’re otherwise bored, maybe you might look at some of this stuff?

Again, thanks for the discussion. Regards!

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