Shardcast: Atium and the Atium Retcon


Do you want an episode where we talk about just a SINGLE WoB? Yes, it's true, your dream--or nightmare--is here. This WoB had consumed many channels for weeks (including I think most of our staff channels) on Discord. There are such strong feelings that we needed a full episode to delve into it. Not only that, but also get insight into one of the most arcane pieces of lore in the cosmere, and it's kind of Eric's fault. 

This episode we have Eric (Chaos), David (Windrunner), Evgeni (Argent), Rosemary (Kaymyth), and Matt (Comatose)! 

The WoB: https://wob.coppermind.net/events/482/#e15299
Hero of Ages Spoiler Q&A: http://twg.17thshard.com/index.php?topic=6655.0

We'll be back in two weeks to do more WoBs from late 2021.

00:00 Introductions
2:03 Atium Basics
12:24 Weirdness and WoBs before the big one
38:44 The WoB
51:02 The Temporal Quadrant 
59:14 The Swapping
1:17:47 Rosemary's Theory
1:25:04 Atium and Duralumin
1:34:10 Alloy-ception
1:44:19 Clunkiness and this in Feruchemy and Hemalurgy
1:59:46 More Talk on the Swap
2:04:58 Bronzepulses
2:13:45 Wrapping up?
2:26:08 Who's That Cosmere Character

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Send your Who's That Cosmere Characters to [email protected]

 

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On the point of explaining the atium change to only book readers being clunky, I don’t actually think it’s too bad. I imagine a scene where Wax and a Kandra come upon a bead of pure atium and Wax is like “Is that… atium?” And the Kandra says, “Yes, but something is different about it. It’s… purer than I’ve ever seen it before, even in the Final Empire. This could be very dangerous, Wax, even more than we thought.” And I feel like that is enough explanation where people will get it and just be like, “oh, it’s atium but supercharged,” and that’s fine.

RoW spoilers:

Spoiler

Also, on the subject of godmetal effects being weird, I do think atium and Raysium’s effects make thematic sense with their shards. Ruin is the shard of entropy, so it makes sense his godmetal would let you see the future because entropy and time are closely connected. For Raysium, we already know investiture responds to a “pressure differential,” and Odium is “The Void.” It makes sense to me his godmetal would act like an investiture vacuum. Which makes it suspicious Honor’s truest surge is the surge of pressure and vacuum, but that’s a subject for another day.

 

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I’d like to note for the record that Adam misread my question. My actual question made it clear that Nalatium was a name I’d come up with.

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The huge problem is taking away the "swap". After the fall of the Lord Ruler, Vin and Elend routinely used electrum. They also had enough aluminium for Vin and Elend to use it at multiple times. If they figured that the Mistfallen are allomancers, they must have also used those metals to test some of them. Why did that not work?

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Some Random Spren

Posted (edited)

5 hours ago, Oltux72 said:

The huge problem is taking away the "swap". After the fall of the Lord Ruler, Vin and Elend routinely used electrum. They also had enough aluminium for Vin and Elend to use it at multiple times. If they figured that the Mistfallen are allomancers, they must have also used those metals to test some of them. Why did that not work?

you cant test aluminium mistings

because it relies on you having other abilities

 

edit: nvm i just realised that you sorta could because it would still burn just not do anything

they might just not have thought of trying either tho

Edited by Some Random Spren
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thejopen27

Posted (edited)

You guys shouldn't think of Atium as alloyed with every other metal, you should think of it as Atium modifying other metals when burned together in Allomancy. Just like how Atium in Hemalurgy can steal anything, in Allomancy it modifies every ability. Atium turns gold and electrum from internal to external metals, or maybe we say it applies the effect of the metal from yourself to other people. Maybe it does the same to every other metal. 

Maybe combining Atium and Brass allows you to sooth your own emotions.

Maybe combining Atium and Tin allows you to change another person's senses or maybe it does something like combining atium and pewter to make another extremely weak

The reason Leras combined Atium and Electrum was not to hide the effect of Atium, it was to give Elend the ability to see the future of everything at that one moment, or maybe it was specifically to give the force the end there the capacity to resist long enough so that some people could survive and to give them a reason to burn off all the Atium.

Edited by thejopen27
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KandraAllomancer

Posted (edited)

6 hours ago, Oltux72 said:

The huge problem is taking away the "swap". After the fall of the Lord Ruler, Vin and Elend routinely used electrum. They also had enough aluminium for Vin and Elend to use it at multiple times. If they figured that the Mistfallen are allomancers, they must have also used those metals to test some of them. Why did that not work?

I've just re-read the relevant chapter (HoA 81) and the situation looks like this:

A. Elend has wrongly assumed that the Mistafallen were a mix of different Mistings, so he didn't test them - just sent them away

B. Demoux could only get a small selection of metals after leaving Luthadel, so he couldn't test the Misfallen for all potential Mistings

Edited by KandraAllomancer
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I'm dying at the Hoboken WOB. 

Brandon: (inaudible) but there's an asterisk to that.

Questioner: OK (inaudible), but ...

Brandon: (cuts him off) However (inaudible). You're making assumptions (inaudible)

(20 minutes later)

Brandon: Wait! (inaudible)

Edited by Child of Hodor
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4 hours ago, KandraAllomancer said:

I've just re-read the relevant chapter (HoA 81) and the situation looks like this:

A. Elend has wrongly assumed that the Mistafallen were a mix of different Mistings, so he didn't test them - just sent them away

B. Demoux could only get a small selection of metals after leaving Luthadel, so he couldn't test the Misfallen for all potential Mistings

The other piece of this is that when Elend had earlier tested the rest of the army (the "milder" Mistfallen), he was mostly focused on finding pewter, iron, and steel Allomancers - the ones most useful in a fight. By far that wouldn't cover all of them, but he reasonably expected Demoux's group to have some of those.

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On 2/7/2022 at 4:18 AM, Oltux72 said:

If they figured that the Mistfallen are allomancers, they must have also used those metals to test some of them. Why did that not work?

Not necessarily, Elend doesn't even consider the possibility that electrum Mistings might exist until after Yomen revealed that he was an atium Misting, and doesn't seem to consider the idea of any of the Mistfallen being atium Mistings until he has Demoux try a bead. Might be that he didn't think to give the order to try any of the other eight metals besides the "basic" eight until that point, and since most didn't know about atium Mistings they probably wouldn't think to check beyond those eight either until he told them about it.

On 2/7/2022 at 10:32 AM, thejopen27 said:

Maybe combining Atium and Tin allows you to change another person's senses or maybe it does something like combining atium and pewter to make another extremely weak

Worth noting that the Allomantic poster mentions atium alloys produce "various expanded mental and temporal effects", so probably not gonna be as simple as just flipping internal/external for most. (In fact, atium and malatium don't actually do anything to anyone else as far as we know anyway, they still seem to solely affect you yourself, the same way bronze and tin let you sense external things but are still only affecting the Allomancer themselves, so imo they'd very likely still be considered internal – atium was considered the couterpart to gold, after all, and there are observable differences between the bronzepulses of internal metals and external.)

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On 7.2.2022 at 5:36 PM, KandraAllomancer said:

I've just re-read the relevant chapter (HoA 81) and the situation looks like this:

A. Elend has wrongly assumed that the Mistafallen were a mix of different Mistings, so he didn't test them - just sent them away

True, but your job is not only to explain why Elend Venture did not discover the truth about what atium and by implication the Mistfallen were. Mistfallen and the other mistsnapped Allomancers survived the Catacendre. They were all over the northern continent. Some were in those shelters that survived, whether they knew it at the time they went in or not does not really matter.

On 7.2.2022 at 5:36 PM, KandraAllomancer said:

B. Demoux could only get a small selection of metals after leaving Luthadel, so he couldn't test the Misfallen for all potential Mistings

Then. Demoux survived. Some of his men must have also survived. After the reemergence after the Catacendre they had all the time in the world to test people.

5 hours ago, LewsTherinTelescope said:

Not necessarily, Elend doesn't even consider the possibility that electrum Mistings might exist until after Yomen revealed that he was an atium Misting, and doesn't seem to consider the idea of any of the Mistfallen being atium Mistings until he has Demoux try a bead. Might be that he didn't think to give the order to try any of the other eight metals besides the "basic" eight until that point, and since most didn't know about atium Mistings they probably wouldn't think to check beyond those eight either until he told them about it.

Yomen at least definitely survived the Catacendre and he definitely knew about electrum.
You need to explain why all people after the Catacendre turned into fools and did not do experiments.
And they surely looked for the allomancers among the rest of the mistsnapped. Where were the electrum Mistings?

It seems to me that the retcon may be seen to raise three related but distinct facts to explain

  • the atium as produced in the Pits of Hathsin was an alloy. That is trivial. Preservation was cautious, did not want pure atium be around in any quantities and used Fortune to determine what to alloy it with. Done.
  • The Mistfallen should be able to burn electrum.
  • There are no electrum mistings among the other mistsnapped

But is this necessary?
The WoB only states that the atium was an alloy. The thing about the Mistings comes from the WoP. And the latter part causes all those problems. So how about this:

  1. The geodes in the Pits held an alloy of atium and electrum
  2. Seers still exist. A Seer can burn pure atium and its alloys. That's the deep reason they take longer to make. They are a part of the way to Mistborn.

 

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4 hours ago, Oltux72 said:

You need to explain why all people after the Catacendre turned into fools and did not do experiments.

Why would they expect that the "atium Mistings" could burn any other metal? No other Misting type could. And even if they did, they'd probably try gold rather than electrum anyway, since they viewed them both as base metals and electrum and malatium as alloys.

We also don't know when they discovered atium and malatium weren't actually part of the sixteen, considering Sazed told them there were two metals undiscovered (yes, yes, WoB is he meant two base metals, but I don't think that's the most intuitive reading and probably not what those in-world would've gone with at first). All that has to happen is they don't find cadmium and bendalloy until after the few remaining atium Mistings (almost all died against the koloss during the battle) are dead or not caring enough to test things out.

4 hours ago, Oltux72 said:

And they surely looked for the allomancers among the rest of the mistsnapped. Where were the electrum Mistings?

The vast majority of the world's population died, so for all they know, maybe they were just among those. Heck, could even guess from their knowledge that maybe that's what those who died during Snapping were. I'm sure people would eventually question a lot of things about atium for the same reason people in the fandom did, but they don't exactly have any on hand to test with, and again almost all the Seers died so there's few of them to run tests on either.

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25 minutes ago, LewsTherinTelescope said:

Why would they expect that the "atium Mistings" could burn any other metal? No other Misting type could. And even if they did, they'd probably try gold rather than electrum anyway, since they viewed them both as base metals and electrum and malatium as alloys.

Because you would look for Mistborn.

25 minutes ago, LewsTherinTelescope said:

We also don't know when they discovered atium and malatium weren't actually part of the sixteen, considering Sazed told them there were two metals undiscovered (yes, yes, WoB is he meant two base metals, but I don't think that's the most intuitive reading and probably not what those in-world would've gone with at first).

Indeed.

25 minutes ago, LewsTherinTelescope said:

All that has to happen is they don't find cadmium and bendalloy until after the few remaining atium Mistings (almost all died against the koloss during the battle) are dead or not caring enough to test things out.

No. Firstly the Mistfallen among Elend's army mostly perished. All others must have been among the surviving population at the rates the mists left them. Granted we do not know how many were exposed. But we are talking about up to 1% of the population.

25 minutes ago, LewsTherinTelescope said:

The vast majority of the world's population died, so for all they know, maybe they were just among those. Heck, could even guess from their knowledge that maybe that's what those who died during Snapping were. I'm sure people would eventually question a lot of things about atium for the same reason people in the fandom did, but they don't exactly have any on hand to test with, and again almost all the Seers died so there's few of them to run tests on either.

There were thousands of people in those caves.

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12 hours ago, Oltux72 said:

Because you would look for Mistborn.

Why would they test with electrum specifically, instead of the more mundane ones? And while they'd do some testing, I don't think they'd actually check too many mist-Snapped people for Mistbornness, since they know mist-Snapping isn't natural and seems to be producing a specific ratio of each type of Misting, and thus that it's unlikely any were Mistborn.

12 hours ago, Oltux72 said:

No. Firstly the Mistfallen among Elend's army mostly perished. All others must have been among the surviving population at the rates the mists left them. Granted we do not know how many were exposed. But we are talking about up to 1% of the population.

Yeah but only those at the army would've known they were atium Mistings, right? While they could try and find anyone who was sick for the right period of time, I don't know that they would have gone to the effort, since there wasn't any atium left for any of them to use if they wanted to.

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6 hours ago, LewsTherinTelescope said:

Why would they test with electrum specifically, instead of the more mundane ones?

Because some people are very thorough. You have an unknown and unprecedented phenomenon, so you test everything. Or just expidiency.

"You were sick by the mists?" - "Yes" - "Here's a vial with all known metals"

6 hours ago, LewsTherinTelescope said:

And while they'd do some testing, I don't think they'd actually check too many mist-Snapped people for Mistbornness, since they know mist-Snapping isn't natural and seems to be producing a specific ratio of each type of Misting, and thus that it's unlikely any were Mistborn.

They would not know the signalling ended at two levels.

6 hours ago, LewsTherinTelescope said:

Yeah but only those at the army would've known they were atium Mistings, right? While they could try and find anyone who was sick for the right period of time, I don't know that they would have gone to the effort, since there wasn't any atium left for any of them to use if they wanted to.

Then. The Battle of Hathsin left plenty of survivors in the caves. The story would be told. And you think nobody of the mistfallen from elsewhere would ever try something else? Like they know they have allomantic powers but cannot use them and would be just content?
People are literally eating tide pods and yet nobody would ever try another harmless metal?

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7 hours ago, Oltux72 said:

Because some people are very thorough. You have an unknown and unprecedented phenomenon, so you test everything. Or just expidiency.

"You were sick by the mists?" - "Yes" - "Here's a vial with all known metals"

If they're testing people taken by the mists, odds are that they're from Elend's army, since he was forcing them to go out in them, while most other people were staying indoors to avoid them, so most people who actively got Snapped would be from there. And the "atium" Mistings from Elend's army almost all died, so the odds of a person selected for testing being an electrum Misting is quite low, and being known as an "atium" Misting before the test discovered they could burn electrum is even lower.

6 hours ago, Oltux72 said:

They would not know the signalling ended at two levels.

Sure but you don't need to test everyone to work out that there don't seem to be any Mistborn of a significant numbered ratio.

7 hours ago, Oltux72 said:

People are literally eating tide pods and yet nobody would ever try another harmless metal?

Great, now they know they're an electrum Misting, doesn't tell them that they could also have burnt atium.

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Matrim's Dice

Posted (edited)

Halfway through the episode- I think you guys are doing an excellent job at explaining this, by the way- but I do have one (possibly stupid) question.

First, my basic understanding: Correct any of these if I'm wrong, please.

  • There's Gold (on the Allomantic table), which lets you see your own past. Then there's Malatium (not on the Allomantic table), an alloy of Gold, that lets you see someone else's past. Gold Mistings can also burn Malatium, because the latter is an alloy of the first.
     
  • Then we have Electrum (on the Allomantic table) which lets you see your own future. And we have the Atium/Electrum alloy (not on the Allomantic table) which lets you see someone else's future. This is what Vin and Co. was using throughout the series, just calling Atium. Electrum Mistings can also burn this Atium/Electrum alloy, which is why the supposed Atium Mistings were actually Electrum Mistings.
     
  • The reason this had to be corrected at all was because pure Atium isn't an alloy of Electrum, which caused an inconsistency on the table.
     
  • We don't know what pure Atium does.

Assuming all of that to be true, my question is this: Elend and the Atium (Electrum) Mistings at the end of book 3 burned away what Ruin was trying to use as a sort of body. Why did that metal have the same effect that the Electrum/Atium alloy has? Because I thought that the metal Ruin wanted for his body was pure Atium, not the alloy.

The answer very well could be that the pile of metal Elend and the Mistings burned was just the Electrum/Atium alloy, which would be convenient and probably raise a bunch of other questions. But I don't know, and I figure that someone probably does.

I'm in the camp of liking this retcon, though. I admit I didn't really even know there was a consistency problem before this episode, which probably adds to why I like it, but I think it makes sense and is more consistent all around.

Edited by Matrim's Dice
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3 hours ago, Matrim's Dice said:

There's Gold (on the Allomantic table), which lets you see your own past. Then there's Malatium (not on the Allomantic table), an alloy of Gold, that lets you see someone else's past. Gold Mistings can also burn Malatium, because the latter is an alloy of the first.

Allomancy doesn't work like that, unfortunately. Gold and malatium Mistings are distinct in the same way steel and iron Mistings are. We are trying to make the idea that atium can be burned by anyone, just like lerasium can (an idea Brandon seems to be toying with), work. 

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Oltux72

Posted (edited)

11 minutes ago, Argent said:

Allomancy doesn't work like that, unfortunately. Gold and malatium Mistings are distinct in the same way steel and iron Mistings are. We are trying to make the idea that atium can be burned by anyone, just like lerasium can (an idea Brandon seems to be toying with), work. 

Then "atium" and electrum Mistings need also be distinct. Which, based on the evidence in the books, they still may be even if "atium" turns out to be an alloy.

If "atium" were an alloy, our and Scadrians' understanding of Allomancy is deficient. I am afraid there is no way around that. I see those options

  1. If you are a Misting of a metal, you can also burn that metal's alloy with atium
  2. If you are a Misting of pure atium, you can also burn all alloys of atium
  3. There are three levels of Allomancers, Misting of a metal, Mistings of a metal and its atium alloy and Mistborn
Edited by Oltux72
had forgotten Mistborn and messed up the initial correction
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16 hours ago, Matrim's Dice said:

The answer very well could be that the pile of metal Elend and the Mistings burned was just the Electrum/Atium alloy, which would be convenient and probably raise a bunch of other questions. But I don't know, and I figure that someone probably does.

According to the Word of Peter, Preservation caused the atium to all manifest as the alloy.

12 hours ago, Argent said:

Gold and malatium Mistings are distinct in the same way steel and iron Mistings are.

Do we know this? I don't believe we've ever seen any try it, and the only source for malatium Mistings existing as a thing is that one WoB where the questioner just assumes it's true.

Edited by LewsTherinTelescope
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