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Autonomy Playing Card.png
Vessel Bavadin[1]
Slivers None
Splinters None
Status Whole
Magics Sand mastery, Starmarks
Residence Taldain
Universe Cosmere
Featured In White Sand, Mistborn Era 2

It is when the soul is pushed to the limit that true exceptionalism manifests. And so, there must be a consequence—as final and terrible as death—for failure.


Autonomy is a Shard of Adonalsium, currently held by Bavadin.[1] It's presently located on Taldain, Invested in one of the local suns, though it possesses a number of avatars in other worlds throughout the cosmere.[3][4][5]


Autonomy is driven to divide off from the rest of us, go her own way. She pushes her followers to prove themselves, and she rewards those who are bold, who survive against the odds. She respects big plans and big accomplishments.

Autonomy wants to remain alone; she does not wish to be corrupted by other Shards and thinks that all Shards are better off on their own.[6] She strives to become the most powerful, most untouchable Shard; to achieve this, she spreads her influence throughout the cosmere.[7] For her followers, she seeks those who are capable of surviving on their own and defying the odds.[1] Her philosophy is very much focused on the survival of the fittest. Under Autonomy's world order, one must earn their right to keep existing.[8]

However, this doesn't stop Autonomy from meddling in affairs of others.[4] On the micro scale, she dictates how exactly people are allowed to express their individualism, requiring that each of them fit in her major plan in the way she, rather than they, have decided.[7] On the macro scale, she often intervenes with her fellow Shards, up to and including indirectly attacking them and plotting invasions of their worlds.[1][9]

Associated Magics[edit]

Kenton using sand mastery

Sand mastery[edit]

Sand mastery is the magic system of the Dayside of Taldain. Autonomy's Investiture travels through the atmosphere there and is absorbed by a small lichen living on the local sand; this has the effect of turning the sand white.[4] Sand masters can use this to command the sand, making it move around. Sand is controlled in ribbons; the strength of a sand master is defined by how many ribbons they are capable of calling forth.[10] They do so at the cost of their internal stores of water.[4]

It's unclear what the conditions for becoming a sand master are. The ability seems to be a combination of nature and nurture, and must be encouraged to appear in a person by another Sand master;[11] it can take weeks of training before one can control sand. At the same time, it appears to be in-born to at least some extent, as different people have different strength, and in some, the power will not appear at all.[12]

The same Investiture used in sand mastery can be also utilized by people in other star systems, if Taldain's sun is visible from their location.[13] Surgebinders could draw Investiture from the sun's light.[14]


Starmarks is a form of Invested Art on Darkside, charged by weekly pulses from Ridos. Those who use this system are called Starcarved.[11]


Aviar are a type of birds on the planet of First of the Sun. They are known for their supernatural abilities; every species of Aviar has their own, specific gift. They gain those talents by feeding on fruits of Patji's Finger, a tree native to the island of Patji. This fruit contains worms, which bond with Aviar to grant them their powers. Aviar abilities include hiding one's mind from those capable of perceiving it, and showing others their possible deaths.[15] As the mind of Patji is an avatar of Autonomy, it's highly likely that Aviar make use of Autonomy's Investiture.[16]


Pantheon, home of the aviars and the avatar Patji

Autonomy is trying to outcompete the others by filling the cosmere with versions of herself. Crowd out the competition, so to speak.

Like all Shards,[17] Autonomy is able to create avatars -- semi-autonomous entities that wield a portion of Autonomy's power without being wholly separate from Autonomy herself. Autonomy creates two types of avatars. One type are pieces of Autonomy that have been allowed to gain their own sentience, becoming effectively alternate identities of herself. The other are Physical beings that have been granted the use of a portion of Autonomy's power, and becoming a Sliver of her.[1][18] Physical avatars benefit from becoming Invested, granting them immortality, as well as incredible healing and resilience.[19] However, they require a Connection to Autonomy herself in order to benefit from their status as an avatar; interrupting and cutting off that Connection leads them to lose the power.[18] While they are connected and begin to become a sliver, they also begin to take on Autonomy's intent, similar to full Shard wielders.[18][2]

Avatars, both made and Invested, can be of any gender, race and species, including fully inhuman ones.[20] They are considered to be Shards of Adonalsium, in a way.[5] Autonomy can create avatars on different planets in the cosmere without physically visiting them.[21] Avatars can also form without a direct and conscious decision on Autonomy's part, but she will always be aware of this happening.[22]

Through this process, Autonomy has created several personas, both male and female; she has more female personas than male ones, though the latter are also quite popular. She prefers to make her avatars rather than herself the center of attention.[20]

Known avatars[edit]

  • Patji, located on First of the Sun; the origin and amount of its Investiture is unknown.[16][5] It wrote a letter to Hoid where it dismisses his concerns over Odium.[23][24][5]
  • Sand Lord, on Taldain; Taldain is also home to many other, unnamed personas of Autonomy, though it is unclear if they are all avatars or if they are all different "faces" of the Sand Lord.[25][20] He apparently manifested himself at some point to Elorin, leading to an attempt to destroy the sand masters, though whether driving sand mastery to extinction was his goal remains uncertain.[26]
  • Obrodai avatar, younger than either of the above. She has been instilled with a great dislike of Hoid in order to prevent him from returning there.[27]
  • Telsin Ladrian, the leader of the Set. Telsin was Invested by Autonomy in order to facilitate either control or destruction of Scadrian society. In this function, both Telsin and Autonomy herself are occassionally referred to as Trell.[7][2]


Trellium, more rarely called bavadinium, is the God Metal of Autonomy.[28] While its Allomantic and Feruchemical properties are unknown, when used as a Hemalurgic spike, trellium can grant other Allomantic or Feruchemical abilities, and hide the bearer of the spike from Harmony's vision and control.[29][30] Additionally, trellium repells other forms of Investiture, particularly harmonium. [31]

When trellium is brought into contact with superheated harmonium, it causes a massive, exceptionally destructive explosion, capable of levelling entire cities.[31] Moreover, in the aftermath of the blast, small quantities of lerasium and atium can be found.[28][32]

Faceless Immortals[edit]

They didn't understand, couldn’t understand. The Set had Faceless Immortals of its own.

Autonomy appears to have the ability to take control of living bodies, even as far as on Scadrial. It is unclear what her limitations are, or if there is any requirement the person must fulfill before Autonomy can use them; it is likely that it requires Connection to Autonomy, and possibly the presence of trellium. When people are under Autonomy's control, she can make them move to their wish and speak what she wants; they can be recognized as hers by red glow in their eyes.[2] The Set calls them their "Faceless Immortals"; they do not appear aware of the Immortals' true nature.[33] It's unclear if Autonomy can return the body under the control of its original owner, or if the person is still aware of themselves while Autonomy is in control.

Perpendicularity Control[edit]

There are planets where Autonomy has created such portals unexpectedly, and against all understood mechanics.

Autonomy seems to have mastered control over perpendicularities. She has barred access to Taldain through the Cognitive Realm, locking any native worldhoppers out of their own homeland.[4] On other worlds, she has shown the ability to create artificial, temporary perpendicularities; the methods by which she does so are unknown to cosmere scholars and appear to break the known laws of Realmatic Theory.[34]

However, unlike natural perpendicularities, the portals created by Autonomy have strict constraints, requiring specific time and place to form. What affects those conditions is unclear, though it appears that large quantities of Invested individuals and liquid Investiture are key aspects. Whatever the case may be, those constraints means that for Autonomy to use the portals effectively, she requires a great deal of coordination and timing.[35] Additionally, once made, those perpedicularities can be destroyed by spending the Investiture they are comprised of; a small group of Allomancers can destroy a portal over the course of several minutes, by using the Investiture to power their Allomancy, in order to quickly burn it away.[36]


Early History and Isolation of Taldain[edit]

Autonomy's policy of isolationism in recent times (in direct contrast to her interference with other planets, I might add) has prevented travel to and from Taldain for many, many years.

Autonomy was created in the aftermath of the Shattering of Adonalsium, and taken up by Bavadin, who carried it away from Yolen.[37] Eventually, she settled in Taldain system.[4] Someone altered the system into its current, unnatural shape, though whether this was Autonomy or some other force is unknown.[38]

Eventually, Autonomy began to enforce a policy of strict isolationism for the planet, preventing people from leaving and travellers such as Khriss from returning.[4] She also began to take a more active role in Taldain's affairs, teaching her people about advanced physics and technologies she has forseen with her powers, leading to the planet's meteoric rise as a technological powerhouse.[28] Throughout this time, however, Taldain remained isolated from the rest of the cosmere.

Avatar Creation and Alliance With Odium[edit]

Even as Taldain grew inaccessible, Autonomy started to nurture avatars of herself on various worlds, including First of the Sun.[39] At some point during this time, she has seeded the religion of Trelagism on Scadrial, presumably with the intent of later activating it and raising her own avatar on the planet.[7]

It is possible that Autonomy aided Odium in killing Devotion and Dominion in an unknown way.[40] The two Shards appear to have some form of alliance or pact preventing them from attacking each other. Odium intended to eventually break it and double-cross Autonomy, killing her off; however, he was trapped in the Rosharan system before that could happen.[41]

Millennia later, Hoid sent a message to Autonomy asking for aid with Odium and the ongoing True Desolation. The message was intercepted by her avatar on First of the Sun and the request denied, although Patji indicated that other avatars may be more inclined to assist.[42][43] At the same time, Autonomy was manifesting another avatar on Obrodai, and Patji demanded that Hoid does not return there.[27]


The Set[edit]

One day, the men of gold and red, bearers of the final metal, will come to you. And you will be ruled by them. Worship. Worship Trell and wait…

At some point following the Catacendre, Autonomy decided that Scadrial's advancing technological development would be detrimental to her own goals.[1] Autonomy's initial plan for dealing with this was the creation of Set, a secret society that resurrected the long-dead religion of Trelagism as Trellism. The leaders of the Set were not aware of Autonomy's true nature and intentions, knowing her as the male Trell and interacting with her through Trell's "Faceless Immortals".[33]

While this was happening in the Physical Realm, Autonomy began the process of Investing herself into Scadrial, taking advantage of Harmony's conflicting intents to infiltrate the planet. Harmony could not understand it at the time, albeit he knew enough to visualize it to Wax as a choking, pressing red haze.[45]

Set's original purpose appears to have been a takeover of the Elendel Basin, installing themselves -- and, by extension, Trell -- as the rulers of Scadrial.[46] However, the discovery of Southern Scadrians and their vastly more advanced technology led them to attempt to accelerate the timeline. Autonomy, on the other hand, decided to forego the plan to control Scadrial and opt for its complete destruction instead.[33] For this reason, she eliminated Set's then-leader, Edwarn Ladrian, and began to move her men of gold and red into Scadrian subastral of the Cognitive Realm, intending a full-blown invasion.[47]

Before this could happen, however, Telsin Ladrian somehow managed to convince Autonomy to give the Set a chance to take over the planet again. Autonomy, ever appreciative of bold, ambitious actions, responded by Investing Telsin as her avatar. However, she also granted Telsin a deadline before which the world would have to find itself under Set's control, as on a specific date, the artificial perpendicularity she was creating to let her armies in would be opened.[35]

At some point during this time, Autonomy's actions came under attention of the Ghostbloods, who began their work to stop her.[48]

Telsin Ladrian, avatar of Autonomy


It is not the bomb you should worry about. It is the destruction I have sent if that bomb fails.


Over the six years following the death of Edwarn Ladrian, the Set fully took control of the city of Bilming on behalf of Autonomy, up to developing it with accordance to Autonomy's philosophy and using Taldain architecture, particularly the brutalist style.[7] At the same time, they conducted underground tests in order to create a trellium-harmonium bomb.[1] The key part of the plan -- and the part of it meant to impress Autonomy -- was the delivery device: a self-propelled rocket, something that Autonomy herself was yet to figure out.[18]

During this time, Autonomy finished the process of Investing herself into the planet. About a year before her deadline, she communicated with Harmony, attempting a compromise: she would let Harmony peacefully depart Scadrial and Invest himself elsewhere, while she took control of Scadrial. Harmony rejected her offer, and was subsequently bound by Autonomy, blinding his future-sight. In response, Harmony sent his agents -- primarily Waxillium Ladrian -- to Bilming.[1]

While in Bilming, Wax and his team, as well as a group of Ghostbloods, began to unravel Set's plan. Autonomy eventually chose to speak with Wax through a dying body, warning him about the impending invasion and encouraging him to prove his desire to protect Scadrial to her.[2] Later that day, when Wax confronted Telsin, Harmony briefly disrupted Autonomy's link to her, causing Telsin to fall unconscious.[18] When Telsin came to, Autonomy abandoned her willingly, having apparently given up on her and her plans.[19]

After Wax and Wayne destroyed the Set's bomb, while Marasi destroyed the perpendicularity intended for the men of gold and red, Autonomy begrudgingly withdrew from Scadrial, acknowledging their victory.[49] However, this was only temporary -- she fully intended to regroup and return in the future.[28]



The Sand Lord of Taldain

Autonomy is widely worshipped by many of cosmere's worlds and cultures. She -- or, sometimes, he or they -- appears in various forms and under various names throughout her many religions. In some places, there are entire pantheons of gods where every member is actually a different persona of her.[7] Religions worshipping Autonomy include Ker'reen of Taldain, which worships her under the male persona of Sand Lord, the Eelakin faith, which considers the island of Patji, the site of the Patji avatar, one of its gods, and the Scadrian faiths of Trelagism and later Trellism, in which she is known as the god Trell.[50][15][7]

Autonomy will often seed these religions on various planets -- including those already Invested by other Shards. These are seeds of influence she can later reactivate in order to exert her influence on the planet; for example, reactivating Trelagism as Trellism with the Set.[7]

Technological and Cultural Control[edit]

She claims she wants everyone to be individual. Gives them each a little house that is distinctive from the others, but only in a way that fits her plan, her desires. It's fake individualism. A corporate uniqueness. Like an advertisement telling people to go their own way, be their own person—by buying this product like everyone else.

Autonomy has consistently shared her Shardic knowledge of advanced physics and technology with her people. This has led to Taldain becoming one of cosmere's most technologically-advanced worlds, and the fastest to advance.[28] However, Autonomy has at the same time insisted on stopping Taldain from developing further than she desires, and has meddled in the planet's cultural and political development from ancient times, including manipulating specific individuals in an attempt to destroy the Diem.[26]

Presently, Autonomy has effectively isolated Taldain from the rest of the cosmere. As such, off-world travel to and from the planet has all but ceased.[51][52] This also had the result of cutting Taldain worldhoppers off from their own homeland; people like Khriss and Baon are virtual exiles.[37] Autonomy is not, however, opposed to exporting Taldain's culture -- or rather, the version of it she approves of -- to other worlds. Places under Autonomy's control, like Bilming, will eventually come to look similar to cities of Taldain, mimicking aspects such as layout and architectural style.[7]

Interplanetary Conflicts[edit]

Autonomy has access to … some very specialized troops. Hard to control. Dangerous to unleash.

Autonomy herself interferes directly in a number of cosmere's worlds.[53] She might have aided Odium in killing and splintering Devotion and Dominion among other Shards.[54][40] She has been taking over multiple worlds through her avatars, with First of the Sun, Obrodai and Scadrial being known to host her avatars at one point or another.[50][15] On Scadrial in particular, through her persona of Trell, Autonomy can outright blind Harmony and attempt to bring destruction to the planet as part of her plan to prevent the rise of Scadrial as an interstellar power.[7] She appears to be influencing Roshar to an unknown degree.[55]

When subterfuge proves insufficient, Autonomy has access to more forceful methods, as she commands an army known only as the men of gold and red.[9] They are humanoid figures with golden skin and red eyes that give them their appellation, equipped with advanced firearms.[47][8] Their full capabilities are unknown; while they specialize in widespread destruction, they are reportedly difficult to control, making unleashing them an irreversible act.[34]


  • If Brandon were to become a Vessel, Autonomy is one of the Shards he has said he might choose.[56]
  • When asked about associations between Shards and various Magic: The Gathering colors, Brandon's answer for Autonomy was "it's complicated".[57]
  • Per Brandon, Autonomy would be the Shard most fitting the Cytoverse as it is during Spensa's lifetime.[58]
  • Autonomy is featured on one of the playing cards created for the release of The Lost Metal; she is depicted as one of the two Jokers alongside Harmony.
  • Autonomy is a fan of Kelsier and his actions.[55]


  1. a b c d e f g h i The Lost Metal chapter 19#
  2. a b c d e f The Lost Metal chapter 55#
  3. /r/fantasy AMA 2011
    Arcanum - 2011-08-31#
  4. a b c d e f g h Arcanum Unbounded - The Taldain System#
  5. a b c d Oathbringer signing London
    Arcanum - 2017-11-28#
  6. JordanCon 2018
    Arcanum - 2018-04-20#
  7. a b c d e f g h i j k l The Lost Metal chapter 20#
  8. a b The Lost Metal chapter 65#
  9. a b The Lost Metal chapter 35#
  10. White Sand chapter 1#
  11. a b White Sand Ars Arcanum#
  12. White Sand chapter 5#
  13. Kraków signing
    Arcanum - 2017-03-21#
  14. YouTube Spoiler Stream 3
    Arcanum - 2021-12-16#
  15. a b c Sixth of the Dusk#
  16. a b Orem signing
    Arcanum - 2017-12-21#
  17. Salt Lake City signing
    Arcanum - 2017-12-16#
  18. a b c d e The Lost Metal chapter 66#
  19. a b The Lost Metal chapter 69#
  20. a b c General Reddit 2016
    Arcanum - 2016-11-28#
  21. /r/Cosmere
    Arcanum - 2018-03-18#
  22. Prague Signing
    Arcanum - 2019-10-26#
  23. Oathbringer chapter 42 epigraph#
  24. Salt Lake City signing
    Arcanum - 2017-12-16#
  25. Shadows of Self release party
    Arcanum - 2015-10-05#
  26. a b White Sand chapter 18#
  27. a b Oathbringer chapter 50 epigraph#
  28. a b c d e The Lost Metal epilogue 4#
  29. Shadows of Self epilogue#
  30. Shadows of Self Chicago signing
    Arcanum - 2015-10-12#
  31. a b The Lost Metal chapter 15#
  32. The Lost Metal chapter 71#
  33. a b c d The Bands of Mourning epilogue#
  34. a b c d The Lost Metal chapter 50#
  35. a b The Lost Metal chapter 59#
  36. The Lost Metal chapter 64#
  37. a b Mistborn: Secret History part 3 chapter 2#
  38. Leipzig Book Fair
    Arcanum - 2017-03-24#
  39. Starsight Release Party
    Arcanum - 2019-11-26#
  40. a b Lisbon signing
    Arcanum - 2016-11-07#
  41. Mini-Con 2021
    Arcanum - 2021-11-22#
  42. Oathbringer chapter 46 epigraph#
  43. Oathbringer chapter 47 epigraph#
  44. The Alloy of Law epilogue#
  45. The Bands of Mourning chapter 28#
  46. The Bands of Mourning chapter 13#
  47. a b The Lost Metal chapter 60#
  48. JordanCon 2018
    Arcanum - 2018-04-21#
  49. The Lost Metal chapter 74#
  50. a b White Sand chapter 3#
  51. Stormlight Three Update #6
    Arcanum - 2017-02-08#
  52. Idaho Falls signing
    Arcanum - 2018-12-29#
  53. Arcanum Unbounded San Francisco signing
    Arcanum - 2016-11-30#
  54. Oathbringer chapter 44 epigraph#
  55. a b Dragonsteel 2022
    Arcanum - 2022-11-14#
  56. YouTube Livestream 32
    Arcanum - 2021-06-03#
  57. Skyward Pre-Release AMA
    Arcanum - 2018-10-05#
  58. Skyward Pre-Release AMA
    Arcanum - 2018-10-04#
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