by Isaac Stewart
|Related to||The Dor|
|Featured In||The Emperor's Soul|
Much like AonDor, Dakhor, and the other known magical systems used elsewhere on Sel and detailed in Elantris, Forgery involves shaping a specific form in order to evoke some sort of extra-normal event. There are many types of Forgery that are explored in The Emperor's Soul, but all seem to involve the carving of a sort of stamp, the application of ink to the stamp, and then applying a mark onto the desired object or person.
One appears to need an extraordinary amount of knowledge of the background and composition of the object or person being Forged in order to make a stamp affect a target for an extended period of time. Therefore, Forgers probably need to be scholars and researchers as well as talented artisans.
Forgery is a cousin system to Bloodsealing, which shares some similarities.
Soulstamps are the main medium for enacting a Forgery. They are used to stamp an object with a seal, which changes the object's past in a way described by the design of the stamp. The seal left by the stamp itself is also called a soulstamp. If the new history is similar enough to the original the stamp will take and hold indefinitely. If not, the stamp will fail after an amount of time relative to the similarity of the histories. A plausible enough stamp will stay nearly permanently.
The seals left by soulstamps were slightly indented, and had a noticeable texture to them, regardless of the material they were stamped into. When a stamp fails, the embossed texture disappears, and the ink becomes as if fresh.
In order to carve a soulstamp, one must have two bases of knowledge. The first base of knowledge is of the forms necessary to program the stamp. The forms imprinted on the stamp act like symbolic functions in a computer program, and it is necessary to put the correct forms in the correct positions to achieve the desired effect. The modifiers and forms required to encode a soul stamp function in a way similar to those of the AonDor, though different shapes are used.
The second base of knowledge is that of the altered history. The success rate of a soulstamp relies on the plausibility of a stamp to established history. While a Forger does not need to know everything about a subject to create a stamp for it, the more knowledge they have on the topic the more plausible, and thus successful, their stamp will be. Many simple Forgings require very little knowledge of the object, its history, or pertinent topics. Examples include reforging a table to be cared for rather than neglected, or reforging an awakened object to have a different command phrase. Reforging things that are already invested is more difficult.
Known materials that can be carved into a soulstamp are wood, crystal, Soulstone, and bone. It is implied that any material can be used as a soulstamp, as long as it can be carved to have the proper seal on it. The material used in the creation of a soulstamp affects the quality of the stamp, with harder, finer materials being more prized, and soulstone prized most of all.
The ink used to stamp the seal also has an effect - only fresh, organic inks will function, though they can be mixed with other compounds such as wax. Clear, bright colours are the best. Animal inks are superior to plant-based inks, squid ink being well regarded. Given its relation to bloodsealing, it is speculated that human blood would be quite potent. It is possible that the suitability of the ink is determined by the original Investiture in the creature. Realmatically, organic objects have higher Investiture than non-organics, and sentient creatures more than non-sentient.
Forgery involves the use of Investiture present in the Dor accessed through a medium of a soulstamp. The seal on the soulstamp acts as the focus through the specific symbols carved upon it. Like other Selish magic systems, Forgery uses a series of symbols that represent linguistic concepts applied with a variety of modifiers to encode the intent of a given action into the focus directly. Though the Selish magics are often considered to use the concept of 'form' as their focus, it is more correct to think of these symbols as being a type of programming language using symbolic representation. A Forger must detail their intent with the correct pattern and arrangement of symbols and modifiers. The Dor is accessed through a connection to MaiPon, and each Soulstamp carries an impression of MaiPon on the reverse.
Forgery utilizes a relatively small amount of Investiture in comparison to many other systems. As such, Forgers do not seem to be particularly Invested in ways that manifest outwardly, like the highly Invested Elantrians or the Dahkor Monks. Another side effect of this is that Forgery has difficulty affecting Invested objects, though the unusual nature of Forgery has a number of loopholes available to it that offset that particular issue.
The mechanics of Forgery are not specifically clear, but it functions Realmatically in all three realms, more so than many other forms of Investiture. When a Forger stamps an object with a soulstamp, the stamp is initially impressed into the object's physical being. A slight embossing is made in the object, regardless of the material, indicating that the impression is present in more than just the physical body of the object. Likewise, the seal actively resists being removed by force, with a stronger resistance than the physical properties of the object should allow. The ink of the stamp is unable to be easily damaged, and does not fade or run until such time as the seal is broken or dissipates. It is probable that the seal impresses itself into the cognitive and spiritual aspects of an object.
The nature of Forgery makes it unusually Realmatically aware. Realmatics are in fact part of the core of the theology surrounding Forgery.. Shai demonstrates this by offering the most complete in-text definition of the three realms currently known.
”All things exist in three Realms, Gaotona. Physical, Cognitive, Spiritual. The Physical is what we feel, what is before us. The Cognitive is how an object is viewed and how it views itself. The Spiritual Realm contains an object’s soul— its essence— as well as the ways it is connected to the things and people around it.
Soulstamping an object functions by rewriting the history of an object or individual to match the encoded intent of the seal. The likelihood of a soulstamp "taking" is dependent in part on the plausibility of a stamp. This includes both how the object views itself (the object's history) and how others view it. This is congruent with what we know of the Cognitive Realm, and suggests Forgery is similar to Soulcasting. It is also likely that Forgery draws heavily on the spiritual aspect of an object, as connections that should be otherwise unavailable to the object cognitively affect the plausibility of a stamp, such as the instance where the room Atsuko of JinDo was placed in was modified in order to influence the drawing of a mural.
It is necessary to be born in the area of MaiPon or have a bloodline connection to the area in order to have the requisite sDNA to forge an object. Like other Selish magics, the distance to the magic's homeland affects the amount of Investiture available, and thus Forgery is limited to the area around MaiPon. For the same reason as the bloodline, the glyph of MaiPon cannot be simply changed to another glyph (such as Aon Aon) to correspond to a new area to power Forgery.
The innate Investiture present in the materials to carve and ink a soulstamp seem to have a positive correlation to the ability of the stamp to take. The amount of Investiture present in soulstone is unknown, but Forgery ink is known to function better with organic materials as physical mediums, with inks from more complex creatures (suspected to correlate to innate Investiture from Adonalsium upon creation) being more effective at aiding a seal in taking.
Forgery shares a number of Realmatic similarities with other forms of magic. As with all Selish magics, it is powered by the Dor, limited by location, limited by bloodline, and encoded with symbols in a programmatic fashion.  Forgery is similar to Soulcasting, however instead of influencing a Cognitive aspect directly, it offers the change through the encoded symbols. It is theorized that the plausibility factor of Forgeries is why a physical transformation from a Forgery takes vastly less Investiture than the more forceful change from Soulcasting. The careful encoding also makes Forgery more precise and detailed than Soulcasting. The subtype of Forgery known as Resealing is suspected to work in a similar fashion to Aon Ien, and to a lesser extent other healing methods throughout the cosmere such as Feruchemical Gold or Stormlight Healing. The physical medium of stamps and seals are shared with the cousin system of Bloodsealing, as is the use of organic inks.
Subtypes of Forgery
”The Forgery of the soul, that was what they considered an abomination.
Soulforging is a type of Forgery on Sel practiced by the people of MaiPon, requiring the use of specialized stamps called Essence Marks. The use of Essence Marks are termed soulforging due to the fact that they forge the Spiritual aspect of an individual. This is considered blasphemous by many cultures.
The people of MaiPon practice Forgery on their own souls, making Essence Marks which can be used to impart new skills, enact disguises, change their personality or physiology, rewrite their memories, or in general affect the history of a person in a manner similar but more complex than ordinary forging. Essence Marks are powerful, but incredibly difficult and complex to make, requiring a lattice of hundreds of different stamps networked together.
”Resealing repairs a body and makes it anew.—An unnamed Grand surgeon
Resealing is a form of magic on Sel practiced by surgeons skilled in the art of Forgery. This subset of Forgery allows the practitioner to repair damage to the human body. It is also called Flesh Forgery by the MaiPon.
While Resealing can effect miraculous healing, even allowing Emperor Ashravan to survive a crossbow bolt to the head, it only repairs physical damage. After a traumatic brain injury like Ashravan's, the mind remains empty, and requires the forging of a new soul to return the subject to functionality.
Resealing requires a great deal of skill and specialization. According to Shai, a Forger has to know everything about the body of the subject, including the placement of veins, muscles, and sinew in order to properly perform Resealing. Resealing is expected to work in a similar fashion to Aon Ien, and to a lesser extent other healing methods throughout the cosmere.
”Get a Flesh Forgery wrong, and people died.— Shai
”Our workers are not Forgers, we don’t use that word. They are Rememberers.
Remembering is a subset of Forging on Sel employed by the Heritage Faction. Remembering is limited to the use of historic objects, where Forgers are employed to discover the history of objects, manipulating them for aesthetic purposes. These restrictions are enacted due to the general disregard for Forgery in the Rose Empire. Rememberers employ methods of mass production to convert low quality goods into historic works of skill.
Interactions with Other Investitures
The idea for Forgery as a magic system was developed during a trip to the National Palace Museum in Taiwan. While investigating the museum, author Brandon Sanderson was inspired by the east asian seals which had been applied to works of art by ancient Chinese nobility who appreciated the works. They would stamp the work of art with their personal seal to indicate their approval, sometimes covering works of art with stamps of various patrons.
”What a fascinating mind-set. Imagine being a king, deciding that you particularly liked Michelangelo’s David, and so having your signature carved across the chest. That’s essentially what this was.
This seed led to the concept of a stamp magic, Soulstamps, that rewrote the nature of an object's existence. In order to not overlap too much with Soulcasting, inspiration was taken from the setting of the museum. Thus, Soulstamps became objects that could rewrite history. As it developed, the seals grew to match the symbolic programming of magic systems on Sel that had already been in development, and as Sel had several pre-established Asian-style cultures, the seal system fit naturally into Sel's established background.
- 17th Shard Q&A
— Arcanum - 2012-09-26#
- The Emperor's Soul - Day 3
- The Emperor's Soul - Day 2
- The Emperor's Soul - Day 30
- AMoL signing Seattle
— Arcanum - 2013-02-12#
- How magic on Sel works
— Theoryland - 2012-11-06#
- The Emperor's Soul Postscript
- The Emperor's Soul - Day 12
- Words of Radiance signing Washington DC
— Arcanum - 2014-03-20#
- Calamity release party
— Arcanum - 2016-02-16#
- Are the Investitures on Sel form-based?
— Theoryland - 2013-07-10#
- Do Soulstamps act like Aons?
— Theoryland - 2013-02-16#
- Could you soulstamp shardplate to become a robot?
— Theoryland - 2013-09-24#
- Rank me the Investment in objects
— Theoryland - 2013-09-24#
- Is Sel Realmatically knowledgeable by this point, or is it specific to forgery?
— Theoryland - 2012-10-30#
- Tell me about Forgery?
— Theoryland - 2012-09#
- Do soulstamps work similar to Returned?
— Theoryland - 2013-03-15#
- The Emperor's Soul - Day 76
- Could an Elantrian forge a soulstamp?
— Theoryland - 2013-03-15#
- The Emperor's Soul - Day 58
- Shadows of Self Lansing signing
— Arcanum - 2015-10-13#
- Arcanum Unbounded Fort Collins signing
— Arcanum - 2016-11-29#
It has yet to be reviewed.
|The Emperor's Soul (Sel)|
|Characters||Wan ShaiLu · Gaotona · Ashravan · Frava · Zu · Han ShuXen · Kurshina · Imperial Fool|
|Places||Rose Empire · Mulla'dil · MaiPon · Dzhamar · Ukurgi · Sogdian Forest · Rose Palace · Imperial Seat|
|Magic||Forgery · Bloodsealing · Soulstamp · Soulstone · Skeletal · Essence Mark|