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Related to Investiture, Shards
Universe Cosmere

Initiation is the process by which a person is chosen to gain the ability to access a manifestation of Investiture (and/or the process of actually gaining such access).[1] Vessels can choose to alter how Initiation for their Shard's magic works to some extent, subject to some limitations determined by the underlying mechanics.[2] The method of Initiation varies between different manifestations, but there are cosmere-wide principles underlying the different methods: in order for a person to be Initiated, it is generally necessary for their soul to have some degree of "damage", creating cracks in their spiritweb that Investiture can rush into and fill, thereby linking them to the magic.[3] Some magic systems make it much easier than others to achieve this.[2]


The method of Initiation for Allomancy is known as Snapping.[4] A Scadrian's potential for Allomancy is set at birth according to their Physical, Cognitive, and Spiritual aspects;[5] sufficient trauma during life (or even during birth itself)[6] can then provide the necessary damage to the soul to release this latent potential. A large part of the potential is determined genetically, and Allomancy is known in-universe to run through family lines.[7][1]

After Sazed Ascends, creating the new Shard Harmony, he becomes bothered by how Snapping works and alters it somehow,[8] making it much easier to reach the necessary threshold of Spiritual damage; however, he is unable to remove the need for the process entirely.[9]

Initiation for Feruchemy also has a genetic component;[10] whether it has any further requirements analogous to Snapping is unknown.

Hemalurgy grants powers which have first been stolen from another person via a metal spike.[11][12][13]


Surgebinding on Roshar differs from Snapping in that the determination of who is granted access is made on a case-by-case basis by conscious entities (the spren of the Nahel bond) depending on the behavior of the person. They are looking for people with broken spirits, as with Snapping,[14] but each kind of spren also applies to its own specific requirements. Also, perhaps uniquely among magic users, Surgebinders gain access to additional power by swearing oaths,[15][16] and can lose power or break the bond entirely by violating their oaths or acting contrary to their spirit.[17][18][19]


The Returned are individually chosen by Endowment; after a Nalthian dies, she may choose to grant them a Divine Breath, bringing them back as a Returned. She is looking for "certain things" when choosing who should Return, but can be erratic in her decisions.[20][21]

Awakening has the easiest prerequisites of all: anyone who is given BioChromatic Breath can use it for Awakening (even, hypothetically, real-world humans),[22] and Endowment provides each Nalthian with a Breath automatically.[23]


The moment of a Selish person turning into an Elantrian and gaining access to the AonDor is called the Shaod. It is distinctive in that it only affects those with sufficient Connection to certain geographical areas on Sel, primarily Arelon,[24][25] which happens because the Investiture of Devotion and Dominion is trapped in the Cognitive Realm rather than the Spiritual Realm.[22] Khriss considers it one of the more mysterious forms of Initiation, as she is unable to find out anything about how Elantrians are chosen beyond the geographical restriction; she guesses that there may simply be an element of randomness involved.[1]

In order for a person to become a Forger a few things have to occur. One generally has to be born in MaiPon;[26] ancestry there does not seem to be required,[27] though it is possible that some combination of being of MaiPon descent or being born nearby and living in MaiPon at the time one gains the ability may also fill this prerequisite. However, not everyone who meets the geographical requirements can use the magic system,[28] despite what some believe.[29]

Little is known about Dakhor, but it may only be available to those from Fjordell, and training in Dakhor Monastery somehow enables monks to access it.[27]

And even less is known about ChayShan and Bloodsealing with the only known perquisite is that the person must be JinDo or Dzhamarian.[30][27]


The precise method of Initiation for sand mastery on Taldain is unknown, but it differs from that of AonDor.[1] Sand mastery must be taught and does not appear spontaneously.[31]

It is unknown how someone gains starmarks, but only a few are chosen to access the power.[31]


Initiation on Vax works differently than it does on Sel, Scadrial, Nalthis, or Taldain.[1]


  • An out-of-universe reason that the magic systems often target broken people is that "characters in pain are the most interesting to write about".[3]


  1. a b c d e Elantris Ars Arcanum#
  2. a b When Worlds Collide 2014
    Arcanum - 2014-08-09#
  3. a b Barnes & Noble B-Fest 2016
    Arcanum - 2016-06-11#
  4. The Final Empire chapter 17#
  5. Idaho Falls signing 2014
    Arcanum - 2014-11-29#
  6. The Hero of Ages epilogue#
  7. The Hero of Ages chapter 81 epigraph#
  8. General Twitter 2011
    Arcanum - 2011-11-14#
  9. 17th Shard Forum Q&A
    Arcanum - 2012-09-25#
  10. The Hero of Ages chapter 68 epigraph#
  11. The Hero of Ages chapter 33 epigraph#
  12. The Hero of Ages chapter 36 epigraph#
  13. The Hero of Ages chapter 38 epigraph#
  14. Calamity Seattle signing
    Arcanum - 2016-02-17#
  15. The Way of Kings chapter 67#
  16. Words of Radiance chapter 84#
  17. Words of Radiance chapter 18#
  18. Words of Radiance chapter 74#
  19. Rhythm of War chapter 115#
  20. /r/books AMA 2015
    Arcanum - 2015-06-06#
  21. JordanCon 2018
    Arcanum - 2018-04-21#
  22. a b Arcanum Unbounded signing Chicago
    Arcanum - 2016-12-06#
  23. Warbreaker prologue#
  24. Elantris chapter 1#
  25. #SandersonChat Twitter Q&A with
    Arcanum - 2016-02-04#
  26. Oathbringer Chicago signing
    Arcanum - 2017-11-21#
  27. a b c JordanCon 2021
    Arcanum - 2021-07-17#
  28. Calamity Chicago signing
    Arcanum - 2016-02-22#
  29. The Emperor's Soul - Day 5#
  30. Oathbringer San Francisco signing
    Arcanum - 2017-11-15#
  31. a b White Sand Ars Arcanum#
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