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Related to Shards, Realmatic Theory
Universe Cosmere
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Investiture is a "Cosmere aware" term describing the energy that infuses the cosmere and on which all cosmere magic systems are based.


The term Investiture[1] has only seen in-world use in or by the Seventeenth Shard, Scadrians, Vasher, Riino, the Heralds, and spren. Most who refer to Investiture use terminology specific to the world in which they reside; Feruchemists refer to the process of Investing a Metalmind as 'charging', and Windrunners refer to the process by which they create Lashings as 'infusing'.[2] Most characters using this term understand more cogently that the cosmere encompasses worlds and systems of magic other than their own.

The Nature of Investiture

Investiture transcends the three realms: Physical, Cognitive, and Spiritual that comprise most of the cosmere. In the Physical Realm, Investiture is known to exist in solid, (i.e. atium and lerasium), liquid (Shardpools), and gaseous material forms (Preservation's Mists, Stormlight, BioChromatic Breath). For some reason, all solid Investiture is metallic, the result of one of the laws governing the cosmere.[3] Most often these appear due to influence by a Shard holder, however some formations occur in a more natural way. Investiture works in a similar fashion to energy in that it follows its own laws of thermodynamics. It is not possible to destroy Investiture; it can only be redistributed.[4] Large amounts of investiture concentrated in a specific location tend to pierce a hole in the three realms (Spiritual, Cognitive, and Physical) and create a Perpendicularity.

An interesting thing to note is that the color red has a tendency to manifest when a Shard is "co-opting or corrupting another Shard's magic".[5][6]

Accessing Investiture

Many methods of accessing Shardic power have been observed throughout the cosmere, but all share certain cardinal similarities; an established connection or ability to create a connection to a source of power and a way of directing that power. Methods of accessing Investiture can be broadly divided into two types: physical and mechanical; the source of the Investiture (end-positive, end-neutral, or end-negative) also plays a role in the way the power is accessed.

Several end-positive magics share the trait of requiring a Spiritual shift of some kind; Elantrians are more closely attuned to the Spiritual Realm (incidentally, this is why Hemalurgy gets more from them),[7] Allomancers, in Classical Scadrial, had to Snap to access power, and Surgebinders "plug" spren into themselves. This is related to Nightblood's nausea--a bond must be created in order for Nightblood to drain Investiture from its holder to power itself. Once a conduit has been established, a key, such as an Aon, metal, or Command, is used to tell it how to act.

While a key is generally used, Shards can also choose to use their Investiture to power magic: Endowment breaks pieces off itself to resurrect the Returned, and Preservation powers Vin's Allomancy with the Mists; some magics, such as BioChroma and Feruchemy, deal with the use of power that already exists within a human (be that naturally or by Shardic intervention). Others lack an explicit key; instead of pulling power directly from a Shard, Surgebinders draw from the Investiture of highstorms, and direct it through their bond with their spren, similarly to fabrials

Intent of use

The intent of a user is very important to several magic systems, these magic systems require a mental component to function. Some, like Hemalurgy, simply require that someone intend to make a spike when they do it, and others, like Awakening, require complex images created in your mind with the spoken command to function. Hemalurgy has only one known Mental component and that is the user or Shard Ruin must be trying to do Hemalurgy (It's Ruin's intent when Spook temporarily gains the ability to burn pewter). This mental component if not present renders the spike to a normal metal spike and simply harms the victim. When present it controls what is stolen when used in conjunction to the correct binding point. Awakening is almost as much mental as spoken. If the visualizing of the command is not firm then the Awakened object can behave in a unknown manner or not at all. The more complex the command the more important that mental component is. In Surgebinding, the mental component has varying degrees of necessity depending on the Surge used. Lightweaving requires an extremely clear image in a user's mind to create an illusion with the appropriate appearance, but with Surges like Gravitation the user does not have to have any idea of what they are doing; the Surge will do the same thing regardless. Some Surges do require simply that the user wish it to happen. Often with Surgebinding this can be accomplished by instinctively pushing Stormlight into something.


Bonds are connections between entities in the Cosmere that exist outside the Physical Realm. All bonds are basically the same, with the powers and functions depending on the holders of the bond.[8] Shardworlds can also have an effect on what the bond does. Bonds are typically formed between entities with greater-than-normal Investiture (i.e. Spren) and other entities, allowing them to gain enhancements. It is unknown if a person with only innate Investiture is able to create a Bond.[9] Bonds are not limited to connections of entities with greater-than-normal Investiture to innately Invested entities; they can also be made between two entities with greater-than-normal Investiture.[10]

Types of known Bonding Entities

Spren: Entities of the Cognitive Realm

Type IV BioChromatic Entities: Intelligent inorganic entities created through the use of Breath.

Seons: Intelligent entities with connections to AonDor

Aviar: Birds infected with symbiotic worms native to the Pantheon

Bonds By Shard World

Roshar Bonds

The Nahel Bond: This Bond is between a human and certain types of intelligent Spren. The Nahel Bond gives a human access to the system of magic known as Surgebinding, while granting the spren the ability to maintain their cognition in the Physical Realm. There are ten known forms the Nahel Bond can take, each giving access to two different Surges. See Surgebinding and Nahel Bond for more information.

Listener Bond: The Listeners (Parshendi) can bond with a spren. Doing so grants the Listener a Form (a specific physical and mental change). Not all spren grant a unique Form; most spren give the listeners Dullform. Without a spren, Listeners exist in what is known as Slaveform (Parshmen). Listeners in Slaveform have very little mental capacity and are extremely docile. Dullform gives more free will and a small increase in mental capacity. Slaveform and Dullform are physically similar. Listeners can become Surgebinders, but Forms of power exist that grant them abnormal abilities. See Listener for more information on the various Forms.

Shardblade: Shardblades are able to bond with people through the use of charged gemstones. The gem is placed in the hilt of the Blade and after a week of constant contact, the Blade is bonded and can be dismissed from and recalled to the Physical Realm. Once bonded the blade can be dismissed and recalled by syncing with the user's heart to the blade. Ten heartbeats are required. A person's iris will lighten during the bonding process. Surgebinding is not granted by this bond.

Void Bonds: Nothing is known at this time about Voidbinding.

Lesser Spren Bonds: Non-intelligent spren are able to form bonds with humans.[11] This Bond does not grant Surgebinding.

Other Spren Bonds: Certain spren bond with animals native to Roshar, enhancing those animals and granting them abilities. Animals that are confirmed to have these bonds are chasmfiends, chulls, and skyeels.

Honorblades: Honorblades grant surgebinding abilites to humans who touch them, but this requires dangerous levels of stormlight.[12]

Sel Bonds

Seons: A seon can create bonds with humans and Elantrians. Little is known of this bond other than that the seon follows and helps the person it is bonded to, functioning as a servant to the owner of the bond. This bond does not give the seon an innate ability to find the human to whom it is bonded. Seons will automatically seek out a new person to bond with following the death of its master; often the new master has been prearranged. During the time of the Reod, while the Shaod was unable to finish transforming a human into an Elantrian, any seon bonded to a Elantrian lost its mind and would float around the city, often near their master.[13] This bond grants new unknown powers to the members of the bond while on Roshar and is very similar to a Nahel Bond.[14][15]

First of the Sun Bonds

Aviar: Aviars create a bond with a person and grant a specific power based of the type of Aviar bonded. Aviar are granted their ability if raised on one of the pantheon islands and consume a worm native to the island. See Aviar for more information. Has no known effect on Roshar.

Other Worm Infected Animals Other birds besides native island Aviar are able to eat the worms and create a bond with a new effect (i.e. Sak). It is unknown if eating the worms will grant new abilities to other non-bird animals.

Nalthis Bonds

Sentient Awakened Entities in an Inorganic Host: Also known as Type IV BioChromatic Entities. The only known entity of this kind is Nightblood. Nightblood is a sentient sword made using 1000 breaths and the command to destroy evil. It makes a bond with anyone with whom it wishes to communicate, and it is able to read and speak with minds directly.[15] Distance appears to be a factor, but this may be a limitation of the mind of Nightblood and not its ability. While idle, Nightblood reaches out to other people, tempting them to draw the blade. "Pure" people who cannot be tempted would feel great nausea, even induce vomiting. Anyone who is able to wield Nightblood and survive, bonds with the blade to a greater degree and is no longer repelled by or abnormally drawn to use it.Template:Annotation ref Those unable to control Nightblood are controlled by it, in effect Nightblood wields them killing everyone around and absorbing all of the Investiture from the victim including the spark of life (i.e. the soul). This bond may grant additional powers on Roshar.[16]

Scadrial Bonds

No Bonds are known of on this Shardworld.

Of note is that by using Hemalurgy, bonds may be stolen and given to a new person.[17][18]

The Known effect of Bonds while on other Shardworlds

Bonds on some Shardworlds provide the Holders of the Bonds with additional powers.[8]


It has been confirmed that at least one Bond other than the Nahel Bond will provide powers to the constituent entities of that Bond. What these powers are is unknown, and will not be of the ten Surges. At this time only the seon bond is confirmed to do this, as the Nahel bond and the seon bond are very similar.[15]

Categories of Investiture

In the Alloy of Law Ars Arcanum, the author categorizes the three Metallic Arts.[19] Every type of Investiture can be classified along these categories.[20]

End-positive Investiture

When practicing an end-positive Investiture, the practitioner draws in power from an external source.[19] The practitioner gains power from the external source. The Investiture is positive in that it adds -- in most cases temporarily -- power to the practitioner. Most types of Investiture are end-positive.[20]

Allomancy draws Investiture from Preservation in a similar way to AonDor pulling power from the Dor; both are considered End-Positive since they add power to the Allomancer or Elantrian. Allomantic Atium draws power from Ruin's concentrated Physical form, but is still considered End-Positive as the power comes from an outside source. Stormlight acts as an external source to the Surges, so the system is also end-positive.

End-neutral Investiture

For an act of Investiture to be considered end-neutral, power is neither gained nor lost[19]. A practitioner manipulates power that already exists or power that comes from themselves.

Feruchemy is end-neutral, since the amount of Investiture remains constant. Awakening is also considered end-neutral, even though color is lost.[21]

End-negative Investiture

In the practice of an end-negative Investiture, some power is lost.[19] End-negative Investiture is very rare.[20]

Hemalurgy is end-negative. Investiture held in a spike outside the body decays.

Investiture of Humans

All living creatures on some level have Investiture. This is called the Spark of Life. All sentient creatures have a slightly greater amount of Investiture than non-intelligent ones. The Spark of Life or soul of a person creates a kind of interference when working with other forms of Investiture. This interference is the reason that metal inside of a person's body is highly resistant to Allomantic steel or iron. To affect something like metal inside a person's body takes a much greater degree of Investiture than most humans are capable of wielding. This is of note because a human's soul does not count as a highly Invested object and a person is not even counted as being innately Invested if they only have the Spark of Life.[9]

Generally, humans are not considered to have Innate Investiture. However, on some worlds, a Shard has Invested humans. For example, Preservation gave part of his power to make sentient humans with the ability to develop Allomancy. On Nalthis, people are born with Breath. Both cases are known as Innate Investiture.[1] For example, on Nalthis every person is born with a breath and has innate Investiture, but a person who has given up their breath is no longer innately Invested while still maintaining their Spark of Life.

Under specific conditions, some humans can become Invested with more power than others. In general, the closer the connection between a human and a Shard, the more powerful the human becomes. A normal human on Scadrial is less connected to Preservation's Investiture than a Misting, who is less connected than a Mistborn, who is less connected than Mistborn who has consumed Lerasium (the direct Physical essence of Preservation), who is less connected than a person using a pool of liquid Investiture like the Well of Ascension. A human who is holding a Shard is basically pure Investiture and cannot really be considered human while holding a Shard.

The conditions required for becoming Invested with a larger amount of power differ from Shardworld to Shardworld. It is assumed that the intent of the respective Shard influences these conditions. On Scadrial Connection to a Shard is determined by genetics. On Sel it's the Shaod that comes to those who live in the correct area and are devoted to something, and on Roshar it has to do with a person's actions and how they live their life.[22]

Investiture of Objects

Objects are not Invested in their original state. They can become Invested by a Shard or by a human having met the above-mentioned requirements. An Invested object gains magical properties. The more Invested an object is, the more power it has. Examples for Invested objects include:

Invested objects are harder to affect with any magic system, the more Investiture the more difficult to affect.[23][24] Once an object has been Invested it is very hard to Invest it with a different kind of Investiture as well.[25] Sometimes when an object in one of the Realms has a large amount of Investiture it can gain sentience (see, for example, spren and Nightblood).

Investiture of Natural Phenomena

It is possible for a natural force to become Invested. On Roshar, Zahel states that the highstorms are Invested. Whether this is the result of purposeful design by a Shard, or the continued maintainence of another entity such as the Stormfather, has not been revealed. The Stormfather also states that a central point of Honor’s power is located in the highstorm. This has been theorized to be Honor’s perpendicularity. It is also not clear whether the storm is Invested in and of itself, or if it houses another form of Investiture.

Manifestations of Investiture

Investiture World Shard Books
Allomancy Scadrial Preservation Mistborn
Feruchemy Scadrial Preservation, Ruin Mistborn
Hemalurgy Scadrial Ruin Mistborn
Awakening Nalthis Endowment Warbreaker
AonDor Sel Devotion, Dominion Elantris
Dakhor Sel Devotion, Dominion Elantris
ChayShan Sel Devotion, Dominion Elantris
Forgery Sel Devotion, Dominion The Emperor's Soul
Bloodsealing Sel Devotion, Dominion The Emperor's Soul
Surgebinding Roshar Honor, Cultivation The Stormlight Archive
Voidbinding Roshar Odium The Stormlight Archive
Old Magic Roshar Cultivation The Stormlight Archive
Sand mastery Taldain Autonomy White Sand
Lightweaving Yolen Unknown Dragonsteel


  1. a b 17th Shard Forum Q&A
    Arcanum - 2012-09-25#
  2. Ancient 17S Q&A
    Arcanum - 2010-05-01#
  3. Emerald City Comic Con 2018
    Arcanum - 2018-03-01#
  4. /r/books AMA 2015
    Arcanum - 2015-03-12#
  5. Oathbringer San Francisco signing
    Arcanum - 2017-11-15#
  6. Oathbringer chapter 117#
  7. Shadows of Self release party
    Arcanum - 2015-10-05#
  8. a b /r/books AMA 2015
    Arcanum - 2015-06-19#
  9. a b Words of Radiance San Francisco signing
    Arcanum - 2014-03-06#
  10. London signing
    Arcanum - 2014-08-04#
  11. Fantasy Faction interview
    Arcanum - 2014-04-24#
  12. Words of Radiance San Diego signing
    Arcanum - 2014-03-04#
  13. Elantris chapter 4#
  14. Steelheart Chicago signing
    Arcanum - 2013-10-01#
  15. a b c Words of Radiance Washington, DC signing
    Arcanum - 2014-03-20#
  16. Words of Radiance signing San Fansisco
    Arcanum - 2014-03-06#
  17. Words of Radiance San Francisco signing
    Arcanum - 2014-03-06#
  18. 17th Shard Forum Q&A
    Arcanum - 2012-09-26#
  19. a b c d The Alloy of Law Ars Arcanum#
  20. a b c 17th Shard Forum Q&A
    Arcanum - 2012-09-25#
  21. Words of Radiance Chicago signing
    Arcanum - 2014-03-22#
  22. Amsterdam signing, 2011
    Arcanum - 2011-05-31#
  23. General Twitter 2012
    Arcanum - 2012-01-16#
  24. /r/fantasy AMA 2013
    Arcanum - 2013-04-15#
  25. Chris King interview
    Arcanum - 2013-09-24#
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