by Isaac Stewart
|Prerequisites||Genetic ability, Snapping|
|Featured In||Mistborn, The Stormlight Archive|
”Allomancy is brutal, raw, and powerful— From "On the Three Metallic Arts"
Allomancy is one of the three prime manifestations of Investiture on Scadrial. Scadrians call it one of the three Metallic Arts. It is the most widespread of the Metallic Arts in the present day. People who have one or more Allomantic abilities are called Allomancers. Allomancy has many widespread effects, such as enhancing and dampening emotions, Pushing and Pulling on metals, and even temporal effects. Each Allomantic power has its own metal, which must be ingested and "burned" to activate.
Though Allomancy is hereditary, once Allomantic powers are awakened in a person, it is instinctual. All an Allomancer requires to use their power is enough of the correct metal.
A person needs to be born with the hereditary Allomantic ability to get Allomancy. This is not a a recessive or dominant gene and it doesn't work according to physical genetics. This instead works according to spiritual genetics, which behave differently from physical genetics. When a person is born with the hereditary Allomantic ability, they cannot burn metals until the Allomantic ability is awakened in them. The process of Allomancy being activated within a person is called Snapping. In the Final Empire era of Scadrial, Snapping required immense trauma. This was usually inflicted by an intense beating at a young age. It was possible for Allomancers to Snap from other intense emotions, like joy, but this was much more uncommon. It was said that the more powerful the Allomancer, the more intense the trauma had to be to Snap. However, after the Final Ascension, Harmony changed the way Snapping operated, but it is unknown how it was altered.
Once an Allomancer has Snapped, they will feel a reserve of power in their stomach when they have ingested a metal they can burn. The metals are usually ingested by drinking specifically prepared metal vials, which contain metal flakes suspended in an alcohol solution or other such liquid i.e. cod oil. It is completely instinctual for an Allomancer to activate and burn their metal and gain its ability; it does not require training to do it (however, there is much training in using their metals properly). It is so instinctual that in some circumstances, an Allomancer can even burn metals while unconscious. An Allomancer can also burn their metals at an accelerated rate, which is called "flaring." Flaring grants more power, but the reserve of metals depletes much faster, too.
Allomancers will either be able to burn a single metal (Mistings) or they will be able to burn every metal (Mistborn). There is no natural way for a person to have, say, exactly two Allomantic powers. It is either one or all of them. Each type of Misting was given a particular name depending on their ability, such as Lurcher, Coinshot, or Soother. An Allomancer's lineage does not usually play a factor in which kind of Misting they are.
Throughout the ages, the strength of an Allomancer has slowly decreased, weakening a bit with each generation. This dilution of power eventually caps and cannot decrease any further, and has reached that point by Era 3. People who use lerasium can gain the strength of ancient, powerful Allomancers.
Allomancers who flare their metal intensely for extended periods of time may be physiologically altered by the constant influx of Allomantic power. These people are known as Allomantic savants. These people experience heightened ability with, and heightened dependence upon, whatever metal they are burning in such a manner. Under most circumstances, this was considered irreversibly damaging.
Twinborn and Compounders
After the Final Empire, Terris and nobles began to interbreed, so it became possible for their descendants to have one Allomantic ability and one Feruchemical ability. People with such powers were called Twinborn. Like Mistings, Twinborn were each given a name depending on their specific combination of abilities. The interaction between the two abilities creates a new, secondary effect, known as a Resonance.
A special type of Twinborn is a Compounder -- a Twinborn who has the same metal for both their Allomantic and Feruchemical abilities. A Compounder can Allomantically burn their Feruchemically charged metalmind, gaining a massive burst of the stored Feruchemical attribute. Compounders were considered immensely powerful. Though the term "Compounding" first appeared in Scadrian vocabulary after the Final Empire, perhaps the most famous Compounder was the Lord Ruler himself -- Compounding was one reason he was so strong.
zinc and Push with brass. You just used pewter to Push your body. That's one of the internal physical powers.”There are two metals for every power. One Pushes, one Pulls--the second is usually an alloy of the first. For emotions--the external mental powers--you Pull with
There are sixteen base Allomantic metals (though, despite being called "Allomantic" metals, these same metals are shared in all three Metallic Arts). The metals come in pairs: one metal is a pure metal, and it is paired with an alloy (a mixture) of that base metal. These pairs have complementary effects. Iron Pulls on nearby metals, while steel (an alloy of iron) Pushes on metals. Similarly, each base metal is classified as a "Pulling" ability, whereas each alloy is classified as a "Pushing" ability. The purity of the metals is important. The more pure a metal, the more effective they are. Alloys require precise metal percentages for maximum power. If an Allomancer burns a metal or an alloy that is impure, they can get sick, and even more severe effects happen if an Allomancer attempts to burn a metal that is not one of the sixteen.
”Never try to burn a metal that isn't one of the ten. I warned you that impure metals and alloys can make you sick. Well, if you try to burn a metal that isn't Allomantically sound at all, it could be deadly.
In addition to Pulling and Pushing classifications, there are external and internal metals. External powers influence things outside an Allomancer's body, while internal powers influence the Allomancer. This naturally divides the sixteen Allomantic metals into four groups of four metals each: physical, mental, temporal, and enhancement powers. Each quadrant has a metal and alloy pair of an external power, and another pair of internal powers. For example, the external physical powers are iron and steel, while the internal physical powers are tin--which enhances the Allomancer's senses--and pewter--which enhances the Allomancer's physical attributes.
There are also three "God Metals" known to Scadrians lerasium, atium, and ettmetal, with others from other Shardworlds, which do not fit in the modern Table of Allomantic Metals. Atium was famously classified as a temporal metal during the Final Empire era by the Steel Ministry, but this was shown to be flawed. The God Metals are essences of the Shards that have taken up residence on Scadrial, Preservation and Ruin, and later Harmony. Alloys of God Metals can lead to additional abilities.
The following is the modern Table of Allomantic Metals, from some point after the Catacendre.
|Table of Allomantic Metals|
|External|| Steel (Coinshot)
Pushes on Nearby Metals
| Iron (Lurcher)
Pulls on Nearby Metals
| Zinc (Rioter)
Enflames (riots) Emotions
| Brass (Soother)
Dampens (soothes) Emotions
|Internal|| Pewter (Thug)
Increases Physical Abilities
| Tin (Tineye)
| Copper (Smoker)
Hide Allomantic Pulses
| Bronze (Seeker)
Can Hear Allomantic Pulses
|Internal|| Duralumin (Duralumin Gnat)
Enhances Current Metal Burned
| Aluminum (Aluminum Gnat)
Wipes Internal Allomantic Reserves
| Gold (Augur)
Reveals Your Past Self
| Electrum (Oracle)
Reveals Your Future
|External|| Nicrosil (Nicroburst)
Enhances Allomantic Burn of Target
| Chromium (Leecher)
Wipes Allomantic Reserves of Target
| Cadmium (Pulser)
Slows Down Time
| Bendalloy (Slider)
Speeds Up Time
During most of the Final Empire, the Table looked very different, as it was commonly assumed that there were ten total metals (the four physical and four mental metals, with gold and atium known as the "high metals"), as the Lord Ruler and Steel Ministry obfuscated how many metals there actually were. The Ministry had known of more metals, but even they made mistakes classifying metals: originally they classified atium and one of its alloys, malatium (the so-called "Eleventh Metal"), as external temporal metals. It was only after the Final Ascension that advances in technology made cadmium, bendalloy, chromium, and nicrosil more available.
”Allomancy, obviously, is of Preservation. The rational mind will see this. For, in the case of Allomancy, net power is gained. It is provided by an external source--Preservation's own body.
Allomancy is an End-Positive magic system--meaning energy is gained in the process of its use. It is of the Shard Preservation. Energy does not come from one's own body, as happens in Feruchemy, but from Preservation himself.
Metal is not the source of Allomancy's power. Rather, metal is what is called a focus--a necessary component to a manifestation of Investiture (magic system), but not the source of the power itself. When an Allomancer burns a metal, that metal's specific molecular structure acts as a conduit to Preservation, and then the Allomancer is granted an ability corresponding to the metal, hence the metal "focuses" Preservation's power to the user. Each metal is the only way a mortal can access Preservation and the power of creation's power. Afterwards, the metal is vaporized. This is only true for the base sixteen Allomantic metals. The god metals (lerasium, atium, their alloys and other Shard's metal) are actually Investiture condensed into a solid form. Burning atium draws power from Ruin, not Preservation.
It may be quite unclear that Allomancy is of Preservation. After all, Pushing and Pulling on metals isn't an effect that "preserves," so to speak. However, it is important to know that the saying "Allomancy is of Preservation" has a very specific meaning: the power that an Allomancer accesses is of Preservation, but the actual effect of the power is unrelated to Preservation. The fundamental difference between Allomancy and Feruchemy is that Allomancy draws power from an external source (Preservation), while Feruchemy draws power from an internal source (the user's own body).
Allomancy--as well as Feruchemy--has the property that abilities are inherent to the user, and are hard-coded into their Spiritweb. While other Investitures can take years of practice[disputed], a new Allomancer's blunt power is already at its max extent the moment they acquire the correct metals. This comes with the trade-off that having the trait of Allomancy is something one is born with; a non-Allomancer cannot become an Allomancer (except in the very particular case of burning lerasium, which overwrites one's Spiritual DNA to have the connection to Preservation required to use Allomancy.)
Allomancy was not created by Preservation. None of the Metallic Arts were "created" by Preservation and Ruin. Rather, these powers are the natural result of the interactions between Preservation, Ruin, and Scadrial itself.
However, Preservation could still alter Allomancy in certain ways. He changed the rules of Allomancy twice: the first time, he changed the Table of Allomantic Metals to have atium and malatium as external temporal metals, exchanging them with cadmium and bendalloy. This may have had the effect of allowing for the existence of atium Mistings. Ultimately, this was part of Preservation's plan to defeat Ruin: to have atium Mistings that could burn away Ruin's body of atium, allowing someone else, who was not influenced as much by the intent of Preservation, to take up its power and destroy Ruin.
The second time Allomancy was changed was after the Final Ascension, when Harmony was particularly disturbed by the horrors of Snapping, so he altered Snapping to act differently. It is not currently known how Snapping works in the present era. It is also unclear how a Shard can influence manifestations of Investiture in this way, and how much a Shard is allowed to alter the way they operate.
Advanced Allomancy combined with Feruchemy will be the method by which Scadrians will eventually gain faster-than-light travel.
It is possible to use Allomancy in the Cognitive Realm.
If an Allomancer attempts to burn a Hemalurgic spike, the Allomancer's spiritual DNA will be spliced to that of the person's contained in the spike. The consequences of this are as of yet unknown.
Allomancy was present in the original version of Mistborn (now known as Mistborn Prime). In that version, Allomancy only had Mistborn and no Mistings. Mistborn Prime was never published, and Brandon later repurposed its good ideas into Mistborn: The Final Empire. To give this new Mistborn book a heist novel feel, Brandon added Mistings, so that he could have a team of specialists with their own unique strengths.
The metals themselves changed over time. Brandon had been misled by employees of a hobby shop in his childhood that pewter was an alloy of silver, so in the original draft of Mistborn, silver and pewter were paired, and he named silver Mistings Silvereyes. When he realized the factual error, he was forced to change it to tin and Tineye. Brandon always thought Silvereye sounded much "slicker" than Tineye. And so silver just happened to not have any Allomantic effect in the final form of Allomancy.
After the original trilogy and Brandon's reveal that atium and malatium did not belong on the true Table of Allomantic Metals, Brandon chose the true external temporal metal to be cadmium, as it was particularly dangerous and hard to acquire, so it made sense that only Scadrians with the technology after the Final Ascension could discover it. Brandon originally had cadmium's alloy named cerrobend, but that name happened to be copyrighted, so Brandon was forced to change it to the generic word, bendalloy. The error was present on an early version of the Table of Allomantic Metals.
- Words of Radiance Washington, DC signing
— Arcanum - 2014-03-20#
- The Alloy of Law Ars Arcanum #
- Orem Signing
— Arcanum - 2019-03-16#
- Annotation for The Hero of Ages chapter 70 #
- West Jordan signing
— Arcanum - 2011-12-15#
- The Final Empire chapter 15 #
- The Final Empire chapter 7 #
- Orem Signing
— Arcanum - 2019-03-16#
- The Hero of Ages chapter 21 epigraph #
- The Hero of Ages chapter 22 epigraph #
- Legion Release Party
— Arcanum - 2018-09-19#
- 17th Shard Interview
— Arcanum - 2010-10-03#
- The Hero of Ages chapter 16 epigraph #
- The Alloy of Law chapter 1 #
- Shadows of Self Ars Arcanum #
- Annotation for The Final Empire chapter 38-1 #
- The Hero of Ages chapter 32 epigraph #
- Annotation for The Hero of Ages chapter 38 #
- Hero of Ages Q&A - Time Waster's Guide
— Arcanum - 2008-10-15#
- West Jordan signing
— Arcanum - 2011-08-04#
- The Hero of Ages chapter 78 epigraph #
- /r/fantasy AMA 2011
— Arcanum - 2011-08-31#
- Hero of Ages Q&A - Time Waster's Guide
— Arcanum - 2008-10-15#
- Barnes and Noble Book Club Q&A
— Arcanum - 2009-07-08#
- The Hero of Ages Annotations
— Arcanum - 2010-06-10#
- General Twitter 2011
— Arcanum - 2011-11-14#
- Alloy of Law Seattle Signing
— Arcanum - 2011-11-11#
- Warsaw signing
— Arcanum - 2017-03-18#
- Tor.com Q&A with Brandon Sanderson
— Arcanum - 2011-01-10#
- Annotation for The Final Empire chapter 3 #
- Annotation for The Final Empire chapter 23 #
- Calamity Austin signing
— Arcanum - 2016-02-25#
|The Metallic Arts|
|Arts||Allomancy · Feruchemy · Hemalurgy|
|Concepts||Metalborn · Snapping · Savants · Metalminds · Twinborn · Compounding · Blessings|
|Constructs||Steel Inquisitors · Koloss · Kandra · Chimeras|
|Base Metals||Iron · Steel · Tin · Pewter · Zinc · Brass · Copper · Bronze · Cadmium · Bendalloy · Gold · Electrum · Chromium · Nicrosil · Aluminum · Duralumin|
|God Metals||Atium (Malatium) · Lerasium · Ettmetal · Trellium|
|Era 1 books||Mistborn: The Final Empire · The Well of Ascension · The Hero of Ages · (Mistborn: Secret History · The Eleventh Metal)|
|Era 2 books||The Alloy of Law · Shadows of Self · The Bands of Mourning · The Lost Metal · (Allomancer Jak and the Pits of Eltania)|
|Shards||Preservation · Ruin · Harmony|
|History||Classical Scadrial · Final Empire · Catacendre · Elendel · Southern Scadrian|
|Magic||Metallic Arts (Allomancy, Feruchemy, Hemalurgy) · Metalborn · Mistborn · Misting · Savant · Ferring · Twinborn · Compounding · Atium · Lerasium · Ettmetal|
|Other Media||Mistborn Adventure Game · Mistborn: Birthright · Mistborn film · Mistborn: House War|