We know that there exist 16 Shards in the cosmere. Each Shard is, by itself, capable of god-like acts. For example, the Lord Ruler, when using the power of Preservation, was able to rework human biology, move a planet, and other such things. Brandon has said that all Shards were initially of equal power (though Investing in sentient beings, say, weakens them slightly).

We know, too, that an entity with two Shards is more powerful than an entity with one: Brandon has also said that Harmony is possibly the strongest entity in the Cosmere.

This probably means that an entity with multiple Shards would have an advantage in a direct contest with another Shard. However, is there any action that an entity with multiple Shards can perform that cannot be performed by an entity with a single Shard? I am not talking about limitations of Intent (e.g. Cultivation can see so-and-so-years into the future, but Ruin can't, so an entity with both is more powerful than Ruin) , but rather power (e.g. Harmony can do X and so could any combination of two Shards, but Odium, Endowment, etc. can't. )

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    Let me hop in my time machine and find out what the very last cosmere book says
    – Radhil
    Sep 20, 2017 at 23:25
  • @Radhil - Eh, you know we might already know.
    – Adamant
    Sep 20, 2017 at 23:28
  • I can't help but snark. All the shards we get background on are pretty dysfunctional. I find the thought of two amusing, when we haven't gotten one to sit down, stop being dead/insane, and let us do science on their limits. (There's a terrifying mashup, GlaDOS with a Shard)
    – Radhil
    Sep 20, 2017 at 23:35
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    @Radhil - But we already know of at least two multiple-shard entities: Harmony and Adonalsium. And of course Brandon might have said something.... Also, Shards aren’t by any means insane, they’re just single-minded. Actually, they have greatly expanded Cognitive aspects, so I suppose one could argue that they’re “super-sane.”
    – Adamant
    Sep 20, 2017 at 23:53
  • Adonalsium cant really be compared in this way to the rest. Since as far as we know, he was a single Whole entity, and when they "killed him" he broke INTO the shards we know now.
    – Himarm
    Sep 21, 2017 at 1:06

1 Answer 1


There's really only one act in the current known history of the Cosmere that was done by the combined power of two or more Shards and hasn't been done since:

Creating a planet, literally from scratch.

We are aware that general planetary engineering - moving a planet's orbit around a star, or terraforming it to make it livable - is something that a single Shard is capable of, as we see that directly in the Mistborn novels. During Hero of Ages, Vin takes up Preservation and tries to move the planet around to fix things. Possibly this may be influenced by a Shards intent, but it is likely something all Shards have the power for, given how quickly and instinctively she was able to start doing it (even if her results were not as successful). The number of planets with active Shards that have living humans in natural environments reinforces this assumption. The number of star systems with unusual arrangements (a tidally locked planet that is still livable, the strange arrangements of planets in the Rosharan system) practically confirms that moving and changing planetary bodies is old hat to anyone with god-level powers.

What we haven't seen at all is an event like the creation of Scadrial. Per Arcanum Unbounded, the planet Scadrial on which the Mistborn books take place did not exist at all before Ruin and Preservation decided to start their work there. No other Cosmere world carries that distinction, even in systems where it's feels like there's been heavy stellar tinkering. The uniqueness of it leads me to conclude that a creation on that scale could only have been done by two Shards working in concert.

This of course leads to unfortunate questions, such as what might happen to that planet should the Shards that are so strongly Invested in it be removed.

Beyond this, we only really have speculation.

No general overview of the limits of Shard power has ever been given in any out-of-universe Q&A that I can find. If Khriss has managed an in-universe scientific analysis of those power levels, we haven't yet been granted access to it. If the limits of being a god in the Cosmere are basically that any given planet is your toy, we have a fairly high bar to leap to find things that might fit the mold of multiple Shards. Then again, there's also the smaller scope to consider - Khriss' interests are in how Investiture manifests into magics and powers and the variances, and we have only a few ideas of how this works too. This is also not accounting for events that Shards don't seem to completely control, that look like a side effect of the sheer amount of Investiture they represent, like perpendicularities and the formation of Shardpools.

So to throw out the ocean of possibilities -

  • Stellar manipulation and engineering. Ringworlds. Singularities? The Culture level sci-fi stuff.
  • Magical oversaturation of a given setting, where literally anyone has easy access to physics-breaking powers.
  • Magical overcomplication. Single Shards tend to invest and create specific systems of magic, whether intentional or not. We've already seen how two Shards interacting created three magic systems on Scadrial. We're actually not even sure yet what sort of magical interaction is going on with Roshar, where three Shards interacted, and some of it is older than humanity.
  • If perpendicularities are what happens at a concentration of Investiture - essentially enough magic flow to punch through and link all the realms at one point, something that naturally happens with one Shard - this implies a much heavier cross-realm merge is possible with a stronger concentration, say, that of all sixteen Shards (we have yet to understand why Adonalsium was shattered, that may be one of many reasons)

Finally, there's also a flipside to phenomenal cosmic power. We know that the act of Shard's tinkering with worlds is essentially a form of Investment, that part of the Shard's power becomes part of that world. It has been confirmed that the more this goes on, the harder it is (not impossible, just not effortless or instant) for that Shard to gather it's power up, pack up, and move somewhere else (thus why Scadrial's fate is so tied to that of it's Shards). Combining more Shards would logically double down on this effect, limiting the mobility of any would-be god that grew more powerful than his fellows.

  • I don't know if you want to add this to the answer, but an individual shard also seems to have the ability to edit the details of the dna/genome of entire species, possibly very quickly (given Rashek's work during his ascension, and then Sazed's reworking afterwords).
    – fbstj
    Sep 22, 2017 at 12:14
  • @fbstj - it's a good point, widescale editing of reality at that level of detail, but honestly in my head, it'd fall under terraforming, or close enough to it.
    – Radhil
    Sep 22, 2017 at 16:58
  • Excellent answer, but I feel the whole speculation section is out of place. I'm not really sure what it is supposed to add to the answer.
    – amflare
    Oct 4, 2017 at 16:42
  • @amflare - I really feel like the answer should be "we don't really know", because honestly, there's so much we don't know about Shards that even the one planet thing isn't entirely 100%, it's still just speculation. So I speculate some more to make sure that feeling comes across, and I babble because apparently I'm good at not knowing what I'm talking about.
    – Radhil
    Oct 4, 2017 at 17:07
  • Brandon has nodded at the idea that what's impossible for one Shard is probably possible with enough: "It's, like, this idea, that when people are like, "Can you, yes or no?" Well... yes! Would it take the power of six Shards of Adonalsium working together? Maybe! Can you? Yes, you probably can."
    – Adamant
    Jan 27, 2019 at 23:10

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