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Sympathy is a system of energy manipulation (considered a form of magic ) in the Chronicle that requires extreme skill and concentration. Sympathy requires a user to create a sympathetic link between two objects, so that whatever is done to one object will affect the other. For example, if a sympathist creates a sympathetic link between two coins, he may move both coins equal distances by exerting force on only one. The coin that is not directly acted on by the sympathist will move with the same force and direction as the coin acted on by the sympathist. With such a sympathetic link, however, moving one of the coins will weigh as much as moving both of the coins. However, sympathy is not perfect, and some energy is always lost in the connection. Therefore, to move both coins, the symphathist will have to use more force than it would usually take to move two coins.The transfer of energy between sympathetically bound objects is not limited only to motion, however. For instance, by creating a doll of a person and making a sympathetic link between the doll and that person, a sympathist can affect the person's temperature by putting the doll near a source of heat.

The energy for these actions can either be taken from the sympathist's body or from a nearby energy source (usually a fire). The sympathetic link between two objects can either be strong or weak, depending on the similarity between the two objects. The weaker the link, the more energy goes to waste in performing any action. The strength of the sympathetic link depends upon similarities in shape, size and material. For living objects, strength can be increased by using a portion of the body (e.g., hair, blood).

Sympathy can be extremely dangerous to an inexperienced or reckless user; if a sympathist uses their own body as a source of energy for a process, as might be the case in the absence of a safer source such as fire, they can drain their body of heat and suffer possibly fatal chills.

Sympathy is viewed with extreme superstition by the populace and is associated with demons and dark powers. Reckless use of sympathy is responsible for most of the aggressive actions taken against arcanists throughout the Four Corners.

Laws, Terms, and Maxims of Sympathy

  1. The Doctrine of Correspondence: Similarity enhances sympathy.
  2. The Principle of Consanguinity: A piece of a thing can represent the whole of a thing.
  3. The Law of Conservation: Energy cannot be destroyed nor created, it can be lost or found.
  4. The Heart of Stone: A frame of mind in which a sympathist is able to shut out the distraction of emotions and focus rational thought to the utmost.
  5. Alar: "The riding-crop belief" is a faith controlled by personal will that is forceful enough to impose its energy upon reality. For example, a sympathist must have a firm Alar in order to maintain a belief that the wick of a candle will burst into flame. A common trick for training one's Alar is to split one's mind into separate parts and believe two conflicting things at once.

Known Bindings

  1. Sympathetic Binding of Parallel Motion: The very first binding Kvothe learned, it's the binding used to move a coin by moving a similar one, binded by a Sympathetic Link. It probably redirects part of the kinetic energy of one body to another, in order for both to move parallel one to the other (for both to achieve the same acceleration and therefore speed).
  2. 'Chemical, Second Catalytic': The binding Kvothe suggests to use in order to dissolve the oil that makes a bird's feather smooth, lathering a similar feather binded to the feathers of the bird into lye soap. Although Sympathy is said to be a transfer of energy, this seems to indicate that it's also possible to transfer chemical properties, transfering some kind of 'alkaline'/'caustic basic' property through the link.
  3. Capacatorial Kinetic Luminosity: The binding Kilvin uses to make light burst out of his hands by moving them, probably transferring kinetic energy into luminosity. Although Kvothe can be talking about a different one, he says "the 'motion-to-light binding' is rather difficult without a piece of metal to use as a focus", while using it to light the darkness in the Fae, while walking with Felurian.
  4. First Parallel Kinetic Binding: Elxa Dal asks Kvothe the words for this binding, but none of them explains what the binding does, although it could be just a different name for the Sympathetic Binding of Parallel Motion. It could also be a binding that would simply transfer Kinetic Energy to another body, as transferring an equal amount of kinetic energy wouldn't mean an equal motion (done by the quoted binding), as different masses would require a different amount of energy to move.
  5. Binding for Linear Galvanic Attraction: As in the above binding, Elxa Dal asks Kvothe about it in one of the University's interviews. It is speculated that Kvothe used this to create lightning. Linear Galvanic Attraction is a way to control electric/galvanic attraction between bodies using excess of proportions, creating an equilibrium. The laws of physics imply; Thus the thunder cloud being formed from vapour in the atmosphere, there is a contraction of volume, an excess of the pervading principle, which, by being transmitted to the earth beneath, produces lightning.[1] Kvothe connected this to the ground through the "Galvanic Binding";
  6. 'Galvanic Binding': Kvothe actually uses a galvanic binding to make a link between two similar arrows, in "an attempt to ground a tree more strongly than any lightning rod", in order to make a lightning bolt strike a tree in the middle of a bandit camp. He doesn't say which type of Galvanic Binding it was, but it definitely shows it's possible to make links for electricity.
  7. 'Maxim of Variable Heat Transferred to Constant Motion': A sympathetic binding that Abenthy assigns to Kvothe to learn early in NOTW. It it not described save for the fact that it took Kvothe only 15 minutes to master, despite Abenthy expecting it to take three or four hours.

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