Many flavors of energy in the Matoran Universe

This is an analysis on the many different kinds of energies flowing within the Matoran universe and through the bodies of its inhabitants.
It draws on the body of knowledge contained in the published story and promotional material, as well as numerous Greg Farshtey conversation topics. Take this topic as a synthesis of all the provided information and as an explanatory material detailing everything we know. The aim is to make obscure distinctions more clear and perhaps shed light on some of the questions you might have raised in the past.

I find it appropriate to preface this by highlighting the fact that the Matoran universe or the Bionicle story as a whole, does not posses a single central “power system” or “energy type” like many other series do (think Transformers - energon; Star Wars - the force; etc.)
Instead, the MU posseses several kinds of energy with different uses and properties.

We shall take a Toa as our model MU representative, as they posses most of the main energy types.
First, here is a list: 1) physical energy, 2) elemental energy, 3) toa power, 4) life force, 5) kanohi energy.
I am going to dicuss these one by one.

1) Physical energy
We start with perhaps the most important, but most overlooked energy type. It has several names, but all of them are valid and accurately describe the energy flowing through the bodies of ALL the MU inhabitants:
Personal, physical, internal energy, is the energy required for everyone to function. It can be replenished by eating and/or by recharging in the approprietly designed power station (like the Matoran feeding points in Metru Nui). Power-costly activities such as hard work or combat deplete this energy faster. Beside the bodily functions the physical energy also empowers all of the non-elemental abilities a character might have. Toa do not have many, but examaples of these include kraata powers, Skakdi abilities, Shadowed One’s eyebeams, and just about any special power you can point to except the elemental powers or Kanohi usage.
A notable example are Rhotuka spinners, which are formed exclusively from physical energy. It is here we see another property - that it is tied to/contains the essence of the morals and character traits of the individual. This makes sense as it permeates the mind.
The amount of physical energy the individual has is directly proportional to their physical size. Time and time again we see smaller characters like Matoran being depicted and described as weaker, or incapable of handling certain objects of power - that is because their capacity is relatively low. This increases after they become Toa and decreases again once they become Turaga. That is also the reason why while the Matoran can produce Rhotuka, they would quickly tire out if they attempted more than one or two. Some of the most powerful beings like Brotherhood of Makuta or Order of Mata Nui members have immense physical energy, so much so that lesser beings struggle containing it, potentially suffering adverse effects (Conjurer, Thok, Hakann).
When made visible, the physical energy manifests itself in a sinister black appearance such as the black lightning which shot out of Brutaka or black flames of the Maxilos’ sword, which directly manipulates robot’s physical energy.
The true nature of this power is intentionally left unclear, but it is not electricity.

2) Elemental energy
Unlike the previous one, the elemental energy only takes root in the select species of the MU (Toa, Bohrok, Makuta, etc.) It feeds the true elemental powers with extremelly wide application range and free control. It forms a separate energy pool unrelated to the physical energy. The main halmark of elemental powers is that they draw upon the elemental energy instead of the internal physical energy of the user, so its usage does not tire you out.
Elemental energy is constantly generated in the bodies of the elementaly powered beings. If they run out they have to wait for it to recharge to substantial levels before they can access its power.
When released, the energy quickly solidifies into its given element or its protodermic equivalent if it exists. Likewise, existing element can be transfomed into elemental energy of its flavor. This can be used to replenish elemental energy pool, but there is a limit to how much extra energy a Toa can absorb. Exceeding the natural maximum elemental capacity is possible, but it is similar to carrying heavy weight - the more you carry, more difficult it gets and at high levels can even be mentally taxing. If a Toa exceed their limit by a large enough margin, they risk losing control of the power unless it’s expelled elsewhere.
Different beings have differing amounts of elemental power: Matoran have trace amounts, Turaga a substantial but relativelly small amount, and Toa have a very large capacity. Toa Nuva are higher in this regard and Makuta are even higher up the rank. The Element lords have a nigh inexhaustable amount of elemental energy because they are linked to all of the existing element in the environment on a fundamental level.
Elemental energy seems to be affected by toa power, but it is not completely contingent upon it. For example increase or decrease in Toa power results in increase or decrease in maximum elemental capacity, but a complete absence of toa power does not necessitate the absence of elemental energy.
Also, the Rhotuka abilities of Toa Hordika happened to match their elements, but these still used physical energy (as all Rhotuka do). What was special about Hordika is that their new tools allowed them to acces their elemental energy pool and charge the spinners with that instead of using their physical energy. They could reach very high power levels using this method and could even charge up other objects (the gate).

3) Toa power
Only found inside Toa, this unique energy is very powerful, but finite. Once used up it cannot be replenished. The only way to create more toa power is to stimulate the latent toa power of a destined Matoran with a pre-existing power of another Toa. This Matoran is “inoculated” with the toa power which multiplies until it reaches a full capacity. This amount is all the Toa will ever get, unless one uses an external battery of toa power like the Nui Stone.
The power in appearance ranges from invisible, light of various colors, to blue-white lightning discharge. Nui Stone produces crimson red aura when activated, but it is unclear whether this is pure toa power or just an effect of the stone. The multiple depictions would indicate latter.
Toa power can be used to create toa stones and similar objects, or to create new Toa directly. It can heal mortal wounds and clear infections, as well as energize objects or individuals - awakening beings from a coma-like state. It is also a neccessary component of a Toa Seal placed on top of protodermis cage. We have not yet seen the full extent of toa power application.

4) Life force
Life force is the type of energy keeping the characters alive and it seems to be the same for MU inhabitants and Spherus Magna natives (as evidenced by the effects of the Ignika and the fact that Squids can leech life force out of MU denizens). It is extremely difficult to create new life force, the only things known to have this ability are the Matoran creation machines (and any equivalnets for other species), machines on the Red Star, Ignika, Great Beings and their equipment, Artakha if provided with extra GB equipmement, Rahi creation process and creation process for other species. Mutation done to inanimate objects can also sometimes result in new life force (Roodaka’s spinner).
The life force is tied to the spirit (AI) of the being. It is also somehow proportional to the size, but this is less clear cut than in case of physical energy. For example, Teridax has more life force than Matoran Jaller, but Toa Matoro was still able to use his life force to revive GSR (a possible amplification mechanism due to Ignika). It is easier to make more of existing life froce than to create it de novo. Depleted life force regenerates over time. Only a sufficiently functional body can house life force.

5) Kanohi energy
Kanohi masks contain their own type of energy. This goes for Kanoka disk too. The energy determines the power level and power type of the mask/disk and is dependent on the properties of the protodermis mask/disk is made from. The effects of this energy are more “wild” and less stable in case of disks, and more focused and controlable in case of masks. When a disk is converted into a mask, this energy leaks out, which is the reason only the disks of higher power levels retain some after the process. Once in mask form, the energy stabilizes even more so than what was possible in disks.This energy is finite and cannot be replenished, but the capacity of a mask is huge (Helryx’s mask existed since before the dawn of MU and has been in heavy use all the time, yet did not run out of power) This is not true for disks for afformentioned reasons (kanoka on Mata Nui lost their powers in less than 1000 years). Thus Kanohi seem to be around 100X more stable than disks.
The Kanohi energy can be visible in rare circumstances such as Eliminator extracting the Kanoka energy and forming it into lighting-like blasts, or Great Disks acting on their own to destroy Morbuzahk with a yellow-white energy sphere.
So far we talked about the energy that gives the mask/disk its power. But there seems to be another energy type within, the one that vitalizes a Kanohi user and enables them to function. It is not clear whether this is truly a different kind or the same type. Since the masks are often described as batteries and are cited as objects enabling Kanohi-dependent species to function without much external recharging, it is entirely feesible that at least a portion (or even all) of this energy is actually physical energy. The dependence on masks varies even between mask-wearing species and one could perhaps imagine that the extra power creates a sort of positive feedback loop amplifying users physical energy.
Intra-species variability in mask dependence also exists. Maskless Toa operates at 50% efficiency, Turaga at some undisclosed lower value and Matoran enter a coma-like state if the mask is not replaced within certain time.

So this is it for now! There are of course many more energy types, but these are the mot important ones and anytime you need to know more about them, you can refer back to this topic :+1:

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My favorite flavor of energy is salt.

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ah this is all quite interesting. It’s always nice to read through these sorts of topics

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Hmm… could Toa of Stone control salt? It is a mineral.

I am always surprised how consistent certain obscure things are.

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Or perhaps it would fall under the elementally elusive “crystal” category

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Here is another update regarding the Physical energy and Elemental energy.
The differences between the Toa Nuva and the Toa Inika were often times confusing for many people, but I am going to make it super clear once and for all.

Toa Nuva
The Toa Nuva following their upgrade, recieved an expanded pool of elemental energy. In addition to the greater elemental reserves, Nuva were granted higher innate elemental control enabling them to properly control the new amount of elemental energy. Mind you this is not a trivial detail, increase in innate control does not usually go hand in hand with increase in elemental capacity (Tuyet has greater capacity than Makuta, yet retains only Toa level innate control). This increase in innate control allows Toa Nuva to make full use of their newfound power. A result of this is their novel ability to detach, set up, and program portions of elemental energy to create a certain effect with a time delay (Pohatu on Odina; Tahu, Gali, Onua in Karda Nui).
They also recieved special hardware upgrade to their mental discipline to allow for Kanohi Nuva usage.
Regarding the changes in their physicality, there have been conflicting answers in the past: 1) they are physically stronger, faster, more agile etc.; 2) they did not become physically stronger. However all of these can be very easily reconciled when we realize Toa Mata were among the first Toa teams created and were thus old out of date models at the point of their awakening. The transformation into the Nuva did in fact make them more physcally apt by modernizing their bodies to an up to date technology, while giving them new unique looks of the Nuva. Their tools were also updated from old simplistic weapons to more versatile ones with multiple functions, which was a universal staple at that point (see Toa Metru). So yes, they were made stronger but relative to the other modern Toa, they did not get any better physically, just caught up to them. The tools they recieved were not even in top tiers of quality at the time, just modernized (Lhikan’s swords were older but superior to Tahu’s, none of the Nuva tools were made out of protosteel etc.). The last part of the Nuva upgrade constituted the Nuva armor which was a second layer of armor on top of the usual Toa armor. This Nuva armor was independently removable and granted extra protection and durability.
So that is the extent of the Nuva upgrade for you. In short, modernization of the body and tools, extra Nuva armor, mental hardware for Kanohi Nuva usage, greater elemental energy capacity and the innate elemental control to accompany it, and lastly capability of time-delayed elemental effects.

Toa Inika
The Inika are much different from the Nuva because of the way they transformed. The energies of the Red Star not only transformed the Matoran group into Toa, but changed them in other ways by supercharging them with extra power. This power however was not elemental energy, it was physical energy mentioned in the initial post. As I mentioned previously, the physical energy is proportional to the size and stature of the being. However the Inika had way more physical energy than their size would normally allow. We know this was possible thanks to them wearing special armor specifically designed to contain the high energy levels concentrated in their comparatively smaller forms. Still some of this energy leaked out in the form of brilliant light when their Kanohi was removed. Likewise their new tools were similarly supercharged and glowed when in use. The charged tools could access the extra power in the form of energy bursts and laser blasts. The Toa Inika themselves manifested the hightened physical energy in the form of lightning intertwined in their elemental powers. It is important to note that the lightning itself as not elemental in nature as it was a product of extra physical energy. The high energy levels also caused the antidermis in the Zamor spheres to instantly get incinerated, making Inika immune to its effects.
The other changes specific to Inika include their organic Kanohi. These have several benefits to normal metal Kanohi. Their are sentient, and are able to sense the intent of their wearer, effectively eliminating the learning curve normally necessary to use Great Kanohi masks. This was important in the context of the emergency failsafe as the team created in this way would probably have to learn quickly to solve the crisis (which was indeed the case). Even after this initial benefit, the sentience continues to be useful in the form of more accurate communication between the mask and the user and thus finer control of the mask power with less taxing concentration needed. It also makes certain masks in a standby mode being partially active on a subconscious level. Being made out of organic protodermis, it cannot be removed by magnetism or control over metal. It is also able to crawl back to its original owner krana-style. It is possible the masks can also regenerate damage over time as all organic protodermis has self-regenerating properties. However they might be less resistant to damage than metal masks.
Some purely aesthetic changes aside from the ones already mentioned include the unique look of the armor and Hewkii being the first Toa of stone ever not to contain at least one shade of brown in his natural color scheme (in universe).
So again in summary the Inika have increased physical energy manifesting itself as energy blasts, lightning and light, special armor allowing them to have the energy exceeding their normal allowed amount, organic masks with sentience for easier and more accurate use.

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I think Physical Energy is a rather inaccurate term. All energy is physical. It’s all part of physics. It also sounds like kinetic energy and stuff. I don’t really see how a Kurahk’s anger power would be considered physical when it’s clearly mental. You might just want to call it “Non-Elemental” energy, and I also don’t understand why Kanohi/Kanoka disks are separate from it.

I think you misunderstood. Physical energy has nothing to do with “physics”. Also, I explain the differences in detail at the start of the topic. You will find all the answers there.

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  1. You’re mistaken that Matoran can’t use masks because their energy isn’t enough. Mask is a source of energy for itself. You only need concentration to control it, which the Matoran lacks. Toa simply have better concentration, the Makuta and powerful entities have even more of it. It’s connected to spirit of a creature.

  2. Why do you think the life force exists? It seems like it’s just physical force really. I never heard anything of it besides leeches who are sucking the energy out of you, but it still looks like common physical energy. There’s an element of Life, and it affects anything living any form of life, while not affecting robots. So you better address life creation, draining and all that to this element, same as energy of time and energy of creation.

If physical energy has nothing to do with physics, you really need a new name for it haha

Also, if the Matoran and all inhabitants of the GSR are created by the Great Beings, the life force that you talk of is totally in agreement with @Lorentz ‘s calculations. It was put in beings to power them, like hero cores in hero factory or arc reactors in Iron Man. Thus, it is not a unexplained force. It’s necessary for the story to exist. Would you, when making a story, stop to explain why the main character has being, and how he is living? I doubt it, unless it’s explicitly mentioned why he might be dead. It’s the same with the life force: the only living things in Bionicle that don’t have it are robots like Maxilos, who are merely robots. Other characters are android-like beings similar to Vision in marvel, who can be assumed to be alive in the normal sense of the word.

Physical as in “bodily” not as in “connected to physics”. But I’m not the one who named it anyway - like I said, I only summerized what we already know including the names, I didn’t make any new information for this topic. If I include a speculation I try to describe it as such.

Masks are a source of energy, yes, I say as much in my summary. And the difference in energy contained in a powerless, noble and great masks is what makes them incompatible with certain stages of the Matoran life cycle. It is a hardware thing, that is why you always see Greg say that it would be like plugging a high voltage battery into a small device. The mental discipline necessary to access the masks abilities is at least partially a hardware limitation, which is why Matoran cannot “train” to use mask powers.

The fact that Life and Creation are separate fundamental forces of MU further shows life force and physical energy are not the same thing. But more importantly the squids are not the only example, far from it. The distinction was always made quite clear in the story, and the language used distinguishes them as well. If life force and physical energy were the same you could plug a dead Matoran into a feeding point and revive him/her. But you can’t. Reviving a dead MU resident requires either providing him with life force of some other living being, or to revive it using some of the limited resources intended for such purpose which I describe in the life force portion of the opening topic. Also there is a reason a Mask of Undeath has to specifically siphon out life force. If it were as simple as providing energy boost to revive the user, the mask could just use the energy it already contains.
And I do acknowledge in my summary that the various energies are connected and do interact in certain ways, but they are still separate.

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Your words were misleading abput the Matoran then, because you literally say their power level has some relation to mask usage. While in fact powerful beings like the Shadowed One are incompatible as well.

About Life Force thing, no, ypur arguments are completely unconvincing. Nobody ever mentioned life force. Takutanuva didn’t have ‘Life Force’ ability in any instance, ever mentioned. Gali healed Tahu with her Toa power, nothing else, she was then regenerating elemental energy through water. And about mask of Undeath, I hate to disappoint you, but nobody ever said it’s canon. It is invented by fans. So you’ve made things up there completely.

And no, saying that squids suck out just normal energy from being doesn’t logically mean you can revive beings with the opposite process whatsoever :woman_facepalming: Being dies because of damaging body parts. If there’s only the mask left like in the movie, you literally need to create body back. It’s not about energy, lmao

Greg did:

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Bro. They literally have reference of Greg quote there. Read it before bothering me. See if he ever said it really exists. spoiler: he didn’t, he just said it’s possible to somehow exist

Matoran_Mask_of_Undeath
There literally is a Matoran wearing it.

It is canon and exists, idk what you are on about.

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Because… story-team never knew about it? And because Greg didn’t say anything like “I will remember that mask definitely exists on Karzahni”, just said ok, it could be? So the only place it appears as such mask is fan wiki and fan site BZP.

People probably forgot by this point that when Greg Farshtey started answering fan messages, it was literally because he was giving us info that is discussed at some point with story-team. While “mask that makes you zombie after death oooh dark” was just made up.

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Can you site a source that backs up the relevance of this?

Greg frequently forgets things that he wrote into canon. Can you site a source that explains why he would be required to remember this detail specifically?

This is interesting, in all these years I’ve never heard anything to suggest that his answers were originally run past the story team as a rule. Can you site a source for this?

Well lots of Bionicle canon was just made up by fans. The Xian weapons, many Rahi and Dark Hunters, Naho, Nektann, Decadence, No One Gets Left Behind, Tentacles, Hope, The Dweller Report, the appearances of Surel, Kirbold, the Iron Wolves, Certavus… I could carry on. Some of these were via contest, and some, Greg just liked the idea. Sure, there was a bit of grief surrounding those EU masks, and many would have preferred a vote, but nonetheless, Greg canonized it, and it is now a matter of story canon, as a matter of fact. “Made up” isn’t really an issue in this IP, it’s usually more like fuel in the tank.

I think ToaKebaka’s analysis is a very interesting one, and I personally found no reason to disagree with it. Fine enough if you do, but by chance, could you offer a counter thesis in place of a cut down? It would be a bit more helpful to the community. That is, after all, what this whole website is about: the community.

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I second the motion.

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The Bionicle Encyclopedia by Greg

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