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Worldbuilders AMA ()
#51 Copy

katkov

How important is Intent to Hemalurgy? If two people who didn't know about Hemalurgy were running and tripped, falling perfectly onto a spike, would Hemalurgy occur? What about if it was a sick psychopath who liked stabbing people with spikes instead of an accident?

Would the planet these events occurred on matter?

Brandon Sanderson

Location is not relevant to most of the magics.

As for those specifics of Hemalurgy, I will RAFO for now.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#52 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

The Resolution

TenSoon and the other kandra resist Ruin and are able to pull the spikes from their shoulders. There are a couple of reasons why they can do this.

The power that Allomancers have to take control of them is the same power Ruin has. That control is exerted in the form of mental pressure through emotional Allomancy. As can be seen from Marsh's viewpoint, it is more than simply forcing the body to act as Ruin wishes. The extreme pressure on emotions changes the very way the mind thinks, tricking it into doing exactly what Ruin wants. The flaw in Hemalurgists leaves them open to this kind of manipulation.

Kandra, who only have two spikes, are far more difficult to control than koloss or Inquisitors. Vin is able to control TenSoon with ease in book two, but that's partially because he wanted her to do so. He would have been able to resist her. If she'd continued to push, she could have broken him, but it would have taken time.

Even Ruin's pressure wasn't enough to take control immediately. The kandra had a few moments during which they could overcome him and maintain their free will. Beyond that, they were in a cavern surrounded by metal ore in the walls, making it very difficult for Ruin to see what was going on and interfering with his ability to control them.

Prague Signing ()
#53 Copy

Oversleep

So if you spiked a Soulbearer...

Brandon Sanderson

A what?

Oversleep

The nicrosil Ferring.

Brandon Sanderson

Okay.

Oversleep

And he stored the ability he got from the spike what happens to the charge in it.

Brandon Sanderson

In the spike if he stores the ability?

Oversleep

Yeah, in the spike.

Brandon Sanderson

RAFO.

Arcanum Unbounded Seattle signing ()
#54 Copy

Lhyonnaes (paraphrased)

Okay, next question. The Hemalurgic bind points for the right and left eyes - are they the same?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

In terms of...?

Lhyonnaes (paraphrased)

Like, the Inquisitor spikes, is it the exact same process for either eye? Is it interchangeable?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

They're slightly different.

Lhyonnaes (paraphrased)

And on bind points... are these something that we could figure out ourselves one day, through analysis and guessing? Or is it something we'll just have to wait and see?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

They're... it would be a lot of trial and error, but it's... possible? And you need Intent, so... it would be a lot of trial and error. It wouldn't be easy. Probably not.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Thirty-Seven - Part Two

Human Tries to Make a New Koloss

Yes, koloss are people. I assume that many of you guessed this. Then, again, many of you probably didn't. The clues are there, if you care to look—including the fact that small spikes were found in the koloss bodies after the siege of Luthadel. (It's mentioned at the end of book two.)

Unfortunately, the heroes just don't know enough about Hemalurgy to make the connection until this dramatic reveal by Human. There are only three magic systems in this book—all related, all dealing with metal. It's mentioned in book two that koloss, Inquisitors, and—yes, even kandra—are related in some way. All were created by the Lord Ruler during his Ascension.

And all were created from existing material, one might say. There's a little more depth to the kandra, since they're a race that (kind of) breeds true. You'll see as the book progresses. However, all were created through Hemalurgy, and the spikes are very, very important.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#56 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Kandra Blessings

The Blessings are still a little confusing, I fear. Originally I designed a Blessing as a single bit of metal in each kandra's shoulder. Eventually, however, I realized that I needed to change this for magic system cohesion reasons. I changed it to be two bits of metal, one in each shoulder. So, each kandra has one Blessing, but that Blessing consists of two bits of metal.

Each kandra only gets one Blessing from among the different types. There will be more on this in the book later, of course.

Dragonsteel 2022 ()
#58 Copy

Questioner

We’ve seen several groups throughout the cosmere that have the express purpose of collecting Investiture from the various systems. I have a fear that there is a group that is going to (either now or sometime in the future) go around collecting Investiture specifically through Hemalurgy.

Brandon Sanderson

Which is theoretically possible and horrifying to consider.

Questioner

So my question along those lines was: what happens when you use a Hemalurgic spike on an Aviar?

Brandon Sanderson

You are a very mean person. Basically, an Aviar’s got a mini-bond, so it’s gonna work in a similar way to what would happen if you were trying to do it to a Knight Radiant, which I’ve talked about in the past. Which means it is a less effective way to try to steal something with Hemalurgy, because once you’ve got two individuals involved in it… The Aviar, obviously, isn’t exactly the same. But it’s going to work, but it may not last, I guess is the answer I would give you on that.

Questioner

If that Aviar is already bonded to a person, how does that spiking affect the person they are bonded to?

Brandon Sanderson

That bond will last, but how long? Who knows. Basically, you’re gonna fool the system into thinking you’re the Aviar if you have done that. So the system is going to assume that’s what you are.  They’re gonna see you as the bird if you put the spike into yourself. But, because there are multiple individuals, things like this, and you’ve got the whole thing with the Aviar and their symbiosis, and things like that. It is not gonna work nearly as well as stealing something from, say, a Feruchemist or an Allomancer.

Salt Lake City Comic-Con 2014 ()
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Questioner

So do Inquisitors, when they use Allomancy, have to actually ingest the metals?

Brandon Sanderson

They actually do. So what is happening is Hemalurgy rips off a piece of one person's soul and spikes it somebody else and so it is basically taking off the piece of someone's soul that makes them an Allomancer and adding it to someone else instead and so then they act as an Allomancer just as it would happen.

General Reddit 2012 ()
#60 Copy

kilomtrs

So in the trilogy, we see that when someone has a Hemalurgic spike implanted in them, they can hear Ruin talking to them, both as a vision and in their head. However, we learn in the Hero of Ages that Ruin cannot hear a person's thoughts no matter how much under Ruin's influence they are.

In Alloy of Law, we see that Wax (and other Pathians) uses an earring to "pray" to Harmony, and we see that Harmony can hear his thoughts and respond.

So I guess this leads to three questions: How does Harmony hear the thoughts of Wax, when it's explicitly pointed put that Ruin cannot?

Are the earrings that the Pathians use Hemalurgically charged, as otherwise they would be of no use to Ruin, and therefore Harmony?

Or did Harmony completely change how that aspect of Hemalugy works?

Brandon Sanderson

How this all works dates back to the original design of the magic system.

I wanted Ruin and Preservation to be complementary opposites, like many things in the Mistborn world. Allomancy, for example, has Pushes and Pulls were are less "negate one another" opposites, but instead two sides to the same proverbial coin.

Ruin is invasive. The power is more "Yell" than "Listen." The philosopher would probably have some interesting things to say about the masculine symbolism of Hemalurgy and its spikes.

Ruin can insert thoughts. That power, however, can't HEAR the reactions. It's about invasion.

Preservation, however, is the opposite. Preservation listens, Preservation protects. (Perhaps to a fault--if there were no Ruin, there would be no change to the world, and life could not exist.) Because of this, Preservation can hear what is inside people's minds. It cannot, however, INSERT thoughts. (This is important to the plot of Hero of Ages.)

Harmony is both, the two complementary opposites combined. And so, he inserts thoughts with Ruin and still uses Hemalurgy. He can also listen.

Yes, Wax's earring is Invested. (Or, in other terms, it's a Hemalurgic spike.)

bettse

Doesn't that imply it was shoved through someone's heart at one point (ala Steel Inquisitor creation process)?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, the metal would have to have been part of a spike that at one point was used to kill someone and rip off a piece of their soul.

Arcanum Unbounded Hoboken signing ()
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Questioner

*inaudible question relating to Hemalurgy*

Brandon Sanderson

So Hemalurgy... Yes, to an extent. The koloss are an example of this. Koloss are made, but then they can be passed on a little bit. You get koloss *inaudible* koloss. So it doesn't quite work exactly, but some things can be passed on.

Questioner

Do the *inaudible* get passed on?

Brandon Sanderson

Uh... Not necessarily. They're not still pierced by metal.

Questioner

Apparently they use Hemalurgic *inaudible* bloodline to the point where there's Mistborn again?

Brandon Sanderson

This is something that people in-world are wondering.

JordanCon 2018 ()
#62 Copy

Mac

If one Feruchemist Keeper, a full Feruchemist, spiked another Feruchemist and got one Hemalurgic imbue from that person, would the first one now have enough of the second Keeper's Identity to use all of their metalminds? Or would it just be--

Brandon Sanderson

Ooh, that's a good one. I'm gonna say "yes," but it's a hesitant yes, because it's actually a question I haven't worked out yet. So you can have that as a yes, unless I hit it in the books and am looking at the notes and decide that it wouldn't work. I think that it would.

Barnes & Noble B-Fest 2016 ()
#63 Copy

Questioner

Can Kandra blessings be any spikes or just the four.

Brandon Sanderson

They were created specifically to do what they do.

Questioner

So you couldn't have a Kandra with, for instance, Allomantic powers?

Brandon Sanderson

I wouldn't go that far, I will say the Kandra spikes are specifically created to do what they do and the Kandra don't know how to make ones that do other things.

Arcanum Unbounded Seattle signing ()
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Lhyonnaes (paraphrased)

Alright, thanks. Last question for me tonight - so, when a Hemalurgic spike steals something, then it's storing Investiture in it, yeah? So could you - could you do something with that Investiture? Like... say I'm on Nalthis, and just theoretically, I use a Hemalurgic spike to steal a lot of Breath - can I use that Investiture to Awaken something? Could I Awaken the spike?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

That... you'd need a lot of Investiture to Awaken a spike.

Lhyonnaes (paraphrased)

Because it's already charged up with something else?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Yeah.

Orem Signing ()
#70 Copy

Snipexe

Would a primate be turned into a koloss if the spikes were placed in the correct bindpoints?

Brandon Sanderson

Something like a koloss, but you would not call it a koloss.

Snipexe

Would they lose intelligence or gain, if they were?

Brandon Sanderson

You could do it either way.

JordanCon 2016 ()
#71 Copy

Moderator

Is there such a thing as… voluntary Hemalurgy?

Brandon Sanderson

Voluntary Hemalurgy? Yes.

Moderator

...Where you can give a power to someone through those sorts of means.

Brandon Sanderson

Through any means, or through Hemalurgic means?

Moderator

Er, explain what you mean by that question. *laughter*

Brandon Sanderson

In Nalthis, you are giving up your power voluntarily to someone else.

Moderator

Specifically in the context of Scadrial here.

Brandon Sanderson

I mean, can you not imagine a person who's like "Yes I am crazy and will give up my power to this…" you know?

Bystander

But don't the end results negate?

Brandon Sanderson

You can't imagine somebody who would do that? …I am absolutely sure that at some point even in creating Inquisitors there's somebody who would be like, "yes, I will give my life to the Lord Ruler." So, yes?

Starsight Release Party ()
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Questioner

Hemalurgy. If I stab someone with an icicle but it had iron traces in it, would that still work?

Brandon Sanderson

That iron would not hold much of a charge, so it's probably not going to work. You're probably just not going to be able to get enough iron there to really charge it.

But it's plausible that you could make it work. Like, you could get enough iron in there theoretically. I'm going to say most of the time, no. Plus, the structure of it's going to disintegrate so fast that you're just not going to be able to make any use of it.

Words of Radiance San Francisco signing ()
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Questioner

I was wondering if a Hemalurgic spike would take surges, or if it could take a spren bond? Would it interact at all for that?

Brandon Sanderson

Hemalurgy can interact with every one of the magics. I designed it specifically in writing Mistborn for future use. Because some of the magics are so limited by their planet I wanted one that transcended all of them and Hemalurgy is very important to the entire cosmere. Its invention is a thing of great power and great danger to the entire cosmere.

Skyward Chicago signing ()
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Questioner

As far as Hemalurgy, when you give that-- when it's done to somebody, would that create a new resonance?

Brandon Sanderson

It's possible that it could. Though I'm gonna say, most of the time, no... Lots of things are possible, but I'll give you a "mostly no" on that one.

Questioner

What about savantism? Is that possible with Hemalurgy?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, it is.

#tweettheauthor 2009 ()
#78 Copy

Czanos

Would anything interesting happen if an Allomancer Burned a Hemalurgic spike, or a Feruchemist Tapped one?

Brandon Sanderson

Er, well, it’s possible. But you’d have to be burning a Hemalurgic spike that killed you and took your power…

Just like you can’t gain anything by burning a metalmind unless you infused it yourself.

General Reddit 2016 ()
#80 Copy

Evilkill78

While rereading HoA I decided to do a bit of research on an informant. But I also found another interesting tidbit on Theoryland.

http://www.theoryland.com/intvmain.php?i=727#35

This WoB. It implies TenSoon is eventually going to be able to reconnect with Vin, or at least, someone with Hemalurgic spikes is going to be able to communicate with someone that's departed to "The Beyond" (or the Spiritual Realm)...

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, this looks like one where I was tired from answering a lot of questions, and was thinking about Kelsier--I was really excited to write Secret History back then. I realize that it wouldn't make sense for Kelsier to want to talk to TenSoon, but you'd be surprised the things that you say sometimes when you're trying to write in someone's book, keep yourself from giving too many spoilers, but also answer questions. You can go on auto-pilot sometimes for a minute or two, answering questions that my brain THINKS someone asks, when it's not one they actually asked. Or mashing together two questions, and having a kind of crossed-wires brain moment. You can see me do this on Reddit sometimes too, if you look back through my history. I often catch it and edit to explain myself, but not always This was during the era when I was heavily laying foreshadowing to fans for Kelsier's return, so it wouldn't feel like a cheat when I eventually got to Secret History. So I was looking for opportunities to talk about people with spikes communicating with the Cognitive Realm. I can't remember. There's also a possibility that I was still contemplating Vin staying, which she could have done, as someone who'd carried one of the powers. Either way, I made the call that even bringing Kelsier back was dangerous for undermining consequences, and having Vin hang around would be counter to her character arc and the arc of the stories. So Vin and TenSoon won't be talking any time soon. Sorry to shut down conversation on this one, and sorry to lead you on.

TWG Posts ()
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Elladan259

I have a questions. I read in the book that under the Lord Ruler, the Steel Inquisitors had 9 spikes. So they had 8 spikes for the normal Allomantic abilities, and only one left. But they needed one more. One would be a Feruchemical spike which granted the user healing abilities. And the other one would be an atium spike. In the book they burned it often, but how? But then, how could they burn atium? They would have needed an atium spike (extremely expensive) and an Mistborn (because atium Mistings weren't discovered).

Somehow, the number of the spike just don't make sense. There should be 10. Do you have some ideas, or is it just an mistake by Brandon Sanderson? 

Peter Ahlstrom

The official answer is that the number varies depending on how many Mistings they can find and sacrifice. Not all Inquisitors will have all the same powers.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#83 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Thirty-Five

How Hemalurgy Works

The epigraphs to this chapter and the ones around it talk about Hemalurgy. I'm feeling that by now, you've figured out what it does. You use a spike on an Allomancer or a Feruchemist, killing them and charging that spike with power. Then you drive that spike into someone else, and they gain that same power. (Though they get a little bit less than the person who died. In some cases, if the spike sits outside of a body for a long time, it can lose a lot of its potency.)

Though this mechanism doesn't add any new powers to the world, I really like the way it works. With Allomancy and Feruchemy, we already have a lot of different magic powers to keep track of. I wanted something from Hemalurgy that wouldn't simply add to the list of abilities, but would instead fit with the feel and the nature of the magic. Something to balance Allomancy, in which a lot of power can be obtained without much direct cost to the Allomancer.

Hence, Hemalurgy. In a way, it has the most potency of all the powers, for with it you can make anyone an Allomancer or a Feruchemist. You can steal single powers from the other two arts, then mix them in a person as you wish. It adds a different element to the world—a way to obtain more power, a way for a common man to become like Vin or Kelsier, but at a terrible price. It works perfectly with who I wanted Ruin to be and what I wanted the conflict of these books to become. What is the cost of power?

Cause and effect, action and reaction.

Firefight Seattle Public Library signing ()
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Questioner

Hemalurgy is mentioned as something that has "broad implications." But that's of Ruin, right? (Or now it is of Harmony.)

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, but don't take the "of Ruin" and "of Preservation" too strongly, but yes.

Questioner

But, I mean, somebody couldn't just walk along with a metal spike on, say, Nalthis, and stab 'em and now they have the power, could they?

Brandon Sanderson

If they knew where to stab them, yes, they could.

Questioner

Anywhere in the cosmere?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Questioner

You can stab someone and get their power?

Brandon Sanderson

Hemalurgy has been built in such a way that it rips off pieces of the soul. If you can rip off the right piece of the soul and attach it to somebody else, it will change your Identity, and it can rewrite anything that's attached to your soul. Identity, Connection, it can rewrite Investiture, all of this stuff it could potentially do.

Questioner

And do the things you stab people with—are they always metal or does that depend on the planet?

Brandon Sanderson

No, that's metal, that's—

Questioner

*inaudble*

Brandon Sanderson

Well yes, you could make it do something like that. That is totally possible. But the metal— Yeah. Anyway.

Questioner

With the other Shards you kind of have to be near that Shard to get that—there's no Allomancy.

Brandon Sanderson

To get it, yes. To have that part of your soul. But, for instance, Allomancy would work on other planets. The only one that's going to have trouble working on other planets, right now, are the ones on Sel because of the way that the magics are built.

Oathbringer London signing ()
#86 Copy

kalamitous_emoashions

Have we seen any evidence of Hemalurgy on Roshar? And, as sort of an addendum, given the end of Oathbringer, was what happened to Jezrien Hemalurgy?

Brandon Sanderson

There are certain cosmere philosophers that would count it. I would divide it as two separate things that are using similar fundamentals... I wouldn't call it myself, but there are people who would disagree with me in-world. Have we seen evidence? I would say no evidence that is easily-- easy to pick out.

kalamitous_emoashions

But it's there?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, there are people with Hemalurgy who have been to Roshar. I'm pretty sure they've been on-screen.

Starsight Release Party ()
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Questioner

If something is heavily Invested, it's harder for a Shardblade to go through it, right?

Brandon Sanderson

Kind of. It depends on the kind of Investiture and things that are going on. But yes. If you want to block a Shardblade... Like a metalmind would be a good thing to use to fight a Shardblade.

Questioner

A person with a lot of Breath, like the God-King, would you be able to chop them with a Shardblade or no?

Brandon Sanderson

It's going to get very tricky on that, so I'll RAFO that for now. Let's just say that there are things. For instance, a Shardblade excising someone who's been Hemalurgically spiked is a theoretical possibility. 

Shadows of Self Chicago signing ()
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Questioner

Allomancy is of Preservation, correct?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes...

Questioner

What are Feruchemy and Hemalurgy of?

Brandon Sanderson

Hemalurgy is definitely of Ruin.

Questioner

Is it of pure Ruin?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. That's a very Ruin thing. And Feruchemy is more of a blend. Though… there is more philosophy to that and human construct—like the Allomantic table—than I think I’ve made clear before.

Starsight Release Party ()
#91 Copy

Aradanftw

If you were to use Hemalurgy on a Surgebinder, would it steal the Surge or the actual spren bond?

Brandon Sanderson

It's going to steal the spren bond, but you've got to remember the spren has power over that bond. So what you're doing is (1) incredibly evil, even more evil, but (2) you may not end up with what you want, because that spren has free will in most cases. You may go through all this trouble and then they may break the bond, and you would be left without it. So you would need something else to force them to be unable to break the bond, which would be even more evil, but it is possible in Hemalurgy.

Worldbuilders AMA ()
#92 Copy

tay95

A theme throughout a lot of the Cosmere novels is that form, of one sort or another (patterns, aons, etc.) has a crucial role to play in unlocking or using Investiture.

As a chemist, I'm curious about the role of form in Allomancy and Feruchemy. Does the underlying molecular or crystalline structure of the metal or alloy play a roll? Different processes, doping ratios, and metal mixtures result in different molecular packing, lattices, and ultimately structure. It seems like that kind of very defined, orderly matrix would be right in line with other forms of unlocking Investiture.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes! I've actually mentioned to people before that the chemistry of the various metals acts, for Allomancy, in the same way that the Aons work for AonDor. It's more a key than it is a source of power itself.

Skyward Atlanta signing ()
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Questioner

Have your ever thought about how your magic systems would affect a pregnant woman?

Brandon Sanderson

I have given thought to it.

Questioner

...Which system would you say would be safest as a pregnant woman?

Brandon Sanderson

I think Stormlight-- being Invested with Stormlight would be very safe. You would probably be better off than not. Hemalurgy would be very bad.

Dragonsteel 2022 ()
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Questioner

I'm trying to understand the relationship between Hemalurgy and the Shard Ruin. Most of the Invested Arts involve inputs of energy of the Shardic Investiture that corresponds to it. That doesn't seem to be the case for Feruchemy and Hemalurgy. So I'm wondering what the relationship is between the corresponding Shards and those two Metallic Arts.

Brandon Sanderson

There's a whole lot going on here, and I'm not sure how much I can get into right here. But one of the basic concepts I built for the cosmere, way back when, was that a lot of the different magics would be showing up in different systems. And there are certain underpinning fundamental rules. And this is why you'll see Lightweaving working the same way across three different magic systems; I think you've seen it in three different ones so far. Elsecalling's gonna work the same way. Hemalurgy is a thing that is, like, part of the nature of the cosmere, that the Shard simply knew and was able to tell people how to do

So is it of that Shard? Well, yes, because you would have to be following that Shard's Intent in order to use it. But it could be discovered on other planets, as well.

Questioner

And independent of Ruin's presence, really, except for as Ruin affects the cosmere as a whole?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. Exactly. You are correct.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
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vorpal_username

In mistborn you can't access someone else's feruchemical stores. However, what if feruchemist A stores something, and then hemalurgy is used to take A's ability and put into person B. Can person B use A's stores?

Also, what happens when someone burns metal with a hemalurgic charge? Or stores/retrieves something in a spike using feruchemy?

Brandon Sanderson

All RAFOs here, I'm afraid.

Words of Radiance Omaha signing ()
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Brandon Sanderson

So, since I was doing other things.  Hemalurgy-when you spike, you place the spike in a place that determines which charge the spike gets.  

Kythis

Through the heart seems to pick up universally.

Brandon Sanderson

It depends on where in the heart. It's like acupuncture. This was designed from acupuncture and you get very specific on which nerve you're hitting and things like that

Kythis

So the spike will never pick up more than one power.

Brandon Sanderson

Well, the way they know how to do it.

Footnote: This clarifies two previous questions.