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The Great American Read: Other Worlds with Brandon Sanderson ()
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Questioner 1

In The Stormlight Archive, do we ever find out how the Assassin in White, how he gets the sword?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, that should be next book.

Questioner 2

And does it intertwine any more with Warbreaker?

Brandon Sanderson

Oh... that you're gonna have to wait a little while for. You're talking about Nightblood. I thought you were talking about the Honorblade. Next book will explain how he got the Honorblade. How he ends up with Nightblood, really how Nightblood got onto the planet, is gonna take a little while. I will work it in. But it's gonna take a while.

Questioner 2

Does that sword have a character arc, because it feels--

Brandon Sanderson

The sword is important and relevant to multiple series.

Questioner 2

It's getting better.

Brandon Sanderson

He has learned some things in the intervening years. He learns real slowly.

Shadows of Self San Jose signing ()
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Questioner

On the coppermind it states specifically that Nightblood is fueled by Investiture, would that mean that an Allomancer burning, say, steel, could then [draw] Nightblood and fuel it off of that?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, Nightblood would feed off that Kinetic Investiture, you could make that work. You would have to keep that portal open, and he would eat the power instead of whatever you were planning to do with it, and when you ran out of metal he’d kill you.

Questioner

Would that also work with say...whatever you have in a Coppermind or metalmind?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, yes, theoretically you could make that work too. That’s an excellent question, you’re the first to ask that.

General Reddit 2015 ()
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emailanimal

From a very recent signing, we have this new Word of Brandon...

chasmfriend's son: Is there a finite amount of Investiture?

Brandon: Yes.

chasmfriend's son: So is Nightblood consuming it?

Brandon: Yes. Very, very slowly.

This worries me somewhat because of the following observation.

Nightblood consumes Breath (and other Investiture, but let's limit ourselves to Breath for a second).

Every person on Nalthis is born with one Breath.

Populations tend to grow. Which means that under normal rules of demographics, population of Nalthis should keep increasing.

This in turn means that under normal circumstances the number of people with Breath on Nalthis should be growing.

I can see the following possible explanations to this:

  1. Endowment can give Breath to many more people than are currently living on Nalthis. So, the exponential population growth has not yet reached the level at which Endowment's ability to award a Breath to each Nalthis-born human is seriously challenged. When it happens though, things will not go well.

  2. There is some built-in mechanism controlling population growth on Nalthis, making certain that the population stays within the limits. Nightblood's consumption of Breath makes these limits smaller, and overall may lead to Endowment's inability to grant Breath to Nalthis-born, but not for a while (essentially, Endowment controls population trends at she sees fit).

Thoughts?

Brandon Sanderson

Just as a point you should understand, the amount of MATTER in the cosmere is finite too. As is the amount of energy.

Worrying that Endowment will run out of Breaths to give is a little like worrying that the amount of carbon on Earth will run out because people keep being born.

uchoo786

So just for clarification, once Nightblood consumes investiture, that investiture gets recycled? That's what I've always assumed. That it enters the cognitive/spiritual realm?

Brandon Sanderson

The investiture he consumes is not gone forever--it's not leaving the system, so to speak.

Holiday signing ()
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Questioner

So we know that Nightblood was created by people who had some knowledge of Shardblades.

Brandon Sanderson

Mmhmm.

Questioner

But we also know that Nightblood consumes Breaths when it's used.

Brandon Sanderson

Yep.

Questioner

So do Shardblades require that kind of energy? It doesn't seem like they--

Brandon Sanderson

No.

Questioner

So why are they different?

Brandon Sanderson

Because they were made with different magic systems, by different people, and different styles.

White Sand vol.1 Orem signing ()
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Jasonioan

If one were to have an unlocked metalmind, nicrosil, and held it while wielding Nightblood what would happen? Would he be taking Investiture from the--

Brandon Sanderson

That is a RAFO... you will start to find answers to these sorts of things as more people are involved with Nightblood.

Jasonioan

...So, if it was like a coppermind would the information be destroyed?

Brandon Sanderson

That is an excellent question, what I've said before is that Nightblood will feed on whatever Investiture he can gain access to. He will start with the easiest Investiture to reach. He will eventually turn to converting matter into Investiture and eating that.

Salt Lake City Comic-Con 2014 ()
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Questioner

How does Nightblood work on Roshar?

Brandon Sanderson

Well Nightblood feeds on Investiture, which is the general life-force/magic-force in the cosmere and so he can feed on basically any source of magical energy.

Questioner

And do other magics work on other worlds?

Brandon Sanderson

I've been describing it lately more like you see DC current and AC current, where they're similar things but slightly different. It is possible to make magics work on other planets, some it's easier than others.

Dawnshard Annotations Reddit Q&A ()
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Zachrandir

Does this mean that Rysn is immortal now? If so that's going to start causing some questions if she stops aging.

Also, would Hoid be able to tell that Rysn bears a Dawnshard? Solely from having born one before? (Maybe he'd be able to sense it with Breaths or some other mystery Investiture.)

I also want to see what would happen if you stabbed a Dawnshard (/Dawnshard bearing person) with Nightblood.

Brandon Sanderson

These kinds of questions are why I gave a preemptive RAFO. :)

Firefight Chicago signing ()
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Argent

Can Nightblood damage or kill a Shard? Is he that powerful?

Brandon Sanderson

Nightblood is not powerful enough for-- *makes weird/hesitant ehhh sound*

Argent

Can it damage?

Brandon Sanderson

Damage? Yes. How damaging? Is a subject to discussion. Nightblood contains a lot of Investiture.

/r/fantasy AMA 2013 ()
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ethnicallyambiguous

If Nightblood were a Magic card, what would its abilities/stats be?

Brandon Sanderson

Equipment. When equipped creature does combat damage, destroy all other creatures. During your upkeep, pay WUBRG or you lose the game. (Note, I have no development chops, so I have no idea how to properly cost the artifact or the equip.)

Salt Lake City Comic-Con 2014 ()
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Questioner

So Stormlight and Breath are both just different manifestations of Investiture.

Brandon Sanderson

That's correct.

Questioner

So Nightblood and Shardblades are both kind of powered by Investiture?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, in fact you can call Nightblood kind of a miss-made, evil Shardblade... more miss-made than evil but yes.

Questioner

But a Shardblade wouldn't shear through Nightblood.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes a Shardblade would not shear through Nightblood. In fact I wrote Way of Kings first and then I wrote Warbreaker and Way of Kings came out after Warbreaker but in my mind Warbreaker is a prequel to Way of Kings, where I was telling Vasher's backstory.

Questioner

Oh really, so the Warbreaker we know takes place after Way of Kings?

Brandon Sanderson

No, it takes place before, it's a prequel meaning I wrote Way of Kings and then I went back in time and told Vasher's backstory but Warbreaker ended up coming out first because Way of Kings wasn't ready yet.

Calamity Philadelphia signing ()
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Questioner

Is there a correlation, at all, between Awakening steel, a blade, and the revival of spren every time a Shardblade is summoned? I mean, I know Invesiture is Investiture is Invesiture.

Brandon Sanderson

So revival of the spren so--

Questioner

Similar.

Brandon Sanderson

Okay. So, are you talking about a live Shardblade or a dead one, or it doesn’t matter.

Questioner

Like Nightblood.

Brandon Sanderson

Okay.

Questioner

Awakening the steel, like that, Shardblades <are like Awakening metal> and stuff.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. The big difference here is that in one you’re using a physical component, right, and Investing it. In another, a more pure Investiture is passing into the Physical Realm and taking on an embodiment, a shape. Does that make sense? And so, similar but different things. There is a correlation, but it’s not--yeah.

Shadows of Self San Jose signing ()
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Questioner

What’s your most terrifying character, and why is it Nightblood?

Brandon Sanderson

Ha. Nightblood is pretty terrifying… You know, an object created to destroy evil but doesn’t know what it is?

Questioner

When you brought it back...I had <to like shut the book> a little bit and like, scary.

Brandon Sanderson

I wanted you to think that Nightblood in the hands of Szeth should be one of the most terrifying things that you have ever contemplated.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
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Boogalyhu34

Can Nightblood be considered a Splinter and does it function like a spren realmatically, are there distinct differences is what I'm asking.

Brandon Sanderson

Nightblood is kind of his own strange thing. He's an attempt to use one magic to replicate something in another. He's closest to a spren, but kind of like a...robot spren, for lack of better words to use.

Argent

When you say that Nightblood is "an attempt to use one magic to replicate something in another," do you mean life in general, or are you referring to a specific effect in a specific magic system?

Brandon Sanderson

There are those involved who knew that Shardblades existed before they tried the Nightblood experiment.

uchoo786

So does this mean Vasher had knowledge of Shardblades before creating Nightblood?

Brandon Sanderson

It means what I wrote, and nothing more at this point. :)

wickedmath

Dude. That's the most tantalizing RAFO I've seen in awhile. Have other Shards made Shardblades besides Honor?

Brandon Sanderson

:) RAFO

Phantine

Is that why Vasher uses the word 'Investiture' instead of some personal term for it?

Brandon Sanderson

I could be wrong, but I think Vasher was the first one in any book I allowed to use cosmere-aware terms for speaking of things like the magics. (Investiture is one of these.)

Skyward release party ()
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Questioner

How did Nightblood get from Warbreaker to Oathbringer.

Brandon Sanderson

He was carried.

Questioner

How?

Brandon Sanderson

RAFO! He was carried by someone.

Questioner

What book will you have to read to find out?

Brandon Sanderson

You will find out eventually. Nightblood, the sequel to Warbreaker will include some, Stormlight books will also include some.

BYU Writing Class Wrap-up 2017 ()
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Just another guyn

If a Shard were to wield Nightblood more directly, like Odium's champion and Odium channeling his power through Nightblood, would we see a lot of world ending stuff from that?

Brandon Sanderson

That-- What you just described would work no differently from a Knight Radiant wielding Nightblood

Just another guyn

Okay. And that would be scary powerful?

Brandon Sanderson

No. No, they'd feed off the Investiture and eventually would either run out or be drawing it so quickly that it would dissolve the person's soul.

Just another guyn

So souls are made of Investiture?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, in the cosmere, souls are. So you'd have a little while, but eventually the person would just die and get eaten.

Arcanum Unbounded Hoboken signing ()
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yulerule

*Written:* So somewhere it says that the number of Breaths doesn't determine the power of the object. But are the number of Breaths directly tied to how much Investiture is in an object? You're repeatedly said that Nightblood is ridiculously heavily Invested, more so than Shardblades, Honorblades, or the Bands of Mourning. But it only has a thousand Breaths, which doesn't seem all that much from the point of view of the God King--Tenth Heightening, over 50,000.

Brandon Sanderson

So this is a RAFO, but you're starting to ask the right questions there. Okay?

*Writes:* RAFO

Stuttgart signing ()
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Questioner (paraphrased)

We see Nightblood consuming both Breaths and Stormlight. Earlier you've mentioned conversion between types of Investiture. Is Nightblood doing that?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Nightblood can feed off of any source of Investiture. If you're a Mistborn, burning a metal while wielding Nightblood would directly feed him. So you stay alive for as long as you have metal left.

San Diego Comic-Con 2015 ()
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Cognizantastic

As I understand it, Nightblood is most comparable to a Shardblade. However, unlike a Shardblade, Nightblood requires constant input of Investiture in order to realize his full destructive potential. Why is this?

Brandon Sanderson

Vasher kind of hacked in order to imitate another magic system. Shardblades are organic parts of the world they are on, but Nightblood is a bunch of souls stuffed into something. Nightblood is like a Frankenstein.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
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VindicationKnight

Can you use Forgery to enhance or diminish a persons intelligence? If so could you use it to uplift a non-sentient animal to human levels of intelligence?

Brandon Sanderson

Uplifting requires extreme amounts of investiture, and needs to be affixed permanently to the soul. This is beyond what a normal person, even a Forger, usually has access to.

VindicationKnight

And if full uplifting is practically impossible then are more minor intelligence alterations (like Taravangian) feasible?

Brandon Sanderson

Uplifting isn't quite as impossible as I might have implied. It would be easier, say, than making Nightblood. But, of course, making Nightblood was VERY hard.

Firefight Miami signing ()
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fletchershair

Now that Nightblood is on Roshar, can it use Stormlight the same way is would use Breaths?

Brandon Sanderson

I'll just tell you "yes." I was gonna RAFO that, but I think everyone's figured that out by now.

fletchershair

A friend wants to know exactly how you can go between types of Investiture. You've said that you can before.

Brandon Sanderson

It just depends on the Investiture. Some are much easier to use than others. Like, running Aons with other Investiture, very hard. Just the nature of the magic makes it very hard. But, Nightblood? He'll feed on whatever he can get. So, it's really easy to fuel Nightblood.

KChan

Does Feruchemy have anything to do with that? Converting into Investiture?

Brandon Sanderson

Not gonna say.

Words of Radiance Houston signing ()
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Questioner (paraphrased)

How much more powerful is Nightblood than a regular Shardblade?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

I haven't actually quantified that in my own mind so can't give an accurate comparison at this point. I will say that when he is fully consuming Investiture he can do some really freaky things.

Orem signing ()
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Questioner

Can you tell me about the mechanics of Nightblood's revulsion vs. compulsion magic?

Brandon Sanderson

What do you want to know?

Questioner

Is it like Rioting? Like in--

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, Rioting is a good parallel to that. 

Questioner

Is agency being taken away?

Brandon Sanderson

I wouldn't say agency is taken away but it depends on how you view Rioting, right? If you are enhancing someone's emotions-- Here is the question for you. If someone is feeling depressed, is their agency being taken away? And this is a question that our society has a really bad answer to, right? So if you are being Rioted, strict-line I would say no, your agency isn't being taken away, but you are certainly under the influence of another force which is taking certain emotions you might have and emphasizing them a great deal.

Questioner

So is it the same kind of push that makes a virtuous person want to vomit?

Brandon Sanderson

Virtuous might be the wrong way to put it. But yes, that sort of thing is related. It's related to Nightblood and it's related to how he was created and all of those sorts of things.