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/r/fantasy AMA 2013 ()
#52 Copy

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 signing ()
#53 Copy

Questioner

Does Vasher want Nightblood back?

Brandon Sanderson

Vasher feels responsible for Noghtblood

Questioner

is there any reason why he didn't go by Vasher, as well?

Brandon Sanderson

Because in the original draft he was, and I im like 'that's juts too easy'. Plus he's kinda trying to hide, so he's not as foolhardy as a certain other character who goes willy-nilly by the same aliases over and over again and doesn't care. Picking an alias, if you know people would potentially would be hunting for you, having them not be able to ask for you by name is useful.

Warbreaker Annotations ()
#55 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Thirty-Five

Vivenna Awakes, Bound by Vasher

This chapter—with what happens in the latter part of it—is the most dangerous in the book. Dangerous to me as an author, I mean. I love good plot twists, but I worry about leaving them without proper foreshadowing. I've never done something as drastic as I have in this book, having a group of sympathetic characters turn out to be working for the wrong side. I hope it succeeds, but I know that if it doesn't, readers will be very mad. Nothing is sloppier than a book with unearned changes in character motivation.

But we're not there quite yet. Before that we have the first real interaction between Vivenna and Vasher. He gives her what he likes to think of as the Nightblood test. One nice thing about having a sword that "cannot tempt the hearts of those who are pure" is that when someone like Vivenna touches it, she gets sick. I didn't want Nightblood to come across as a "one ring" knockoff. He doesn't turn people's hearts or corrupt them. However, in order to be able to do his job and fulfill his Command, he needs the ability to determine who is good and who is evil.

This, of course, isn't an easy thing to determine. In fact, I don't think it's a black or white issue for most people. When Nightblood was created, the Breaths infused in him did their best to interpret their Command. What they decided was evil was someone who would try to take the sword and use it for evil purposes, selling it, manipulating and extorting others, that sort of thing. Someone who wouldn't want the sword for those reasons was determined to be good. If they touch the weapon, they feel sick. If others touch the weapon, their desire to kill and destroy with it is enhanced greatly.

Nightblood himself, unfortunately, doesn't quite understand what good and evil are. (This is mentioned later in the text.) However, he knows that his master can determine who is good and who is evil—using the sword's power to make people sick, or through other means. So, he pretty much just lets whoever is holding him decide what is evil. And if the one holding the sword determines—deep within their heart—that they are evil themselves, then they will end up killing themselves with the sword.

Vivenna passes the test, which surprises Vasher. He thought that she'd be the type who would use Nightblood to kill and destroy. (He doesn't have a high opinion of her, obviously. Of course, that's partially because he's let his temper dictate what he thinks.)

General Reddit 2015 ()
#58 Copy

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.

Legion Release Party ()
#59 Copy

OrangeJedi

When Nightblood created, was Endowment involved in any way more than normal?

Brandon Sanderson

Good question, you qualified that the right way! I would say yes, but maybe not to the extent you're thinking.

OrangeJedi

Normal being using Endowment's Investiture to Awaken. There's something special.

Brandon Sanderson

I would say, there is something special.

OdysseyCon 2016 ()
#60 Copy

Blightsong

How does corrupted investiture work, like Nightblood?

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, Nightblood. Again, this is a definition of what somebody feels is a corruption. For instance, there are spren that people would feel are corrupted. But that's corruption where the mixing of different Shards has changed things, and I think a lot of times when people say corruption, what they're meaning is the mixing of Shards' powers.

Blightsong

So is there a mixing of Shards' powers happening with Nightblood?

Brandon Sanderson

*smirks* RAFO. That's the natural question, I'm glad you asked it.

Blightsong

Ok, uhhh, so something similar is happening with Gavilar's sphere, right?

Brandon Sanderson

*contemplative silence* RAFO.

Salt Lake City signing ()
#62 Copy

Questioner

I've got a list of various Cosmere bits of metal and I was wondering if you would rank them from like one to ten or just easy to difficult on how hard it would be to steelpush on them. So with one being just a regular coin, ten being like when the Lord Ruler was moving bits of glass on the floor, so like metal inside a person's body.

Brandon Sanderson

It depends on how strong the Investiture in them is.

Questioner

Is that gonna be the answer for all of these?

Brandon Sanderson

Probably!

Questioner

How about a spike charged with Hemalurgy?

Brandon Sanderson

A spike charged with Hemalurgy... that depends on...

Questioner

Not in a person.

Brandon Sanderson

Depends on how strong, yeah, a spike is moderately, (in the realm of these kinds of things) moderately easy to push on because a spike does not rip off very much Investiture. Only enough to short circuit the soul, and less it over time. I would put that at the bottom, with the top being very hard, to be one of the easier things.

Questioner

How about a metalmind that is full?

Brandon Sanderson

That is full? That is going to be middle of the realm of the, yeah. Generally easier than, for instance, a Shardblade which is going to be very hard.

Questioner #2

A Shardblade is [inaudible] actually metal? [metal]-ish?

Brandon Sanderson

Ish. Is Lerasium a metal? Yeah.

Questioner

So that'd be the same for Shardplate too?

Brandon Sanderson

Shardplate and Blade are very hard. Blade is probably gonna be a little harder.

Questioner

A Half-shard?

Brandon Sanderson

A Half-shard shield? That's gonna be moderate.

Questioner

Nightblood? I imagine that being hard.

Brandon Sanderson

Hard, of all the things you've listed, that is going to be the hardest. Far beyond even a Sharblade.

Questioner

Far beyond metal inside a person? 

Brandon Sanderson

Uh, yes. Depending on how invested the person is.

Questioner

If somebody was invested as much as Nightblood?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, for instance the God King, right. At the end with all those Breaths. Pushing something inside of him, getting through all of that? Gonna be real hard. Average person on Scadrial? You've seen how hard that is. A drab? Much easier.

Questioner

That was my next one, or no, sorry not a drab. A lifeless?

Brandon Sanderson

A Lifeless, yeah. Even... yeah. Lifeless are kind of weird because they've had their soul leave but then they've had a replacement stuck in in the form of Breath which leaves them in a very weird position compared to a drab which has had part of their Investiture ripped away but a majority remains, so, anyways. I'm going to give you one more. Pick your favorite.

Questioner

A soulstamped piece of metal?

Brandon Sanderson

A soulstamped piece of metal is going to be on the lower, easier side. Not a lot of Investiture going on in a soulstamp.

Ad Astra 2017 ()
#63 Copy

Questioner

So at the end of Words of Radiance Szeth gets Nightblood. But Nightblood on Nalthis will suck your Breath until you die.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Questioner

So how can Szeth-- like presumably it takes whatever Roshar's form of Investiture is.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Questioner

So how-- but wouldn't it kill Szeth?

Brandon Sanderson

So that's-- First off let's make-- let's mention this: no spoiler questions. That spoils the end of Words of Radiance.

Questioner

Oh, I'm sorry.

Brandon Sanderson

You're okay, but let's avoid spoiler questions. That one will specifically be answered in the next book. So you don't have to worry about that as much. That is a read and find out. That one-- but it's a read and find out that's very obviously the answer is coming.

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.

Firefight Miami signing ()
#71 Copy

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.

Legion Release Party ()
#72 Copy

Walin

Does Nightblood contain any of Ruin's Investiture? Like, not atium, but...

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, technically; and I'm not wiggling around that, because technically, location in the Cosmere and who belongs to what gets really weird, right? Because Ruin's Investiture is everywhere--but I'm not talking that way. I'm talking the way you actually mean it. 

Warbreaker Annotations ()
#76 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Nightblood

Nightblood's name, by the way, is supposed to sound kind of like the names of the Returned. I played with various different ways for his powers to manifest. I liked the idea of him driving those who hold him to kill anyone nearby. It seemed to work with the concepts that have come before—a kind of unholy, sentient mix of Stormbringer and the One Ring.

The strangest thing about him is the idea that his form isn't that important. The sheath is like a binding for him, keeping his power contained. So drawing him out isn't like drawing a regular weapon, but rather an unleashing of a creature who has been kept chained.

Once that creature is unleashed, he becomes a weapon—even if he's unleashed only a little bit. The sheath itself turns into a weapon, twisting those around it. You don't need to stab someone with Nightblood to kill them; smashing them on the back with the sheath works just as well. It will crunch bones, but beyond that, merely touching them with the sheath when the smoke is leaking can be deadly.

JordanCon 2016 ()
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Questioner

This actually came out of a panel today. You'd originally said that Nightblood is way more powerful than a regular Shardblade, but at the time that question was asked of you we didn' know about live Shardblades, we only knew about dead Shardblades. So is that still true, now that we know we have at least two--

Brandon Sanderson

Oh he is more powerful than a regular Shardblade. *groaning and laughter* that is 100% still true.

Moderator

How does Nightblood compare to a more living Blade?

Brandon Sanderson

More living Blade? Hehe, you’re asking the same--

Moderator

No I'm asking a different question. *laughter*

Brandon Sanderson

Well, let's just RAFO that one.

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.

JordanCon 2016 ()
#81 Copy

Questioner

Speaking of the Stormfather, would the Nightwatcher and the giant water spren be on the same level of spren as the Stormfather?

Brandon Sanderson

...The Nightwatcher, yes. Um... There are, I would say, a level below the Stormfather and the Nightwatcher who are also much-- a much bigger deal than something like one of the sapient spren, and that's what Cusicesh is.

Questioner

So the Nightwatcher is a spren you'd say?

Brandon Sanderson

The Nightwatcher-- I mean, they call the Nightwatcher a spren. Everyone in the books thinks the Nightwatcher is a spren. That's what they would call-- that's what they would call, if they knew what Honor was, they would call Honor a spren. A spren is Investiture that is alive.

Bystander

Nightblood?

Brandon Sanderson

So they would call Nightblood a spren. They would call-- That's the word for what all of these things are. They would probably've called Adonalsium a spren…

Moderator

What would Hoid call one of those?

Brandon Sanderson

What would Hoid call the Nightwatcher? *laughter* What would Hoid call one of what?

Moderator

Yeah what would Hoid call the Nightwatcher?

Brandon Sanderson

Um… *long pause/laughter*

Moderator

If Hoid were to use a non-proper noun?

Brandon Sanderson

Unpleasant names. *laughter*

Warbreaker Annotations ()
#86 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Lightsong Thinks about How Hallandren Wouldn't Fall

He's wrong here. If he hadn't intervened and taken responsibility, the God King would have died, and another Manywar would have begun. It would have ended with Hallandren in flames, destroyed by the advancing Idrian coalition, who by then would have gained the secret to creating swords like Nightblood from Yesteel, who is hiding in one of the kingdoms across the mountains and who secretly knows what Vasher did to create the sword. He would have brought his kingdom into the conflict. And the world would have burned.

Orem signing ()
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Questioner

Warbreaker, you were talking about a sequel. Is that for sure?

Brandon Sanderson

It is a for sure thing. It's not a direct sequel, meaning some of the characters will be in it, other ones won't. I need to get Nightblood into a certain place.

JordanCon 2016 ()
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Questioner

What would happen if a Forger got their hands on Nightblood and they Soulstamped Nightblood?

Brandon Sanderson

Nightblood is so heavily Invested that it would be like trying to freeze the ocean with an ice cube. *crowd wows* Maybe not that scale, that's your metaphor.

Stormlight Three Update #4 ()
#92 Copy

ckannan90

I have a cosmere question. At the end of Words of Radiance, Szeth receives Nightblood. The wiki told me it was a sword from Warbreaker, but I didn't realize how significant it was till I read the book. This, to me, seems like the first major cosmere crossover. All the other crossovers so far seem to have just been cameos (Hoid tells stories, or there are mysterious people hunting somebody, etc). I will RAFO, but it does seem like Szeth getting the sword means Nightblood will play a not-insignificant role in Stormlight 3. Does this mean the cosmere books are going to converge more going forward? Specifically, would someone need to have read Warbreaker to understand Oathbringer? Till now your different cosmere series have been readable in any order (and I didn't read them in publication order). Similarly, Mistborn: Secret History seems to be a prerequisite for at least the next Mistborn book.

Brandon Sanderson

One thing you have to remember is that in my cosmere outline, Warbreaker was a prequel to The Way of Kings, explaining Vasher's backstory. So I consider them more closely connected than some other things. But you could consider this the first major crossover.

Nightblood will be re-introduced, so those who haven't read Warbreaker will be brought up to speed.

Thoughtsunthought

Wow. Cool to see this.

One of my "concerns" is that eventually the cosmere stuff will overwhelm the individual series arcs.

Kinda like the Marvel Avengers movies, whilst they are great on their own, they lose some of the individuality that an Iron Man movie might have. If the overall story adds characters then you may end up with a Captain America: Civil War movie which whilst was amazing. Wasn't really a Captain America movie and would lose so much to someone who had only seen Capt America movies.

That being said I totally trust your judgement on this, I say concerns but I don't mean in a bad way.

That being said is any book flagged for an Avengers style "battle for the cosmere"?

Brandon Sanderson

I do have some plans for mixing later on, though I'll be very forthright about when those books come out. Meaning, so long as I'm not talking about these things as the main focus of a series, you don't have to worry about it taking them over. Conversely, you can be very excited when it does happen, as those stories will be very clear about what they're attempting to do.

One thing I do try to warn people is that the cosmere isn't an "Avengers" style concept--the goal here isn't to collect a variety of heroes from a variety of worlds and then throw them at a problem. It's more of a, "What if you could watch the world of something like Star Trek develop, by seeing individual engaging stories from various planets, then slowly watching them merge into a larger universe."

While some characters will, obviously, continue on through the series, and the Vessels of the Shards will be very important, the focus of the greater cosmere storyline is the cultures, the magic, and the evolution of the planets, while the individual stories are about the people who live on them during turning-points in their history.

Warbreaker Annotations ()
#93 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Nightblood and Vasher Interact as He Sneaks into the God King's Palace

Note that Nightblood is capable of more change than Vasher assumes. Vasher has a bit of a blind spot when it comes to Nightblood. He makes assumptions he wouldn't make regarding other people or elements of Awakening. It's hard for him to regard the sword without bias. If you want to know more about this, read the sequel. (Er, if I ever write it.) Which is tentatively named Nightblood.

Orem signing ()
#96 Copy

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.

Words of Radiance Philadelphia signing ()
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Questioner

If someone—Vasher says that Nightblood would kill him, is that just because he has this one deific Breath? Would it kill an ordinary person, like a drab?

Brandon Sanderson

It would suck the Breath from anybody, and if they were unable to feed it he would feed on their soul.

Questioner

So they would die?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. Anyone wielding Nightblood, he will suck their soul. If for too long, he will eventually—if you draw him—will suck your soul.

Stormlight Three Update #4 ()
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ebilutionist

Hey, Brandon, is there any chance you could tell us something about Nightblood? I'd definitely love to know more about it/him/her.

Also, I recently went through the Warbreaker annotations and found the part where you mentioned that had Lightsong not done what he did, the Hallandren would have been destroyed by the Idris in another Manywar, with the latter having obtained Awakened blades from Yesteel.

Did Yesteel gain the ability to create Awakened swords from Shashara's own research, or did he discover it independently?

Brandon Sanderson

These are questions that I intend to answer in future books, I'm afraid. So RAFO. (sorry.)

Warbreaker Annotations ()
#100 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Old Chaps

I love having random little viewpoints like these in books. I don't do them often, usually just once or twice a book. But I was excited to write this one, as Chaps has a very interesting way of thinking. Dance, dance, dance. I didn't plan him into the book specifically; I simply wrote this scene as it arrived and I knew someone had to fetch Nightblood. I'm always pleased when a little glimpse like this gives us such a distinctive feel and flavor for a character, though.

Nightblood is better at communicating with people who are mentally unhinged. He can influence them more easily. Really, Denth, you should have known to toss Nightblood someplace far deeper than the shallow bay.