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MisCon 2018 ()
#51 Copy

Questioner

In your magic systems, they all require the character to go over a great stress before they obtain that-- Do you use the concept of the price that comes with magic in a plausible magic system when you came up with that idea, or was it more about the idea of flawed characters are awesome?

Brandon Sanderson

In the cosmere magics, a lot of times in order to get the magic, there needs to be-- the internal logic argument is: Souls, once they have gaps in them, those gaps can be filled with other things, which often give you access to magical powers. Great trauma or stress--this is an age old fantasy idea, goes back many many years in the genre--will let you attain some of these powers, kind of as a balancing thing and mostly this is for narrative reasons.

Flawed characters are just way more interesting to write, and I gravitated to it pretty naturally as I was building the magic of the cosmere. And I would say it was mostly narrative reasons, as opposed to, when I was building the magic, some rule that felt like it needed to be there. But it's also a little of a balancing factor. It's trying to build into--whoever asked the question about the god--having god-like powers, but their flaws making it hard for them to use it.

It's a check on giving the powers to my characters, if I make sure to establish, this character has some holes in their-- some gaps and flaws in who they are, that might make them use their powers wrong once they get them, and that is in some way a narrative check on that, if that makes sense.

Barnes & Noble B-Fest 2016 ()
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Questioner

Why, in your books, are your characters so often, per se -- before they get the powers they become broken first.

Brandon Sanderson

There is a narrative reason and there's an in-world reason. The narrative reason is characters in pain are more interesting to write about. This is just a rule of thumb for writing. Find the person who's in the most trouble, things are going the worst for and that's gonna be generally your easiest character. In the stories, the actual cosmere, the mechanics of the magic finds, this is one way to describe it -- it's not the only way -- may not even be one hundred percent accurate but it's an easy metaphor -- cracks in the soul allow the magic to seep in and that's how you end up with a lot of the different magic systems.

Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
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ZuperzubS

In Words of Radiance, when the sailors were being killed, Jasnah/Shallan sees the flames representing the minds of the sailors vanishing in Shadesmar, but the sailors don't appear in the cognitive realm. In contrast, in Secret History, we see that all sapient entities do transition to the Cognitive Realm before going to the Beyond. Is there something strange here? Or am I just overthinking this?

Brandon Sanderson

You're not overthinking it--but it's also not as strange as you might think. The one seeing the spirits on Scadrial was in a different state than Jasnah/Shallan.

Orem signing ()
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Questioner

In the cosmere, sixteen is obviously a very important number, or very significant, but on Roshar everything comes in groups of ten. Is that a cultural construction or is that really how things are being grouped on that planet?

Brandon Sanderson

It is both. It is a cultural construction that came from slight cosmere events that are not super, super, super important. Like, there's a reason we think in base ten, right? Is it important to the universe? Meh? Right... And it's maybe a little more on Roshar, but at the same time it's like**

Questioner

There are ten orders of Surgebinders. Did they order them that way? Or are there actually sixteen different--

Brandon Sanderson

Well, it kind of goes back to there were ten [Heralds] with ten sets of power given by Honor, and Honor is an individual, right, so does that make sense? You cannot separate, in a lot of places in the cosmere, the perspectives of the sapient beings who are interfering with what's going on. Even going back to the number sixteen.

Orem signing ()
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Questioner

I think there's a flaw in my understanding of Cognitive Shadows. I assume that... they would have more visibility into the Cognitive Realm, like a Herald would be able to see spren more easily, that kind of thing. Is that incorrect?

Brandon Sanderson

That is incorrect. A Cognitive Shadow simply means a copy of the Cognitive side made by a deep amount of Investiture. And everybody has a Cognitive side. Basically it's a fake soul. Or, fake is the wrong term. Fake is the wrong term. Even in-world they don't know if it's really them or not. It is Investiture has replaced the Investiture that is fleeing from them as they die, or enhancing it in some way to keep it around. So some Cognitive Shadows trapped on the Cognitive Realm are going to be-- have a lot of Cognitive-- I mean, they're there, right? But some Cognitive Shadows inhabiting a body in the same way that your mind inhabits your body, the way the cosmere works... So a Herald is going to feel like they are alive just like-- but their soul has been somehow transformed. It's not really transformed, it's been reproduced or copied by an injection of Investiture...

And I'll say for the purpose of the recordings, I haven't canonized any of that terminology that I just used about Cognitive Shadows. I'm just talking about it, I'm not necessarily saying that this is how you are supposed to refer to it. You can refer to it however you want. I've often used the metaphor of how fossils get made. When a fossil is made there is a pattern and it is slowly replaced with another substance that is stronger and more endurant, and has the shape of it, but is it still the bone? When you have a fossil bone is it the dinosaur bone? In most cases no, but yes. It's the ship of Theseus sort of thing again. Is this the bone or is it not? Is this the soul? Is this the person or is it not? That's the same sort of thing is happening with Cognitive Shadows. And it's happening on all three Realms to an extent, though of course the body is not. The body stays. It's happening on two Realms. It's happening Spiritually, mostly Cognitively.

Oathbringer Glasgow signing ()
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Questioner

I wanted to ask whether cake has a soul? In Realmatic theory, stuff has souls. So, somebody turns wheat into flour, and flour has a soul. Do they come together when I bake the cake?

Brandon Sanderson

...So, this gets into some weird cosmere theory stuff. The level that if you are a student of philosophy, you'll recognize just wearing on the sleeve where this one came from. This is a mashup of Shinto beliefs and the theory of the forms by Plato, and kind of its own weird thing, that became Realmatic theory in the cosmere...

So, in the cosmere, things take on an Identity and a soul based on how people perceive them. It's human perception that is creating a lot of this, because the various powers that made the universe have this sort of desire to be sentient. And power left long too long in the cosmere starts thinking, that's just how it goes, and starts thinking of itself the way it is perceived. So, that cake, as soon as its created, the disparate parts of the souls start being thought of as a cake, and start gaining some traction as a cake. If you left that cake alone long enough, which wouldn't take too long for a cake because people don't look at cake and think "Oh, a bunch of wheat and flour." They think "Cake." That thing will start having a combined soul of the various bits of power, and the longer you leave it, the more permanency it's gonna have as a Spiritual artifact in the cosmere.

So, yes, cake has a soul.

Emerald City Comic Con 2018 ()
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Questioner

In the cosmere we've seen Investiture manifest in different ways all across the systems. So I was wondering, when it comes to the powers of Dalinar, is it possible for that power to open a Perpendicularity anywhere, say on Scadrial or any different planet? In a different way, where you could potentially combine all the Realms, open the doors for the Realms.

Brandon Sanderson

Let me say this very carefully. I'm being recorded now... Any time where you gather the right amount of Investiture in the right way, you are going to have kind of a version of a cosmere singularity, right? Which is where you are pulling the different Realms together into a kind of-- you are piercing between them with a large amount of Investiture. So what's happening with Dalinar is both the bug and the feature at the same time. But it is not necessarily the only way. And once things are kind of, once the Spiritual Realm is being involved, time and space don't mean anything anymore on the Spiritual Realm. That's your answer.

Boskone 54 ()
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Ironeyes

So, uh, we know that the charcoal creatures are afraid of coins.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Ironeyes

So are the white chalk creatures, which I think are called Shadowblazes…

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Ironeyes

Are they also afraid of coins?

Brandon Sanderson

Are they also afraid of coins? To a much lesser extent. Um, I can give you guys some backstory on this. What’s going on here is that the place these things come from, um, linear structure and things like this are frightening to them, like they come from a non-linear location. Time does not move linearly where they come from. When they come into this world, structure and linear time progression, is bizarre to them. And there are some who have embraced it, and been like, “This is cool and different!” and there are others that are still terrified of it, as a representation of what is so alien from the world they came from. So that’s why we’ve got this whole clocks, and even structure, as a metaphor for, um, something that is terrifying to them.

Uh, Rithmatist started in the Cosmere. The magic shares a lot of its roots, then, in Cosmere magic worldbuilding. I split if off because I wrote the whole first book with it being in the Cosmere. I split it off, saying “No, I don’t want Earth to be in the Cosmere.” Even an alternate version of Earth. It just raises too many questions about the nature of Earth being involved in this. I want the Cosmere to be its own dwarf galaxy of which not even a dimension of Earth is involved. And when I made that decision, I broke Rithmatist off. That’s the only one I had written that didn’t belong, but it still has, so, it means that the magic is going to feel very familiar to you, uh, it’s going to feel like the magic of a, um, of the Cosmere. And Cosmere magic is based around, usually, human beings making a symbiotic bond with an entity made out of the magic. This is, kind of, one of the origins of Cosmere magic, and Rithmatist has, therefore, its roots in that. I’ve done some things since I’ve split it off in the outlines to distinguish it, but it’s going to have the same roots. So you’ll notice some things like that, that are similar.

Questioner

Uh, before you split The Rithmatist from the Cosmere, did the Shadowblazes come from the Cognitive realm?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah. Yeah, the Shadowblazes were in the Cognitive realm, they’re--you know, well, they’re more Spiritual realm. They were Spiritual realm, sorry. They were Spiritual realm entities that got pulled in, uh, to the Physical realm. And the Spiritual realm has no time, um, it exists independent of time and location, all times and all places are one, and so, uh, when something that’s from the Spiritual realm got pulled into the Physical realm, it was like, “This is so weird!” Um, and there are very few things in the Cosmere that exist only on the Spiritual realm, which was a really fun thing I could do with this book, was show that. Cause most things exist on all three realms. Um, so, yeah. So, yeah, I mean if you’ve got, if you’re a Cosmere, uh, theologian--not theologian, magic, uh, what do you call it? Uh, they call that, uh, I have a word for it in-world. But anyway, if you’re a realmatic theorist, you can kind of pick out how the Spiritual realm beings were related, originally, to the realmatic theory.

Words of Radiance Philadelphia signing ()
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Kurkistan

Are flamespren, are they all doing their own thing, or is there some Ideal of "Fire" sitting in the Spiritual Realm that they're all based on?

Brandon Sanderson

Each spren is based on the Ideal of Fire.

Kurkistan

And is that sitting in the Spiritual Realm?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, we're using sort of a Platonic Ideal, and that concept is in force, so *sounds hesitant* "yes", but [spren] are manifestations of it.

Kurkistan

So these Ideals in the Spiritual Realm: Divine Breath, does that heal by accessing some Ideal of Human Health: so a guy who had never had a tongue and doesn't know how to speak all the sudden has a tongue and can speak?

Brandon Sanderson

You are... *LONG pause* You are, um, on the right track.

Kurkistan

Okay.

Brandon Sanderson

Because the Breath is... eh. How can I explain this? You are, yeah... So... So each Breath is a shade of deity, right?

Kurkistan

Yeah.

Brandon Sanderson

And each Breath incorporates into it this sort of idea of being endowed by the deity Endowment, correct?

Kurkistan

Yes.

Brandon Sanderson

And so each Breath you hold brings you one step closer to becoming like that, and so what you're saying is... is "yes", kind of true, yes.

Kurkistan

But it's like within the Breath, not sitting off by itself-

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, yes yes exactly.

Arcanum Unbounded release party ()
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Questioner

With Warbreaker and Stormlight Archive, Vasher and Zahel. How does that transition occur?

Brandon Sanderson

He went to Roshar because he knew ahead of time, that you could get Stormlight, and how easy it was. So he made his way there because he was tired of sucking people's souls to stay alive.

Questioner

How did he know?

Brandon Sanderson

He, as part of a group of scholars, stumbled upon the nature of worldhopping long ago.

Questioner

Could he be the same group of scholars as Jasnah?

Brandon Sanderson

No, it's a group of scholars on Nalthis who were studying magic, Investiture, and stumbled upon the means by which you transition into the Cognitive Realm. So, he actually had experience with Shardblades before, and that was part of how he built... well, he was part of it, but really...

Questioner

So, is Nightblood kind of like a Shardblade? Is a Shardblade?

Brandon Sanderson

Nightblood is an attempt to make a Shardblade using a different magic. And it turned out poorly.

Questioner

Speaking of Nightblood, how did that transition from Nalthis?

Brandon Sanderson

I have not answered that yet. Eventually, you will find out how they ended up on Roshar.

Boskone 54 ()
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ccstat

We know that recording things can lock spren into position in the cognitive realm. Does the existence of the written Diagram have a significant Realmatic effect.

Brandon Sanderson

The Diagram has Realmatic significance.

ccstat

Did Taravangian know that when he wrote it?

Brandon Sanderson

Define “know.” On the same level perhaps that a table on Roshar knows it’s a table.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Seventy

The Reason for the Mistsickness

So, it finally comes out. I wonder at this numbers plot, as I think many readers will glaze over it and ignore it. I think others will read into it and figure out what it means very quickly, then feel that the reveal here isn't much of a revelation. Hopefully I'll get a majority in the middle who read the clues, don't know what they mean, but are happily surprised when it comes together. That's a difficult line to walk sometimes.

What is going on here is that the mists are awakening the Allomantic potential inside of people. It's very rough on a person for that to come out, and can cause death. Preservation set this all up before he gave his consciousness to imprison Ruin, so it's not a perfect system. It's like a machine left behind by its creator. The catalyst is the return of the power to the Well of Ascension. As soon as that power becomes full, it sets the mists to begin Snapping those who have the potential for Allomancy buried within them.

Many of these people won't be very strong Allomancers. Their abilities were buried too deeply to have come out without the mists' intervention. Others will have a more typical level of power; they might have Snapped earlier, had they gone through enough anguish to bring the power out.

My idea on this is that Allomantic potential is a little like a supersaturated solution. You can suspend a great deal of something like sugar in a liquid when it is hot, then cool it down and the sugar remains suspended. Drop one bit of sugar in there as a catalyst, however, and the rest will fall out as a precipitate.

Allomancy is the same. It's in there, but it takes a reaction—in this case, physical anguish—to trigger it and bring it out. That's because the Allomantic power comes from the extra bit of Preservation inside of humans, that same extra bit that gives us free will. This bit is trapped between the opposing forces of Preservation and Ruin, and to come out and allow it the power to access metals and draw forth energy, it needs to fight its way through the piece of Ruin that is also there inside.

As has been established, Ruin's control over creatures—and, indeed, an Allomancer's control over them—grows weaker when that creature is going through some extreme emotions. (Like the koloss blood frenzy.) This has to do with the relationship between the Cognitive Realm, the Physical Realm, and the Spiritual Realm—of which I don't have time to speak right now.

Suffice it to say that there are people who have Snapped because of intense joy or other emotions. It just doesn't happen as frequently and is more difficult to control.

Skyward San Diego signing ()
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Questioner

I've been thinking about Idealism as a philosophy and how the concept of the... Cognitive Realm is sort of like a very realistic version of Idealism. Is there any influence there at all?

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, definitely. I was a closet philosophy major in college. I didn't actually do that, but I attended a lot of philosophy classes. And I'll tell you this, philosophers don't know to write. That's the most annoying part. You read their essays, and they're full of brilliant ideas, with these enormous run-on sentences that make no sense. You have to like-- So I got really frustrated by that. But I really loved the classes and reading and things like that, and the touch of it is all over my books. If you look for it, you'll find a lot of the different philosophies, you'll find all those guys in different places on different philosophers and different religions and stuff like that.

Starsight Release Party ()
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Questioner

A while back I asked about, have you developed your equivalency system for Breath to... 

Brandon Sanderson

No. We're still working on that. I actually have some people. I just got some physicists and mathematicians and said, "I'm gonna have you guys do this, and then you'll keep me honest." That's where we are right now.

And they're like, "It is such a big job." And I'm like, "I know. That's why I'm paying you to do this, so that I don't have to do it. So do your best, it's okay."

17th Shard Forum Q&A ()
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Nesh

So some of us happened across a line in [Mistborn: The Final Empire] that gave us pause. It's in the chapter 19 epigraph:

"Not so Kwaan. In a way, he is as unlikely a prophet as I am a hero. He never had an air of ceremonious wisdom - nor was he even a religious scholar. When we first met, he was studying one of his ridiculous interests in the great Khlenni library--I believe he was trying to determine whether or not trees could think."

This sounded to us like Kwaan the Terrisman might have been looking into or might have known something about Realmatics, like for instance knowing of the Realms and that things have aspects in all three. Is this the case? If so, was such knowledge common among his people or Scadrial?

Brandon Sanderson

Realmatic theory was part of the ancient Terris religion.

Skyward release party ()
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the.fulgid

I feel like knowing both basic and advanced studies of Realmatic Theory are key to understanding not just how the magic works, but how the very nature of the cosmere works. We already have some of the fundamentals, including:

- The three realms- Shard aspects, knowing that they were made with intent, but the form they building blocks of much of the cosmere- Connection to a Shard is necessary to access its Investiture- I have a bit of an analogy where Identity and Connection work similar to an access badge to a building

Is there a more advanced concept of Realmatic Theory we don't have yet that you'd be willing to share?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, I could buy that.

the.fulgid

Is there a more advanced concept of Realmatic Theory we don't have yet that you'd be willing to share?

Brandon Sanderson

No. Too hard to say, something like that, what we don't know. So no, I will RAFO that. I apologize. I will put them in the book when they are developed, and I can explain them in the way that I feel is appropriate.

San Diego [email protected] 2020 ()
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Argent

Shardblades burn out the eyes of the victims, and deadeyes have their eyes scratched out in Shadesmar. Is the connection here purely thematic? Or are there actual Realmatic mechanics behind it?

Brandon Sanderson

There are, but they're pretty slight. I would lean more on the idea of the thematic, this more being a Roshar thing, with the eye color, the eyes being scratched out, Shardblades burning out the eyes. There are some Realmatic things behind this, but mostly it's me trying to connect a theme in this magic system.

As you might know (maybe, maybe not), Shardblades originally did cut flesh. I wrote the entire prologue with Szeth and them cutting flesh and... ooh, boy, was that bloody! These are books about war, but man, it was just so gory that I'm like, "I'm gonna back off on this. Let's have it burn out the eyes instead." And I liked it way better that way.

DrogaKrolow.pl interview ()
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DrogaKrolow

We have this one bizarre question, that actually was really, really weird but we have to know it.

There was a question about Siamese twins. If they were born gold Feruchemists, and they they were split apart, would they like, form together again?

Brandon Sanderson

Uhhhnn... It depends on how they view themselves

DrogaKrolow

That's the answer to every question like that!

Brandon Sanderson

Right! But that's the whole point of the cosmere is that-- Spiritual Realm is filtered through the Cognitive Realm to the Physical Realm, right? And this lens is going to filter how things work. Perception is really important in the cosmere. That's where most of these things come from, and so-- Yeah that is the answer to everything. But that's the point of the answer to everything, is that there aren't a lot of hard and fast rules when it comes to a lot of these things, with Identity and whatnot is going be filtered through perception.

DrogaKrolow

So it is technically possible for them, if they are seeing each other as one.

Brandon Sanderson

Right.

DrogaKrolow

So we can--

Brandon Sanderson

Now the big hard question is, what if one of them views them as one and one of them doesn't?

DrogaKrolow

Oh.

Brandon Sanderson

Aaaaoooohhh! Then it depends on who's using the magic.

DrogaKrolow

What if both of them are?

Brandon Sanderson

Both of them what? Are gold? If both of them are healing and one doesn't want to and one does, magic's gonna cancel each other out and nothing will happen.

DrogaKrolow

Ok.

Brandon Sanderson

Mmhmm. Yeah I made your question harder and weirder.

DrogaKrolow

Well it was a very logical answer to a very unlogical question.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. I've had to answer a lot of these. My feeling is that if I can make the fundamental magic principles work then you can answer those questions rationally but really what you would have to do is-- Even I'm not the expert on these things. Like I'm the ultimate word in some ways but in another ways the answer would be "I don't know, let's have a thought experiment and if it ever comes up, try it out and see what happens". But yeah, there you go. There is my best answer to you.

Leipzig Book Fair ()
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Questioner

You have this technical approach to Allomantic powers. But Feruchemy seems to me very different. So it's not very logical that you can store up health. What is health?

Brandon Sanderson

Well. I feel that it is. But it has its own definitions. In the Cosmere perception - I don't know if you know...

Questioner

Yeah.

Brandon Sanderson

... it really affects... It's kind of more like a concept of heallth. The idea of your body's ability to recuperate quickly. The magic system translates to your body's ability to match your spiritual self. When that is depleted, your body in the Cosmere starts to stray (? a bit indistinctive in the recording). Foreign things can get into it, diseases get into you, and your spirit can get a little more corrupted. Your body getting corrupted, your spirit's not getting corrupted. You get it, and it makes you extra connected to your spiritual sense. Your body moves to match it closely and better.

Questioner

So the same about speed and ...

Brandon Sanderson

Those are a little different. But each has their little behind the scenes explanation for myself. The problem is... The physics of it is very Cosmere-physics for Feruchemy, whereas for Allomancy it's a lot more out world physics with a different power source. We're changing that. But the physics do work for me. But obviously it's magic, so I'm breaking them anyway.

Firefight Chicago signing ()
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Kurkistan

You've said that the the laws of physics in the cosmere are ours except where they're messed with by the Spiritual... But are the laws of physics actually in the Physical Realm all the time, or are they in the Spiritual Realm doing their stuff on a Spiritual level that's trickling down to the Physical as a matter of course?

Brandon Sanderson

The three are more closely aligned than-- *Breaks off to focus on the books he's signing, the speaking was distracting him*

Kurkistan

So you were saying that physics-- laws of physics-- that the Realms are a lot more closely bound and the laws of physics are not just tied to one of them?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah.

JordanCon 2018 ()
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Argent

How do visions in the cosmere work? And I'm thinking Realmatically.

Brandon Sanderson

So almost always [it's] glimpsing into the Spiritual Realm. But you are often seeing it through the Cognitive, and so like a vision that...

So like the vision that Dalinar sees. What's going on is-- being pulled, and kind of stretched a little bit through the Realms, into the Spiritual Realm.  Where a Cognitive construct is adding a framework to seeds that are set in place.

Argent

So that you can kind of comprehend the Spiritual?

Brandon Sanderson

You can comprehend-- and also there's a little bit of a life to it. Meaning it can respond to you and things like this, to an extent. So imagine, it kind of works like an AI. Imagine there's some-- You've got that power in the Spiritual Realm and you're adding a framework to it, that it is shining through, and that is giving you the vision. Complicated, I know. Spiritual Realm is supposed to be weird, and we aren't supposed to quite comprehend it, but that's why we've got the Cognitive framework there.

Leipzig Book Fair ()
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Questioner

I was wondering: Stormlight doesn't cross walls, because people put their spheres outside. But it crosses the glass of the spheres. Is that material dependent or...

Brandon Sanderson

It's thickness dependent. In the third book there's actually a little place where it's mentioned. Some people put it right inside a little, kind of thin rock portion and the Stormlight can still reach it. So I did that quite intentionally.

Oathbringer London signing ()
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Aurimus

As the two Realms, the Cognitive and the Spiritual, are, well, fictional... Are they all comprised of Investiture, completely?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. No, completely? Well, here's the thing. Investiture, matter, and energy are all the same thing in the cosmere. So, just like energy and matter are the same thing here. So, yes, everything's made of Investiture, in the same way that everything's made of energy in our world. Does that make sense?

Aurimus

So, what about what spren are made of in the Cognitive Realm? Is that just Investiture?

Brandon Sanderson

So, yeah, I'll dig more into that. I'm gonna go with Investiture for now, but I could change that as I move along. What I'm kind of debating is, is there a separate Cognitive state, and I don't think so. So I'm gonna go with Investiture for now.

Aurimus

How about Connection?

Brandon Sanderson

Connection is, like, the equivalent of a quantum connection in our world, so it's more like a force than something comprised of something. The question is like, "What is gravity comprised of?" And then you start asking weird questions.

General Reddit 2017 ()
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RoboChrist

Did Kelsier really hear Preservation's voice telling him to Survive when he was in the pits of Hathsin? Or was it Ruin pretending to be Preservation?

If it was Preservation, does that mean Kelsier died in the pits? Or were there special circumstances that allowed Kelsier to hear Preservation's voice without dying?

Brandon Sanderson

Special things often happen in the cosmere when someone is very close to death, or undergoing intense pain (either physical or emotional.) Barriers between the realms weaken.

I can confirm that the Kelsier who left the pits was not a cognitive shadow.

Phantine

Could he have become a shadow using the pits if he died immediately after snapping?

Brandon Sanderson

Possibly.

General Reddit 2018 ()
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wiresegal

In OB, you explained that the Singers have four sexes. I was wondering... Can the Singers have genders other than those four, like humans? Even as simple as just not going with male, female, or malen/femalen. Could a transgender Singer use their ability to shift forms to change their biological reality? And, finally, could a Spren be non-binary, if it wasn't personified in a typical male/female way?

Brandon Sanderson

In the cosmere as a whole, a person's perception of themselves has a lot of power over both their Spiritual and Physical forms. It is possible, with Investiture, to change their biology to match Cognitive perceptions--and while this could be easier for some races (like the Singers) it's not outside plausibility for any race.

There are non-binary spren, actually--and you should be meeting one important one quite soon in the books.

Shadows of Self Portland signing ()
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Questioner

Supposing that a skilled Hemalurgist got hold of some a Shardblade or some Shardplate, how would he best use it assuming that the best way isn't to put it on and kill people with it.

Brandon Sanderson

That's probably the best way, to put it on and kill people with it. I'm not sure why a Hemalurgist would want one more than anyone else would because the metal is already Invested which means its not useful to him.

Questioner

So there is no way that he could use a Hemalurgic spike to take some power from the Spren that's crafting it.

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, that's what you're saying. You want to grab something off the Spren? That's gonna be way harder than grabbing one that's not already made into something. So I don't see why he would want the Blade, just go grab it from them. Even then its going to be worse then, probably in most cases, a person. Maybe its possible that spiking yourself with a Spren would be valid, but you don't want to take it out of the Shardblade. That's gonna be harder, but you would probably have to go to the Cognitive either way to make it work, so yeah.

Shadows of Self San Jose signing ()
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Questioner

Is there meant to be a direct connection between the efficiency for transferring Breaths and the stamp magic from The Emperor’s Soul?

Brandon Sanderson

There's not meant to be a direct correlation only in that the magics both work on the same fundamental rules, like all of them do.

Questioner

Okay.

Brandon Sanderson

I wasn't specifically linking those two in any way in my head when I was working on them.

Questioner

Okay, because I was just wondering with the fact that the stamps work better with what there supposed to be like...and the Breath work better--

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah. That's just a fundamental of the Cosmere, the whole idea of perception, what you're thinking, how much something matches what you're doing, and how well you're able to visualize what you want to have happen. This is all related in the cognitive aspects of the magic, basically, and the spiritual, I suppose.

Boskone 54 ()
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Questioner

If you draw a line of forbiddance on a piece of on a chalkboard that’s sitting on the ground and then hit that chalkboard, will the chalkboard move?

Brandon Sanderson

This is the number one question I get, actually. The answer is, it depends on the size of the line and the amount of power that’s been put into it. This is actually relating back to Cosmere physics. If you look at the Cosmere physics, you can see exactly what happens with the speed bubbles, it’s the same sort of principle. It’s based on perception. So putting a movable line, oftentimes you will just have trouble engaging the magic on something that’s not stable enough to be viewed as stable. Drawing it on a chalkboard and then turning it toward somebody actually wouldn’t work, because you wouldn’t be able to engage that line very easily with the way the magic works. And if you did, it would disrupt the line, and it would be gone. Treat whatever I do with speed bubbles as the rule for Rithmatist magic, until I write the second book. If I decide to take it in it’s own direction, I will let you guys know.

Orem signing ()
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Questioner

How does an object in the Cognitive Realm view itself if there are competing viewpoints of it? Like if two kids view a toy as their toy, how does the toy view itself?

Brandon Sanderson

There is going to be often, things are going to be in a position of change. And usually it will have one thing. You will say, "What am I?" "I'm Brandon's toy." Then a little later it might be you say "What are you?" "Well, I'm Brandon and Joel's toy." And then at some point it might just become "Joel's toy." There's-- It's kind of the "When does a pile become a heap?" and that sort of philosophical question. At what point do you transition between one and the other? It happens, but it's fuzzy and it's vague. And it also influences what you can do to it and how to change it and things like that. Like a rock viewing itself as a rock changing into sand, there's some fluidity there.

Firefight Chicago signing ()
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Kurkistan

Is there- have you come up with a Realmatic explanation for why light isn't affected by time bubbles besides handwavium "please don't burn people with microwaves"?

Brandon Sanderson

Peter's got one for us. 'Cause we were going to do redshift: like the actual original writing for it had redshifts; Peter's like "Dude, you will microwave everybody" I'm like "Oh man". So the handwavium of that: there is a real- there is an actual explanation, but it...

*they move to outside the store*

What's the middle of this question?

Kurkistan

Middle of the question was you were thinking about explaining the Realmatics behind light for time bubbles.

Brandon Sanderson

Oh right, right right right right. I can't because it spoils future books; like that's spoiler for Mistborn... 10?

Kurkistan/Argent

*laughter*

Brandon Sanderson

So... if you count the four Alloys, so really gotta stay away from stuff like that.

Kurkistan/Argent

That's fair/fine.

Oathbringer Portland signing ()
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Questioner

How do states of matter affect how things look in the Cognitive and Spiritual Realms?

Brandon Sanderson

So, generally, how people perceive something is very important to the reflection in the Cognitive Realm, and so the physical state of matter is going to be involved in that, but generally, it flows the other direction from the Spiritual Realm.

Questioner

Do the forms of Investiture that we've seen, Stormlight, metals, Shardpools, do the fact that those happen in general the same types of states of matter, all physical, solid, is kinda going to be like metal for Investiture?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, that is generally the way it will be.

Skyward Seattle signing ()
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The Young Pyromancer

If you built a computer and you programmed it to view the world in a certain way, would that affect the world, like, Cognitive aspect?

Brandon Sanderson

Not unless the computer starts to become self-aware.

Questioner

What if it was an Awakened computer?

Brandon Sanderson

If the computer were becoming self-aware, then it would act like any other sapient entity.

Shadows of Self San Francisco signing ()
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Questioner

Is there a limit to the amount of useful energy that can be extracted from an end-neutral system? Like Skimmers on a Terris wheel on opposite sides.

Brandon Sanderson

So... Skimmers by making their weight lighter, spinning the thing around, and things and then--

 

Questioner

You got one on opposite sides--

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah you could totally do this. In my mind, the way I work this out is that it's no more-- having people do it and things like this-- yeah you could totally do that. The power for making this happen, you are drawing Spiritual energy into the Physical plane can power your motor. It's not power-negative, it's changing forms.

But in realistic terms that would be so much less cost-effective than other methods because Allomancers are expensive, but yeah you could just keep that going.

Questioner

Same with Lifeless? Telling them to push a wheel around?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, the sustenance for life is coming directly from the Spiritual plane. So if you remove that, it wouldn't work. The whole idea from this is that energy is getting recycled back into the Spiritual plane when people are dying and things like that, so...

Salt Lake City signing ()
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Questioner

In our universe, mass and energy curve space. I was wondering if Investiture does the same or something similar

Brandon Sanderson

It does something similar. It draws the three Realms together. So it's got like-- Imagine a gravitational pull piercing Realms. Right? Of kind of--

Questioner

And that's how a perpendicularity works?

Brandon Sanderson

That's not the only way a perpendicularity works, but one surefire way to create a perpendicularity is a massive collection of Investiture in the Cognitive or mostly Physical realm. But Cognitive's weird, doesn't always work the right way. But there are ways to do it that way too.