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DragonCon 2019 ()
#51 Copy

Questioner #1

On Roshar, all the alcohol on Roshar is called wine.

Brandon Sanderson

Yep.

Questioner #1

Some of it is different from what we have on Earth...

Brandon Sanderson

Yep. All of it, actually. Well, not all of it--there's some actual Shin wine that you would call wine.

Questioner #1

So, on Roshar, do they have distillation processes, or do they have some sort of super yeast that can go way higher than the 20% cap?

Brandon Sanderson

A lot of what you're seeing we would just call spirits or liqueurs here. Tthey do have some grain based things and stuff like that. They're not making beer, they're mostly making spirits.

This whole linguistic thing is one of those little clues that I embedded for certain reasons that we won't go into. The reason they call everything wine, the reason that seasons... they call seasons and we're like, "Wait! Those aren't seasons!", and things like that... *with some audience nudging* Chickens is the other big one. This is all there for a specific reason, but the further we get and the better help I get from beta readers... thank the beta readers for the scenes in Oathbringer, where a certain character is getting drunk--they helped me a lot on that. The better information I get from the betas in these things, I write stuff and then they tell me "Ah Brandon, you know nothing about beer!" and I'm like "Well yes, I do not know much about beer!" *laughter* "So tell me..." and the better it gets. I'm trying to give you more and more in the books about that because it is important to specifically several of the characters, and so I wanted to get it right. But most of what they're drinking would be harder than what you might assume.

Questioner #1

So, distilled or brewed?

Brandon Sanderson

Distilled, mostly distilled.

Questioner #2

Are there fermentation spren? *laughter*

Brandon Sanderson

I would say yes. There are probably fermentation spren. Because some of the lower... like some of the colors are actual fruit... like *asking back* what do you do when making wine, you're brewing wine, and *with audience help* pressing wine, and you ferment wine. And so, some of them you would drink and be like, "Okay, this is wine-like. It's not made from grapes, but its wine-like." A lot of the... further on the wheel, you'd drink and you'd be like "Oh, this tastes like Vodka! Why're you calling it wine?" Well that's what their word for alcohol is.

General Reddit 2017 ()
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TheRealKuni

Throughout TWoK, Kaladin complains that he is cursed. When others call him lucky, he thinks about all the times he has failed to protect people and considers himself unlucky. Everyone around him dies.

His Journey in that book takes him to Bridge 4, the bridge team that has the most losses, that everyone knows is a death sentence. Death being the end of every journey, this is appropriate.

But what I've never really noticed before is the importance of the bridge number. 4 is, in East Asian cultures, considered unlucky or cursed. In Chinese 4 is nearly a homophone to the word death. Buildings will skip the 4th floor, companies will skip from version 3 to version 5 of their products (Palm, OnePlus, I'm sure there are other examples but I can't think of them right now).

We already know that The Stormlight Archive finds some of its inspiration in anime/manga. We know that the Alethi are what we would consider ethnically East Asian. Dark hair, tan skin, and they don't have the large, round eyes of the Shin. It seems very fitting that the least lucky bridge, the one responsible for the most death, is Bridge 4.

Of course, Kaladin comes to believe he isn't cursed as he uses his powers to defend his bridgemen. 4 becomes the most envied bridge as they suffer the fewest deaths, have camaraderie, and eventually become squires to a radiant.

They are numbered unlucky and cursed, but turn out to be the most "lucky" of the bridge crews.

This all struck me today because at the end of Oathbringer, Dalinar casually mentions that his personal guard from Bridge 13 isn't there because that bridge crew became Teft's squires. 13 is the number in Western culture that we consider "unlucky" or "cursed," so fitting that it would be the second bridge crew to become squires of a Radiant! With that realization, everything about Bridge 4 clicked in my head.

Did anyone else catch this, or notice anything else cool with these numbers?

Brandon Sanderson

A lot of things fans find are coincidence...but neither of these are, actually. Those are both intentional, as are a few other little numbers things.

Numerology has not become a big thing in Stormlight during the development of it, but original (2002 version) The Way of Kings leaned a lot more heavily on numerology (gematria style word/number interactions) and that's still around in the world.

Oathbringer release party ()
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Questioner

Where did you get the idea for the gemhearts.

Brandon Sanderson

So, I wanted-- in the books, I wanted there to be an economic component to the magic, like, something that was based on the money in the world. And I knew I wanted to use the gemstones, but I also knew they would be used up really quickly by the magic, with Soulcasting. So, I built something into the creatures of the world, so that we could renew the gemstones, so they wouldn't all just be gone after a few hundred years.

BookCon 2018 ()
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Questioner

If a Thaylen and Alethi had a child, how would their eyebrows look?

Brandon Sanderson

Their eyebrows would probably have streaks of white. You would just see the kind of hybridization how bushy and long their eyebrows got. The color would breed kind of half-way true.

DragonCon 2019 ()
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DoritoJH

We that there are spren that are partially of Honor, partially of Cultivation, and Odium. Can there be spren made of any combination of Shards?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. Well, you would have to call them... Under that definition if you call a seon a spren, then yes. If you don't call a seon a spren, if you define a spren as, "On Roshar, related to the natural world of Roshar," then no. Theoretically yes, but it wouldn't really work. But it depends on how you define spren. If a Shard were to come and reside on Roshar like the other ones have, then you could theoretically see other new spren appearing out of them.

DoritoJH

Could there be a spren of all 16 Shards combined all at once?

Brandon Sanderson

*hands out RAFO card*

Skyward Seattle signing ()
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Questioner

The lighteyes-- Do their eyes actually glow or is it just blue or green?

Brandon Sanderson

No. It's a very pale blue or green though. You can tell pretty easily looking at them who's lighteyed and who's dark. They don't glow. So--

Questioner

It's otherworldly?

Brandon Sanderson

Some of them would look-- You would say otherworldly, but not impossibly. You can find people on Earth who have eyes the shade that they are. Not all of them, right? Because some of them are yellows and things like that that we don't have. But if you looked at them and they were here, you might wonder if they were wearing contacts but it wouldn't be unusual to find out they weren't.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
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ccstat

When Jasnah talks about soulcasting the 8 different types of blood, is she referring to transfusion typing within humans (e.g. ABO+/- on Earth) or to different kinds of blood between species (e.g. human vs axehound vs greatshell vs Aimian, etc)?

Brandon Sanderson

Both, though people on Roshar haven't hit upon the levels of complexity in blood types that we know.

KingSloth

Did these arise naturally on Roshar, or did Honor/Cultivation get lazy on templating humanity and copying existing?

Brandon Sanderson

RAFO. (Sorry.)

17th Shard Forum Q&A ()
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FireArcadia

Does the world map in The Way of Kings show all of the landmasses of Roshar? Does that make the continent on Roshar a Pangaea-like supercontinent? And as I think about it, are there tectonic plates on Roshar?

Brandon Sanderson

It is a supercontinent. I won't say there is NOTHING out there, but (unlike Scadrial) there is not another full continent. Plate tectonics are not a factor on the supercontinent.

/r/fantasy AMA 2017 ()
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unknown

As silly as this may sound, one of my favorite things about The Stormlight Archive thus far has been the flora you describe in the world.

What inspired you to spend time developing unique and world-appropriate plants? I feel like plants are so often an overlooked detail, even in books with heavy world-building.

Brandon Sanderson

I knew that I wanted some worlds in the cosmere to be truly strange. Fantasy tends to shy away from very odd ecosystems, but I think it shouldn't. (Even in Mistborn, we started with strange flora.)

For Roshar, I started with the storms, then worked toward what I think would have evolved there (erring on the side of the fantastical.) The primary inspirations were tidal pools and coral reefs.

Oathbringer Glasgow signing ()
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Hoidonalsium

What was the order of the Shards coming to Roshar and changing allegiances? Did humans come with Odium?

Brandon Sanderson

So... you're talking about on Roshar specifically? So, Odium had visited Roshar. The humans gave him more of an ear... The Dawnsingers would have considered him the god of the people who had come, but-- I mean, it wasn't like they necessarily brought him. He was capable of getting around before that. I mean, he did kinda come along with them, he was instrumental in what happened there.

Hoidonalsium

Okay, but he was separate, and after Honor and Cultivation had really settled there?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, he was after Honor and Cultivation had settled.

General Reddit 2017 ()
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[unknown]

Rereading Words of Radiance... Are the Herdazians a caricature of Mexicans? Is that ok?

Brandon Sanderson

Parts of their culture are inspired by Mexican culture in the same way the Alethi are inspired by Mongolians, Lift's origins are indigenous Bolivians, and the Final Empire (Central Dominance) was 1800's France. Human beings need a launching-off point for creativity to work.

I don't consider them a caricature. Lopen is extreme to say the least, but I made sure to include Palona, Huio, and others as a balancing factor. That said, I don't get to decide if what I did works--I get to try, and explain my motivations, but the decision on whether or not I succeed is not in my hands. Many a writer has had the best intentions, but has failed anyway.

I think it's important to diversify my inspirations, and push myself. If I were going to say the true inspirations for Herdazians, it would be a Mexico mashup with Korea (where I lived for several years.) The smaller country that has long been overshadowed by a dominant neighbor is a very common thing in our world, and it really felt like Alethkar would have a similar effect on kingdoms around it.

I will take a moment to note that chouta wasn't inspired by burritos, really, but more the "street food" explosion that accompanied the industrial revolution. I took what they had in the society (flatbread and Soulcast meat) and tried to build something that would replicate the things I've seen and read about in our world during that era, because it fascinates me.

OdysseyCon 2016 ()
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Blightsong

How much did Super Mind Taravangian know about the Cosmere as a whole, roughly, rough estimate.

Brandon Sanderson

He had a little bit of knowledge. Not as much as... not as much conscious knowledge.

Blightsong

Did he guess about the three realms?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, he knew about the three realms. He didn't have to guess on that, he had read philosophy and things, that knowledge is there on Roshar

Salt Lake City signing ()
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Questioner

How does a world that is wracked by Storms supply food for and entire population?

Brandon Sanderson

Well, you um... The thing to keep in mind is, it's not a barren planet. There are lots of plants on this planet. When-- I mean, it's no more barren than a corral reef that deals with the tide rushing in and rushing out. Now, the life has to adapt to it, but it's a really lush planet. You-- I mean, if you go and you look at the Shattered Plains there's grass everywhere and plants growing all over the place. It's just, right before a Storm, it becomes barren and then becomes lush again.

*long pause* 

Yeah, that was, um... One of the things I kind of have to overcome with this books is, though it is very rocky and stony, it's also very lush, and it's hard sometimes for people to imagine that. But even if it is a little bit barren, Utah is barren, and it supported people.

OdysseyCon 2016 ()
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Blightsong

Have larger landgoing greatshells existed above a chasmfiend?

Brandon Sanderson

Larger than a chasmfiend... the ones that wonder around out in the islands of Reshi could go on land. So yea, it is possible that there are larger ones. They do better in the water, because of how big they are, but the high oxygen, low gravity, and symbiotic bonds with the spren allow some mega fauna that is just really large and just could exist on earth, so yea.

Firefight Chicago signing ()
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Argent

In terms of timeline-- So The Way of Kings and The Stormlight Archive takes place 1173-74 right now, how far ago, approximately, was the Recreance?

Brandon Sanderson

So you-- Let's see-- Heralds leave at what, 4500?

Argent

That's what it says.

Brandon Sanderson

So the Heralds leave at 4500 and we're at 11--

Argent

So we are at 5500 years after--

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah. So Recreance is more recent than late.

Argent

So... In the thousands--

Brandon Sanderson

I'm going to have to pull out the timeline.

Argent

But it's not like three hundred years ago.

Brandon Sanderson

It's not like three hundred years ago, but it's also not like 4000 years ago.

Argent

Okay, so from the middle--

Brandon Sanderson

The Hierocracy happened after and the Hierocracy was a couple hundred years ago. It's longer than that even, it's like five or six hundred years ago I think.

Footnote: Argent makes a small math mistake here, Aharietiem ended 4,500 years before the events of the book, not 4,500 years before the start of the calendar the Alethi use.
General Twitter 2018 ()
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Overlord Jebus

is there a word for baby chulls and if not, can it be chulldren?

Brandon Sanderson

The baby form is a chull cremling. Sorry...

Craig

Hold on. Are you saying that when we see cremlings, they are at least some of the time immature forms of other creatures? Or is it just a broadly used term?

Peter Ahlstrom

Some of the time they are!

JordanCon 2016 ()
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Questioner

What happens to the spren the Parshendi bond when they switch form? So say if they're in soldier form, and they switch over to mate, what happens to that spren?

Brandon Sanderson

The spren is released.

Questioner

So when they took on void, they didn't kill their previous spren?

Brandon Sanderson

No, they don't kill when they-- No. That's a good question. Nope.

Questioner

Do those spren evolve in any way into something else?

Brandon Sanderson

Those spren that they are bonding with are generally what we call non-sapient spren, and so, no, and also the spren are barely aware that they-- they're bonded--- those spren, the non-voidspren, right? Like when they're bonding, generally what's happening is how... It's a symbiotic relationship, right? And the spren that gets bonded to them, it's just kind of like, "Oh, this is my life now! This is just normal. This is what's happened." The same thing happens with spren involved in greatshells and things like this. This is a natural part of the natural cycle for those spren.

17th Shard Forum Q&A ()
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Straff Venture

Are any of your books' locations (barring Legion) based on real-life places? If so, where? If not, what propels your creative drive to make new worlds?

Brandon Sanderson

All of the keeps in the Mistborn series are based on real structures I've visited. The mists are based on a trip to Idaho, were I drove through a fog bank at high speeds.

Warbreaker's setting was inspired, in part, by a visit to Hawaii.

Much of Roshar is inspired by tidal pools and coral reefs.

Emerald City Comic Con 2018 ()
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Questioner

For the creatures on Roshar... where do you start in your worldbuilding for that kind of hting?

Brandon Sanderson

So where I started for Roshar was the highstorm. So I knew I had the highstorm and I was going to want to build out from that, and I would want an ecology that incorporated the magic. Those were kind of the two things I was looking for. I wanted everything to deal with the storms in some way and be affected by them, and I wanted Stormlight and spren to be integrated into the way that the worldbuilding happened because this was my big worldbuilding epic. So I started along those two lines, and that's where gemhearts came from. That is where-- The [singers] grew naturally out of that. A lot of the creatures and things I looked toward tidal pools because I figured this was kind of a similar sort of thing, an environment that has to deal with a drastic change, a biome that deals with this repeatedly every day.

General Reddit 2016 ()
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IneptProfessional

Since you mention languages on Roshar, are there any languages that are completely unrelated to any other on the planet?

Brandon Sanderson

Our basic language families are:

Vorin: Alethi, Veden, Herdazian, and more distantly Thaylen. Nathan is close to dead, but shares a root, and Karbranthian is basically a dialect. Other minor languages like Bav are in here.

Makabaki: Azish is king here, and most the languages around split off this. There are around thirty of these.

Dawnate: A varied language family with distant roots in the dawnchant. Shin, parshendi, Horneater. They share grammar, but they diverged long enough ago that the vocabulary is very different.

Iri: Iriali, Reshi, Purelake dialects, Riran, and some surrounding languages.

Aimian: These two are lumped together, but are very different. Probably what you were looking for.

That isn't counting spren languages, of course. I might have missed something. Typing on my phone without my wiki handy.

Emerald City Comic Con 2018 ()
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Questioner

Where are the rest of Roshar's named gems? Like, we have the Hope diamond, we've got dozens of--

Brandon Sanderson

A lot of them are in the [Thaylen Gemstone Reserve] ...There's a lot of them around and there are places like that. One of the tricks, and I actually kind of was aware of this, particularly in book three, I was like "Yeah, I maybe should have named some of these things earlier." One of the tricks with a book like Way of Kings, there are already so many new names and terms that oftentimes I find myself finding ways to not include a new name or term because the overwhelming nature of the learning curve is so big. And I will admit, writing book three I'm like, "Ah, I should have named some of these earlier," this is what they would do.

But it's kind of this Occam's razor, well, that's the wrong term. It's this idea of "Let's try to keep it as simple as possible for that fact that it's really complex." and that's why I naturally just didn't do it. 

I would say in-world a lot of them are named. But you've also got to remember that gems are not as eternal on Roshar as they are. They are a little more ephemeral, you will often end up using them for something and they are wearing out, so to speak. So the idea that a diamond is forever is more of an Earth concept than a Roshar concept.

Oathbringer San Diego signing ()
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Questioner

I'm asking why they have chickens.

Brandon Sanderson

...They were carried with them.

Questioner

So is Earth...

Brandon Sanderson

Earth is not. There are several Earth analogues. I go with a default, we're gonna make it easy on myself. Those planets have, kinda, Earth analogue for plants and animals. And then you can assume that they have Earth creatures until I start doing ecology really quite weirdly.

JordanCon 2016 ()
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Questioner

You mentioned the ecology on Roshar, and also you mentioned that mostly the non-sentient spren predate the Shattering of Adonalsium. So my question is about the evolution of life on Roshar, and how essential the highstorms are to life on Roshar, how the plants evolved, so can we assume that life that is dependent on the highstorms predates the Shattering of Adonalsium?

Brandon Sanderson

Um… You--

Questioner

Can we correctly assume?

Brandon Sanderson

--yeah, *laughter* I'll tell you this. The highstorms predate, and there was a lot of natural evolution on Roshar, resulting in a lot of what we have there.

JordanCon 2016 ()
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Questioner

I get the impression after reading Stormlight 1 and 2 that a lot of what you would consider to be flora, plant-life, is actually something like coral in the ocean which is actually an animal. So is there actually any flora on Roshar outside out of, like, Shinovar?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, yeah, like almost all the things you see as flora are actual flora. Like, rockbuds are flora, trees are flora, shalebark is not, and some of the things like that-- haspers are not, and some of these things are more-- are animal life, are fauna. But grass is actually a flora, and trees.

Now I mean one of the big adaptations they've had to make is that they have to use crem, so a lot of the trees that you'll find on Roshar, they will be using crem that falls and you use this to create shells, you use this to infuse your bark, they use this in a lot of different ways, the minerals there are very important because they're not getting from the soil what plants on our world get from soil, a lot of them do. You have to get all of your minerals and things basically have to come from the crem.

Bystander

Which the farmers already knew.

Brandon Sanderson

Which the farmers already knew.

Shadows of Self London UK signing ()
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Neuxue

Does Roshar have a magnetic field?  

Brandon Sanderson

Um, Roshar, magnetic field, yes, it does. Yes. Yeah it does  

Neuxue

You said at one point that it is all one plate--  

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Neuxue

--that there's no tectonic activity. What is the interior of the planet like?  

Brandon Sanderson

That’s a good question... You're not going to get an answer on that one. It's a weird planet, let's just say that. It's a pretty weird planet

Neuxue

Are the diamonds naturally occurring?  

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, but most are going to be-- They aren't-- all gemstones are naturally occurring, but most of, many or most of, the gems they are getting they are getting from creatures that grow them, not from the rock. Though there are mines on Roshar, you just have to-- most of them are on the leeward side of mountains, where the crem isn't being deposited.

Neuxue

So, diamond mines are about tectonics--

Brandon Sanderson

It was a created planet, keep that in mind.

Firefight San Francisco signing ()
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Questioner

In Stormlight, how the hell does society work with one object standing for both the currency, the magic system, and light and power--

Brandon Sanderson

How does it work in Roshar with one thing spanning-- for the economy, the magic system, and... lighting up everything. They would ask, "How  you could possibly have three different things?" because it makes no sense to them. It totally functions, I think. The big distinction is you can't use Stormlight for lighting if-- Like that's something for rich people. You'll see poor people using candles and whatnot, because hanging out your spheres is not a smart idea in some other places. There are spheres that are a low light level that are worth about a candle or so, so if you put a candle out someone could just swipe that, it's worth the same amount. There's really no difference between putting out a candle and that. If you're going to put out a lantern you can put spheres in it and lock it up.

Stormlight Three Update #4 ()
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Mat_alThor

Just finished a trip to Zion and Bryce National Parks; did those parks and the surrounding area influence the Shattered Plains? Really felt like I should be looking for gemstones and watching out for chasmfiends while cayoneering.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, they were a big influence. In college, one of my roommates (Micah Demoux, for whom I named Captain Demoux) was a photographer, and he took me on many nature photography trips in southern Utah. Roshar is a direct outgrowth of this.

JordanCon 2016 ()
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Questioner

On Roshar, because of there's no tectonic activity, it would suggest that it's possible that the magnetic dynamo inside doesn't create enough of a magnetosphere to protect life from solar radiation, so my question is, do the highstorms function as a form of protection against solar radiation?

Brandon Sanderson

That's an excellent question.

Bystander

That's a RAFO. *laughter*

Brandon Sanderson

That's a really cool question.

Arcanum Unbounded San Francisco signing ()
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Herald (paraphrased)

Is it possible to reliably deduce what a Shardworld's Cognitive realm will look like if we knew a lot about its Physical realm? For example, mists in Scadrial, spheres in Roshar etc.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Yes, but it works in odd ways. So it may not work in the logical way that you think.

Herald (paraphrased)

Why spheres on Roshar? Something related to the highstorms makes more sense, right?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Yes there is a reason for them being spheres. RAFO

Arcanum Unbounded San Francisco signing ()
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Herald (paraphrased)

Is there more significance to the 10 other planets around the Rosharan star system and them being gaseous? We know that Roshar's moons have unnatural orbits; so there seems to be some astronomical manipulation in the system.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Yes there is significance of 16 in cosmere and 10 in Rosharan system.

Herald (paraphrased)

The outer 10 gas giants in the Rosharan system suggest a tie to the number 10 that predates the arrival of the current Shards. Is the prominent numerology we see around the cosmere an inherent property of the planets, rather than the Shards who invest them?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Big RAFO.

Herald (paraphrased)

Would Ashyn/Braize share the 10-centric numerology of Roshar?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Yes 10-centric is for the entire Rosharan planetary system...wait Braize is 9-centric.

Stormlight Three Update #4 ()
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nnneeeerrrrddd

Over a long enough timeline would Roshar's "random" seasonal pattern show an actual predictable pattern, or is it truly random?

Brandon Sanderson

I think I know what you're getting at, and if so, you're right. But just to answer the question: temperature variation on Roshar doesn't follow much of a pattern, and is relatively small in variance. It's caused by the blowing of the storms, so over the long term, looking VERY hard, you could probably find some patterns. They'd be related to the frequency and strength of storms during that time of year.

Stormlight Three Update #4 ()
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Argent

In The Way of Kings, Chapter 54: Gibletish, Dalinar has a brief conversation with Brightlord Hatham, one of his ardents, and a few other people. During the conversation the ardent uses the word "soil" in a way most Rosharans wouldn’t. After the conversation he tells Dalinar of "our goodwill toward you" and that "we will speak with you again." The odd use of the word "soil" combined with what could be a vague reference to the ardent’s associated with a group other than the ardentia has led some of us to believe he might be a worldhopper. Plus, we know Nazh is around in the area, or will arrive soon. Is there truth to this idea, or are we overthinking this?

Brandon Sanderson

Alethi use the word "soil" on occasion in their language to mean "dirtied" or similar. It's a holdover from an earlier time. But they don't associate it with the ground, and if you see it used instead of stone like in this quote, it should indeed raise an eyebrow.

Argent

Sooo... I mean, my eyebrow was already raised. :D Let's not bait the RAFO too hard, and drop the worldhopper part - is there more to this particular ardent than meets the eye? :)

Wait, hold up. How can "soil" be a holdover from an earlier time if Roshar was always a rocky place? Or did you mean that it's one of those words that carried over from Yolish, or whatever other language people spoke before they migrated to Roshar (like "hound")?

Brandon Sanderson

It is similar to hound, which is one of the ones that Hoid pointed out as an oddity. But people did not migrate from Yolen to Roshar. Roshar was inhabited before the shattering of Adonalsium.

Argent

Hmm. I am rusty on my Roshar history, I'll have to review what we know the topic. I know Roshar existed before the Shattering, and it was presumably populated, but I didn't think there had been humans there. They don't feel native. I've been working under the assumption that the Parshendi were native (maybe), but the humans came from somewhere - the Tranquiline Halls myths also kind of support that.

Or have I missed something?

Brandon Sanderson

Technically, what I said doesn't actually contradict anything you just said. But just to be extra safe: RAFO. I have to keep a FEW secrets safe from you people to come out in the books. :)