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Salt Lake City signing ()
#55 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.

The Great American Read: Other Worlds with Brandon Sanderson ()
#56 Copy

Snipexe

Is there one true Shardblade form for a spren?

Brandon Sanderson

"True" in this sense is mutable and it can change, based on perception. I would say yes, but it is not a kind of platonic truth, it is a momentary truth.

Snipexe

Will dead Shardblades change, when an owner has them for a long time will they slowly change or will they stay the same?

Brandon Sanderson

Shardblades have changed before that were considered dead.

Holiday signing ()
#61 Copy

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.

DragonCon 2016 ()
#67 Copy

Questioner

I don't really read much, but-- *laughter* I listen to all of the audio books of all your books... And one thing I really respect that you do is you're very punk rock about how you approach things. Like "Three [prologues], yeah why not?" It actually reminds me a lot of Final Fantasy, like when that came onto the scene it was just "Dang, these guys are doing everything. The best, the newest, the freshest thing." And I was actually curious, have you ever actually played Final Fantasy, where you inspired by it? Especially because the swords are HUGE like in Final Fantasy.

Brandon Sanderson

I will admit, there's a bit of me saying "Man, what would it take to make giant swords realistic?" *laughter*  Like I actually-- No, this is real. Like fantasy art, and particularly Japanese fantasy art, has these oversized weapons that's completely unrealistic. But that's a challenge to me.

I actually played-- Like I have Final Fantasy cred. *laughter* I played One, on the original Nintendo, right? When it was released. And I have actually played them all. Ten is my favorite. As an aside, what I loved about Ten was-- The voice acting really helped, but I loved that-- Like Ten is what taught me that you don't have to have an angsty, depressed character. Angsty, depressed characters are awesome but sometimes you can have a hero who's not angsty and depressed and it works out alright. But I would call myself deeply influenced by that, certaintly.

Orem Signing ()
#69 Copy

Questioner

With aluminum resisting Shardblades, could you plate Shardplate with aluminum and have extra resistance, or would that be too thin to really even do anything?

Brandon Sanderson

This would probably not be very effective. Maybe in modern times, you could, but honestly you'd be better off just building aluminum armor for someone else. It's not gonna add too much to the Shardplate and to what the Shardplate's already doing and it might just interfere too much with what you're trying to do anyway. It would be worth experimenting with, but I don't think it's gonna end up doing too much.

Skyward release party ()
#70 Copy

Questioner

At the last signing event, I was asking about a Shard[blade] and paint, if it disappears, comes back, what happens? You said the paint never disappeared with it. But you seemed intrigued by other possibilities, and then I thought of some too. One of them would be a foundry, showing people how to make weapons, you put your Shard in the sand, make a sword in there, dismiss it, fill it with your molten metal, stuff like that sounded like...interesting ideas.

Brandon Sanderson

I like that, I like that a lot.

JordanCon 2016 ()
#71 Copy

Questioner 1

So, it's been established when Syl transformed for Kaladin that a living Blade can become any weapon, right?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, based on the perception of the wielder.

Questioner 1

Right. So, why is it that there are only dead swords?

Brandon Sanderson

That's a good question that will be answered in the future.

Questioner 2

Could they make a lightsaber?

Brandon Sanderson

Could they make a lightsaber? W-- They could make metal weapons of a similar style to that, so no, we're not talking lightsabers because… Creating plasma is not something that we're looking at.

Moderator

But like a bow, for example?

Brandon Sanderson

They could create, probably--Well, let's RAFO that one, I'll show you what's going to be happening.

Words of Radiance San Diego signing ()
#72 Copy

Questioner (paraphrased)

What about Kaladin getting sliced with the Shardblade and then being able to rejuvenate?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

That is a clue for what is going on with Szeth and his understanding of Shardblades and the Shardblade he has.

Questioner (paraphrased)

Which is an Honorblade, right?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

I can't say, but Szeth says in Book One you can't heal a Shardblade wound with Stormlight. There are other very big but subtle discrepancies between what Szeth does and what Kaladin does.

Stormlight Three Update #4 ()
#73 Copy

arichards117

When someone is "killed" by a Shardblade, their soul is understood to be severed. What do Vorin practitioners believe happens to the soul if it is severed? Does this mean that the soul cannot go to the Tranquiline Halls? If this is the case, why are Shardbearers/Blades so revered rather than feared or hated?

Brandon Sanderson

Vorin belief doesn't take being killed by a Shardblade as destroying the soul, likely because of Knight Radiant traditions.

Skyward Denver signing ()
#75 Copy

Alpharho

The metal of Shardblades. Cultivationspren versus honorspren, for example. Are they different metals?

Brandon Sanderson

No, but good question.

Alpharho

Are all orders the same alloy, essentially?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. There's a little asterisk on there, but not in the way you're asking... You could call those all the same alloy. Because the mixture to different spren is different, I think that you could argue that each one is its own alloy.

Alpharho

So, different proportions of tanavastium?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, but it doesn't quite work that way with these magics, right? I'm going to say that's up to the individual cosmerologist who is in the world, the arcanist, defining it. You would be able to find enough differences to legitimately call them different alloys if you wanted to.

Alpharho

Would you say different ratios of the same two metals?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. They are not going to have a third one in them, if that's what you're asking. But it doesn't quite work that way. Like, if you were going to take brass, you could measure the exact percentage. In this case, it is a thing; it's not like you could divide it up and split them apart, because they are a thing. And that thing would be called one thing.

Alpharho

But you won't say what that thing is called?

Brandon Sanderson

No, I won't say what that thing is called. But I think you and the 17th Sharders and folks that are dividing them would prefer to call them ten different things, and I think their nomenclature would be relevant.

General Reddit 2017 ()
#78 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

A full-blown Radiant can heal almost anything (cut from a Shardblade included) because of the way the magic works--their soul is literally bonded to Investiture, and it suffuses them in such a way that even the soul is very resilient to damage.

Honorblades are what you'd consider a "prototype" for what eventually happened with Shardblades. An Honorblade can be used by anyone, without need for oaths, which makes them very dangerous--but since the bond isn't as deep, they are far less efficient. They use more Stormlight, for example, and can't heal to the extent that a Radiant can.

So the difference is not in the device that did the damage, but in the method using to heal. Over the course of the first two book, the reader should be able to subtly pick out differences from what Szeth says is possible (in more than just healing) and what Kaladin experiences.

General Reddit 2017 ()
#79 Copy

airsicklowlanders

If someone shaves with a shardrazor is that shave their last shave?

Brandon Sanderson

No, not unless you cut down beneath the skin--so nicks maybe would be a problem...

Jimbyl

Would a living spren be able to choose whether or not they cut something? Like could Syl make herself cut nonliving objects without also harming living things? If that's possible, could that go even farther and make it so a radiant's blade could only harm specific targets?

I'm starting to think up a ridiculous scenario where a radiant cuts through an ally without harming them to get to an enemy.

Brandon Sanderson

As it stands, no, this is not possible. (Sorry.) It's possible the spren could dismiss in time, then reappear on the other side, and FAKE that they'd done this--but couldn't simply choose not to do damage while cutting someone.

17th Shard Forum Q&A ()
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Zenith

Szeth mentions that Lashings don't work with shardplate (on?). Is there any way to get around this (As in, lashing with Shardplate on, or lashing people with Shardplate on), and, if so, does it have anything to do with the Knights Radiant and/or their Ideals?

Brandon Sanderson

This has to do with the nature of the magics in the cosmere. They interfere with one another. Something that contains a lot of power--we call it Investiture--resists the efforts of magic to influence it. A strong spirit can interfere as well.

Barnes and Noble Book Club Q&A ()
#89 Copy

MarlonRand

Is there any information about Way of Kings that you can give us at this time?

Brandon Sanderson

I've wanted to do a long epic for a while. I guess that's what comes from reading Jordan and the others while growing up. And so, way back in the late 90's—when I was experimenting with my style—I started working on ideas for a longer form series. I knew the real trick for me would be to do it in a way that it didn't feel stale after just a few books; there needed to be enough to the world, the magic, and the plot arcs that I (and hopefully readers) would keep interested in the series for such a long time.

What it gives me (the thing that I want in doing a longer epic) is the chance to grow characters across a larger number of books. Dig into their pasts, explore what makes them think the way they do, in ways that even a trilogy cannot. In Kings, I don't want to do a longer 'saga' style series, with each book having a new set of characters. I want this to be one overarching story.

One of the things that has itched at me for long time in my fantasy reading is the sense of loss that so many fantasy series have. I'm not complaining, mind you—I love these books. But it seems like a theme in a large number of fantasy books is the disappearance of magic and wonder from the world. In Tolkien, the Elves are leaving. In Jordan, technology is growing and perhaps beginning an age where it will overshadow magic. It's very present in Brooks, where the fantasy world is becoming our world. Even Eddings seemed to have it, with a sense that sorcerers are less common, and with things like the only Dragons dying, the gods leaving.

I've wanted to do a series, then, where the magic isn't going away—it's coming back. Where the world is becoming a more wondrous place. Where new races aren't vanishing, they're being discovered.

Obviously, I'm not the first to approach a fantasy this way. Maybe I'm reading too much into the other books, seeing something that isn't there. But the return of magic is one of the main concepts that is driving me.

Well, that and enormous swords and magical power armor.

17th Shard Forum Q&A ()
#91 Copy

astalduath

After reading The Way of Kings, I couldn't help but to wonder this: hypothetically if there were two equally skilled combatants in every way, one armed with a Shardblade and the other with a Lightsaber, and take magic and the Force out of the equation (except for the weapons themselves), who would win? And yes, the Shardblade would have already been summoned and the two are just squaring off in a dual. Have fun with it.

Brandon Sanderson

A lightsaber is actually a little more easy to wield than a Shardblade, I would guess. Shardblades were designed to fight something larger than another person; you don't actually need all of that size when fighting someone. So that gives a slight edge to you average Jedi. If it's someone like Szeth, who has a more modestly sized Blade, then I don't honestly know.

General Reddit 2018 ()
#93 Copy

coredumperror

Wait, how long are Shardblades supposed to be?

Brandon Sanderson

Shardblades vary in size, most of them being locked in as a result of the Recreance. However, most of our concept art puts them in the 5'-7' range.

A typical knightly arming sword in our world would have been 3' long, which is where I believe the "double the size" comment came from in the books--though I don't immediately remember the context.

raptor102888

Do you have a size in mind for how long Syl would be manifested as a spear? I guess I'd imagine it would vary quite a bit depending on the situation.

Brandon Sanderson

[Ben McSweeney] did some concept art for us that I've used as a rule of thumb--but her size is going to vary a lot more, as you expect. In flight, she'll move to a more pike-like size of 15' or more. On the ground, she's going to be the size of a spear like Kaladin is used to using, so in the 6-7' range.

Ben McSweeney

In flight I imagine she is less a spear, and more a lance.

General Reddit 2018 ()
#94 Copy

DTF_20170515

Why refrigerate food when you can just stamp spoiled food so that it was stored properly before?

Aurora_Fatalis

You'll have to ask Brandon how that'd interact with gastric acid breaking down the stamp. Or how porous/loose material interacts with stamps in the first place.

Come to think of it... There's a WoB saying the Nightwatcher could change your species, but have a hard time making a spren bond to you. So... could the Nightwatcher turn you Scadrian and make you eligible for Allomantic powers? Or does the Nightwatcher's boons operate on soulstamp principles?

Hell, let's say you bought a vial of the wrong metal on your field trip to Sel. Could you pay a Forger to stamp the vial into being a vial of the right metal (it's believable that you would check before such an important trip) and then drink the metal contained in the vial to fuel your Allomancy?

Brandon Sanderson

All right, all right. Let's see... /u/Aurora_Fatalis, changing metals around with other forms of Investiture is generally going to work, according to how I view the magic right now. The power is there, you just need to align the matter the right way. So forging new metals: not too difficult. This is because Allomancy isn't actually using Investiture in the metals, but using it as a key to get power from somewhere else.

Forging a sword to be a Shardblade, however, would be very, very difficult for multiple reasons. The most obvious one is that the Investiture required would be enormous. A Shardblade is a highly-Invested object, with its own self-aware soul.

If you could overcome the initial resistance invested objects have to being influenced by other magics (something that Forgery is particularly good at doing anyway) you'd theoretically be able to change Shardblade/spren's personality like you could a person's.

Fooling the magic via Connection and Identity is not so hard, under the right circumstances, so making a Forger into an Elantrian (or an Allomancer) for a short time is plausible. Making yourself into a Radiant, however, would be more difficult--because the limitations placed on that magic have to do with persuading a sapient being you are worth the bond.

Aurora_Fatalis

How about regular food? If I stamp a pineapple pizza into a pepperoni pizza and eat it, what nutrients do I end up with?

Brandon Sanderson

The way I have it working now, I believe (though I'd have to do some double-checking, as it's been a while since I've been working on Sel) soulstamps are more fragile than things like Aons, and it would be very hard to eat something with one without breaking it. But assuming you could, you'd get nutrients from what it had become--but those would change back once the stamp broke or ran out.

It is possible to go so far down this rabbit hole, however, that the chemistry of Forging (like the physics of Allomancy) it just can't make sense any more. So be aware.

Oversleep

With things like Stamping metals for Allomancy, you have said that it'd be possible for short time, but then burning it would break the Seal and metal would revert back.

I guess it would be similar with food, right?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, that's the big problem with Forging. Getting the stamp to stay in place once you start to change the object that has been stamped.

Calamity Philadelphia signing ()
#97 Copy

Questioner

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

Brandon Sanderson

So revival of the spren so--

Questioner

Similar.

Brandon Sanderson

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

Questioner

Like Nightblood.

Brandon Sanderson

Okay.

Questioner

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

Brandon Sanderson

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

Boskone 54 ()
#98 Copy

Questioner

Why does Stormlight make things cold?

Brandon Sanderson

It’s not the Stormlight, it’s condensation because something is going directly from a gas into a solid. The coldness is caused by that, it’s not necessarily that the Stormlight is making things cold, but that the Shardblade is condensing.

Leipzig Book Fair ()
#100 Copy

Questioner

And there's one last question if I may: I'm really into swords and such. I couldn't help but notice king Elhokar's Blade. It's just... All the others are ornamented, and they may have some glyphs, but it is the only one where it is explicitly it is told that there are ten fundamental glyphs on it which are the glyphs of the orders. I read some of the chapters from Dalinar from Unfettered II, and I know how he got it for Elhokar. Is there also some more backstory to this Blade?

Brandon Sanderson

There's a backstory to every Blade and every one of them is special, that's the problem. But I will be exploring the origins of some of the Blades. Eventually. Not a ton, but a little bit.

Questioner

As it is ornamented in such a way... Could it be related to a Bondsmith?

Brandon Sanderson

Bondsmiths didn't have Blades.

Questioner

All of them? It's just... Maybe it was just the Stormfather...

Brandon Sanderson

No. That's a really good guess. Really good guess. I'm gonna RAFO Bondsmiths because you gonna learn a lot about them in the next book because it's the Bondsmith's book. That's a really good theory, but it's not true. 

Questioner

But maybe there is at least something to it.

Brandon Sanderson

But there's a reason to it, why it has all the 10 orders.