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Salt Lake City Comic-Con 2014 ()
#51 Copy

Questioner

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

Brandon Sanderson

That's correct.

Questioner

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

Brandon Sanderson

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

Questioner

But a Shardblade wouldn't shear through Nightblood.

Brandon Sanderson

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

Questioner

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

Brandon Sanderson

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

Salt Lake City ComicCon 2017 ()
#52 Copy

Questioner

What inspired the sword stances in The Way of Kings? Windstance and stonestance--

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, it was old-school, what they call-- the old books that you would see-- sword training guides. Where you would see a guy in a stance, and then go like this, and things. I just thought they were really interesting, and I developed the stances around that.

Skyward Denver signing ()
#53 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.

Calamity Philadelphia signing ()
#54 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.

Waterstones RoW Release Event ()
#55 Copy

Questioner

Can Shardblades, dead or alive, be used as Hemalurgic spikes? And if attempted, what would the result be?

Brandon Sanderson

Technically yes, but in practicality no.

To use something as a Hemalurgic spike, it basically just needs to be able to already have a charge of Investiture, or be able to adopt one. Technically, Shardblades are made from a god metal. You could do this. But the Blade is gonna be big and unwieldy, and the form it’s in right now, it’s going to slice the soul rather than rip pieces off. You would have to jump through a bunch of hoops that wouldn’t be worth it in order to use one.

It would basically mean that you’d have to separate the metal of the Shardblade from the concept of a Shardblade itself, is what’s going on there.

Calamity release party ()
#56 Copy

Zas678

Did Vasher visit Roshar before the Recreance? Because he had-- *Brandon mumbles question* Because he had to see Shardblades, and... presumably live ones.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah... I'll RAFO that. I'll RAFO that. It is an assumption that he had... He doesn't necessarily have to have seen alive ones. He could have heard records of them.

Zas678

Okay. Because I've tried to make out a timeline, to be like, "Okay, if this is here..."

Brandon Sanderson

Kara has a timeline-- Not Kara-- Karen has a timeline in hand. But I would have to look at it to give you exact dates, but yeah.

Zas678

Okay. So you didn't have to see...

Brandon Sanderson

He did not have to see.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
#57 Copy

uchoo786

I was wondering, if one were to take an Honorblade to Nalthis (I think that's the Warbreaker planet?), would it function like a minor version of Nightblood?

And could one fuel one of these Shards with other forms of Investiture, not gas-based like Breath and Stormlight, e.g. burning metals?

Brandon Sanderson

Shardblades will not lose or change functionality when taken off of Roshar.

General Reddit 2018 ()
#58 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.

General Reddit 2020 ()
#59 Copy

Liar_of_partinel

Are shardblades uniform metal, or do they have different colors on the handle/hilt or whatever? Could you paint a shardblade and have it retain the paint when disappearing/reappearing?

Brandon Sanderson

A Blade won't retain ornaments when dismissed, I'm afraid, including coloration. HOWEVER, they could be made to change colors when alive, and even their texture. So many Blades in the world have multiple tones, and the grip tends to be of a different texture. They're uniform metal, but don't always feel/look like it.

Firefight release party ()
#60 Copy

Questioner

So I have heard that it is harder to Push a Shardblade with Allomancy than it is a normal sword.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Questioner

Is that true of both living and dead Shardblades?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Questioner

Equally?

Brandon Sanderson

Uh, no.

Questioner

Okay, so it's even more difficult to Push one alive.

Brandon Sanderson

The thing-- An Invested object is more difficult with any of the magics. So, for instance, even a Feruchemical metalmind is going to be harder. Depends on how much it is Invested, and things like that. But, y'know, it can range from you barely notice it or don't even notice it to "Wow, that's hard to Push on". Same for a Hemalurgical spike, depending on how much Investiture is left over, how long has it been outside of a body, and things like that. Same thing Pushing on something inside a person's body, their Investiture is going to interfere with it.

Same thing, when you read White Sand, why a person slapping their hand through someone's stream of sand can throw off the entire creation of the sand mastery. It's just-- There's interference patterns, and things like that.

Questioner

And is that true of a Drab as well? Does the body affect--

Brandon Sanderson

The Drab is going to have less.

Questioner

So they just have less Investiture, but they still have some natural Investiture?

Brandon Sanderson

They do still have some. They've lost their Breath but that isn't the entirety of the Investiture inside of them.

Almost all of the times we see Vin--in fact I think every time--we see Vin, or someone in the Mistborn books, Pushing or Pulling on an Invested metal they are either drawing on the mist or they're Elend or the Lord Ruler who have the enhanced power, or something like that. Or it's a duralumin Push, or its one of the Inquisitors who's had a spike-- y'know, and things like that, that've-- And so it's not something that you see done very often in the Mistborn books.

Rubix

I can actually confirm that's correct.

Brandon Sanderson

Oh you guys looked it up?

Rubix

I checked.

Brandon Sanderson

I mean it can be done. And depending on Investiture it can be not even that hard to do but--

Rhythm of War Preview Q&As ()
#62 Copy

Nanotyrann

Kaladin's new occupation raised a discussion about the use of shardscalpels against tumors in Daniel's Discord, can you clarify what happens with a tumor when it is stabbed with a shard?

Brandon Sanderson

With training, it could be made to cut out a tumor--but that wouldn't be the natural result.

Cosmere surgery stuff is going to be...odd, at least on the magical side. How the person views themselves and the disease could influence things in interesting ways.

San Diego [email protected] 2020 ()
#63 Copy

StarburstWrapperTie

What kind of spren is Oathbringer, the Shardblade?

Brandon Sanderson

Oathbringer is not technically a spren. Why I call these things the Honorblades, kind of where the whole Shardblade concept fits in, is that these are literally pieces of Honor's soul that he Splintered off and formed weapons out of for the Heralds. These didn't actually have sentience, in the same way that the spren forming most of the Shardblades are. They're literally a piece of the god who ruled this world turned into weapons. And the spren, who are also pieces of the same divinity, saw what was happening, and this kind of became a model by which Shardblades came about.

So Oathbringer doesn't have a spren. If you wanted to call it something, call it a sliver of Honor that has been manifested in physical form. That does mean the blade would actually be made of Tanavast's god metal, so tanavastium, if you want to call it that.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, that's just me hearing what I wanted to hear, not what was actually asked. It happens more often than I'd like; I get into this groove of answering questions, and start answering what I'm thinking about rather than what actually gets asked. A lot of times, I'm expecting a question (often because it's one that gets asked a lot, like what are Shardblades made out of) and my brain defaults to the answer I've prepared. I think it might be because I've trained myself to answer questions while doing other things.

Oathbringer's not an Honorblade. It was a Stoneward's blade a long time ago, with the corresponding spren.

San Diego Comic-Con 2015 ()
#64 Copy

Cognizantastic

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

Brandon Sanderson

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

Firefight release party ()
#65 Copy

Lady Radagu

If Shai were to gain a Shardblade and she gave it up, could she then create an Essence Mark that represented the history where she still had the blade? And then if she applied it could she summon the blade? Or a copy of it?

Brandon Sanderson

Okay, so doing that sort of thing, like re-writing herself to be an Allomancer or something like this -- This is possible but in order to gain the Investiture she wants to have she will have to input that much in Investiture which her current magic system is not capable of doing. Okay? Alright, so "re-write so that I have a Shardblade" would require some sort of hacking of her magic system, which is currently impossible to her in her current situation.

Lady Radagu

So if she had had a Shardblade and gave it up she could not rewrite herself to have that back without more input --

Brandon Sanderson

She could-- Yes, exactly. Now rewriting-- That would be a lot easier than just rewriting herself so that she had a Shardblade--

Lady Radagu

That's what I was asking--

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, but what you're asking about would be much easier and that is probably within her power. But what that would do is-- Yeah that's totally within her power. It would create some weird implications where she's summoning it and someone summons it back from her because the Shardblade thinks it's owned by two people.

Lady Radagu

So it wouldn't be a copy it would be the same Blade?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Barnes & Noble B-Fest 2016 ()
#66 Copy

Questioner

*inaudible* with the spren, like, with the *inaudible* would it have infinite ink?

Brandon Sanderson

The way it works in my head canon right now, which I haven't written it so if it changes, no. The other thing is getting complex systems is going to be harder for a lot of Spren. There are legends that reference that they were able to do bows in the past, which includes a string. Everyone is like "but they're not metal, how does that work." Complex structures, even the mechanics of a pen is not something that we have proof that they could even do. If they did do it, they wouldn't have infinite ink, you would fill them up with ink.

Words of Radiance Houston signing ()
#67 Copy

Questioner (paraphrased)

How much more powerful is Nightblood than a regular Shardblade?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

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

General Reddit 2018 ()
#68 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 2013 ()
#70 Copy

wesem

Just realized what Shardblades remind me of..

In my head, they remind me a lot of Keyblades from Kingdom Hearts. The blade appearing out of nowhere when you hold out your hand seems rather similar. They're also both highly coveted in their universes and for both types each blade is different from the next (I think). Just wanted to see if anyone else noticed this or if I'm just crazy and have had way too much time to think waiting for Words of Radiance.

Brandon Sanderson

Shardblades aren't inspired by keyblades specifically, though there is a core inspiration that might be shared by both myself and the creators. While I did play the first kingdom hearts game when it came out, the first draft of The Way of Kings was well under way when the game was released.

However, I did play all of the final fantasy games--I had the first on original Nintendo, so get off my lawn, you kids. The origin of Shardblades relates to fantasy games and art in general, and the concept of the stylized sword which is also horribly impractical.

In a lot of my writing, I react toward or against the fantasy archetypes of my youth in the 80s and 90s. When designing the Stormlight Archive, one of the things I asked myself was, "Can I make a situation where these oversized, over-stylized blades are actually practical? Why in the world would you need a weapon like that? And how do you actually use one?"

Making the blades summonable seemed one of the only ways that carrying one around would be reasonable.

Bands of Mourning release party ()
#72 Copy

Questioner

Shardblades are essentially spren that have died--

Brandon Sanderson

Not all of them have died but yeah.

Questioner

Oh, my question was if they could be revived?

Brandon Sanderson

Um this… According to the understanding of those in-world it would require the same person who broke their oath. So it would be possible if any of them were still alive. I'm not ruling out other ways, but that's how it's understood by--

Questioner

It would be the traditional way.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, mmhmm.

Bands of Mourning release party ()
#73 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

*referring to a personalization request* That is a R A F O, but you do earn a card for your RAFO... Now let me just say--

Questioner

I'm not asking about Nightblood, I'm asking about the Shardblades.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah-- Oh, OH. You're asking-- okay. You're not asking what other Shardblades made, but if somebody brought a Shardblade to another pl--

Questioner

Like if Kaladin went to Nalthis.

Brandon Sanderson

Okay, his Shardblade would manifest exactly-- it would do exactly the same thing.

Oathbringer release party ()
#77 Copy

Questioner

So, I noticed in the books that they like to paint their Shardplate, most of them do, with one notable exception. The Shardplate isn't dismissed, so I imagine, when it's broken, they have to repaint it after they've regrown it?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah.

Questioner

So, if I painted a Shardblade and then dismissed it, would I have used paint in the shape of a Shard to sell?

Brandon Sanderson

Uh-- it would come back without the paint.

Questioner

So, the paint would go away with it, but not come back?

Brandon Sanderson

I've never been asked this before, let me think about it. I think the paint would get left behind.

Questioner

So I would have used paint in the shape of a Shard?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, you would, yeah.

Questioner

So, you could mold a Shard?

Brandon Sanderson

You could mold a Shard, yeah, you could totally do that. Yeah... I haven't been asked that before but that's my answer right now, because-- yeah.

Questioner

If the books contradict then the books contradict.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah but I don't think they will. So yeah, you can-- I mean, it could come up.

Arcanum Unbounded San Francisco signing ()
#88 Copy

Questioner

On the nature of shardblades, to an extent, can a live blade be split without harming it's source, so to speak?

Brandon Sanderson

Can a live blade split? What do you mean, split?

Questioner

Make itself into two weapons.

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, can a blade be forged into two weapons. A shardblade.

Questioner

Does it absolutely need a connection, or can it become two?

Brandon Sanderson

So, shardblades becoming two shardblades would require slicing in half a soul, which would not be very fun for the spren. Okay?

Questioner

So it's possible. *laughter*

Brandon Sanderson

So it's technically possible to take hydrogen and to turn it into plutonium with our current technology. It would cost more money than, like, the budget of NASA to do it for, y'know, one atom. So there are things that are possible, but-- Yes it is possible. This is not something that would be easy or very useful to do.

San Diego [email protected] 2020 ()
#89 Copy

Questioner

Shardblades cut organic and inorganic matter differently. How would they interact with an animated construct like an Awakened straw man? What about a Lifeless?

Brandon Sanderson

So I walk kind of a fine line here. Something that's animated as a construct, like an Awakened straw man, is likely going to block the Shardblade to some extent, as powerful Investiture would. A Lifeless is probably just gonna act like it was a living being.

Starsight Release Party ()
#90 Copy

Questioner

If something is heavily Invested, it's harder for a Shardblade to go through it, right?

Brandon Sanderson

Kind of. It depends on the kind of Investiture and things that are going on. But yes. If you want to block a Shardblade... Like a metalmind would be a good thing to use to fight a Shardblade.

Questioner

A person with a lot of Breath, like the God-King, would you be able to chop them with a Shardblade or no?

Brandon Sanderson

It's going to get very tricky on that, so I'll RAFO that for now. Let's just say that there are things. For instance, a Shardblade excising someone who's been Hemalurgically spiked is a theoretical possibility. 

Firefight Chicago signing ()
#92 Copy

Argent

At one point Syl turns into a hammer when Kaladin fights Szeth. Are there any actual advantages to a Shardhammer over a Shardblade or knife?

Brandon Sanderson

Very minimal. It has mostly to do with a-- How much thrust or swing or things you can get to it. The impact of blade or weapon against armor is not going to be-- The hammer could in some ways get more leverage. But it's not that the impact is going to do--

Kurkistan

So it didn't help against Szeth.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah.

Argent

It was like the flow of the fight was-- Syl turned--

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Emerald City Comic Con 2018 ()
#94 Copy

Questioner

Is there any effect on a Shardblade if the deadeye is really far away from where the Blade is?

Brandon Sanderson

Define really.

Questioner

The one that's trapped on the ship. Let's say they're taking him to the far side of Shadesmar, but the dude that owns that Blade lives in...

Brandon Sanderson

We will deal with that in the books. There is an effect, but that's not enough of an effect.

Overlord Jebus

Considering no one says that their Shardblade is acting weird in two and a half thousand years.

Brandon Sanderson

That happens all the time in Shadesmar. If you were able to get it off the planet, it would have an effect.

Questioner

If you as the owner of the Shardblade were offworld and you tried to summon it, that would be the effect?

Brandon Sanderson

Either way. But you can't take spren off-world. I mean, you can, but you can't really. Really all that I have in the notes for it to do right now, is to add slightly more time. So you're like, "That's weird that felt like not ten heartbeats, it felt like twelve." But it's like, you're on another planet, then it's suddenly speed of light type stuff. So suddenly it's like, "This is taking three years instead. That's a pretty big deal!"

...So I've got a few weird speed of light things mixed into the cosmere, and that's one of them.

Miscellaneous 2018 ()
#100 Copy

OrangeJedi (paraphrased)

Are there a significant number of Shardblades that have made it off Roshar?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Define significant.

OrangeJedi (paraphrased)

More than 1 / A number of them are that could come up later.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

There is a connection between spren and Roshar that normally prevents spren, even dead ones, from leaving the planet. Note I said normally; do not imagine a large trade of Shardblades going off world.