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Skyward Atlanta signing ()
#52 Copy

Questioner

Is it cold enough on Roshar for snow?

Brandon Sanderson

Only in the mountains.

Questioner

Do you get a highsnowstorm?

Brandon Sanderson

In the mountains, yes, it's very weird. And it's only in the tops of the mountains. There is. But you will see this when and if we visit the Horneater Peaks, which are covered in snow, except for the hot springs.

Questioner

Are there snowspren?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Firefight Chicago signing ()
#53 Copy

Kurkistan

So, could you give us some examples of how the ideals that spren represent work in other magic systems, like we have Forging where you get plausibility, or Returned how they're beautiful or any other systems?

Brandon Sanderson

Okay, one more time on that.

Kurkistan

Okay, so you know the ideals the spren are manifestations--

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Kurkistan

How-- Do those have impacts on other magic systems?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, yes, in the same way the Returned- that's the exact same system at work there.

Kurkistan

Is it the same reason why the Lord Ruler has to die of old age, and why you can't heal yourself into being an octopus or something?

Brandon Sanderson

Um... Yes, that is all connected in the exact same way.

Kurkistan

Okay, so it's all like these highfalutin Spiritual ideals?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Kurkistan

And are there like, median Cognitive ideals that gradually kind of influence these, or--

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, they transcend between the three. I mean the original concept for the Three Realms is Platonic philosophy.

Kurkistan

So it goes up *makes absurd reverse-waterfall hand gesture*

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, it goes up and it comes back down. A lot of the Cognitive is-- So like, the Cognitive has a bigger effect on how you can heal and things like that. Does that make sense?

Kurkistan

Yeah.

Brandon Sanderson

But the power to heal is a actually a Spiritual thing.

Kurkistan

So it's like the Spiritual says "I want to be like this" and the Cognitive is like "Okay I'll try really hard to be like that, but I have a limit."

Brandon Sanderson

Right. Right. Filtered through how you see yourself, yeah.

Firefight Chicago signing ()
#56 Copy

Questioner

You said in an earlier interview that the glittery things in Elantris...

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, seons.

Questioner

I believe that you said that the seons on Roshar would bond similarly--

Brandon Sanderson

Yes

Questioner

Would that work in the opposite direction?

Brandon Sanderson

Meaning what? Someone from Roshar could they bond a seon? Oh, would spren bond-- Yes that could happen.
Emerald City Comic Con 2018 ()
#57 Copy

Overlord Jebus

Can a spren willingly break their bond anytime between the First and Fifth Oath, with their Radiant?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, this is possible--

Overlord Jebus

Essentially committing suicide isn't it though--

Brandon Sanderson

I just ascribe to that question-- A spren could at any point break it. Can they break it safely? That's a different question.

Overlord Jebus

Can they break it safely? *laughs*

Brandon Sanderson

There are methods in place where it can be stopped. So yes it can be done. But once you've started into this, once you've chosen on both sides, it's a dangerous process. But yes it can be done, and it can be done safely.

Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
#58 Copy

dvoraen

Excluding Midnight Essence from Re-Shephir, have we seen at least two examples of the Unmade creating spren that people dismiss as normal, uncorrupted spren? (One type in The Way of Kings, one in Oathbringer, specifically.)

Brandon Sanderson

Humans are not terribly good at determining whether a spren has been touched by Re-Shephir. (That's a yes.)

Blightsong

Did you mean Sja-Anat or can that Unmade also affect Spren in a similar, if not the same, manner?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, that was just me typing too fast.

Orem Signing ()
#60 Copy

Questioner

Fathers of spren are mentioned twice. When spren talk about their fathers, are they usually talking about the person who raised them?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Questioner

Or the person who gave them life? Like, their offspring?

Brandon Sanderson

Those are usually the same person, right? Depending. But not always. But usually... it would vary if they aren't the same person. But I would say, normally it's the same individual. "Person" may be the wrong term. But I think they would say they're people, so "person."

BookCon 2018 ()
#61 Copy

WeiryWriter

The Nightwatcher is described as having an amorphous, vague, humanoid form of dark green mist with a smooth, defined face. This is similar to how the mistpren are described (faces like porcelain masks and bodies of swirling fog). Did the Nightwatcher serve as the progenitor of the mistspren similar to how Honor, and later the Stormfather, were progenitors of honorspren like Syl.

Brandon Sanderson

One more time.

WeiryWriter

...Did the Nightwatcher serve as the progenitor of the mistspren similar to how Honor, and later the Stormfather, were the progenitors of the honorspren like Syl.

Brandon Sanderson

...Are you talking about author inspirations or in-world sort of things?

WeiryWriter

Either.

Brandon Sanderson

No, not in-world. And out of world, it's the reverse. Mist spirits came before. I ended up doing--

WeiryWriter

No, mistspren.

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, mistspren. So you're saying the ones in Shadesmar... You're using terms for things, because I haven't given you other terms.

WeiryWriter

They are named mistpren in the books.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah. So ask me one more time.

WeiryWriter

Did the Nightwatcher serve as the progenitor of the mistspren similar to how Honor and later the Stormfather were the progenitors of the honorspren like Syl.

Brandon Sanderson

Okay, I see what you're asking now. I was thinking mist spirit the whole time. We'll RAFO that. More because-- yeah we're just going to RAFO it.

BookCon 2018 ()
#63 Copy

WeiryWriter

I'm still upset that mistpren is not the Truthwatcher spren. Logically, they're like the only ones that didn't fit.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, okay. I can see why you would be annoyed by that.

Firefight Atlanta signing ()
#66 Copy

ccstat

In Shallan's drawings during the course of The Way of Kings, she sees multiple Cryptics. Were there other Cryptics accompanying Pattern in those drawings?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

ccstat

Were they approving of Pattern's choices.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. The Cryptics are much like what is happening with Lift, where there is more of a conscious effort on their part. As opposed to what is happening with Syl or Jasnah where there is hesitance. What the Cryptics are driven to do is in part because of what a few of their members have been experimenting with.

The Way of Kings Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Syl Leaves

I hated sending Syl away from Kaladin here, but it had to happen—in part because of how much it hurt to send her away. She's basically the only light left in these scenes with Kaladin in Bridge Four.

Syl wasn't in the original draft of Kings. I developed her over the years between 2003 and 2009; there was a time when the four winds from mythology would be active and alive on Roshar, and she was one of those. Eventually, the spren developed as a concept. They grew out of the greater worldbuilding and magic system rules for the cosmere. (The connected universe of my epic books.)

At that point, she became a sentient spren—one of many that would be in the books. Still, she was very special. I do worry about the Tinkerbell vibe that she gives off to some people. I tried hard to distance her from that. No wings, the constant shape changing, that sort of thing.

Her innocence and childlike nature is an important foil and balance to the darkness in Kaladin's life. Then she leaves, and all innocence is gone from him.

Oathbringer release party ()
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Questioner

[Question written down, unknown]

Brandon Sanderson

They can communicate with each other. So, there's at least one answer-- with the spren-- Yeah, but it's not-- you don't really communicate with spren in the same way.

Questioner

Can they get, like, Odium- or Cultivation- or Honor-oriented spren to kinda animate them?

Brandon Sanderson

No, that's not quite how it works.

Questioner

The intelligence in the eye of the chasmfiend, I was wondering. Or on the santhid rescuing her.

Brandon Sanderson

It's more, like, does a flower communicate with a bee. That's a similar sort of thing we're looking at here.

Holiday signing ()
#74 Copy

little wilson

Are Ruin and Preservation separate in Sazed or are they fully combined together like can he give one of them, or does he have to give both.

Brandon Sanderson

They are not fully combined. I mean that's not the way this works. He could pull off a piece of one even and make-- stuff like that. That's totally, totally viable. I mean it's basically what happened with the spren. The spren existed before even Honor was destroyed and things like that.

little wilson

So, did the-- my gosh, on Sel-- the Aons-- not the Aons-- the seons did they exist before the Splintering?

Brandon Sanderson

They did not. That's a good question. But they are not the majority of the power. They're just little pieces, they are like the sparks when something gets destroyed. The sparks are not the majority but they are the sparks that were thrown off, if that makes sense?

OdysseyCon 2016 ()
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Blightsong

Were the ideals of the Knights Radiant consciously chosen, or did they happen naturally?

Brandon Sanderson

*apprehension*. This is one of those vague ones in that yes and no. They are a natural outgrowth of the spren, but the spren are a natural outgrowth of human's perception of natural forces, but the spren are sentient, so I would say it's a little more by instinct than not. For example two Knights Radiant in the same Order might speak the words differently, but the concept is the same. You will see this happen in a future book, where a Windrunner will speak the oaths. It's a slightly different take on the same concept. Some are moreso, like Shallan's oaths are very individualized truths, so.

OdysseyCon 2016 ()
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Blightsong

Can honorspren, or any other type of Knight Radiant spren, be evil despite their relationship to Tanavast or Cultivation?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, because I don't call the Shards good and evil. There are no good and evil Shards in my opinion, like and so, what's evil and what's not evil- you can totally have spren that are of Honor that you would consider evil. They have free will; they are much more strictly limited in that free will than we are, because of their nature as spren. It's very hard for most spren to ever break an oath or to lie. That's just like- as manifestations of laws of nature makes it very hard for that to happen, but they can be cruel.

Shadows of Self Chicago signing ()
#82 Copy

Dragon13

Syl identifies herself as an honorspren.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Dragon13

Would Wyndle identify himself as a cultivation spren?

Brandon Sanderson

He would definitely... Yes. I think you could say that he would.

Dragon13

By the same logic, would a voidspren follow the same naming convention, so to speak?

Brandon Sanderson

Here's the thing. Certain spren have decided that they are the most pure forms of Honor, or that they are the most pure form of whatever, where all of them are kind of... Syl's got a good argument for what she is. But there are other spren that would be like "well, I'm an honorspren too, I'm just this variety of honorspren." Does that make sense? Syl's like "I'm an American!" and I'm like "I'm an Nebraskan!" Yes, you're an American. I'm an American too. It's kind of similar to that. But she would be the most pure... many would view her as the purest form. Wyndle would view himself as the purest form of a Cultivationspren.

Skyward Atlanta signing ()
#83 Copy

Sciencetor2

The gems on Roshar, are they the same as the gems you and me know, or are they a byproduct of Investiture?

Brandon Sanderson

For the most part they are the same as the gems we know, which will ask the question, "Since most of them are chemically identical, other than color, what differentiates them?" and in the cosmere, color is very important, so I'll just leave you at that, but most of them are going to be gems like we have. If you took a ruby from our world to Roshar, it could be Invested by the highstorm.

Sciencetor2

And spren?

Brandon Sanderson

We will RAFO that for now.

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.

Words of Radiance Seattle signing ()
#85 Copy

Questioner

So far all the spren that have bonded to humans appear to be emotion-based as opposed to nature-based. Is that true for all the Knights Radiant?

Brandon Sanderson

Well it depends. For instance: how would you define Wyndle?

Questioner

I struggled with that one.

Brandon Sanderson

Uh hm. So I would say that you are on the right track, that there is a definite inclination that direction.

Questioner

Towards Honor?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. There is.

Questioner

Is there other surges then, that are more Cultivation-exclusive or other Knights Radiant that are...?

Brandon Sanderson

We'll RAFO that, but the original Knights Radiant are more focused on Honor and his spren.

Oathbringer San Diego signing ()
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jdilts

How do spren get to the place where they're supposed to be, where an emotion being expressed? Are there just so many of them that they just happen to have enough density that they're there or they travel really fast? 

Brandon Sanderson

Most of the time what's happening is they are congregating around human population centers anyway. And so it's like birds. Like you walk out there are birds around, right? It's kind of the same thing as spren. So it's more the density thing.

Emerald City Comic Con 2018 ()
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Questioner

Are the [singers] living computers, and are spren variables in a computer system?

Brandon Sanderson

Excellent question. The answer is: I would say no, I wouldn't consider this. But I have considered this idea, and there is a place in the cosmere where people are using spren-- not spren but something similar on another planet, for a little bit of computation. Which I want to be able to write that story some day, but-- It's a very fun thing that I dug down a rabbit hole in one time. You might see this somewhere in the cosmere, but it's not actually Roshar. I wouldn't call them that.

JordanCon 2016 ()
#88 Copy

Questioner

Spren. The phenomenon that creates spren. Is that Roshar-specific or is that a general effect?

Brandon Sanderson

Well, yes and no. So the question is, the effect that creates spren, is that Roshar-specific or is it general. The general fundamental rules that create spren are cosmere-wide. Spren are pieces of Investiture, usually pieces of Investiture that come straight from one of the Shards of Adonalsium, split off in some way, that because of human or other sapient creatures thinking about it or interacting with the power, the power starts to take on a life of its own. Develops personalities and comes alive, so to speak. And this can happen on any pla-- in any place where there is Investiture. So it could happen on any planet in the cosmere with significant amounts of free Investiture. The places you've seen this happen most commonly are on Sel and Scadri-- err Roshar. You haven't seen it on Scadrial, and you've seen little kind of hints at it on Nalthis, but not quite. And so-- But it's possible for it to happen anywhere. Seons and spren are basically the same thing with different powers-- powers kind of pushing them in different-- growth out of them-- That said, the non-sapient spren, so the spren that are not quite as-- They're not going to stand up and talk to you. Those all existed-- not all, but most of them existed on Roshar before the Shattering of Adonalsium.

Arcanum Unbounded Seattle signing ()
#90 Copy

Question

How many different non-human immortals are there on Roshar?

Brandon Sanderson

Wow, very specific. Most of the Aimians count. They're both small races, but there are enough of them that there are dozens of each that count as immortal, and they're non-human. The two living Shards, I would say count as non-human immortals, and most spren count as non-human immortals. So there's a ton.

Skyward Seattle signing ()
#91 Copy

Questioner 1

Can people not from Roshar bond with spren and get the Shardplate and whatnot?

Brandon Sanderson

RAFO. Well, okay. You don't need me to RAFO on that. You have seen someone not from Roshar bond a spren. You have seen that much happen.

Questioner 2

We know for sure that Hoid is a Lightweaver.

Questioner 1

Do we know that?

Brandon Sanderson

Hoid has bonded a spren.

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.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
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RenegadeShroom

So, I'm sure you're familiar with the phrase 'sick burn' and what it means. Assuming for a moment that it became a phrase on Roshar that fell into widespread use for a long enough time, could the phrase become strongly associated enough with the idea of fire that it actually has an effect on when flamespren can manifest? Could insulting someone harshly enough draw flamespren?

Brandon Sanderson

Unlikely, because when people say "sick burn" fire doesn't appear in their imagination--they're not personifying fire. Just like the name Smith doesn't bring to mind a blacksmith unless one thinks about it specifically, sick burn has taken on its own meaning.

Skyward Denver signing ()
#97 Copy

Questioner

[If someone were] born like Vin, could they bond a spren, before they're even cognizant? 'Cause it's about being broken, right? So, I don't know if it's the same brokenness that Vin had from just being born.

Brandon Sanderson

Different spren will view this differently, and different people view the way that the Nahel bond works differently. So, Vin would certainly have been of interest to a number of spren.

Words of Radiance Omaha signing ()
#98 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Syl's inspiration came from a lot of different places. I'm not sure if I can point to one thing.  The spren are inspired by Japanese mythology, that everything has a soul. That is the original inspiration for it.  But Syl as a character, I'd been toying with forever, and I think she came about as a counterpoint to Kaladin's darkness; a figure of light that I knew that the story would need.

Words of Radiance Omaha signing ()
#100 Copy

Questioner

So in the first book, there's a chapter where you have some scientists talking about spren, and they seem to be describing <superposition> and science.  I was wondering, does that actually play into the books?

Brandon Sanderson

It does, but it's just really behind the scenes.  This is just helping you understand the nature of spren and kind of their relationship to sub-atomic particles and quantum theory and things like this.  There are relationships there, but it's even one or two steps further than what you see in actual Quantum Physics, Right?  

Questioner

Will it play in more?

Brandon Sanderson

It will.  In this book, you get even a discussion of the theory on spren that should relate right back to that.

Questioner

Oh good!  I can't wait.

Brandon Sanderson

Watch for stuff that Jasnah says about Spren and things like this.  It does relate.  But this is all kind of world-building stuff.  It's not part of the main story.  It's fun for scientists.