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Arcanum Unbounded release party ()
#102 Copy

Questioner

If Marasi could burn duralumin, would that make time go faster or her bubble get bigger? 

Brandon Sanderson

This is on tape so I have to make sure I do this right.

It is less about the size of the bubble and more about speeds. You can expand the size and change the size of the bubble, so it's possible that you could use duralumin for either one if you knew what you were doing, but the speed is the more relevant part. So, I just wanted to say that correctly. 

Bands of Mourning release party ()
#104 Copy

Questioner

If you were a Twinborn with both steel, would you be able to move faster than people could use atium to see what you were going to do?

Brandon Sanderson

So you couldn't move faster than their atium, but you could move potentially faster than their mind's ability to process what they're seeing. You might be able to-- but the atium does lend a certain ability of natural reaction, but you are still limited by your muscles, and things like that. So I think you could probably beat atium that way. That would be a valid way.

Bands of Mourning release party ()
#106 Copy

Questioner

Could you use steel or iron to Push or Pull off Shardblades or Shardplate?

Brandon Sanderson

Anything that's Invested resists, the more Invested it is the more it resists.

Questioner

Okay, so you could technically--

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Questioner

--if it was not charged?

Brandon Sanderson

Well-- Certain objects just have more Investiture and are more purely of the Investiture. A Shardblade's going to be really hard, but it's possible, it's just going to be really, really hard. Even more hard than an absolutely full Feruchemical metalmind because the Shardblade is being created directly out of the Investiture, it's basically all Investiture, it's not a metal that is Invested. It's going to be real hard.

Firefight Seattle UBooks signing ()
#108 Copy

Questioner

Was there an Allomantic power that didn't make it into the book?

Brandon Sanderson

Was there an Allomantic power that didn't make it into the book. Oh... Yes, but I'm trying to remember. I had like two dozen of them? Oh boy I can't even remember the ones that I discarded. I was going to do a lot more stuff externally, stuff that like wasn't inside of you and it didn't end up working out. The big thing that I talk about with Allomancy that changed is originally I was using...silver as one of the metals, this is-- this is because... Dumb story time, so when I was a kid I painted these little miniatures that you do in D&D so your little guys can actually fight each other, right? And my brother still does this, they're awesome, I was terrible at it, but I painted these little guys. And at one point I went-- and they used to be lead, and then they realized that lead kills you *laughter* and so--or maybe it just makes you strange, I can't remember--I went and all of the prices had gone up, like by a double, because they had made them out of pewter instead. And I said to the guy "What is up with this, you are totally ripping us off. My figures now cost us 50 cents instead of--" I don't remember what it was and he went "Uh yeah it's because pewter has silver in it man. You're buying little silver figures now" and I went "Oh. That's cool." And I bought them. And so for years I thought pewter was an alloy of silver and I wrote an entire book. An Entire Book. The whole first Mistborn book with silvereyes and pewterarms until it went to my beta readers and like "There's almost no silver in pewter Brandon, you don't even really need it. Everything in this magic system works except that." and I went "Well maybe we can just pretend in this world pewter--" "No that's stupid" *laughter* So I had to change it to tin which is actually what you find in pewter. To this day my assistant Peter, who is my continuity editor, came to me and said "You realize you wrote silvereye instead of tineye in the newest Mistborn book that you just finished? It's been ten years Brandon get over it." *laughter* Still happens.

Orem signing ()
#111 Copy

Questioner

My question is, if you had two nicrosil Mistings, who, feeling like breaking the universe, and they got together and they touched each other and advanced each other's magic power at the same time by flaring nicrosil, what would happen? Would it cause a feedback loop?

Brandon Sanderson

*hands RAFO card* Well I'll go ahead and give you one right there! You got one!

Mistborn: The Final Empire Annotations ()
#115 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Title Page - Part One

All right, first annotation! About the title page.

I'm generally just going to call this book Mistborn, though the entire series is the "Mistborn Trilogy." Technically, this book is Mistborn: The Final Empire. The second book is Mistborn: The Well of Ascension, and the third book is Mistborn: The Hero of Ages.

There’s an interesting story behind this title. As some of you may know, I spent a number of years trying to get published, writing books all the while. My first five books are what I call the "throwaway books." Those were ones I did mostly as practice, figuring out how to do the whole novel-writing thing. Book six was Elantris, which was published in May of 2005; it was the first book I managed to sell.

However, while I was trying to get Elantris published, I wrote a number of other books. The three after Elantris were big epic fantasy books, much like it in style. After that, I decided that I was writing things that were too big–that no publisher was going to take a huge epic fantasy book from an unknown author. (Though that's eventually what happened. . . .)

Anyway, I decided to try writing some shorter (i.e. only about 125,000 words instead of 250,000 words) fantasy novels. The first of these was what I now call Mistborn Prime. It was the story of a man who was a "Mistborn" (a kind of super-powerful assassin) who gets trapped in a small village with people hunting him, and has to try and blend in with the population there.

Mistborn was a different book for me in many ways. It was shorter, for one thing, and it was also about a kind of anti-hero. It only had one viewpoint character, and the plot was much smaller in scope than my other books. It was successful in some ways, but a failure in others. The magic system I developed for it–Allomancy–was quite spectacular, as were the action sequences. The character, however, didn't appeal to many readers. And, the plot was just a little. . .uninspiring. I'm really better when I have more to deal with.

As you can probably tell, this book–which was unpublishable–became the inspiration for the book I eventually wrote named Mistborn: The Final Empire. We'll cover that second part in the next annotation.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
#116 Copy

mooglefrooglian

You've said previously that the molecular structure of metals serve to act sort of like the Aons in AonDor. Why, then, can mists power Allomancy? Shouldn't the metals themselves be the things causing the powers? And if metals don't cause the effect, how can a non-Feruchemist burn a metalmind that has been 'unlocked' through identity tricks and get a boost of an attribute without Feruchemist sDNA?

Brandon Sanderson

I was trying to figure out how to answer this, and then I realized while driving to get a hair cut that you were regarding this wrong in a fundamental way. Remember, the source of power for Allomancy is EXTERNAL while the source for Feruchemy is INTERNAL. This is a fundamental difference discussed in the series.

When you burn metals, you're drawing power from another place. When you tap a metalmind, you are drawing power that the person has created--a battery developed by themselves, so to speak.

So I think that's going to answer the source of your confusion.

Orem Signing ()
#119 Copy

Wyndlerunner

You've mentioned in the past aluminum savants being able to somewhat heal their spiritweb, healing them of the cracks, sort of healing them of Allomancy. Could a chromium savant do this to other people, kind of like in the Avatar [The Last Airbender] finale where he seals bending?

Brandon Sanderson

I will say RAFO, but I will say you're theorizing along correct directions.

Oathbringer Chicago signing ()
#121 Copy

Questioner

So, in Allomancy, most of the metals are in pairs, they're equal and opposite, pushing and pulling, Rioting, Soothing, that kind of thing. The god metals have always-- lerasium and atium, have always struck me as kind of unbalanced in a way. Like, lerasium gives you the power to use all these metals, plus atium being one of them. Is there a reason for that?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, there is, and it kinda has to do with Snapping and some of the fundamental rules of the Mistborn world and the fact that people have Preservation and Ruin inside of them and all these sorts of things. So, the answer is yes.

Partially, narratively, I built that in partially just 'cause I wanted atium to seem odd in the placement, right, when people got to it it's like "What? Why is this one-- This one doesn't match the others. This doesn't really work." When I was building Mistborn, one of the big things I wanted was this idea of a periodic table that was, kind of a flawed construct, that, as you read the books, you came to understand better and better. And that was something I executed-- I don't think I executed that 100% right, but I'm pleased with the general concept and how it plays out. And so I wanted atium to stick out like a sore thumb.

The other thing is, I knew I needed some good foreshadowing for Fortune, for people being able to kinda see the future or versions of the future, for the whole cosmere to work. And, so, I built in atium specifically to do those things. And I built in lerasium to have, kind of, the ultimate sort of benevolent endowment sort of thing. (Not Endowment the Shard, you know what I mean.) But I also wanted to show these two magics were intrinsically tied together on Scadrial because the way that humankind was created. We're getting into some deep stuff, I'll just leave it there. But that was what was going through my mind as I was building those things all out. 

Mistborn: The Final Empire Annotations ()
#123 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Those of you who have read to the end might wonder where the Lord Ruler got his fantastic healing powers. Well, it has to do with Feruchemy. See, the ability to heal one's body is one of the things a Feruchemist can store up. And, the Lord Ruler's power–by being both Allomancer and Feruchemist–is to draw near-infinite power from his Feruchemical storages by burning them. He can be any age he wants. He can live as long as he wants. And, he can heal as quickly and much as he wants. More on this in book two.

WorldCon 76 ()
#124 Copy

Thousandarms97

I know Allomancy is, like, "alloy" and "mancy." Were you inspired by "alomancy", which is the divination of salt?

Brandon Sanderson

I wanted to use "mancy" because in part I was working in a seeing-the-future with atium. And I thought: number one, it's resonant; and number two, it works because we are looking at the future. So that's where the name came from.

Thousandarms97

No future salt-based magic system, though?

Brandon Sanderson

No. I've toyed with it for a while, but I just have never come up with anything that I'm satisfied with.

/r/fantasy AMA 2013 ()
#125 Copy

Klokkan

Hello Mr. Sanderson, I have a question about bendalloy bubbles—what happens to a human that is partially in and partially out of the bubble when it's placed? Does the difference in the flow of time kill him?

And, if yes, is the boundary of active bendalloy bubble effectively impassable for living organisms? I get that bullets shot out of the bubble randomly change directions, but what happens to, let's say, a person trying to jump out of the bubble (or, given enough time, a person trying to get inside)?

Brandon Sanderson

Any living thing touching the bubble is affected by the bubble.

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

Douglas

1) What benefit does Compounding copper get? Exceptionally clear and detailed memories? Memories that can be split into a new coppermind while still remaining in the Feruchemist's mind? Something else?

2) How does Feruchemical luck work? If a chromium Compounder tried his hand at day trading on the stock market, what would happen? Would it make him choose stocks that were coincidentally going to go up anyway? Would it change stock prices by altering the world around him? Would it fail because the required scale of action is too large? Something else?

Brandon Sanderson

So, I've said before that I want to hold off on talking about different forms of compounding and types of twinborn until I can address them in the series. So I'll have to RAFO the first two.

Skyward release party ()
#129 Copy

Steeldancer

What happens when you flare copper?

Brandon Sanderson

What happens when you flare copper? Various different things can happen when you flare copper. I'll RAFO that for now. [...] I'll delve into that more, I don't want to delve into it too much right now, you'll find out, probably in Era 3, some of the things that can happen with copper.

#tweettheauthor 2009 ()
#133 Copy

Czanos

Would anything interesting happen if an Allomancer Burned a Hemalurgic spike, or a Feruchemist Tapped one?

Brandon Sanderson

Er, well, it’s possible. But you’d have to be burning a Hemalurgic spike that killed you and took your power…

Just like you can’t gain anything by burning a metalmind unless you infused it yourself.

Firefight Chicago signing ()
#135 Copy

Questioner

Where did you come up with the idea for Allomancy?

Brandon Sanderson

It's a combination of several things. One is I started with wanting a group of powers that would complement a gang of thieves. So I designed the powers to work within the roles of a thieving crew. The burning metals came from reading about biology and metabolism and it felt very natural to me because that's how we get our energy as human beings. The whole connection of the metals and the visualization stuff came from mixing the periodic table of the elements with alchemy. All of those things kind of spun together to make it.

Idaho Falls signing 2014 ()
#136 Copy

PrncRny (paraphrased)

How and when is the type of Misting you become determined? Can you tell what type of Misting you are before you Snap?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

It's determined at birth. The cosmere by combining 3 aspects of self. Your physical self, mental self, and spiritual self. The spiritual self is tied to the Investiture of the world that you come from. When an Allomancer snaps, a piece of their soul is broken and some of that power leaks into them, giving them their abilities.

Idaho Falls signing 2014 ()
#137 Copy

Lady Radagu (paraphrased)

Were there cadmium/bendalloy and possibly chromium/nicrosil mistings in the Final Empire? If yes, were the mists Snapping those too?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Um, yes, there were, but since the mists were trying to create a pattern to be a sign, and people didn't know all the metals, they (the mists) had to use substitutions. They were acting the way we've seen other cognitive shadows, who are deceased, act.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
#138 Copy

Argent

Why is it that Allomancers and Feruchemists get either one or all of the powers? Radiants / Surgebinders being limited to two Surges makes sense, because it depends on the type of spren they bond with, but Allomancers?

Brandon Sanderson

I'm not ready to answer this one yet, I'm afraid. So it's a RAFO.

Argent

Fair enough. Is this something we'll see explored in future (far future?) books, or will we need to bug you about it during signings / AMAs every few years?

Brandon Sanderson

It will explored in far future books, most likely.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
#139 Copy

mooglefrooglian

My question is, what 'causes' an effect in the end for Allomancy? You've got Investiture being filtered through a metal, but does putting it through the metal turn the Investiture cause a Steelpush, or is it putting the Investiture through your soul that causes it? At what point do you turn Preservation's Investiture into a Steelpush, or is there no one 'point' where it happens?

Brandon Sanderson

Okay, imagine you've got one of those play-dough machines you can stuff with dough, then press a handle on the top to make a little snake-like tube of play-dough squirt out.

Those have appendages you can affix to the front to change the shape of the tube that comes out. The metals are the appendage that determines the shape of the power released, but only certain souls can unlock those metals and use them.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
#143 Copy

mooglefrooglian

If metals shape the Investiture in Allomancy, causing a Steelpush or whatever, how is it that the mists can be used to perform the same feat? What is 'shaping' the inhaled mists into a Steelpush, if there's no metal "nozzle" to do so?

Brandon Sanderson

Consistently through the cosmere, once you have the power in hand and it has permeated you, will becomes your nozzle. This can be seen in Warbreaker, where the power has been distributed and inhabits the people. The nozzle idea is important for Magics that are drawing power externally, as it keeps the power from overwhelming and destroying you. (Which, basically, happened to Vin at the end of the Trilogy--she got consumed by the magic. She became something new, now, so it didn't KILL her. It destroyed what she was, transformed her into something else.)

So you see magics like on Sel and Scadrial where a specific nozzle is needed--as the power source is external, at least with Allomancy. Will and intent take a backseat, though still pop up on occasion. On Nalthis (and in a lesser way, Roshar) will and intent are more important, and what you are trying to do shapes the magic more directly.

A little direct manifestation in this is found in the subtle differences between Allomancy and Feruchemy. In Allomancy, when you enhance the senses, you just get a blast of power--and all senses are enhanced, whether you want them all or not. In Feruchemy, you can be more precise, and pick a specific sense to store. The power is internal here, and therefore more limited in how much you can draw--but you can also be more precise with its manipulation.

Note that Roshar Surgebinding is a special case, as the magical symbiosis there is stronger than it is on other worlds, as much of the magic involves bits of power who have become sapient.

uchoo786

How much crossover is there in use? Like if one "breathes" in the mists they can use it to power their allomancy. Could an Allomancer utilize stormlight to power his allomancy as well?

Brandon Sanderson

Most of the magics can be hacked together in one way or another, but some are easier to interchange than others.

Read For Pixels 2018 ()
#147 Copy

wiresegal

Could someone burn an Allomantically inert metal that was Invested, like Invested silver or Invested lead?

Brandon Sanderson

...I'm gonna give you a no on this one. I rarely give straight up "no"s, but you've got to remember that the Allomantic metal is the key, and the power behind it is gonna be inaccessible without the key. Now, there are more things that are Allomantically viable than have been discovered or talked about. But that's the problem right there. If it's not the right metal, if it doesn't provide the right-- I'll just stop at key. If it isn't the right key. We'll get more into this as the cosmere progresses. That's a very rare no for me. Usually you're gonna get a "well, it depends."

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
#148 Copy

vorpal_username

In mistborn you can't access someone else's feruchemical stores. However, what if feruchemist A stores something, and then hemalurgy is used to take A's ability and put into person B. Can person B use A's stores?

Also, what happens when someone burns metal with a hemalurgic charge? Or stores/retrieves something in a spike using feruchemy?

Brandon Sanderson

All RAFOs here, I'm afraid.

Mistborn: The Final Empire Annotations ()
#150 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Twenty-Five - Part One

I hope that pewter dragging doesn't seem like something I just pulled out of my hat. I hate it when authors just suddenly come up with new elements of their magic systems. (See my recent article on how to write magic systems for more.) Instead, I find it better when the characters find new ways to apply what they can already do.

This seems to be a natural outgrowth of pewter to me. Plus, I did need a way to get Kelsier and Vin to the battlefield with some manner of speed. In these books, I've found getting people where they need to be at the right time to be one of the most challenging aspects of the series. In book three, I have one character crossing half the continent, then having to run back the other way, just so he can get where he needs to be for the end of the book.