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Mistborn: The Final Empire Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

The ninth metal. It was difficult to decide what this one would do. I wanted something opposite, yet complimentary, to the power of atium. So, I decided that it would give a kind of skewed perspective of the past, kind of like atium gives a limited view of the future. Obviously, this will come back into the plot later.

I do worry that it took too long to get to this scene. You've probably been wondering for quite a long time what the ninth metal did–and that concerns me, because if you wonder it, you'll also wonder why Vin herself didn't get around to figuring out what it was.

The problem is, this really is the first place I could work it in. Allomancy is a very complicated magic system, and I wanted plenty of time for you to get used to it before I delved into its more odd aspects.

Starsight Release Party ()
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Questioner

I have a theory. Because the center of gravity for a female is naturally lower, but when Vin burns iron or steel, the blue lines come from her chest, does that come from her center of self, rather than the center of gravity?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah. That's probably a more accurate way to put it. 

Questioner

Would it be possible for that to change, then? 

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, that is possible. I should say it like that, because it's not going to actually be... Because center of gravity, where you would actually put it, is not where I'm having those lines come from. You came in costume. You can just make that canon now and we will put that on all of the lists that that is what it is.

Alloy of Law 17th Shard Q&A ()
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Chaos (paraphrased)

I continued to ask about the Lord Ruler and his Allomantic strength.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

There's an upper bound to the amount of power you can get from being a savant. Brandon said that, obviously, the Lord Ruler wasn't using duralumin and Elend could only get that powerful in Soothing using duralumin. He implied that there was a way to Compound to enhance Allomancy.

Emerald City Comic Con 2018 ()
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Silasary

If someone is a full Mistborn and is able to use Feruchemical gold... can they safely burn harmonium?

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, okay. This is theoretically possible. 

Silasary

Would it have an effect?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. It would do something.

Silasary

And I'm going to hopefully ask what that is.

Brandon Sanderson

*gives a RAFO card* You've earned their card.

Alloy of Law 17th Shard Q&A ()
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Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

If you are Smoked, you can't Seek.

KChan (paraphrased)

[Brandon] told me that because burning copper creates an Allomantic dead zone, so to speak, everything inside it is effectively silenced. This prevents pulses from reaching Seekers who are outside the cloud, but it also prevents anyone inside the cloud from receiving any pulses whatsoever. The reason Vin could do this is because of her earring.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
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minefieldpotato

So, it's mentioned throughout the Mistborn books that Allomancers can 'see' their metal reserves to determine how much they have left. What allows them to do this? I really have no theories, except the boring one: 'It's an innate property of Allomancy and its interaction with Preservation.'

Brandon Sanderson

It's just an innate part of the magic. Not really because of Preservation. A Surgebinder will know when their stormlight is running out. It's more similar to how you might know your strength is running out when you're holding something heavy, though obviously more delineated.

FanX Spring 2019 ()
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Steeldancer (paraphrased)

 According to General Relativity, there should be spatial distortion in speed bubbles. So, why does no one notice it?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

There is spatial distortion in speed bubbles, that's why bullets are refracted when they enter a bubble. However, I played with it a bit, and ignore the redshift that should happen. The barrier of the bubble absorbs it, otherwise everyone would just be irradiated. 

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Allomancy's Mental Effects

An interesting side note is to watch how Allomancy—all of its forms—enhances the mind in some way. Though the original concept for the magic system focused on different powers—some physical, some mental—the final product always had a mental component. Notice how, when burning tin, Spook is more able to focus on solitary conversations in the room. Or how his mind can filter out the mist or the cloth he wears. Burning pewter or tin will also make the mind more alert and awake. Burning atium not only lets one see a little bit into the future, but also lets one process that information in a useful way.

The mind is such a big part of what makes us who we are. I wanted Allomancy to impact the characters—to have an effect you could see on the minds of those using it. As I've stated, one of the places where books can outshine television or movies is in the ability to see exactly what is happening inside a character's thoughts and emotions. By adding a mental component to each of the Allomantic powers, my hope was to play off of this strength of the written form.

JordanCon 2018 ()
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Questioner

So, I noticed that in Mistborn, the way you get magic is very biological, the way you swallow it. *inaudible* I wondered if they have such a malnourished kind of life? *inaudible*

Brandon Sanderson

Good question, I've never been asked that one before. Does this have to do with their malnourishment? I did not build into it that this had to do with malnourishment. You can certainly imagine it that way if you want. The whole origin of this was, I'm always looking for something that has one foot in science and one foot in superstition. And metabolizing energy, eating things and getting-- that feels so natural to us, that when I tried it with the metals, it worked so well. It's one of those cool things, that I work backwards from. I'm like, "This works. This is really cool. People read this and they get it." In fact, people often say, "I dreamed that I ate metal and flew around." And it's just one of those things that sounds so weird when you describe it, but in a book it works really well. And I think it's because it has that connection to biology. So, I started with that, and then justified. But, I wouldn't say the malnourishment-- Their souls might be crying out for some Spiritual nourishment.

Skyward San Francisco signing ()
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Questioner

Is there a maximum speed a Coinshot can propel themselves or something else?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. It will vary slightly based on the strength of the Coinshot, but there are maximum velocities, just kind of-- you would burn yourself up at certain points.

Questioner

So imposed by the laws of physics.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, laws of physics are going to-- Those aren't normally going to come in play in Allomancy, because Pushing that hard will be really difficult... But, as we are getting into more mechanical uses of Allomancy, those laws of physics become more and more relevant.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Also, as a note, Alendi was an Allomancer, as the epigraph notes here. He had to be—he heard the pulsing at the Well of Ascension when nobody else could. "Ah," you might say, "but I thought that you said Allomancy didn't exist before those beads." That isn't 100% true. The legends say that Allomancy came with the Deepness. Alendi was one of the very first Allomancers, and he gained his powers as the mists began to cover the world.

That's important. ;)

Because, of course, he was Snapped by the mists, like is happening to people in this book.

Ad Astra 2017 ()
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Questioner

How come Vin doesn't get stomach aches when she takes-- When she ingests iron?

Brandon Sanderson

So it actually, legitimately gets burned away. It's gone.

Questioner

So it's gone too fast to have a--

Brandon Sanderson

It, yeah. I mean if you sit around and just-- I mean, Allomancers are warned-- and Kelsier I think warns her, "Burn away your metals," right? Not good to have these in your system! But yeah, you would end up feeling adverse effects like that if-- yeah.

Arcanum Unbounded release party ()
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Questioner

If an Allomancer drew Nightblood, would it eat the metals first?

Brandon Sanderson

Only if they were burning it. 

Questioner

At the time, otherwise it would go straight through and eat them?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah it would just eat them. Yeah. If they were burning the metals, it would burn through the metal, and he would take the power instead of you gaining whatever ability you were trying to get from it.

Questioner

Who he be able to use the metal power or would he just eat it as...?

Brandon Sanderson

He would just take it as raw Investiture. 

Skyward San Francisco signing ()
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Questioner

With a cadmium or bendalloy savant, would they be able to impact the amount of time that they can compress or expand?

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Questioner

So they could fit-- Theoretically they could make-- fit more time into the same amount of metal.

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, that's what you're asking. Yeee-- *pauses* So, yes, technically, because... Yes, but mostly what that's going to do is going to influence your strength and how much you can multiply--

Questioner

The size of the bubble?

Brandon Sanderson

The size of the bubble and the amount of time, like when you flare, you are pressing more time into it and a savant is gonna get really good at that. They're gonna get good at changing the bubble and the shape of the bubble, they're gonna get good at some of the other things involving the bubble. It does technically, as you become a savant, does mean you're able to squeeze a little bit more out of your metal, because that's just how it works, but that's not the main effect.

Mistborn: The Final Empire Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Vin's attempt at killing the Lord Ruler was, I thought, rather clever. I made a point of making her be able to touch her past self when she was burning gold. There are a couple of reasons why this didn't work. First of all, the images are just that–images. When Vin touched the face of her past self, it was all part of the illusion that gold produced. None of it was real. So, even if she HAD been able to touch the image of the Lord Ruler's past self, she wouldn't have been able to hurt the Lord Ruler himself by killing it.

The other reason is important as well. The thing is, the Eleventh Metal isn't actually an alloy of gold, but an alloy of atium. If you understand Allomantic theory, you'll understand why this has to be. Each quartet of metals is made up of two base metals and two alloys. The base metals are the Pulling metals, like iron and zinc. They are also made up of two internal metals and two external metals. Two change things about you, two change things about other people.

The Eleventh Metal, like atium, changes something about someone else. Both have to be external metals–that's the way the pairing works. Gold (and its compliment) change things about the Allomancer.

So, atium shows the future of someone else, malatium shows the past of someone else. Gold shows the past of yourself, and electrum (gold's compliment) shows your own future. (We'll talk about that in a different book.)

So, anyway, the Eleventh Metal (malatium) matches with atium–both of which create images from other people. And, just like atium shadows are incorporeal, so are malatium shadows. That's why Vin couldn't touch the one she saw of the Lord Ruler.

Mistborn: The Final Empire Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Thirty-Eight - Part Three

My one disappointment with this chapter is that I had to end up making it look like I was breaking my own rules. The Allomancy-Feruchemy-Hemalurgy triad is one of the most complex magic systems I've ever devised. The interplay between the three systems, mixed into the mythology of the setting (which involves the mists at a foundational level) makes for some very complicated rules. I try to explain them as simply as possible–simple, basic rules are necessary for most sequences to work.

Yet, the depth of complexity leads to some things that are confusing at first glance. I wasn't planning on having Vin draw upon the mists in this book–I was going to save it for later–but the initial version of this chapter (which had Vin simply grabbing the bracelets off the Lord Ruler’s arms with her hands) lacked the proper drama or impact. So, I moved up my timetable, and gave her access to some abilities she wasn't going to get until the next book.

A lot of the "Rules" of Allomancy are, in my mind, like our basic rules of physicist. They make simple sense, and can be explained easily. However, they only apply when generalities–or large-scale events–are explained. When you get down to the really advanced physics, traditional Newtonian Laws start to break apart.

The same is true for Allomancy. The vast majority of Allomancers aren't powerful enough to look beyond the basics. For them, simple rules like "You can't Push on metals inside of someone's body" apply. It's much easier to tell someone that, as opposed to "People's bodies interfere with Allomancy, making it much harder to affect metals inside of them–so hard, in fact, that only some people you'll never meet can Push on metals inside of people's bodies."

It is a matter of degree of power. Vin, for reasons I'll explain eventually, has access to far more Allomantic power than regular people. The Lord Ruler is the same way, though for different reasons. And so, he can affect metals that are blocked by blood. Vin has to draw upon another, external source of power in order to produce the same effect, but it is possible for her.

Narratively, I worry that this looks too much like I'm breaking my own rules. However, I had to balance drama with effect in this chapter, and eventually decided that I could make it work. I've established throughout the book that there are flaws in the commonly-perceived laws of Allomancy. There are metals nobody knows about. You can pierce copperclouds. In fact, one of the unwritten laws of Allomancy is that it isn't understood as well as everyone seems to think.

Calamity Philadelphia signing ()
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f***yeahdiomedes

After the Ascension and everything, how the Allomancy got exponentially weaker after generations. Is something happening after that in the current Mistborn?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, but it’s going to hit a certain point of saturation where it’s going to stop weakening. It’s already kind of, the weakening is…

f***yeahdiomedes

Evened out?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah

Oathbringer San Francisco signing ()
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Questioner

Everybody talks about steel-steel twinborns. A big topic of discussion. What I'm thinking about, I haven't seen anybody ask, what happens when somebody who's tapping speed, does a steelpush, does the steelpush react in realtime or accelerated time? And the object-- is it like a railgun?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I'm surprised that no one's asked me that before. This gets really dangerous really fast... It's RAFO territory, but you are thinking along the right lines.

Shadows of Self San Francisco signing ()
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Questioner

If an Allomancer found themselves on Nalthis or Roshar, would they be able to use chromium on someone using Stormlight or Breath?

Brandon Sanderson

I am staying away from answering too many questions like that until I start having it happen. But do know that the magics interact... some ways they interact very naturally, some ways, they don’t. One way I’ve released is, you could use bronze on most forms of Investiture to find it. So you can extrapolate that some of these things would work. But not necessarily all. All of them could be made to work.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
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drughat

Is the reason why Allomancy creates allomantic pulses visible to Seekers because it is an external magic drawing upon Preservation's power? In other words, is the reason why Feruchemy is much, much harder to detect by burning bronze because it is an internal magic?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Stuttgart signing ()
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The Forumlurker (paraphrased)

Can a Windrunner use a Basic Lashing on a specific body part?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Yes, but it works the same way a Steelpusher could push on a specific part of metal. Usually, you'd just affect the whole body, because of its Identity and cosmere magic not working as well on parts of something that considers itself a unit. When you're very skilled, you can isolate a hand, like Kelsier could push on specific sections of metal.

Oathbringer London signing ()
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Aurimus

What was the thematic decision behind the number 16? Why did you choose that?

Brandon Sanderson

I really like how divisible it was. It looked really cool when I was playing with things like an Allomantic table and whatnot. It was mostly an aesthetic choice. Like, it just felt right.

Aurimus

So was it originally the Shards or the metals you decided on?

Brandon Sanderson

So, I started with the metals. And then expanded out to that, yeah. So what you've gotta remember is, like, I write Elantris without knowledge of the cosmere. I knew I was gonna do something, but I didn't know what I was gonna do. And then I wrote Dragonsteel, and in Dragonsteel I had all sorts of theories and plans, but I never canonized any of that. And when I sat down to write Mistborn, I said, "All right. We're building the cosmere for real now." And before then I had just kind of been winging it. So when I did Aether of Night, which I put Shards in, I was like "Okay, there'll be some of these things, and what-not." Mistborn was, like, the first real cosmere book, if that makes any sense.

Words of Radiance Philadelphia signing ()
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Questioner

Have you thought any more of metal allergies with your Allomancy?

Brandon Sanderson

It would definitely not be pleasant.

Questioner

Because I have the steel allergy.

Brandon Sanderson

You have the steel allergy, huh?

Questioner

Yeah, I actually got it last year. I have a steel allergy and I work in a steel plant.

Brandon Sanderson

Aww man. It would not be pleasant, I can definitely say that. Although, I would have the instinct that fewer people on Scadrial would have that allergy because of the Investiture during their creation. But it could totally happen.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
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sebarial

Would a Feruchemist actively storing Identity be more susceptible to Forgery? Would more outlandish changes be able to take effect? Thanks for your time, and have a wonderful day.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, if you store Identity, it makes you susceptible to ALL KINDS of things in the Cosmere. Forgery would be on the short list.

bubblebooy

Does the difficulty of affecting metals in a body with Allomancy have to do with Identity?

Brandon Sanderson

No, more to do with the fact that most people are innately Invested in the Cosmere--and certain planets have extra Investiture. Something Invested is more difficult to transform/move/etc with another form of Investiture.

bubblebooy

That is what I had originally thought before you capitalized "ALL KINDS." Is Soulcasting people like Jasnah Kholin did doubly hard since people a have a strong sense of Identity and have innate Investiture?

Brandon Sanderson

We're getting a bit far on this course, so it's time to pull out the RAFOs. I don't want to overplay my hand and leave the books without anything to talk about. :)

Phantine

Does that 'inside a body' thing work on most magics?

For instance, if Han stuck Luke into a Mistborn Tauntaun (a distant and unlucky relative of the mistborn llama), would Luke be protected from both the cold and emotional allomancy?

Brandon Sanderson

He'd have to get him inside a living one.

It does work on most magics, though the interactions can be odd unless you know a lot about the workings. Emotional Allomancy, for example, works by lapping against the outsides of someone's cognitive self, influencing you the way music might stir your soul. So being inside a living body wouldn't necessarily stop it--you'd just have more interference. Kind of like how you can still hear music outside if it's loud enough.

Actual mind control in the cosmere requires you to get INSIDE the soul, which you've seen happen frequently enough. There has to be a gap or an opening.

Or, conversely, you just have to be so powerful that you can push through the interference.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
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dougpgc

Can you get to the Cognitive Realm using Allomancy? From what I've been reading recently, Shardpools sound like a common way to go.. but Rosharan magic can be used to get to Shadesmar without a shardpool around, for instance. Can Allomancy be used to get there too?

Brandon Sanderson

The parts of Allomancy you know do not allow entering into Shadesmar.

Firefight Miami signing ()
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Questioner

So, did Sazed change that no more Mistborn are born? Because I noticed that--I know he made Spook one-- in Alloy they talk about Mistborn...

Brandon Sanderson

The idea is-- I won't say absolutely no to Sazed's manipulation. But, there weren't any Mistborn other than him that survived. The Allomantic lines were very diluted. So, his direct descendants-- you might be able to even find one potentially now. Someone might be born, or one might have been born that didn't tell people about it. But in the general public and population, it's just, there's not as much Allomancy around... He did also change Snapping, which had an effect on it.