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General Reddit 2013 ()
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sufficientlyadvanced

It says that it's dangerous to travel to Shadesmar on Sel. Why?

Brandon Sanderson

It has to do with the Dor and the lack of an entity controlling much of the power Odium left in his wake on Sel.

Phantine

Woah, that's interesting. I had no idea Odium left little bits of his power on Sel... I guess it kinda makes sense for evil monks to be powered by pure hate, though.

Brandon Sanderson

Odium did not leave his power behind, one should note. He left several other powers which are now, to a large extent, mindless...

Windrunner

If you wouldn't mind answering, does Roshar have a similar problem, with Honor being Splintered?

Brandon Sanderson

No, Roshar does not have the same problem. There are some differences going on. (One reason being that the spren are far more extensive on Roshar, and provide something of a "release valve." The seons and the skaze on Sel are not numerous enough to fulfill a similar function. Though, of course, that's only one part of the puzzle. Raw power is dangerous.

It's one reason everyone should be thankful Kelsier was around on Scadrial.

17th Shard Forum Q&A ()
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Straff Venture

Are any of your books' locations (barring Legion) based on real-life places? If so, where? If not, what propels your creative drive to make new worlds?

Brandon Sanderson

All of the keeps in the Mistborn series are based on real structures I've visited. The mists are based on a trip to Idaho, were I drove through a fog bank at high speeds.

Warbreaker's setting was inspired, in part, by a visit to Hawaii.

Much of Roshar is inspired by tidal pools and coral reefs.

JordanCon 2016 ()
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Questioner

You mentioned the ecology on Roshar, and also you mentioned that mostly the non-sentient spren predate the Shattering of Adonalsium. So my question is about the evolution of life on Roshar, and how essential the highstorms are to life on Roshar, how the plants evolved, so can we assume that life that is dependent on the highstorms predates the Shattering of Adonalsium?

Brandon Sanderson

Um… You--

Questioner

Can we correctly assume?

Brandon Sanderson

--yeah, *laughter* I'll tell you this. The highstorms predate, and there was a lot of natural evolution on Roshar, resulting in a lot of what we have there.

Words of Radiance Philadelphia signing ()
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EHyde

I was wondering, on Roshar, what sort of plants and animals do they use for fabrics, because they don't have a lot of woolly animals and the plants are different?

Brandon Sanderson

Most of them are plant-based. I think I've mentioned one of the plants. Theirs are plant-based.

EHyde

They have silk though, right?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. It is seasilk, you actually grow it in the water. It's pretty awesome. It comes from the coasts.

EHyde

So they don't have anything like our silk, then?

Brandon Sanderson

If you looked at it, you would call that silk, but it is being produced in a very different way.

EHyde

But our silk comes from insect cocoons, and they have a lot of that sort of thing, but they don't use it for fiber at all?

Brandon Sanderson

Insect cocoons on Roshar are either, they melt in water and are tied to the highstorm cycle, or they have stone in them. So they don't work really well for textiles. There are certain rockbuds you can shred the inside of the shell and get a textile from them, there's seasilk which you grow out in the ocean, and there are other plants of a similar nature.

Firefight San Francisco signing ()
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Questioner

In Stormlight, how the hell does society work with one object standing for both the currency, the magic system, and light and power--

Brandon Sanderson

How does it work in Roshar with one thing spanning-- for the economy, the magic system, and... lighting up everything. They would ask, "How  you could possibly have three different things?" because it makes no sense to them. It totally functions, I think. The big distinction is you can't use Stormlight for lighting if-- Like that's something for rich people. You'll see poor people using candles and whatnot, because hanging out your spheres is not a smart idea in some other places. There are spheres that are a low light level that are worth about a candle or so, so if you put a candle out someone could just swipe that, it's worth the same amount. There's really no difference between putting out a candle and that. If you're going to put out a lantern you can put spheres in it and lock it up.

/r/fantasy AMA 2017 ()
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unknown

As silly as this may sound, one of my favorite things about The Stormlight Archive thus far has been the flora you describe in the world.

What inspired you to spend time developing unique and world-appropriate plants? I feel like plants are so often an overlooked detail, even in books with heavy world-building.

Brandon Sanderson

I knew that I wanted some worlds in the cosmere to be truly strange. Fantasy tends to shy away from very odd ecosystems, but I think it shouldn't. (Even in Mistborn, we started with strange flora.)

For Roshar, I started with the storms, then worked toward what I think would have evolved there (erring on the side of the fantastical.) The primary inspirations were tidal pools and coral reefs.

Firefight Phoenix signing ()
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stormfather (paraphrased)

Does the plague on the Purelake has anything to do with the fact that the magic fish form symbiotic bonds with spren?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

No, worldhoppers brought a disease to Roshar that they didn't have before. It's the common cold. Rosharans' Investiture makes it so they're usually a healthy bunch so something like the cold is kind of frightening. "It's a plague of the sniffles."

stormfather [Alternate wording from ZenBossanova's report] (paraphrased)

Another person asked about the plague in the Purelake.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Turns out, that was a pathogen introduced by worldhoppers. People on Roshar normally have greater health than elsewhere in the cosmere because they are more Invested (Stormlight and all that). This plague was what we call… the common cold.

The Great American Read: Other Worlds with Brandon Sanderson ()
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Questioner

So, are all birds in the cosmere referred to as chickens?

Brandon Sanderson

No. All birds on Roshar are referred to as chickens... What's going on here is a linguistic phenomenon, where they had lots of bird types on the planet they emigrated from. But over time the word for "bird" became genericized, chicken became genericized to mean bird. That's happened to a couple things on Roshar. Wine got genericized. They don't even really have wine; they don't have grapes, but they use it genericized to mean something different.

/r/fantasy AMA 2017 ()
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Bradtholomew

What is the origin of the name Kaladin?

My wife and I recently had our first child and that's what we named him. Just curious if there's any story behind the name.

Brandon Sanderson

I use Arabic in some of the creation of Alethi names, and Kaled (or Khaled) was the root I started playing with to come up with a new name for Kaladin, as I didn't like the one I'd used in 2002. I'd already designed Kalak after this, the Herald, and wanted a common name version of this.

When I arrived at Kaladin, it sounded right to me--likely because of the similarity to Paladin, as others noted below.

Dragonsandman

So if Kaladin's name is derived from Khaled, is it fair to assume that the Alethi language sounds similar to Arabic?

Brandon Sanderson

Alethi has some Hebrew to it too. I used Semitic language roots for the Dawnchant, which had a huge influence on Rosharan languages. While there are a few oddballs rules, and some linguistics that stand on their own, both major language groups on Roshar (the Azish family and the Vorin family) would probably sound very Arabic to you.

For example, the Alethi Kh is a voiceless velar fricative. The Azish kk or q sound is a voiceless uvular, sometimes stop, sometimes an affricate. Sometimes a uvular ejective.

No, I can't make those sounds on demand. Peter can, though. It's helpful to have a linguist on my team.

Shin is its own language, as is Iriali.

BeskarKomrk

What can't Peter do? He seems to be an expert on everything!

Brandon Sanderson

He is amazing. But, in this case, he was a linguistics major in college. So there's a little extra amazingness from him in these areas.

Orem signing 2014 ()
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mail-mi (paraphrased)

Shouldn't the rest of Roshar be more Earth-like, more Shinovar-like, kind of, with Cultivation on Roshar?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Um, you are mistakenly assuming that Cultivation means Earth-like flora and fauna. Roshar is very bountiful, and, um, like it's not a barren land. Um, Roshar is very, um...

zas678 (paraphrased)

Thriving?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

It's thriving. Yeah, it just has a different ecology. Um, you're mistakenly assuming that our ecology is the only sort that can be bountiful.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
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Nazrax

Are seasons on Roshar truly unpredictable, or have the storm wardens just not figured out how to predict them yet?

Brandon Sanderson

Well, if you consider the planet to be a closed system, then nothing about the natural processes are TRULY unpredictable.

Oathbringer Houston signing ()
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Questioner

How much is a stone-weight on Roshar?

Brandon Sanderson

Uh... that is actually a question for Peter. I actually, often, will just write in brackets "this much," and he comes up with the weights and measures, because I can never be consistent in my first drafts. So, yeah, you ask Peter, he can get that for you. I do the same thing with spheres, right? I'm like, "This costs roughly 100 bucks in our world," and he'll go "All right, fine" and go look up all the things. I used to keep it all in the first book, but since then I just let him do it.

Idaho Falls signing ()
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Questioner

Are birds native to Roshar?

Brandon Sanderson

Birds are not native to Roshar.

Questioner

...Did they come over with the initial humans?

Brandon Sanderson

They did. The humans brought them over, along with a lot of other beasts. Like, horses aren't native to Roshar either. You can tell pretty easily the non-native things. Like, Roshar doesn't have any grapes. So the word wine got genericized in the same the way that the word chicken did. You'll see bunches of that. Like the way the weather works. Roshar does not have weather patterns like Ashyn did. They're used to seasons. Suddenly, the words for the seasons, all these weird things that you may have been wondering through the first couple of books, you're like, "Oh I see why they just call hard alcohol a wine," or, "I see why they call everything a chicken." It's kind of related to this.

Skyward Atlanta signing ()
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KalynaAnne

Lift has lots of pancakes and you only describe six of them. I was wondering if you could tell me of any of the other three?

Brandon Sanderson

Okay, sure... One is a terrible, awful, seafood one that Rosharans would eat and I would hate, and people that I know would love. Not sure what the other two would be. Probably a very spicy one, a savory spicy one. Probably a vegetable greenish one, something that over here would look like it has spinach in it.

KalynaAnne

Is that different form the one-- she mentions one that has chopped vegetables in it?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, that would be different. It would be a pure green one as opposed to one more like--

KalynaAnne

Like a fritter?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah. Yeah.

Shadows of Self release party ()
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Questioner

So Threnody, does it have anything to do with Roshar?

Brandon Sanderson

Uh, I mean--

Questioner

Beside y’know that there in the same--

Brandon Sanderson

No, it doesn't. I mean, it's connected to the larger cosmere… You will find more. There are important people from Threnody that are involved in things. You've seen other people from Threnody in the books but I don't think like it's connected to Roshar in any special way

Oathbringer Glasgow signing ()
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Questioner

Back to Stormlight. Is there significance to the color of moons?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, there is a significance to the colors of the moons in Stormlight, but it is not a major player in theories. There is a significance, but it's not, like, one of these things that you're going to read book seven and be like "The colors of the moons! It was there all along!" Sometimes, I put stuff like that in, right? It's not like that.

Shadows of Self release party ()
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Questioner

Nightblood. He just showed up at the end of The Stormlight Archive--

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Questioner

--the last one. So, is there a place that's a connection between all of the universes?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, there is.

Questioner

And it's been reached in The Stormlight Archive?

Brandon Sanderson

Okay, so I'm guessing you don't know about all of this but there are characters from Elantris that are in Mistborn--

Questioner

Yes. Like Hoid.

Brandon Sanderson

--and all of this stuff. I would say one of the things is that Roshar is a little bit easier to get to than some of the others, but it's not that it has been breached there so much as it's a little bit easier to get to.

Questioner

Yes, I'm assuming it has something to do with the Cognitive Realm but then objects going through the Cognitive Realm is kind of tripping me.

Brandon Sanderson

Hehe… *long pause* There are places in the Cognitive Realm that are somewhat nexus-like, like you're talking about. Yes there are places like that. ...So Roshar might actually be the easiest place to get to in the cosmere, like from planet to planet. Sel is probably the hardest, right now. For a long time Taldain was very hard, but not anymore.

FanX 2018 ()
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Questioner

I'm just curious, there are 16 Allomantic metals, 16 Feruchemical metals, there are 16 Shards of Adonalsium. Are there 16 surges?

Brandon Sanderson

No.

Questioner

So there's no correlation?

Brandon Sanderson

10 is an important number on Roshar.

Manchester signing ()
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Questioner

With the Vorin religion split between men and women... do you tend to get women sneaking into the army-- *laughter*

Brandon Sanderson

This does not happen as much on Roshar as it apparently happens in Terry Pratchett novels. I'm sure that on Roshar they have their legends, 'cause basically every culture has their legends and one thing you have to remember is that whole thing is specifically Vorin. That's Alethkar, that's Jah Keved, that's Kharbranth, and Herdaz to a lesser extent and in there they probably have some of those myths and things like that but I don't think it actually happens that much in Roshar. That's my take on it, but I'm sure that they have their mythology.

Questioner

I was suspecting that the girl Kaladin mentions a few times may have snuck in.

Brandon Sanderson

Oh right, you've got some-- I've left her intentionally vague.

JordanCon 2016 ()
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Trae

On Roshar, because of there's no tectonic activity, it would suggest that it's possible that the magnetic dynamo inside doesn't create enough of a magnetosphere to protect life from solar radiation, so my question is, do the highstorms function as a form of protection against solar radiation?

Brandon Sanderson

That's an excellent question.

Bystander

That's a RAFO. *laughter*

Brandon Sanderson

That's a really cool question.

General Reddit 2017 ()
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[unknown]

Rereading Words of Radiance... Are the Herdazians a caricature of Mexicans? Is that ok?

Brandon Sanderson

Parts of their culture are inspired by Mexican culture in the same way the Alethi are inspired by Mongolians, Lift's origins are indigenous Bolivians, and the Final Empire (Central Dominance) was 1800's France. Human beings need a launching-off point for creativity to work.

I don't consider them a caricature. Lopen is extreme to say the least, but I made sure to include Palona, Huio, and others as a balancing factor. That said, I don't get to decide if what I did works--I get to try, and explain my motivations, but the decision on whether or not I succeed is not in my hands. Many a writer has had the best intentions, but has failed anyway.

I think it's important to diversify my inspirations, and push myself. If I were going to say the true inspirations for Herdazians, it would be a Mexico mashup with Korea (where I lived for several years.) The smaller country that has long been overshadowed by a dominant neighbor is a very common thing in our world, and it really felt like Alethkar would have a similar effect on kingdoms around it.

I will take a moment to note that chouta wasn't inspired by burritos, really, but more the "street food" explosion that accompanied the industrial revolution. I took what they had in the society (flatbread and Soulcast meat) and tried to build something that would replicate the things I've seen and read about in our world during that era, because it fascinates me.

Shadows of Self San Francisco signing ()
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Questioner

Navani’s emotion fabrial, are those correspondent to the Thaylen Passions in any way?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, but the Thaylen Passions would’ve come second to some of this.

Questioner

So through a cultural filter?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. There is no magic to the Thaylen Passions, they are a religion but with no magical component. Sometimes a religion is just a religion.

Words of Radiance Washington, DC signing ()
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Shicaca

Is there anything to, I was looking at the map of Roshar, and it kind of looked like a spiral galaxy to me, like it was flipping in a certain direction--

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, that is intentional. You are onto something that no one has figured out yet.

Audience

Tell us, tell us!

Shicaca

I was thinking if it's connected to manipulating gravity... *inaudible*

Brandon Sanderson

You are onto something and it's not exactly what you think you are onto but you're getting close to something that they've all wanted to know for a while.

YouTube Livestream 26 ()
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Shawn

Would children on Roshar be taught the names of the different spren in school, like kids with animals in our world?

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, yeah, definitely. Good idea. I bet that they would. Definitely, spren would probably be like learning to say "kitty" around here.

DragonCon 2012 ()
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Trae Cooper (paraphrased)

Why are Invested objects like metalminds and Hemalurgic spikes able to be Pushed and Pulled on, but Shardblades and Shardplate, which are also invested, are not susceptible to Pushing and Pulling?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

There were a few concepts that he outlined in answering this question.

1.) The ability to Push/Pull an Invested object is predicated to the amount/power of the Investiture.

2.) Further, Invested objects also gain resistance to pulling/pushing based on proximity to soul possibly via the soul. An example given is that a Hemalurgic spike touches the blood of the person, and from there is now part of both the Spiritual Realm and the Physical Realm. This provides what Brandon termed a kind of "soul interference," based on its proximity to the soul.

This further explains why Vin required more than normal power to Push/Pull the metalminds from the Lord Ruler, because of their proximity to his soul, via the Spiritual Realm.

3.) The amount of Investiture is relatively low on Scadrial, whereas worlds like Sel and Roshar are pushing around "high power" according to Brandon. I interpreted this to mean that Hemalurgic spikes and metalminds have low amounts of Investiture compared to Shardplate and Shardblades.

Brandon said that theoretically you can Push/Pull Shardblades and Shardplates but you would need to wield an incredible amount of power. One example he gave that could so such as a thing is that if you were a Mistborn wielding the full power of the Well of Ascension, you could Push/Pull Shardblades/Plate.

Emerald City Comic Con 2018 ()
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Questioner

For the creatures on Roshar... where do you start in your worldbuilding for that kind of hting?

Brandon Sanderson

So where I started for Roshar was the highstorm. So I knew I had the highstorm and I was going to want to build out from that, and I would want an ecology that incorporated the magic. Those were kind of the two things I was looking for. I wanted everything to deal with the storms in some way and be affected by them, and I wanted Stormlight and spren to be integrated into the way that the worldbuilding happened because this was my big worldbuilding epic. So I started along those two lines, and that's where gemhearts came from. That is where-- The [singers] grew naturally out of that. A lot of the creatures and things I looked toward tidal pools because I figured this was kind of a similar sort of thing, an environment that has to deal with a drastic change, a biome that deals with this repeatedly every day.

YouTube Livestream 9 ()
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Questioner

What makes fantasy creatures good and how do you go about creating them?

Brandon Sanderson

I try to build mine from the ecology of the world of the world I'm building. I try to extrapolate from that and this is just because I have this sort of "one foot in fantasy, one foot in science" approach to writing the cosmere in particular. And because of that, I want the flora and the fauna to feel integrated with the world that they're on and to be interesting in that aspect. Obviously, I have not done this in most books to the extent that I did in Stormlight. But one of the fun things for me to do is to ask, "What have I changed about this world? What would that do to the ecology?". What do I look for other than that? I want something that's visually interesting. I want something that'll draw well. I want something that'll not just be what I've seen before and that will be a nice take on what I've seen before. That's the thing, I mentioned before: human creativity is about recombining things in interesting ways. That's how we seem to work. We don't come up something we've never seen before, we put a horn on something we've seen before and call it something new, which is cool. We're remixers, is what we're really good at doing. And I ask myself, "What can I remix that I haven't seen remixed before?"

Words of Radiance Omaha signing ()
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Questioner

We know that 10 is an odd number in the cosmere. And I noticed that the Lord Ruler specifically released 10 Allomantic metals. Was there a reason behind that or is that just a coincidence?

Brandon Sanderson

No, that was a coincidence right there.  Ten is an odd cosmere number for Roshar, and there are reasons why this is. . .

Questioner

Well it wasn't just Roshar, it was also Nalthis in Warbreaker. 

Brandon Sanderson

Nope, that one is a coincidence. Sometimes they just pop up that way. Part of the original reason that Roshar was 10 was I was going for a 10 day like Robert Jordan did, which I thought was cool. But then I ended up writing the Wheel of Time so I'm like 'I have to do something different now'. So it turned into the two five-day weeks. Two five-days becoming a 50 day month.

Stormlight Three Update #4 ()
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Mat_alThor

Just finished a trip to Zion and Bryce National Parks; did those parks and the surrounding area influence the Shattered Plains? Really felt like I should be looking for gemstones and watching out for chasmfiends while cayoneering.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, they were a big influence. In college, one of my roommates (Micah Demoux, for whom I named Captain Demoux) was a photographer, and he took me on many nature photography trips in southern Utah. Roshar is a direct outgrowth of this.