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Arcanum Unbounded Chicago signing ()
#251 Copy

Argent

There's a scene in... Way of Kings, where Syl appears full-sized, like a human. It’s the only time she does that, why is that?

Brandon Sanderson

That was a very special moment. And there’s was some matters of Connection going on. In the Cognitive Realm she's full-sized, when she's there, and so this is echoing that. So that when, later on, if you were to see her in Shadesmar, and if you're like "Oh she's human sized!" Well--

Argent

That's how she would appear.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, you should know.

Oathbringer London signing ()
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Aurimus

As the two Realms, the Cognitive and the Spiritual, are, well, fictional... Are they all comprised of Investiture, completely?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. No, completely? Well, here's the thing. Investiture, matter, and energy are all the same thing in the cosmere. So, just like energy and matter are the same thing here. So, yes, everything's made of Investiture, in the same way that everything's made of energy in our world. Does that make sense?

Aurimus

So, what about what spren are made of in the Cognitive Realm? Is that just Investiture?

Brandon Sanderson

So, yeah, I'll dig more into that. I'm gonna go with Investiture for now, but I could change that as I move along. What I'm kind of debating is, is there a separate Cognitive state, and I don't think so. So I'm gonna go with Investiture for now.

Aurimus

How about Connection?

Brandon Sanderson

Connection is, like, the equivalent of a quantum connection in our world, so it's more like a force than something comprised of something. The question is like, "What is gravity comprised of?" And then you start asking weird questions.

Oathbringer release party ()
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Questioner

So, in Edgedancer, there's a spot where they're going through all the weird things going on in the city, and they're talking about some spren that only shows up if she dumps water out. Is that significant, or is that a crazy person? ...The spren that shows up every morning if she leaves water out?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, that is true.

Questioner

Okay, she's is not crazy?

Brandon Sanderson

She's not-- Okay.

Questioner

Are the spren intelligent?

Brandon Sanderson

Sapient spren, no. But she may have the cause and effect mixed up. She may not have the cause and effect correct. She might have correlation and causation mixed up.

General Reddit 2018 ()
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holdencaufld

I feel like society on Roshar would develop a bit differently because of emotion spren. You'd have to be very careful talking/ interacting with people since you can't hide things like fear, anger, awe, anticipation, joy, passion and shame. Imagine going through high school having to deal with them...

The_Bravinator

I have to imagine it alters things like, say, the concept of masculinity. Obviously the Alethi have very strong ideas about masculinity, but attracting fearspren/feeling fear doesn't seem to be a negative within that like it would be in our culture. Men attract fearspren all the time, and it's totally fine.

It also seems like it might be taboo to mention someone else's emotion spren. People are constantly noticing internally that other people are attracting them, but they NEVER EVER comment on it (until the part in OB where they're investigating it in Kholinar). There must be a really strong boundary around commenting on other people's spren.

It's one thing I did want to ask Brandon about if he does another AMA--how emotion spren affect Rosharan culture.

Brandon Sanderson

This is some good theorizing here. I'd agree with what /u/The_Bravinator says.

The effects are all over the place, but they are just how life is on Roshar, so I rarely point them out. For example, the classic Alethi sort of idolizing being "straightforward" with people. No assassinations. (Well, supposedly.) You're used to being able to see people's emotions, so you take it for granted that only hyper untrustworthy people do things in ways that don't expose emotions. Emotions aren't bad, they simply are, and everyone has them. Views of masculinity are certainly changed.

The_Bravinator

Is it taboo to mention emotion spren that other people are attracting, or do people just not generally think to do so?

Brandon Sanderson

Depends on the situation, really. Not exactly the same, but note how in Earth societies the different responses to something like passing gas, depending on context, culture, etc.

Salt Lake City ComicCon 2017 ()
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Questioner

After Kaladin challenges Amaram, and he gets thrown into prison, are those incarcerationspren that he gets stuck with?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. I'm being recorded, so I have to know if I want to canonize this. Yes. There's nothing more to it than that, I'm just not sure if I've been asked that question straight-up before. I just want to make sure that I've got the name right.

Words of Radiance Philadelphia signing ()
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Questioner

So, you spend a lot of time comparing lifespren and rotspren. They're complementary colors, *inaudible*. The rotspren can appear around animals, as well, whereas lifespren only appear around plants. Is that a misnomer? Is there something that we're missing?

Brandon Sanderson

No, there's nothing you're missing. It just takes a large number of organisms in the same place. So, in a herd of animals, you could find lifespren. They don't come to people as often. But, the thing you have to remember about spren is: spren are attracted by something. And they have to be nearby, and they have to make their way there. So, sometimes, you will have an emotion, and no spren will appear. Because there's not one nearby enough. Or they just didn't feel like this. I worked this in because I didn't want the spren popping up too much. They're a big symbol of Roshar, they're a way, in very early chapters, for you to realize this is a different place and a different world. But if every other sentence were, "And a spren appeared," it would go crazy way too fast.

Shadows of Self release party ()
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Questioner

Why have we not seen strong emotions like love or hatespren?

Brandon Sanderson

So. *pause* That's a good question, it actually is something I've considered a lot. Spren, it's hard to explain, but I'm going to try and vocalize it. It's partially that s-- that emotions that are like that are so individual to each person that you can't as easily create an identity for the Rosharans in their collective unconscious, if that makes sense? That they're just so-- and they're so ubiquitous that it didn't end up working the right way. That doesn't mean that they don't exist, but it's just not the same sort of ubiquity of some of the other ones. And I treat spren like races. Of animals. It's like saying "Well why didn't an animal grow that looks like a cat but has floppy ears?" or something like that. Well it just didn't happen, right? The organic nature of it-- There's no reason it couldn't have happened, and maybe you say "That's a fox, Brandon" but there's certain creatures that could have grown in our world that didn't and it's kind of a mixture between those two things. I kind of had to decide I didn't want a spren for everything for those reasons. And I wanted some spren to be really, really rare. And so you might see like a lovespren, but it doesn't pop out for puppy love, does that make sense? Or you might feel it, but there are none of those in the Cognitive Realm nearby, so they just don't show up.

Calamity Philadelphia signing ()
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Questioner

*to be inscribed in a book* Could I have the name of an observed but unnamed spren?

Brandon Sanderson

Observed, but unnamed, spren? They’ve all been named.

Questioner

They’ve all been named that have been observed?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, someone will call it something so I will just say-- y’know. When they see them they refer to them by things.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
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Phantine

... are there also spren attracted to robots?

man, that would be terrible. Being tied to a concept that nobody's thought up yet, so having a huge identity crisis.

Brandon Sanderson

The way spren are created makes this not an issue. :)

Stormblessed.com interview with Brandon Sanderson ()
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Questioner

The spren are a really unique part of Roshar. Do you have rules for deciding what "gets" spren (wind, flames, glory, creation, life, death) and what doesn't? Have you introduced most of the spren types, or will we see a lot of new ones as the series goes on?

Brandon Sanderson

You will find out much more about the spren as the series goes on. There are a lot of things that get spren where the spren are not noticeable, or they only occur in very rare circumstances or in certain regions, as Axies explains. So the phrase "There's a spren for that" that I've seen popping around on the internet is actually fairly accurate. There's a spren for quite a lot of things. I don't want to delve too deeply into this until I've written more in the series and you begin to understand exactly what the spren are.

Oathbringer release party ()
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Mason Wheeler

So, because the world is flat in Shadesmar, if there's a place where you can't cross, so if a Radiant was on a ship, they'd have trouble getting across, because their spren would be stuck behind that line of discontinuity. Is the Origin of Storms located on that line?

Brandon Sanderson

No, good question.

Oathbringer London signing ()
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MadhavDeval

So, if Dalinar used Spiritual Adhesion to forge a bond between Sja-anat and Honor or Cultivation or whoever, then could Sja-anat corrupt a spren, an Odiumspren back to Honor or Cultivation?

Brandon Sanderson

Maybe. Nyeh...

MadhavDeval

What about the Fused?

Brandon Sanderson

The Fused-- I mean, it's the same kind of thing, they're a Cognitive Shadow. Eh? Eh. I'm gonna give you an "Eh." on that one... I don't know how you write that on the forums.

Sasquan 2015 ()
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Wetlander (paraphrased)

One question I did ask Brandon, though, was whether Ym was an Edgedancer.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

We both acknowledged that with the healing thing, he had to be either an Edgedancer or a Truthwatcher, of course. He pointed out that Ym's spren doesn't look at all like Wyndle.

Wetlander (paraphrased)

Which I countered by saying that I thought the Ym's spren manifested the way Wyndle would if you couldn't see the Cognitive Realm.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

He just smiled... and said something like, "I'm going to RAFO that. You're very wise, and I put the description in for a reason, but I'm going to RAFO for now."

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.

FAQFriday 2017 ()
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Questioner

Can holders of Shards give them up voluntarily? If so, what would happen?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, a Vessel for a Shard of Adonalsium can give up their power if they wish.

As for what would happen...well, there are some variables in there. Kind of like the variables in what happens to a bucket of water if you dump it out. Depends on where it falls, how strong the wind is, what the air is like.

Power dropped like this, if left alone, could end up Splintering and turning into something like spren/seons. It could become something more like the Stormfather--a large, self-aware entity. It could become something like the Dor or many of the Unmade--something proto-aware, but not truly an individual. There are other possibilities as well, depending on lots of factors. (Are sapient beings involved? what is being done with the power--is it concentrated in the Spiritual Realm as normal, or is it being pushed somewhere else?)