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General Reddit 2019 ()
#2 Copy

KaleSlate

So basically I'm trying to figure out how Sapient Cognitive Entities are created, what they are, and how they work.

Spren and Seons are the most obvious examples. But seem to be fundamentally different on several layers. Spren are said to be manifestations of Cultivation's Investiture (might be mostly speculation, but irrelevant either way), but especially higher spren seem to be of Honor. Surgebinding is Honor's Investiture, and uses the bonding of higher spren to manifest. More sapient spren seem to refer to Honor as their father. Indeed there are direct references to Honor creating highspren. These are sapient when they exist primarily in the Cognitive Realm, but they require a human bond to maintain sapience in the Physical. Perhaps if they are pieces of Honor (Splinters), or at the very least collections of his Investiture, they don't have enough Investiture to exist simultaneously in all three realms. So, when dragged into the physical realm, their essence is stretched so thin they can't maintain a sapient mind. They need to bond a human to regain this by sharing the human's Investiture.

There are a few theories i have as to why this is. My favorite of which is this: they are Splinters of Honor. They only have enough Investiture to exist in two realms at a time. In their natural state, I believe that would be the Cognitive and Spiritual Realms. When first forming the bond, and transferring to the physical realm, they have to separate from the Spiritual Realm. Tear themselves from it, really. I think this is why Pattern describes it as an "extremely unpleasant" experience, why they lose most of their memories, and all of their sapience until their bond strengthens. To me this means that self-aware intelligence is not a result of presence in the Cognitive Realm, but presence in the Spiritual Realm. [All objects and creatures exist in all three realms, but that is different from having a presence and Investiture there. A rock had a soul and cognitive presence, and can see itself, even "think" to a small degree. But that is not the same as sapience. A rock also has no Investiture. Humans are all born with a presence of Investiture, the "spark of life"] The other possibility is that since spren exist in the Cognitive Realm, the more people thought of them as alive and self-aware, the more they saw themselves that way. And due to the nature of the Cognitive Realm, and the power of human thought in that realm, they became that which they were perceived as. This theory has a number of problems. Especially since spren existed on Roshar before men did, although we do not know whether or not they were self-aware then. We do know that spren only started bonding with people after humans showed up, but that may just be a limitation of the Listeners' anatomy. An explanation could be that spren are of Cultivation, but men are of Honor (Thus, "Child of Honor"). So while the spren were originally not of Honor, the bond with the more solid creatures Investiture-wise makes Surgebinding of Honor. This also had problems, even before it was revealed that men were originally of Odium, not Honor. So the only answer seems to be that highspren have their sapience independent from men, and are splinters of Honor (confirmed on multiple accounts). But since we know that Honor created many highspren, this tells us a lot about how Splinters are formed if they can be made voluntarily by the Shard.

For this let's move onto Seons. Seons are Splinters of Devotion, but his Splintering was caused by his death. TheSeons were created after the Splintering of Devotion, by people with access to the leftover Investiture. Seons are also self-aware and can form bonds like spren, although without the same results. When a person with a Seon is taken by the Shaod, their Connection is severed, and they float around mindlessly, extremely similar to that of a dead (broken bonds) spren. When a Seon's human dies, it immediately searches another person to bond with. I don't think Seons are capable of retreating into the Cognitive Realm like spren can when their human dies, so I believe if a Seon fails to find a bond, they will find themselves spread too thin and behave similarly to a spren at the beginning of a bond. They are fundamentally similar on several levels, and I believe they are both Splinters, but they were created in different ways. (This also raises questions as to what differentiates a person from a Splinter. If I had to guess I'd guess that Splinters only have presence in two realms naturally, humans have presence innately in all three).

Now let's move on to another planet: Nalthis. Because there is another sapient cognitive entity that offers something very interesting. Nightblood, and others like it. They are sapient, can form bonds, and need extra Investiture from humans (or any source really). The only difference is how much more Investiture Nightblood needs, how much faster it drains, and the fact that its "grounding" Investiture doesn't come from a Nahel bond. My theory is that Nightblood is a Splinter of Endowment. He was created by gathering a lot of Endowment's Investiture in one place. WOB says that large amounts of Investiture are going to pierce the realms. So much Investiture concentrated in the metal pierces all three realms. This gives the sword a presence in the Spiritual Realm, and thus sapience. I think this is why it drains Investiture so much faster, the Splinter was created artificially, and is unable to sever itself from the Physical Realm due to the nature of its creation. So it needs that extra Investiture to sustain itself in all three realms instead of just the Spiritual or Physical. This could also be because artificial creation was done by someone without a good enough grasp on Realmatic theory that didn't know what they were doing, resulting in Nightblood being more "porous" to Investiture. It could also be that Nightblood was made without solid enough Intent and tries to gain as much Investiture as possible in all three realms without limiting itself. Also still, it could be that due to the nature of Endowment's Investiture, it can be easily given, taken, and stored. There are tons of reasons that could explain why Nightblood drains Investiture faster than other Splinters, but whatever they may be I still believe him to be a Splinter of Endowment.

We know a Shardblade is a Splinter manifesting in the Physical Realm. In Oathbringer, Nightblood and Vivenna's blade aren't described as "like Shardblades", they're described as Shardblades, even by Vivenna. She does go on to call it a cheaper imitation of other Shardblades, and regards other Shardblades as superior, but she never retracts or contradicts her statement that it is a Shardblade.

[Also totally not relevant but Nightblood's aluminum sheath doesn't keep Investiture from coming out, it keeps it from going in. Which is just interesting because that makes Nightblood always endothermic, which breaks the laws of thermodynamics like Sanderson said many of his magic systems do.]

Tl;dr: I think Splinters like spren and Seons can only naturally have presence (maybe Investiture) in two realms, and the require a bond to sustain a presence in all three realms by using some of the human's Investiture. I also believe that presence in the Spiritual Realm is what grants a creature sapience.

Brandon Sanderson

Here is your official RAFO. But it comes with a, "You're thinking along the right lines" to accompany it.

Idaho Falls signing ()
#3 Copy

Truthwatcher_17.5

Are you ever gonna make an official quiz that sorts people into Knights-- Knights Radiant? 

Brandon Sanderson

You know, I'm less likely to do a quiz and more likely to do a list of-- kind of attributes and traits and requirements. I feel that some people are more likely to be able to sort themselves than a quiz sorting them. Granted, it does depend on the spren also, so there are two parties in this. And so, you don't have absolute influence over which order you might end up in. But it is possible to be viable as a candidate for multiple orders and it also is going to depend on the spren.

Children of the Nameless Reddit AMA ()
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virgineyes09

Writing question. When writing a fantasy novel in which the setting and the plot are so tightly linked (i.e. the plot of Stormlight is linked inextricably and specifically to the world of Roshar) which area do you focus on first, world or story, or both simultaneously? Can you talk about Stormlight specifically and how you built the world and the story to work so tightly together? Do you ever make small changes in the worldbuilding that end up forcing you to make big changes to the plot and vice versa?

Brandon Sanderson

The way I design stories, I'm usually always thinking about items in three areas that catch my attention: Character conflicts, setting themes, and plot archetypes. I keep a notebook where I'm writing down in these three general areas, looking for ideas that strike me as feeling new or interesting in some way.

Books begin to form when several of these ideas start to grow together, and influence one another in interesting ways. Roshar, as a planet, was interesting--but the story wasn't working t until the idea of the spren, the characters who interact with them, and the world all together started to play off each other.

When I feel like something is really coming together, I sit down and build an outline from all of these idea. This back-and-forth experience leads to the story being interconnected as I jump back and forth between outlining plot, setting, and character. Often, these things will change one another greatly as I work through it, trying to see it all as a whole, rather than parts.

Children of the Nameless Reddit AMA ()
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carnivorouspickle

If you hadn't had the opportunity to write for MtG, would any of these characters have made it in one form or another into one of your other books, or would they only fit in this setting? If they would have made it into a different story, which one?

Brandon Sanderson

I've wanted to do this story for a number of years, and it was inspired by me asking myself (after my first visit to WoTC a number of years back) what I would do if I were to write a story for them.

I didn't seriously consider doing this in another setting, since the concept of demons and contracts isn't really a Cosmere one--and the first ideas were for Davriel and Miss Highwater. That said, spren bonds have some slight similarities, so it's not impossible.

Skyward Houston signing ()
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Questioner

In the reading that you did, the Nahel bond, has it changed?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. So, spren were added, and things like that. What he had would still be called a Nahel bond. A Nahel bond in the original definition means bond to divinity, but that's come to encompass a lot more in the cosmere, any time you're bonding with-- the bond between a soul and Investiture. But in the original version, it was more only with a Shard of Adonalsium or something like that.

Skyward Houston signing ()
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Questioner

What's the relationship between spren and seons?

Brandon Sanderson

They are the same thing from different magics.

Questioner

Okay, exact same thing from different magics?

Brandon Sanderson

"Exact," may be a little too strict, but yeah.

Questioner

So a seon can be transferred to another person, right?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Questioner

Can a spren?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Skyward Atlanta signing ()
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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.

Skyward Atlanta signing ()
#11 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.

Skyward Chicago signing ()
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Blightsong

You've said that, AI in the cosmere, creating one is kind of like having a child realmatically. Would that extend to most sapient creations?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Blightsong

So could a created spren from a Returned inherit Royal Locks? Within a reasonable possibility?

Brandon Sanderson

*ahhing in a very curious manner* You could make this happen, but I don't think it would happen naturally.

Skyward Chicago signing ()
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Questioner

Lift as an Edgedancer. Doesn't seem very coordinated, which seems to be the preeminent part of being an Edgedancer. Was Lift actually maybe better for another Order?

Brandon Sanderson

I would say that, in the eyes of some of the spren, taking somebody who maybe doesn't quite fit the mold for your Order but has the heart that fits it is a better choice. And I think Lift and Wyndle and some of the texts may be comparing what someone at the beginning of the journey to someone near the end of their journey. So let's just give her a little time.

Skyward Chicago signing ()
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Argent

My understanding of the... spren is that they grant powers based on what they understand to be fundamental? Ish?

Brandon Sanderson

Ish. I wouldn't 100% go with that. I would say these are the fundamental forces-- They aren't as scientific as our fundamental forces, but I would say it's more than just what the spren view and what the humans view in that case. But they are more philosophical than scientific, in cases.

Argent

Other cognitive beings, could they-- A spren on Earth. Would it grant electromagnetism surge, for example?

Brandon Sanderson

That, I would say yes.

Skyward Chicago signing ()
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Questioner

In Arcanum Unbounded, it said that a Hemalurgic spike could work in any world. So if I were to take a Hemalurgic spike and spike someone like Kaladin, would he die and then I have a Windrunner's power?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, but there's a big asterisk on that. Because, with the spren being a third party in this sort of arrangement, weird things would happen.

Skyward Chicago signing ()
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Questioner

I was wondering if there's any correlation between the spren in the Axies interlude in the Way of Kings with his faces, and what Shallan does in Oathbringer when she's going through the faces telling them it doesn't hurt? 'Cause it said the refugees saw her nature as a spren, and I made a connection there. Is it a coincidence?

Brandon Sanderson

I will call that mostly coincidence.

Skyward Chicago signing ()
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Questioner

Someone had asked you a question about Marsh being a worldhopper, and you mentioned that there was nothing about his Investiture that would prevent him from going off-world. Which implies that there are other people who their Investiture would prevent?

Brandon Sanderson

Kelsier. I don't count him as going off-world, despite him getting very close.

Questioner

Is there anyone living on Scadrial who that would also apply to?

Brandon Sanderson

As a default, no. I can't say 100% whether there's nobody. But as a default, that wouldn't prevent people. Not in the same way that you would have trouble getting off-world with a spren bond.

Skyward Denver signing ()
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Alpharho

The metal of Shardblades. Cultivationspren versus honorspren, for example. Are they different metals?

Brandon Sanderson

No, but good question.

Alpharho

Are all orders the same alloy, essentially?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. There's a little asterisk on there, but not in the way you're asking... You could call those all the same alloy. Because the mixture to different spren is different, I think that you could argue that each one is its own alloy.

Alpharho

So, different proportions of tanavastium?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, but it doesn't quite work that way with these magics, right? I'm going to say that's up to the individual cosmerologist who is in the world, the arcanist, defining it. You would be able to find enough differences to legitimately call them different alloys if you wanted to.

Alpharho

Would you say different ratios of the same two metals?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. They are not going to have a third one in them, if that's what you're asking. But it doesn't quite work that way. Like, if you were going to take brass, you could measure the exact percentage. In this case, it is a thing; it's not like you could divide it up and split them apart, because they are a thing. And that thing would be called one thing.

Alpharho

But you won't say what that thing is called?

Brandon Sanderson

No, I won't say what that thing is called. But I think you and the 17th Sharders and folks that are dividing them would prefer to call them ten different things, and I think their nomenclature would be relevant.

Skyward Denver signing ()
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Questioner 1

Is there conspiracyspren? We have kind of a family joke about that one.

Brandon Sanderson

So, conspiracyspren... Let's just say this. I have purposefully not made spren of certain things that I think would undermine the very purpose of the spren. If that makes sense?

Questioner 2

My question was going to be: What emotion would you never write a spren for?

Brandon Sanderson

Well there are ones that-- I would go with that. Things that undermine the very nature.-- But I wouldn't say never to anything. In the cosmere, particularly on Roshar, if people start to personify something, there's a chance it would become a spren, and that could be anything. The current vogue question to ask me is "will there be memespren..." And my response is always, "If people personify something, then there's a chance that a spren will develop out of it."

Skyward Denver signing ()
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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.

Skyward Denver signing ()
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LadyKnightRadiant

Kaladin not ever feeling the Thrill. Is there a reason for that?

Brandon Sanderson

There is a reason for that... What do you think?

LadyKnightRadiant

I think it's because he's too good and too pure for this world.

Brandon Sanderson

That is, I would say-- Let's just say that there are points where Kaladin could have felt the Thrill. But once he had the attention of certain nebulous spren, somebody was watching out for him.

LadyKnightRadiant

That was gonna be my second. I thought "He's probably just too good for it," and then I was like, "It's probably Syl's fault."

Brandon Sanderson

There's a bit of a war inside of Kaladin.

Skyward Seattle signing ()
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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.

Skyward Seattle signing ()
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Questioner

I noticed during Oathbringer, is there a symbolism between the color red? Because I noticed that red is mentioned many times. Is it tied directly to the Thrill?

Brandon Sanderson

When I am using red specifically for spren and eye color, I'm doing it intentionally. It means something. I'm not gonna tell you what it means yet.

Questioner

Azure's cloth was red, and Adolin picked up a red glass sphere.

Brandon Sanderson

Some of that is going to be coincidence. But the color of the thing that is going to Scadrial is not coincidence.

Skyward San Francisco signing ()
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Questioner

Have we seen Kelsier outside of Mistborn yet, and will we see him outside of Mistborn?

Brandon Sanderson

No you have not. And RAFO, but realize, he is-- The way Investiture works, you would consider him similar to how you would consider a spren. It's gonna be hard for him to get off-world.

Questioner

It also means that he can still-- He gets kind of close, he gets really close--

Brandon Sanderson

I considered him still--

Questioner

Still on this side.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, but he got close to the line. But I would say he did not get off [Scadrial].

Questioner

So it's gonna be hard.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Skyward San Francisco signing ()
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Questioner

Will we be finding out more about the Ryshadium?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, but it's one of those things we're gonna find out in little bits here and there. I mean, I think I've told people they are animals that have managed to form a spren bond, which has given them more-than-animal intelligence. It is the symbiosis there that is letting them. So if they did not have the spren bond, they wouldn't be--

Skyward San Francisco signing ()
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Questioner

Are spren able to visit other planets than Roshar?

Brandon Sanderson

So, spren are, because of the nature of their Investiture, connected too strongly to the planet to normally get off. That doesn't mean it couldn't happen, but I will just say, normally no.

Questioner

So the Cognitive Realm, or whatever that sort of like-- is that different on other planets?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. It looks different on each planet, partially based on perception.

Skyward San Diego signing ()
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Questioner

Where did the idea of spren come from?

Brandon Sanderson

Comes from two primary inspirations. One is my perhaps too-much fondness for things classical philosophy. Specifically some of the ideas that Plato talked about with certain Ideals, and the ideal picture of something, the theory of the Forms, and all this stuff. Mixed with the idea of, in the Eastern religions and mythology, you have the idea of the kami, or things like thsi, in which everything has a soul. A rock that you pass has a soul to it. And these two ideas kind of mashing together is where the spren were birthed out of.

I can also point a little bit at The Wheel of Time. One of the things I always liked about The Wheel of Time is, there's a character named Perrin who can smell people's emotions. And as a writer, when I was working on The Wheel of Time, I'm like, "This is so convenient!" Super convenient as a writer. Because it gets really cliched to use the same sort of phrases to indicate emotion. If you're always having somebody smirk as they talk, it starts to really stand out. But since, when I get to Perrin scenes, he can describe emotion in a completely different way, because he was using different senses, almost a synesthesia sort of thing where he would catch scents and know someone's emotion, it was a really cool writing tool. And I think the spren popped a little bit out of that, the ability to show emotion in a different way in my narrative, and that would change society in some (I thought) very interesting ways, made for a really interesting narrative tool for me as a writer.

Skyward release party ()
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Slowswift

How do the spren in Shadesmar feel about fabrials? Are they mad that people are trapping spren?

Brandon Sanderson

Let's say there's a wide variety of emotions, but the general response would not be favorable.

Skyward release party ()
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JoyBlu

Both Tien and Kaladin are Radiant, you talked about how that wasn't hereditary, and how that was more because of where they were with association. Was it because they were associated with the same person, or the same place?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, Connection influences spren.

JoyBlu

Right, but was the Connection to a person that they were around?

Brandon Sanderson

Connection to people.

JoyBlue

So not necessarily the place where they were?

Brandon Sanderson

Right.

Joyblu

Because my way of thinking it might be with the people is because, like with the Purelake on the Cognitive Realm there would be more spren hanging out there because that was more land, right; so if you spent more time on that you would have more spren around you. So if you're closer to more water, you're closer to more spren.

Brandon Sanderson

That is not an irrelevant observation.

Skyward release party ()
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Questioner

There are honorspren and cultivationspren on Roshar. The other spren that are tied to orders of Knights Radiant, do they have any relationships with any other Shards?

Brandon Sanderson

They are all going to be a mix of the Shards on Roshar. Some weight a little further one direction or the other. They are not off-world Shards. Good question.

Skyward release party ()
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Ethour

Would an Aviar be capable of a spren bond?

Brandon Sanderson

What they do is the same thing, by cosmere terms. It is not as powerful; because of that it is easier to shift between people. What you gain is not as strong, but you also gain flexibility. But it would be, cosmerologically, considered the same thing.

Skyward release party ()
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Questioner

I'm curious, you mentioned at the Legion release that the Fused were after the spren that Hoid bonded. Was there a specific reason why they wanted that spren? Or was it just because the *inaudible*

Brandon Sanderson

I will say they would have done that for another spren in that situation.

Questioner

Any other spren?

Brandon Sanderson

Not any other spren; but there wasn't something uniquely identifying about that spren that they were hunting.

Questioner

They wouldn't have done it for any spren, but there were other spren they had done it for?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Skyward release party ()
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Questioner

If you had an AI like M-Bot with subroutines that simulate emotions, if it was written well enough, could it attract a spren?

Brandon Sanderson

I will RAFO that for now, I have been asked it a bunch. Let's just say, AI in the cosmere are going to be an interesting thing to explore. We will explore that.

Skyward release party ()
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OrangeJedi

In a previous question you said that when Pattern talks he makes vibrations in the air that can be picked up by a recorder. When Syl talks to just Kaladin, and is only appearing to just Kaladin, could that audio be recorded?

Brandon Sanderson

RAFO.