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The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
#3 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Metal vials. People may wonder why Allomancers use them. Why ingest only small bits of metal, which could run out on you? There are a couple of reasons for this.

First off, you don't want to eat too much metal because, simply put, it's poisonous. Kelsier talks a little bit about this in book one, and it's given token nods from characters throughout the series. I don't do a whole lot with it–dying from metal poisoning isn't the type of extended disease you tend to deal with in a novel that only covers a few months time, like this one.

The second reason for metal vials is more simple. Allomancers with the right powers can Push or Pull on sources of metal–the larger the metal source, the harder the Allomancer can Push on it. So, little flakes of metal make a terrible Anchor, and so if you're caught wearing your vials, you aren't giving much of an advantage to your enemies.

Salt Lake City ComicCon 2017 ()
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Questioner

I'm curious. Are any of those rare metals from Mistborn on any other world?

Brandon Sanderson

So, not those exact metals, unless they've been taken off-world. But there are other metals like them that you could find.

Questioner

So they could have Allomantic lore?

Brandon Sanderson

They theoretically could...

Let's just say it's not a coincidence that you find Investiture manifesting as metal on other places. Such as Shardblades, as well.

Shadows of Self release party ()
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Questioner

So could somebody using maybe a duralumin Push or Pull, or just a strong Allomancer, take control of a Shardblade?

Brandon Sanderson

The more heavily Invested something is, the most-- the more <release?> other forms of Investiture? But as we have proof in Mistborn you can Push and Pull on metalminds, you can Push and Pull on even a spike that’s inside of somebody. If you have the strength. So it's kind of pushing against the strength of the Investiture.

/r/fantasy AMA 2011 ()
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WinespringBrother

Do soothing and rioting work on a telepathic or physiological level (or both)?

Brandon Sanderson

Primarily telepathic, though the body does respond physiologically. After the Soother is gone, the emotion remains for a time, so long as it was a natural emotion. Strong soothing/riotings against a person's nature can wear off quickly, and the body react (sometimes) with a strong opposite emotion in response. A very good Soother/Rioter can inspire emotions that begin telepathic only, but then have a response in the body, so the emotion gets more cemented.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Sixty - Part One

Silver, the Useless Metal

I've annotated about this before, but I figured I'd mention it again. As you probably know, in book one, tin was originally silver. I swapped it out for various reasons.

However, that left silver having no Allomantic powers. That feels strange to a lot of people because of how common and useful it is in our modern culture. Such an obvious metal doing nothing seems wrong to readers.

I toyed with using it in place of aluminum at the end of book one, but I realized that wouldn't work. It was too common, so if it had any Allomantic powers, people would know about them for certain. Only a metal that was very hard to find—like aluminum—would be believable as a new metal that most people hadn't heard of.

So silver is Allomantically inert. Just one of the quirks of the magic system.

Bands of Mourning release party ()
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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.

Barnes and Noble Book Club Q&A ()
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Chaos2651

Hemalurgically, atium steals Allomantic Temporal Powers. But, that seems unlikely, since atium is a god metal. It wouldn't fit in with the rest of the magic system. Did Preservation, in addition to switching Cadmium and Bendalloy for Atium and Malatium, also switch atium's Feruchemical and Hemalurgic powers with Cadmium? Because it seems to me there's not a lot of atium Marsh can use to live for hundreds of years into the next Mistborn trilogy.

Brandon Sanderson

Preservation wanted Atium and Malatium to be of use to the people, as he recognized that it would be a very powerful tool—and that using it up could help defeat Ruin. But he also recognized that sixteen was a mythological important number, and felt it would make the best sign for his followers. So he took out the most unlikely (difficult to make and use) metals for his sign to his followers. But that doesn't have much to do with Hemalurgy's use here.

Remember that the tables—and the ars Arcanum—are 'in world' creations. (Or, at least, in-universe.) The knowledge represented in them is as people understand it, and can always have flaws. That was the case with having atium on the table in the first place, and that was the case with people (specifically the Inquisitors) trying to figure out what atium did Hemalurgically.

Their experiments (very expensive ones) are what determined that atium (which they thought was just one of the sixteen metals) granted the Allomantic Temporal powers. What they didn't realize is that atium (used correctly) could steal ANY of the powers. Think of it as a wild card. With the right knowledge, you could use it to mimic any other spike. It works far better than other spikes as well.

As for Marsh, he's got a whole bag of atium (taken off of the Kandra who was going to try to sell it.) So he's all right for quite a while. A small bead used right can reverse age someone back to their childhood.

But this was a little beyond their magical understanding at the time.

Calamity Philadelphia signing ()
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Sandastron

I’m very curious about pewter. How much Feruchemical pewter, steel, and gold would you have to take in in order to be equal to burning pewter and flaring.

Brandon Sanderson

Oh…um, okay. So you wanna...ok, let’s back this up. So you wanna know feruchemically what would it take to match burning?

Sandastron

Yes.

Brandon Sanderson

Okay. So burning pewter, I kind of imagine...roughly doubling. Roughly.

Sandastron

Double your strength?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah. But without the muscle mass change, it’s a magical boost. So because of that it has some pretty dramatic effects, like when Vin jumps and things like that.

Sandastron

So it’s only a double, so would flaring it bring it any higher?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah. Flaring would go higher.

Sandastron

Would it be like triple?

Brandon Sanderson

Maybe like triple.

Sandastron

Maybe like tripling...that’s fascinating. So I always thought normal burning would triple it and flaring would quadruple.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah I always felt kind of double. You won’t see people burning pewter and lifting a car.

Sandastron

Right, exactly.

Brandon Sanderson

You see people burning pewter and delivering a really solid punch.

Sandastron

Gotcha, thank you. That is fascinating…and would it be about doubling speed and healing ability?

Brandon Sanderson

I haven’t worked out the numbers on that exactly. I have an instinct that says thatburning pewter, healing goes a bit faster but I have to look in the books and see what we’ve done in the past and then kind of canonize it.

Oathbringer Chicago signing ()
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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. 

Skyward San Diego signing ()
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Tiek00n

What would happen if Lift ate aluminum or other Allomantic metals? 

Brandon

Lift would not be able to do anything with Allomantic metals. Good question.

Tiek00n

Does that include turning them into Stormlight?

Brandon

Yes, that includes turning them into Stormlight.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
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Wigginns

What would a Hemalurgic spike granting atium do for an Allomancer already able to burn atium? Does it function similarly to bronze, granting enhanced atium-ing? Along this line of thought, would enhancing electrum burning via spike be of any advantage?

Brandon Sanderson

A spike of something you have would enhance your ability, giving your more strength. With atium, more strength makes for a minimal edge--the length you can push out the atium shadows. However, there's a certain breaking point where you kind of crack the whole system, peer straight into the [Spiritual Realm], and kind of have a "It's full of stars" moment.

Electrum could reach this same moment, potentially, though there's more interference to fight through. Extra strength in electrum isn't going to be terribly useful up to that point.

Alsadius

Is that what happened when atium was burned with duralumin?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

The Well of Ascension Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

If you paid any sort of attention during the last book, you were probably expecting a new metal or two to show up in this book. I dropped a lot of hints that there were other metals.

It was a little bit of a stretch to let there be metals that, despite the thousand-year history of Allomancy, weren't known. However, I rely on the fact that the Lord Ruler had informational control over the society. There are A LOT of things that he knew that aren't known to a lot of people.

Duralumin is a real alloy from our world, commonly made from aluminum. Actually, a lot of things we call aluminum–particularly industrial aluminum–is actually duralumin. Aluminum, pre-electrolysis, was really tough to get. It's said that Napoleon had a set of aluminum plates that were more valuable than his gold or platinum ones.

Barnes & Noble B-Fest 2016 ()
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Questioner

How do you keep everything straight in your head?

Brandon Sanderson

So, it's kinda weird. I forget my keys. I forget what day it is, I'm one of these types, right. But stories, I don't forget. Stories are in there. Part of the help for this, though is I do use a wiki, called wikidpad, it's, like, a personal wiki thing. And I stuffed a whole bunch of it in there, not all of it, but a whole bunch of it. I actually have someone whose job it is to go through each book, add in all the new details and things like this to keep kind of a personal encyclopedia of the Cosmere, for myself, for reference that I can be working with as I'm building things.

So, yeah, it's a mixture of tools, my own personal weird brain psychology, and good help and forum assistance. Like, if you read one of my early drafts, there's, like, so many continuity errors. So many, right? Because there's just stuff I... like, when you're writing, you're not thinking about. And your fingers, they just type it. Or, like, I forget, like... one of the things I have to do for a Stormlight is I have to go through and add in way more spren. Because it's just so unnatural to us to have emotionspren, that first draft, I don't even worry about them. Like, get down what's happening, and then I will highlight where the spren appear. It's almost like I do post-production on my books. But, even still, to this day, I write silver when I mean tin in Mistborn, because for years it was silver was that power. Like, it's been ten years since it was silver, that I changed it to tin, but even still my fingers type silver. And the alpha readers and beta readers are like, "Oh, there's a silver in here! We found one!" Like for years, Clubs, I think it was Clubs, and... I had two of the powers swapped for the... anyway, so there's all that. And then there's all the stuff that I forget I changed in revision in previous books.

So, it's not like I'm photographic memory who keeps all this. I have a good team, a good process, and enough up here that we can make a good book come together. But those early books... don't become an alpha or beta reader for me unless you're willing to be like, "Okay. Canon is not here." Like, in the Lift chapter, there was even a place where I'm like, "I think this is connected. I wanna connect this to something in the Cosmere, but I can't remember what it is. Karen, can you look up some of this and see, so I can make sure that I can..." I think it's in there. And then in the beta read document, everyone's like, "Oh, you can do this! You can do this! You can do this!"

Questioner

No that wasn't in Lift!

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, it is! I just went and looked at it. Maybe Karen posted that quote that I gave her, maybe Peter pulled it out, and she posted it in the document later on.

JordanCon 2016 ()
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Kaymyth (paraphrased)

I asked him about what the board refers to as "reverse" compounding - i.e., using Feruchemy to enhance Allomancy, rather than the other way around. I wanted to make sure that it was really a thing that exists.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

He said that it was.

Kaymyth (paraphrased)

Is this what the Southern Scadrians have been doing?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

It's similar, but not exactly the same.

17th Shard Forum Q&A ()
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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.

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.

Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
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Oversleep

Does it matter how fast are the metals burned in relation to Seeking? For example, would a flared metal be easier to Seek? Could duraluminum burned metal be Seeked through coppercloud by regular Seeker?

Brandon Sanderson

Flaring is noticeable to the right Seeker, and strength does correlate as you theorize.

Idaho Falls signing ()
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Questioner

When either Rashek or a Twinborn like Miles, how does he fuel his metalminds? Does he have to actually burn the gold in order to fuel them? Because, I feel like there's a paragraph in here where you kind of explained it, but I feel like you didn't actually say that you had to burn more gold in order to fill a metalmind. Is that how that works?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. You can cross the streams and use one to power the other. But you are using the metal to power your Feruchemy instead of your own-- You're using, basically, the power that's coming through the metal...

Questioner

So you do have to be burning one the whole time? Sounds good, good to know. So you could just infinitely fill it, basically? As you burn, you just use it to fill it and it just gets-- and that's where that comes from?

Brandon Sanderson

Yep. You are burning a metalmind that you've already filled, right? That's the key there. You fill a metalmind, then you burn that, and what that does is it keys the metalmind to the Feruchemy instead. Which normally no one can do because you could-

Questioner

You can't do both.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah. But if you can do both, you fill a metalmind, you burn that metalmind. What comes out of it is Feruchemical power instead, and you then are filling the metalmind with more.

So Allomancy is fueled by the power of the Shard. So what you're doing is you're powering your Feruchemy with the power of the Shard, instead of your own body. Using their Investiture instead of yours. Which is very dangerous.

Firefight release party ()
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Questioner

So I have heard that it is harder to Push a Shardblade with Allomancy than it is a normal sword.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Questioner

Is that true of both living and dead Shardblades?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Questioner

Equally?

Brandon Sanderson

Uh, no.

Questioner

Okay, so it's even more difficult to Push one alive.

Brandon Sanderson

The thing-- An Invested object is more difficult with any of the magics. So, for instance, even a Feruchemical metalmind is going to be harder. Depends on how much it is Invested, and things like that. But, y'know, it can range from you barely notice it or don't even notice it to "Wow, that's hard to Push on". Same for a Hemalurgical spike, depending on how much Investiture is left over, how long has it been outside of a body, and things like that. Same thing Pushing on something inside a person's body, their Investiture is going to interfere with it.

Same thing, when you read White Sand, why a person slapping their hand through someone's stream of sand can throw off the entire creation of the sand mastery. It's just-- There's interference patterns, and things like that.

Questioner

And is that true of a Drab as well? Does the body affect--

Brandon Sanderson

The Drab is going to have less.

Questioner

So they just have less Investiture, but they still have some natural Investiture?

Brandon Sanderson

They do still have some. They've lost their Breath but that isn't the entirety of the Investiture inside of them.

Almost all of the times we see Vin--in fact I think every time--we see Vin, or someone in the Mistborn books, Pushing or Pulling on an Invested metal they are either drawing on the mist or they're Elend or the Lord Ruler who have the enhanced power, or something like that. Or it's a duralumin Push, or its one of the Inquisitors who's had a spike-- y'know, and things like that, that've-- And so it's not something that you see done very often in the Mistborn books.

Rubix

I can actually confirm that's correct.

Brandon Sanderson

Oh you guys looked it up?

Rubix

I checked.

Brandon Sanderson

I mean it can be done. And depending on Investiture it can be not even that hard to do but--

Firefight Atlanta signing ()
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ccstat

Can a Seeker, standing outside a Coppercloud, that is between them and another Allomancer, can he sense the person standing on the other side of the Coppercloud?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, but he might get some interference.

Ben McSweeney

Would you sense the cloud itself, like "Hey, there's a cloud between me and what I'm looking at"?

Brandon Sanderson

If you know what you're doing, you might be able to say something is interfering, but you wouldn't be able to determine what. There are multiple things that could cause that, for instance-- Most of them are only-- That they would be able to-- Yeah, there are multiple things that could cause that. Like, for instance--

Ben McSweeney

Big buildings?

Brandon Sanderson

Well, aluminum.

Salt Lake City Comic-Con FanX 2015 ()
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Sirce Luckwielder (paraphrased)

When Kelsier is teaching Vin about the basic eight Allomantic Metals, he talks about not flaring metals, especially tin and pewter, as it does strange things to people. Does this imply that there were other savants before Spook?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

His answer was that there were other savants before Spook.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
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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.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

The Inquisitor's Speed

What the Inquisitor does here at the end is very important. If you've read book two recently, you may recognize this as what Sazed did when he tapped speed at the end of that book.

The Inquisitors are gaining Feruchemical powers, which makes them very, very dangerous. Mixing Feruchemy and Allomancy is what made the Lord Ruler so formidable. Fortunately, it took him a long time to figure out how to mix the powers correctly, and the Inquisitors haven't had the time to practice, regardless of the force controlling them.

Words of Radiance Philadelphia signing ()
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Questioner

Several of my friends play the [Mistborn] tabletop game, and we have a question, so, if you want to burn a metal Allomantically do you actually have to ingest it, or can it just be in your bloodstream, or-?

Brandon Sanderson

If it gets in there somehow, you can use it.

Questioner

So you can inhale something, or inject something ... what about spikes? Could you like burn a spike that was-?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, you could, but not if it's Hemalurgically placed or Hemalurgically charged. But otherwise yes. If it gets in you-- I almost wrote a scene where someone got stabbed through the chest and they burned it. The problem is your metal also has to be of the right allomantic alloy.

DragonCon 2016 ()
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Questioner

You've mentioned in the last couple of afterwords that you get interesting results when you mix types of Investiture.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Questioner

Twinborn and Surgebinders on Roshar. Can you mix a form of magic with a source of Investiture? Can say Vasher use Stormlight in place of Breaths or would that require tampering via Hemalurgy or something like that?

Brandon Sanderson

Most of them require tampering. Some of them are a little bit easier than others. It depends on really what you mean. For instance, white sand can be charged in the presence of any Investiture right? It's just-- But that's not really using the magic, it's just charging it with other Investiture. But, you know, it would be very easy, for instance, if you can get yourself Invested-- Like, for instance, it'd be very easy to use Breaths to fuel Windrunning right? Because the oath and the bond and things like that are going to make it pretty easy. However fueling Allomancy with something else is going to be a lot harder. So it really depends on the magic. It's the sort of thing that there will be lots of science in the books dedicated to making happen in the future and you will find some of the processes these work easier than other ones.

/r/fantasy AMA 2011 ()
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alanthiana

Allomancy can be such an internal form of magic... how would you see it being dealt with visually, if Mistborn were ever to have a TV/movie version?

Brandon Sanderson

Pushes and Pulls are going to be done (if this version of the film gets made) by having metals glow blue when an Allomancer is using their powers. There will be visual or auditory cues for the other powers as well.

Mistborn: The Final Empire Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

In Mistborn Prime, there were no such thing as Mistings. Allomancy's practitioners were called Mistborn, and they could use all of the various abilities, depending on which metal they ingested.

When I started work on this incarnation of the book, however, I felt that I wanted to involve a specialized team of Allomancers. That meant including people who were really good at one specific thing, but who couldn't do other things. It's a staple of the heist genre–you want specialists. So, I split up Allomancy, allowing lesser Allomancers to exist. These people, who only could do one of the many Allomantic powers, would be very good at the one thing they do. And, since Mistborn were so rare, you couldn't really make an entire team of them. You'd be lucky to even get one. (Though Kelsier's team just got a second one.)

Soon, you'll get to meet the rest of the crew, and will be able to see how I split up Allomancy. One thing of interest, however, is that there was no emotional Allomancy in Mistborn Prime. I added Soothing and Rioting–the ability to make people less or more emotional–into this book because I felt I needed something that would be more. . .sneaky. These are skills that don't relate to fighting, and I think they'd be very helpful for the sort of political intrigue I want to do in this book.

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

Mistborn: Secret History Explanation ()
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Phantine

Do the other uses for those metals [nicrosil, aluminum, duralumin] currently in the RPG also work in-universe, or are they just there for RPG mechanics?

Brandon Sanderson

Most of the things in the RPG books relating to the metals that you don't see in the books fall under the "We need to make a game out of this somehow, Brandon" clause. I've told them they can extrapolate if they want, but that I wouldn't consider their extrapolations canon.

Herowannabe

So does that mean that these metals will be getting updated rules in a future RPG supplement?

Brandon Sanderson

That's a possibility. I've said before that you should consider any games you play to be in an alternate dimension anyway, where the rules work slightly differently, and your players can control the fate of what is going on. Plus, it will be years before I can get to the nature of all this in the next trilogy, so we'll see how relevant it all is in five years or so.