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Starsight Release Party ()
#1 Copy

Pod

The combination of a Shard and its Vessel leads to sapient mind with access to a virtually infinite pool of Investiture. Are avatars the product of a similar combination of a mind and a pool of Investiture, only on a smaller scale, with less power?

Brandon Sanderson

I would say that is an accurate representation of what an avatar is. It’s not the only way, but it is an accurate... some avatars are that. I would say that’s the standard.  

Shardcast Interview ()
#2 Copy

FeatherWriter

I have to ask about using the word "avatar" for Thaidakar sending avatars... does Kelsier actually have anything resembling a real avatar or is he just using the word and lying through his teeth?

Brandon Sanderson

Oh yeah, he's mostly lying through his teeth. Basically — this is not canon, because I might come up with a better [idea] - but in my head, I have him with a large cloak with a Seon on top indicating his face [hosts laugh] It was something along those lines. He wants them to think that he is capable of getting to Roshar in a meaningful, physical way.

Spoiler! he can't get off Scadrial, and it's really annoying to him. At least by this point in the continuity, in fact a little past it, because the Wax & Wayne books...

*multiple people*

[Tangent where he forgets where in the timeline Wax & Wayne actually falls, and Chaos corrects him. Answer ends up being that it takes place after Stormlight 5, as he has usually said.]

Brandon Sanderson

As of the Alloy era, he is still unable to get off of Scadrial.

Chaos

Guess we'll learn about that in Era 3, if it's all Kelsier stuff.

Brandon Sanderson

Era 3 will definitely involve some Kelsier stuff. Let's just say he's perturbed.

Starsight Release Party ()
#5 Copy

Questioner

So Bavadin's avatars, right; Autonomy's avatars.

Brandon Sanderson

One of Bavadin's avatars. 

Questioner

Of those avatars, are some or all of them actual Splinters of Autonomy?

Brandon Sanderson

The terminology gets kind of sticky here. In Cosmere terms, some would say that counts as Splinters, some would say not. The avatars aren't necessarily aware but Bavadin always is. A lot of people in Cosmere would call that a Splinter. 

Questioner

My follow up to that would be, is it possible for a person to Ascend and become a Vessel of one of those Splinters?  

Brandon Sanderson

That is plausible. Yes. It could happen. It would be tough because they will have personalities of their own and so something would need to happen... but yeah.

YouTube Livestream 32 ()
#6 Copy

Alex M

What's the difference between Avatar and Splinter?

Brandon Sanderson

These are all very weird terms that I'm just using.

*mistakenly answering for sliver* A sliver is a person who has held the power of a Shard, and then let go of it. A briefly held time, holding the infinite power of a Shard, but no longer does. So what does that do? That changes your soul, and leaves markers on it. It's a real physiological thing.

An avatar is... a shard manifesting a semi-autonomous piece of themselves that is still connected to who they are. An avatar, for instance, of Autonomy - depending on how Autonomy creates that avatar - might know, might not know, but they are still an aspect, they are still part of Autonomy. And when you get down to it a part of them knows that, and it's almost a god roleplaying, but in a way that only in a way that a shard, or a lower case "g" god in the Cosmere, can do.

Brandon Sanderson

*realizes that he answered for sliver earlier, and clarifies*

A splinter is a piece of a Shard that is fully autonomous, where an avatar is not. So something that is splintered does not consider itself - and would not be considered by the definitions  - an actual piece of it [the shard], and has free will. So once it has free will, and/or could develop free will (because some of the splinters haven't gotten there yet), but is fully cut off from the direct control and self identity of the shard, then it is called a splinter.