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Shadows of Self release party ()
#1 Copy

clyguy

Someone else brought up the point, can blood be Awakened?

Brandon Sanderson

Anything can be Awakened.

clyguy

If you make a human-shaped mold and you poured blood into it and you Awakened it, would you have a Terminator T-1000 style blood-golem that could recombine?

Brandon Sanderson

Um, heh, well Awakening liquid is possible but I don't think it would work the way you want it to.

Questioner 2

If you had enough of a cloud in one place, could you Awaken a cloud?

Brandon Sanderson

Um, you could Awaken anything. It's probably not going to work the way you want it to. There is a reason why they Awaken the things that they do. For instance if you want to make a transforming golem, you would be much better off with something thicker.

Leipzig Book Fair ()
#2 Copy

Questioner

In Warbreaker: the magic system is really visual, and when heightened people are around, the colours get really saturated and I was wondering about blind people or colour blind people. How can they percieve the effects of Investiture?

Brandon Sanderson

Their minds would interpret it in a way that works for them. Their brain would come up with some way to interpret the sensory they're getting. And so the colour blind... The colours are still going to saturate, but saturate in a way that they can tell. Not being colour blind it is really hard for me to describe. But I read about it, and at least that's the rule I have for myself in the head. For an actual blind person this is going to be a magic system that's harder to use. Just having a disability, unfortunatly. But it also gives perfect pitch, and I think that partially their auditory senses would compensate to a degree, but it's going to be a harder magic system to use. I'm sure they could find a way to work around it.

Oathbringer Chicago signing ()
#3 Copy

Questioner

So, if you could take, whether capture or talk into a Radiant spren from Roshar that was no longer bonded to a Radiant, from Roshar to Nalthis, could you bond that spren to an awakened object? Could you take a spren from Roshar and either force it to or talk it into bonding an awakened object on Nalthis? 

Brandon Sanderson

Oh boy. That'd be really hard. 

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
#4 Copy

Oudeis16

If Bob the Awakener Awakened fifty straw men to dance around, then died, then Returned as FormerBob the Appropriately Named, would FormerBob be able to reclaim the Breath from the straw men in the normal fashion (once he learned the "Your Breath to Mine" Command)?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. He has enough of his original Identity, and the spiritual connection would remain.

sonofstannis

What if he instead were reincarnated as a lifeless? Is there a way he could reclaim it then?

Brandon Sanderson

Lifeless have someone else's investiture replacing their own. (As opposed to Returned, who are augmented.) Depends on how much of them is left, and if they can achieve sapience again, but I'd say this is unlikely.

WeiryWriter

What if the Lifeless is Awakened with their own Breath? (i.e. they gave it away right before they died and the person they gave it to then used it in the Awakening)

Brandon Sanderson

This has happened already in the world, and it does help.

-Nayrb

Did this happen "on screen"?

Brandon Sanderson

RAFO.

Arcanum Unbounded Seattle signing ()
#5 Copy

Lhyonnaes (paraphrased)

Alright, thanks. Last question for me tonight - so, when a Hemalurgic spike steals something, then it's storing Investiture in it, yeah? So could you - could you do something with that Investiture? Like... say I'm on Nalthis, and just theoretically, I use a Hemalurgic spike to steal a lot of Breath - can I use that Investiture to Awaken something? Could I Awaken the spike?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

That... you'd need a lot of Investiture to Awaken a spike.

Lhyonnaes (paraphrased)

Because it's already charged up with something else?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Yeah.

Starsight Release Party ()
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Questioner

In the Stormlight Archive series, we have not yet seen Vasher or Vivenna Awakening.

Brandon Sanderson

You have seen Vivenna Awaken stuff, technically. She is Awakening part of her... what's she doing, she's got her cloak out and stuff. You see <very> glimpses of it in the [third] book, so you technically have seen her. You've also seen Hoid Awakening in the epilogue. So yes, you can Awaken on Roshar, it's just been really subtle so far.

Questioner

So, does the Investiture just feed off of the...

Brandon Sanderson

You can make a Returned feed off of Stormlight very easily. You can't use Stormlight to power Awakening very easily, but if you still have those Breaths, you can use them and reclaim them.

Holiday signing ()
#9 Copy

little wilson

Can a Shardblade-killed body be turned into a Lifeless?

Brandon Sanderson

Can a Shardblade-killed body be turned into a Lifeless.  Yeees, it can be re-Invested. Yes.

little wilson

Are there any side-effects to doing so?

Brandon Sanderson

Uhhh, there would be side-effects. I won't tell you what they are. They would be minor, minor, mostly inconsequential side-effects.

Orem signing ()
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Questioner

With Soulcasting, we know what can be Soulcast based on the color of the gem. Does-- When Awakening, say you have emerald, green, Pulp. If you were Awakening straw or some other form of plant matter, if you used a source of green for the color, would it be, say, more efficient than using red?

Brandon Sanderson

So I haven't built that into the magic system yet. Part of me feels like I should have. But I did not. I want color to be relevant to each of the cosmere magics. It's kind of an essential part of it, and it's part of where we stray more into the magical sense. Like, in my books we treat magic scientifically but they're still magic. And it was a thing when I was building Stormlight, I'm like, "So the difference between these two gemstones is a matter of a slight impurity and chemically they are 99% the same thing. Am I actually going to have them do different things or not?" And my judgement call was yes, because I want color to be relevant in the cosmere.  But by that point, when I was really getting that magic system to work, I had already written Warbreaker. And I had known that I wanted color to start being a big part. I'd already written Mistborn where I worked in color in different ways

But I didn't work that into the Warbreaker magic. I felt like it already had enough restrictions. I would say my worry about the Warbreaker magic is the color feels tacked on. Like, the magic could work without it, narratively, so why is it there? And that's the question I asked myself while I was building; that's the question I continue to ask myself when I continue to work on-- for that magic system, to make sure it works for me. But my instincts say adding restrictions like that, particularly when they weren't covered in the first book, feels like the wrong way to go. It'd be like retconning the magic. It's something I considered.

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

At the end, Wit, with the little girl and the doll and bring the doll to life, it reminded me of Warbreaker.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, he was using Breath for that. He was using Breath he had gotten from somewhere, I'll say, but it was actually the other world's magic system. Vivenna was using them, too, in Oathbringer. When you see her fighting with her cloak. That's an actual fighting style people would do; her cloak's doing some extra stuff.

ICon 2019 ()
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Inhorman (paraphrased)

Can you Awaken a complex mechanism in a way that it will work by itself?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

I didn't understand the question.

Inhorman (paraphrased)

Like Awakening a gun so it'll shoot by itself.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

It's very hard since you need lots of Breath but theoretically it's possible.

Stormlight Three Update #5 ()
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mathota123

Is the creation of skaze end-negative?

Brandon Sanderson

So, you're not quite using the term right.

The terms "end-negative" and "end-positive" refer to a specific system--in most cases, we're talking about the individual(s) using the magic. Do you draw more magic out, or is it powered by your own native Investiture?

Awakening is what we call end-neutral, despite the fact that (obviously) the Breaths came from someone else in the first place. That's not the point in contention here--do the same number of Breaths (the same amount of Investiture) continue to exist in the system as you're manipulating the magic.

In something like AonDor, you are drawing out much more power than you put in--end-positive. That power is put to work doing something, such as healing a body, or creating a blast of power.

The skaze, like the seons, were created when a Shard was Splintered. The terminology doesn't quite work there, at least not in the way that scholars in the cosmere would use it.

The question from the physicist in this thread about where Investiture goes, and what it means for a Shard to have access to certain amounts of power, is related to all of this. I'm hoping to be able to find some time to craft a response there, as there are some fundamental understandings of the magic that are relevant to the discussion that I should point out.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
#18 Copy

vernontwinkie

Can two different people invest an item with Breath (either to use the sum of the investiture or just theirs, or as a way to tell that something contains Breath if it doesn't work)?

Brandon Sanderson

The question is tricky to answer, because it's partially a yes, and partially a no. So I'll RAFO for now.

General Reddit 2018 ()
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Jeimaxx

I do have a question, while listening to New Spring today, I realized that a channeler using the One Power sees and hears much more vividly, similar to people invested with breaths from Nalthis. Was the magic of Nalthis partially inspired by the One Power?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, that was an inspiration from the WoT. I always wanted to take that concept RJ had used and see if I could make it a fundamental and quantifiable part of a magic system.

Bands of Mourning release party ()
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Questioner

If an Awakener were to go to Roshar and were to bleed the color from a gem would that gem still be able to store Stormlight?

Brandon Sanderson

Bleed the color from a gem… Um ye-ye-ye-yeah. This would interfere with its function on Roshar. It would probably still be able to hold Stormlight…

Questioner

Might not be able to be used for Soulcasting?

Brandon Sanderson

Yea-- It's going to… You know what no it would just change it. It would just bleed the color from it and turn it into a dusty quartz or something like that. That's probably what it would end up with, a dusty quartz. Because the molecular structure doesn't matter as much as the color for Roshar. So yeah you would probably still be able to hold Stormlight because a diamond can but I don't know, quartz might cut it. You'd probably end up with something that's not going to work so well.

Questioner

What about a fabrial that needs a specific--

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah a specific-- A ruby wouldn't work any more, and it would let go whatever is captured inside.

Warsaw signing ()
#21 Copy

Questioner

What would happen if an Allomancer burned Awakened metal?

Brandon Sanderson

Oh boy, we start right with the really hard ones. So, it would be very difficult to do, and other than that it's going to depend on who the Breaths are keyed to with Identity.

Warbreaker Annotations ()
#22 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Vivenna Hides Her Breath in a Shawl

This has been possible from the beginning, and if Denth had truly been on her side, he would have admitted that there's a way she could get rid of her Breaths. What she would need to do is Awaken something with a one-Breath Command. There are some. They don't do much, but you can Awaken a very tiny scrap of cloth tied into the shape of a person with a very simple Command. That takes one Breath.

Next, you put the rest of your Breath into another object. Then you get that one Breath back and go hunting for a Drab to give it to. Then you take the rest of your Breath back from the object. From there, you can repeat the process if you want to. Vivenna could get rid of the Breaths one by one.

Of course, Denth didn't want that to happen. He was coveting those Breaths. What he said was intended to sound like an innocent mistake. Many people unfamiliar with Awakening would make that mistake, so if Vivenna learned the truth later, he wouldn't look suspicious.

Bands of Mourning release party ()
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Questioner

What would happen if somebody used the color from a Stormlight-infused gem to create a BioChromatic entity?

Brandon Sanderson

So I just had this question actually and what we came up with was that would leave behind something that is like a cloudy quartz and is going to make it work not as well for holding Stormlight. That's our answer right now, I'm going to talk to my scientists and see what they think because draining the color from something doesn't just leave it white, or clear, it kind of ruins it, it's gray-ish, it's dun. It clouds. So I think it would ruin things for Stormlight.

A Memory of Light Dayton Signing ()
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NutiketAiel (paraphrased)

If a native of Sel or another Shardworld traveled to Nalthis, would they be a drab?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

No, they would not be a drab. But, no one would be able to take their Breath.

NutiketAiel (paraphrased)

If such a person died on Nalthis, could they Return?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

No, they cannot Return.

NutiketAiel (paraphrased)

If such a person received breath, could they use BioChroma?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Yes

Warbreaker Annotations ()
#28 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Siri Is Rescued

And here we have a big scene that a lot of readers have been waiting for. I apologize for making Siri need to be rescued like this, but I felt it was appropriate to the story. It's because of her teaching the God King and helping him become the man he is that he's able to do this.

Remember that the Seventh Heightening (I think that's the one) grants a person Instinctive Awakening, meaning that once you reach that Heightening, you don't need any practice to learn to Awaken. Your Commands are obeyed instinctively. This doesn't mean that everything you try will work, but that you can make most basic Commands (grab things, that sort) work without having to try. In fact, figuring out most of the more complicated, previously unknown Commands requires a person to be of the Seventh Heightening.

This power grew out of me wanting the upper Heightenings to do some very dramatic things. I do worry that this scene is a little deus ex machina. That keeps me from liking it quite as much as the Lightsong climax or the Denth/Vasher climax. But I feel that a story needs a great variety of climactic moments—some internal character moments, some external skill moments, some great twists, some expected payoffs, some big reveals, and some dramatic rescues. This chapter and the next take a shot at trying to cover a lot of those different types.

#tweettheauthor 2009 ()
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jamesgubera

where do you get your inspiration to create new worlds & characters?

Brandon Sanderson

Inspiriation comes from all over. Often things I see. Color magic in WRBRKR came from watching b/w movies.

The mist in mistborn came from driving through a foggy night at 70mph..

Sazed came from a Buddhist monk I met in Korea.

Sarene came from a friend, Annie, who complained that she was too tall and too smart for men to want to date.

If you want more, send me an email and ask for my “Ideas” essay. @PeterAhlstrom will send it to you.

Warbreaker Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Vivenna and Siri Reunite; Vasher Shows Off His Returned Breath

I believe that this is the first time in the book that Vivenna and Siri talk to each other. (Weird, eh?) I knew I couldn't make their reunion very effusive, since they're both Idrians, and Siri has learned to control herself. Plus, the situation is very tense. (And beyond that, despite Vivenna's coming to rescue her sister, the two were never terribly close. They were sisters, but separated by five years or so.)

This chapter focuses on other things, primarily the changes in the God King's personality and the revelations about Vasher. For the first, I hope they are plausible. Remember, the God King has grown a lot with Siri's help. Beyond that, he's been trained to look regal and act like a king, even if he's not had any practice talking like one. I think he works well here, projecting more confidence and nobility than he really feels, speaking in ways that don't make him sound too stupid, yet still betraying an innocence.

The bigger surprise is Vasher's revelation about his nature. I almost didn't put this in the book, instead intending to hint at it and save it for the second book. The reason for this is that I knew it would be confusing.

The big question is, if Vasher is Returned, why can he give away his Breaths and Awaken things without killing himself?

The answer is simple, in many ways, but I'm not sure if I have the groundwork for it properly laid in the book. (Which is why I hesitated in explaining it.) Remember when Denth said that Awakening was all or nothing? Well, he lied. (I think you've figured this out now.) A very skilled Awakener can give away only part of their Breath. It depends on their Command visualizations. So Vasher needs to always give away everything except for that one Returned Breath that keeps him alive. As long as he has that one Breath (which he's learned to suppress and hide), he can stay alive.

Skyward Atlanta signing ()
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Questioner

Could a skilled Awakener Awaken a gemheart?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, but you got to remember, some of these things like metal and gemstones and things do not Awaken well, how about that... Technically yes, it may not do the thing that you want it to do.

Questioner

But it'll do a thing?

Brandon Sanderson

It'll do a thing.

Words of Radiance Dayton signing ()
#35 Copy

Pechvarry (paraphrased)

What happens when non-Nalthians come to Nalthis.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

They cannot use their own soul to Awaken but could do so with obtained Breath.

Pechvarry (paraphrased)

So anyone could start Awakening once they received Breaths?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

You would probably have to jump through some hoops to Awaken (talks about systems needing rigged up to work on different planets), but anyone can benefit from a Breath. Essentially said "it's not that easy!"

Warbreaker Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Vivenna Agrees to Learn Awakening

This has been a long time coming. Sorry to make you wait; in some of my books, I like to use a lot of magic from the start. In others, I like to build out the setting first, letting the characters learn and explore more slowly.

I've long wanted to call a magic system "Awakening," by the way. I tried it out originally in The Way of Kings as the name for the transformation-based magic system in that book. But it never worked. You didn't really "awaken" things. I was just using the term because it sounded good.

So I put it back in the file to be recycled someday. As I began to plan this book, I developed a magic system that could be called Awakening. Bringing objects to life seems to fit that just perfectly. So yes, the word came first—though I'm not sure how much I grew the magic system around that one word, or if I was feeling I wanted to do a "bring objects to life" magic system and realized I could use that great name I'd come up with earlier.

Barnes and Noble Book Club Q&A ()
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little_wilson

Mi'chelle is wanting to know for a fanfic she's wanting to write if when you cut/break an object that has been Awakened if the object then "dies", or if the pieces will try to carry out the command. Also, either way, can the breaths be recovered from it?

Brandon Sanderson

The object does not die, and will try to continue its purpose. The level of damage will determine just how well it can continue. The Breaths are recoverable. (Though there could be some loss of Breaths, depending on how the item is destroyed.) There's a scene near the end where Vasher Awakens some clothing, then it gets cut down and he recovers the Breath.

Idaho Falls signing 2014 ()
#41 Copy

PrncRny (paraphrased)

Why is Breath not consumed in Awakening, unlike most all other uses of Investiture?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Not all Investitures are "used up." Much like energy, it isn't typically created or destroyed, just changes for. With Breath, in what it's used for, it is just more easily and readily recovered than in other forms.

Oathbringer Portland signing ()
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Hoiditthroughthegrapevine

Could an Awakened toupee be commanded to act like real hair?

Brandon Sanderson

...Totally! Absolutely, yes!

Questioner

Would it be convincing?

Brandon Sanderson

Would it be convincing? Yeah, I think that it would be. It depends.

Questioner

It depends on the number of Breaths?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, it depends on factors, but I totally think that could be very convincing. Yes, yes, yes.

Questioner

Could it also be given enough Breath to Command "Protect me?"

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, it could. That would be really weird. But yes.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
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EarthRester

In Warbreaker, the closer an inanimate object is to a humanoid shape, the easier it is to awaken it.

Hypothetically, say a race of sentient quadrupedal canines had access to BioChromatic Breath. Would they have an easier time awakening objects if they were closer to a canine shape, or is the rule still that it needs to be more humanoid?

Brandon Sanderson

Closer to canine.

Firefight Chicago signing ()
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Kurkistan

So is that the same thing with Commands, are there like ideals that are Commands?

Brandon Sanderson

This is more of a-- For you to interface with the magic, you need to be able to comprehend it. And so forming a Command-- The same thing happens in Elantris, you know they don't accidentally draw runes, right? The intention is part of interfacing with the magic. So it's like your mind reaching into the Spiritual Realm and you have to like conceive something.

Oathbringer release party ()
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Questioner

Could there be a colorblind Awakener and-- would they be able to do anything or--

Brandon Sanderson

It would be a harder life for them. It would be a more serious disability there than it is here but it is not completely ending their opportunity.

Questioner

...Once they get to the certain amount of Breaths or whatever, would that reverse the colorblindness? 

Brandon Sanderson

Not necessarily. But it might have some interesting effects.

Oathbringer Portland signing ()
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Questioner

Would all the different powers, or magic. Would they all work on the other--

Brandon Sanderson

Almost all of them will. AonDor, and the ones from Sel, are very hard to get to work elsewhere, because of certain things, but others are much easier. For instance, if you can get Breaths to another world, you can just use them, you don't need to do anything special.