Could you make a Lifeless out of someone killed with a Shardblade?
Shardblades sever the soul from the body, but Awakening makes a "fake" soul for a body, so how the soul left doesn't matter.
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One thing to realize is that the Idrians' attempts to make their city colorless are more superstition than they are effective. It's much harder to get colors away from an Awakener than the Idrians think. For instance, black is one of the most powerful colors to use for fueling Awakening—but the Idrians don't even consider it a color. Their browns and tans would also work for Awakening.
However, a lot of times, the traditions of a culture don't have much to do with factual reality. The determination to avoid colors grew out of a desire to contrast with Hallandren and their devilish Awakeners. It got taken to the extreme, however, and as the centuries passed, the Idrians grew confused about just what Awakening is and what it can do. Of course, there are some who know—Hallandren isn't that far away. But there's also a lot of rumor and misinformation.
Could you train your pet parrot to Awaken things, if it learned to say the necessary Commands?
Afraid not. Intention is important.
Why is Breath not consumed in Awakening, unlike most all other uses of Investiture?
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.
Vasher Uses Straw Figures to Find the Tunnel
I wanted to bring the straw men back into the book, as I felt I needed to show you—and Vivenna—just how capable Vasher is with Breath. He's leaps and bounds above most people. I think this book gives a skewed perspective, since we don't see any ordinary Awakeners. We see those just learning (Vivenna) and we see one of the greatest masters of the art to ever live (Vasher).
With his practice and years of Awakening, he's able to get Awakened objects to do things that others wouldn't be able to. The straw men are a good example. As for why he apologizes, well, he doesn't even know that himself. I think it's because he realizes that Breath can make something sentient and aware, like Nightblood, and worries that the straw creatures become (even just slightly) more than just mindless automatons.
Would an Awakener be able to awaken a corpse that was soulcast into stone more easily because it used to be living, thereby being able to create lifeless similar to Kalad's Phantoms without having bones in the framework?
Yes. That would definitely work.
If you made a lifeless with enough breaths to get to the 5th heightening, would it be similar to a returned at all? Or is a divine Breath the only way to create a returned with awakening?
Divine Breath is very much its own thing.
Can Soulforged bones be Awakened?
Can Soulforged bones be Awakened? So, Soulcast bones be awakened? Once the Soulcasting is done, it is no longer Invested, and it would act as the normal item. A Forged item will act as Invested, and will resist any manipulation. Differences between the magics.
I expect just a RAFO for this, but would we see any interesting effects if someone were to Awaken a shardblade? Because I am honestly starting to think that might be close to what Nightblood is.
Depends on the type of Shardblade you're trying to Awaken.
I will confess that over the course of my study I learned that we're nearing the 10th Anniversary edition, and that u/mistborn has asked u/PeterAhlstrom to go over the book, take Brandon's notes, and make sure there is a consistent system behind the scenes. Humbly, I do hope that perhaps by at least locating the times in the book when Breath-count is mentioned, I have saved Peter a bit of busy work, if nothing else.
Yeah, a more precise system of how many breaths it takes to do X (and the exchange rate, so to speak, with other magic systems) is something on the list to do for Warbreaker 10th anniversary. I have the resources now, with more assistants behind the scenes, to get more precise on this sort of thing than I've done before.
How does one erase/alter memories using Breath?
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?
Closer to canine.
So the lighteyes that get Soulcast into stone, can they be Awakened?
*pause* So… Yes, but their soul is gone. When they get Soulcast into stone it is only the corpse, so yes they could.
Would it be a lifeless or a-- Would it be like Awakening something inorganic or would them once being alive help?
The fact that they were once alive will help. There's a Spiritual Connection that still exists on the Spiritual Realm and that is going to help. But you're not going to get the person back. The fact that it is the exact form of a person is going to be really helpful. It would be a lot easier to Awaken that than it would be to Awaken other stone.
In Awakening an object when you give it the sort of Command like, go get the keys, or something. How does that object perceive the world around it? Since it doesn't have standard human senses, how does it see? How does it touch?
It is not--
Repeat the question.
Oh… go ahead.
The question was, how do Awakened objects actually perceive the world.
…The closest correlation you have to this is how Inquisitors see.
Okay, following up on that say, someone who has-- say someone with bronze who-- a bronze Misting managed to somehow get access to Breath and Awaken would he then be able to tell that object "Hey I sense this Allomancer over there, can you find it".
That is not outside the realm of possibility.
Can you use a Divine Breath to Awaken a Lifeless?
Say you have a Feruchemist who pours Identity into a metalmind. Then subsequently loses that mind, and then is later Awakened? Would that mind retain the personality of--
*Everyone laughs, Scottish man says "it's 11 o'clock at night, give the man a break!"*
Okay, so they store Identity—which I haven't told you what it does--
Yep. We don't know.
And then you Awaken it, and then you want to know if it has the personality of the person?
Yeah, or if it's able to communicate in any way.
Um, if-- how much Awakened is it? Is it Nightblood-level Awakened? Or is it just regular Awakened?
Sure let's say Nightblood-level.
Nightblood-level. So it's-- so the Investiture has been granted sapience. And it's got Investiture from somebody else stuffed in it. I can foresee a scenario where that has an influence, but it's not going to be the personality of the person who stuffed it in. I can see some circumstances where they can-- where the Investiture of the object can make use of that in some way, but...
Oh boy, that was a weird one.
One of my big worries about the Vivenna sections is that she'll come off as too weak as a character. That's a particular danger once we reach these late middle sections, where it's revealed how much she's been manipulated. Remember that when you're reading the Vivenna sections, if she comes off weak compared to Siri, consider their relative circumstances.
Vivenna is put through a lot more in this book than Siri is. Why? Well, I felt that as a character, she had a lot more room to grow. In order to do that, however, she needed to have everything knocked out from underneath her. That happens primarily in this chapter and the next few.
But she is not helpless. Even while she's numbed by the capture and betrayals, she manages to effect not one, but two escapes. She handles herself very well, finally overcoming her problems with Awakening and managing to get her Breath to work for her. (And remember that the more Breath one has, the easier it is to learn to get Commands to work right. That will be important later in the book. . . .)
Biochromatic Breath. The reason that it avoids Snapping, is that because it's so heavily in the Physical Realm, or is there something more to that?
Could there be a colorblind Awakener and-- would they be able to do anything or--
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.
...Once they get to the certain amount of Breaths or whatever, would that reverse the colorblindness?
Not necessarily. But it might have some interesting effects.
Would he also be able to have powers from Warbreaker without using Breaths?
Yes that is-- It is possible to power the magics with one another. Breaths are one of the-- it's-- yeah, let's just say that.
In Warbreaker how did you come up with the idea of using colors for magic?
You know it's the goofiest story. A lot of them have really awesome stories and this one is just goofy. In this one I had written Elantris and written Mistborn and they are both kind of dark and my editor said to me, I kid you not, "Your next book needs some color to it" and I said "Oh I'll do a color-based magic system then". And that's where it came from.
Is the creation of Skaze end-negative?
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.
In other news, during the Q&A, I asked if it would be possible to recall Breaths from an object that you had not placed there if the Awakener who did place them there had no Identity at the time. He semi-dodged the question by saying that for many powers this would work, and for almost all powers it would work if you also had no Identity at the time.
Is there a correlation, at all, between Awakening steel, a blade, and the revival of spren every time a shardblade is summoned? I mean, I know Invesiture is Investiture is Invesiture.
So revival of the spren so--
Okay. So, are you talking about a live shardblade or a dead one, or it doesn’t matter.
Awakening the steel, like that, Shardblades <are like Awakening metal> and stuff.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. The big difference here is that in one you’re using a physical component, right, and investing it. In another, a more pure Invesiture is passing into the Physical Realm and taking on an embodiment, a shape. Does that make sense? And so, similar but different things. There is a correlation, but it’s not--yeah.
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?
Oh boy. That'd be really hard.
Would all the different powers, or magic. Would they all work on the other--
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.
What happens when non-Nalthians come to Nalthis.
They cannot use their own soul to Awaken but could do so with obtained Breath.
So anyone could start Awakening once they received Breaths?
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!"
There's that trick with Feruchemy that lets you make metalminds that others can tap. Could you do something similar with Self-Awakening?
Oh yeah, there are all sorts of tricks that you can do. You could use other peoples Breaths, make it seem like you don't have any Breath-
Awaken an object so that others could access its Breaths?
Vivenna's Thoughts on Being a Drab
A lot of what happened to Vivenna—how she saw the world and how she acted—was influenced by being a Drab. As I've said before, the Hallandren aren't right when they say losing your Breath does nothing to you. Most Drabs struggle with depression, and the fact that they're almost always sick doesn't help either.
And so, Vivenna's time on the streets was artificially made more dreary and terrible than it truly was. Being a Drab, being sick, the shock of being betrayed—these things combined to give you the person you saw in the previous two chapters. It's a way to cut a corner. I wanted Vivenna to feel like she'd been on the streets for months, but for it only to have been a few weeks.
She is able to make her hair change colors again. This is a representation of the fact that she has started to pull out of the nightmare. She's slightly in control of her world again, and the roughest time for her has passed. There's also a clue in that hair, one that Vasher mentions. Because of it, and her heritage, and something very mysterious in the past, every member of the royal line has a fraction of a divine Returned Breath in them. That makes it much easier for them to learn to Awaken than a normal person.
Is is theoretically possible for someone to Awaken a set of chess pieces to play chess better than they themselves could?
Theoretically? Hm. I can think of theories that would make that happen, so technically, yes.
If an Awakener were born deaf, could they Command using sign language?
RAFO. He initially said yes, but then couldn't remember if he changed it or not, so changed it to RAFO.
The Divine Breath can be hid. Essentially, you have to view yourself NOT as a god at all, using a very specific bit of mental gymnastics. As a Returned, your body changes based on how you see yourself. (This, by the way, is an indication that Lightsong was more pleased with himself than he ever let on.)
You don't lose your Divine Breath, but it does go into hiding, making you look like a normal person. But you're still Returned, and are consuming a Breath at one a week. If you give away your other Breaths, you retain this hidden one, but your body will still consume its own spirit if left to do so. So you still need a Breath a week to survive, and will die the week you don't get one.
I left this as an intentional place to explore the magic in the sequel, which I had planned to be writing (and posting on my website) by the time Warbreaker was out in stores. The WoT has diverted me, and so I feel bad, since this ends up being a confusing question that a number of readers have had. The hints toward how this is working are very difficult to find. (The biggest one is probably in the opening, where Vasher thinks about how he could reach the Fifth Heightening instantly, if he wanted to.)
So, in Warbreaker, Awakened items have to emulate humans. Why is that?
It's a matter of perception on the people using the magic. And there are ramifications on the fact that the Shards themselves were all once humanoid.
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?
That... you'd need a lot of Investiture to Awaken a spike.
Because it's already charged up with something else?
Origin of Awakening as a Magic System
I never did write out in annotation form an explanation of where Awakening came from. I believe I talked about the origin of the term Awakening, but never the actual powers of the magic.
As I've said, I wanted to do something that had a very "vulgar magic" feel to it. Something gritty, dealing with the forms of people, like voodoo or hedge magics. I wanted to have something that reached back into our cultural unconscious, and something that dealt with necromancy in a new way.
Those are all pieces of the puzzle. Another piece, however, was the desire to do an animation magic—a magic focused around bringing inanimate objects to life on order to serve you. As I've said, it's very tough to come up with completely new powers nobody has written about or used (though I think I've got a few in store for The Way of Kings). However, a good magic system can be crafted from the interpretation of old powers used in new ways with interesting limitations and cultural connections.
I've seen people bring objects to life in books or movies, but I've never seen a formal magic system designed completely around it.
One of the other things I'm always looking for is new ways for people to gain their magical powers. As much as I like Mistborn, the "It's genetic and you're born with it" method of gaining magical abilities is just about the oldest and most commonly used way. It's used so much because it makes sense, and because it's easy to explain. Breath, and its transference, came from my desire to come up with something different—something that had an economic component, something that allowed anyone to become a magic user, but which still had limited resources so that not everyone could be one.
I'm still trying to innovate in this area, but I think my favorite part about Awakening is the concept of Breath and how it's transferred. It turns people into resources for the magic, but in a way I hadn't seen done before.
If you awaken an object, then give your breath away, can you reclaim the breath of that object?
Yes. (It allows for splitting up of breaths among those who have more experience.)
What would happen if an Allomancer burned Awakened metal?
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.
Vasher Awakens the Straw Figure
I love how intricate and delicate Vasher is in creating the straw figure. The little eyebrow is a nice touch, and forming the creature into the shape of a person has a nice resonance with our own world's superstitions.
Voodoo dolls, for instance. This is very common in tribal magics and shamanistic rituals—something in the figure of a person, or the figure of the thing it's supposed to affect, is often seen as being more powerful or more desirable. The same is said for having a drop of blood or a tiny piece of skin, even a piece of hair.
Those two things—making the doll in the shape of a man and using a bit of his own body as a focus—are supposed to create instant resonance in the magic for those reading it. I think it works, too. Unfortunately, there's a problem with this, much like with the colors above. In later chapters, the characters are generally powerful enough with the magic that they don't have to make things in human shape or use pieces of their own body as a focus.
If I were to write a sequel to the book (and I just might—more on this later) I'd want to get back to these two aspects of the magic. Talk about them more, maybe have characters who have smaller quantities of Breath, and so need to use these tricks to make their Awakening more powerful.
Anyway, this little scene threw all kinds of problems into the book. Later on, I had to decide if I wanted to force the characters to always make things into the shape of a person before Awakening them. That proved impossible, it was too limiting on the magic and interfered with action sequences. The same was true for using bits of their own flesh as focuses. It just didn't work.
I toyed with cutting these things from the prologue. (Again, they are artifacts from the short story I wrote, back when Awakening wasn't fully developed yet.) However, I like the resonance they give, and think they add a lot of depth to the magic system.
So I made them optional. They're things that you can do to make your Awakenings require fewer Breaths. That lets me have them for resonance, but not talk about them when I don't need them. I still worry that they set up false expectations for the magic, however.
[Question unknown, probably about how Vasher could give away Breaths.]
I talk about this in the annotations. But Denth was lying to Vivenna at that point.
You can split up breaths. You put some in an object first.
Can one give the Command, “divide and do thing X”, for Awakening? How many Breaths would it take to do something like a straw mannequin, how small could you get the pieces, how would you retrieve the Breath?
I’m afraid I would have to pull out my notes. I mean I wrote that book a few- 2006, and so we’re nine years away from me writing that magic system. I, I have it all in the notes, but I can’t off the top of my head rattle it off for you. People use Awakening so infrequently now in the cosmere, it’s just on the one planet with the occasional worldhopper, that I just go to my notes and get it out when I need it.
Can you awaken a Shardblade?
Can you Awaken a Shardblade? A Shardblade would already be defined as Awakened, by the magic systems.
And what about the Plate?
Plate would already be defined as probably too heavily Invested to Awaken because it already is.
Not necessarily. I read a lot and I like science and I like philosophy and I like and things like this. And those spark most of my ideas. So yes in a term but I'm not like "Let's do this subject".
I would say Warbreaker, the big part of Warbreaker is the idea of sympathetic magic. Which is the idea that like affects like, which is a very common type of magic throughout all cultures on the planet, on our planet. When people believe in magic they believe in sympathetic magic. A voodoo doll is sympathetic magic. And that's where the idea came from.
So, if a Type 4 BioChromatic entity like Nightblood was created with a different Command, would it still draw in or feed off of somebody's Breath when they drew it?
It is possible to create one that wouldn't. But it is a dangerous thing to do.
You're also famous for your magic systems, do you start with the effect you want to achieve or the mechanic you want to use?
It depends on each magic system, they're all different. Sometimes there's just a really interesting-- Mistborn's a good example of this. I built Mistborn because I wanted a different power for each thieving crew member and I had in the back of my mind a few cool powers to use, but others I just developed. I'd be like, alright, we need something for the fast-talker. So therefore you get the thieving-crew and the classic thieving-crew elements, and I wanted something to improve every one of them. So while I had the Pushing and Pulling already, because that was really interesting and I'd been working it out in my head, I didn't have all these powers set out for the team, so I developed those.
In other cases it's just, you know The Stormlight Archive started with the fundamental forces in physics and extrapolating outwards from them until I had ten fundamental forces because I wanted to do fantastical fundamental forces. So that one started in physics.
The magic for Warbreaker started because my editor called me, true story, and said "ah, after Mistborn and Elantris you've done some very dreary settings, very nice but very dreary, let's do something with more color in it". More color it is!