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Shadows of Self Lansing signing ()
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Blaze1616

Fabrials and AonDor. In Elantris you mention there’s Tia plates that let people teleport around the city. Could an Elantrian essentially make portable fabrials using a similar method as the Aon Tia plates?

Brandon Sanderson

*hesitantly* Yes, that is within the possibility of what it can do. The problem is the further you get from Elantris, the weaker the magic, so they’re going to be really limited in distance. But yes, totally could. And you could probably get them working through most of that region.

DragonCon 2019 ()
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Questioner

Could someone use a [seon] or skaze to build a fabrial and what would that do?

Brandon Sanderson

It depends on how you define fabrial. If you define fabrial as trapping a sapient Splinter in a gemstone--I guess they don't all have to be sapient--they can all--flamespren and stuff like that--so if you define it as capturing a spren in a gemstone, could you capture a seon in a gemstone, and I would say, yes. The fabrial--what it will do is going to depend on a whole lot of factors--how you build fabrials even sometimes have to do with... Some of the fabrials don't care as much what the Splinter piece is. Obviously a heating fabrial or something like that does. Other ones, it's not as related.

So I would say what the power of the Aon in the seon is, would influence what kind of fabrial you could make from it. Good question, excellent question, I've never been asked it before.

FAQFriday 2017 ()
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Questioner

How did you come up with The Stormlight Archive's gem magic/technology?

Brandon Sanderson

One of the things to keep in mind is I that developed this book before Mistborn was published. I do wonder if sometimes people are going to say, "Oh, he did metals before, and now he's doing crystals." But the thoughts arose quite independently in my head. You may know that there is a unifying theory of magic for all of my worlds--a behind-the-scenes rationale. Like a lot of people believe there's unifying theory of physics, I have a unifying theory of magic that I try to work within in order to build my worlds. As an armchair scientist, believing in a unifying theory helps me. I'm always looking for interesting ways that magic can be transferred, and interesting ways that people can become users of magic. I don't want just to fall into expected methodologies. If you look at a lot of fantasy--and this is what I did in Mistborn so it's certainly not bad; or if it is, I'm part of the problem--a lot of magic is just something you're born with. You're born with this special power that is either genetic or placed upon you by fate, or something like that. In my books I want interesting and different ways of doing that. That's why in Warbreaker the magic is simply the ability to accumulate life force from other people, and anyone who does that becomes a practitioner of magic. 

In The Way of Kings, I was looking for some sort of reservoir. Essentially, I wanted magical batteries, because I wanted to take this series toward developing a magical technology. The first book only hints at this, in some of the art and some of the things that are happening. There's a point where one character's fireplace gets replaced with a magical device that creates heat. And he's kind of sad, thinking something like, "I liked my hearth, but now I can touch this and it creates heat, which is still a good thing." But we're seeing the advent of this age, and therefore I wanted something that would work with a more mystical magic inside of a person and that could also form the basis for a mechanical magic. That was one aspect of it. Another big aspect is that I always like to have a visual representation, something in my magic to show that it's not all just happening abstractly but that you can see happen. I loved the imagery of glowing gemstones. When I wrote Mistborn I used Burning metals--metabolizing metals--because it's a natural process and it's an easy connection to make. Even though it's odd in some ways, it's natural in other ways; metabolizing food is how we all get our energy. The idea of a glowing object, illuminated and full of light, is a natural connection for the mind to make: This is a power source; this is a source of natural energy. And since I was working with the highstorms, I wanted some way that you could trap the energy of the storm and use it. The gemstones were an outgrowth of that.

New York Comic Con 2022 ()
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Skrimyt

Can Transportation-based fabrials be used to achieve Physical Realm FTL, faster-than-light?

Brandon Sanderson

This is theoretically possible, yes. Basically, I am pushing toward competing methods of FTL in the space age, and Roshar is one of the ones that has access to being potentially able to do that.

Steelheart Portland signing ()
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Joshstormblessed (paraphrased)

What is the stone that Gavilar gave to Szeth before he died?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Good question, there are clues to what it is. (I'm going to try to get this answer right) if you decode [Navani's notebook] in the beginning of The Way of Kings you will find some significant clues to what the stone is. The [notebook] has already been decoded over at the 17th shard but I've never confirmed that those clues are in fact there. So go tell the 17th shard I confirmed that and they will love you for it. 

YouTube Spoiler Stream 5 ()
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ParshendiOfRhuidean

If an [attractor] fabrial is blocked by aluminum in a certain direction, will the attraction bend around the aluminum or does it work purely off line of sight?

Brandon Sanderson

Oh man... *mumbling* *sigh* All right. This could bend around aluminum. I believe. So. CAN bend around aluminum. Which would allow you to do some cool things. Yeah. That is, I believe... the aluminum is going to set up a big patch of... an interference pattern. Like, imagine it's going to make a shadow. How about that. That's a really good example. It'll bend around the corners like light is going to bend around a corner to a similar extent. Hopefully that helps in your theorizing.

Dragonsteel 2023 ()
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Questioner

Suppression fabrials. They don't work above the Fourth Ideal for Radiants, but they work on all Fused. Why?

Brandon Sanderson

Fused have, in general, a smaller amount of Investiture—or access to a smaller amount of Investiture—than a Radiant of those oaths. That's the dividing line that you can use to figure that out.

Stormlight Three Update #4 ()
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ebilutionist

Regarding Soulcasting, I have a question - why do people continue to use it post-Recreance? Would it not have been seen as a betrayal, given that the Radiants abandoned them? Why this Surge but not others? Was it simply the only Surge available and people would have kept using the others anyway? I guess it's a matter of practicality but given how devout Vorinism can be it does seem odd.

Brandon Sanderson

Good question. You'll notice that Soulcasters aren't the only fabrial that access a Surge, however. They're just the one most commonly used.

There are plenty of rationalizations. But it comes down to this: they are too useful to give up.

ebilutionist

Ah yes, now that I think of it Navani's conjoined-gem fabrials seem to utilize Gravitation and perhaps the heating one uses Abrasion(?) to produce heat. Or are there others I did miss?

Brandon Sanderson

I was referencing a Regrowth fabrial, actually, which I believe has appeared several times.

ebilutionist

Isn't the Regrowth fabrial incredibly rare? I was under the impression it disappeared with the Recreance and only Nin's reappearance brought it back. AFAIK, only a Radiant in Dalinar's vision and a Herald have actually used it so far.

Brandon Sanderson

Their rarity depends on the time period in question. But yes, I'd list them as incredibly rare.

General Twitter 2018 ()
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barrens chat

In Oathbringer, Dalinar thinks to himself "He couldn't write to them of course, but he could flip the reed on and off to send signals, an old generals trick for when you lacked a scribe." But I thought spanreeds were a relatively new invention? Thoughts?

Peter Ahlstrom

"Old" is relative.

Oathbringer San Francisco signing ()
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FirstSelector

So, do you have a name, like an in-world name for a large magical construction, like the things that picks Elantrians?

Brandon Sanderson

That was why I invented the term "fabrial." It will become widespread eventually, as the term for meaning, kind of, magic-type devices in the cosmere. That's not what you call it right now, but you can start calling them all fabrials.

FirstSelector

But what about something that isn't, like-- I always imagined that Aona left, like, a device, a magical device running--

Brandon Sanderson

I will have to RAFO that.

Oathbringer Leeds signing ()
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Questioner 1

Do all Soulcasters risk turning into the element or is it only those using the device?

Brandon Sanderson

All Soulcasters have an affinity but the ones using the device are locked down much more than the Soulcasters who are Knights Radiant.

Questioner 1

So they are protected from being turned into--

Brandon Sanderson

Oh no they-- I wouldn't say protected... *clarification* Protected is the wrong term but that event, the savanthood and how it affects them and things like that is much less pronounced if you are a [Knight].

Questioner 1

Or is that counteracted by the healing as well?

Brandon Sanderson

Healing doesn't have to do with it because-- in cosmere terms there's nothing wrong with your body, your spirit is actually drifting, and so it's not hurting you physically by what's happening with the magics. So it's not the healing but if you have an active bond with a spren it takes a little different path. Let's just say, in simple terms--

Questioner 1

You are not losing body parts to smoke.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, you are not losing body parts to smoke. 

Questioner 1

What timeframe does it happen for the normal Soulcasters then?

Brandon Sanderson

For normal Soulcasters? It takes-- I mean, you've seen it happening in the books. We are talking [about] a process of years even decades, depending on the person. It happens to some--

Questioner 2

Depending on how often they Soulcast?

Brandon Sanderson

It depends on how often they Soulcast, and it depends on the person. 

Barnes and Noble Book Club Q&A ()
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BenFoley

One common theme in magic systems across fantasy is the use of artifacts to focus, increase or do something specific with the magic. Inclusion of artifacts is something you have avoided in your magic systems (although I will say I haven't missed them). Is there a reason for this? How has your writing changed with the 'forced' introduction of artifacts (i.e. finishing the Wheel of Time)? Do you plan on using artifacts in your own works after you finish the Wheel of Time?

Brandon Sanderson

I've not done artifacts for the same reason I've not yet done a lot of things—not because I don't want to, but because I like to keep the focus in a given book or books. There wasn't room for yet another extrapolation in that direction when writing the Mistborn books, and the magic system didn't really allow for it.

However, I think there is a lot of room to explore magic artifacts. I've long been wanting to do something that refines magic and uses technology based on it, in kind of a magic-punk sort of way. Kings, for instance, does use artifacts and magical items—very specific kinds, mind you, that are built into the framework of the magic system. But they're there. One of the big elements of this world will be the existence of Shardplate (magically enhanced, powered plate armor) and Shardblades (large, summonable swords designed to cut through steel and stone.)

This isn't really because of the WoT—I wrote the original draft of this book long before I was published, let alone working on the WoT—but I have always lilked the use of artifacts in the WoT world, and it has been fun to use some of them in that setting.

Paris signing ()
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Demiandre (paraphrased)

I wondered about Shallan's eidetic memory, and about the possibility of trapping a spren. Could a bonded spren be trapped inside a gemstone and trapped in a safe? If so, would something else - not Investiture related - fill the "crack in the soul"? Could that be linked to her memory or her need to draw before Lightweaving?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

In and about, he answered that what Shallan does isn't out of the ordinary, and it is possible to trap a bonded spren inside a gemstone.

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.

Starsight Release Party ()
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Pod

You’ve said that you would call Surgebinding, Voidbinding, and fabrials the three magics on Roshar. Would it be more accurate to say that Surgebinding followed and emulated fabrials and/orthe possibility of fabrials or vice versa?

Brandon Sanderson

 Vice versa. Fabrials are... generally, Surgebinders first, fabrials second. 

Pod

So you couldn’t have done fabrials when it was just Adonalsium. 

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, before the [Shattering]? *deep in thought mmming*

Pod

Would the spren have still been able to do Surges then?

Brandon Sanderson

I would say... no. No, Adonalsium probably would not have let that happen. You could theoretically do it, if Adonalsium allowed it. 

Pod

He had boundaries against it. 

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. So, I would say no. 

General Reddit 2020 ()
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Claincy

I've been thinking for a while about the presentation of disability and chronic pain in Brandon's books and I reread a bunch of them recently and ended up with a lot of thoughts. I wrote a letter/email to Brandon trying to provide a little insight and I think it might be worth sharing here as well.

Brandon Sanderson

This is exactly the kind of feedback that is useful for writers to hear. I try to do the best I can, but I can always do better. I particularly like how you outlined some of the traps/tropes authors fall into, because those are exactly the things that are super helpful for me to read. (And similar lists have helped me a lot with my writing in other areas.)

I don't want to say much more than that, because I don't want to imply your perspective is invalid. (It most certainly is.) But I do want to mention that I pay a lot of attention this kind of issue, and there is a fine line to walk. Many things having to do with disability have a bit controversy surrounding them similar to the cochlear implant one--where the community itself can be very divided at what they want to happen, and what they want to see happen in fiction.

I consider it my job to listen, particularly to well-reasoned and passionate arguments like yours. But I do need to note that there are arguments on the other side that I do also listen to. And I personally--from all the many things I've read and the time I've spent pondering it--do not currently consider curing of physical aliments with magic to be inherently problematic. I DO consider it to be a difficult issue, and recognize your feelings, which are completely valid. If healing people of disability in the real world is difficult and full of touchy subjects, with a variety of opinions, then it certainly is valid to consider it so in fantasy!

My goal is always to try to depict the varieties of different human experience and opinions. And, indeed, one of my goals with Rysn is to specifically have a character to contrast someone like Lopen--who falls (as you have noted) on a different side of the argument.

But, to be honest, I don't even consider the healing of mental disabilities with magic to be inherently problematic. (Speed of Dark, an excellent science fiction novel, is about a cure for autism--and is done brilliantly.) I do run into a lot of people who really like that I don't let Stormlight heal most mental illness--but I'd say I've run into an equal number of people with depression who wish that I would let it do so, and have told me they'd take a cure for depression without hesitation if one gets invented. (Indeed, there are many who do a great deal to medically to try just this.)

What I would say is that I need to be careful not to present one idea as the only valid response to these sorts of things. You're absolutely right that there is a perspective I need to be careful not to invalidate, and tropes I can be harmful in perpetuating if I don't watch myself. (My sister in law has chronic fatigue, and yeah--the number of people who told her if she was just stronger-willed, she'd get past it, is huge.)

I will be very careful with the Rysn novella. (And we do these days try very hard to have specific readers who have disabilities like the ones I depict. It is my plan to do this here.) And I'll keep your post handy as I revise, as I think it will be helpful.

[deleted]

I would strongly urge you with Renarin in particular to not do some sort of "cure" storyline and to leave him as autistic. I feel that the story would be better off with that and would most probably do more good that way.

Brandon Sanderson

I have no intention of "curing" Renarin, as I agree with your points here--but I really appreciate you mentioning them. We are aligned on this idea. I used Speed of Dark as an example of how a theoretical cure could be used in a story in a non-problematic way. (In that story, a cure is invented, and the story is entirely about the ramifications of it--and the dangers. It is a highlight of why I think Science Fiction is important. Asking the question, "What if?" before something happens in real life gives us a lot of questions, ideas, and concerns to work on as a society in preparation for such events.)

That said, that is a book that specifically deals with this idea. My intention for the Stormlight Archive, and Renarin specifically, is to explore him as a character. Not to change him into someone else.

Claincy

I was wondering if we'd see assistive devices using fabrials in future stormlight books? I think there might be a lot of in-world potential with fabrials in wheelchairs, prosthetics and other assistive devices as that technology progresses.

Brandon Sanderson

Dawnshard actually has Rysn looking at fabrials and wondering if those could be of use in the way you're indicating here. I think you'll be pleased with the result.

Tel Aviv Signing ()
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Questioner

In the Lighthouse, it seems that it's almost like a fabrial, but not quite, because obviously, it's not a spren, obviously. So, is it like the Cognitive equivalent of what that would be?

Brandon Sanderson

So, what specifically are you talking about? Not the light itself, but the thing that Kaladin sees and stuff like that?

Questioner

Yeah.

Brandon Sanderson

No, I wouldn't say that it is. So, I would go a different direction on that.

YouTube Spoiler Stream 3 ()
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kvancleeff21

What was the fabrial used by Nale to completely revive Szeth at the end of Words of Radiance? That seems like an immensely powerful fabrial, and I don’t think it has been mentioned since.

Brandon Sanderson

During the last days of the heights of the Knights Radiant, they were figuring out how to replicate most Radiant abilities with fabrials. This is where... the Oathgates as a guide for that sort of thing. So you're just seeing a fabrial that can replicate what an Edgedancer does, or a Truthwatcher. There were fabrials created that could do this for all ten Surges. Okay, nine of the ten Surges. Bondsmithing is its own weird thing, as usual. So yes, it's a very valuable fabrial to have, and that is why you haven't seen much more of it because it is in the hands of the Skybreakers, and we aren't spending a lot of time with the Skybreakers. But yeah, it is a thing they have. And there are fabrials that can replicate the other eight as well. You've seen several of them in the books already.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
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sonofstannis

At the end of Words of Radiance, does Nale resurrect Szeth using the stormlight obtained from Lift earlier in the novel or does he have another method?

Brandon Sanderson

Nale uses the same power, but has a specific hack that lets him accomplish it, when he otherwise would not be able to.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
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RobotAztec

can spren go thru walls like ghosts too?

Brandon Sanderson

Depends on the spren, and how strongly they've been pulled into the physical realm.

RobotAztec

so the ones that cant are the ones people can trap in gems for fabriels?

do they catch them with big butterfly nets and thrwo a gem into the netting? or is it like pokemon where they just throw gems and hope they hit??

Brandon Sanderson

Ha. No, neither one. This is a RAFO, I'm afraid.

General Reddit 2020 ()
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MoriWillow

Hello, I was hoping to find out whether some stuff I found vague in RoW was supposed to be vague or not.

In part one, Navani says that some of the fabrials they found in Urithiru worked in ways they understood, but had "spren trapped in Shadesmar" (which by the end we know refers to spren that have manifested as a fabrial), with Soulcasters being the only ones that confuse her.

Is the intent here supposed to be for us to make the connection that the older fabrials they found use the different types of metals used in modern fabrials? Or is it supposed to be vague how exactly they compare for now?

Brandon Sanderson

The confusion here is that Navani didn't realize that Soulcasters were a version of something like a Shardblade. She thought that by seeing spren in Shadesmar, it meant that the soulcasters had somehow trapped a spren--but they didn't seem to be trapped in a gemstone anywhere in the physical realm. This is what bugged her.

It's less about the metal, and more about "where is the trapped spren? I know it's there--I can see it in Shadesmar."

MoriWillow

Does this mean that all the old manifested spren fabrials, like the attractors and conjoiners they found in Urithiru and were able to improve, had weird metals like Soulcasters and it was just their identifiable functions that kept them from being confusing?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, that is correct. (This was regarding old manifested fabrials having weird metals as part of them.)

Words of Radiance Philadelphia signing ()
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Questioner

I'm guessing it's a RAFO, but why do Honorblades work the way they do?

Brandon Sanderson

Honorblades were crafted before Shardblades existed...

Questioner

So they were crafted.

Brandon Sanderson

They were crafted before Shardblades existed, and all Shardblades that exist came about as certain individuals trying to find out how to copy Honorblades.

Questioner

So would it be fair to say that Honorblades are analagous to fabrials in some sense? Trap spren in a crystal yada yada Stormlight power?

Brandon Sanderson

There is an analogy there, that I think would pass the SAT's rigor for analogies.

YouTube Spoiler Stream 4 ()
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gaberz24

In the Coppermind article for fabrials, under the trivia section it reads:

The term "fabrial" will eventually come to be used for all magic-based, mechanical devices in the cosmere, such as the mechanism that picks Elantrians.

Was there a mechanical device that controlled the Shaod?

Brandon Sanderson

Something's going on there, I'm not gonna dig too deeply into that. I'm gonna RAFO that. Continue your theorizing however you'd like. That is not where I expected that question to go.

Adam Horne

Do you wanna say where you were expecting it to go?

Brandon Sanderson

No, I mean... The medallions in Mistborn would be considered fabrials by most arcanists, once the era that they are aware of these things is all happening. That's an awkward way to say it. In future era cosmere, the scholars would point and say, "oh yeah, there were some early fabrials happening on Scadrial at that time." That's the terminology they would use.

FAQFriday 2017 ()
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Questioner

Are Hemalurgic spikes fabrials? Is a body that has been spiked a fabrial? Are koloss and kandra also something similar?

Brandon Sanderson

No, actually.

Fabrial means specifically a bit of Investiture that has been trapped by a gemstone and then modified to do something else. Hemalurgy is its own thing--though there is a slight similarity. In most Hemalurgy, Investiture keyed to the Identity of someone (a bit of a soul) is ripped off, and then magically grafted onto someone else's soul. Not the same, though I can see the confusion.

Koloss and kandra are similar, though in this case, the soul is mostly just being distorted by using an Invested spike. In the cosmere, the body will attempt to match the soul, and so a twisted soul (Spiritual aspect of a person) can have profound effects on both mind and body.

San Diego Comic-Con@Home 2020 ()
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Questioner

We know that Soulcaster savants exist and Radiants are protected by the Nahel bond but not immune to becoming one. Can all Surges cause becoming a savant?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, they could.

Questioner

Can other fabrials, such as the one that takes away pain and the one that offers Regrowth, cause some sort of savanthood?

Brandon Sanderson

Those, I'll explain the distinction in Rhythm of War. I get deep into the fabrial science. There is a big distinction between those fabrials and Soulcasters that will become manifest. Let's say that what happens to Soulcasters is more likely to cause savanthood and the side effects.