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Tor.com Q&A with Brandon Sanderson ()
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Maru Nui

What does aluminum do in Feruchemy? What does malatium do in Hemalurgy?

Brandon Sanderson

RAFO. We'll be releasing a chart eventually that includes all of the powers. I don't want to speak until I have everything nailed down exactly the way I want.

Tor.com Q&A with Brandon Sanderson ()
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Maru Nui

What happens when you break a Hemalurgic spike or metalmind? What happens to that power?

Brandon Sanderson

Hemalurgic power can be split among multiple spikes and reforged, but remember that the longer a spike is outside of a person, the more the power is going to decay. Things like splitting it will decay it even further. Metalminds can also be broken and still be accessed

/r/fantasy AMA 2013 ()
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Kurkistan

Does a limb that has been "severed" by a Shardblade have any Hemalurgic bindpoints? If the same limb was then cut off more conventionally, would a Bloodmaker ferring be able to grow it back?

Brandon Sanderson

A severed Shardblade limb needs repair to the soul before it would function again. A Bloodmaker would be able to heal it without needing to grow it back.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
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The_Second_Best

Are Feruchemists the Batman of the Cosmere? They can beat anyone with enough time to prep?

Brandon Sanderson

They are very versatile, but I'd say that Elantrians--on their home turf--could win in that department. They things they could do with enough preparation are even more impressive.

Arcanum Unbounded Seattle signing ()
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Questioner

Could a bloodmaker heal a Shardblade wound?

Brandon Sanderson

Could a...whatmaker? Oh, could a bloodmaker heal a Shardblade wound? Um, yes, yes they could. So, what...so, yes, this is possible. (Long pause) Is it possible? I haven't actually thought about it. I have to work through the mechanics of the magics. Jury's out. Jury's out. I've gotta go and look at the actual mechanics, so I'm gonna "jury's out" on that one. That's a read and find out as, you would think I'd figured that one out, because I'm planning for the conflicts but I haven't, like... So what's happening with the healing on Roshar is that they are using Stormlight to bridge the severed soul and glue it back together, right. So, the magic of bloodmaking is different to an extent, in that it is prompting healing directly from the body, right... I'm gonna go with yes, until I look at it but, jury's out.

Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
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kakarotoks

In Bands of Mourning, the Connection medallion is filled with "Blank Connection" and Marasi can't understand Allik when she puts it on, but how do you fill the medallion with Blank Connection in the first place? And could Allik fill the medallion with his own Connection so that when Marasi taps that non-blank Connection, she would understand him ? Or even better, if instead of tapping Connection, Marasi decided to fill the medallion with her own Connection, would she become 'blank' herself then get auto-connected to local land? If yes, then why would Allik need to tap Connection when using the medallion instead of just filling it, becoming blank and understanding her? Or would that make him not connected to anything and unable to understand anyone ?

Brandon Sanderson

All right, so I want to be very careful on this. I typed out my response, but I've sent it to Peter to double-check to get another set of eyes on it. Once we get into mechanisms like this, we're digging into the cosmere-equivalent of computers or complex circuits. I need to make sure another person is double-checking my work.

As a side note for the Sharders reading this, when I dodge these types of questions in physical Q&As, this is kind of the reason. It took me a good thirty minutes to dig into the mechanisms I've written out, re-read to reconfirm to myself I have the methods right, then write it out. And I still have to send it to Peter, just because there are a lot of complex nuances here.

Calderis

just looking to prod you about the "blank connection" answer you mentioned running by Peter last week

Brandon Sanderson

So, I sent my reply to Peter, and he said, "This works, but I don't think you should answer it yet, as it comes too close to revealing things for the next books." So that's a RAFO via Peter, one of the first that has come that way, at least through me.

kakarotoks

Hi, pinging you again as you requested to see if Peter ever replied to you.I've waited patiently for you to finish touring (and maybe this is the wrong time now with christmas right around the corner), but can /u/mistborn or /u/peterahlstrom answer that first question. Seeing as BS already spent 30 minutes writing the answer, it would be a shame if it was lost in the end.

Peter Ahlstrom

I responded to Brandon back in October, and we have an answer, but I'm not sure now is the best time to reveal it publicly. Sometimes Brandon decides to leave the mechanical reveals for the books.

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.

Stormlight Three Update #5 ()
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Argent

Can tapping enough Feruchemical zinc allow one to match Taravangian's intellect on the day he created the Diagram? Or are the effects different somehow?

Brandon Sanderson

The effects are similar, but not exactly the same. Zinc is speed of thought specifically--while what happens to Taravangian increases multiple types of intelligence, not just raw 'processing power' so to speak.

General Reddit 2013 ()
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Soronir

About Miles from Alloy of Law and his regenerative powers. If he was bisected down the middle and the halves were separated immediately before the healing process could begin, would the two halves each regrow into a whole Miles?

Brandon Sanderson

Good question. In all of the Cosmere's Shard-based magics, the greater portion of a bisected body regrows the lesser portion. If it were done EXACTLY halfway, the soul wold jump to one or the other randomly and that would regrow.

Amusingly, this first came up in 1999, six years before I got published. (I see someone else already mentioned the situation where I had to consider it.)

GenCon 2017 ()
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AugustDream

If you made a sword-shaped nicrosil metalmind, and dumped a lot of unkeyed Investiture into it, could you make a Nightblood-esque Shardblade? And if you actually didn't go to the trouble and just dumped a lot of keyed Investiture into it, would that change the outcome?

Brandon Sanderson

You're getting close to how this type of thing works but you're missing a few things. Keep working on it.

Skyward Seattle signing ()
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Questioner

What happens if there was a Feruchemist who was an Elantrian? Could they store Elantrian abilities into a nicrosil metalmind?

Brandon Sanderson

I'm RAFOing most of the stuff, but that one's a RAFO just because I am leaving nicrosil Feruchemy far away until I get there... I'm basically RAFOing everything about Investiture and Connection metalminds and things like that...

/r/Fantasy_Bookclub Alloy of Law Q&A ()
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Cheese_Ninja

One question, two parts: If a double nicrosil Twinborn started Compounding and storing Investiture in a nicrosilmind, could they do something cool by tapping a whole huge bunch at once? And since Scadrialians have both Ruin and Preservation in them, could they store both those qualities in a one nicrosilmind, or would it require two different ones?

Brandon Sanderson

Ha. All things regarding Investiture (particularly in regards to Feruchemy) are instant RAFOs at this point, I'm afraid. I've got to save SOME things for future books.

Calamity Seattle signing ()
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Questioner

So nicrosil.  Wax couldn’t use a blank gold metalmind because he’s not a gold ferring, why can he use a blank nicrosil metalmind?

Brandon Sanderson

So this will all come out eventually but the idea is there are certain ways to connect yourself to magic, to hack the magic and make it think you have the Spiritual DNA that you don’t actually have.  And this is one of the ways.

Questioner

So then the people who made this medallion have this thing that a regular nicrosil Ferring couldn’t--

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, you’re picking up on it. We’ll dig deeper into it as the series progresses.

MisCon 2018 ()
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Brainless

So if you jumped off a high place and you were a steel Feruchemist, could you store the speed of you falling?

Brandon Sanderson

No, because-- I'm going to say you need to be moving under your own-- because otherwise it's all relative, right? If you're falling, it's no different than if you're traveling on the planet or things like that.

Glamdring804

So it's related more to muscle contractions.

Brandon Sanderson

*hesitantly* Yes, kind of. Feruchemy bends all sorts of weird things, ever since I started doing the weight one. So, yes.

Brainless

The thing about Feruchemy is it feels like you could be like a savant short of it, but it would be much more minor than something like a savant for-- It would be more things like what you could get for exercise and stuff like that.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah. Yeah, that's possible.

Utah Humanities Book Festival ()
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dougpgc (paraphrased)

I asked him if a feruchemist were to visit Earth and tap Duralumin, could they do something as involved as talk local sports with someone?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

No -- when you trick your spirit into thinking it's from where you're currently tapping, it's not a full transformation, like Sel-ish magic making a copy.. It doesn't just fill your head with things from the place you're visiting.

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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Satsuoni

How is heat a mental attribute in Feruchemy?

Brandon Sanderson

Because I messed up. I don't know if I've mentioned this before, but that power was supposed to be swapped with another one. (You might be able to guess which one.) However, by the time I realized my mistake, it had already been canonized in print in the trilogy, so I was stuck with it. I've been tempted to go back and correct the error, but it reaches pretty far back. People drawing upon warmth is mentioned in the first book. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that in general the 'physical, mental, etc' things are applied by people--they are boxes that people investigating the magic have used to describe it.

Salt Lake City ComicCon 2017 ()
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Questioner

I've got a Mistborn question for you. So, Identity? Can you store, like-- is your physical appearance part of your Identity?

Brandon Sanderson

It is to some people. To most people, it's a part of it, yes.... I don't know the answer-- don't take that as "You can store that." and things like that. It's involved. There are certain things you can do. But it's not as simple as it might have sounded, what I just implied.

Questioner

So, does that apply to your Identity, if you're in the Cognitive Realm? Or the Physical Realm? Can you store that?

Brandon Sanderson

The reason you look like you do in the Cognitive Realm is because it's Identity, things like that. I'm not gonna talk about specifically how storing that works really. Although there is the idea that your soul is the key to Investiture and stuff like that.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
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JediofChrist

In Alloy, there are those who use both Allomancy and Feruchemy. However, I recall Sazed in The Hero of Ages stating that he believed he was the last surviving Feruchemist (I think he may have said "Keeper"?). Was he incorrect in his assumption of being the last Feruchemist (based on the fact that people use Feruchemy in Alloy) or could Feruchemy have been recessive in some Terris people?

Brandon Sanderson

It was most certainly recessive. But the specific way Sazed speaks there is important.

17th Shard Forum Q&A ()
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Thoughtful Spurts

If there's really no upper limit to Feruchemy for practical reasons* , why didn't Sazed just fill steel at ridiculous levels for a few minutes in [Well of Ascension], and then go back to running instead of leaving his steelminds there? Say, being some 100,000 times slower than he would normally be for about a minute. Meaning that a Feruchemist should be able to fill a given metalmind in very short periods of time if you fill at a high enough rate.

*(yes, you have the limit of how much you can store in a given metalmind and for how many metalminds you can carry on your person, but those are probably too high to really be taken into account in more "normal" circumstances)

Brandon Sanderson

The low end is bounded. You can pull out tons--but in filling, you can only go so far. I didn't ever explicitly talk about this in the series, but the implications are there. Not all have the same bounds, but in your example, the body just can't slow beyond a certain point. Think of it this way--you can only fill a weight metalmind with as much weight as you have to give. So you can become very, very light--but you only add to a time for doubling your weight. You can't make yourself 100,000 times slower and gain 100,000 times multiplication. You can give up all of your normal speed, and so when you tap that speed out you are at 200% for an equal period. (And that's a theoretical maximum; realistically, you can only go to down around 75% slower or the like.)

Shadows of Self release party ()
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Nethseäar

If you were to Hemalurgically give a fallen Elantrian Feruchemic gold, would they be able to store Health?

Brandon Sanderson

A fallen Elantrian store Health-- And you gave them a Hemalurgic spike-- That’s a good question, I would think-- *long pause* You know I think they would not be able to, that’s an excellent question.

Nethseäar

Would it suddenly store up the moment they were restored?

Brandon Sanderson

No, it would not suddenly recover everything. Unless you wanted to channel-- You could do some goofy things but it would kinda ruin their connection to the Dor. But I don’t think it would suddenly-- Y’know. You might be able to do something where you steal it away from them, that could possibly happen. If they were spiked while they were full Elantrian you could probably get more out of them than your average person.

General Reddit 2019 ()
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mikkomikk

It just stores wakefulness right? I don't think it gives you the actual benefits of a good night's sleep. So after an extended period of bronze Compounding, your body will start deteriorating and eventually die.

Brandon Sanderson

Bronze Compounding will indeed let you never have to sleep. /u/mikkomikk as a good theory, as I haven't really talked about this, and that might be the way to theorize without more info--but it was designed to let people go without sleep, and does give benefits of a good night's sleep.

ElTigreChang1

Alternatively, could you compound copper for a supernatural sleeping aid? or would that just lead to accidentally sleeping for 16 hours

Brandon Sanderson

Copper? I don't see that working, I'm afraid. Did you mean bronze?

You could fill bronze to sleep. (This is actually the very first power for Mistborn I imagined, back in highschool. Wishing, as an insomniac, I could sleep when I wanted to and be rested when I wanted to.)

Starsight Release Party ()
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Questioner

There are Allomantic savants, are there Feruchemical savants?

Brandon Sanderson

Much harder to do. My feeling on Feruchemical savants was because it was your own power in the first place, you can't steep in it so much in the way. But, if you can get someone else's power or if you are fueling your Feruchemy another way, you would become one. So, the Lord Ruler is a good example.

Questioner

Was Miles a...

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah. Miles would be the same sort of thing.

Questioner

Is that why he didn't die as quickly in the execution?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

So yeah. Normally no but if you can Compound you become... basically that is how I am explaining part of the Compounding abilities. 

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Twenty-Two

The Last Feruchemist?

Sazed is likely not the last Feruchemist. The Lord Ruler tried for a long time to breed Feruchemy out of the population, and it's highly unlikely that now the power would simply vanish because the living Feruchemists were killed. The genetic trait is still there, suppressed in the population, but it would eventually resurface.

That's not to say that the loss of the Synod wasn't a blow. That many living Feruchemists suddenly killed would wipe out a large segment of the population who could have bred Feruchemy true. However, the fact that many of the Synod were eunuchs made their usefulness in that regard less important.

Remember, however, that Sazed is struggling with depression. It's easier for him to see things in a depressing light than it is to see them in a positive light.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
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Yata

If a Ferring creates a metalmind and then loses his power (for example through Hemalurgy), could he still use his previous-made metalmind ?

Brandon Sanderson

No, he could not. And, unfortunately, the person who stole a bit of his soul would probably be keyed with enough Identity to use his metalmind. :( (This is uncertain, though, based on how much of the soul got ripped off, and how much the spike has decayed.)

Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
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WritesGeekyStuff

1) What is the name for a Tineye/Archivist Twinborn?

2) How would copper compounding work for a double copper Twinborn? Would you relive the memories stored in the burned copperminds extra vividly?

Brandon Sanderson

1) I'm not ready to open the floodgates for giving names to each twinborn combination yet. So RAFO.

2) Another RAFO here. I'll delve into these ideas when/if I do this combination in a book series.

Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
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MoriWillow

When a Steelrunner taps speed, does it work by breaking the laws of motion, letting their speed be higher than it should be when considering their kinetic energy during movement or the force they impart upon impact with something (and inversely while storing)?

Brandon Sanderson

A lot of [Feruchemy] breaks the laws of thermodynamics, and this is indeed an example.

DragonCon 2019 ()
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DoritoJH

So, AonDor is super versatile and powerful.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, but region-locked!

DoritoJH

Yes, it is region locked, exactly. If a full Feruchemist using nicrosil were to create an unlocked medallion that allowed an Elantrian to store Connection to Elantris' location, would it let them use AonDor at full power as long as they were tapping that Connection?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. That should work just fine.

...

Just understand that the medallion's going to have to be usable by everyone in order to work. You're going to have to jump through some hoops, but I think what you want there would work. And for those of you listening, that would be the harder way to unlock AonDor. There are easier methods.

Shadows of Self San Jose signing ()
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Questioner

Is there any real difference between Steelrunners and Sliders? It seems like that could be sort of similar class--

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah. But different.

--Sliders have the bubble around them, but...

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. They work similarly, the big difference is you're seeing the limitations of Allomancy versus Feruchemy. Where Feruchemy there upper limit is unbounded, but you have really much more distinct cost and that can be stored up. You see that these have a different kind of cost to them, but I would call them the same category of thing, it's just the Feruchemy can be way more powerful. Except its limited by how much you store up.

Orem signing ()
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Mason Wheeler

It seems that taking something metal that is Invested and melting it down, and reforging it, does not destroy the Investiture in it. For example the spike that got turned into a bullet.

Brandon Sanderson

Well, and the-- yeah. There are other examples as well.

Mason Wheeler

If that doesn't ruin its Invested nature, what would happen if Wax were to take one of his ironminds, have that melted and alloyed into steel, and then tried to burn it?

Brandon Sanderson

So you are saying mixing in-- right. Um, this would probably not work. But I'd have to go to the document on this one, because I've theorized in it. So I'm going to say probably won't work, but I have to go to my document, so Notes And Find Out. As soon as we get into the really detailed-- One of the things I want, even when I was building the Mistborn magics, is I wanted it to get really complicated. Because, my philosophy was making a wheel is easy to understand what's going on. Making a car uses all the same physics and simple tools, but is infinitely--well, you know, not infinitely--hugely more complex. Making a spaceship goes beyond that. And I wanted when we dug into all the actual mechanics it all works, but it's like the difference between making an abacus and making a computer. And we're starting to stray-- not into computer-making realms, but starting tjo stray into combustion-making realms, and so these are the sort of things that I just can't talk about off the cuff as easily. Because I have this document and I'm like "this, this, this, this." Does that makes sense?

So I'm going to say that probably wouldn't work. I believe what is going to happen there is you're probably going to end up with one of these things where you see a reservoir there but you can't access it that happens quite a bit when things get muddled once you mix in other metals and things like that. But I can't give you 100% on that without the notes to double check myself.

Oathbringer Houston signing ()
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Questioner

I'm just curious about Steelrunners. I have to ask, assuming they have physical limitations?

Brandon Sanderson

They do. We can't go Speed Force on this sort of thing. Wind resistance is still a thing, and stuff like that.

Questioner

Bodily, their bodies--

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah. So, most magic in the cosmere will strengthen your body to let you use the magic to an extent, but-- Yeah, there's some pretty strong limitations.

Questioner

If you had a steel/steel Twinborn racing a pewter/steel, would you say that the pure steel, or the pewter burning to enhance their body-- in a short race?

Brandon Sanderson

Who would win? Probably pewter then, at that point. I would have to have Peter-- I wouldn't do it myself, make Peter run the math, and see what he comes up with. Those are the sort of things I go to him with.