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Hero of Ages Q&A - Time Waster's Guide ()
#3 Copy

Comatose

So here's my last question. If there ARE people on the other side of the world, did Vin kill them all by placing the sun on their side, or do they have they're own Ruin/Preservation battle going on over there as well? Do they also have allomancy feruchemy and hemalurgy?

Brandon Sanderson

No, they're not dead. Yes, Rashek was aware of them. In fact, he placed them there as a reserve. I knew he wanted a 'control' group of people in case his changes to genetics ended with the race being in serious trouble. All I'll say is that he found a way other than changing them genetically to help them survive in the world he created. And since they were created by Ruin and Preservation, they have the seeds of the Three Metallic Arts in them—though without anyone among them having burned Lerasium, Allomancers would have been very rare in their population and full Mistborn unheard of.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
#8 Copy

SageOfTheWise

Is there a reason why Rashek left a nugget of Lerasium at the Well of Ascension?

Brandon Sanderson

He left several. It was, in his opinion, one of the best kept secrets and best protected locations in his empire.

Phantine

Were there originally 16 of them?

Brandon Sanderson

An excellent guess.

Oathbringer Chicago signing ()
#10 Copy

Questioner

So, in Allomancy, most of the metals are in pairs, they're equal and opposite, pushing and pulling, Rioting, Soothing, that kind of thing. The god metals have always-- lerasium and atium, have always struck me as kind of unbalanced in a way. Like, lerasium gives you the power to use all these metals, plus atium being one of them. Is there a reason for that?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, there is, and it kinda has to do with Snapping and some of the fundamental rules of the Mistborn world and the fact that people have Preservation and Ruin inside of them and all these sorts of things. So, the answer is yes.

Partially, narratively, I built that in partially just 'cause I wanted atium to seem odd in the placement, right, when people got to it it's like "What? Why is this one-- This one doesn't match the others. This doesn't really work." When I was building Mistborn, one of the big things I wanted was this idea of a periodic table that was, kind of a flawed construct, that, as you read the books, you came to understand better and better. And that was something I executed-- I don't think I executed that 100% right, but I'm pleased with the general concept and how it plays out. And so I wanted atium to stick out like a sore thumb.

The other thing is, I knew I needed some good foreshadowing for Fortune, for people being able to kinda see the future or versions of the future, for the whole cosmere to work. And, so, I built in atium specifically to do those things. And I built in lerasium to have, kind of, the ultimate sort of benevolent endowment sort of thing. (Not Endowment the Shard, you know what I mean.) But I also wanted to show these two magics were intrinsically tied together on Scadrial because the way that humankind was created. We're getting into some deep stuff, I'll just leave it there. But that was what was going through my mind as I was building those things all out. 

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
#12 Copy

CPiGuy2728

What would happen to someone who burned an alloy of Lerasium and lead? Would they a) gain Mistborn powers and a splitting headache from trying to burn lead, b) gain Mistborn powers and no splitting headache, c) just get the splitting headache, d) gain the ability to burn lead without a splitting headache, or e) die of lead poisoning?

Brandon Sanderson

This is a RAFO, not because I want to imply that lead has some big secret to it, but because I don't want to dig into the mechanics of Lerasium right now--and I don't want to kick off more questions like this at the moment.

Salt Lake City signing ()
#14 Copy

Questioner

I've got a list of various Cosmere bits of metal and I was wondering if you would rank them from like one to ten or just easy to difficult on how hard it would be to steelpush on them. So with one being just a regular coin, ten being like when the Lord Ruler was moving bits of glass on the floor, so like metal inside a person's body.

Brandon Sanderson

It depends on how strong the Investiture in them is.

Questioner

Is that gonna be the answer for all of these?

Brandon Sanderson

Probably!

Questioner

How about a spike charged with Hemalurgy?

Brandon Sanderson

A spike charged with Hemalurgy... that depends on...

Questioner

Not in a person.

Brandon Sanderson

Depends on how strong, yeah, a spike is moderately, (in the realm of these kinds of things) moderately easy to push on because a spike does not rip off very much Investiture. Only enough to short circuit the soul, and less it over time. I would put that at the bottom, with the top being very hard, to be one of the easier things.

Questioner

How about a metalmind that is full?

Brandon Sanderson

That is full? That is going to be middle of the realm of the, yeah. Generally easier than, for instance, a Shardblade which is going to be very hard.

Questioner #2

A Shardblade is [inaudible] actually metal? [metal]-ish?

Brandon Sanderson

Ish. Is Lerasium a metal? Yeah.

Questioner

So that'd be the same for Shardplate too?

Brandon Sanderson

Shardplate and Blade are very hard. Blade is probably gonna be a little harder.

Questioner

A Half-shard?

Brandon Sanderson

A Half-shard shield? That's gonna be moderate.

Questioner

Nightblood? I imagine that being hard.

Brandon Sanderson

Hard, of all the things you've listed, that is going to be the hardest. Far beyond even a Sharblade.

Questioner

Far beyond metal inside a person? 

Brandon Sanderson

Uh, yes. Depending on how invested the person is.

Questioner

If somebody was invested as much as Nightblood?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, for instance the God King, right. At the end with all those Breaths. Pushing something inside of him, getting through all of that? Gonna be real hard. Average person on Scadrial? You've seen how hard that is. A drab? Much easier.

Questioner

That was my next one, or no, sorry not a drab. A lifeless?

Brandon Sanderson

A Lifeless, yeah. Even... yeah. Lifeless are kind of weird because they've had their soul leave but then they've had a replacement stuck in in the form of Breath which leaves them in a very weird position compared to a drab which has had part of their Investiture ripped away but a majority remains, so, anyways. I'm going to give you one more. Pick your favorite.

Questioner

A soulstamped piece of metal?

Brandon Sanderson

A soulstamped piece of metal is going to be on the lower, easier side. Not a lot of Investiture going on in a soulstamp.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
#19 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Thirty-Eight

Preservation's Power

All right, so maybe I lied about there only being three magic systems in this book. It comes down to how you term the powers of Preservation and Ruin, who kind of blanket the entire system. There are a lot of things going on here, and—well, the truth is I don't want to mention all of them, for fear of spoiling future books. However, I'll give you a few rules to apply.

First, to these forces, energy and mass are the same thing. So, their power can take physical shape—as Preservation's did in the bead of metal Elend ate. Second, there is a bit of Preservation inside of all the people—and it's this that allows the people to perform Allomancy. It needs to be awakened and stirred to be of use, but when it is, a proper metal can draw forth more of Preservation's power. It's like the metal attunes the bit within the person, allowing it to act as a catalyst to grab more power.

Allomancy is not fueled by metal; it is fueled by Preservation. The metal is the means by which a person can access that fuel, however. If there were another way to access it, then the metal wouldn't be needed.

Preservation's touch on people differs. Some have more, some have less. This doesn't make them better or worse people—indeed, some most touched by Preservation have been among the worst people in the world. As Ruin later points out, there is a difference between being evil and being destructive.

Regardless, if a person can get more Preservation into them, they become better Allomancers. Hence Elend becoming a Mistborn. Like all people, he had the potential within him—it was just too small of a potential to be awakened through normal means. That little jolt of Preservation's body, however, expanded and awakened his Allomancy.

As a tidbit, that was a side effect of what that bead of metal did. It wasn't the main purpose of the bead, and if another Allomancer were to burn it, it would do something else.

Firefight Phoenix signing ()
#20 Copy

Questioner (paraphrased)

Could you become a double misting if you took two lerasium/metal alloy beads (I think the example was iron and steel) at the same time?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Yes.

Skyward Houston signing ()
#22 Copy

Paladin Brewer

Previously you were asked if Hoid could have been using the lerasium to alloy with other metals to change his spiritweb, and you answered it was technically possible. Does that mean you’re finally admitting that Hoid did not digest the bead?

Brandon Sanderson

I am not admitting that. It was possible for him to do that, but he did not.

Shadows of Self release party ()
#23 Copy

Questioner 1

What would happen if you used lerasium as a spike for Hemalurgy?

Brandon Sanderson

Oh lerasium as a spike for Hemalurgy? Um lerasium as a spike for Hemalurgy--

Questioner 1

Would it work or would it just not work?

Brandon Sanderson

No I mean it would work--

Questioner 1

If you were to place a lerasium spike would you transform into a full Mistborn as opposed to--

Questioner 2

Well it can also steal powers, not just grant them, right?

Brandon Sanderson

Um, right. The thing about it is you're trying to Invest something that is already very Invested, which always has weird effects. So while you could do it, it would be a gross waste of the potential. It's like using a nuclear bomb as a paperweight. It is functional but--

Questioner 1

Does that mean it would be hard, for example, to make Nightblood stick something? Because--

Brandon Sanderson

Yes it would be very hard to make Nightblood stick to something. The amount of Investiture in Nightblood is--

Bystander

Astronomical?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. Larger than most things you've seen. So Pushing on Nightblood, really hard.

Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
#24 Copy

Snarlezz

What's the incentive of alloying lerasium and becoming a misting when you could just burn it normal and be a Mistborn?

AltF4WillHelp

My guess is that you'd presumably you'd use less of it? Also, arguably, not every way of using a magic is going to be the most optimal way.

It's probably just a way that lerasium can work. If you alloy it or somehow mix it with things from other systems, it's quite possible you'd end up getting those magics instead, because it'd Connect you more strongly to a different Shard.

Brandon Sanderson

The replies to this are correct.

Rithmatist Provo signing ()
#26 Copy

little wilson (paraphrased)

Brandon confirmed that "the element" is the bead of lerasium. Which confirms both this theory, and the theory that Hoid wrote the letter.

When I asked the question, I also thought the element and the lerasium were different. I asked it as a "Hoid clearly has a habit for taking important items. He has the bead of lerasium and the element. What other items does he have that we should know about?"

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Brandon's response was that the bead and the element are the same. And that he has many items he should not have.

Shadows of Self release party ()
#27 Copy

Questioner

Before Preservation locked up Ruin, or whatever, or if Ruin had won. Would atium exist?

Brandon Sanderson

...There are timelines where there would be no atium.

Questioner

...So if Harmony exists, does atium exist?

Brandon Sanderson

Atium does not exist because there is no Ati. Well there is atium left over from before, but--

Questioner

So it was only part of Ati's body and not part of Harmony's body.

Brandon Sanderson

There is no atium, there is no Preservation any longer, there is no Ati.

Questioner

So does harmonium exist?

Brandon Sanderson

...There's no Leras and there's no Ati, there's no Ruin--

Questioner

Does harmonium exist then?

Brandon Sanderson

Good question.

Shadows of Self release party ()
#28 Copy

Questioner

I was curious, what would happen if a full Mistborn burned lerasium? What would the Allomantic powers be?

Brandon Sanderson

Oohh, excellent, excellent question. So, I have not revealed what lerasium does if you already have Investiture. So, the answer to that is a RAFO. We've actually had like three people ask that tonight, so there must have been a discussion on the Sh-- the forums about it and I didn't answer them, so I can't answer you.

Skyward Houston signing ()
#30 Copy

Questioner

If I were to alloy atium and lerasium, would I get harmonium? Or is harmonium different after the Shards combined?

Brandon Sanderson

It's different after the Shards combined.

Questioner

If I was to take harmonium and separate it out through distillation, would I get lerasium and atium or something that functions similarly?

Brandon Sanderson

No, you would-- It actually has become a different--

Questioner

Can't be split?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah. I mean, you could find a way, but you're not going to get it through normal, mechanical means.

Manchester signing ()
#32 Copy

BlackYeti

Because you've talked about alloying the god metals with other ones-- I was wondering whether you would be able to melt them down as you would with normal metals.

Brandon Sanderson

If you could distill the god metal: you could distill it out of the mist, that's theoretically possible.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
#34 Copy

SageOfTheWise

In Allomancy, normal metals are simply a tool that channels Allomancer's already existing Connection to the power of Preservation, which is why non-Allomancers don't get powers from digesting metal. But if I understand it correctly, god metals are an exception, since they are a form of a Shard's power, burning them directly uses the power stored within.

If I have this right, how come a normal person can burn lerasium, but not atium? Or could they, and no ones thought to try? But if that was true why are there atium Mistings?

Brandon Sanderson

Suffice it to say that what people both in the books and out think about the god metals has some holes in it.

Salt Lake City Comic-Con 2014 ()
#35 Copy

Questioner

What's lerasium?

Brandon Sanderson

That is the bead of metal that Elend finds at the end of Book 2, that Vin finds and gives to Elend.

Questioner

Oh so there were only two and the Lord Ruler kind of left it there?

Brandon Sanderson

There actually were a bunch of them, and the first Mistborn came from people who ate that. The Lord Ruler took one for himself and he left others there to use if he needed them.

JordanCon 2021 ()
#36 Copy

Pagerunner

The Hemalurgy table, you wrote down "atium steals any power, lerasium is all abilities, nicrosil is Investiture"; what's the difference between those three?

Hemalurgic atium, lerasium, and nicrosil. What's powers, abilities, and Investiture?

Brandon Sanderson

People are Invested in ways that do not give them active powers. So for instance, everyone on Nalthis is Invested. Everyone in the cosmere is, really. You want to steal their Investiture, but they don't have a power. You're still ripping off a piece of their soul. So there is a distinction between the actual Investiture that's in a human being and a specific power that they have.

So that distinction is pretty easy. You can also, with Hemalurgy, steal specific things. You can steal just general Investiture. You can steal, if you want--this is where the kandra Blessings come from. You can instead steal specific things that are not like stealing Allomancy. Stealing, for instance, someone's mental acuity.

Pagerunner

So abilities is like the half that's all the strength, speed, all that kind of stuff? Those are abilities, versus the Metallic Arts are all powers?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Pagerunner

Then Investiture, is that offworld magics?

Brandon Sanderson

No, no, it's the raw power.

Pagerunner

Nicrosil is their soul?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. A piece of their soul, essentially.

Pagerunner

So how would you go about stealing an offworld power?

Brandon Sanderson

It's going to depend. A Breath, you would steal with nicrosil. It's general Investiture, is what you would probably going call that. You could forcibly remove someone's Breath from them. The ability to be a Sand Master you would steal with the power ability.

Calamity Philadelphia signing ()
#38 Copy

Questioner

I was also wondering if... I just finished reading the Ars Arcanum in the back of Bands of Mourning and I heard it mention that god metals could be alloyed to give different abilities or traits.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Questioner

Could you give an example of one?

Brandon Sanderson

So, you could alloy lerasium with certain metals of the sixteen in the table and get, if you had just enough lerasium, it would make them a misting of those powers.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
#40 Copy

Bithorp

On the Coppermind there is this idea that if a natural Mistborn burned duralumin and then lerasium it would empower them to godly levels. Would this actually happen or would another effect happen.

Brandon Sanderson

That actually wouldn't work, but it is a clever idea.

Bands of Mourning release party ()
#43 Copy

Questioner

The size of the metal, does it matter to transfer Allomancy or can it be really really tiny or really really big?

Brandon Sanderson

For Allomancy? Or what, a bead of lerasium? Is that what you're talking about?

Questioner

Yeah, when you're transferring the powers, like to make someone a Mistborn...

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah it has to be-- The size of it is going to influence how strong a Mistborn you are.

Questioner

It couldn't be a sliver.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah-- Well it could, you'd just be really weak as a Mistborn.

Calamity Austin signing ()
#47 Copy

Questioner

Can you share any abilities that Hoid has accrued so far in the books, does he-- with him taking the bead, I can't even pronounce the L-word...

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, lerasium, he is indeed an Allomancer. So. That has happened. I haven't confirmed much else, but he does have that.

TWG Posts ()
#50 Copy

Questioner (paraphrased)

What will an Atium-Lerasium Alloy do ?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Ah, I've been asked this before. There are a number of theories, but nobody's really sure, since there haven't really been any opportunities to alloy lerasium with atium. You can choose which one to believe. Most require an understanding of realmatic theory to comprehend, which you need to be a Shard or Splinter to even begin to understand.What Lerasium is, is essentially a hack for something like your spiritual DNA. It rewrites what your spiritual self is capable of. So, combined with atium, which allows you a glimpse into the vision of everything - past, present, future - the theories say it could do one of two things. It could either create a substance so volatile that it would have world-ending repercussions, or rewrite your "spiritual DNA" (his phrase, not mine) with atium's power. Is that a vague enough answer?