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Warbreaker Annotations ()
#2 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Nineteen

Clod Arrives with Jewels

Early on in the development process, I knew that I wanted to have a Lifeless as a side character. They're such an interesting part of the world—in fact, they're a big part of the foundation of the setting, or at least what made me want to write it.

That meant having a Lifeless on Denth's team, and Clod as a character fit into place quite easily. I had worried about how to make Jewels distinctive in the team, after having Denth and Tonk Fah establish themselves for some twenty chapters before Jewels even makes an appearance. Working with that, I realized that by making her the Lifeless handler, I could add something unique to her—and to the team.

Denth knew that Vivenna wouldn't react well to there being a Lifeless on the team. That's part of why he kept Jewels away for so long. (In fact, when Jewels says, "Who's that woman?" in regards to Vivenna, it should have been slightly suspicious to you. She knew they had a new employer, and she should have made the connection. Indeed, she did. Denth had specifically ordered her to stay away until this moment, as he didn't want to scare Vivenna off.)

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
#8 Copy

Phantine

Would a lifeless Koloss still be super strong?

Brandon Sanderson

You see, what is happening to create a koloss is a human soul is taken, sliced up, and sutured back together--with the spikes being the "stitches" that holds it all together. That's a problem, since the various forms of investiture don't play very well together. In Awakening, you're basically giving something a counterfeit soul. (But without the skill or knowledge of something like an Essence Mark.)

This means that in investing the corpse of the koloss, you have troubles. It's going to want to snap back to the original human shape and strength. If you COULD overcome this, then yes, it would be stronger.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
#10 Copy

TurtletheFlsh

What would happen if you created a lifeless with more breath then is necessary? Would they be more or completely human or just a lifeless that's holding more breath?

Brandon Sanderson

Lifeless with more breath are an interesting situation. It's quite possible for the BREATH to start taking on a personality, much like a cognitive shadow, related to the individual. Whether or not it is actually them, though, is a big question. Note, this doesn't always happen. Often, dumping a lot of breath in them is like sticking it in an inanimate object with no command.

Warbreaker Annotations ()
#11 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Thirty-Three

Vivenna and the Mercenaries Wait in the Safe House after the Lifeless Attack on the Slumlords

Why does Jewels bother sewing up Clod? Why fix Lifeless at all? Denth's answer is a fairly good one, but it could use some more explanation.

You see, when one makes a Lifeless, the reason the Breath stays and won't come back is because the body of a recently deceased person is too "sticky" for Breaths. One Breath attaches to it, and because the body so clearly remembers being alive, it can use that Breath to power it. (Assuming you have the right Commands and can picture them correctly in your head when you make the Lifeless.)

However, the more the Lifeless is damaged, the less like the shape of a living person it is, and the more difficult it is for the Breath to keep that body going. Powering a body with only one Breath is hard—it requires the body to work mostly on its own. When you power a cloak or something like that, the Breaths need to provide a lot of energy, since there's no real muscles to use or skeletal structure to rely on.

So the more wounded a Lifeless becomes, the less well its Breath can keep it going. Eventually you'll need to stick a second Breath into it, then a third, all the way up until that Lifeless is nothing more than a bunch of bones you've Awakened. At that point, you might as well be using sticks or cloth.

Warbreaker Annotations ()
#12 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Lightsong Sees the Lifeless and Takes Command of Them

They keep them in the dark. This is a bad idea. They don't realize it, but the Lifeless are far more aware than everyone assumes. Clod in this book is a foreshadowing of that, and there won't be much more about it in the rest of the novel. It's one of the focus points for the sequel, if I ever write it. (Which will actually have a Lifeless as a viewpoint character, if I can find a way to swing it.)

Holiday signing ()
#13 Copy

little wilson

Can a Mistborn turned into a Lifeless still use Allomancy?

Brandon Sanderson

*long-ish pause* Uh, no.

little wilson

So I would assume that is the same for a Feruchemist?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah if you-- taking some-- Yeah.  No they can't.

Tor.com Q&A with Brandon Sanderson ()
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Joeh42

In Warbreaker, is Clod the Lifeless body of Arsteel? I like this idea because Arsteel would have had some Breaths within him when he died, as this is how Vashir defeated him and Denth, and this could help explain why he seems to be a little more self-aware than most Lifeless. Could you respond to this idea?

Brandon Sanderson

I confirmed in the Warbreaker annotations that Clod is Arsteel.

Clod is more self-aware than most Lifeless. There is something left of Arsteel within Clod. The Breaths that Vasher gave him when he killed him do have an effect on this.

Warbreaker Annotations ()
#16 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Vasher Fights the Guards, Then Creates a Lifeless Squirrel

I wanted to show the creation of a Lifeless somewhere in this book, as I think the process is interesting. The draining of color happens in a slightly different way than in regular Awakening, though it's similar. In this case, the creature draws color from its own body in order to come to life.

The better your imagining of the Command when you make it (not the orders you give it, but the one when you give it the Breath), the more intelligent and capable of following orders the Lifeless is. Later in the book, for instance, people are surprised at how good this little squirrel is at doing what it is told.

Warbreaker Annotations ()
#17 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Undead

I'd been toying for a long time with doing a book with "technological" undead in a fantasy world. A place where a body could be recycled, restored to a semblance of life, then set to work. I'm always looking for ways to explore new ground in fantasy, and I've seen people sticking to the same old tropes with undead. (Mindless, rotting zombies or dynamic, goth-dressed vampires.)

I wanted to play with a middle ground. If you've got a magic that can make a stick figure come to life, what could it do with a dead body? How could a society make use of these walking corpses, treating them as a realistic resource?

The Lifeless grew out of this desire. I developed something like them for use earlier in a completely different novel, but I abandoned that plan years ago. They returned to the scrap pile of my mind, from which I draw forth and recombine ideas to create novels.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
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Oudeis16

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

Brandon Sanderson

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

sonofstannis

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

Brandon Sanderson

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

WeiryWriter

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

Brandon Sanderson

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

-Nayrb

Did this happen "on screen"?

Brandon Sanderson

RAFO.

Holiday signing ()
#20 Copy

little wilson

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

Brandon Sanderson

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

little wilson

Are there any side-effects to doing so?

Brandon Sanderson

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

Salt Lake City signing ()
#21 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 Hemallurgy?

Brandon Sanderson

A spike charged with Hemallurgy... 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 t 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 Halfshard?

Brandon Sanderson

A halfshard 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 soul stamped piece of metal?

Brandon Sanderson

A soul stamped piece of metal is going to be on the lower, easier side. Not a lot of investiture going on in a soul stamp.

Shadows of Self San Francisco signing ()
#22 Copy

Questioner

Is there a limit to the amount of useful energy that can be extracted from an end-neutral system? Like Skimmers on a Terris wheel on opposite sides.

Brandon Sanderson

So... Skimmers by making their weight lighter, spinning the thing around, and things and then--

 

Questioner

You got one on opposite sides--

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah you could totally do this. In my mind, the way I work this out is that it's no more-- having people do it and things like this-- yeah you could totally do that. The power for making this happen, you are drawing Spiritual energy into the Physical plane can power your motor. It's not power-negative, it's changing forms.

But in realistic terms that would be so much less cost-effective than other methods because Allomancers are expensive, but yeah you could just keep that going.

Questioner

Same with Lifeless? Telling them to push a wheel around?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, the sustenance for life is coming directly from the Spiritual plane. So if you remove that, it wouldn't work. The whole idea from this is that energy is getting recycled back into the Spiritual plane when people are dying and things like that, so...