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General Reddit 2015 ()
#2 Copy

emailanimal

From a very recent signing, we have this new Word of Brandon...

chasmfriend's son: Is there a finite amount of Investiture?

Brandon: Yes.

chasmfriend's son: So is Nightblood consuming it?

Brandon: Yes. Very, very slowly.

This worries me somewhat because of the following observation.

Nightblood consumes Breath (and other Investiture, but let's limit ourselves to Breath for a second).

Every person on Nalthis is born with one Breath.

Populations tend to grow. Which means that under normal rules of demographics, population of Nalthis should keep increasing.

This in turn means that under normal circumstances the number of people with Breath on Nalthis should be growing.

I can see the following possible explanations to this:

  1. Endowment can give Breath to many more people than are currently living on Nalthis. So, the exponential population growth has not yet reached the level at which Endowment's ability to award a Breath to each Nalthis-born human is seriously challenged. When it happens though, things will not go well.

  2. There is some built-in mechanism controlling population growth on Nalthis, making certain that the population stays within the limits. Nightblood's consumption of Breath makes these limits smaller, and overall may lead to Endowment's inability to grant Breath to Nalthis-born, but not for a while (essentially, Endowment controls population trends at she sees fit).

Thoughts?

Brandon Sanderson

Just as a point you should understand, the amount of MATTER in the cosmere is finite too. As is the amount of energy.

Worrying that Endowment will run out of Breaths to give is a little like worrying that the amount of carbon on Earth will run out because people keep being born.

uchoo786

So just for clarification, once Nightblood consumes investiture, that investiture gets recycled? That's what I've always assumed. That it enters the cognitive/spiritual realm?

Brandon Sanderson

The investiture he consumes is not gone forever--it's not leaving the system, so to speak.

Salt Lake City signing ()
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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.

General Reddit 2016 ()
#5 Copy

uchoo786

So just for clarification, once Nightblood consumes investiture, that investiture gets recycled? That's what I've always assumed. That it enters the cognitive/spiritual realm?

Brandon Sanderson

The investiture he consumes is not gone forever--it's not leaving the system, so to speak.

Boskone 54 ()
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Questioner

In the Stormlight Archive we saw the sword from Warbreaker and we also know that the royal line can change more than just their hair, will that come into play?

Brandon Sanderson

They can! What’s that?

Questioner

...will that come into play?

Brandon Sanderson

That will come into play, keep your eyes open.

Starsight Release Party ()
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Questioner

If Nightblood was to attack one [a Shard] and decided it was evil, could he destroy enough of that Shard to seriously weaken it compared to other Shards or not really?

Brandon Sanderson

I mean it would be such a drop in the bucket. To actually weaken the Shard. Like, there is so much out there. This would be hard to do. I won't completely nix it, but let's just say there's a lot that Nightblood would have to...

JordanCon 2016 ()
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Questioner

You called Nightblood a miscrea-- a misformed Shardblade.

Brandon Sanderson

A Shardblade created with a different magic system.

Questioner

Is that an intentional creation or mimicry? Or--

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, that is intentional.

Moderator

Intentional on the part of the person who made Nightblood…

Brandon Sanderson

Mmhmm.

Words of Radiance Philadelphia signing ()
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Questioner

If someone—Vasher says that Nightblood would kill him, is that just because he has this one deific Breath? Would it kill an ordinary person, like a drab?

Brandon Sanderson

It would suck the Breath from anybody, and if they were unable to feed it he would feed on their soul.

Questioner

So they would die?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. Anyone wielding Nightblood, he will suck their soul. If for too long, he will eventually—if you draw him—will suck your soul.

Shadows of Self release party ()
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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.

JordanCon 2016 ()
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Questioner

So what would happen if [Lift] ate Nightblood? *laughter*

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, eating Nightblood would not be a smart idea for anyone. *laughter* Nightblood would eat you. In Soviet Russia, sword eats you? I don't know…

BYU Writing Class Wrap-up 2017 ()
#15 Copy

Just another guyn

If an Elantrian were to get a hold of Nightblood and draw it, how would Nightblood react to that-- What kind of power would be unleashed?

Brandon Sanderson

So Nightblood needs kinetic Investiture to feed upon. The Elantrian would have to be able to get a conduit to the Dor to feed Nightblood or Nightblood would just eat their soul.

Just another guyn

So if they used AonDor to fuel Nightblood--

Brandon Sanderson

There are some types of AonDor that would work, and there are others that would not.

Just another guyn

And would Nightblood just keep going until either the Aon was--

Brandon Sanderson

He would dissolve the Aon as he drew the power from it.

Just another guyn

So it wouldn't just empty the Dor?

Brandon Sanderson

No, it would not empty the Dor.

Supanova 2017 - Sydney ()
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R.E. (paraphrased)

Does Vasher have a different way of getting access to Stormlight than everyone else? Given that he has no spren, no honorblade and he isn't a squire?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Yes. He can use Stormlight to stay alive, but it doesn't let him Surgebind.

R.E. (paraphrased)

Could Szeth get access to this method?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Yes

R.E. (paraphrased)

And use it to fuel Nightblood?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Yes he could.

R.E. (paraphrased)

Can you tell me what that method is?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

*smiles*

Barnes & Noble B-Fest 2016 ()
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Questioner

I have a question about Nightblood. What are all the powers the sword has and how much is he going to be involved in the next few books.

Brandon Sanderson

Those are total RAFOs. I mean, I could tell you the powers you have seen him have on screen so far, I'm not going to tell you he has others. What you have seen on-screen that he can do is he absorbs Investiture completely and he will rip it out of any object he touches, and everything has Investiture, leaving behind basically... how you see it is he turns everything he touches into black mist, it just disintegrates everything. He also has the power that people who see him, he has an emotional effect on them, one of several emotional effects depending on how they would want to use him. If you watch for when he is seeing people you will see how it is.

Questioner

All fighting over him.

Brandon Sanderson

That's not the only effect he has though, he has other effects.

Questioner

Does he bestow any effects on his wielder? Like Szeth's original Shardblade gave him the same powers as Kaladin.

Brandon Sanderson

Nightblood... that's a RAFO but Nightblood was created on a different planet, so.

OdysseyCon 2016 ()
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Blightsong

How does corrupted investiture work, like Nightblood?

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, Nightblood. Again, this is a definition of what somebody feels is a corruption. For instance, there are spren that people would feel are corrupted. But that's corruption where the mixing of different Shards has changed things, and I think a lot of times when people say corruption, what they're meaning is the mixing of Shards' powers.

Blightsong

So is there a mixing of Shards' powers happening with Nightblood?

Brandon Sanderson

*smirks* RAFO. That's the natural question, I'm glad you asked it.

Blightsong

Ok, uhhh, so something similar is happening with Gavilar's sphere, right?

Brandon Sanderson

*contemplative silence* RAFO.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
#21 Copy

platysaur

Well Mr. Sanderson, I finally finished Words of Radiance as well. I thank you for answering previous questions of mine on this thread.

I didn't read Warbreaker but I intend to. That said, if I don't get to it (college is quickly approaching now), will it be a setback? I know that Szeth's sword is now a character from Warbreaker, but I don't want to be at a disadvantage if I can't get to it.

Brandon Sanderson

If you don't read Warbreaker, I doubt you'll be confused. I wrote Warbreaker as a prequel novel (after writing the original draft of The Way of Kings) to give some backstory to side characters I knew where cosmere-aware, but the story should work just fine without having read it.

The Dusty Wheel Show ()
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Ryan

Do we know why Nightblood didn't take up a Shard?

Brandon Sanderson

Nightblood didn't take up a Shard, Nightblood was not there... Oh, [they're] probably just asking why Nightblood did not absorb the entire Shard of Odium.

Nightblood cannot hold that much Investiture. At least not at that rate, right? Like, if you drop Nightblood without his sheath... I have to do it this way, because otherwise you drop him on the planet and he would absorb the entire planet, right. This is not a power I want Nightblood to have. I do not want Nightblood... Nightblood is a very dangerous tool without also being the death star.

I did not want... I actually was happy that I had the chance to put that scene in so I kind of put the kabosh on Nightblood being able to absorb the entire Investiture of an entire Shard. Not where I wanted... I didn't want that to be a promise people thought was coming. Now, he can absorb a lot and it's also rate of absorption is a pretty important deal.

...

People are gonna quote me on this in ten years and things like that and say "but, but, but". Just, you know, understand that there are specific ways that I'm trying to phrase some of these things.

Orem signing ()
#32 Copy

Questioner

Can you tell me about the mechanics of Nightblood's revulsion vs. compulsion magic?

Brandon Sanderson

What do you want to know?

Questioner

Is it like Rioting? Like in--

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, Rioting is a good parallel to that. 

Questioner

Is agency being taken away?

Brandon Sanderson

I wouldn't say agency is taken away but it depends on how you view Rioting, right? If you are enhancing someone's emotions-- Here is the question for you. If someone is feeling depressed, is their agency being taken away? And this is a question that our society has a really bad answer to, right? So if you are being Rioted, strict-line I would say no, your agency isn't being taken away, but you are certainly under the influence of another force which is taking certain emotions you might have and emphasizing them a great deal.

Questioner

So is it the same kind of push that makes a virtuous person want to vomit?

Brandon Sanderson

Virtuous might be the wrong way to put it. But yes, that sort of thing is related. It's related to Nightblood and it's related to how he was created and all of those sorts of things.

Oathbringer Leeds signing ()
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Questioner

Could an Elantrian just write an Aon above Nightblood and then use it forever?

Brandon Sanderson

Use it forever? No. 

Questioner

Forever is pushing it.

Brandon Sanderson

No, no, I mean, Nightblood would destroy an Aon pretty quickly. It would pull power through it--

Questioner

It would be like trying to put too much power through a small--

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, it would just rip it up to shreds. You'd get a little use out of it. He would eat the very structure of it, if that makes any sense.

JordanCon 2014 ()
#34 Copy

Questioner

Will you tell us a little about the sword from Warbreaker?

Brandon Sanderson

Nightblood is a weapon that I devised. He is partially inspired by my love of Michael Moorcock's writing. He was built into the cosmere using many of the foundational cosmere magic system things that exist on multiple worlds.

Warbreaker Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Thirty-Five

Vivenna Awakes, Bound by Vasher

This chapter—with what happens in the latter part of it—is the most dangerous in the book. Dangerous to me as an author, I mean. I love good plot twists, but I worry about leaving them without proper foreshadowing. I've never done something as drastic as I have in this book, having a group of sympathetic characters turn out to be working for the wrong side. I hope it succeeds, but I know that if it doesn't, readers will be very mad. Nothing is sloppier than a book with unearned changes in character motivation.

But we're not there quite yet. Before that we have the first real interaction between Vivenna and Vasher. He gives her what he likes to think of as the Nightblood test. One nice thing about having a sword that "cannot tempt the hearts of those who are pure" is that when someone like Vivenna touches it, she gets sick. I didn't want Nightblood to come across as a "one ring" knockoff. He doesn't turn people's hearts or corrupt them. However, in order to be able to do his job and fulfill his Command, he needs the ability to determine who is good and who is evil.

This, of course, isn't an easy thing to determine. In fact, I don't think it's a black or white issue for most people. When Nightblood was created, the Breaths infused in him did their best to interpret their Command. What they decided was evil was someone who would try to take the sword and use it for evil purposes, selling it, manipulating and extorting others, that sort of thing. Someone who wouldn't want the sword for those reasons was determined to be good. If they touch the weapon, they feel sick. If others touch the weapon, their desire to kill and destroy with it is enhanced greatly.

Nightblood himself, unfortunately, doesn't quite understand what good and evil are. (This is mentioned later in the text.) However, he knows that his master can determine who is good and who is evil—using the sword's power to make people sick, or through other means. So, he pretty much just lets whoever is holding him decide what is evil. And if the one holding the sword determines—deep within their heart—that they are evil themselves, then they will end up killing themselves with the sword.

Vivenna passes the test, which surprises Vasher. He thought that she'd be the type who would use Nightblood to kill and destroy. (He doesn't have a high opinion of her, obviously. Of course, that's partially because he's let his temper dictate what he thinks.)

Stormlight Three Update #4 ()
#36 Copy

ebilutionist

Hey, Brandon, is there any chance you could tell us something about Nightblood? I'd definitely love to know more about it/him/her.

Also, I recently went through the Warbreaker annotations and found the part where you mentioned that had Lightsong not done what he did, the Hallandren would have been destroyed by the Idris in another Manywar, with the latter having obtained Awakened blades from Yesteel.

Did Yesteel gain the ability to create Awakened swords from Shashara's own research, or did he discover it independently?

Brandon Sanderson

These are questions that I intend to answer in future books, I'm afraid. So RAFO. (sorry.)

Calamity release party ()
#37 Copy

Questioner

So is it possible to Awaken a Shardblade? That's the question-- that's my question for you.

Brandon Sanderson

Um... With the magic system of Awakening, you mean?

Questioner

Yeah.

Brandon Sanderson

So, all forms of Investiture strongly resist other forms of Investiture.

Questioner

Makes sense.

Brandon Sanderson

*brief interruption* Nightblood is essentially an Awakened... Trying to do that.

Questioner

'Cause he shows up in Words of Radiance, right?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. So, it-- let's just say it'd be very, very hard. Because it's like saying, "Can-- I want to turn on a lightbulb that's been turned on." Yes, you can... maybe... I don't know what that even means. It's already Invested. It's already Awakened.

Orem Signing ()
#39 Copy

Questioner

You've previously said that Nightblood is the most powerful non-Shardic being in the Cosmere. Is he more powerful than the Unmade or Stormfather in terms of raw Investiture?

Brandon Sanderson

Raw Investiture? Here's the thing, when you say powerful, it can mean lots of different things. More raw Investiture than the Stormfather... probably not. Than the Unmade, probably. I would have to look, I don't have the numbers on this. But the Stormfather is very restricted in what he can do.

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

Questioner

My brother and I disagreed, at the very end of Words of Radiance, the sword that-- Is it the same as in Warbreaker?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes it is, in fact Vasher is in the book.

Questioner

Is that Vasher?!?

Brandon Sanderson

No, look for somebody making color metaphors and when they are waking up they feel like they can sense other people's presence and things like that. There is one character who is Vasher. He doesn't go by that name anymore.

Words of Radiance Seattle signing ()
#41 Copy

Questioner

Is energy [i.e. Investiture] interchangeable between worlds?

Brandon Sanderson

To an extent.

Questioner

So like Breath could be used instead of stormlight?

Brandon Sanderson

It might require some hacking to achieve. Some cases it will not. For instance there's a certain sword that feeds on Investiture. And he'll feed on whatever Investiture he can get, and if he doesn't have any he'll just suck your soul out and feed on that.

Questioner

On the other hand if someone were to require Breaths and there were nobody giving out Breaths in that area, then...?

Brandon Sanderson

Right. Then theoretically that's the same sort of system, but I have no idea who you could be talking about.

Firefight Chicago signing ()
#45 Copy

Argent

Can Nightblood damage or kill a Shard? Is he that powerful?

Brandon Sanderson

Nightblood is not powerful enough for-- *makes weird/hesitant ehhh sound*

Argent

Can it damage?

Brandon Sanderson

Damage? Yes. How damaging? Is a subject to discussion. Nightblood contains a lot of Investiture.

White Sand vol.1 Orem signing ()
#47 Copy

Jasonioan

If one were to have an unlocked metalmind, nicrosil, and held it while wielding Nightblood what would happen? Would he be taking Investiture from the--

Brandon Sanderson

That is a RAFO... you will start to find answers to these sorts of things as more people are involved with Nightblood.

Jasonioan

...So, if it was like a coppermind would the information be destroyed?

Brandon Sanderson

That is an excellent question, what I've said before is that Nightblood will feed on whatever Investiture he can gain access to. He will start with the easiest Investiture to reach. He will eventually turn to converting matter into Investiture and eating that.

Shadows of Self San Jose signing ()
#50 Copy

Questioner

What’s your most terrifying character, and why is it Nightblood?

Brandon Sanderson

Ha. Nightblood is pretty terrifying… You know, an object created to destroy evil but doesn’t know what it is?

Questioner

When you brought it back...I had <to like shut the book> a little bit and like, scary.

Brandon Sanderson

I wanted you to think that Nightblood in the hands of Szeth should be one of the most terrifying things that you have ever contemplated.