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Arcanum Unbounded release party ()
#1 Copy

Djarskublar

*inaudible* [I asked if it would be possible to recall Breaths from an object that you had not placed there if the Awakener who did place them there had no Identity at the time.]

Brandon Sanderson

So, this is a very detailed, specific question, if you didn't hear it. It's dealing with the idea of Investiture and Identity, and things like this. If you can unkey the magic with Identity, for almost any case, it's going to make it much easier for other people to use. That's gonna be a blanket statement through the cosmere. If you can blank your Identity, it's at least gonna be able to be used by someone else with a blank Identity. Sometimes it's keyed, so the blank will not work with somebody who is themselves keyed. But if you can blank and they can blank, you can almost always guarantee the magic will be able to be used.

Shadows of Self San Jose signing ()
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Questioner

So, Metalminds: if you store weight, how does that work, do you decrease your mass or...?

Brandon Sanderson

So, storing weight actually plays with your mass, because if you look at how we do the physics of it… This one is really screwy, because we are changing mass and playing with it. You watch, like with Wax decreases his weight while he's in motion he'll speed up, and if he increases it, he'll slow down. The conservation of momentum and things like that, but we'll doing really weird stuff. It's like, how can you store your mass… Well, in the magic system it works, but it’s one of the weirdest things we do. *pauses to sign book* We kind of play loose and free with the physics sometimes. Like the example that I often use is Wayne doing a speed bubble, the light that is trapped in the speed bubble...like if he turns on a flashlight would actually radiate because of the redshift, and you could just kill everybody by flashing that. So, we make the speed bubbles not cause a redshift for that reason. We kind of work with what is good storytelling first, and then work the physics around it, but we have to put in all these little breaks and things like that in there regularity in order to actually have the story.

Shadows of Self San Francisco signing ()
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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...

Barnes & Noble B-Fest 2016 ()
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Questioner

Could Nightblood theoretically be turned into a Hemalurgic spike?

Brandon Sanderson

The problem with that is that Nightblood is already invested, so it depends on your version of ' Hemalurgic spikes'. Piercing someone's body with Invested metal can have weird effects all through the Cosmere, but ripping off a piece of a person's soul using an un-Invested spike to Invest it and create one is different... we're talking about two different things, right. So there's the.... so what is a Hemalurgic spike? For instance if you've got a spike that's Invested and you stick it into a Kandra on Scadrial it will still work as an Invested Hemalurgic spike. Making a new Invested spike by ripping off a person's soul, that's a different process and a little more difficult to accomplish and requires some specialized knowledge.

Barnes and Noble Book Club Q&A ()
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Zas678

What is the X in Aon Mea? Is it one of the Shard-pools?

Brandon Sanderson

Afraid not. Aon Mea references the expanded region within which the "Elantris Effect" will create Elantrians. The X is fertile valley with a high density of life, a place with a lot of cognitive activity. (Cognitive as defined by Realmatic Theory includes the 'thoughts' of all things that exist, not just human beings. The more complex the life form, the stronger its presence on the Cognitive Realm.)

Shadows of Self Lansing signing ()
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Brandon Sanderson

The thing people have been dancing around—they haven't been asking the right questions—is they need to be asking more questions about the Dor, specifically trying to figure out why the Dor works differently. It's only a little thing, it's not like it's going to be mind blowing, but it is important for them understanding how the cosmere magics work.

Skyward release party ()
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the.fulgid [PENDING REVIEW]

I feel like knowing both basic and advanced studies of Realmatic Theory are key to understanding not just how the magic works, but how the very nature of the cosmere works. We already have some of the fundamentals, including:

- The three realms- Shard aspects, knowing that they were made with intent, but the form they building blocks of much of the cosmere- Connection to a Shard is necessary to access its Investiture- I have a bit of an analogy where Identity and Connection work similar to an access badge to a building

Is there a more advanced concept of Realmatic Theory we don't have yet that you'd be willing to share?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

Yeah, I could buy that.

the.fulgid [PENDING REVIEW]

Is there a more advanced concept of Realmatic Theory we don't have yet that you'd be willing to share?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

No. Too hard to say, something like that, what we don't know. So no, I will RAFO that. I apologize. I will put them in the book when they are developed, and I can explain them in the way that I feel is appropriate.

Barnes & Noble B-Fest 2016 ()
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Questioner

Why, in your books, are your characters so often, per say - before they get the powers they become broken first.

Brandon Sanderson

There is a narrative reason and an in-world reason. The narrative reason is characters in pain are more interesting to write about. This is just a rule of thumb for writing. Find the person whose in the most trouble, things are going the worst for and that's generally your easiest character. In the stories, the actual Cosmere, the mechanics of the magic finds, this is only one way to describe it - its not the only way - might not be one hundred per cent accurate but it's an easy metaphor, cracks in the soul allow the magic to seep in and that's how you end up with a lot of the different magic systems.

OdysseyCon 2016 ()
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Questioner (paraphrased)

In Elantris it talks about how the wood and stone in the city is rotten and crumbling. Why does this happen?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

This is because when objects become Invested for long periods of time their Spiritweb changes to accommodate the investiture. When the investiture was pulled up off the stuff in Elantris its Spiritweb was severely damaged so it showed that in the physical realm. This happened with the Lord Ruler when the Bands of Mourning were ripped out of him.

Arcanum Unbounded Hoboken signing ()
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yulerule

I actually had like a really-- theory I was developing the past couple of weeks about Regrowth, and healing, and the Cognitive Realm. Let's take a look at this...

*Written/Paraphrased:* In the cosmere, you have matter, mind, and soul. Obviously, the physical world is most well understood (same as ours) and the spiritual is most mysterious. When anybody dies (going off from info in Secret History) their soul, which was tied to their body, the Connection is broken and the soul/Cognitive Shadow appears in the Cognitive Realm then goes on to the Spiritual. If healing is applied at any moment while the soul/Cognitive Shadow is in the Cognitive Realm, the Connection can be reestablished and that is why Regrowth can heal recently dead. Type of wound Shardblade versus not may determine how fast the Shadow is sucked into the Spiritual Realm. Also amount of Investiture a soul contains. Souls = Investiture, or at least all of them contain some?

Brandon Sanderson

So that's a RAFO. We'll dig into that a little later.

yulerule

Oh, *inaudible*. Am I close?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, you're on the right track.

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 RAFOes. 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.

17th Shard Forum Q&A ()
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Kurkistan

Would it be fair to describe the three realms as the Spiritual Realm providing motivation/general directives (gravity, desires, energy, etc.), the Cognitive Realm interpreting and applying those directives, and the Physical Realm as where these directives--as interpreted by the Cognitive Realm--are actually implemented? All of this with interactions/change flowing back and forth between the Realms as well (Physical phenomena affecting thought affecting the spirit, for example).

Brandon Sanderson

Ha! That's a very interesting way to look at it. The theory isn't all there, but it's thinking along the right lines.

Firefight San Francisco signing ()
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KiManiak

Do some Surges have a stronger cognitive aspect--or cognitive influence, if aspect is too general--do some have a stronger cognitive aspect than others? For instance does Illumination tend to have more of a stronger cognitive--

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah you could say that some do. I think that that is a legitimate-- Though I'd say it is the subject of debate.

DrogaKrolow.pl interview ()
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DrogaKrolow

We have this one bizarre question, that actually was really, really weird but we have to know it.

There was a question about Siamese twins. If they were born gold Feruchemists, and they they were split apart, would they like, form together again?

Brandon Sanderson

Uhhhnn... It depends on how they view themselves

DrogaKrolow

That's the answer to every question like that!

Brandon Sanderson

Right! But that's the whole point of the cosmere is that-- Spiritual Realm is filtered through the Cognitive Realm to the Physical Realm, right? And this lens is going to filter how things work. Perception is really important in the cosmere. That's where most of these things come from, and so-- Yeah that is the answer to everything. But that's the point of the answer to everything, is that there aren't a lot of hard and fast rules when it comes to a lot of these things, with Identity and whatnot is going be filtered through perception.

DrogaKrolow

So it is technically possible for them, if they are seeing each other as one.

Brandon Sanderson

Right.

DrogaKrolow

So we can--

Brandon Sanderson

Now the big hard question is, what if one of them views them as one and one of them doesn't?

DrogaKrolow

Oh.

Brandon Sanderson

Aaaaoooohhh! Then it depends on who's using the magic.

DrogaKrolow

What if both of them are?

Brandon Sanderson

Both of them what? Are gold? If both of them are healing and one doesn't want to and one does, magic's gonna cancel each other out and nothing will happen.

DrogaKrolow

Ok.

Brandon Sanderson

Mmhmm. Yeah I made your question harder and weirder.

DrogaKrolow

Well it was a very logical answer to a very unlogical question.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. I've had to answer a lot of these. My feeling is that if I can make the fundamental magic principles work then you can answer those questions rationally but really what you would have to do is-- Even I'm not the expert on these things. Like I'm the ultimate word in some ways but in another ways the answer would be "I don't know, let's have a thought experiment and if it ever comes up, try it out and see what happens". But yeah, there you go. There is my best answer to you.

Boskone 54 ()
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Questioner (paraphrased)

Could a Soother prevent a listener from attuning a given rhythm?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

No. A coppercloud could, but I hadn't thought about emotional allomancy interacting. See, the rhythm isn't your emotion and doesn't determine your mood. It is a direct connection to the spiritual realm. So I guess soothing could make it harder just like it makes anything harder, in the same way that driving a car would be harder. [recording starts here] And so, for the same reasons that you can, um, it is possible that a coppercloud can play with it. Not a normal power of a coppercloud, but you’ve seen them do stuff similar.

Firefight release party ()
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Lady Radagu

Does being the donor of a Hemalurgic spike have any implications for your afterlife? Or how about the recipient?

Brandon Sanderson

That is actually going to depend on-- Okay. Yes it has implications for the afterlife. Yes.

Lady Radagu

Okay so are there a bunch of Scadrian souls wandering the afterlife with holes in their personalities or memory or identity? Or some with extra parts tacked on?

Brandon Sanderson

So it has implications, but they are not exactly ones that you are assuming. So in the cosmere there is "dead" and "mostly dead". Okay? And this has been shown several times so once someone dies there is a period before they transition. Sazed talks about this in Mistborn 3. And so most of the implications are for before transition. Does that make sense? Post-transition you are going to have to ask the philosophers and the theologians who are the ones that talk about that. So there is an afterlife and an after-afterlife. Not as many implications for after-afterlife. Middle? Yes. Okay?

Firefight Chicago signing ()
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Kurkistan

So you've said that healing is like the Spiritual wants to heal and then it filters through the Cognitive, but how's that work with healing wounds to the soul like Hemalurgy or Shardblades? What do you refer to to heal the soul at that point?

Brandon Sanderson

You need to make a patch on the soul with Investiture.

Kurkistan

So how's the Investiture know where to go, what to look like?

Brandon Sanderson

Well your soul is an ideal. So if you can get it up there, there are ways to do-- to recreate that with um... See I'm getting into stuff for later books.

Argent

No, that's okay.

Kurkistan

So when Hemalurgy rips something off the soul, is that the ideal soul or some sub-soul?

Brandon Sanderson

That is off of your soul, and it can be healed; but what it's going to be doing is creating a patch of new soul. So it will not be your original soul. Does that make sense?

Kurkistan

Okay, that- well, not completely, but I think that's your intention.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Bystander

If you do that, is that like Frankenstein's monster, or is it like a graft that's absorb--

Brandon Sanderson

Less horrifying- Less horrifying than Frankenstein's monster, but it is a graft that is like-- It is not your original soul.

Bystander

Yeah, but in modern medicine stuff like that is absorbed-

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, in this you will always have a scar on your soul that something else has patched over.

Kurkistan

So Kaladin shouldn't just keep getting his arm chopped?

Brandon Sanderson

*ignoring/not-hearing Kurkistan just now* But that is what happens with most forms of investiture in the first place.

Firefight Chicago signing ()
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Kurkistan

You've said that the the laws of physics in the cosmere are ours except where they're messed with by the Spiritual... But are the laws of physics actually in the Physical Realm all the time, or are they in the Spiritual Realm doing their stuff on a Spiritual level that's trickling down to the Physical as a matter of course?

Brandon Sanderson

The three are more closely aligned than-- *Breaks off to focus on the books he's signing, the speaking was distracting him*

Kurkistan

So you were saying that physics-- laws of physics-- that the Realms are a lot more closely bound and the laws of physics are not just tied to one of them?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah.

Leipzig Book Fair ()
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Questioner

You have this technical approach to Allomantic powers. But Feruchemy seems to me very different. So it's not very logical that you can store up health. What is health?

Brandon Sanderson

Well. I feel that it is. But it has its own definitions. In the Cosmere perception - I don't know if you know...

Questioner

Yeah.

Brandon Sanderson

... it really affects... It's kind of more like a concept of heallth. The idea of your body's ability to recuperate quickly. The magic system translates to your body's ability to match your spiritual self. When that is depleted, your body in the Cosmere starts to stray (? a bit indistinctive in the recording). Foreign things can get into it, diseases get into you, and your spirit can get a little more corrupted. Your body getting corrupted, your spirit's not getting corrupted. You get it, and it makes you extra connected to your spiritual sense. Your body moves to match it closely and better.

Questioner

So the same about speed and ...

Brandon Sanderson

Those are a little different. But each has their little behind the scenes explanation for myself. The problem is... The physics of it is very Cosmere-physics for Feruchemy, whereas for Allomancy it's a lot more out world physics with a different power source. We're changing that. But the physics do work for me. But obviously it's magic, so I'm breaking them anyway.

Leipzig Book Fair ()
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Questioner

I was wondering: Stormlight doesn't cross walls, because people put their spheres outside. But it crosses the glass of the spheres. Is that material dependent or...

Brandon Sanderson

It's thickness dependent. In the third book there's actually a little place where it's mentioned. Some people put it right inside a little, kind of thin rock portion and the Stormlight can still reach it. So I did that quite intentionally.

Oathbringer London signing ()
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Aurimus [PENDING REVIEW]

As the two Realms, the Cognitive and the Spiritual, are, well, fictional... Are they all comprised of Investiture, completely?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

Yes. No, completely? Well, here's the thing. Investiture, matter, and energy are all the same thing in the cosmere. So, just like energy and matter are the same thing here. So, yes, everything's made of Investiture, in the same way that everything's made of energy in our world. Does that make sense?

Aurimus [PENDING REVIEW]

So, what about what spren are made of in the Cognitive Realm? Is that just Investiture?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

So, yeah, I'll dig more into that. I'm gonna go with Investiture for now, but I could change that as I move along. What I'm kind of debating is, is there a separate Cognitive state, and I don't think so. So I'm gonna go with Investiture for now.

Aurimus [PENDING REVIEW]

How about Connection?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

Connection is, like, the equivalent of a quantum connection in our world, so it's more like a force than something comprised of something. The question is like, "What is gravity comprised of?" And then you start asking weird questions.

Oathbringer Glasgow signing ()
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Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

I wanted to ask whether cake has a soul? In Realmatic theory, stuff has souls. So, somebody turns wheat into flour, and flour has a soul. Do they come together when I bake the cake?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

...So, this gets into some weird cosmere theory stuff. The level that if you are a student of philosophy, you'll recognize just wearing on the sleeve where this one came from. This is a mashup of Shinto beliefs and the theory of the forms by Plato, and kind of its own weird thing, that became Realmatic theory in the cosmere...

So, in the cosmere, things take on an Identity and a soul based on how people perceive them. It's human perception that is creating a lot of this, because the various powers that made the universe have this sort of desire to be sentient. And power left long too long in the cosmere starts thinking, that's just how it goes, and starts thinking of itself the way it is perceived. So, that cake, as soon as its created, the disparate parts of the souls start being thought of as a cake, and start gaining some traction as a cake. If you left that cake alone long enough, which wouldn't take too long for a cake because people don't look at cake and think "Oh, a bunch of wheat and flour." They think "Cake." That thing will start having a combined soul of the various bits of power, and the longer you leave it, the more permanency it's gonna have as a Spiritual artifact in the cosmere.

So, yes, cake has a soul.

General Reddit 2017 ()
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faragorn

Hey Brandon, you mentioned you like A Fire Upon the Deep. So if we could get an artifact, what would happen to a resident Shard if we could create a local Slow Zone? Or better yet, an Unthinking Deeps (although that might be bad for the mortals nearby).

Brandon Sanderson

Ha. You know, I'd never considered this? I guess it depends. I'd say these zones change Cognitive Realm issues--so wouldn't stop the Shards themselves, as they exist in a place of perfect thought and speed. (Spiritual Realm.) It might change how things get between Spiritual and Physical, though.

Boskone 54 ()
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Ironeyes

So, uh, we know that the charcoal creatures are afraid of coins.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Ironeyes

So are the white chalk creatures, which I think are called Shadowblazes…

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Ironeyes

Are they also afraid of coins?

Brandon Sanderson

Are they also afraid of coins? To a much lesser extent. Um, I can give you guys some backstory on this. What’s going on here is that the place these things come from, um, linear structure and things like this are frightening to them, like they come from a non-linear location. Time does not move linearly where they come from. When they come into this world, structure and linear time progression, is bizarre to them. And there are some who have embraced it, and been like, “This is cool and different!” and there are others that are still terrified of it, as a representation of what is so alien from the world they came from. So that’s why we’ve got this whole clocks, and even structure, as a metaphor for, um, something that is terrifying to them.

Uh, Rithmatist started in the Cosmere. The magic shares a lot of its roots, then, in Cosmere magic worldbuilding. I split if off because I wrote the whole first book with it being in the Cosmere. I split it off, saying “No, I don’t want Earth to be in the Cosmere.” Even an alternate version of Earth. It just raises too many questions about the nature of Earth being involved in this. I want the Cosmere to be its own dwarf galaxy of which not even a dimension of Earth is involved. And when I made that decision, I broke Rithmatist off. That’s the only one I had written that didn’t belong, but it still has, so, it means that the magic is going to feel very familiar to you, uh, it’s going to feel like the magic of a, um, of the Cosmere. And Cosmere magic is based around, usually, human beings making a symbiotic bond with an entity made out of the magic. This is, kind of, one of the origins of Cosmere magic, and Rithmatist has, therefore, its roots in that. I’ve done some things since I’ve split it off in the outlines to distinguish it, but it’s going to have the same roots. So you’ll notice some things like that, that are similar.

Questioner

Uh, before you split The Rithmatist from the Cosmere, did the Shadowblazes come from the Cognitive realm?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah. Yeah, the Shadowblazes were in the Cognitive realm, they’re--you know, well, they’re more Spiritual realm. They were Spiritual realm, sorry. They were Spiritual realm entities that got pulled in, uh, to the Physical realm. And the Spiritual realm has no time, um, it exists independent of time and location, all times and all places are one, and so, uh, when something that’s from the Spiritual realm got pulled into the Physical realm, it was like, “This is so weird!” Um, and there are very few things in the Cosmere that exist only on the Spiritual realm, which was a really fun thing I could do with this book, was show that. Cause most things exist on all three realms. Um, so, yeah. So, yeah, I mean if you’ve got, if you’re a Cosmere, uh, theologian--not theologian, magic, uh, what do you call it? Uh, they call that, uh, I have a word for it in-world. But anyway, if you’re a realmatic theorist, you can kind of pick out how the Spiritual realm beings were related, originally, to the realmatic theory.

Words of Radiance Philadelphia signing ()
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Kurkistan

Are flamespren, are they all doing their own thing, or is there some Ideal of "Fire" sitting in the Spiritual Realm that they're all based on?

Brandon Sanderson

Each spren is based on the Ideal of Fire.

Kurkistan

And is that sitting in the Spiritual Realm?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, we're using sort of a Platonic Ideal, and that concept is in force, so *sounds hesitant* "yes", but [spren] are manifestations of it.

Kurkistan

So these Ideals in the Spiritual Realm: Divine Breath, does that heal by accessing some Ideal of Human Health: so a guy who had never had a tongue and doesn't know how to speak all the sudden has a tongue and can speak?

Brandon Sanderson

You are... *LONG pause* You are, um, on the right track.

Kurkistan

Okay.

Brandon Sanderson

Because the Breath is... eh. How can I explain this? You are, yeah... So... So each Breath is a shade of diety, right?

Kurkistan

Yeah.

Brandon Sanderson

And each Breath incorporates into it this sort of idea of being endowed by the deity Endowment, correct?

Kurkistan

Yes.

Brandon Sanderson

And so each Breath you hold brings you one step closer to becoming like that, and so what you're saying is... is "yes", kind of true, yes.

Kurkistan

But it's like within the Breath, not sitting off by itself-

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, yes yes exactly.

Firefight Chicago signing ()
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Kurkistan

So, could you give us some examples of how the ideals that spren represent work in other magic systems, like we have Forging where you get plausibility, or Returned how they're beautiful or any other systems?

Brandon Sanderson

Okay, one more time on that.

Kurkistan

Okay, so you know the ideals the spren are manifestations--

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Kurkistan

How-- Do those have impacts on other magic systems?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, yes, in the same way the Returned- that's the exact same system at work there.

Kurkistan

Is it the same reason why the Lord Ruler has to die of old age, and why you can't heal yourself into being an octopus or something?

Brandon Sanderson

Um... Yes, that is all connected in the exact same way.

Kurkistan

Okay, so it's all like these highfalutin Spiritual ideals?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Kurkistan

And are there like, median Cognitive ideals that gradually kind of influence these, or--

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, they transcend between the three. I mean the original concept for the Three Realms is Platonic philosophy.

Kurkistan

So it goes up *makes absurd reverse-waterfall hand gesture*

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, it goes up and it comes back down. A lot of the Cognitive is-- So like, the Cognitive has a bigger effect on how you can heal and things like that. Does that make sense?

Kurkistan

Yeah.

Brandon Sanderson

But the power to heal is a actually a Spiritual thing.

Kurkistan

So it's like the Spiritual says "I want to be like this" and the Cognitive is like "Okay I'll try really hard to be like that, but I have a limit."

Brandon Sanderson

Right. Right. Filtered through how you see yourself, yeah.

Arcanum Unbounded release party ()
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Questioner

With Warbreaker and Stormlight Archive, Vasher and Zahel. *inaudible*

Brandon Sanderson

He went to Roshar because he knew ahead of time, that you could get Stormlight, and how easy it was. So he made his way there because he was tired of sucking peoples' souls to stay alive.

Questioner

How did he know?

Brandon Sanderson

He, as part of a group of scholars, stumbled upon the nature of worldhopping long ago.

Questioner

Could he the same group of scholars as Jasnah?

Brandon Sanderson

No, it's a group of scholars on Nalthis who were studying magic, Investiture, and stumbled upon the means by which you transition into the Cognitive Realm. So, he actually had experience with Shardbldes before, and that was part of how he built... well, he was part of it, but really...

Questioner

So, is Nightblood kind of like a Shardblade? Is a Shardblade?

Brandon Sanderson

Nightblood is an attempt to make a Shardblade using a different magic. And it turned out poorly.

Questioner

Speaking of Nightblood, how did that transition from Nalthis?

Brandon Sanderson

I have not answered that yet. Eventually, you will find out how they ended up on Roshar.

Stormlight Three Update #6 ()
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Oversleep

I have a philosophy question that could actually be answered in cosmere:

Ship of Theseus in cosmere. If I went and replaced every part of the ship, would it still - Cognitively - be the same thing?

What if I replaced everything and made a second ship out of the parts from the first one? What could somebody watching all of that from Shadesmar tell me?

Brandon Sanderson

You're right, part of the design of the cosmere (which has some deep roots in classical philosophy) was an attempt to answer the Ship of Theseus question.

In the cosmere, part of the Cognitive--and even spiritual--aspect of a thing (particularly if it isn't sentient) is delineated by the way that thinking beings define it. Per the old joke about the axe, if you replace your axe head and think of the new axe as "Your Axe," then the cognitive and spiritual aspects of that thing will grow to reflect that.

If you replaced every part of your ship, and gave the sailors time to sail it, thinking of it as the same ship--it would become the same ship.

Shadows of Self Portland signing ()
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Questioner

Supposing that a skilled Hemalurgist got hold of some a Shardblade or some Shardplate, how would he best use it assuming that the best way isn't to put it on and kill people with it.

Brandon Sanderson

That's probably the best way, to put it on and kill people with it. I'm not sure why a Hemalurgist would want one more than anyone else would because the metal is already Invested which means its not useful to him.

Questioner

So there is no way that he could use a Hemalurgic spike to take some power from the Spren that's crafting it.

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, that's what you're saying. You want to grab something off the Spren? That's gonna be way harder than grabbing one that's not already made into something. So I don't see why he would want the Blade, just go grab it from them. Even then its going to be worse then, probably in most cases, a person. Maybe its possible that spiking yourself with a Spren would be valid, but you don't want to take it out of the Shardblade. That's gonna be harder, but you would probably have to go to the Cognitive either way to make it work, so yeah.

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Questioner

Assuming that it's possible-- There are alternate Physical Realms, is Shadesmar common between them?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes... They don't always call it Shadesmar.

Questioner

Sure, but there is one Cognitive?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. There's one Physical too if you think about it.

Questioner

Well... Between the books...

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah but there's one Physical-- There's one universe, it's all the Physical Realm, just like there is one Cognitive Realm.

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Questioner

Is there meant to be a direct connection between the efficiency for transferring Breaths and the stamp magic from The Emperor’s Soul?

Brandon Sanderson

There's not meant to be a direct correlation only in that the magics both work on the same fundamental rules, like all of them do.

Questioner

Okay.

Brandon Sanderson

I wasn't specifically linking those two in any way in my head when I was working on them.

Questioner

Okay, because I was just wondering with the fact that the stamps work better with what there supposed to be like...and the Breath work better--

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah. That's just a fundamental of the Cosmere, the whole idea of perception, what you're thinking, how much something matches what you're doing, and how well you're able to visualize what you want to have happen. This is all related in the cognitive aspects of the magic, basically, and the spiritual, I suppose.

Boskone 54 ()
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Questioner

If you draw a line of forbiddance on a piece of on a chalkboard that’s sitting on the ground and then hit that chalkboard, will the chalkboard move?

Brandon Sanderson

This is the number one question I get, actually. The answer is, it depends on the size of the line and the amount of power that’s been put into it. This is actually relating back to Cosmere physics. If you look at the Cosmere physics, you can see exactly what happens with the speed bubbles, it’s the same sort of principle. It’s based on perception. So putting a movable line, oftentimes you will just have trouble engaging the magic on something that’s not stable enough to be viewed as stable. Drawing it on a chalkboard and then turning it toward somebody actually wouldn’t work, because you wouldn’t be able to engage that line very easily with the way the magic works. And if you did, it would disrupt the line, and it would be gone. Treat whatever I do with speed bubbles as the rule for Rithmatist magic, until I write the second book. If I decide to take it in it’s own direction, I will let you guys know.

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ccstat

We know that recording things can lock spren into position in the cognitive realm. Does the existence of the written Diagram have a significant Realmatic effect.

Brandon Sanderson

The Diagram has Realmatic significance.

ccstat

Did Taravangian know that when he wrote it?

Brandon Sanderson

Define “know.” On the same level perhaps that a table on Roshar knows it’s a table.

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Djarskublar

So, say you have a gold/gold Twinborn and they worldhop to Roshar and they study the magic and do the whole Khriss and Nazh thing for a while so they know a lot about the magic, but they've also left themselves a lot of options with what they can do. So then they manage to pull up a gold shadow of them having actually become a Surgebinder and then kind of meld themselves with that shadow a bunch, could they change their Cognitive Identity enough so that they could, like, tap a lot of gold and grow the spren and actually be a Surgebinder?

Brandon Sanderson

Unfortunately, no. It's a good question, but no. That won't work for a couple of reasons. One of which is, simply creating Investiture is not something that can happen, right?

Djarskublar

They are a gold Twinborn, so they can tap a lot of gold...

Brandon Sanderson

They can tap a whole bunch, that's true, they can do that, but simply having it is not gonna create a spren because the spren is from a different god, right, a different Shard.

Djarskublar

So if they had Regrowth cast on them, would that do it?

Brandon Sanderson

*hems and haws for a second*

Djarskublar

A really, really big Regrowth, like in the middle of a Highstorm.

Brandon Sanderson

Hmmm, this, you are getting to the realm of plausibility at that point. I still don't think gold is the way to do it. I think you just get all that Investiture. It would become sapient by you sticking a whole bunch of Investiture in, and then you can bond to that. But it's not like people gain what you would have done. Does that make sense? That's just what's going to happen, is you're gonna, you can create a, potentially create a spren that way, but you are more likely to end up with something like Nightblood. But you could potentially create a spren, but I mean you're just gonna end up...

Djarskublar

So there are other, more optimal ways to do that?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, go bond a spren. (evil grin of course)

Djarskublar

But you can't easily bond multiple, and if you did this you could maybe get multiple.

Brandon Sanderson

Nyeaaahhh... The spren still has to choose. If you want to be a Surgebinder, the choice is being made. You can't fake your way into it. Decision and Honor are too much a part of Surgebinding for you to be able to fake your way into that. Other magics you might be able to do that. Other magics that don't require, like... Surgebinding works because a piece of Honor or Cultivation or a mix has chosen you specifically. There is will from the actual Investiture involved in it in Roshar. So it's not something you can cheat your way into, right. But cheating your way into Breath might be easier.

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Questioner

At what point in making the Rithmatist magic system did the concept of the beauty of the drawings come in?

Brandon Sanderson

The beauty of the drawings is related to the idea of your perception influencing magic, which is a Cosmere rule. Giving things a mental order, the Cognitive aspect of it, it’s the same way that in Warbreaker, when you give an order to something you’ve Awakened with the magic, the way you perceive that order directly influences how it plays it out. I built this in because, number one, it’s better for philosophy if the answers aren’t, in some of these things, [internal?] answers where the author has said, “Truth is capital T Truth”, where the characters’ perceptions of truth allows for different people to believe different things and both be arguably right. Also because I wanted all the magic in the Cosmere to have some root in the Cognitive Realm. The idea of the magic there is, there’s a Spiritual thing which is kind of unknowable, kind of eternal, kind of all-places-one, there’s a Cognitive aspect, which is how you perceive it influences it, and then there’s the Physical world. The chalklings were built that way, how beautiful you perceive it as being, or the beings involved in this perceive it as being, will influence how well it works.

Second Questioner

In the books, in Rithmatist, you state that the better drawn a shape is, or a creation is, that makes it more powerful. Would that mean that if you drew a cube, would that be more powerful than a square?

Brandon Sanderson

The complexity of it, and how people perceive, you could make an argument that there’s some people who would be like, “The perfect cube is so hard to draw that that is inspiring”, but the average people, if you said, ”Who’s going to win this battle: this cool knight that I drew, or this cube?”, they’d say the cool knight. So that sort of general perception plays a lot into how it works.

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Questioner

[Can’t hear the actual question]

Brandon Sanderson

Elantris’s magic is location based because the primary source of the magic is located in the Cognitive Realm. Most of the worlds, the primary source of the magic is the Spiritual Realm, where all places are one. So for instance, Mistborn, you can go anywhere in the Cosmere and use the magic. Elantris, you can’t, because Devotion and Dominion were killed and their bodies were stuffed into the Cognitive Realm and the magic is being powered that way.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Seventy

The Reason for the Mistsickness

So, it finally comes out. I wonder at this numbers plot, as I think many readers will glaze over it and ignore it. I think others will read into it and figure out what it means very quickly, then feel that the reveal here isn't much of a revelation. Hopefully I'll get a majority in the middle who read the clues, don't know what they mean, but are happily surprised when it comes together. That's a difficult line to walk sometimes.

What is going on here is that the mists are awakening the Allomantic potential inside of people. It's very rough on a person for that to come out, and can cause death. Preservation set this all up before he gave his consciousness to imprison Ruin, so it's not a perfect system. It's like a machine left behind by its creator. The catalyst is the return of the power to the Well of Ascension. As soon as that power becomes full, it sets the mists to begin Snapping those who have the potential for Allomancy buried within them.

Many of these people won't be very strong Allomancers. Their abilities were buried too deeply to have come out without the mists' intervention. Others will have a more typical level of power; they might have Snapped earlier, had they gone through enough anguish to bring the power out.

My idea on this is that Allomantic potential is a little like a supersaturated solution. You can suspend a great deal of something like sugar in a liquid when it is hot, then cool it down and the sugar remains suspended. Drop one bit of sugar in there as a catalyst, however, and the rest will fall out as a precipitate.

Allomancy is the same. It's in there, but it takes a reaction—in this case, physical anguish—to trigger it and bring it out. That's because the Allomantic power comes from the extra bit of Preservation inside of humans, that same extra bit that gives us free will. This bit is trapped between the opposing forces of Preservation and Ruin, and to come out and allow it the power to access metals and draw forth energy, it needs to fight its way through the piece of Ruin that is also there inside.

As has been established, Ruin's control over creatures—and, indeed, an Allomancer's control over them—grows weaker when that creature is going through some extreme emotions. (Like the koloss blood frenzy.) This has to do with the relationship between the Cognitive Realm, the Physical Realm, and the Spiritual Realm—of which I don't have time to speak right now.

Suffice it to say that there are people who have Snapped because of intense joy or other emotions. It just doesn't happen as frequently and is more difficult to control.