On Earth, we have like snakes that have heat pits that can sense heat and bugs that see into ultraviolet. On Roshar, are there varieties of cremlings that can see Investiture.
Yes. <smug mhm-ing>
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On Earth, we have like snakes that have heat pits that can sense heat and bugs that see into ultraviolet. On Roshar, are there varieties of cremlings that can see Investiture.
Yes. <smug mhm-ing>
The world map for Roshar changed dramatically between various iterations of the book.
Work on this novel started when I was fifteen. Back then, most of the plots and characters were combined with another world of mine, called Yolen. (That's where the book Dragonsteel takes place.) Somewhere in my early 20s, after I had a whole lot more experience and knew (kind of) what I was doing, I realized that the plots I had going in this world didn't click well together, so I divided the books into two separate series.
I wrote Dragonsteel first, back in 1999 or 2000. (Although Dragonsteel was the third book I wrote in the cosmere—after White Sand and Elantris—it was meant to be the chronological origin of the sequence. Hoid was one of the main characters of that series. The first book even includes significant viewpoints from him.)
I started outlining The Way of Kings fairly soon after. That original map I imagined as a continent with three prongs facing downward, with a connection at the top. There was the Alethi prong in the center, Shinovar to the west, and a long prong with Natanatan on the east.
Over the years, my worldbuilding skills grew. And part of that growth was realizing that the map I'd designed didn't work well for the story I wanted to tell. I wanted something better, and I changed designs.
I gave Isaac the outline of this world that became Roshar. (Based on an iteration of a Julia set, though for a while I played around with making the whole continent a cymatic shape.) That didn't happen for Mistborn, where I basically just told him, "Make the world map as you wish, with these guidelines." Mistborn, I knew, was going to happen basically in a couple of cities.
The Way of Kings was going to be huge, and I wanted scope for the project. That meant a big, epic map. I'm very pleased with Isaac's work here. Do note that this is a southern hemisphere continent, with the equator up north.
In the cosmere, sixteen is obviously a very important number, or very significant, but on Roshar everything comes in groups of ten. Is that a cultural construction or is that really how things are being grouped on that planet?
It is both. It is a cultural construction that came from slight cosmere events that are not super, super, super important. Like, there's a reason we think in base ten, right? Is it important to the universe? Meh? Right... And it's maybe a little more on Roshar, but at the same time it's like**
There are ten orders of Surgebinders. Did they order them that way? Or are there actually sixteen different--
Well, it kind of goes back to there were ten [Heralds] with ten sets of power given by Honor, and Honor is an individual, right, so does that make sense? You cannot separate, in a lot of places in the cosmere, the perspectives of the sapient beings who are interfering with what's going on. Even going back to the number sixteen.
I asked Brandon just how many secret societies were on Roshar.
There are nine currently working.
Szeth refers to Nightblood as sword-nimi. What is the -nimi ending?
It is an honorific.
And why does he call it "sword", and not by its name?
It has not told him its name.
Is ten of significance in Roshar as sixteen is on Scadrial?
Yes, it is.
It feels like Roshar is-- has an essence, where it’s like a prism, you can see all the rest of them, due to the nature of the Cognitive Realm and the spren’s ideas, Cognitive things coming to light. Have I spent too much time looking at the Shard?
No, you are on the right path. Of all the things you noted, that one is the one that is perhaps the most important.
The prism idea.
The idea that Roshar is special and a key on Shadesmar.
What role will the chasmfiends play?
So there's a bunch of different roles for the chasmfiends that are all minor but-- For instance, I don't think anyone's made this connection, thunderclasts have chasmfiend-- it's part of the in-world inspiration for thunderclasts. And really chasmfiends exist in part to show off the symbiotic relationship between certain spren and certain creatures on Roshar. So when people who read the first book who know a little about physics can be like "Uhh, Mr. Sanderson" and I'm like "Well, look at these things that are flowing around this thing when it dies." It's an introduction of gemhearts and things like this. And the ability of certain creatures on Roshar to hold Investiture permanently, as Szeth says, rather than it seeping away like it does to humans.
How do they handle, like, trash and bathrooms in the Purelake? How does that work?
Fortunately, you have a couple of things going on here. You fortunately have low population. You have highstorms and driving and-- so, the waste is broken down really easily. The trash is a problem. But it's a pre-industrial society, so the trash is not stuff that doesn't ever biodegrade, and things like this, and you do have traders going through, and things like this. So, it all kind of works out. It's the low population that's really helping with a lot of this. It's not as bad, a big a deal as you would think it is...
All of Roshar has a slight issue in that you just can't bury things, but you do have the crem that comes down and hardens around things and creates a layer of stone, and things like this. In my opinion, the way I've worked it out, it all just kind of works out just fine...
It's no bigger a deal in the Purelake, in other words, than these other places. In fact it's kind of a smaller deal. Like, you might ask, like, traveling out on the greatshells in the Reshi Sea, they would have a harder problem in some ways, 'cause they have a tight population density on top of something that they also can't bury anything, and stuff like that. I just had to work out the ecology of the system to work.
How much involvement does the other planet in the same system as Roshar have with Roshar?
*long pause* Your question has a fundamental flaw to it.
And that is?
That there are multiple planets that have an influence on Roshar.
I thought there were multiple planets in the system that...
There are, but you said "the other", there are more than one so the phrase, "the other" doesn't make sense.
How much influence do the other planets have?
A great deal.
On Roshar, do the humans predate the two Shards coming there, or did they come with the Shards?
The humans were...not created by Honor, Cultivation or Odium.
With all the linguistic elements in Stormlight, how much have you done in the way of mapping out the linguistic history of Roshar, ie deciding that this modern language descends from this older language, which descends from that ancient language that also gave rise to all these other languages, etc.?
I've done a surprising amount of this. The linguist in me slipping out. The vowel shifts are one of my favorites.
I know you went on mission in Korea, as did I, did anything come from that?
Yeah, quite a number of things have been influenced by it. I'd say the biggest influence is Elantris, the writing system is based on the idea of Korean and Chinese mixed together. But Asian philosophy, like the kami and things like that are also common in Korea, that belief that everything has a soul. So yeah it's had a huge influence on me, just the way I worldbuild-- I mean just the fact, I don't know if you've read The Way of Kings… I don't know if you know but everyone's Asian, right? Like Szeth, the white dude, is the one that looks weird them. And that's just because-- It was partially influenced by that.
I heard you talk about the Vorin languages have a vowel shift. I'm a linguist so...
I'm kind of bad at vowel shifts, but it does have a vowel shift. You'll see Kalak being called Kelek, and some of these things like this. And I try to stay consistent with it, but I've also not been as rigorous with it as I maybe should be. Peter always points out little errors I've made. So it's a vowel shift that has some inconsistencies, how about that. But of course, real-world vowels shifts have it.
You need to publish something only about the conlang.
Only about the linguistics? Yeah, having an assistant who has a degree in linguistics is really handy. Peter's been of very big use, particularly on Stormlight, because I didn't have him before those books. I just kind of had to muddle through it. And now I've got him. I'll call him up and say, "Pronounce this; pronounce this." There are lots of names in Stormlight that I can't pronounce that he can... The Arabic /q/ ...he can do, and I can't. Which we use a lot in some of the names over in Azir, and stuff like that.
Now that jet lag is a thing in Roshar, what is the time difference between Shinovar and the Shattered Plains.
I'm gonna do what I call a PAFO, which is: my assistant Peter is the one who tracks all of that. I have offloaded that to him. I used to keep all that stuff in my brain, but I just don't have space. Ask Peter.
This whole talk of both Roshar and the highstorms, I'm glad that you said they predate the Shattering. There are some people on 17th Shard, myself included, that firmly believe the entire continent is crem that's accumulated, one highstorm at a time.
Good. Let me actually squish that one a little bit because there are mineral deposits that have been mentioned that you have to mine. And crem-- There isactual ferrous iron that you can smelt on Roshar, you have to know how to get to it and things like that, and there are actual gemstone mines and things like that. Much harder to get to and Soulcasting is a stopgap that has helped with this a lot, but there are actual deposits and things like that.
Is the crem--is it natural--are the highstorms magically created and that's why--
Yeah the crem is there to keep the continent from washing away. So I had to add a magical element that, if it were not in the cosmere with magic, this would not work.
Is that why the Weepings don't have crem, is that's a natural storm?
That is because I didn't want there to be too much crem at that point. These are all story structure things, instead. World-wise, I would say a little more natural, sort of blow off steam, there.
Why does Vorinism use imperial instead of metric base ten?
They don't really use imperial. The words don't mean quite the same thing. A foot or mile won't correspond to the exact same measurement.
But still, why don't they use a metric system? They're all about number 10.
Who said they don't? The foot has ten inches.
It says that it's dangerous to travel to Shadesmar on Sel. Why?
It has to do with the Dor and the lack of an entity controlling much of the power Odium left in his wake on Sel.
Woah, that's interesting. I had no idea Odium left little bits of his power on Sel... I guess it kinda makes sense for evil monks to be powered by pure hate, though.
Odium did not leave his power behind, one should note. He left several other powers which are now, to a large extent, mindless...
If you wouldn't mind answering, does Roshar have a similar problem, with Honor being Splintered?
No, Roshar does not have the same problem. There are some differences going on. (One reason being that the spren are far more extensive on Roshar, and provide something of a "release valve." The seons and the skaze on Sel are not numerous enough to fulfill a similar function. Though, of course, that's only one part of the puzzle. Raw power is dangerous.
It's one reason everyone should be thankful Kelsier was around on Scadrial.
So we already know that Vasher was Kaladin's trainer with a Shardblade, 'cause you told me that last time I asked you. So does Vasher just have a large mass of Biochromatic Breaths and that's how he's surviving, or is he somehow feeding off Stormlight while he is there?
He is feeding off of Stormlight, which is the primary reason why he came to Roshar. Investiture is easy to access in plentiful amounts.
How did he know how to use Shardblades so well when he got there, is that related to how they created Nightblood
Yes, he has experience with Roshar from hundreds of years ago.
We know that 10 is an odd number in the cosmere. And I noticed that the Lord Ruler specifically released 10 Allomantic metals. Was there a reason behind that or is that just a coincidence?
No, that was a coincidence right there. Ten is an odd cosmere number for Roshar, and there are reasons why this is. . .
Well it wasn't just Roshar, it was also Nalthis in Warbreaker.
Nope, that one is a coincidence. Sometimes they just pop up that way. Part of the original reason that Roshar was 10 was I was going for a 10 day like Robert Jordan did, which I thought was cool. But then I ended up writing the Wheel of Time so I'm like 'I have to do something different now'. So it turned into the two five-day weeks. Two five-days becoming a 50 day month.
I'm a geologist. I was wondering does Scadrial have tectonics the way Earth does?
Yes. Scadrial does have tectonics. Roshar doesn't. I think it's the only one I built that doesn't, because of some specific things. But yes, Scadrial tectonic.
How many Shards have existed on Roshar?
Did Lightday exist before humans arrived at Roshar exactly as it is now, a day without rain in the middle of every other Weeping?
Hm. I'll RAFO this, as I might flashback to this time in the second half of The Stormlight Archive.
So, I was wondering, as a dyslexic, when you were designing Thaylen names, was that intentionally a massive practical joke on your part?
No. Though I will admit, when I was designing Thaylen names, I had a little bit of Welsh going on, and things like that. Now, one of my good friends, actually, the person this book is dedicated to, Alan Layton, is dyslexic. He was one of the people I brainstormed Stormlight with, but he listens to them all on audio. It's more a practical joke on the people who read the audiobooks, because I don't know how they read those names sometimes. But they also have to do Rock's name, right? Numuhukumakiaki'aialunamor. I make them do stuff like that.
What was your favorite world to make?
Probably Roshar, because there was the most space for me to plan, the most complexity to work with.
So Roshar is pretty small on the map. Are there other species on the planet that we don't know about?
Roshar is primarily the one continent. There are no other continents.
No other continents?
No other continents... There are no other major landmasses on the planet.
Was Roshar equally Invested by Cultivation and Honor originally?
How 'bout now, since he's been--
So the Investiture is all still there... It is not all accessible. So, at this point, you might say-- I'd say it's a point of disputation. It would be worth arguing either way. I will say at this point, no, it's not equal anymore. But definitions of where the power is and what it counts as is ambiguous.
So Cultivation has more active Investiture?
Yes, I would say yes... Well, but she's been very coy. I'm gonna leave it at that.
A friend of mine wanted me to ask: Was the cataclysm that rocked Ashyn and forced its inhabitants into the flying cities Investiture-based, and if it was was it Shardic in nature?
The same cataclysm that the-- did you finish [Oathbringer]?
The same cataclysm that they were fleeing, that they caused, is the one that forced people into the skies...
On Roshar, the Alethi, their hair breeds... I was wondering, what happens if, say, Adolin and Shalan have a child. Does that child have red and black and golden hair? Does this mean that at some point in the future you could have a rainbow haired child?
You can have a rainbow haired child on Roshar. Do know that the hair breeds true. It's easy for it to be bred out.
Is there more to the Roshar world than what is shown on the map or is it just that?
There is only one continent. Now if you are paying attention, that's not answering your question completely.
It's just different realms and all that. I meant like more landmass.
There is only one continent on Roshar.
Just different versions of it.
That doesn't mean there aren't islands out there.
Now the Mistborn world there is a whole lot more.
We've only had that one little part so far.
Yeah, but it's basically almost all empty because... Which is actually very fun for the worldbuilding, is this idea of a mostly unpopulated world.
So the highstorms, they're just one storm that goes around the world or--
Well there are different philosophies in the world about that but-- The scientifically-minded believe their is only one storm that goes around the world. The lore says that there is a place the storms blow out of called the Origin. But the scientists don't believe that that is true.
So a friend and I who share a passion for sword fighting have been trying to find the real world correlates for the stances that Sharbearers use. So far we've made connections between Windstance and Haidong Gumdo, and Smokestance and the late Medieval/early Renaissance fencing. I was wondering if you could give us more information or at least hints on the other real world correlates?
I developed these with Ben McSweeney's help, and we plan to include representations of all the stances eventually. However, a few are NOT based on real-world equivalents, because of the size of Shardblades. Look at how various very-large weapons like zweihanders or Zanbat's were used.
Are sandlings from white sand an early concept for crustaceans on Roshar, with greatshells being a parallel to deep sandlings?
No, um, the idea for white sand came first, and it was more that I was exploring divergent ecology, but I've been doing that in Dragonsteel and in White Sand and in here with Roshar. I would say that the fact that white sand hadn't been published meant that I could do something's that were similar without worrying about repeating myself, but it's not like I used them specifically as models.
*jokingly* So are we going to get to see little dragons running around in Dragonsteel?
Uh, well, in Dragonsteel the dragons are sapient, so when I write Dragonsteel I will put dragons in there, but the dragons are intelligent and uh, can take human form, but there are actual little dragons.
Wait, they can take human form?
Yes, yes, yup.
How do the Roshar natives know the name of the cosmere?
Are the "magic fish" of the Purelake the result of symbiotic bonds with spren?
Yes they are. Many creatures on Roshar have such interactions with spren.
Awakening and Surgebinding, Stormlight and Breath seem really similar in some aspects--
--except Breaths seem to stick to things better--
--than Stormlight. So when you are holding the Breath it doesn't expire when you put it in something it doesn't go away. Can you tell me something about why that's happening?
Part of this is kind of inherent to the Shard and the power it's coming from. I mean the power of Endowment is just going to stick, that's part of the nature of its magic. Does that make sense? But it also kind of has to do with how the ecosystems are working. For instance the Stormlight is essential to the ecosystem of Roshar, it needs to be expended, it needs to get out and-- It's like evaporation, does that make sense?
Recycling? Not the recycling but the cycle of--
Yeah, yeah like the cycle of water. And so just part of the way the nature of it works, it has to get out, it has to leak out, it has to run out. I mean it leaks even from spheres, right?
And when you lash things it's temporary--
Yep. And even though Szeth says that he thought Voidbringers could hold it they can't. Like it is just not the way that it works.
Can they just hold it better?
They can hold it better. It's not permanent. Now there are things that can do it permanently but--
Like the black sphere for example?
Well we are not going to... The black sphere is something different. You guys have guessed what the black sphere is, right?
Well we have some ideas. I support that it holds an Unmade. Am I wrong?
I'm not going to answer that.
But you said--
I'm just curious what the theories are. Book 3 the black sphere is-- Everyone who reads the books will know what the black sphere is by the end of Book 3.
So I have a question about the cosmere. I recently read The Stormlight Archive books and I love them, and then I reread Warbreaker and I noticed something. When Siri was teaching the God King how to read, she says one of the letters is called shash and this is the name of one of Kaladin's slave brands. I was wondering why.
It was just a coincidence, that one's been asked of me before, yeah it's just a coincidence.
You used the Julia Set as a basis for the map of Roshar; Is there any meaning beyond it, using the Julia Set? Or is more, "This is striking to me-"
The meaning is my fascination as a layman with fractals and equations. It is supposed to mean something in world; that Roshar was grown with a mathematical equation.
But not specifically that one?
Not specifically the Julia Set. You can't learn much from the Julia Set.
This is about certain people from Nalthis... living on Roshar and how they are living on Roshar. Could they also do that on Scadrial?
Scadrial would be a lot harder because getting the Investiture out of things on Scadrial is tough, there are ways you could do it but it would be much more difficult.
Does that have to do with the Investiture being more directed?
Yeah, it's more the genetic component is a big part of it. The directed component-- In Roshar its just flowing around all over the place. For instance, if he could get to a Shardpool he could feed off that, but then he's at the Shardpool and that's kind of dangerous and things. Roshar is really the easiest place in the cosmere for him to consistently get this sort of stuff. Taldain would not be bad either, that's the White Sand world but it is inaccessible currently in the cosmere
How advanced is astronomy on Roshar? Because it's something you haven't really talked about, and I'm thinking--
Depends on the region. Some people, the astronomy's getting moderately well.
Surely they've seen Ashyn and Braize in the sky, and I'm wondering how long it will be before they start detecting signs of civilization on Ashyn.
That would depend on a couple of things, such as, the easiest way to detect civilization is with radio waves, so-- You need some good telescopes. I don't think that would be, even if they spotted it, as revolutionary as you might think it would be, because we thought there were people on all of our planets for most of the history of mankind, and it didn't really affect how we viewed cosmology. I think if you went to Roshar and asked them, they'd be like "Yeah, totally, people live on those planets. Obviously." Just like if you went back and said "Do people live on the moon?" in the 1700s, people would be like, "Yeah probably, seems like they must."
Does Roshar experience storms outside of the highstorms and the Weepings? And if so, how often would Shinovar get them?
So, the weather patterns are dominated by the highstorms. Non-highstorm storms are rare but do occur. The further to the west you get, the harder it is to tell the difference between a highstorm and a regular storm. Like, in Shinovar, a highstorm is just kind of like-- it feels like what a storm you might get here, or even weaker. But they do happen. They're gonna happen, most often you're going to notice them in the quote-unquote "summers," when the highstorms are further apart.
Is there a reason, with 16 being such an important number, that there are only 10 orders of Radiants
That is relevant.
Am I going to have to read and find out?
Let's just say 10 is a number that is relevant to Roshar and its inhabitants.
And what's the significance of the number 10?
The significance is that it is very significant.
Will we find out by reading it?
Maybe, that's why you're getting a RAFO. Potentially.
Is it cold enough on Roshar for snow?
Only in the mountains.
Do you get a highsnowstorm?
In the mountains, yes, it's very weird. And it's only in the tops of the mountains. There is. But you will see this when and if we visit the Horneater Peaks, which are covered in snow, except for the hot springs.
Are there snowspren?
*offhandedly* The Sunmaker was about 500 years ago, pretty much right after the Heirocracy. The Recreance was about 2,000 years ago.
Is year one on the [Rosharan] calendar related to Vorinism in some way?
I would have to go look. I can't remember. I know it's in there.
Music on Roshar... How, why is it important, I mean more a why--
Why music? Music, the Rhythms you are speaking about specifically, or what?
...There seems to be a lot that connects to music, with like the Dawnsingers, there's lots of people hearing the Rhythms--
It all comes from the Rhythms. That's all kind of interconnected.
So they kind of hear where the Rhythms are originally coming from?
I'm not saying that.
My question has to do with the color of Shallan's eyes currently, because we've noticed over the books that Kaladin's eyes, as he's continued to use his Surge, changed to lighter and lighter blue. Whereas one could argue that Shallan is farther in her Ideals than Kaladin is, yet her eyes have not changed at all.
Right, 'cause they were already light.
'Cause they were already light? So it only affects lightness or darkness in the eyes, not necessarily any other color?
It's not like it is-- It's not like it's saying "Light minus 50%".
It's not like Honor is blue and--
No. It is not. It is just kind of the way that the changes the Stormlight is making the body and certain people are already descended from people who had repeated, over time, changes by the body which stopped physically... That's not to say that all lighteyes that's where they came from. There are some that are natural mutations.
Apparently that’s the southern continent, are we going to see the northern continent?
What, on Roshar? Roshar is only-- it is a pangaea. On Scadrial, you've got a lot more going on-- That's the Mistborn world. So you will see multiple different continents there.