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/r/fantasy AMA 2013 ()
#2 Copy

Herowannabe

I recently picked up the Mistborn Adventure game and am loving it. I made a character who is a blind Mistborn because hey, I thought it would make for some interesting possibilities. As I understand Allomancy, he can hear/sense well enough to get around with Tin, plus even though he's blind he can still "see" steel lines (like the inquisitors), and I assume Atium would work the same way- that is, he could still "see" Atium shadows. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

Brandon Sanderson

No, you're right. That works. He'd have to burn metals a LOT though. It might warp him a little. :)

Oathbringer Leeds signing ()
#4 Copy

Questioner 1 [PENDING REVIEW]

Do all Soulcasters risk turning into the element or is it only those using the device?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

All Soulcasters have an affinity but the ones using the device are locked down much more than the Soulcasters who are Knights Radiant.

Questioner 1 [PENDING REVIEW]

So they are protected from being turned into--

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

Oh no they-- I wouldn't say protected... *clarificaiton* Protected is the wrong term but that event, the savanthood and how it affects them and things like that is much less pronounced if you are a [Knight].

Questioner 1 [PENDING REVIEW]

Or is that counteracted by the healing as well?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

Healing doesn't have to do with it because-- in cosmere terms there's nothing wrong with your body, your spirit is actually drifting, and so it's not hurting you physically by what's happening with the magics. So it's not the healing but if you have an active bond with a spren it takes a little different path. Let's just say, in simple terms--

Questioner 1 [PENDING REVIEW]

You are not losing body parts to smoke.

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

Yes, you are not using body parts to smoke. 

Questioner 1 [PENDING REVIEW]

What timeframe does it happen for the normal Soulcasters then?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

For normal Soulcasters? It takes-- I mean, you've seen it happening in the books. We are talking [about] a process of years even decades, depending on the person. It happens to some--

Questioner 2 [PENDING REVIEW]

Depending on how often they Soulcast?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

It depends on how often they Soulcast, and it depends on the person. 

Skyward Chicago signing ()
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Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

As far as Hemalurgy, when you it's done to somebody, would that create a new Resonance?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

It's possible that it could. Though I'm gonna say, most of the time, no. Lots of things are possible, but I'll give you a "mostly no" on that one.

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

What about savantism? Is that possible with Hemalurgy?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

Yes, it is.

Miscellaneous 2016 ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Warning, Evgeni. I'm really considering doing a backpedal on Savants. The more i think about them, the less I'm not liking how my current course has them being treated in upcoming books. I think it deviates too far from my original vision.

Argent

Hey, I wouldn't normally contact you directly like this, but given that you thought it important enough to reach out and let me know you might change how savants work, I figured you probably wouldn't be too upset by this message. I replied to your Facebook comment, asking if you could clarify a little bit which aspects of savantism you are thinking of keeping and/or cutting. I don't need an essay on the topic (though you know I'd love one!), just some details on what we can consider canon for theories, and what we should be careful around.

Brandon Sanderson

Evgeni,

So here's the problem. The more I dig into savants in the later outlines, the more I feel that I'm in a dangerous area--in that I'm disobeying their original intention. (Which is that using the power so much that it permeates your soul can be dangerous, a kind of uncontrolled version of a spren bond.)

And so, I don't want to let myself just start making people savants right and left. It needs to be a specific thing. Wax is the troubling one, as I have him burning so much steel that he's well on his way, but isn't showing any side effects. If I'm going to give him savant-like abilities, he needs savant-like consequences.

That's the danger, just falling back on savanthood to do some of the things I want, so often that it undermines the actual point and purpose of them in the cosmere lore.

So if I backpedal, it will be to contain this and point myself the right way, sharply curtailing my desire to make people savants without their savanthood being an intrinsic part of their story and conflict in life. (Like it was for Spook, and is for soulcasting savants on Roshar.)

Feel free to share this.

Argent

Okay, so - if you do decide to go this route, I see the story implications (larger focus on consequences, less easy to get to the point where a character can be considered a savant). What I am not sure about is the potential for a mechanical change. Would a backpedal on your side cause a conflict with information you've shared with us, in or out of your books? Are you saying that it's possible that Wax won't be considered a savant (if you can't squeeze a good ramifications plot for him that doesn't contradict the apparent lack of consequences so far, for example)?

Brandon Sanderson

I haven't decided on anything yet. It's mostly consequences for the future--just a kind of, "be aware I'm not 100% pleased with how Wax turned out, re: savanthood and Allomantic resonance."

The idea of resonance is that two powers, combined, meld kind of into one single power. This is a manifestation of the way Shards combine. Wax was intended as a savant of the two melded powers. But without consequences in his plot, I'm not confident that I'll continue in the same vein for future books.

Footnote: The first message comes from Brandon reaching out to Argent (Evgeni) on Facebook with a follow-up regarding this entry. This rest is from a Reddit PM exchange between Argent and Brandon.
Oathbringer San Francisco signing ()
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Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

I want to know if there is a toxic level for Stormlight? If you're in the storm, can you get to the point where you have too much?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

No, it doesn't quite work that way. Good question, though.

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

You said there was one person, I guess it was the Soulcasters, who were starting to change because of that?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

That's more the magic changing their soul over time. It's not necessarily a function of the storms.

Arcanum Unbounded Chicago signing ()
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Questioner

So Allomantic Savants. So I was curious-- That system-- When that happens, is it purely physiological, or is there something else happening in terms of--

Brandon Sanderson

Uhh, it's physiological in a cosmere sense, but that can involve your Cognitive and Spiritual aspects.

Questioner

I guess the question there is, are there other similar processes to savantism with other--

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, yeah you've seen it. So, Soulcasters.

Argent

Where their skin turns--

Brandon Sanderson

Where they're slowly being-- their spirit is slowly being merged and infused with Investiture that is having Physical ramifications. It's the same thing.

Legion Release Party ()
#12 Copy

Podman36 [PENDING REVIEW]

So, in the scene where Kelsier has all the metal around him, and he's Pushing and Pulling on [parts of the metal that are] not center of mass, is that something more along the lines of savantism, or is it just Rule of Cool?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

No no, that I was pushing toward... I wouldn't call Kelsier a savant, but I would say that there were certainly steps toward that, and it's something I actually wanted people who were really skilled with the magic to be able to do.

Podman36 [PENDING REVIEW]

So it's not Rule of Cool.

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

I would not call that one Rule of Cool, I would say that I want that to actually be part of the magic, that I wanted there to be some level, particularly in Pushing and Pulling, of skill that lets you deviate from the normal. And I've tried to show in other places that people who are really skilled can do some different things like that, particularly with Pushing and Pulling, both on emotions and on metals. So no, not Rule of Cool there, I do occasionally do Rule of Cool stuff, but I wouldn't call that one.

The Alloy of Law Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Marasi is an Allomancer

One of my big goals in these post-epic Mistborn books is to give a chance for more limited-power people (Mistings and their Feruchemical cousins, Ferrings) a chance to shine. In the previous trilogy, the focus really was on the Mistborn. Vin and Kelsier fit the epic fantasy mindset I wanted, powerful in an epic sort of way, broadly capable with abilities in a lot of areas.

For these books, I wanted to show people who had one or two powers, instead of sixteen, and show how specialization can achieve some incredible results. Because of that, I intentionally held back in the first trilogy in letting Vin do a few things. (Note how much better Zane was with minute steelpushes and ironpulls than she was.) Vin was incredibly skilled, but because she had so many powers to work with, she didn't home in as much on any one of them. Things like Wax's steel bubble are tricks I wanted to save for people like Wax. (He's what we’d call in the Mistborn world a steel savant, so capable with his metal—and having burned it so long, for so many years—that he's got an instinctive ability with it that lets him be very precise.)

And so we come to Marasi, who has the power opposite—but paired with—Wayne's ability. Both she and Wayne have powers I wanted to delve into. Indeed, I kind of promised that the last metals would get highlighted in these newer books. Matching that, I've given Miles the same power the Lord Ruler used to heal himself from so many incredible wounds. I wanted to explore more of what this skill was capable of when not overshadowed by so many other powers and abilities.

Arcanum Unbounded Chicago signing ()
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Argent

Have we seen the Resonances of either Wax or Wayne?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, well, Wax is really good at sculpting bullets and things away from him.

Argent

The bubble.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah and things like this. This is playing with the fact that he is-- Let's just say that the abilities make this happen, and I’ll let you theorize on why, but it's just an enhancement to what he can do.

Argent

I might be wrong, but I thought you said it was because he was becoming a steel savant.

Brandon Sanderson

A savant, yeah, definitely, but this is what this is coming from.

Argent

But being a savant has to do with being really good with one power--

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Argent

--and Resonances--

Brandon Sanderson

Being a savant has to do with using Investiture a lot, and it's starting to permeate your soul. Like we've ta--

Argent

So he's more a savant with both of--

Brandon Sanderson

He's used them a lot, and they are changing his soul, and so the powers are morphing and changing. Just in slight, little ways. You're not gonna see a whole bunch. But you can imagine these two separate powers are kind of becoming one to him.

Argent

Yeah I can see that. And Wayne?

Brandon Sanderson

So Wayne's is not as obvious. I'll go ahead and RAFO that right now.

Arcanum Unbounded San Francisco signing ()
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Questioner

So my quick question: Can you use Identity (I love the speed bubbles!) to anchor speed bubbles to yourself?

Brandon Sanderson

Uh, this is possible. That's less a matter of Identity. What’s gonna happen there, like, the more someone uses the powers, the more familiar and intermingled with their soul the powers become, and they are able to accomplish things that others can't. This would be like a Mistborn learning to hover a coin, right, which they can do, but most think you can't. That's the sort of level we're going with.

Necarion

So a savant could?

Brandon Sanderson

A savant could totally do that. The problem is, things moving in and out of a speed bubble, there's a transference of energy. This is how we keep speed bubbles from irradiating people when light moves through them, right, red shift. And so there's a transfer of energy directly from the Spiritual Realm, which means that moving with a speed bubble, you're gonna run into that, and it's gonna be, it's gonna cause all kinds of problems, but it would be possible.

/r/fantasy AMA 2013 ()
#19 Copy

theFinisher4Ever

Was the Lord Ruler using Feruchemy + Allomancy to Soothe all of the people around him? Or was he, as I like to think, flaring for so long that he became a Soother Savant?

Brandon Sanderson

He lived long enough and used his metals enough (particularly Soothing) to become nearly a savant in every area, if not a full savant.

Salt Lake City signing ()
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Questioner

Can you compound like a, can you compund metalminds to the point where you become like a savant?

Brandon Sanderson

A savant happens because persistent use of the power has an effect on your soul, warping it. Compounding is a very different thing, so while you could draw some very powerful effects, I would not call them the same thing, even if they are imitating one another at certain points.

Shadows of Self San Francisco signing ()
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Questioner

There is quantitative difference in Allomancy (e.g. Elend is stronger than Vin), there is skill difference (e.g. Breeze is better than Vin with zinc), but is there a qualitative difference too?

Brandon Sanderson

That’s the scale of what we call savant. Wax can do more with less. It’s not just skill, the burning for long, using for so long, will actually adapt your soul to the power.

Questioner

So can bronze savants pierce Copperclouds?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, a bronze savant should be able to pierce copperclouds. It depends on the strengths of the Coppercloud and the strength of the savant, but yes.

Questioner

So Elend could theoretically learn to pierce Copperclouds?

Brandon Sanderson

Weaker ones, yeah, totally. He can learn how to do it by brute force.

Skyward San Francisco signing ()
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Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

With a cadmium or bendalloy savant, would they be able to impact the amount of time that they can compress or expand?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

So they could fit—theoretically they could make... fit more time into the same amount of metal.

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

Oh, that's what you're asking. Yeee.... *pauses* So, yes, technically, because... Yes, but mostly what that's going to do is going to influence your strength and how much you can multiply...

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

The size of the bubble?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

The size of the bubble and the amount of time, like when you flare, you are pressing more time into it and a savant is gonna get really good at that. They're gonna get good at changing the bubble and the shape of the bubble, they're gonna get good at some of the other things involving the bubble. It does technically, as you become a savant, does mean you're able to squeeze a little bit more out of your metal, because that's just how it works, but that's not the main effect.

Alloy of Law 17th Shard Q&A ()
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Chaos (paraphrased)

I continued to ask about the Lord Ruler and his Allomantic strength.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

There's an upper bound to the amount of power you can get from being a savant. Brandon said that, obviously, the Lord Ruler wasn't using duralumin and Elend could only get that powerful in Soothing using duralumin. He implied that there was a way to Compound to enhance Allomancy.

OdysseyCon 2016 ()
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Blightsong

Would it be harder for Jasnah to Soulcast a Knight Radiant?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Questioner

Would it be harder for her to Soulcast a Mistborn?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, investiture resists investiture. It's harder for her to even Soulcast a person than a rock, right?

Questioner

Is a Mistborn invested?

Brandon Sanderson

The Mistborn, how their burning the metal, you're right. They are not specifically invested when they are not burning. When the investiture becomes active, the yes. Before, no, you're right on that.

Blightsong

So Kelsier, he stayed around longer, not because he was invested, but because he had the potential to use investiture?

Brandon Sanderson

Over time using the magic will invest you, on Scadrial. Most of the power is not coming from, on Roshar the power isn't coming from the person either [he cut himself off, so I assume this is how it works on Scadrial even though he didn't finish his thought] so I'm going to have to back up on that one and say, yes, the Mistborn are as invested as a Knight Radiant, because in both cases the majority, bulk, of the power is coming from somewhere else, but there is the spirit web. Investing the wrong term, but you have all these connections in the spiritual realm, so yanking you away from them, or rewriting them is harder.

Questioner

Would they be harder with more Stormlight or metals burning?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, yes. That would increase the difficulty ratio. For instance, wearing Shardplate is gonna be a great barrier, right, and things like that so yea. The problem is like, Invested is the wrong term for that, their Spiritweb is connected in different ways.

17th Shard Forum Q&A ()
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Douglas

What benefit does an aluminum savant get? Yes, I know this would normally never happen because aluminum burns itself up. Suppose a mad scientist with a willing Mistborn test subject shoved a feeding tube down the Mistborn's throat to pump in a continuous stream of aluminum, replenishing it steadily so there's always a new unburned supply. Add another tube to pump out excess water if necessary. What would he discover? Alternatively, what would Sazed with his Shard-granted knowledge know?

Brandon Sanderson

Ha, that IS a little silly of a method. However, on the extreme end of aluminum, I have in the notes the possibility of cleansing the spirit of unwanted effects of other Investitures. You'd get really good at this, and maybe even be able to cleanse the body of other impurities.

Calamity Chicago signing ()
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Kurkistan

Is there such a thing as a Feruchemical savant?

Brandon Sanderson

I did not write Feruchemical savants into the original outline. Whether or not I will do them- it’s highly unlikely because it’s not there and Mistborn is getting trickier and trickier in that regard. But I didn’t write them in, so… that’s a “probably not”.

Calamity Chicago signing ()
#29 Copy

Alterodent

If a hermit were to take a whole lot of cadmium and go off and live by himself, how far within a lifetime, reasonably, could he get into the future by essentially time-capsuling himself? Assuming they live to be 70 or 75.

Brandon Sanderson

They could get pretty far.

Alterodent

What would the savantism do to them?

Brandon Sanderson

The savantism would probably allow them to get further… It’s completely reasonable… you can treat this like relativistic travel.

Words of Radiance Washington, DC signing ()
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IronCaf

What other magic systems - because it seems unique from what we have seen - what other magic systems have that same, kind of, "If you use it a lot it gets better?"

Brandon Sanderson

So, imagine this way-- You're making a metaphor-- It is a little bit more like wedging open cracks in the soul by letting the flow come through, and the investiture comes in. 

IronCaf

So it seems that in Allomancy, it seems to maybe enhance those cracks--

Brandon Sanderson

It can open the cracks more.

IronCaf

Are there other magic systems like that?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. 

IronCaf

Will we see those anytime soon?

Brandon Sanderson

Maybe. Anytime soon? Let me RAFO that for you.

Boskone 54 ()
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Questioner

[Us discussing savantism off to the side and Brandon overhears us]

Brandon Sanderson

What am I going to change?

BeskarKomrk

Something about savantism and how it works.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, savantism I’m tweaking. It’s not going to mean anything to most people, but if you are studying savantism, watch how it evolves in future books. There is an interlude from a savant viewpoint in Oathbringer, though.

yulerule

A Radiant savant?

Brandon Sanderson

A soulcasting savant.

Footnote: Likely referring to the Kaza interlude from Oathbringer