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Hal-Con 2012 ()
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Lance Alvein (paraphrased)

You said to not travel to Shadesmar on Sel. Is this a consequence of Odium Splintering Aona and Skai?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

It is indirectly related to the Splintering. There is a clue to why it is dangerous in Way of Kings.

Footnote: The reason it is dangerous to travel in the Cognitive Realm near Sel is that the Dor, the Splintered remains of Devotion and Dominion, resides there and is a storm of uncontrolled Investiture (as the seons and skaze are not numerous enough to act as release valves like the spren of Roshar do for Honor).
Bands of Mourning release party ()
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Questioner

Was the Rose Empire ever under threat from Shu-Dereth? And can you speak a little bit on fitting The Emperor's Soul into a world you'd already created?

Brandon Sanderson

So was the Rose Empire ever in danger from Shu-Dereth and could I speak a little about fitting The Emperor's Soul into a world I'd already written. So when I designed Elantris, I knew where I was going, and I knew a lot about the world. This is how I am in building. So when I wanted to do The Emperor's Soul I already knew where I was going to place it, I knew which magic system I was working toward, and things like that. So it wasn't terribly hard since I already knew what was over there.

The fun about that is that you should go look at the map commissioned, the one Isaac drew, that's done by the Derethi and see how they view the Rose Empire and where they put it on their map. And then you'll eventually get a map of the whole world, and let's just say they don't have a really accurate representation of the world and their place in it. As was very common for a lot of early societies, early European maps are hilarious.

ICon 2019 ()
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Questioner

We know that on Sel, it's incredibly difficult to worldhop there because of a certain dangerous factor in the Cognitive Realm.

Brandon Sanderson

Yep.

Questioner

Is it possible to worldhop by means that are not through the Cognitive Realm?

Brandon Sanderson

You wouldn't call it worldhopping, but if you could FTL there, you could get there without having to go through the problems. I call worldhopping mostly using non-physical means, but we haven't gotten there in the Cosmere really yet, except for, like, Sixth of the Dusk and things. So, the fan terminology may include worldhopping as jumping in your ship and FTLing over. But... nothing would prevent that. If you had a ship that could FTL using one of the magic systems in the Physical Realm, you would probably be okay, getting to Sel.

Shadows of Self release party ()
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Chaos

How accurate would you say the northern continent on the Sycla map is? Is it horribly inaccurate?

Isaac Stewart

This map has severe deficiencies, especially in the northwest.

Chaos

Is there any reason why the cities seem to be on the borders?

Isaac Stewart

Seem to be where?

Chaos

On the borders, or coastline, like literally all of them.

Isaac Stewart

So Brandon can tell me if I'm wrong on this, but normally at the level of technology we're at in this world you've got to have cities near water. That's really what it is. Early cities are almost always near a source of water.

Chaos

And so the rivers are just the borders?

Isaac Stewart

Yeah. I mean we have the rivers that come in through the border in some places but rivers also are just a great border between places. Especially when there is-- when you're not building bridges over all of them. I will tell you... I won't answer what's going on up here.

Chaos

Is it really this enclosed though? Like it's pretty enclosed?

Isaac Stewart

It's pretty enclosed. This right here is pretty distorted, I will tell you that. And I made it look bigger than it is...

Eric, we will eventually release a more correct map.

Starsight Release Party ()
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Questioner

So, Sel: Investiture has been pushed into the Cognitive Realm. Threnody: Has it seen something similar?

Brandon Sanderson

It has not seen... Okay. Yes, something similar. It would count. Something similar, yes.

Questioner

If that's the case, what would happen if you were to push Investiture into the Physical Realm?

Brandon Sanderson

It generally manifests either as a solid, liquid, or gas

Questioner

I thought about that. I was like, "We've seen that," but it seemed like a concentrated form. What if you did for like a whole Shard?

Brandon Sanderson

That would probably have disastrous effects. 

Questioner

That's why I was thinking for Threnody, but if it hasn't been that, then something else happened.

Brandon Sanderson

It hasn't been that. Something else happened.

General Reddit 2020 ()
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_Hoid_

 

Sidenote, but I believe BDSM would have been quite big on this planet [Sel], as control and trust are both so central to that community/ fetish. Not that Brandon would necessarily want to get into that stuff. Any quick thoughts, /u/mistborn?

Brandon Sanderson

Ha, you know, I'd never made that connection? It would be completely in line with the worldbuilding, so I think you have a very valid line of reasoning here.

JordanCon 2018 ()
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Questioner

Exactly how turbulent is the Cognitive Realm around Sel? Khriss seems to think it's rather difficult [to travel] but how difficult would it be for Hoid to get through?

Brandon Sanderson

How difficult would it be to get through to Sel, how difficult would it be for Hoid. I would say straining his resources and capacity. It is difficult for him. So take that as you will. But it is worth his effort and he has done it numerous times.

Shadows of Self Chicago signing ()
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Questioner

On Sel, it seems like a lot of the magic is tied-in to the location on the planet. Could you take something like Soulforging and do it on another planet, or is it just tied into Sel?

Brandon Sanderson

It is tied into Sel, and there's this distinct reason for that, and it has to do with one of the big differences between the magic there and other places that people haven't picked out of me yet.

Questioner

So is that tied into how you can get Investiture there?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah. It's all tied in. I’ve only made it vaguely - It's not obvious, but I think you could pick it out if you worked at it.

Footnote: We now know that the reason magic on Sel is tied to location is because the investiture there comes from the Cognitive Realm (where location is important), and not the Spiritual.
General Reddit 2013 ()
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sufficientlyadvanced

It says that it's dangerous to travel to Shadesmar on Sel. Why?

Brandon Sanderson

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.

Phantine

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.

Brandon Sanderson

Odium did not leave his power behind, one should note. He left several other powers which are now, to a large extent, mindless...

Windrunner

If you wouldn't mind answering, does Roshar have a similar problem, with Honor being Splintered?

Brandon Sanderson

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.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
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A_Dunyain

This is just a stab based on perceived hints, but is Yolen the most "Earth-like" planet in the Cosmere?

Brandon Sanderson

Scadrial is, actually. Sel isn't too far off either. Yolen has some strangeness to it. Two competing ecologies, and some strange geography. But I have wavered on how to convey all of this, so none of it is set in stone yet.

Firefight release party ()
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Questioner

So someone, I can't remember who it was, told me you said something about the pools in Elantris being related to worldhopping.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Questioner

Is that right?

Brandon Sanderson

That is correct.

Questioner

So when the Elantrians go in the pool do they die or do they go to a different world?

Brandon Sanderson

Well you're making those mutually exclusive.

Questioner

Oh so it can do more than one thing--

Brandon Sanderson

One thing you gotta remember is in Elantris Shadesmar, the place that we call Shadesmar, is full of a raging, powerful source of energy called the Dor. It's very, very dangerous. Nobody goes there. So, just keep that in mind.

MisCon 2018 ()
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Questioner

On Sel, in the dialogue from Khriss, the Arcanum Unbounded, she mentions that the Cognitive Realm is especially dangerous because Devotion and Dominion were killed there. Why is it dangerous? Are there bad spren?

Brandon Sanderson

Well it's called the Expanse of the Densities in Roshar for a very good reason.

Emerald City Comic Con 2018 ()
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Silasary

So Nightblood drains investiture from people. How would it operate on Sel?

Questioner 2

Oh yeah, because the investiture's in the ground, practically.

Brandon Sanderson

...On Sel-- I mean Investiture is in everything, right? So I don't imagine it having a difference on Sel in the Physical Realm from what you normally see.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
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zotsandcrambles

I've always wondered why Hoid stole the Moon Scepter from The Rose Empire. He is collecting investiture, so it must be pivotal.

Is it possible that the Moon Scepter is connected directly to Dominion and Devotion's investiture (maybe via the moon-rocks?). If you have the Moon Scepter, you can get around the pesky proximity problem of the magic system(s)?

Brandon Sanderson

I'll talk about this eventually, but it IS related to the proximity problem--just not in the way you're assuming.

Salt Lake City ComicCon 2017 ()
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Brightlord Maelstrom

When a Dakhor monk leaves his homeland do his bones still give him his abilities? Is it only the creation that's location-dependent or is it also the ability that's location-dependent?

Brandon Sanderson

The further you get away, the weaker the power the bones will give you will get. It's way better than Elantris at bringing the power with you. That's where it is in the notes right now, I have not written the second book, I could totally change that.

Salt Lake City ComicCon 2017 ()
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Brightlord Maelstrom

Forged items. If it's one of those where it's permanent or it's not going to die after a couple of hours, can you move it off-world or would it transform once you moved it too far from its location?

Brandon Sanderson

Forgery requires a constant little stream of power to keep it going so yeah if you moved it off-world the Forgery's going to collapse.

Worldbuilders AMA ()
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zotsandcrambles

Have we seen any soul-stamped objects in any of the non-Sel books?

Brandon Sanderson

For you to have seen this, someone would have to have cracked the issue with Sel magics losing power greatly when taken from the planet.

zotsandcrambles

Is this a feasible task for someone like Shai or Hoid? We know the Moon Scepter is a Rosetta stone, so the task seems less daunting, right?

Brandon Sanderson

The task is less daunting for certain. I don't want to say more, however, as I think the clues are there about Sel's magic, and I want to avoid saying too much.

zotsandcrambles

Thanks for taking the time (again) to answer me!

Brandon Sanderson

So, here's the thing. The problem with magic on Sel is not one people are looking at the right way. And I'm really loathe to dig into it more, because I won't be able to write the books set on the world for a few more years yet.

Already, great moments in upcoming books aren't going to be as powerful to the hardcore fans, as they'll know the answers already.

But your theory, while very cool, wouldn't work--and stems from you attacking the problem in the wrong way.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
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zotsandcrambles

Shai mocks the Rose Empire's belief that a new sun rises every day for a set number of days. Is the reason Sel is difficult to travel to related to the religious notion that Sel has many MANY suns in their Shadesmaar equivalent?

Brandon Sanderson

Good guess! But no. (Sorry.)

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
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TheTetress

Some of the characters (I think it was Sarene) in Elantris mention that the constellations in their part of the world look like Aons. This seemed kind of odd to me. How significant is this, and does it play a role in how accessing the AonDor works (or do they just love astronomy)?

Brandon Sanderson

The characters in Elantris claiming that constellations look like Aons is mostly akin to us thinking that constellations look like animals--if you're looking for patterns, you'll find them.

Shadows of Self release party ()
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Questioner

Nightblood. He just showed up at the end of The Stormlight Archive--

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Questioner

--the last one. So, is there a place that's a connection between all of the universes?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, there is.

Questioner

And it's been reached in The Stormlight Archive?

Brandon Sanderson

Okay, so I'm guessing you don't know about all of this but there are characters from Elantris that are in Mistborn--

Questioner

Yes. Like Hoid.

Brandon Sanderson

--and all of this stuff. I would say one of the things is that Roshar is a little bit easier to get to than some of the others, but it's not that it has been breached there so much as it's a little bit easier to get to.

Questioner

Yes, I'm assuming it has something to do with the Cognitive Realm but then objects going through the Cognitive Realm is kind of tripping me.

Brandon Sanderson

Hehe… *long pause* There are places in the Cognitive Realm that are somewhat nexus-like, like you're talking about. Yes there are places like that. ...So Roshar might actually be the easiest place to get to in the cosmere, like from planet to planet. Sel is probably the hardest, right now. For a long time Taldain was very hard, but not anymore.

Oathbringer release party ()
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Questioner

Could you build Aons or something similar to Aons off of the natural landforms on Roshar, like the Dawncities and the other cities that are sort of symmetrical?

Brandon Sanderson

The Elantrian magic system, the Selish magic systems, are the ones that don't work very well-- don't interact very well with other worlds... Other ones are a lot more easy to interact between worlds.

ICon 2019 ()
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Nimrod Rappaport

In Arcanum Unbounded you mentioned that Sel is one of the biggest planets. You also mentioned that there are three empires on that planet. In Elantris 2 two will we get... You also mentioned that they are largely ignorant of each other, will we get a book in which those empires interact? Maybe in Elantris 2

Also, can you please specify on their nature and maybe some inspirations you got when writing and thinking about them?

Brandon Sanderson

So, sure. Sel wears its inspirations quite blatantly on its sleeve, right? It's not that obvious for instance in Stormlight that the Alethi are based off of Mongolians, because there's so much more in the mix there, that it's not quite as obvious. But in Sel, it's a little more obvious. You know, basically the idea came to me that what if the vikings had united behind a very hierarchical religion like Catholicism, and we had Catholic vikings, conquering the world. What would the world look like and that is where the entire religion came from.

Actually the truth is it's like, there was this priest, right, and one group became Buddhist and the other became Catholic vikings and, you know, Buddhist Renaissance... Italians is kind of where we got there and of course, the Rose Empire the inspirations are a little bit more Eastern and Middle Eastern. For instance, the Grands are based on Babylonian influences and I'm kind of looking at a lot of Babylonian, a little bit of Syrian. But of course Shai is very very clearly based on East Asian cultures and specifically China.

So, the empires and things like that... for there you might have noticed that we've got a Europe centered one, and an Asia/Eastern centered one, so you might be able to theorize where the third empire's inspirations might be or at least a list of possible candidates.

Skyward Seattle signing ()
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Questioner

In Elantris, there's the three ways that AonDor's manifested. Through the Aons, through the Dhakor, through the ChaySan. With Emerpror's Soul, there's two major ones that we see with the Forging and Bloodsealing. And also that parallels with, there's one - kind of like, in Mistborn where there's one that's positive, one that's neutral, one that's negative. Where does the third one fit in on the Emperor's Soul side?

Brandon Sanderson

Emperor's Soul, there are way more. It's not a split of the three.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
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wackyHair

What's the population of the shardworld's we've seen so far (even in very general terms, like one's much bigger than the others or something)?

Brandon Sanderson

Scadrial is certainly the least populated of the major shard worlds. Then Nalthis, I'd guess, followed by Roshar, and finally Sel--which likely has the largest population. I would have to look closely to see which is bigger between those last two.

Phantine

Does a population of about 100 million during The Final Empire (with 1-2 million in Luthadel), and around 15 million during Alloy of Law (with about 5 million in Elendel) seem right?

Brandon Sanderson

Have to RAFO this for now, for reasons I can't explain without giving spoilers.

Phantine

How about as far as Elend/Wax knows, at the beginning of their respective series?

Brandon Sanderson

Then those numbers, if they're off, are at least close.

faragorn

Interesting that Sel has such a large population, given that the actual numbers of soldiers shown seem to be quite small.

Brandon Sanderson

Let's just say that Opelon has an inflated opinion of its own size in relation to the rest of the world.

Footnote: The RAFO about the Scadrian population may be due to the existence of the Southerners, which had not been revealed as of this time.
Oathbringer San Francisco signing ()
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XS-Terrain

Is there anything that we don't know about the Expanses right now that you'd be willing to tell us?

Brandon Sanderson

I think I've told you about all of them. Is there one I haven't told you about yet?

XS-Terrain

Um, I don't know, I've checked the words of Brandon before I wrote these questions. I think we know that um one of them is... Scadrial, and one of them is Warbreaker--

Brandon Sanderson

So Densities is Sel. We put that one on, right, Expanse of the Densities? So, if we didn't you now know, Densities is Sel.

Steelheart Portland signing ()
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Joshstormblessed (paraphrased)

I've noticed that in both Elantris and Roshar there are specific shapes to the cities and in both instances there are chasms. Is there a connection between the two worlds?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Oooo:) Yes there is definitely a connection there. As you know all of these worlds are part of a universe and my magic systems share basic rules. So you'll see similarities.

Joshstormblessed (paraphrased)

And the chasms?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

*smiles mischievously*