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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.

Calamity Philadelphia signing ()
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Titan Arum

If a Hoed goes to the shardpool in the mountains, what happens to them in the Cognitive Realm?

Brandon Sanderson

What do you think happens to them?

Titan Arum

I want to say that the IRE, but I know they’re not because they’re really, really, really, really old.

Brandon Sanderson

I have...

Questioner 2

I have a theory that that’s how you get seons.

Brandon Sanderson

Here’s the thing, here’s the thing, what have I said about the Cognitive Realm on Sel?

Titan Arum

That it’s really, really dangerous.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. Any guesses why?

Titan Arum

Because the Shards are Splintered so all the power of the Dor is kind of sloshing around and it’s basically like a highstorm there.

Brandon Sanderson

So, what would happen if someone went into there through the shardpool?

Titan Arum

It’s probably not as good as they think it is?

Brandon Sanderson

No.

Titan Arum

Would they get splintered like that?

Brandon Sanderon

No they’d just...

Titan Arum

Would they get ripped apart?

Brandon Sanderon

Yeah. That’s why it’s really dangerous.

Titan Arum

Ouch.

Questioner

So the Elantrians are just dying when they go in...

Questioner

So when the Hoed or the Elantrians go in...

Brandon Sanderon

For the...let’s just say they’re cast into a very dangerous environment without any preparation for it.

Questioner

So how’d the Ire get there?

Questioner

They have gone before or they may have been properly prepared.

Brandon Sanderon

There’s some theories, that are theories that could totally be the case.  Or you could theorize others as well.

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.

General Reddit 2015 ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Most of the magics are unaffected by being taken off world, though still subject to their own inherent flaws. Stormlight seeps out. Sand loses its glow. Metal can only be used by one with the right genetic code. Note that the magic from Sel is different, and is location dependent for reasons I don't think fandom has quite teased out.

zotsandcrambles

I assumed the shard Dominion was the reason why magic's are geographically and/or geopolitically based. Is there a different, essentially unrelated reason?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, there is a different reason.

/r/fantasy AMA 2013 ()
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Nepene

In The Emperor's Soul and Elantris the magic systems have very different methods and powers, though both work through symbols. Assuming they adapted the symbols to their local geography could they use each other's methods? Could an Elantrian forge a soulstamp say?

Brandon Sanderson

Birth in a certain location on Sel gives a certain affinity for the local symbols, and their usage. To use the magic of another region, one would need to have a rewritten connection to that area instead.

Shadows of Self Lansing signing ()
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Questioner

Are there going to be any more stories set in The Emperor’s Soul time?

Brandon Sanderson

You will probably see Shai again but I can’t promise that I will do another story just about her. That’s in part because The Emperor’s Soul turned out so well, that it feels like one of those things that feels like it should be left alone. It just-- Not everything needs a sequel. And in some ways it was so successful that it’s better not to do one, if that makes sense.

/r/fantasy AMA 2013 ()
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Windrunner

Why does Scadrial, which has two Shards, only have three manifestations of investiture, (Allomancy, Feruchemy, and Hemalurgy) but Sel, also with two Shards, has five manifestations of investiture (AonDor, Dakhor, ChayShan, Forgery, and Bloodsealing)?

Brandon Sanderson

Sel's magics are much more regionalized than Scadrial's. Each area has its own manifestation, but they're all actually the same magic. So really there is one magic on Sel--much as Windrunning and Lightweaving on Roshar are kind of different magics, but also kind of the same.

Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
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vanahian

We know that Bavadin has several 'avatars' allocated at some Shardworlds, major and minor, over the cosmere...is Austre from Nalthis one of them? Is the Wyrn of the Fjordell Empire or Jaddeth one of them?

Or if we recall what the followers of Shu Dereth believes that 'Jaddeth rewards devotion in his followers, as well as ambition' + something you said some time ago about the ramifications of Ambition demise... Is the Wyrn or Jaddeth Himself connected with Ambition?

Brandon Sanderson

You can expect things on Sel to be either Dominion or Devotion. People can be ambitious--even Shards--and reward ambition even if they're not specifically tied to the Shard of Ambition.

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.

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.

/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.
YouTube Livestream 32 ()
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James Clifford

Science question!

Brandon Sanderson

Ohh science. Is it real science, or fake science?

Adam Horne

It is Brandon science.

Brandon Sanderson

Fake science!

James Clifford

With the discovery of anti-Investiture in Rhythm of War, would the correct form of anti-Investiture be usable to clear up the mess in the Sel Cognitive Realm. If so, would this completely destroy a splintered Shard?

Brandon Sanderson

*laughs, coughs, and is otherwise stunned* That would not be a good idea. So why would that not be a good idea? So no, this would not clear up the problem. The problem that's going on in the Cognitive Realm in Sel is that a bunch of Investiture that should be in the Spiritual Realm has been packed into the Cognitive Realm instead, through a very weird circumstance of events. If you were to introduce a bunch of anti-Investiture of the right type there, you would just generate an explosion that would be a very bad thing. Matter cannot be created or destroyed, Investiture can't be either, so it's actually changing forms. It's going from Investiture into energy! Which you know, does not leave the system. So the investiture would eventually make its way back around, you can't destroy anything in the Cosmere, just like you can't destroy anything in our universe. But you can make it change forms. And so, what's going on there is just this hope by a certain individual that what has happened there will prevent the power from becoming self-aware.

It's basically Odium being like "alright I just murdered you people, I don't wanna have to come back and do it again". So he's trying to figure out a way to make this happen. As it currently stands (again, these things can change when I write future books), it was partially happenstance that he took advantage of rather than something that he was able to set up very intentionally from the beginning, but he was definitely a part.

Shadows of Self Lansing signing ()
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Blaze1616

The Dor: Is it gaseous Investiture or is it something else completely?

Brandon Sanderson

Oh that's a great question. People have not been asking enough about the Dor.

Blaze1616

And if it is gaseous—or not gaseous—is it plasma?

Brandon Sanderson

*Long pause*

You got it. *said definitively*

It's super sup-- not plasm-- yeah, it's super-dense to the point that's it's liquefied and dense-- does that make sense? So it's plasma, basically. It's its own weird thing, so yeah. What you can write is that it's its own weird thing that's kind of plasma-like.

Ad Astra 2017 ()
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Questioner

I was wondering with Emperor's Soul-- it's in the same world as Elantris.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Questioner

But it's a completely different magic system.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah.

Questioner

Do you ever see The Emperor's Soul, like, that magic system in further Elantris books?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, you will see more of that. Elantris-- So what Elantris is very-- is interesting-- is Sel, the planet that is, that each region has basically a way of accessing the magic, and they're all, in my mind, programming languages. And you use different things to program, and call functions basically. And some people etch into bone, some people draw in runes, some people make the soulstamps. You can do it through a tai chi-like thing in one of world-- in one of the lands. So it's like a-- region-based for reasons that cosmere magic experts I think have figured out by now.

Questioner

Well it's like there were two deities, I think, Invested in that planet?

Brandon Sanderson

Yep... The reason is-- and we have announced it-- the reason it is is, so on Sel-- somebody killed the two deities there, right? And then stuffed their corpses, which are just huge magic reservoirs, just *inaudible*. So all their power stuffed up into what we call the Cognitive Realm, the realm of the mind, which is location dependent. So all the magic is getting filtered through that, it does weird things to it, it makes it region-locked. So yeah.

Questioner

Is it the only world that has many different ways that magic is--

Brandon Sanderson

Well a lot of them have different ways. For instance, for-- on Scadrial we've got Feruchemy, and Allomancy, and things like that. So most worlds have different interpretations, and things like that. Sel's the only one you've seen where it's region dependent.

JordanCon 2016 ()
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Questioner

The Aons on Sel… they're all based on, I assume the Investiture in Elantris itself, all the sigils are based on the general shape of the landscape around Elantris. Could that magic work in other places based on the geography of the other places with high Investiture, or is that exclusive to Sel?

Brandon Sanderson

That is an aspect of the Selan magic system-- Did I say Selian or Selan? I can't remember which one we settled on, Peter knows…

Crowd

Selish.

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, Selish, that's what we settled on, isn't it, yeah, Selish magic system. This is why we have copy editors *laughter* That's a feature of the Selish magic system that, so far as I know, no one has pulled out in any decent reason for. But there's a distinct reason that could be figured out, but it's one of these things that will make sense when I explain it, but I'm not sure if it's quote-unquote "intuitively obvious to the average reader". I don't think that it necessarily is that, but it will make perfect sense once it's explained.

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*

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.

Starsight Release Party ()
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aneonfoxtribute

Have many magic systems does Sel have?

Brandon Sanderson

It depends on how you define it. I would say over a dozen if you're dividing AonDor versus Forging as different magic systems. They have over a dozen. It depends on what you kind of circumscribe in the same style of magic system with just different ways to access it. It just depends on your definition.

/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.

/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.

Arcanum Unbounded Hoboken signing ()
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wicktacular

questioner's paraphrase, delete after transcription review: Based on the bit during the open Q&A about Odium splintering Dominion and Devotion and shoving their power into the Cognitive, and that blocking off the Spiritual, which makes Sel's magic so location (or Identity of location) based - if a Shardbearer traveled to Sel, could they still summon their Shardblade?

Transcription:

So from what you said about Odium sticking Devotion and Dominion in the Cognitive, if they *inaudible* Shardblade, well Shardbearer, and travelled to Sel would they *inaudible*?

Brandon Sanderson

Uh... what-- I'm going to RAFO that. I've never asked me that before. I guess I haven't really explained that whole thing before to people.

White Sand vol.1 release party ()
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Questioner

So I've got a question about the Selians in Secret History.

Brandon Sanderson

Okay.

Questioner

It seems... It seems pretty clear that they're Selians. Or people from...

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Questioner

...the planet Sel. Is that the right term? Selian? I don't know...

Brandon Sanderson

Um... *sigh* I get this one mixed up. Peter knows. I know I've called them Selish before, but I think we went with Selian because it sounded too much like "selfish". But we did canonize it, and it probably is in the essays, I think. But Peter knows the canon term.

Questioner

Okay. What era are they from? Are they from like the... are they from the... the original...

Brandon Sanderson

They are old! [very drawn out "old"]

Questioner

Were they part of the society that built Elantris?

Brandon Sanderson

So, someone asked me this coming through the line, and I RAFO'd them. But they are old.

Questioner

They are old.

Brandon Sanderson

They are oldold people. Here's the thing. You give me the opportunity to wiggle around, because I could say, "No," if anyone has joined them since then.

Questioner

It's true.

Brandon Sanderson

Does that make sense? 

Questioner

Yeah.

Brandon Sanderson

Not canonizing anything right now, but that question is so wiggle-aroundable. And I took the opportunity not to wiggle around it and just tell you they are old

Questioner

They are old. Got it.

Brandon Sanderson

The organization is old. And some of the people that you meet there are very old.

YouTube Livestream 32 ()
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Argent

Are the Rhythm of War Seon communication devices called Selphones?

Brandon Sanderson

Gaah! *general exclamations of mirth mixed with booing from Brandon's team*

I love it, Evgeni, gold star! You're making everyone groan in a beautiful way. Nice work, you have brightened my day.

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.)

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.

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.

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.

Firefight Houston signing ()
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Questioner

I reread Elantris, and I was wondering why there wasn't any mention of the Empire from The Emperor's Soul in it.

Brandon Sanderson

They mention it briefly, they mention countries from there, but they do not have a lot of contact at all. And they kind of view each other in the same way that Europe viewed the Far East, in that "we know there's something over there, but they're nowhere near as cool as we are." Even though the people over there were more populous, in places more advanced and larger than them, they just had no clue. And that's kinda, when I was building it, that's where I went. Like, the JinDo are transplants over, and we have references to MaiPon and we have some things like that, but there's a big mountain range in between, a very large space getting there, the only way you can get through is through some passes near Teod; they don't really even contact over there. Plus, the Empire thinks these people are a bunch of religious nutjobs, so they just stay away.