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Worldbuilders AMA ()
#3 Copy

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Hal-Con 2012 ()
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Lance Alvein (paraphrased)

How was the Fjordell Empire not aware of the existence of the Rose Empire during the time of Elantris?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

The connection between the two will be explained in future Elantris books, but a quick answer is this:

Fjorden was aware of the Rose Empire, but doesn't consider the location to be holy, so they didn't really care that much about it. There is also no easy natural way to travel between the two. If you remember, Shai did run into the Fjordell ambassador.

Vericon 2011 ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Inside Puck's copy of Elantris Brandon wrote "Do not go to Shadesmar on this world (really, I'm not kidding)" on the title page, then said "You guys can chew on that for a little while."

Footnote: Brandon has confirmed that the reason for this is that the Dor, the Splintered remains of Devotion and Dominion, are located in the Cognitive Realm, which makes the region dangerous to traverse.
Brandon has since asked that people not ask for cosmere hints. He would prefer people to come with specific questions in mind.
/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.

Stormlight Three Update #4 ()
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Botanica

How does the Moon Scepter actually look like? In what shape is it?

Now we have two understandings of the word "scepter" based on different ways of translation:

1) 杖: It shapes like a common wand/staff/rod/cane/stick, usually seen in Western countries. [Mainland translation]

2) 笏: It's kind of a flat scepter of Chinese origin, shaped like a tablet, usually held before the breast by officials when received in audience by the emperor. (Very rarely, the emperor himself holds it.) The officials can take notes on it. [Taiwan translation (I believe the translator once showed you around the Taipei Palace Museum.)] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shaku_(ritual_baton)

Could you tell us which one is closer to the original design? Thanks!

Brandon Sanderson

It's not a Shaku, it's a Ruyi, actually. That's an excellent question, though. It does actually come from my visit to the museam, and while I'm aware of shakus, I hadn't heard them called scepters. But I guess they are!

Either way, I imagined it as the wavy shape of a Ruyi. (如意)

Botanica

Whoa what an amazing answer! Thanks so much for the explanation! I once thought of Ruyi when flipping through some reference materials and now it becomes canon! Hooray! Another question if you don't mind: (Someone just asked this a moment ago.) Why is it called Moon Scepter? Does (perhaps) one side/end of it resemble moon? [Full moon or crescent?] Or is it colored like moon? Or does it contain some moon pattern? (Also a fan art question, sorry ;P)

Brandon Sanderson

It has to do with the differences in religion between Shai's people and the Rose Empire. It is colored like the moon, but there's a little more to it than that.

Botanica

Ah, I see. Thank you! So what color is Selish moon when we look at it? (I suppose there's only one moon?) Didn't find any specific descriptions about its color in books. Can we assume it is similar to our moon?

Brandon Sanderson

I didn't say it was the color of Sel's moon...

Just kidding. It is, and there is only one. It's a pale white blue, a little more blue than ours, but similar.

Bands of Mourning release party ()
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Questioner

With the AonDor seems to based on the geography of the place, could there be AonDor based on other geographical features, like Kholinar?

Brandon Sanderson

Um… *hesitantly* Yes, but it's-- There's something weird about Sel that is making that happen that way on Sel. So...

Questioner

But you could have it in other places on Sel?

Brandon Sanderson

You could-- Yes, it does exist in other places on Sel but yeah.

/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.

/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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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*

YouTube Spoiler Stream 2 ()
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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.

/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.
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.

Librarypalooza ()
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Paladin Brewer (paraphrased)

Is Threnody in the same planetary system as Sel?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

[No, they are not]

Peter Ahlstrom (paraphrased)

Folks, I hate to be a killjoy, but I just asked Brandon about this, and he says that he answered that question with "No, they are not."

Brandon says he specifically remembers this question, and he remembers saying that Threnody and Sel were not in the same system.

In any case, Threnody and Sel do not revolve around the same star. (And they're not in a binary system system either, for those trying to salvage something out of this.)

DragonCon 2012 ()
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Trae Cooper (paraphrased)

Why are Invested objects like metalminds and Hemalurgic spikes able to be Pushed and Pulled on, but Shardblades and Shardplate, which are also invested, are not susceptible to Pushing and Pulling?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

There were a few concepts that he outlined in answering this question.

1.) The ability to Push/Pull an Invested object is predicated to the amount/power of the Investiture.

2.) Further, Invested objects also gain resistance to pulling/pushing based on proximity to soul possibly via the soul. An example given is that a Hemalurgic spike touches the blood of the person, and from there is now part of both the Spiritual Realm and the Physical Realm. This provides what Brandon termed a kind of "soul interference," based on its proximity to the soul.

This further explains why Vin required more than normal power to Push/Pull the metalminds from the Lord Ruler, because of their proximity to his soul, via the Spiritual Realm.

3.) The amount of Investiture is relatively low on Scadrial, whereas worlds like Sel and Roshar are pushing around "high power" according to Brandon. I interpreted this to mean that Hemalurgic spikes and metalminds have low amounts of Investiture compared to Shardplate and Shardblades.

Brandon said that theoretically you can Push/Pull Shardblades and Shardplates but you would need to wield an incredible amount of power. One example he gave that could so such as a thing is that if you were a Mistborn wielding the full power of the Well of Ascension, you could Push/Pull Shardblades/Plate.

/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.)

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.