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General Reddit 2018 ()
#1 Copy

BipedSnowman

In theory, could you create weird structures or even alloys [with Forgery]?

Two scenarios: using Forging how you might use Soulcasting, such as turning something into wood, bending and carving it to make a new shape, then breaking the seal so it turns back into the original material without changing shape.

Second: Forging one metal into another, and forming an alloy to reduce operation costs. For example, tungsten has a melting point of about 3.5k C, but it's useful as part of a steel alloy for certain applications. Could you Forge it into, say, zinc, which has a melting point of about 500 C, create the steel, then turn it back into tungsten? Presumably the investiture would adjust the molecular structure so it acts as if it has been alloyed with tungsten originally too, otherwise the same process happening with food could be deadly.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, this is in theory similar to Soulcasting. The difference is that a Forged object, upon "Forgetting" the rewriting to its spiritual nature is going to try to snap back and match what it "thinks" it should be like--which isn't going to lead to as much stability as Soulcasting, where the actual soul is changed. The object is going to try to get back to the way it "should" be, with varying results.

The reason the Lord Ruler aged hyper-quickly is related to this as well.

Stormlight Three Update #4 ()
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Niceratops

Not to be too obvious about being a geology dork, but if you can make clear quartz easily with soulcasting as we've seen, and you can also make radioactive materials, wouldn't it be trivial to make smokestone since defects from irradiation are what make quartz black?

Brandon Sanderson

Making unstable plutonium or the like is theoretically possible, but not something that Rosharans are aware they could do.

Emerald and Heliodor are basically the same thing, chemically, but are very different substances on Roshar--with different soulcasting properties. Same goes for quartz and smokestone.

usuyami

Is there any significance to some of the gems being forms of aluminum oxide?

Brandon Sanderson

Not really, I'm afraid. I tried to work it in, and decided I was stretching.

Words of Radiance Philadelphia signing ()
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NutiketAiel

When a Radiant is in the Cognitive Realm, does their mind exist individually, like separately from their body?

Brandon Sanderson

Uhh, no.

NutiketAiel

So you physically travel to the Cognitive Realm?

Brandon Sanderson

You can kind of step in between both but you do not separate from your body.

NutiketAiel

So when Shallan is only partly in...she's in both at the same time?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah. She's transitioning. It's not astral projection. But no that's a legit question.

NutiketAiel

So Shallan, and Lightweavers, are capable of physically stepping into Shadesmar?

Brandon Sanderson

RAFO. But the implication is yes.

JordanCon 2018 ()
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ChickenBites

Can you Soulcast aluminum into other materials?

Brandon Sanderson

Aluminum would strongly resist any sort of Soulcasting.

Billy Todd

Would that resistance be overcome? Could be overcome?

Brandon Sanderson

This is the question. Everything can be, right? Aluminum, in the cosmere, was created. And can be created. So, people ask me this, "Can? Cannot?" Like, with a powerful enough magnet in our world, what can you do? Like, is water magnetic? ...But, could you make water respond to a magnet? Yes! You can make anything if you really try hard enough... It's, like, this idea, that when people are like, "Can you, yes or no?" Well... yes! Would it take the power of six Shards of Adonalsium working together? Maybe! Can you? Yes, you probably can. Like, we're talking about a fantasy universe where almost anything is possible, and the impossibilities are contradictions, it's "how many angels can dance on the head of a pin" sort of questions when you get into "can you?"

Now, could you Soulcast aluminum using a reasonable amount of energy that an individual could conceivably have in a normal setting and situation? No. If that's what you're looking for.

Stormlight Three Update #5 ()
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H4rg

I would have a question about Soulcasting: is Soulcasting an Invested object harder ? And if it is a human (let's say, an Allomancer) but he is not burning any metal, would he be as easy as Soulcast as any "normal" person ?

Brandon Sanderson

It is harder to Soulcast an Invested object, but Soulcasters--by their nature--are used to dealing with this.

When Allomancers aren't burning metal, they are not considered highly-Invested.

JordanCon 2021 ()
#8 Copy

thegatorgirl00

Assuming they have the same years of practice, who would have a better understanding of objects' souls: a Radiant Soulcaster or a Forger? 

Brandon Sanderson

It's gonna depend on the individual, I think that they both could make an argument, and I'm not sure. I think it's gonna go neck-and-neck. 

General Reddit 2020 ()
#9 Copy

YaBoiAlex

Can Radiant Soulcasters Soulcast objects into ones of different temperatures? For example turning a piece of the ground into molten metal or turning water into ice?

Brandon Sanderson

Kind of, but not the way you want. Most things are going to have to be room temperature--so water, but not ice. That said, there are some funky things you can do with pressure and the like if you get more advanced in the skill.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
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ccstat

When Jasnah talks about soulcasting the 8 different types of blood, is she referring to transfusion typing within humans (e.g. ABO+/- on Earth) or to different kinds of blood between species (e.g. human vs axehound vs greatshell vs Aimian, etc)?

Brandon Sanderson

Both, though people on Roshar haven't hit upon the levels of complexity in blood types that we know.

KingSloth

Did these arise naturally on Roshar, or did Honor/Cultivation get lazy on templating humanity and copying existing?

Brandon Sanderson

RAFO. (Sorry.)

Words of Radiance Seattle signing ()
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Questioner

How does a bridge crew set a bridge down across a chasm in front of them?

Brandon Sanderson

So... I may have to act this out.

*Proceeds to act it out, no video available*

I am Kaladin, running at the front of the bridge, right? Now there's a chasm there. I'm going to step out to the side and grab the poles to the side, and lower the front bridge down. Then these guys are going to lower theirs down while I run around to the back and grab the poles on the side, which extend out. And we're going to get several ranks and then we're going to shove together.

We're waited on this side, remember, we've got the weights that roll to one side or the other. So it's weighted on this side, so we get it over and then plot it down. We're looking for a place where we're a little bit above-- with the paths, alright? And then we go to the other side, your reposition the weights or the poles or whatever it is on the thing so that it's heavier on this side and then get everyone and then you pull it back across and then you can lift it.

Questioner

Okay, great, thank you very much.

Brandon Sanderson

Now also keep in mind a couple of things: 0.7 Earth gravity, a very important aspect for actually making this bridge weight work for carrying it; and it is a soulcast wood. The only way to get the numbers to work if you've got engineers, the weight-- you actually have to realize that we've got a wood that is slightly stronger, yet lighter, than what-- it's like a-- Peter came up, it's like a balsa, there's a soulcast wood that is really a great wood for this sort of thing.

That doesn't mean it's light, it's still a really heavy book

Questioner

*Laughter*

Brandon Sanderson

A really heavy bridge.

Words of Radiance Chicago signing ()
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Questioner

If I were to impulsively Soulcast pewter, the way Shallan does with the blood in The Way of Kings, would it come out that an Allomancer be able to use it?

Brandon Sanderson

You could create Allomantically viable metals, yes.

Questioner

But is it automatic?

Brandon Sanderson

I would say that the pure metals are, but the alloys are not.

Oathbringer release party ()
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Questioner

Where did you get the idea for the gemhearts.

Brandon Sanderson

So, I wanted-- in the books, I wanted there to be an economic component to the magic, like, something that was based on the money in the world. And I knew I wanted to use the gemstones, but I also knew they would be used up really quickly by the magic, with Soulcasting. So, I built something into the creatures of the world, so that we could renew the gemstones, so they wouldn't all just be gone after a few hundred years.

Stormlight Three Update #4 ()
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ebilutionist

Regarding Soulcasting, I have a question - why do people continue to use it post-Recreance? Would it not have been seen as a betrayal, given that the Radiants abandoned them? Why this Surge but not others? Was it simply the only Surge available and people would have kept using the others anyway? I guess it's a matter of practicality but given how devout Vorinism can be it does seem odd.

Brandon Sanderson

Good question. You'll notice that Soulcasters aren't the only fabrial that access a Surge, however. They're just the one most commonly used.

There are plenty of rationalizations. But it comes down to this: they are too useful to give up.

ebilutionist

Ah yes, now that I think of it Navani's conjoined-gem fabrials seem to utilize Gravitation and perhaps the heating one uses Abrasion(?) to produce heat. Or are there others I did miss?

Brandon Sanderson

I was referencing a Regrowth fabrial, actually, which I believe has appeared several times.

ebilutionist

Isn't the Regrowth fabrial incredibly rare? I was under the impression it disappeared with the Recreance and only Nin's reappearance brought it back. AFAIK, only a Radiant in Dalinar's vision and a Herald have actually used it so far.

Brandon Sanderson

Their rarity depends on the time period in question. But yes, I'd list them as incredibly rare.

/r/books AMA 2015 ()
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Botanica

Are the Ten Essences from Stormlight inspired from the ancient Chinese theory of the Five Elements, which is often used to explain various physiological and patological phenomena in traditional Chinese medicine?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. Part came from there. Part came from Jewish mysticism. Part came from the idea of fundamental forces.

General Reddit 2020 ()
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Erik02847

I’m on my 3rd or fourth reread of the Stormlight Archive this year, and I noticed the runaway comment that certain animals are farmed in order to produce meat via using their gemhearts for Soulcasting. We know as of Oathbringer that Soulcaster’s have a tendency to become what they Soulcast when they become savants. This lead me to question, how does that work for meat Soulcasters? Do they just become more meaty than a regular human? If so what does that even look like? Just some random questions that I haven’t seen discussed anywhere else.

Brandon Sanderson

RAFO for now, more for the fact that I'm low on time. But I'll talk about this some day.

Oathbringer Leeds signing ()
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Questioner 1

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

Brandon Sanderson

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

So they are protected from being turned into--

Brandon Sanderson

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

Or is that counteracted by the healing as well?

Brandon Sanderson

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

You are not losing body parts to smoke.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, you are not using body parts to smoke. 

Questioner 1

What timeframe does it happen for the normal Soulcasters then?

Brandon Sanderson

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

Depending on how often they Soulcast?

Brandon Sanderson

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

Oathbringer Houston signing ()
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Brandon Sanderson

In fact, in the origin of The Stormlight Archive, the first Surgebinding things I did, every order of the Knights Radiant was going to be able to Soulcast. Be able to change things from one to another. It was just, you would be locked into the element that was associated with your order of Knight Radiant, you could turn that into anything else you wanted to. That was one of my original pitches. I eventually moved away from that, a lot of the Orders were just feeling too similar in what they did, but that core concept is still there in Stormlight, and Soulcasting as a concept is there because the series is about change.

Rithmatist Albuquerque signing ()
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StormAtlas (paraphrased)

Why can Kaladin Surgebind with any gem type but Jasnah and Shallan need specific types?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

A lot of that will be explained as the series comes along. It is really the difference between Soulcasting and the other forms of Surgebinding. It's more a quirk of Soulcasting than it is something that is different about about Kaladin. So you've kind of got it reversed a little bit though; Soulcasting has this additional restriction that the other ones don't.

Oathbringer release party ()
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Questioner

If Soulcast blood is human blood, does that mean Soulcast meat is people meat?

Brandon Sanderson

No.

But that doesn't necessarily mean that, like-- when it has a blood type, and things like that-- I don't know enough about blood. I didn't mean to imply it's human blood. I'm just saying, it has all the attributes of blood, and it could be ascribed to something specific. That's where my mind was going. If they were asking, "Is this human blood?" No, that's not necessarily-- some of it is. Soulcast meat is definitely not. Soulcast blood, probably is most of the time. But it is-- there are, like, certain derivations of it that happen. It's more complicated, in other words, than what I-- than a simple answer can give. So, is Soulcast blood human blood? You could use it for blood transfusions, most if it, unless, in certain instances, you couldn't. Like, it's more-- Those sorts of questions, I have to circumlocute them so much.

Let's just put it this way. You can eat-- The meat is not human meat, but the blood can be used for blood transfusions. Is that enough? Yeah, we'll go with that.

Bands of Mourning release party ()
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Questioner

What would happen if somebody used the color from a Stormlight-infused gem to create a BioChromatic entity?

Brandon Sanderson

So I just had this question actually and what we came up with was that would leave behind something that is like a cloudy quartz and is going to make it work not as well for holding Stormlight. That's our answer right now, I'm going to talk to my scientists and see what they think because draining the color from something doesn't just leave it white, or clear, it kind of ruins it, it's gray-ish, it's dun. It clouds. So I think it would ruin things for Stormlight.

Firefight Chicago signing ()
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Kurkistan

So for Soulcasting—-I talked a lot about those ideals that a lot of things are based on—-is that also like there's an ideal of stone that when you Soulcast stone if you don't do anything special, it just defaults as that?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, there will be a default of all of them.

Kurkistan

And that's the same exact thing as spren and why the Lord Ruler dies of old age and all that stuff?

Brandon Sanderson

That is-- Yes, that's the same sort of concept. Yes.

Skyward Seattle signing ()
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Shallan's Ward

Could Soulcasting be used for cosmetic surgery?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes... *sigh* Boy... *hesitantly* Yes, but give it a very shaky yes. Indicate that Brandon is wincing a little bit about that one.

Hoiditthroughthegrapevine

Could you give a brass nose like Tycho Brahe?

Brandon Sanderson

That, definitely, you could do.

Calamity Chicago signing ()
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Rachael

When she [Shallan] Soulcasts, does she physically go?  Or does she just think?

Brandon Sanderson

She transitions into the Cognitive Realm… Yeah she transitions but she’s not a hundred percent there…

Rachael

Then does Jasnah’s… does she work the same way?

Brandon Sanderson

She goes completely over.  That’s one of the differences between their magics. Shallan could get there if she wanted to, she hasn’t so far completely transitioned.

Argent

Even during regular Soulcasting, for both of them?

Brandon Sanderson

Oh for regular Soulcasting Jasnah doesn’t either.

Argent

‘Cause we were talking about the scene with the ship and Shallan. So would an outside observer see her shift over or—

Brandon Sanderson

The outside observer would see weirdness happening for sure.

FanX Spring 2019 ()
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Stormlightning

You've talked about how Hoid really appreciates his new Lightweaving abilities, but what about the Soulcasting side of things?

Brandon Sanderson

So, you'll have to see.

Stormlightning

Is he excited about that, or does he already have all of that?

Brandon Sanderson

No, he doesn't have all of that. He knows more than a lot of people do, and knows to be more-- frightened of Soulcasting than others are. Frightened is perhaps the wrong term. Wary. 

Shadows of Self release party ()
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Questioner

So the lighteyes that get Soulcast into stone, can they be Awakened?

Brandon Sanderson

*pause* So… Yes, but their soul is gone. When they get Soulcast into stone it is only the corpse, so yes they could.

Questioner

Would it be a lifeless or a-- Would it be like Awakening something inorganic or would them once being alive help?

Brandon Sanderson

The fact that they were once alive will help. There's a Spiritual Connection that still exists on the Spiritual Realm and that is going to help. But you're not going to get the person back. The fact that it is the exact form of a person is going to be really helpful. It would be a lot easier to Awaken that than it would be to Awaken other stone.

Stormlight Three Update #4 ()
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life_b4_death

What is happening from the point of view of an observer in the physical realm when an object is soulcast? Are the constituent electrons, protons, and neutrons being rearranged into new forms? And from a 3 realms stand point, is the history of the material being rewritten? Instead of when that star went nova to create heavy metals, was it silicon instead of iron (for instance)?

Brandon Sanderson

I'll go ahead and RAFO this, but with a promise that answers will actually come some day.

Stormlight Three Update #4 ()
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Iceblade44

Something that i've been wondering, you said before that Nightblood was modeled after Shardblades intentionally so my question is, did Vasher create his Phantoms with Shardplate in mind?

Brandon Sanderson

He was aware of Shardplate, but I wouldn't call them a conscious influence.

Phantine

Any sort of influence from the Soulcasting-to-Stone burial customs?

(If Vasher were a little more sneaky I'd think he had created the custom in case he needed a ready supply of Phantom material)

Brandon Sanderson

Let's say that yes, Soulcasting was very interesting to Vasher.

Oathbringer San Francisco signing ()
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Questioner

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

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

Questioner

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

Brandon Sanderson

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

Orem signing ()
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Questioner

With Soulcasting, we know what can be Soulcast based on the color of the gem. Does-- When Awakening, say you have emerald, green, Pulp. If you were Awakening straw or some other form of plant matter, if you used a source of green for the color, would it be, say, more efficient than using red?

Brandon Sanderson

So I haven't built that into the magic system yet. Part of me feels like I should have. But I did not. I want color to be relevant to each of the cosmere magics. It's kind of an essential part of it, and it's part of where we stray more into the magical sense. Like, in my books we treat magic scientifically but they're still magic. And it was a thing when I was building Stormlight, I'm like, "So the difference between these two gemstones is a matter of a slight impurity and chemically they are 99% the same thing. Am I actually going to have them do different things or not?" And my judgement call was yes, because I want color to be relevant in the cosmere.  But by that point, when I was really getting that magic system to work, I had already written Warbreaker. And I had known that I wanted color to start being a big part. I'd already written Mistborn where I worked in color in different ways

But I didn't work that into the Warbreaker magic. I felt like it already had enough restrictions. I would say my worry about the Warbreaker magic is the color feels tacked on. Like, the magic could work without it, narratively, so why is it there? And that's the question I asked myself while I was building; that's the question I continue to ask myself when I continue to work on-- for that magic system, to make sure it works for me. But my instincts say adding restrictions like that, particularly when they weren't covered in the first book, feels like the wrong way to go. It'd be like retconning the magic. It's something I considered.

Arcanum Unbounded release party ()
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Questioner

Can you Soulcast an Invested object?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, but it's much harder. But humans are Invested, and you can soulcast humans.

Questioner

So, suppose you had a goldmind that was filled. And you tried to Soulcast into iron. What would happen to the Investiture inside it?

Brandon Sanderson

So, the Investiture would remain in there, but it's keyed to the wrong thing, so you wouldn't be able to get it. It'd be much harder to Soulcast that, by the way. The more Invested, the harder it is. But Soulcasters are used to it, because everything has Investiture, and most of what they're Soulcasting. They deal with this, so it's something they're kind of expert at. So, this is not outside reason, that it could happen. You could give it to your average Soulcaster on Roshar, and they could make it happen. You just wouldn't be able to get the Investiture out of it anymore.

Bands of Mourning release party ()
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Shadow Guardian

If an Awakener were to go to Roshar and were to bleed the color from a gem would that gem still be able to store Stormlight?

Brandon Sanderson

Bleed the color from a gem… Um ye-ye-ye-yeah. This would interfere with its function on Roshar. It would probably still be able to hold Stormlight…

Shadow Guardian

Might not be able to be used for Soulcasting?

Brandon Sanderson

Yea-- It's going to… You know what no it would just change it. It would just bleed the color from it and turn it into a dusty quartz or something like that. That's probably what it would end up with, a dusty quartz. Because the molecular structure doesn't matter as much as the color for Roshar. So yeah you would probably still be able to hold Stormlight because a diamond can but I don't know, quartz might cut it. You'd probably end up with something that's not going to work so well.

Questioner 2

What about a fabrial that needs a specific--

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah a specific-- A ruby wouldn't work any more, and it would let go whatever is captured inside.

/r/fantasy AMA 2013 ()
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ArsenoPyrite

I have a technical question here re: gemstones in The Stormlight Archive. How are the lines drawn between different types of gem? Emerald and Heliodor are both varieties of the mineral beryl. Emerald can get its color from trace amounts of chromium, vanadium and/or iron. Heliodor gets its color from iron combined with microscopic crystal defects. So, is the line between these two defined by color? If so, would a heliodor lose its usefulness if it were heated (which would turn it colorless or pale blue). Is it defined by trace elements--in which case, how do you deal with emeralds, or with aquamarine (the blue variety of beryl, which can also contain chromium or vanadium in small quantities and is mostly colored by iron). Sorry for getting so technical, but this gem nerd needs to know!

Brandon Sanderson

I actually spent a long time working on this while building the world. You'd probably be amused by how long I spent on it. Chemically, many of them are actually very similar, as you pointed out. I tried doing the book originally with them all being different, not using any that were basically the same crystal with different colors, but it didn't work out. There weren't enough, and so I had to stretch to make it all work.

So, I went back to the original, and decided that color was enough to differentiate them. Just as steel and iron are very similar in the mistborn world, Emerald and Heliodor can be very similar--but produce different effects. The idea here is that the physical items (like the metals or the crystals) provide a key by which magical interaction occurs.

So, in a long winded answer, a gemstone with an impure color would be considered like a bad alloy in the Mistborn magic--it either wouldn't work at all, or would work very poorly. The chemical and color signature needs to be of a specific variety to provide the proper key to accessing the power of transformation.