Worldbuilders AMA

Event details
Name
Name Worldbuilders AMA
Date
Date Dec. 3, 2015
Location
Location /r/fantasy
Entries
Entries 34
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#1 Copy

Moogle

Compounding requires practice, according to The Hero of Age's annotations. And yet, it's apparently as easy as burning a metalmind. What was going on that meant the Inquisitors couldn't figure out how to do it (despite Ruin likely knowing how and undoubtedly wanting them to learn) for over a year? What skill did they need to practice doing, exactly?

And what happened while they were practicing burning metalminds without successfully Compounding? Did they get an Allomantic effect?

Brandon Sanderson

What I think I was getting at in the annotations was a cosmere magic rule that, perhaps, I hadn't completely refined yet. This is the idea that INTENTION is vitally important to the workings of most cosmere magics.

You can learn to burn metals instinctively over time, but it does take time--time for your body to figure out what it's doing. If you have instruction and guidance, you can pick it up in an evening, like Vin did. Same goes for most of the magics. This ties into Awakening, with the idea that you have to form a command.

During Warbreaker was where I really refined this aspect of the magic. Logically, since the beginning of the cosmere, I've wanted all three Realms to be important to the way the magics worked. The "Practice" therefore for compounding is mental practice--a barrier to overcome in understanding what is happening, and what it will do to you.

If you already know all of these things by having it explained to you, that barrier is far less high. I think that was what I was talking about in the Annotations, without really having the idea specified yet--though I'd have to look back at the annotation and re-read it to say for certain.

#2 Copy

djscrub

Since burning Feruchemically charged metal seems to require a choice between getting the Allomantic or Feruchemical property (e.g., Miles only sees gold ghosts when he wants to, not as a side effect of compounded healing), is there any special advantage to compounding pewter and tin, where the Allomantic and Feruchemical use is the same? Is their compounding even stronger than normal compounding because you can tap both power sources simultaneously, or maybe because Preservation is particularly attuned to providing those powers through those metals?

Brandon Sanderson

Remember that compounding is a "hack" of the magic. You're looking to fool the magics, and use one to power the other. The value in it is that you can use Allomantic power to fuel Feruchemy. It's like hooking a power cord up to a device that, up to that point, you'd powered by using a hand crank.

#3 Copy

Argent

The updated Elantris map (from the anniversary edition) includes a city map, and the interior of Elantris looks awfully like Aon Ela. Was it indeed designed so the streets for Ela, and if so - does this merely augment/support the giant Aon Rao, or does it have a separate effect?

Brandon Sanderson

This was designed this way! It is separate from the shape of the city itself.

Argent

But does it have an actual effect, or is it just aesthetic?

Brandon Sanderson

It doesn't have an effect at the moment. It might once have.

#4 Copy

WeiryWriter

Can a person who dies but somehow hasn't passed Beyond the Three Realms (a la Kelsier) serve in place of a spren for Radiant purposes?

Brandon Sanderson

This is theoretically possible, but it would require an unusual sequence of events.

WeiryWriter

We know that the Stormfather is a Cognitive Shadow and is also acting as a spren for Dalinar but is he able to do that because the "unusual sequence of events" took place or is there something else going on specific to the nature of the Stormfather?

Brandon Sanderson

RAFO. :)

Carluun

If Kelsier became a "spren" for a Radiant, would he grant Surgebinding or Allomancy?

Brandon Sanderson

RAFO.

#7 Copy

tay95

A theme throughout a lot of the Cosmere novels is that form, of one sort or another (patterns, aons, etc.) has a crucial role to play in unlocking or using Investiture.

As a chemist, I'm curious about the role of form in Allomancy and Feruchemy. Does the underlying molecular or crystalline structure of the metal or alloy play a roll? Different processes, doping ratios, and metal mixtures result in different molecular packing, lattices, and ultimately structure. It seems like that kind of very defined, orderly matrix would be right in line with other forms of unlocking Investiture.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes! I've actually mentioned to people before that the chemistry of the various metals acts, for Allomancy, in the same way that the Aons work for AonDor. It's more a key than it is a source of power itself.

#8 Copy

danimalod

I just read Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell and loved it. How did the first shade come to be? Are there shades in other worlds? Do shades have bones?

Brandon Sanderson

Shades are what we call "Cognitive Shadows" in the cosmere. They're basically "spren" or "[seons]" created from human souls. (Where Investiture--or magical power--keeps a consciousness alive after it has lost its Physical connection.) Yes, shades all once had bodies.

Think of them like petrified souls, where instead of stone replacing the tissue of a corpse, magical power replaced the parts of a soul that connect that soul to the Three Realms.

#9 Copy

JamesCRNA

Is there any substance that reflects Allomantic power? (For example, such that a Coinshot could appear to be a Lurcher if this substance were behind the piece of metal being Pushed, or perhaps said Coinshot could Push things around a corner if this substance were angled properly?

Brandon Sanderson

Nothing like this is known right now.

#10 Copy

JamesCRNA

There seem to be several black trinkets in your books (Vin's obsidian chunk, the polished-to-a-metallic-look pendant Roadan receives as a wedding present, & the sphere Gavilar gives to Szeth) My question is...are these things related?

Brandon Sanderson

No. Unfortunately, you've seen a coincidental connection. Several of these things are important, but for different reasons.

#11 Copy

yurisses

If Miles stored a very tiny bit of health into a gold bead and then burned it, what would happen? Would he see goldshadows for a time and then obtain Compounded health when reaching the charged part of the bead? Would the bead be evenly charged and deliver only health, no gold shadows, but at a very low rate since only little health was loaded in it? Would the bead be evenly charged and deliver only health, but at a standard rate the user would always get when compounding?

Brandon Sanderson

He'd hack the system to deliver health for a short time instead of doing what it was supposed to do, but only until the small portion of gold Invested with his Investiture ran out.

#14 Copy

jmass12

Quick question on genetics and investiture on Scadrial. Is it weird that Wax would have a different Allomantic power than his predecessors, or does it only matter that you have the ability in the first place, and then it takes different forms generation to generation?

Brandon Sanderson

Great question! I don't think anyone has asked it.

It is the second of your two theories. The power manifests differently in different people; specific powers are not hereditary.

#15 Copy

bmanny

At what point in your writing did the ending of [Shadows of Self] become a thing in your mind? Was is there from the beginning? Did it unfold naturally? Or was it something you saw before even writing [The Alloy of Law]?

Brandon Sanderson

I wrote Alloy of Law as kind of a free write. Once I finished it, and liked it a lot, I sat down and said, "Okay, if this is going to be Mistborn, it needs to have a tighter series outline." So I outlined three sequels, so I knew where Wax and the characters were going. Then I wrote the prologue of Alloy of Law. (It originally didn't include that scene with him and Lessie meeting Bloody Tan.) That scene was the first I wrote knowing the entire three book sequence, including the ending of SofS.

From there, I did a revision of Alloy of Law to match what was to come. The biggest change was adding in the trauma to Wax, which wasn't a piece of the initial story. (It was also something the book needed. Wax didn't have an arc in the original draft; he was kind of just "stoic sheriff." Building into him this longing to escape responsibility, and an underlying worry that his failures would break him, made it possible to create for him a four book arc.)

#16 Copy

AmbiguousPuzuma

In Chapter 19 of The Way of Kings, when Dalinar has a vision of fighting Voidbringers (maybe something else?) as a farmer, he says that he felt the Thrill in the vision. Does this mean that Nergaoul was active there, at the time that vision was "recorded" or was it Dalinar's viewing of the vision that was affected by the Thrill? Would the actual person whose perspective he was seeing have felt the Thrill if he had fought?

Brandon Sanderson

This is a great question, and one I've never been asked before. The answer is going to be a little vague.

First, Dalinar could have felt the Thrill from Nergaoul, and imported it into the vision.

Second, Nergaoul could have been active then, and the farmer could have felt it when he fought.

So both theories are valid. Which is it? I am going to hang back from answering this for now, as I am digging more into the Unmade in a future book.

#17 Copy

zotsandcrambles

In a way I felt that The Emperor's Soul was a bit post-singularity - in the sense that humans were capable of downloading new identities and histories. I know you've planned on doing FTL cosmere work, but have you any interest in doing post-singularity cosmere work? I'd be fascinated to see 'multiple-consciousness beings' using breath or soul stamps. Seeing human development push the boundaries of the shards would be quite intense, and I'm tickled pink at the notion of humans bamboozling the rules of [Shardic] Investiture - how far can Spiritual or Cognitive Identity stretch?

tl;dr - do you have any plans to bring post-singularity stories to the cosmere

Brandon Sanderson

I have plans for some of this, but the main-line cosmere stories I'm planning seem to adapt better to grand space opera than true post-singularity stories. That said, I've certainly got some short story ideas that will play with this. (And you'll see more hints like this even in the mainline books that I think you'll like.)

#18 Copy

Bat_Mannington

If a Windrunner lashed Wax upwards, could he dump all of his weight into his metalminds and be unaffected or would the lashing affect his clothes and whatever else he had on him too?

Brandon Sanderson

Wax could mitigate the effect (unless he was in a vacuum) but not eliminate it completely.

faragorn

Vacuum or freefall?

It can be easy to confuse them in the context of surface to orbit.

Brandon Sanderson

I was talking about a Vacuum, but it's good to clarify. What I'm saying is that without wind resistance, his mass doesn't matter--and the books have established that what Wax does is a freakish transformation of his mass, not just his weight.

Kaladin changes how much gravity pulls on someone, and in what direction. Wax (basically, it's more complex than this) changes how much mass he has. The two, then, have some very distinctive effects.

#19 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.

#20 Copy

Phantine

Dumb personal-obsession question - mistwraiths are people with "a blockage between the Physical and the Cognitive Realms" - does that mean if they set foot on Threnody they turn into actual undead-type-wraiths?

Brandon Sanderson

This is a very cool theory. I don't think I can shoot it down.

#21 Copy

Phantine

A friend of mine was thinking Harmony's two-power combination 'perk' was the ability to use them together to create instead of just to destroy or preserve.

Was that 'chemical reaction' rule in the plan from the beginning, or was having Harmony more a precedent to develop a rule from it?

Brandon Sanderson

It was pretty early. (The idea that the two together can create was mentioned very early in the series, long before Harmony came to be.)

#22 Copy

Xluxaeternax

Is the chronology through the whole cosmere fairly linear, or are there some Interstellar-relativity timey-wimey stuff at play?

Brandon Sanderson

Relativity is in play for sure, but I am not allowing time travel into the past in the cosmere. So while you might find places that move at slower/faster speeds, and while foreseeing future timelines is in play for sure, nobody will not be pulling serious time travel shenanigans.

#23 Copy

Lucadaw

If someone used Hemalurgy to take someones Feruchemical abilities would they be able to use that persons personal metalminds? Most relevantly perhaps to take that person's knowledge from their copperminds?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Lucadaw

If someone stored their identity in an aluminium metalmind, then had their powers and metalminds stolen via Hemalurgy, then the person who took the powers used the aluminium metalmind to draw out the first persons identity would it permanently overwrite their personality with the original persons ? ( would kind of be a long winded way of stealing someone else's body and becoming immortal )

Brandon Sanderson

All Identity questions are a RAFO until I deal with it more in the books. (Sorry.)

WeiryWriter (in response to the first answer)

If the spike granting Feruchemy were to be reforged/split into two distinct spikes which are then implanted into two different people, could those two people "share" a metalmind (as in actually be able to tap something the other stored and vice versa?).

Brandon Sanderson

It's complicated, but no.

There would be too much of the other person mixed in. Both could use the metalminds of the person the Feruchemy was stolen from, but when they made their own, their own Identity would "muddy" the creation.

#24 Copy

katkov

How important is Intent to Hemalurgy? If two people who didn't know about Hemalurgy were running and tripped, falling perfectly onto a spike, would Hemalurgy occur? What about if it was a sick psychopath who liked stabbing people with spikes instead of an accident?

Would the planet these events occurred on matter?

Brandon Sanderson

Location is not relevant to most of the magics.

As for those specifics of Hemalurgy, I will RAFO for now.

#25 Copy

Phantine

So... CS question here, I'm seeing identity as essentially a 'encryption' on the metalmind - the spike has the decryption key to existing metalminds, but when you encrypt a new one you use your personal encryption key with the spike's hardware, so you still have compounding access to the metalminds even after removing the spike.

Is it possible for there to be a 'key collision' with Identity? Two people just randomly end up making compatible metalminds, because the pieces of their Identities that the magic looks like happen to be the same.

Brandon Sanderson

This would be about as likely as two unrelated people ending up with the exact same genetic sequence.

But, so far as I understand, that WOULD be possible.

Lucadaw

So identical twins could share metalminds ?

Brandon Sanderson

:) RAFO.

#26 Copy

danimalod

I also just finished Shadows of Self and was thinking about what would happen if a kandra tried to eat a shade. If they don't have bones, it probably can't happen I guess. But maybe a shade that was a kandra could be pretty frightening.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, a kandra couldn't eat a Shade. And how scary the shade kandra would be depends entirely on the kandra, I'd figure...

#27 Copy

sheesania

You've said before that Kelsier hung around in the Cognitive Realm after dying and continued to interfere with events going on in Scadrial - talking to Spook, using Preservation's power, etc. You've even implied that Kelsier is STILL hanging around and meddling in the Wax & Wayne era. So my question is - did he CHOOSE to stay in the Cognitive Realm instead of passing on? Or is something forcing him to stay there? 

Brandon Sanderson

This will be revealed before too much longer. I've been keeping it under my hat for a long time.

#28 Copy

sheesania

Are we ever going to find out more about Tarah, the woman Kaladin was involved with somehow during his time in Amaram's army? I'm curious about what sort of woman could manage to pull Kaladin out of his depression and obsessive training in the spear after Tien's death...

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

#29 Copy

mak6453

You all write such engaging and original pieces; do you ever get really frustrated by how uninteresting or underdeveloped stories/worlds are in other forms of media? I see movies and especially video games all of the time that make me think "this had so much potential - I really wish the writers had skills and creativity of some of my favorite fantasy authors."

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, this does happen to me. I watch a film, or play a game, and say, "Oh, man. If they'd just given me this script, this would have been SO EASY to fix!" Then, when video games contact me and ask for help, I realize I don't have the time to actually help them. (Except in a few cases.) I famously even had to say no to Notch when he wrote me and asked if I'd write something for minecraft. (I probably should have done that one, but was tight on deadlines at the time.)

That's the big dichotomy here. We all (including many video game designers) get into this because we want to tell great stories. And when our stories have flaws, they are still OURS. I respect that many of these designers would rather tell their story, even with a few warts, than outsource it. I'd rather do the same thing, in most cases. And so while I sometimes think, "Wow, it would be SO COOL to write a Hawkeye book" when Marvel asked me to do something for them (with a blanket "Anything with any character in the Marvel universe you want) I had to say no because it would have meant delaying Stormlight 3.

#30 Copy

Office_Zombie

Hey guys, how many drafts do you go through before you start showing to other people? What sort of workshopping do your books go through as you work on them? Do you have Alpha and Beta readers etc. or do you keep your groups smaller?

Brandon Sanderson

Drafting process: 1st draft: Rough Draft. (Written straight through, often ignoring big problems or changing characters mid-stride to get them down.)

2nd draft: Fix all the big problems from first draft.

3rd draft: First polish.

--Send book to Writing Group and Alpha Readers, including my Agent/Editor---

4th draft: Major revisions. Editorial comments.

5th draft: Medium revisions. Writing group comments.

--Send Book to Beta Reads.---

6th draft: Last chance at larger revisions.

7th draft: Copyedit (my assistant does this one.)

That's an ideal world. Sometimes it's condensed. Though on the Wheel of Time books, I ended up doing 12 or 13 drafts.

#31 Copy

admiralorbiter

Last I heard you planned one more Mistborn series set in a sorta sci-fi setting in the future. However, I've heard from a couple people that you might be writing a fourth trilogy? I'm curious if that is true and what setting that would take place in?

Brandon Sanderson

The fourth trilogy is the SF one. The Wax and Wayne books are confusing people. 1: Classic epic fantasy.

2: Wax and Wayne western eara.

3: 1980's Spy Thriller

4: Space Opera.

It's possible I'll slot something between Spy Thriller and Space Opera. I've started to think I should officially name Wax and Wayne "Era 1.5" to end this confusion.

#32 Copy

Boogalyhu34

Can you tell us about the progress for White Sand, a kit of people are looking forward to it, and I know I am.

Brandon Sanderson

For those who don't know, White Sand is the book I wrote right after Elantris. I wasn't satisfied with it, and never sold it. Dynamite Comics asked if maybe we could do a graphic novel, and I felt that in creating a graphic novel script, we could fix the problems I had with the story. So I said yes.

Working on the graphic novel with Dynamite has been one of the best experiences I've had with a licensed product. They have been quick to listen, have given us a great deal of leeway with asking for revisions of both art and text, and have hired people we really like to work on the project. The end result is a comic I'm very proud of, and happy to have as the canon version of White Sand. (Which is relevant to the cosmere.)

The plan is to do three graphic novels, of six "Issues" each. We've basically finished the first six issues, and plan for a summer release next year. We should be showing off some of the pages on my blog this month. (I hope.)

Wubdor

I loved White Sand. I'm actually reading it for a second time now while I wait for Bands of Mourning. Is the graphic novel going to differ much from the novel? Anything you're willing to give away?

Brandon Sanderson

Hmm... We overhauled one major character (not Kenton or Khriss) to give more complex motivations, and in doing so, changed them from male to female.

It will basically be the same plot, though streamlined, with a few structural changes and a little more depth of characterization.

#33 Copy

ParanoidKiwi

Would you see the word 'realmatic' as a term you've coined that you want to see proliferate, or a concept specific to your stories that you have dominion over?

Brandon Sanderson

It could of course be used by anyone, but I don't really intend for it to proliferate. It's more a word I devised to explain the theories of cosmere magic, and which I intended to remain there.

#34 Copy

TheOneTrueName

For Brandon, any ETA for Nightblood? Would love to know more about how that thing ended up with Szeth.

Brandon Sanderson

I'm working on my State of the Sanderson blog post for this year, which will cover most of these things. But...don't hold your breath. That one's pretty low on the list, I'm afraid. I need to do the Elantris sequels first, as they're far more cosmere relevant.

Event details
Name
Name Worldbuilders AMA
Date
Date Dec. 3, 2015
Location
Location /r/fantasy
Entries
Entries 34
Upload sources