Recent entries

    Brandon's Blog 2018 ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Introduction: The Longer Version

    Back in January this year, Wizards of the Coast approached me. Knowing of my love for their game, Magic: The Gathering, they were wondering if I would be willing to write a tie-in story for them. They mentioned since it was the 25th birthday of Magic, they wanted to do something special—and might be able to splurge on a Brandon Sanderson story.

    I was, of course, interested—but went back to Wizards with a proposal that I think surprised them. You see, I knew they'd been doing some very interesting things with their stories in recent months. (The multi-part Dominaria sequence by Martha Wells is a good example, if you are interested.) I liked how they were using free stories on their website to both enhance the lore and give some work to talented writers.

    Way back in the beginning of my career, one of the things I liked to do was periodically release free stories. Defending Elysium, Firstborn, and even Warbreaker are examples. Over the years, though, I've gotten busy enough that I haven't found a good opportunity to do this again. I liked the idea of doing a story for Wizards in part for this reason.

    So I went back to them with a proposal: I didn't actually want payment for this story. I just wanted them to put it up for free on their website, and then if (later down the road) it generated any money by being in a collection or in print on its own, I wanted my portion of that donated to charity. In exchange for doing it for free, I wanted to be allowed to write the story my way. That meant me picking one of their settings, then developing my own characters and plot to happen there. (As opposed to writing the story for one of their official releases, as most of the other writers they hired were doing.)

    It wasn't that I had anything against writing one of the main-line-setting stories. I just felt that in this case, I wanted greater flexibility. Beyond that, for several years now, I've had a story brewing in my head that I felt was a perfect match for one of their settings—a story I couldn't make work in the Cosmere, but which I really wanted to write.

    Wizards was on board immediately—and so, "Secret Project" was born.

    Regarding the Story

    Wizards has a lot of great settings for the card game, so I had plenty of options. The story I'd been brewing was specifically inspired by their Innistrad set—a gothic horror setting with some magepunk elements underpinning it. It has had a very interesting evolution over the years, and was the setting for one of the best Magic sets of all time. Ever since writing Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell, I've wanted to do another horror/fantasy hybrid, and so I dove into what became Children of the Nameless.

    I don't know exactly what Wizards was expecting of me, but I suspect a 250-page behemoth of a story wasn't it. (At 50k words, the story is roughly half the size of something like Skyward.) I have to say, though, working with them was an absolute pleasure. They jumped on board with the main character pitch I made, integrating him right away into the larger Magic story. They even went so far as to loop me in on conference calls, where I could explain my character concepts so they could develop art. I'd thought they might be worried about letting me go off on my own like this, but they were instead enthusiastic and supportive.

    So, it is with great pleasure I present Children of the Nameless. Consider it a Christmas present from me and from Wizards of the Coast to you. I hope you enjoy it!

    General Twitter 2019 ()
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    Argent

    Hey, now that the Hemalurgic Table is out in the world, can we get a normal image of it on the website so we don't have to rely on photos from people's books? :)

    Isaac Stewart

    Eventually. I'm working on the actual final version that will wind up as the art print. I don't want to release a digital version until it's the final one.

    General Twitter 2018 ()
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    Katelyn

    I am interested to know the concept behind the cosmere symbol in [Arcanum Unbounded].

    Isaac Stewart

    This came about after about a dozen or two other sketches, some more complex, some less. Some more laden with meaning; some less. We wanted something simple and evocative of the cosmology. There IS some symbolism here; see the 16 points on the inner star....

    Katelyn

    The thoughts are the 16 points are Adonalsium, the 3 shapes around are the 3 realms. The other is that the symbol is meant to represent the movement of the shards throughout the cosmere.

    Isaac Stewart

    Each point you mention is something I considered when designing the symbol and intentionally built into it. Glad people are seeing it!

    General Twitter 2018 ()
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    Adonalsium

    Are the boosters airbreathing or rocket boosters? If rocket, what fuel do they use?

    Peter Ahlstrom

    This might be explained in book 2. But I think it's something very sci-fi rather than propellant-based. They're not airbreathing, for sure.

    General Reddit 2019 ()
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    KyloSpren

    I've been checking the site almost every day for years to complete the signed art print collection of the other 2 framed on my wall. Please tell me this [Hemalurgy table] will be produced same as the other 2? I've got very low numbers for the other table prints, and it's hard to understate how much I've been looking forward to completing this collection after years.

    Brandon Sanderson

    It will be available as a print, probably with more details in the boxes. I don’t know the timetable though.

    General Reddit 2019 ()
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    Phantine

    Is this hemalurgy table also a speculative in-universe document (like how the RPG had atium spikes only stealing temporal, because that's what the steelies believed)?

    Peter Ahlstrom

    It is an in-world chart according to the knowledge of some people at a certain stage in the history of Scadrial. [Edit: not Roshar, sorry. Also it’s not Khriss.]

    Stormlight Book Four Update #1 ()
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    Glamdring804

    Yeah, it’s dangerous to leave him unsupervised for extended periods of time, as a random novella might suddenly appear.

    Brandon Sanderson

    The latest one is a story I really want to write about one of Hoid's apprentices, set in the future of the cosmere (between era 3 and 4) stranded on a minor shardword and trying to figure out their kite-based magic system...

    (No time right now, though. Stay on target...)

    yahasgaruna

    That sounds very much like the first story you wrote about Hoid, doesn't it? About him landing on a new planet and trying to figure out the local magic system?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes, it would be the spiritual successor of that story. I don't think it would work any more for him, the way he has developed, but I think it could play out very well with one of his many apprentices across the worlds. (Particularly if he's a little more organized about this in the space-age era.)

    Someday, I really need to send my old discs from the early 90s out for data recovery, to see if anything is on them. It would be a hoot to read these old stories and really see how much of the Cosmere existed in embryo back when I was a teenager.

    Stormlight Book Four Update #1 ()
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    BelgariathTAO

    Wait, don't you also have a teaching job?

    Brandon Sanderson

    It's a good question, and though others have answered, I should post to explain for those who might be interested in teaching creative writing.

    It is very difficult to get a teaching job in creative writing without an MFA or a PhD. I applied to many of those programs, submitting Elantris as my writing sample, but I was rejected from all of them. I managed to get into BYU on my second year of applying to programs--but only their MA program, which was a stop gap because it wasn't an MFA, and therefore wouldn't be enough to let me teach.

    In the first week of that program, the graduate chair explained the work we would need to do to if we wanted to get into a PhD program that would give us a shot at teaching for a living. I distinctly remember realizing I could never do all of that and still write my novels. So I made the call and turned toward my fiction instead of academics.

    I applied to teach as a graduate instructor, but didn't get the job. I applied a semester later, though, and was given a few freshman composition classes to teach--but it was a graduate teaching position, meaning a job I couldn't keep once graduating.

    I only got my creative writing class after I sold a novel. Even then, it was sketchy. The professor before me had been let go for not having enough academic credentials. I love teaching my class, but it is only one course which I only got after publishing. So this is not a route I could have taken if I hadn't sold a book. This tends to be a big conundrum in teaching the arts. You can't get a job without being successful--but being successful usually takes so much time, you don't have time left to be an academic.

    Stormlight Book Four Update #1 ()
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    Himenss

    So originally book 3 was Szeth and book 5 was Dalinar? Good that it changed...I cannot imagine book 3 without Dalinar's flaskbacks. The story wouldn't be so powerful.

    Now I am curious, did Dalinar get his memories back in the original planning for book 3?

    Brandon Sanderson

    As others have theorized, this wouldn't have worked quite the same way.

    Oathbringer's ending would still have been its ending--but we wouldn't have had the flashbacks and some of the revelations about Dalinar's character. It quickly became obvious to me, however, that the confrontation with the thrill, the reveal regarding the ancient Radiants, and the solidification of the new Radiants as a unified(?) group needed to all happen alongside Dalinar's flashbacks (and his recovered memories) instead alongside Szeth's flashbacks and his plot, a big chunk of which was moved to book five.

    Stormlight Book Four Update #1 ()
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    Brandon Sanderson

    Happy New Year, everyone! Brandon here, with my first in a series of updates about your next book.

    As mentioned in my State of the Sanderson post last month, my 2019 is dedicated to writing the fourth Stormlight book. It's a long process, likely to take around eighteen months or longer (depending on how big it gets this time...) As always, one of my goals is to be up front and forward with you about how it's going. The writing process can be a tangled one, even for simple books. And these books are anything but simple.

    So, where do we stand? Well, right now, the outline is a bit of a mess. While I started with outlines for all five Stormlight books in this sequence (and some notes for each of the back five books as well) even a heavy outliner like myself changes a lot about a book during the drafting process. Each change has a ripple effect through the later outlines, which I commonly don't fix other than to note sections that will need to be change or be tweaked.

    In the case of Stormlight, sequences were frequently moved between books as I decided on better places for them. (Like Dalinar and Szeth's flashback sequences in book three and five being swapped--or like Kaladin's sequence from the outline of Book Three being moved to Book Two instead.)

    The further I get, then, the more messy the remaining outlines become. So the first thing I need to do is spend some time digging into the outlines of Books Four and Five, sharpening them and making them work. I need to do this now, because I don't want to get to Book Five and find it in serious trouble.

    Imagine I have a big pile of legos, and I'm building five cool castles from them. I have to be careful as I use more and more of the pieces that the ones left over make a cool fifth castle--rather than just a jumble of leftovers. There are some very important and powerful sequences still to come (you all know how I like endings) but the outlines need extra special attention this time around.

    My goal starting tomorrow (well, today once I wake up) is to get those outlines into shape. I anticipate this taking a month or maybe event two. I need to dig back into books one and two and make sure there aren't plot threads I'm ignoring, examine the themes of this book's flashback sequence (from Eshonai's viewpoint) and map them alongside the main themes of the major plots, then choose break points for the five parts of the story. (Along with decide who the viewpoint characters for each part will be.)

    For those who don't know, I plot each Stormlight book as a trilogy written as a single novel (though in five parts) with a short story collection spliced into it. That "trilogy" then connects to the five book mini arc (in this case, the first five books) which in turn ties into ten book mega arc of the series. So, I've got a great deal of work ahead of me. Fortunately, we have an entire year for me to do it! (Though I will need to spend some of that time the next few weeks signing four thousand copies of the Hero of Ages Leatherbound, which FINALLY arrived.)

    So, off I go! I'll be back here sometime February or March with another update, perhaps including a (spoiler free) visual representation of the outline like I did last time. Until then, thanks for the support! The Way of Kings passed a million copies sold in the US last year, which isn't even mentioning its significant sales around the world. I'm humbled and pleased to see so many people embracing this series, the one I started assuming it would be too long and too strange to ever sell.

    I'll leave you with a random tidbit to theorize about. I'm pretty sure that at my signing last week in Idaho Falls, I was unintentionally misleading about some of the things I said about Dalinar's powers (regarding infusing of spheres.) I was trying to talk around spoilers for book four...

    General Reddit 2018 ()
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    Vrlover123

    How is [Rithmatist] not a VR game yet.

    Brandon Sanderson

    I have tried for years to get one made, and would love to do it. I also am fine with (not for profit) fan creations in most instances.

    The problem has always been that people who are interested in making a Rithmatist game don't have enough experience in the industry to really make me think they could do a good job with it. (I have had a lot of offers from first-time game makers, for example.) However, the sales of the book--while good--are not enough to interest big game makers. (Where we've had trouble even getting something like a Mistborn game made, a series with several multiples more fans than the Rithmatist.)

    General Reddit 2018 ()
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    simon_thekillerewok

    A few weeks ago, you mentioned you were writing The Original with a friend, but in the SotS it looks like you haven't found anybody yet? Are those different people or is the SotS outdated?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I don't have contracts or permission to mention anyone's name. It's early enough along that I feel it's best to stay quiet for now.

    General Reddit 2018 ()
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    simon_thekillerewok

    A lot of collaborations coming up: Alcatraz 6, Death (Without Pizza), Apocalypse Guard, The Original. How many of these are you expecting to be officially coauthored?

    Brandon Sanderson

    If I release a book that someone else worked on with me, it will be co-authored. So I'd say all them--but like a lot of projects I have cooking, it's possible that any or all of them might not come together.

    General Reddit 2018 ()
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    OVERLYLOUDCOMMERCIAL

    I know you can't comment [on Nakomi] that's what the wish was for :). Just hoping for some day in the future is all. I'm actually more concerned with this forsaken/aMoL secret we are apparently all missing.

    Brandon Sanderson

    I am sure someone has figured it out; I just don't watch the theory threads for WoT as well as I used to. Either way, I'll be able to reveal it on the 10th anniversary of the book being out.

    OVERLYLOUDCOMMERCIAL

    I'm sure you're a busy man. That's good to know about the tenth anniversary, would you confirm it if it was directly asked to you? There's one theory I've seen but I don't want to push my luck :).

    Brandon Sanderson

    I wouldn't be able to confirm it or deny it.

    Children of the Nameless Reddit AMA ()
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    Ankylosaurian

    I'm not sure how familiar you are with superhero comics, but if Marvel/DC offered you a similar opportunity, are there any characters that you would want to write for?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Marvel did actually offer me this chance, and at the end of the day, I decided I didn't have the time at that point. I'm not closing the door entirely on doing something with them, but this project was different for several reasons.

    First, I could create my own characters and situation--but know they were going to be important and relevant in the future of the narrative done by others.

    Second, I could write it as a novella, to fit better into the time I had to give it.

    Third, I could have it released for free, as a present to the fans.

    I'm quite a big fan of what Marvel has been doing with its stories, but I didn't feel like it was the right time for me to become involved.

    Children of the Nameless Reddit AMA ()
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    AutonomousJoy

    As somebody who has little to no knowledge about Magic: The Gathering beyond the fact that it is a card game, could somebody explain how novellas like this fit into everything?

    Question for Branderson: How does writing for an already established IP feel compared to writing in your own universes? Do you feel limited?

    Brandon Sanderson

    It's a good kind of limitation--it helps me think with restrictions, and is good for me in making certain my own pieces remain consistent and rigid in their magical approach. So yes, it's limiting--but so far, with all three tie-ins I've done, I've been given enough freedom that it's been a good kind of limitation.

    As for your first question, since nobody else is answering, Magic story these days is told via novellas like this. The creative team works closely with the game team to design the setting and story for a given set, then the creative team commissions or writes stories to post on the website for the fans who want to follow the story as they play the game. (The cards themselves evoke story nicely, but their focus isn't on the narrative, but on the mechanics of the game.)

    My novella is a little odd in that I designed it working from worldbuilding materials sent to me, but without requiring it to follow a specific storyline for a set.

    Children of the Nameless Reddit AMA ()
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    BusinessCress

    Speaking of writing process, how does it feel to work with your own series and with already existing (Magic, WoT)? Is there some differences?

    Brandon Sanderson

    It's actually a lot of fun to take established rules and see how I can play with them. It makes working on something like MTG different in an interesting way for me. I don't have absolute control of everything, and have to work within certain narrative restraints--which gives me a chance to do something new and different.

    Children of the Nameless Reddit AMA ()
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    diffyqgirl

    Is the writing process for writing a novella different from writing a novel?

    Brandon Sanderson

    It is, but they are similar arts. I think of novellas like short novels, rather than long short stories--so I tend to plot and pace them in similar ways to novels. That said, I tend to narrow my focus to one day, and don't muck around as much with flashbacks. I try to keep the narrative tight on one sequence of events.

    Children of the Nameless Reddit AMA ()
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    Mithre

    Two questions; if the characters were cards, what abilities would you like them to have?Are we going to see Tacenda again, or will future stories all be about Davriel?

    Brandon Sanderson

    • I'd like Davriel to steal cards out of people's hands and then play them. I don't know about Tacenda, though. I've been drawing a blank so far.
    • I suspect you'll see both of them again some day.

    Aaronator17

    What of Davriel had a unique mechanic that read something like; When an opponent casts an instant or sorcery spell, -X loyalty where X is the spell's CMC and exile it with a theft counter (activate any time you could cast an instant), and another that was +2 and return a card exiled with a theft counter to its owner's [hand/graveyard], you may cast a copy of that spell using any coloured mana?

    Brandon Sanderson

    That would be cool, and I would like to see planeswalker cards with odd mechanics. But I think it would be a lot of complicated wording to do something that would, in essence, be very similar to:

    Minus loyalty: Look at target player's hand an exile a non-land card from it.

    Zero Loyalty: You may play cards exiled with Davriel, and may use black mana as mana of any color to cast those cards.

    Mithre

    Maybe Tacenda would have a tap target creatures effect?

    Brandon Sanderson

    That's a pretty good idea.

    Children of the Nameless Reddit AMA ()
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    meramipopper

     

    • How would your characters fit in your power cube?
    • If it's okay, what colors would Spensa's class be?
    • What is your favorite snack to eat while playing MtG?
    • How many "embarrassing" white bordered dual lands do you have left? ;)

     

    Brandon Sanderson

     

    • I guess it would depend on the cards. But I think I'll get a demonic tutor altered to have Miss Highwater in the art.
    • Spensa is about as mon-red as a character can get, I think.
    • Peanuts.
    • Too many! I've only gotten ahold of three alpha/beta duals so far. I like to pick them up when I see them, as opposed to specifically seeking them out. Feels more narratively appropriate, but I might have to break down and just buy the rest over the internet.

     

    Children of the Nameless Reddit AMA ()
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    huriel19

    1. It's clear that Davriel is a Dimir aligned character but I find Tacenda a little bit harder to read (my closest assumption it's Boros). If she would be printed in a future which color combinations would she have?

    2. If you have the chance to write a short story about any member of the Gatewatch, which one would you choose? And why would be Liliana? :)

    3. Maybe it's something that you cannot answer or confirm, but do you consider that the Raven man or the Chain veil are some kind of Entity?

    Brandon Sanderson

    1. I'd make Tacenda G-W-R. Green for her belief in fate, and for the power of the Entity. Red for her passion and music. White for her belief in, and protection of, her community.

    2. It would be fun to write about how much Lili and Davriel would hate each other.

    3. I came up with the Entities on my own, but I was aware of some of the similarities between this story and Liliana's story when writing it. I toyed with using some more direct connections, then decided to back out of them for various reasons.

    General Reddit 2018 ()
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    jpmoney

    A (tangential) Dream Theater mention in a SotS? I can only take so much. I'm really looking forward to the new pizza-less Death set.

    Brandon Sanderson

    The book is looking good, though it still has a lot of work left to do. Peter has really brought the right musician's touch to the story, though, and a powerful sense of authenticity.

    OlanValesco

    Question(s), if you will. What types of metal are you including (please don't say atium)? Is one of them djent? Are you only going to be doing big (older) bands (Metallica, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Slayer, Megadeath, etc.)? Or are you going to be including newer bands? Niche bands? Metalheads love pretentious niche bands.

    Are you aware of the role of post hardcore as a gateway into screaming music for many people? For example, look up the Spotify plays for bands like A Day To Remember, Pierce The Veil, Sleeping With Sirens, and Of Mice & Men. Another big player is nu metal like Linkin Park. Almost every metalhead in the 20-35 age bracket grew up listening to them.

    Are you in tune with the fickleness of metal fans? How every time a band drops a new album, all the old fans line up around the block to hate on it. This is often because bands tend to soften their sound with each album (the word sellouts is not unheard in these contexts).

    Are you going to include any references to popular metal YouTubers? I.e. Jared Dines (and his 18 string guitar), Kmac2021, Rob Scallon, etc.

    Sorry for the barrage. Long time metal listener. Guess I'm just anxious so see it represented right!

    Brandon Sanderson

    I'm well aware that metal fans rather love their many distinct sub-genres. That's one of the main reasons I knew I needed to have someone working with me. I myself am very mainstream as a music fan. I love Metallica, but that's like telling people you love fantasy because you watched the LotR films. It's absolutely true, but doesn't exactly show off your breath of interest.

    While I like a wide variety of musical styles, I wouldn't by any means call myself a metalhead--I just don't know the culture, as much as I like to read about it. But you can be assured that Peter knows his stuff. My job is worldbuilding and plot; his job is voice and authentic representation of the culture.

    That said, I fully expect to get some pushback from fans because...well, you know. I'm sure we'll have plenty of metalheads in the beta reads, though.

    Children of the Nameless Reddit AMA ()
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    Argent

    I got some Nightblood vibes from Davriel's Entity - are the Entities established... well, entities, in MTG lore, or are they more yours in design?

    Brandon Sanderson

    They're very me. I wanted to bring some ideas that were classic Sanderson to the project, and the Entities were one of my earliest pitches to the team.

    Children of the Nameless Reddit AMA ()
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    Aaronator17

    I see a lot of people commenting and suggesting that Davriel is straight up UB (as represented in this story). Would you agree that this is the case? And if a different side of Davriel were to be represented on a card (say, his days as a conquerer) what do you think his colour alignment have been then? 

    Brandon Sanderson

    I think Davriel is most easily explained as UB, and the creative team agreed with that.

    However, I think there's a strong argument for mono black for him. His power is a mix of a thoughtsieze and the power seen often on mono black cards (like Gonti.) Granted, it's also seen on blue cards, but it can exist in mono-black.

    He does have an academic side to him, but mostly for studying demonology--a very black pursuit. His past is that of a very pragmatic economist, approached from a very black-aligned view. So mono-black makes a lot of sense for him.

    He could also be seen as Esper. He believes in order, and the importance of social institutions--particularly as a means of controlling the masses.

    The past version of him is very in alignment with this. He never approached his conquests in a red or green way--always in U/B/W ways.

    Children of the Nameless Reddit AMA ()
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    Gadmond

    Were the Whisperers inspired by the card Permeating Mass? Their green color and the way they turn everyone they touch into more of themselves seems too similar to be coincidental.

    Since you knew you were writing for Magic the Gathering, did you ever think about what kind of abilities a hypothetical Davriel planeswalker card (Spoilers: or Tacenda planeswalker card) would have?

    Is the Nameless Angel supposed to be the same one referenced in the official Magic story "A Gaze Blank and Pitiless"? If so, do you know if the story team is planning on addressing how she came back to life?

    Brandon Sanderson

    The Whisperers were actually more inspired by the card Strangleroot Geist. (Though I can't discount the fact that other cards, like Permeating Mass, might have been unconscious influences.)

    I knew going into the story that I want green-aligned villains, and so was trying to ask myself what would inspire a group of green geists--and what would motivate them. We've seen green villains in MTG before (the Kami and the Phyrexians both did a good job of this.) I wanted to see if I could approach the color from another direction, and was trying to think of what green would want. It seemed to me that completion, the pieces being gathered to the whole, could be very green--as could the idea of survival of the fittest. (In the form of the Entity putting itself into two souls, and figuring the stronger of the two would eventually consume the other and become its host.)

    Davriel would, I hope, have the ability to exile a card from a player's hand, then at some point in the future play that card using black mana.

    Tacenda would be tougher. Emotional manipulation is hard to capture in MTG, other than as threaten effects. But I'd want something that could mimic this.

    You're speaking of the fourth sister, the WB one? The team asked me to RAFO this, meaning leave it ambiguous for now.

    Children of the Nameless Reddit AMA ()
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    EndlessKng

    As someone who has studied Asian cultures and history and mythology, would you consider writing a story in the Kamigawa plane? It's one of my favorites but it seems to be a bit underloved, and I'd love to see some more development of it in a story.

    I know you were instructed to not be as concerned with replicating game mechanics, but were there any particular cards or concepts that inspired you as you worked?

    Which orders of Knights Radiant do you think the main characters would best belong to?

    Brandon Sanderson

    1. I'm a big fan of Kamigawa, and would call Toshiro Umezawa an inspiration for doing a black-aligned hero in this story. So it is something I'd consider.

    2. Rage Thrower shows up in a quite obvious moment, and I imagine the dismissal spell that Davriel uses to be Silent Departure. (My interpretation of a blue unsummon effect, as opposed to an actual creature destroying spell.) There are a few other things, like the "summon equipment" spell he learns.

    3. Hm. Let me think on that. I'm not sure if Davriel would fit into any of them, honestly, though Tacenda could fit several

    Children of the Nameless Reddit AMA ()
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    Jay13x

    Which bit of Magic lore inspired Davriel?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Mostly me thinking about what I'd do if I were to write a story (I started thinking about this years before I got the chance.) I'd say the biggest influence might have been Umezawa, as I really liked the way a black-aligned hero played in that story.

    Children of the Nameless Reddit AMA ()
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    Shpjokk

    Are there any easter eggs that you either got to add or wished to add to the story that reference something Magic-related that's close to you?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Hmm. I toyed with writing in cameos for some people I know, but decided against it, as I know Wizards isn't fond of that sort of thing in their card art, and figured it would be a bad idea in fiction.

    Children of the Nameless Reddit AMA ()
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    NPDgames

    1. When did you first start playing? Who/What got you into it? have you been playing non-stop since then or on and off?
    2. What formats/decks do you play?
    3. And something book related i guess. What plane would you LEAST want to set a story on.

    Brandon Sanderson

    1. I started in 1994, when my brother brought home a Starter deck soon after Revised had launched. I was hooked from that moment, and have bought packs from basically every expansion since then.

    2. I used to play something akin to EDH before EDH was a thing, but now I almost exclusively draft. Powered cube combo is my jam, though I'll try just about anything.

    3. Hmmm. You know, I hadn't even thought of that. I don't really think any of the settings are bad, and most are quite good. Probably something like the Arabian Nights plane, as I think there would be a lot of problems with trying to do a story like that--not the least of which being Wizards probably hating the idea.

    Children of the Nameless Reddit AMA ()
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    Glamdring804

    While we're on the subject of you and MtG, do you have a spreadsheet or a document somewhere with the color identities of all your characters? Some of them are obvious, like Kelsier being red with maybe a splash of white, but others I can't make a solid decision on, like Vin.

    Brandon Sanderson

    See, I think Kelsier is blue black--though you're right, he probably has some red to him in his rebellious nature and focus on friendship and emotion. But no, I don't keep track of this. I enjoy talking about it with people, but it isn't an important part of how I design characters.

    Glamdring804

    Really? Blue black? I see where the blue comes from, and the black as well, but he was always felt like primarily red to me. Namely, his rebelliousness, desire for revenge, and general dislike of society’s structure feel like strong red traits to me. I suppose then, that might make him Grixis?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I could see Grixis.

    Children of the Nameless Reddit AMA ()
    #82 Copy

    beingcobra

    What has been the hardest book for you to write? And the easiest? Was this particular book difficult to write?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Hardest was by far A Memory of Light. Easiest was probably Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians, which I discovery wrote and did half as a writing exercise to keep me from burning out while working on the Mistborn trilogy.

    This one was middle of the road. Most of it was easy, but the ending in the first draft didn't work and required a lot of beating my head against the wall until I was able to get things to click together.

    Children of the Nameless Reddit AMA ()
    #83 Copy

    Oversleep42

    Do you have any advice on writing multiple magic systems? How to write it so that the reader is not confused in there being more than one? How to foreshadow combining them? How to play them off each other? How to balance them in one setting?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I really like to make sure I don't do too much at once. What has worked for me (both in Mistborn and Stormlight) is to introduce one system up front, and use it to start exploring the setting. Then I slowly add more in future books.

    Children of the Nameless Reddit AMA ()
    #84 Copy

    Wifrin

    How did you find the experience of writing in an established universe that wasn't your own? Did the setting having a much softer magic system than you usually write present a challenge you, and what do you feel it taught that you can take back to your other writing?

    Did you get any access or information about Magic lore that wouldn't have been available to fans yet?

    Lastly, I feel like this story had less of your trademark "Sanderlanche" in it. Do you agree? Do you think that is a function of it being a short story, or other elements? Was it intentional, or did a more gradual set of revelations just work better for this story?

    Brandon Sanderson

    1. I found the experience to be a lot of fun. The system was soft, but I created my own very hard corner of it to play in, so that worked just fine for me. Most of what this taught me was how to better collaborate--I am glad for the experience in that regard, and hope it will help me better at similar writing tasks in the future.

    2. I did!

    3. Most of my short fiction has a smaller Sanderlanche. Basically, I need lots of threads intermixing so that I can start pulling them together rapid-fire for a good Sanderlanche, and short fiction will need smaller ones in turn. Most of the stories in Arcanum Unbounded had climaxes similar to this one.

    Children of the Nameless Reddit AMA ()
    #85 Copy

    DataLoreHD

    Aside of the mind probe stealing spell, did Davriel have any other spells of his own? If not, why didn't he try to learn something which comes in handy in battle (e.g. Doom Blade)?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Remember, he loses what he grabs over time. Generally, he can keep a few stolen spells in the back of his mind--but even they weaken. So he can't really learn Doom Blade. He has to work with what he finds in the brains of nearby people.

    Children of the Nameless Reddit AMA ()
    #86 Copy

    ChiralPhoton

    When I think of Brandon and MtG, I wonder, if the 5 kinds of mana, were suddenly replaced by investiture from the 16 shards, how would that affect the game? Upsides? Downsides?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I don't know if this would even be mechanically possible--MTG is balanced around those five poles. It would probably make things a whole lot more complicated, and might be better matched to a game with a lot of flexible factions.

    Children of the Nameless Reddit AMA ()
    #87 Copy

    ILikeBreadsticks

    If you could design a new mechanic for Magic, what would you make? Thank you!

    Brandon Sanderson

    For my own Mistborn custom cube, I designed a mechanic that cared if a card was sleeved or not. It couldn't work in regular magic, of course, but in the context of a cube that is already pre-sleeved, it played very well. Basically, being sleeved equated to being protected or shrouded in the mist. You could give up your protection to become stronger, sometimes, but it made you more vulnerable. (There were many cards, for example, that could only destroy unsleeved cards.)

    Children of the Nameless Reddit AMA ()
    #88 Copy

    les_lim

    Crunchgnar mentions that as a lesser demon, he is forced to give up the souls he has claimed to his lords - presumably demon lords, not the mortals with whom he engages in contracts.

    How does demonic feudalism work? Under what circumstances do lesser demons come to have lords? What benefits does Crunchgnar receive for his vassalage (or peasantry)?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Basically, you do what the more powerful demon says, or you end up getting roasted. It's not quite feudalism. More, if you have a tasty morsel, someone is likely to steal it from you--unless you've already picked someone strong to give some of what you claim, so they can tell everyone else to shove off.

    Children of the Nameless Reddit AMA ()
    #89 Copy

    Kenobi_01

    Were there any other Planeswalkers, Gatewatch or otherwise, that you would have liked, or would like to write for, at some point?

     

    Brandon Sanderson

    I like a lot of the odder, less central characters. Ashiok, Tamiyo. I do really like Elspeth, partially because of her origin, and partially because of her arc.

    Children of the Nameless Reddit AMA ()
    #90 Copy

    Argent

    I enjoyed the story a lot. Davriel was a lot of fun to read about, as was Miss Highwater. I wish I had interesting things to ask about them, but I just don't know enough MTG lore to come up with anything - which leads to my first question:

    • How can a guy learn more about the lore of MTG?

    And, a related question:

    • Had I been more versed in MTG lore, would I be able to recognize specific spells or creatures in this story? Davriel's eyes changed color a few times when he was casting, I figured the color might match either the color of existing spells or what you felt his spells would've been, had they been actual cards.

    Brandon Sanderson

    MTG lore is pretty deep (and at times, a little confusing.) I'd suggest the Dominaria stories written by Martha Wells for sheer writing quality reasons--even though they might be a little more confusing than some others. You could also go back and read the stories set on Innistrad (this plane) during the Shadows over Innistrad story sequence.

    If you'd known the lore, you'd have picked out little things here and there. But they would have been easter eggs, mostly.

    Children of the Nameless Reddit AMA ()
    #91 Copy

    pluto7443

    Just a quick question, what colors would you think Davriel would be?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I think his first incarnation is likely to be mono-black--because I pitched him as a mono-black hero to the team.

    lacker

    Here’s what I was imagining while reading:

    1UB, 3 starting loyalty

    +1: Exile the top two cards of your opponent’s library

    -1: You can play one card exiled with Davriel until end of turn, using mana of any color to cast it

    -6: Exile your opponent’s hand

    Brandon Sanderson

    That's a great rendition of him. Nice work! The only problem with it that I can think of is that it feels a little like Ashiok, mechanically.

    I would enjoy a Davriel who could thoughtsieze and cast those spells, as I think it aligns better--but this feels like a really dangerous ability to make repeatable on a cheap walker, but a weak ability on an expensive walker after hands are empty.

    Children of the Nameless Reddit AMA ()
    #93 Copy

    virgineyes09

    Writing question. When writing a fantasy novel in which the setting and the plot are so tightly linked (i.e. the plot of Stormlight is linked inextricably and specifically to the world of Roshar) which area do you focus on first, world or story, or both simultaneously? Can you talk about Stormlight specifically and how you built the world and the story to work so tightly together? Do you ever make small changes in the worldbuilding that end up forcing you to make big changes to the plot and vice versa?

    Brandon Sanderson

    The way I design stories, I'm usually always thinking about items in three areas that catch my attention: Character conflicts, setting themes, and plot archetypes. I keep a notebook where I'm writing down in these three general areas, looking for ideas that strike me as feeling new or interesting in some way.

    Books begin to form when several of these ideas start to grow together, and influence one another in interesting ways. Roshar, as a planet, was interesting--but the story wasn't working t until the idea of the spren, the characters who interact with them, and the world all together started to play off each other.

    When I feel like something is really coming together, I sit down and build an outline from all of these idea. This back-and-forth experience leads to the story being interconnected as I jump back and forth between outlining plot, setting, and character. Often, these things will change one another greatly as I work through it, trying to see it all as a whole, rather than parts.

    General Reddit 2018 ()
    #94 Copy

    Vegadin

    Tineye. I have a condition i cant remember the name of, basically I started suffocating right before I was born and the lack of oxygen caused a very slight brain damage in all my senses. All of my sensory organs are fine, but my brain can’t interpret them quite right. Usually it's done in more of a dulling. I hope that tin would bring me to the same super human level because magic... Wait...if this works my whole week will be made.

    [Brandon] would tin fix me? Or is my brain just broken?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I say yes, you'd be pleased with the results. (Sorry to hear about your affliction.)

    Children of the Nameless Reddit AMA ()
    #97 Copy

    marquisdc

    Did you go into creating Davriel with the color pie in mind? What colors would you say he is?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I went into the story knowing I wanted to write a black-alinged hero. Someone who showed off the pragmatic side of black, and someone whose ambition was different from traditional black-aligned ambition.

    I'd say that Davriel is black primary, with a strong secondary blue aspect. There is a slight white tertiary side to him, mostly in his belief in organized systems and society that makes sense. (Though he prefers these boundaries for others more than for himself.)

    Children of the Nameless Reddit AMA ()
    #98 Copy

    SeanWhelan1

    Having you create a story for Magic has been speculated for a very longtime now. Will there be a return in the future (possibly a full length novel) or was this a one-shot type of deal?

    Having Magic go back to novels is going to be amazing and hope to see you around for these!

    Brandon Sanderson

    I doubt this will be the last time I write something for MTG, but it is difficult to fit this sort of thing into my schedule. Doing it for free this way actually helped, as instead of thinking about how much it would earn relative to other things, I could just relax and treat it as a gift to the readers. I don't know if I could have fit it in otherwise, oddly.

    I don't know that I'll ever be able to do a main-line MTG novel, as the amount of time I'd want to spend going to the planning meetings and the like would probably be prohibitive. But we'll see.

    Children of the Nameless Reddit AMA ()
    #100 Copy

    The_Vikachu

    Are there any existing MtG cards with little lore behind them that have really gotten your creative juices flowing? For example, cards like Helm of the Host or Dark Depths, which hint at tons of story potential but are otherwise ignored by the larger ongoing story.

    Brandon Sanderson

    I have always loved Dark Depths for that reason--and for similar reasons, I like cards that tell a story by themselves. (Figure of Destiny, or the Sagas are examples of this.)