skaa

Self-Awakening

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Hey! I think this might be my first ever thread in the Warbreaker forum after more than a year in the 17th Shard. I think I'll need to celebrate this momentous event later. :D

This is not meant to be a theory post. I'm planning to just gather facts about something I noticed while re-reading Warbreaker. Still, there will be some bits of speculation, because that's what I do best!

Anyway, during my re-read, I stumbled upon a scene that I've totally forgotten:
 

They immediately moved toward one of the rich neighborhoods of T'Telir. Vasher didn't say much as they walked, and the girl was even more unresponsive. Vivenna worried for the child's mind. She had obviously had a rough couple of months.
...
As they reached the mansions, Vasher paused on the street, setting the girl down. "Child," he said. "I'm going to say some words to you. I want you to repeat them. Repeat them, and mean them."
The girl regarded him absently, nodding slightly.
...
He spoke to the little girl, and she spoke back to him.
...
The girl's BioChromatic aura--the normal one that all people had--flickered just slightly.
It was faint. Yet with the First Heightening, Vivenna could have sworn she saw it.
...
"Are we going home?" the girl asked. "Where have we been? It's late, and I shouldn't be out. Who's that woman?"
She doesn't remember, Vivenna realized. Doesn't remember where she's been . . . probably doesn't remember anything of the entire experience.



So there is a Command that can make someone forget certain memories. What's interesting is that the Command targets the Awakener himself; he uses his own BioChromatic Investiture to erase his own memory. The girl was both the Awakener and the target of Awakening in that scene above. Vasher just had to tell her what Command to use.

Later on, Vasher offered to share that Command with Denth so that he could erase his traumatic memories and become the good person he was before the Manywar. Unfortunately, Denth declined.

Anyway, this got me wondering what other forms of Self-Awakening there are. The Divine Breath of the Returned seems to allow for instinctive though limited body modification (which the Idrian royalty have inherited to some extent). I also think Vasher knows a Command to modify his own Spiritual Connection, akin to Duralumin Feruchemy, which is why he can make people and animals let their guard down when around him. (Edit: As PorridgeBrick pointed out below, the special Spiritual Connection thing exists in all the Returned. I still consider it a form of Self-Awakening, though it apparently is part of the Divine Breath's Intent).

Mythwalker spoiler:


Speaking of Feruchemy, we know that Brandon developed the Feruchemy magic system as an improvement over the magic system of Mythwalker, a.k.a. Warbreaker Prime, a story where people with "Kkell Powers" can augment certain attributes like Strength, Skill, Weight, etc., pretty much at will.

I think Self-Awakening Commands are the Kkell Powers with a BioChromatic twist. In that case, Vivenna has the potential to augment other parts of her body, just like her counterpart Vvenna Mas Sserin in Mythwalker, and just as Vasher implied in the Warbreaker epilogue.



In all the instances of Self-Awakening that we've seen, there doesn't seem to be a color-draining aspect. This implies that you don't have to use colors when Awakening yourself, which is weird. Another weird thing is the flickering effect Self-Awakening has on one's aura. Vivenna seemed particularly troubled by this. Does anyone have an idea what that could be about?

What other instances of Self-Awakening have you guys detected?

 

 

Edit: Due to Tempus' contribution below (I swear, that guy has given me more theory ideas than any other Sharder) I've come to the conclusion that Self-Awakening weakens one's connection to one's Breath, and that this is the reason why the Returned lose a Breath each week.

Edited by skaa
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This is a very intresting theory.. I guess didnt catch that one- or didnt read too much into Vasher in that sequence.

 

I didnt reath Mythwalker- I know Warbreaker its its final outcome though- it does make sense with the powers augmenting ablities on the cognitive and spiritual realm, and how persepction is a valued part of the Cosmere- epesicially on Nathlis. Combinding these two ablities seems like its perfectly rational to assume you can have self-awekening commands and even counter awekening commands that affect other people.

 

Nice theory!

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In this chapter, we also get the first hints that children and animals like Vasher. That’s another hint about his nature—though a very, very subtle one, since I haven’t talked about how animals and children all like Returned. They can sense the divine Breath within him, and it comforts them.

It's not a self Command, just a natural consequence of Returning.

Self Commands are weird. There's no color drain, nor Breath use. It seems to be for free, with no consequences. Makes some sense though, if you subscribe to the idea that reactants are consumed in order to move Investiture. Since you're not moving the Breath into anything, there's no color drain.

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Skaa, if it's not a 1000 + word essay theory topic, then you're probably a Kandra imitator.  :D

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Hmmm, I had always thought the memory modification thing was something the returned could do that functioned like the changing of hair or even body shape.  You would modify your brain to disconnect the neural pathways, effectively forgetting.  But the point with the girl is a plot point that I'd forgotten.  Interesting...

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My notes on this are super sparse. I have a suspicion that self-awakening consumes Breath, similar to a Returned. We see Breath flickering in another place - when a baby is dying of sickness, Lightsong is able to see its Breath flicker. Though you left it out of your quote, Vivenna notes that it seems as if the child loses a part of her Breath (not even a full Breath).

 

As to colour, I suspect that it simply wasn't a large enough Awakening to draw colour. We see human (or animal) Awakening or some similar ability in a few other instances - the creation of Lifeless, the Lifeless squirrel, and the using of a Divine Breath to heal. In all cases, the colour is not drawn from the surroundings, like with object Awakening, but from the organic object. The awakening caused by the memory lapse was so slight as to not even affect the level of Breath more than a flicker - Vivenna did not note the Breath as being noticeably dimmer. 

 

Studies show that human contrast colour sensitivity on average is between 2 and 23 degrees - Vivenna should have greater colour perception than that at this point, thanks to First Heightening. Maybe between 1 and 10 or so. Yet, she does not notice the girl being significantly dimmer or less colourful. This leads me to believe that the girl did use some colour and Breath of her own, but it took between 0.27% and 1.11% of her Breath to do it. Just enough for Vivenna to notice a change, but not enough to maintain a comparison to memory.

 

It could also just be there's no colour drain for using Breaths on yourself, because they are already your Breaths. Colour drain may only occur during a transfer.

 

I don't agree the self Awakening abilities are based of Kkell powers. First, Vasher can change his body at will, to become more muscular, and it does not seem to consume Breath (though a Mental Command seems to take place, so perhaps it does). Second, when he required more strength, he Awakened objects to assist him rather than any type of self Awakening. If Breath is consumed, perhaps he was being frugal - which I might buy if he didn't promptly draw Nightblood and let it drain a bathtub of Breath (the official measurement unit). The healing in evidence doesn't match up either. Lastly, Kkell powers are just too perfectly aligned with Feruchemy/Allomancy - with the exception of the priesthood's power of speech acts, which seems to be what converted into Awakening all on its own.

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It's not a self Command, just a natural consequence of Returning.

Thanks! I guess I should've read the annotations first. :D So all the Returned have a heightened Spiritual connection with animals and children. I wonder if Vivenna could learn to access that ability somehow.

My notes on this are super sparse. I have a suspicion that self-awakening consumes Breath, similar to a Returned. We see Breath flickering in another place - when a baby is dying of sickness, Lightsong is able to see its Breath flicker. Though you left it out of your quote, Vivenna notes that it seems as if the child loses a part of her Breath (not even a full Breath).

Yeah, I left it out because I was confused about the supposed connection of what the girl did and the issue of Breath transfer, since it wasn't clear at all to me that the girl lost any part of her Breath. I decided to leave it out so I could focus on what was clear: that Awakeners can use Commands on themselves.

But if Self-Awakening does weaken Breath somehow, perhaps you're right about the Returned. Their Divine Breath must be performing a constant Self-Awakening on itself to keep its host sentient, after all. Perhaps that's why Lifeless can last for so long on a single Breath while the Returned can't. Note also that a Lifeless will eventually require another Breath to continue working, but that's only after having to heal itself several times, which is again a kind of Self-Awakening.

Or perhaps we should be saying that Self-Awakening makes a person's connection to his Breath a bit weaker, not that the Breath itself is getting weaker. The Returned's Divine Breath is still Fifth-Heightening strong even after a week-long fasting, after all. And once they've feasted on their weekly Breath, that single Breath is enough to strengthen their connection to their Divine Breath once again, at least for another week.

I don't agree the self Awakening abilities are based of Kkell powers. First, Vasher can change his body at will, to become more muscular, and it does not seem to consume Breath (though a Mental Command seems to take place, so perhaps it does). Second, when he required more strength, he Awakened objects to assist him rather than any type of self Awakening. If Breath is consumed, perhaps he was being frugal - which I might buy if he didn't promptly draw Nightblood and let it drain a bathtub of Breath (the official measurement unit). The healing in evidence doesn't match up either. Lastly, Kkell powers are just too perfectly aligned with Feruchemy/Allomancy - with the exception of the priesthood's power of speech acts, which seems to be what converted into Awakening all on its own.

I'll have to finish reading Mythwalker before I could comment on exactly how much of the ideas behind Kkell Powers were also used in Self-Awakening, but there obviously is a similarity in that both abilities allow the user to modify something in their own self. Since Mythwalker is considered as "Warbreaker Prime", one would suspect that Brandon consciously added the self-modification aspect of the Mythwalker magic system to that of Warbreaker.

I don't see what your point about Feruchemy is since I wasn't trying to say that Feruchemy isn't aligned to Kkell Powers. In fact, I explicitly stated in my post that Brandon thought of Feruchemy because of the Kkell Powers. Are you saying that Self-Awakening and Feruchemy can't possibly be both inspired by the Mythwalker magic system? Because I don't see why not.

Skaa, if it's not a 1000 + word essay theory topic, then you're probably a Kandra imitator. :D

LOL, us skaa can get tired too, you know? :P Edited by skaa
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As a lover of auto-hypnosis concepts, I really like this. Some streaming observations:

All Returned start their new life the same way: by forgetting. I find this important in the context of this thread. I'm just not sure how.

When questioned about some other processes that should've taken color, (don't remember much. Sorry) I believe Brandon said the awakener's blood gave the color. This could be the same with the girl. If a pint of your blood turned grey and the rest remained red, would you notice?

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When questioned about some other processes that should've taken color, (don't remember much. Sorry) I believe Brandon said the awakener's blood gave the color. This could be the same with the girl. If a pint of your blood turned grey and the rest remained red, would you notice?

 

That is very intriguing, Pechvarry! I'm currently sifting through every single mention of both blood and Awakening via the forum's search function, but so far I can't find a source of that WoB. I'll keep looking!

 

If that's true, then it might explain why regular Lifeless last longer with a blood substitute like ichor-alcohol than without, even though they don't need to eat or breathe. Distribution of oxygen and nutrients is the main function of blood IRL, and Lifeless don't need those, so the reliance on ichor-alcohol only makes sense if blood has a special Realmatic purpose in BioChromatic Investiture.

 

 

Edit: By the way, I'm starting to get a bit uncomfortable with my term "Self-Awakening". I mean, is it still Awakening if your target is already "Awake" (i.e. already contains active Breath) so to speak? There has to be a better term for using BioChromatic Investiture on yourself. What do you guys think?

Edited by skaa
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I wonder if a 'Self-Command' is the way Vasher and Denth hid their Returned Breath? Or is that already common knowledge and I just never stumbled upon that idea?

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It's possible, Telcontar, but probably not. In the second last (does the epilogue count?) chapter of Warbreaker, Vasher reveals himself to Susebron. At this point, he closes his eyes, and his appearance and his aura change. While watching this effect, it is specifically noted that he utters no Command.

 

Vasher closed his eyes. He didn’t speak, didn’t use his Breath or make a Command. Yet suddenly, he started to glow. Not as a lantern would glow, not as the sun glowed, but with an aura that made colors brighter.

 

It seems likely that this is an ability entirely separate from Commands. It's also possible he used a Mental Command - Vasher is exactly the kind of person who could do that. It doesn't seem likely, though.

Edited by Tempus
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But there should be mental commands, right? I mean, we never got to know how the God-King was supposed to give his Breath away without a tongue. So I guess you can learn to command something without speaking. Like, for example, changing your hair-colour.

 

When you speak a command, the mental image is way more important anyway, isn't it?

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I wonder if a 'Self-Command' is the way Vasher and Denth hid their Returned Breath? Or is that already common knowledge and I just never stumbled upon that idea?

 

There is a WoB that says he's able to keep his "non-glorified" form because of a "tricky bit of mental gymnastics"*. It involves not seeing oneself as "glorified", I suppose, since Returned's forms are based upon how they view themselves and how others perceive them. 

 

General Comment:

I wouldn't talk about this as Awakening, since inanimate objects aren't being "brought to life". I do agree that the Commands are still paramount in this technique, and that Breath is affected. I just think that the term might be a little misleading. 

 

Memories seem to be tied strongly to Identity and Intent, which are Spiritual aspects of people. These seem to be tied to Breath. But, further on memories and Intent… Sazed is able to see the history of Preservation's power, but not Adonalsium's. Maybe for another day (or thread)… 

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But there should be mental commands, right? I mean, we never got to know how the God-King was supposed to give his Breath away without a tongue. So I guess you can learn to command something without speaking. Like, for example, changing your hair-colour.

 

When you speak a command, the mental image is way more important anyway, isn't it?

 

Mental Commands require the tenth Heightening, which only the God Kings have achieved.

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There is a WoB that says he's able to keep his "non-glorified" form because of a "tricky bit of mental gymnastics"*. It involves not seeing oneself as "glorified", I suppose, since Returned's forms are based upon how they view themselves and how others perceive them.

Yeah, I can somewhat vaguely recall that WoB. You wouldn't happen to have a source for it, would you?

General Comment:

I wouldn't talk about this as Awakening, since inanimate objects aren't being "brought to life". I do agree that the Commands are still paramount in this technique, and that Breath is affected. I just think that the term might be a little misleading.

The term is problematic, yes. I'm still thinking of a more accurate alternative. "Self-Commands" might not work since most of the examples we've seen of this phenomenon do not involve a spoken Command. As Weiry pointed out, Mental Commands is a Tenth Heightening thing.

How about "BioChromatic Self-Modification"? Too clunky?

Edited by skaa
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I honestly am fine with Self-Awakening and Self-Commands. The mechanics seem to be very much the same. The only instance we actually have of this Self-Awakening occurring is with the girl, and the Command is spoken. All other instances are suspected at best, and just not that at worst.

 

In addition, Vasher is exactly the kind of person who has probably the experience, knowledge, and skills the be able to accomplish some level of Mental Command at lower heightening levels than tenth. As with all Heightening effects, they improve respective to the amount of Breaths you have, and Mental Command is a learned skill on top of that. So we can't really judge much by him.

 

If you really must have another name, something like Auto-awakening could work. Or, hmm... since Commands on an object cause them to come alive (or 'wake up'), and Commands on yourself seem to change or modify something about yourself... maybe Altering, Metamorphosis, or Transmogrification.

 

Also, here's the quote:

 

 

 

BRANDON SANDERSON

The Divine Breath can be hid. Essentially, you have to view yourself NOT as a god at all, using a very specific bit of mental gymnastics. As a Returned, your body changes based on how you see yourself. (This, by the way, is an indication that Lightsong was more pleased with himself than he ever let on.)

You don't lose your Divine Breath, but it does go into hiding, making you look like a normal person. But you're still Returned, and are consuming a Breath at one a week. If you give away your other Breaths, you retain this hidden one, but your body will still consume its own spirit if left to do so. So you still need a Breath a week to survive, and will die the week you don't get one.

I left this as an intentional place to explore the magic in the sequel, which I had planned to be writing (and posting on my website) by the timeWarbreaker was out in stores. The WoT has diverted me, and so I feel bad, since this ends up being a confusing question that a number of readers have had. The hints toward how this is working are very difficult to find. (The biggest one is probably in the opening, where Vasher thinks about how he could reach the Fifth Heightening instantly, if he wanted to.)

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Breath is your 'soul' in some ways, and I believe we have a WoB that if you took a bunch of Breath from people who really liked chicken, you might in turn like chicken more. It seems to me that the girl somehow managed to put the part of her memories/soul that connected to the events of the past few weeks into a portion of her Breath, then gave that Breath away. It would be sort of like Forgery, though you can only remove memories, not add or change them.

 

This is probably too complex for a little girl to manage, though.

 

Perhaps the girl turned herself into a sort of Lifeless. "Become me two weeks ago" does not seem like an impossible Command.

 

This further leads me into thinking about possible combat uses of Breath. Vasher gave away his Breath to temporarily paralyze Denth, but could he have done a Command like "Stand still!"? It seems like the sort of thing that Innate Investiture would protect you from (or whatever makes it so soulstamps on humans are not permament), much like metals cannot be Pushed/Pulled inside your body. But, with enough power, perhaps you can override that?

Edited by Moogle
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@Tempus: Thanks for the quote!

It seems to me that the girl somehow managed to put the part of her memories/soul that connected to the events of the past few weeks into a portion of her Breath, then gave that Breath away. It would be sort of like Forgery, though you can only remove memories, not add or change them.

This is probably too complex for a little girl to manage, though.

Didn't Vivenna imply that she only saw a single Breath in the girl? The one every Nalthian receives at birth? So the girl did not give any Breath away. I stand by the theory I stated above, that using BioChromatic Investiture on yourself weakens your connection to a Breath. Do this enough times and your connection to the Breath is severed completely. That, I think, is why the Returned lose a Breath each week.

Edited by skaa
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Breath is your 'soul' in some ways, and I believe we have a WoB that if you took a bunch of Breath from people who really liked chicken, you might in turn like chicken more.

 

The_Vikachu ()

Another hemalurgy question: Is it possible to steal more than just spiritual DNA with hemalurgy? If you, say, infused someone with a hundred hemalurgic spikes charged from people who liked chicken, would the spike person enjoy chicken as well?

Brandon Sanderson

You can steal quite a lot with Hemalurgy. Anything encoded on a person's soul, really. Not sure if chicken liking counts, though...

 

Source. Number 67 on the list.

 

As you can see, the quote is actually very specifically about how you prolly would not start liking chicken just because you took the Breaths of those who did.

EDIT: Format

Edited by Outis
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Outis, the quote is a bit of a misnomer here. Brandon being slippery again. While it's probably true that liking chicken is not something encoded onto a soul, we know unequivocally that Chicken Soup is in fact, a type of food related directly to souls (through supporting external literature). This is probably due to the Realmatic properties of circulation: we see that circulation of blood is directly related to souls, and so Chicken Soup is related while chicken is not because of the stirring motions necessitated to enjoy a tasty spoonful.

 

 

I don't think she Awakened herself as a Lifeless would, though. A Lifeless takes a single Breath, an entire one, and it drains colour completely. Even giving away your single Breath drains a good amount of colour (Drabs are grey because of how transferring Breath drains colour from yourself - I've got lots of notes on what is happening there). The girl did not have noticeable colour drained. And we know you can actually subdivide Breath, despite what the people in book (except Vasher/Denth) believe. So it's more likely the amount of Breath used/transferred was very small.

Edited by Tempus
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It possibly is quite a stretch, but to me it does seem like the girl is doing a (Nalthis) version of Soulstamping herself.

 

 

Forgery involves the use of Investiture present in the Dor accessed through a medium of a soulstamp. The seal on the soulstamp acts as the focus through the specific symbols carved upon it.

 

from http://coppermind.net/wiki/Forgery (chapter: Realmatics of Forgery)

 

Therefore... The command replaces the stamp, and the consumed Investiture stems from her own breath?

 

Shallan seemingly "soulcasts" herself to another, slightly differnt version of herself, who she could have been if... (she hadn't been locked into her father's manor for so long)...

 

Similar to Lightweaving, which occurs at least on Roshar and originally Yolen, some magics can be replicated within other systems.

 

 

(Even though the fuzzing of the girl's aura somehow makes me think that the breath may not be quantised (which seems rather odd?) ???)

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I don't think we should call it Awakening in this case, since Awakening is more like animating inanimate object. These objects are already animated, so it's more like, uh, Altering? :P

Edited by Stroniax
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I don't think we should call it Awakening in this case, since Awakening is more like animating inanimate object. These objects are already animated, so it's more like, uh, Altering? :P

 

I'll do a Vasher and call it Manifestation of Self-Transformation in a BioChromatic Host. :P

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As you can see, the quote is actually very specifically about how you prolly would not start liking chicken just because you took the Breaths of those who did.

 

Thank you for the correction on chicken. I was mistake on specifics, but Breaths do bring things with them. Here's two other WoBs:

Ghero6 ()

How unique are individual Breaths? Would collecting 100 Breaths from criminals and scumbags affect your personality in any way? Or collecting 100 Breaths from generous, charitable people?


Brandon Sanderson ()

I intended them to not be terribly individual. Breaths do bring some things along with them, but for the most part I wanted them to be a step removed from that.

 

Ghero6 ()

In Vahr's case, did collecting Breath from other rebel-minded people strengthen his determination and resolve?

Brandon Sanderson ()

It would have had an influence on him, but you would need the numbers of Breaths that he had for any effect to manifest. It's basically a non-issue in the current book, but it could be an issue in some of the things that will happen in the next book.

(sources)

 

My theory is more or less that you could stick part of yourself that you don't want in a Breath, then break off part of your Breath with that memory off to awaken a piece of dust or something (or stick the Breath uselessly into your clothing or something). I'm not very confident in it (Breaths seem to be discrete), but it seems plausible to me at least.

Edited by Moogle
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My theory is more or less that you could stick part of yourself that you don't want in a Breath, then break off part of your Breath with that memory off to awaken a piece of dust or something (or stick the Breath uselessly into your clothing or something). I'm not very confident in it (Breaths seem to be discrete), but it seems plausible to me at least.

 

So this would mean that Breath has some of the same underlying principles as Feruchemy then?  That's an interesting concept, I would think.

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