Phantom Monstrosity

Costs of Awakening

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So, since I'm running a RP with an Awakener, I wanted to get a good sense of roughly how much Breath is needed for each Awakening.  Since I went to the effort of getting these quotes together (some of which are from earlier versions of warbreaker), I figured I might as well post this to the forum. 

 

I am mixing together Draft Warbreaker and Final Version Warbreaker, as draft has hard numbers in a lot of areas they were removed during editing.  There're one incident that became impossible during further magic system development, which I'll note.

 

 

1 Breath: Very tiny scrap of cloth tied into the shape of a person with a very simple Command.

Vivenna Hides Her Breath in a Shawl

This has been possible from the beginning, and if Denth had truly been on her side, he would have admitted that there’s a way she could get rid of her Breaths. What she would need to do is Awaken something with a one-Breath Command. There are some. They don’t do much, but you can Awaken a very tiny scrap of cloth tied into the shape of a person with a very simple Command. That takes one Breath.

 

1 Breath: Animating a lifeless using the Awesome Lifeless Command (Awaken to my Breath, serve my needs, live at my Command and my word") and ichor alcohol.

 

1 Breath/Second: Fueling Nightblood.  Note: Nightblood accelerates his cost as you wield him, to something like ten per second after a few minutes.

 

Just like Nightblood feeds off of Breath, a Returned feeds off of Breath.  They need about one a week, he needs about one every second.

The longer he held the sword, the faster it drained his Breath...

He was left with just about fifty breaths, barely to the First Heightening.  Another few seconds, and it would have sucked away Vasher’s life.

 

1 Breath/Week or Eight Days: Fueling Returned.  Here for completeness.

 

25 Breath: Small, Straw Figurine, With Eyelash.  “Fetch keys”

 

Vasher immediately knelt beside the patch of straw, selecting a handful of sturdy lengths. He pulled threads from his cloak—it was beginning to fray at the bottom—and tied the straw into the shape of a small person, perhaps three inches high, with bushy arms and legs. He plucked a hair from one of his eyebrows, set it against the straw figure’s head, then reached into his boot and pulled out a brilliant red scarf.

The little straw figure jerked, sucking in the Breath. In Vasher’s hand, half of the brilliant red scarf faded to grey. Vasher leaned down—imagining what he wanted the figure to do—and completed the final step of the process as he gave the Command.

“Fetch keys,” he said.

The straw figure stood and raised its single eyebrow toward Vasher.

...

Compared with what he had once held, twenty-five Breaths was a laughably small number. However, compared with nothing, it seemed infinite. He shivered in satisfaction.

 

25 Breath: Vasher's Cloak (Cut to fit him, with a piece of his hair). "Protect Me"

Vasher pulled off his cloak and set it on the floor. It was the perfect shape of a person—marked with rips that matched the scars on Vasher’s body, its hood cut with holes to match Vasher’s eyes. The closer an object was to human shape and form, the fewer Breaths it took to Awaken.

Vasher leaned down, trying not to think of the days when he’d had enough Breaths to Awaken without regard for shape or focus. That had been a different time. Wincing, he pulled a tuft of hair from his head, then sprinkled it across the hood of the cloak.

Once again, he Breathed.

It took the rest of his Breath

...

The cloak jerked. Vasher leaned down. “Protect me,” he Commanded, and the cloak grew still. He stood, throwing it back on.

50 Breath: Lifeless without the awesome command

 

Before the discovery of the single-Breath Command, Lifeless took fifty Breaths to make.

 

50-100 Breath: Awakening a skeleton

 

If you wanted to Awaken a skeleton, you’d have to arrange all the bones together in their correct places. That’s a lot of work for something that will take upwards of fifty or a hundred Breaths to Awaken. Intact corpses make far more sense economically, even if the Breath sticks to them so well that it becomes impossible to recover. Still, I’ve seen some very interesting things done with skeletons which have been Awakened.

 

 

75ishBreath: Vasher's total amount in the prologue. (First Heightening brought with him into the prison, plus an extra straw figurine outside as a contingency)

 

<200 Breath?: An Overly Long Cloak, lifting a guy up to look around.

 

She started, spinning, as the man was rose into the air, lifted--apperantly--by his overly long cloak.  She could see an aura to the object, that same oil-on-water coloring that she now associated with BioChromatic Breath.  The cloth was stiff, looking a little like a hand as it held the man up high.

     How does it do that? she wondered.  She’d been told that Breath gave life to objects, but what did that even mean?  It looked like each of the threads in the cloak were taught, like muscles.  Still, how did it manage to lift something so much heavier than it was?

     The man lowered to the ground.  He said something Vivenna couldn’t hear, and the radiance from his cloak puffed away, like iridescent smoke vaporizing into the air.  The man’s own aura grew stronger, restoring him to some two hundred Breaths.

 

 

200-250ish: Shirt and Trousers from a dead man, command is “Fight for me, as if you were me,”  Vasher has 500ish to start, and he uses most of his Breath up on two constructs.

“Fight for me, as if you were me,” he Commanded, draining a patch of grass around him completely grey.  He spun, blocking a sword strike.  Another came from the side, and another.  He couldn’t block them all.

     Another sword rose, blocking the blow.  The dead man’s shirt and trousers, having pulled themselves free, stood holding a blade.  They struck, as if controlled by an invisible person inside, blocking and attacking with skill.  Vasher put his back to the Awakened construct, fighting.  When he had a chance, he made another one, draining away most of his remaining Breath.

     They fought in a trio, Vasher and his two sets of Awakened clothing.

 

350+ Breath: Vasher's shirt and trousers.

Shirt is cut into ribbons looking like fingers: "Upon call of necessity,” he said, “become my fingers, and grip that which I must.”

Trousers have similar tassels: “Become as my legs, and give them strength,”

(it's at least 400 [since it can be split into a pair of 200+ stacks] including Vasher's cloak. Vasher's cloak is ~25 when using hair, but he doesn't use it this time. I'm estimating it doubles the effectiveness )

He didn’t remove his trousers, thankfully, but instead threw on a different shirt.  The sleeves of this one were cut into ribbons near the wrist, and several lengths of cloth hung down past the hands.

     “Upon call of necessity,” he said, “become my fingers, and grip that which I must.”

     The cuff tassels wiggled.

     “Wait,” Vivenna said.  “What was that?  A Command?”

     “Too complicated for you,” he said, kneeling and undoing the cuff of his trousers.  She could see that here, too, there were extra lengths of cloth.  “Become as my legs, and give them strength,” he Commanded.

     The leg-tassels crossed under his feet, growing tight.  Vivenna didn’t argue with his insistence that the Commands were ‘too complicated’ for her.  Instead, she just memorized them.

     Finally, Vasher threw on his tattered cloak, which was ripped in places.  “Protect me,” he commanded, and she could see almost all of his remaining breath drain into the cloak.  He wrapped his rope belt around his waist--it was thin, for a rope, and strong, and she knew its purpose was not to keep his trousers up.

 

...

 

Awaken our own army,” he said, sighing.  “First, where would we get the Breath?  I used all of yours.  Even if we find my clothing that still has some in it, we’ll only have a few hundred Breaths.  One per Lifeless, assuming we can get some Ichor-Alcohol to keep them going.  We’re severely overmatched.”

...

 

They’d recovered Vasher’s cloak, shirt, and trousers, the ones that Denth had originally taken from him.  There had been enough Breath in those to split among the two of them and reach the Second Heightening each.  It wasn’t as much as she was used to, but it was a fair bit better than nothing.

 

 

 

400 Breath: (NOTE: Impossible in revision).  Vasher Awakens a scarf without using color as fuel.  This gets easier in the revised version.  "Strangle" ->later turns to Strangle Things, but final scarf is easier.

Then, Vasher Breathed.  He didn’t bother with focus or color--indeed, he used an object that had itself been Bled of color. 

     Vasher met Pahn’s resigned eyes.  Then, Vasher made his Command.  “Strangle,” he said, fingers touching the scarf.

     It quivered immediately, drawing out a good four hundred of Vasher’s Breaths.  Yet, it came to life, Awakening and following his command.  It quickly wrapped around Pahn’s neck, tightening, choking him.

450+: Vasher's use of Vivennia's Breath to fuel Nightblood.  Note that this doesn't include the bit lost in Tonk Fa's cloak, but she didn't drop a Heightening when using it, so we can assume it's 500.  Vasher ends up at the first heightening, so he used up 450 on Nightblood.

Vasher manages to kill fifty lifeless with about 250 Breath in a matter of minutes.

In a matter of minutes, that which Vivenna had given him had been reduced by a half.  Yet, in those moments, he destroyed all fifty Lifeless.  The soldiers outside pulled to a halt, watching the display.

 

The longer he held the sword, the faster it drained his Breath.

     Gasping, Vasher threw the sword aside and fell to his knees.  It skidded, tearing a rip in the ground that puffed away into smoke, but hit a wall with a pling and fell still.  Smoke rose off of it, but not like it had before.

     Vasher knelt, gasping, arm twitching.  The black veins, however, slowly evaporated.  He was left with just about fifty breaths, barely to the First Heightening.       Another few seconds, and it would have sucked away Vasher’s life.

 

 

500+ Breath: Lemks'/Vivennia's Breath Hoard

Vivenna paused.  “And. . .how much Breath do I have?”

     “Oh, around five hundred or so,” Denth said.  “At least, that’s what Lemks claimed he had.  I’m inclined to believe him.  You are, after all, making the carpet shine.”

Edited by Phantom Monstrosity
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Nice quote-bank.

 

I find this talk of "foci" to be odd, though. It's still in the final draft, but is only ever mentioned those two times in the prologue from Vasher's POV. We literally get no other mention of needing or wanting a "focus" for Awakening after that chapter.

 

I suppose it could be a high-level, little-known fact abot BioChroma. Perhaps the body part makes it easier to attune the Breath from the Awakener to the target object. I wouldn't be shocked if it was just an accidental artifact of earlier drafts, though.

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I find this talk of "foci" to be odd, though. It's still in the final draft, but is only ever mentioned those two times in the prologue from Vasher's POV. We literally get no other mention of needing or wanting a "focus" for Awakening after that chapter.

 

I suppose it could be a high-level, little-known fact abot BioChroma. Perhaps the body part makes it easier to attune the Breath from the Awakener to the target object. I wouldn't be shocked if it was just an accidental artifact of earlier drafts, though.

 

I think it's Vasher's personal terminology, not the same as a system-wide focus.

 

Brandon comments on the focus in the annotations.

Vasher Awakens the Straw Figure

I love how intricate and delicate Vasher is in creating the straw figure. The little eyebrow is a nice touch, and forming the creature into the shape of a person has a nice resonance with our own world's superstitions.

Voodoo dolls, for instance. This is very common in tribal magics and shamanistic rituals—something in the figure of a person, or the figure of the thing it's supposed to affect, is often seen as being more powerful or more desirable. The same is said for having a drop of blood or a tiny piece of skin, even a piece of hair.

Those two things—making the doll in the shape of a man and using a bit of his own body as a focus—are supposed to create instant resonance in the magic for those reading it. I think it works, too. Unfortunately, there's a problem with this, much like with the colors above. In later chapters, the characters are generally powerful enough with the magic that they don't have to make things in human shape or use pieces of their own body as a focus.

If I were to write a sequel to the book (and I just might—more on this later) I'd want to get back to these two aspects of the magic. Talk about them more, maybe have characters who have smaller quantities of Breath, and so need to use these tricks to make their Awakening more powerful.

Anyway, this little scene threw all kinds of problems into the book. Later on, I had to decide if I wanted to force the characters to always make things into the shape of a person before Awakening them. That proved impossible, it was too limiting on the magic and interfered with action sequences. The same was true for using bits of their own flesh as focuses. It just didn't work.

I toyed with cutting these things from the prologue. (Again, they are artifacts from the short story I wrote, back when Awakening wasn't fully developed yet.) However, I like the resonance they give, and think they add a lot of depth to the magic system.

So I made them optional. They're things that you can do to make your Awakenings require fewer Breaths. That lets me have them for resonance, but not talk about them when I don't need them. I still worry that they set up false expectations for the magic, however.

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Ah, sorry, I wasn't trying to talk about a system-wide focus. I guess I'll just go with resonance, then. :)

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Ah, sorry, I wasn't trying to talk about a system-wide focus. I guess I'll just go with resonance, then. :)

You can argue that animated creatures aren't judged by how close they are to a 'human', but just how closer they are to the 'awakener', regardless of species.  So a kandra awakening something would want a more-jellyfish-like consistency... or maybe it'd be influenced by the bones, which would give a Kandra Awakener a pretty big leg up on the competition, since he'd be able to shapeshift to match whatever he was awakening.

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I would be surprised if there is actually a fixed cost amount for any actual type of awakening.  We know from the text that breakthroughs have been made periodically that reduce the number of breaths required to do stuff.  Lifeless and Nightblood are examples where something that was either though impossible or very breath-expensive were later found to be possible or a reduced cost was found.  Someone Vasher could probably do more with less breath than Viv could do with her bank simply because he knows more commands and has spent centuries experimenting and learning new commands.  

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The breakthroughs seem to take the form of learning the proper Command (and I guess Ichor-alcohol).  Once you have a good command and know how to use it, basically everyone gets the same results.

 

Hence why people tend to hide good Commands that they figure out

Edited by Phantom Monstrosity
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check some of those figures against the final version, phantom.

In my hardback edition, Vasher is tossed into prison with 50 breaths. About half make his doll, the rest awaken his cloak.

Edit: from your quote, I don't think overly-long coat cost 200 breaths. Vivenna is noting this man has 200 total breaths (narratively, it seems more important for worldbuilding to show how many total breaths citizens can have than to call attention to the exact cost of a trick). Does it specify he was drab before this?

Edited by Pechvarry
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I believe it's supposed to be 'restoring to him some two hundred breaths', since 'restoring him to some two hundred Breaths' doesn't work grammatically. Hard to say, I've added a "?" on it.

Good point on the cloak+strawman. It seems Vasher was at the second heightening in the first draft, and the costs were just scaled down. And we get a hard number of 25 for the straw figure, which means 25 for the cloak... that's less than I expected really, but we'll go with that. I guess Brandon figured that the price was way too high for the magical effects.

Fortunately, most of the numbers are consistent between the revisions, since the Breath per Heightening wasn't fiddled with too much, and most of these things are scaled off that - people tend to use all their Breath in fights at once.

Edited by Phantom Monstrosity
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/>I believe it's supposed to be 'restoring to him some two hundred breaths', since 'restoring him to some two hundred Breaths' doesn't work grammatically. Hard to say, I've added a "?" on it.

Ehh. I think it makes sense. The "some" verbiage is simply an informal way of saying "approximately". So it says it brought him back to roughly 200 breaths.

Your quote also shows that his aura _strengthened_ as opposed to suddenly existing. Without rereading significant portions of the book, I don't know if vivenna can count breaths from that range, or the aura that comes around the first heightening. Depending on the answer to that, he has at least 1, 30, or 50 breaths (30 being the threshold where even someone with no breath can see your aura).

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Yeah, but you generally don't say 'him to some #'; it doesn't sound right. Saying it restored 'to him some #' sounds better, which would just be 'he gets 200ish back when recovering'.

Hard to tell; first draft without grammar or spelling checks. It's a poorly written sentence and can be fixed in two ways.

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Sorry, I don't agree.  Maybe it's just the way I think and talk, but that sentence seems natural to me.  "Restoring him to some #" seems like "brought his total to roughly #" to me.  Unfortunately, the awkward sentence was cut wholesale from the final edit, and simply states "his Biochromatic aura grew stronger."  It's a silly thing for me to fixate on, so I apologize, but my interpretation helps you. :P

 

Other thoughts, extrapolations, and projections:

 

"Of necessity" was removed from the finger-tassle Command (extraneous and large words -- goes against the grain of a good Command).

 

The old draft did have the cloak+doll as 75ish each, right?  Or was it 100 or something?  I think we could feasibly use these numbers, compared to the new numbers, to create some rough ratios.

 

I was actually going to run through my book on all of these numbers and gather some more opinions, but I lost my day to guests and so I think I'll just stop here instead of plaguing this information thread with conjecture.  

 

but I will probably return when I have some time to analyze the costs you specified in my copy and see if I find any other inconsistencies.

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The old draft did have the cloak+doll as 75ish each, right?  Or was it 100 or something?  I think we could feasibly use these numbers, compared to the new numbers, to create some rough ratios.

Cloak was 100, doll was 50.  So ratios don't seem fixed.

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The closer an awakened construct is to a human, the fewer breaths required for it to be awakened regardless of Command.

The Awesome Lifeless Command works so well partly because of the material used. Namely a whole human body, the ichor-alcohol standing in as a preservative for the body.

 

The other factor being the Awakener's skill, I.e. imagining what they effect they want the Command to do. A fully formed, cohesive thought reduces the breath cost.

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Careful: Complex Commands cost more than simpler Commands on the same object, regardless of skill.

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The closer an awakened construct is to a human, the fewer breaths required for it to be awakened regardless of Command.

The Awesome Lifeless Command works so well partly because of the material used. Namely a whole human body, the ichor-alcohol standing in as a preservative for the body.

 

It also works on squirrels.

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/>Careful: Complex Commands cost more than simpler Commands on the same object, regardless of skill.

Iffy. I was trying to communicate that Commands leave a degree of ambiguity to the object. Vasher' s cloak isn't human and doesn't understand what Fight For Me is. Awakening essentially Breaths life into an object and understanding. A complex Command DOES cost more Breath, because a greater degree of understanding is required in the object.

This is where skill comes into play. A poor Command (mental image) causes an Awakening to fail or act in a way unintended. I'm off the opinion that a better grasp of what you want done specifically can reduce the cost of Breath because nothing is wasted in giving the object more understanding than is required. That was my take anyway.

As to the squirrels I don't think it's the same Command used, as we don't see Lifeless Run Around, Make Lots of Noise, Bite People. :P. It does Invest a unreturnable Breath

EDIT: squirrel notes

Edited by DocHoliday
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As to the squirrels I don't think it's the same Command used, as we don't see Lifeless Run Around, Make Lots of Noise, Bite People. :P. It does Invest a unreturnable Breath

 

That wasn't the Command, that was an order.

 

 

http://www.brandonsanderson.com/library/72/Warbreaker-Chapter-Twenty-One

Shut up, Vasher thought, determined not to run. He reached into a pouch at his belt, pulling out the object within: a dead squirrel.

Yuck, Nightblood said with a sniff.

Vasher knelt, putting a hand on the creature.

“Awaken to my Breath,” he Commanded, “serve my needs, live at my Command and my word. Fallen Rope.”

Those last words, “fallen rope,” formed the security phrase. Vasher could have chosen anything, but he picked the first thing that came to mind.

One Breath was leached from his body, going down into the small rodent’s corpse. The thing began to twitch. That was a Breath Vasher would never be able to recover, for creating a Lifeless was a permanent act. The squirrel lost all color, bleeding to grey, the Awakening feeding off the body’s own colors to help fuel the transformation. The squirrel had been grey in the first place, so the difference was tough to see. That’s why Vasher liked to use them.

“Fallen Rope,” he said to the creature, its grey eyes looking up at him. The security phrase pronounced, Vasher could now imprint the creature with an order, much as he did when performing a standard Awakening. “Make noise. Run around. Bite people who are not me. Fallen Rope.” The second use of the words closed its impressionability, so it could no longer be Commanded.

 

http://www.brandonsanderson.com/annotation/398/warbreaker-Chapter-Twenty-One

Vasher Fights the Guards, Then Creates a Lifeless Squirrel

I wanted to show the creation of a Lifeless somewhere in this book, as I think the process is interesting. The draining of color happens in a slightly different way than in regular Awakening, though it’s similar. In this case, the creature draws color from its own body in order to come to life.

The better your imagining of the Command when you make it (not the orders you give it, but the one when you give it the Breath), the more intelligent and capable of following orders the Lifeless is. Later in the book, for instance, people are surprised at how good this little squirrel is at doing what it is told.

Edited by Phantom Monstrosity
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Careful: Complex Commands cost more than simpler Commands on the same object, regardless of skill.

Perhaps I didn't say it right. Vasher' s cloak is not human and doesn't understand what Fight For Me means. Awakening essentially Breaths life and understanding into an object. Complex Command certainly cost more Breath.  Skill comes into play because a poor Command or mental image causes either

A: the Awakening to fail all together, using Breath to no effect or 

B: cause the Awakened Object to act in ways unintended.

My understanding is that a poor idea or grasp of what it is you want to see happen can Breath more understanding than is necessary for what you want to happen.

 

Phantom: I don't think we're seeing the same Command in use with the squirrel as we don't see Lifeless Run Around, Make Lots of Noise, Bite People =P. It does Invest an unreturnable Breath though.

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Sorry double post. And thank you for the correction. Been a minute since I read Warbreaker

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I think lifeless Orders do have a lot in common with Commands.

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So this is the Command for awakening a lifeless. It's the same command used for a human or squirrel lifeless. "Awaken to my Breath, serve my needs, live at my Command and my word. [insert password here].”

The reason lifeless are so great is that you can give them orders after they are awakened. If you ordered a human one to run around make noise and bite people it would do it.

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Ya my mistake was thinking Vasher was giving Commands, not orders.

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@Doc

 

So far as complex Commands go, we get a direct mention of this in the book (pg 455 in the pdf from Vivienne's perspective). I also have a fair amount of argumentation (warning: absurdly long) attempting to show that the Breath comes in by fueling cogitation rather than enabling it. Perhaps a poorly given Command is needlessly complex and vague, requiring more "power" to make it work, but I would argue that there is some higher baseline for more complex Commands, with not even the most skilled Awakener being even theoretically capable of using less than X Breaths for "Hold when thrown".

Edited by Kurkistan
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*Clicks on thread*

"This isn't so bad..."

*opens spoiler tags*

*falls off chair*

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