11thorderknight

Seeking and Smoking

94 posts in this topic

So, something that's always been a little confusing to me is the relationship between copper and bronze allomancy. It's never really addressed directly, but in the scene where Marsh tutors Vin in Seeking, he thinks that most Mistborn don't use bronze very much, preferring to hide their Mistborn status with copper instead. This implies that they can't do both at the same time. This seems to be the general consensus, and supposedly there's some WoB on the topic, but I haven't seen the exact quote.

 

This has always bothered me, in that it doesn't quite make sense. We know that Smokers create a Coppercloud around themselves that shields allomancers inside the cloud from being detected by Seekers outside the cloud. However, in order to prevent a Mistborn from using both metals at once, copper would have to interfere with the use of bronze inside the cloud. While this is a possibility, there are several problems with it. The first is that it would have to be the result of a separate mechanism in the way copper works. We know it tamps down the pulses given off by allomancers, since it shields them from detection by Seekers far away, who are well outside the range of the Coppercloud. To block the use of bronze inside the cloud, then, implies a separate effect. We currently don't know of any other metal that does two different things.

 

The bigger problem with this theory, however, is that it actually makes copper much less useful for hiding. In this scenario, all a Seeker has to do to find allomancers hiding in a safehouse would be to walk around town. Whenever their Seeking ability suddenly goes down, they know they're in a Coppercloud, and a safehouse is nearby. Since this doesn't happen, the implication is that Seekers are not directly affected by Smokers.

 

So - does anyone know exactly what Brandon has said on this issue?

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So, something that's always been a little confusing to me is the relationship between copper and bronze allomancy. It's never really addressed directly, but in the scene where Marsh tutors Vin in Seeking, he thinks that most Mistborn don't use bronze very much, preferring to hide their Mistborn status with copper instead. This implies that they can't do both at the same time. This seems to be the general consensus, and supposedly there's some WoB on the topic, but I haven't seen the exact quote.

 

It's more a paraphrase, but it's from Chaos, so I think it's pretty solid:

If you are Smoked, you can't Seek

 

This has always bothered me, in that it doesn't quite make sense. We know that Smokers create a Coppercloud around themselves that shields allomancers inside the cloud from being detected by Seekers outside the cloud. However, in order to prevent a Mistborn from using both metals at once, copper would have to interfere with the use of bronze inside the cloud. While this is a possibility, there are several problems with it. The first is that it would have to be the result of a separate mechanism in the way copper works. We know it tamps down the pulses given off by allomancers, since it shields them from detection by Seekers far away, who are well outside the range of the Coppercloud. To block the use of bronze inside the cloud, then, implies a separate effect. We currently don't know of any other metal that does two different things.

 

Or Allomantic copper has a singular effect that is to dampen "pulses" in the immediate area around the Smoker. So this results in the complete annihilation of pulses originating from within the cloud and partial annihilation (just the parts that enter the cloud, while the rest pulse about in the rest of the world without being bothered) of pulses that enter it from the outside.

 

The bigger problem with this theory, however, is that it actually makes copper much less useful for hiding. In this scenario, all a Seeker has to do to find allomancers hiding in a safehouse would be to walk around town. Whenever their Seeking ability suddenly goes down, they know they're in a Coppercloud, and a safehouse is nearby. Since this doesn't happen, the implication is that Seekers are not directly affected by Smokers.

 

It might not be quite that easy. I don't think Seekers normally detect themselves (Vin only notices Kelsier's pulses stopping when he starts burning copper, not some sudden "fizzling" of her own power), so if one were just walking around by himself, it would just seem like any other sources had just stopped burning. Of course, you can solve this by walking around with an Allomancer friend in tow: just have him/her burn some other metal and walk right next to you, then you know that something's up as soon as you can't detect your pal.

 

So far as using this to find Smokers, it might not be an entirely practical matter. Clouds aren't that big, and it's a big honking city.

Edited by Kurkistan
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I think it's just that burning both metals at once causes them to interfere. Vin doesn't burn copper much in the later books, even though she can punch through clouds with her bronze, and does so from very close to Kelsier when he's burning copper. Now, Vin is generically a bit better at everything than other contemporary Mistborn (Vin herself has an inferiority complex and never notices, but other Allomancers remark on it; notably Kelsier remarks that she pushed him much harder than her mass would ordinarily allow in the practice bout), so it's narrowly possible her cloud is enough stronger to block her boosted bronze. However, her base bronze is also stronger than normal.

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I found an inconsistency with this. If you can explain it, feel free. I just remembered this as I was reading this thread.

Each team has a Smoker to keep them hidden, as well as a Seeker to watch for passing Allomancers.

This is from TFE when Marsh is explaining the Soothing stations. How could they have a Smoker and a Seeker in the same station if Smoking blocks Seeking from inside the Coppercloud too?

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@name_here

 

I will refer you to the unambiguous WoB that simply being Smoked is enough to stop you from Seeking. So we needn't posit any special interference when one person attempts both.

 

@Mailliw

 

Either an inconsistency or, under a charitable interpretation, the Seeker is off to the side in another room or building—outside the range of the cloud—and checks in periodically.

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That doesn't make much sense to me. There's a reason they have a Smoker, to hide the Allomantic pulses. If they don't care about the pulses the Seeker will give off, why should they care about the Soothers'?

also, if you can't Seek someone in a Coppercloud and you can't Seek from inside one, why should you be able to Soothe someone from inside a CC, if you can't Soothe someone who is in one?

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You can Soothe someone in a Coppercloud, but you can't Soothe the person who is burning the copper (and apparently it's possible for them to protect others, it's just rather unknown). There's some very weird things going on there, and I don't think it's quite as simple as having copper-burning 'cancel out' all pulses. If this was the case, everyone under a Coppercloud should be protected from Soothing. I also don't think it's as 'simple' as copper just canceling out perception-based Investiture, as if that were the case you would think it would make tin stop working and why would it only protect the burner?

 

I could see the copper burner as creating waves in such a way as to nullify pulses coming at him/her (and therefore protecting themselves and making it seem like there are no pulses as a side effect), but if that were the case, why would it also stop pulses from others around him? It can't be as simple as a few wave equations canceling each other out in 3d space, particularly considering it seems there is a 'hard' cutoff point, where you go from full-protection to zero protection. (Similar to bendalloy bubbles. There's a connection there...)

 

I'm not all that sure on the quote about being unable to Seek while under a Coppercloud. I think that no Mistborn can Seek while burning copper, but I think the quote-summary by Chaos leaves some wiggle-room for the people under a Coppercloud (but not burning copper themselves) to Seek. I suspect that if a Copper Misting were to figure out how to shield others from Soothing, then they'd also be unable to Seek, but by default they should be able to.

 

I am not sure and do not feel very certain saying Chaos wrote things down wrong, but the fact remains that Soothing stations did have Seekers in them, and they went undetected because they had Smokers. If they had someone burning bronze outside of each station, then that sort of nullifies the point of having a Smoker at all. I also do not like that you can Soothe someone in a Coppercloud, but not detect their pulses. There's got to be a theory that explains that one.

 

Something to think on: I don't believe Vin ever detected pulses from burning copper. It doesn't seem to generate them. She only detect pulses from the other metals in her little scene with Kelsier where she tried to see what metals he was burning while using copper.

Edited by Moogle
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@name_here

 

I will refer you to the unambiguous WoB that simply being Smoked is enough to stop you from Seeking. So we needn't posit any special interference when one person attempts both.

Except Vin detects the metals Kelsier is burning within a Coppercloud while sitting right next to him.

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But Vin had the bronze spike, so that allowed her to have exceptionally strong Seeking abilities.

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@name_here

 

What Mailliw said.

 

So far as the first time Kelsier burns Copper, when it shuts Vin's Seeking down, I can't recall if she was wearing her earring at the time. If she was, then I'd imagine that a sudden dampening of the pulse might have seemed like a simple shutdown to her the very first time she burned Bronze.

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If forgot about the Soothing stations having Seekers - that adds even more to the discrepancy. Even more confusion. Can anyone actually find the original WoB on this?

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But Vin had the bronze spike, so that allowed her to have exceptionally strong Seeking abilities.

 

The issue is that Chaos' paraphrased quote is "If you are Smoked, you can't Seek."

 

Which, since Vin did Seek while Smoked, means that there's a discrepancy somewhere. I favor the interpretation that it means you can't Seek while burning copper yourself, but you can while in someone else's Coppercloud. Someone should ask Brandon again and nail down some specifics.

Edited by Moogle
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@knight

I gave you the only quote we have. It's a paraphrase from Chaos. That's the "actual WoB."

@Mal

Forgive me, but by far the most obvious resolution to this "discrepancy" is that Brandon meant/said that Copperclouds stop Seekers from Seeking out just as we'll as they stop them from Seeking in. Since Vin can seek in, then, she can Seek out just as well when in someone else's cloud.

Edited by Kurkistan
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To block the use of bronze inside the cloud, then, implies a separate effect. We currently don't know of any other metal that does two different things.

Copper also shields you from Emotional Allomancy. So even if we conclude that the difference Bronze blocks are a single thing, Copper still does two things. But then, is detecting metal, and moving metal one thing or two things?

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Vin certainly does sense copper. Not from Kelsier, no, but from Clubs in WoA. By this time however it seems she's spent a lot of time practicing bronze, and probably understands what's going on with it a lot better.

 

Something I think is relevant is that copper is a pulling metal. Not only that, it is an internal pulling metal. Is it possible that Smokers are actually pulling nearby pulses to them and then cancelling them out? It would make sense with the range limitation, and why you can Seek inside a bubble: the pulses are passing you but aren't cancelled yet.

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What an interesting idea, Vortaan... ;)

 

Though, specifically on the topic of Seeking within bubbles, we know that, to some extent, you can't. This is WoB.

Edited by Kurkistan
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I think you're somewhat misunderstanding my point. Vin successfully pierces Copperclouds projected by other people from inside those Copperclouds. However, I am reasonably certain she never burns copper and bronze at the same time; if she could burn copper without interfering with her seeking, there would be very little reason to ever not do that. There are two possible explanations: either her coppercloud is strong enough she cannot pierce it with her hemalurgically enhanced bronze, which is somewhat unlikely because her bronze without the spike should have just as much of a boost as her copper compared to an average Mistborn and one spike makes a Seeker able to pierce standard copperclouds, but possible depending on how piercing clouds scales. This could be confirmed or denied by seeing if she could pierce Elend's, since he is stronger on average, but a text search found no mentions of Elend and copper eitherway. Alternately, it's flatly impossible to personally use both at once.

 

As for seeking from inside clouds being impossible as a general rule, maybe it's impossible to detect allomancy if the direct line from the seeker's position to the other allomancer passes through a strong enough coppercloud.

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Okay, the idea that personally burning Copper more fundamentally messes with your own Bronze is easy enough to accept.

 

As for the "LOS" problem with coppercloud: maybe. I thought about it myself, but I'm not quite sure if it would work that way. If pulses are really "drumbeats" on reality, then they would still be able to propagate around dead spots, wouldn't they? So maybe the area directly behind the cloud wouldn't be able to hear the pulses, but a bit farther away and you'd be fine.

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What if Smokers are effectively white noise generators? Get behind the speaker and it's not so bad, to the side it's worse, etc... positioning may be very important here. I can't understand why having a Smoker at the Seeking stations makes sense otherwise. For that matter, how does any skaa Seeker not die horribly?

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Just a few quick possibilities:

Vin can pierce one coppercloud, but barely - she has to concentrate to hear pulses, and her range probably goes down. She probably cannot pierce two of them, do her burning copper would effectively negate her piercing abilities , and make her Seeking only barely effective at most.

Seekers in posts- are we sure that they just sit in there, and are not, say, attached to station and patrolling about? The reason for coppercloud in station is to conceal constant Soothing, after all, and the position, not to make skaa Mistings feel safe ...

Edited by Satsuoni
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I actually asked Brandon about this at the Alloy of Law signing. He told me that because burning copper creates an Allomantic dead zone, so to speak, everything inside it is effectively silenced. This prevents pulses from reaching Seekers who are outside the cloud, but it also prevents anyone inside the cloud from receiving any pulses whatsoever. The reason Vin could do this is because of her earring.

 

Now, because this was an informal setting and everyone present for this conversation was talking about a bunch of stuff basically one topic right after another, he might not have realized some of the logistical snafus this would cause, but for now, that's the official word on the matter. It might be a good idea to ask him for more details though, like how those issues would be dealt with. Perhaps bronze savants are able to sense pulses originating from outside of a coppercloud while being smoked themselves?

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As a note, Kerry definitely asked this question, but I was with her and noted the answer (not on audio, unfortunately), which was referenced earlier in this thread. So definitely take Kerry at her word here, haha. In fact, when I saw this thread, I immediately consulted Kerry, because I couldn't quite remember the exact logistics of it.

We definitely need to ask Brandon this again, and if he says that if you are Smoked that you can't Seek outside of the bubble, how the crap did Soothing Stations work? Because that's a pretty big hole, in my opinion. Those stations were super hidden, and the bronze would've given them away eventually.

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Yes! Theory loopholes are my specialty! (not really, this is my first ;) ) *pats self on back

Soothing stations are quite a big hole, I think, because without the Seeker in the Cloud, they would've been noticed at some point in 1000 years. But if they're in it, they supposedly can't Seek. This obviously doesn't work with all types of Allomancy, just about any time Vin burns Tin, she is also burning Copper. What is so special about Bronze?

Edited by Mailliw73
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The soothing station thing has been bugging me for a long time now. Until we get confirmation otherwise I'm going to keep guessing that the seeker only seeks on and off, ducking out of the coppercloud. Alternatively, a better idea would be if they stayed just outside the coppercloud normally and only ducked in if they sensed another seeker (or just stopped burning). Think about it this way: A skaa seeker who detects another seeker is not going to investigate it, they are most likely going to panic and leave the area as soon as possible which would aid with the soothing stations not getting detected. However in the long run you would still think they would eventually be detected.

 

Another important note though. I highly doubt that the seeking stations have been around anywhere even beginning to approach 1000 years. Firstly from a genetics point of view, it wouldn't be until at least a couple of centuries into the final empire that allomancy had spread from the original allomancers enough for something like this to even begin to be viable. This is largely irrelevant though as I strongly suspect that the soothing stations have existed at most around 200 years. In the final empire one of the books Elend has mentions that the plantation system had only been around for 200 years at the time of its writing, which would be under 100 years, likely 50 or less. Anyway, there is also mention at some point that the lord Ruler found the system troubling because of the freedom it gave the nobility and that he had also drastically increased obligator enforcement at the time to cater this. I think that before this point the ministry would not have had the resources/allomancers to run the soothing stations. So that puts a time limit of around 200 years as a maximum for how long the soothing stations had been around, it is entirely possible that they had been around for much less. This makes the soothing stations being undiscovered more plausible, though still potentially a bit of a stretch, depending on the actual time, if the seeker was outside the cloud.

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Marsh on a skaa thieving team doesn't even make sense if he can't seek from within a coppercloud.  Too much risk to even use your power for any skaa Seeker.

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