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Danthemystic

Old Magic: What are the Limits?

Question

I was recently reading a bit about Old Magic in Roshar on the Coppermind Wiki. I was thinking about Boons and how they operate. When a person gains a Boon, can it be anything they want, like gaining the ability to control electricity or reality, or are there specific limitations on what kinds of things can be gained through Old Magic? Can I get the ability of one of the forms of the Singers or even become an Allomancer on Roshar with a Boon? 

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The Nightwatcher is probably somewhat limited. We haven't ever seen her given a really intense boon or curse, just change perception a bit, or give/remove something physical.

If Cultivation intervenes, most bets are off, since she can probably give or take just about anything she wants. Though she probably couldn't give Allomancy since that's from Preservation, she could probably give an equivalent that works within her particular flavor of investiture.

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6 minutes ago, Booknerd said:

No way did The Nightwatcher have Nightblood, however the Knife Vyre has at the end of OB bleeds darkness and leaves blackened wounds like ol' Sword-nimi. Nightwatcher just offered something similar.

She leaned back, pursing her lips. Perhaps it is possessions you wish, she said. Spheres, gemstones. Shards. A Blade that bleeds darkness and cannot be defeated. I can give it to you.

i wouldn't go as far as to say that vyre's knife cannot be defeated. But we've seen almost nothing of it so idk

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So far the Boons and Curses f the Nightwatcher seem to often mimic other known magic effects, so I suspect they have similar limitations (By the Laws of Sanderson).  It also seems to basically amount to Spiritweb manipulation.  Lift's Stormlight via food looks basically like feruchemical Bendalloy, Taravangian's seems like a similar slider bar on a couple mental attributes (Zinc for sure, probably some Electrum and chromium too).  They are confirmed in WOB to be able to change your species, DNA, and/or Spiritweb.  I suspect they could do just about anything that we've seen from the Metallic Arts (Want to be a a Spike-free Kolos?) and probably Forgery, if limited by the Nightwatchers grasp of humanity more than actual Power, and Cultivation herself could almost certainly do anything any other shard can.  

If we are looking for limits, there are likely some things that would be hard/impossible for broader Realmic reasons:

  • I dont think it could make a Returned a human again
  • I think it would be tough to make an Elantrian-equivalent wihtout a Connection to an Investiture more "sticky" than Stormlight to replace the Dor.  
  • They can make a Human more Spren-like, but I suspect they they could not turn a Spren into a true Physical Realm Native (Human, Singer, Dragon, etc).

 

That being said, thhe Old Magic was built to be a Wish-Fulfillment sort of thing that was specifically Not Rule Based the way so many of the other magics are, so the limits might be a lot more about Plot than mechanics.

 

Quote

 

Questioner

One of your characters wishes for and is given capacity... That is one of my favorite concepts of all the books that I read of yours. Can you talk about the inspiration for that gift of limited and maximum capacity?

Brandon Sanderson

To not give spoilers, there is a character in The Stormlight Archive who has asked the Old Magic, which is a force that kind of has references in things like The Monkey's Paw and what-not, a force that doesn't always give you things exactly the way you want them. And I built, by the way, the Old Magic into The Stormlight Archive because I felt that at a certain point, while I love to do these rule-based magic systems, I wanted there to be a contrast to it... It's kinda like this idea that, yes, modern science and things have explained a lot of stuff, but there's something primal, perhaps, in the past, I don't actually know. But that idea that there's a primal magic that doesn't really adhere to the rules, we can't anticipate it, was really, I felt, vital for me to include so that I didn't overexplain everything in the books.

So, there's a person who asked for capacity. It wanted to be, let's say, strong enough to lift (it's not actually strength, but it's more of an emotional thing) what was coming. That, I feel like, is a very real thing to wish for, right? I have frequently, like... people say "What would you wish for," and I say "The ability to fly," because I would love to be able to fly. But really, if I sit and think about it, capacity, ability, the capacity to hold all of this stuff in my head, would probably be the sort of thing that I would wish for. So this character, in some ways, is giving wish fulfillment for me, because that's what I would maybe ask for if given the opportunity, but even that kind of turns on its head because the Old Magic just doesn't get people in the way that people think they should be gotten.

Footnote: The Monkey's Paw is a story by W. W. Jacobs.
Oathbringer San Francisco signing (Nov. 15, 2017)

 

 
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to add to what @RShara said, she only seems able to grant something physical or real. she doesnt handle abstractions very well.

when Dalinar asked for forgiveness, the NW reacts oddly and doesnt even respond to that statement. she then continues to ask him if he wants possesions, like spheres, gemstones and even Nightblood.

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8 minutes ago, Booknerd said:

Not Nighblood just a steel(not carbon) copy

?

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It seems a lot like the limitations of soulstamping+some weird stuff(I actually look at it as a form of the same concept).  Cultivation herself can do more.

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8 hours ago, Quantus said:

I dont think it could make a Returned a human again

This one seems doable actually.  You could at least take away the divine breath and stop the dependency on more breaths.  Szeth has something like this.

8 hours ago, Quantus said:

I think it would be tough to make an Elantrian-equivalent wihtout a Connection to an Investiture more "sticky" than Stormlight to replace the Dor.  

No but you could do some connection manipulation so that if you ever went to Sel you would become one(I think Hoid did something like this).

8 hours ago, Quantus said:

They can make a Human more Spren-like, but I suspect they they could not turn a Spren into a true Physical Realm Native (Human, Singer, Dragon, etc).

Agreed.  They would need to manufacture an entire PR component. 

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I assumed that, since Nightblood may/probably have been on Roshar at the time, the NW just knew about it's existence (likely due to Vasher using Cultivation's perpendicularity, perhaps) & had the ability to retrieve it for Dalinar, not necessarily that the NW could produce a copy of Nightblood.  

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3 minutes ago, Booknerd said:

No way did The Nightwatcher have Nightblood, however the Knife Vyre has at the end of OB bleeds darkness and leaves blackened wounds like ol' Sword-nimi. Nightwatcher just offered something similar.

I don't read that as literal, honestly. "I can give it to you," was the phrase, and I kind of think she meant more that she could lead Dalinar more than directly handing it to him. 

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On 3/11/2020 at 9:05 PM, Booknerd said:

No way did The Nightwatcher have Nightblood, however the Knife Vyre has at the end of OB bleeds darkness and leaves blackened wounds like ol' Sword-nimi. Nightwatcher just offered something similar.

I just thought that it would be like a copy of Nightblood. Like an awakend sword with stormight. Or a disfigured shardblade.

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2 minutes ago, Eternal Khol said:

?

No way did The Nightwatcher have Nightblood, however the Knife Vyre has at the end of OB bleeds darkness and leaves blackened wounds like ol' Sword-nimi. Nightwatcher just offered something similar.

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2 hours ago, Eternal Khol said:

to add to what @RShara said, she only seems able to grant something physical or real. she doesnt handle abstractions very well.

when Dalinar asked for forgiveness, the NW reacts oddly and doesnt even respond to that statement. she then continues to ask him if he wants possesions, like spheres, gemstones and even Nightblood.

Not Nighblood just a steel(not carbon) copy

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