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Kaponkie

Do plants count as '"alive" for the purposes of awakening?

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I haven't read Warbreaker, but I'm interested in some functions of awakening. I know that you can't awaken living things, do plants count as "alive" or does "alive" mean sentient in this case?

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31 minutes ago, Kaponkie said:

I haven't read Warbreaker, but I'm interested in some functions of awakening. I know that you can't awaken living things, do plants count as "alive" or does "alive" mean sentient in this case?

Yup, here's a WoB:

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Questioner

With Soulcasting, we know what can be Soulcast based on the color of the gem. Does-- When Awakening, say you have emerald, green, Pulp. If you were Awakening straw or some other form of plant matter, if you used a source of green for the color, would it be, say, more efficient than using red?

Brandon Sanderson

So I haven't built that into the magic system yet. Part of me feels like I should have. But I did not. I want color to be relevant to each of the cosmere magics. It's kind of an essential part of it, and it's part of where we stray more into the magical sense. Like, in my books we treat magic scientifically but they're still magic. And it was a thing when I was building Stormlight, I'm like, "So the difference between these two gemstones is a matter of a slight impurity and chemically they are 99% the same thing. Am I actually going to have them do different things or not?" And my judgement call was yes, because I want color to be relevant in the cosmere.  But by that point, when I was really getting that magic system to work, I had already written Warbreaker. And I had known that I wanted color to start being a big part. I'd already written Mistborn where I worked in color in different ways

But I didn't work that into the Warbreaker magic. I felt like it already had enough restrictions. I would say my worry about the Warbreaker magic is the color feels tacked on. Like, the magic could work without it, narratively, so why is it there? And that's the question I asked myself while I was building; that's the question I continue to ask myself when I continue to work on-- for that magic system, to make sure it works for me. But my instincts say adding restrictions like that, particularly when they weren't covered in the first book, feels like the wrong way to go. It'd be like retconning the magic. It's something I considered.

Orem signing (March 10, 2018)

Plant matter is actually easier to awaken than stone or steel.

Edit: oh wait, you meant a living plant getting Awakened. All living things in the Cosmere have some amount of innate Investiture, and we hear about organic matter specifically being used for Awakening, not still living matter. Hmm... it could also be that Awakening seeks patterns of life and the Investiture than pretends to be alive and it cannot just replace a life, so the restriction might be a hard limit rather than a soft limit. I don't remember Vasher talking about this in-book nor any WoB about it, sorry.

Edited by Honorless
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25 minutes ago, Honorless said:

Yup, here's a WoB:

Plant matter is actually easier to awaken than stone or steel.

Edit: oh wait, you meant a living plant getting Awakened. All living things in the Cosmere have some amount of innate Investiture, and we hear about organic matter specifically being used for Awakening, not still living matter. Hmm... it could also be that Awakening seeks patterns of life and the Investiture than pretends to be alive and it cannot just replace a life, so the restriction might be a hard limit rather than a soft limit. I don't remember Vasher talking about this in-book nor any WoB about it, sorry.

That's the hard part. I thought that maybe the "alive" meant something that's sentient or has a will of it's own, you can't override the will of another living thing. I also believe that willingness is a thing in Awakening, the whole "My life to yours, my breath become yours" thing. The reason I wanetd to know about this is an idea I had for possibly comboing Awakening with the Surge of Regrowth in order to have some sort of chlorokinesis, since plants are so easy to awaken and the regrowth would keep growing them it could be super effective. Then I realized the plants would need to be living and growing for this to work, it can be argued that since almost everything in the Cosmere has some level of self awareness they are "alive" in that way we've seen that inanimate objects have some sort of desire to be what they are with Soulcasting, "I am a stick' and all. But on the other hand Soulcasting proves these desires can be changed and it even applies to plant matter, and I believe that Radiants using Regrowth even have some control as to how the plants they affect grow, so this is a tricky one. That's why I wanted to ask the question, the fact that I can spiral with such a small distinction that could be used to achieve something I randomly thought of during the day really says something about the depth of Brandon's books.

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We know you can use some form of Awakening on living beings since Vasher teaches the priest's daughter a trick to alter her memories (and later tells Denth that he can teach him the Commands) so it's not completely impossible that you might be able to Awaken something that's still living, but the only example we know of it involves essentially Awakening yourself. Well, the Breath-transferring Command is also a form of Awakening and that only requires the transferror's consent, not the transferee's (see Lemex and Vivenna) so that's another example, but again it's two sapient beings involved. I can't find any WoBs directly on-point but my instinct is that if it were possible to Awaken, say, a living vine like you can Awaken a rope, that Vasher would have mentioned it in his classification of BioChromatic entities.

As for why it seems to work that way, I dunno, Endowment Did It. xD

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I think so personally, but it may also depend on what you call Awakening.  Breaths can be granted to and stored in an organic host, and this can be living or dead. WOB says that the basic person-to-person transfer of breaths takes a bit of Color from the person to do it, so if that Counts then I would say "Yes".  I recall (but cannot find) a WOB that also says Vasher hides his extra Breaths in his own Bones to avoid the obvious signs of Heightening's they would grant, separate from the way he suppresses his Divine Breath.  On the other hand, there are fundamental limits to what you can do to yourself because of the innately external element of Endowment.  

Experiment:  I Hypothesize that anything organic that is sufficiently Invested to resist Awakening would also be sufficiently Invested to receive Spiritual Damage from a Shardblade.  Thus if it take Two strokes to cut down a living Tree the way it take two cuts to carve into an animal, then Living Plants are very likely to be resistant to Awakening.  

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