japjapcat

Figuring out the full extent of Kandra abilities [DISCUSS]

23 posts in this topic

Hello, 17th Shard!

I'm looking to get a full idea of what a Kandra is fully capable of doing with their bodies and what have you. I haven't seen a compilation of what specifically they are able to achieve, believably are able to achieve, and that is impossible for them to achieve in terms of their shapeshifting. If someone has done so before, please link me!

Some of the obvious ones they are known to achieve:

  • Copy the appearance of a creature they have digested
  • Adjustments to the shape of those previously consumed*
    • This seems to be on a skill basis where the more skilled the Kandra, the more they are able to freeform
  • Manipulate their form to lockpick
  • Heal from wounds
  • Mixing and matching parts from creatures consumed


Some that could be believably achieved:

  • Take on a completely chimeric form from scratch(using true bodies that are not shaped like regular ol humans), using different parts from different creatures and applying them together.
    • This is a more extreme form of the mixing and matching parts from creatures.
  • Enhancing and refining their bodies through more selective digestion
    • Since they can completely control their bodies, they could feasibly increase muscle density(which they are already shown to be able to do) and apply it tenfold to create muscles that are almost indestructible by conventional means
  • Expanding by consuming lots of matter and squeezing it into a smaller form becoming denser, and or vice versa
  • Growing to larger, gigantic sizes and vice-versa

 

Impossible to achieve:

  • ???

 

Thoughts? Suggestions?

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Hmm interesting thought. On the subject of growing larger, I agree that a Kandra could grow to very large sizes/heights if they ate enough people. They could have more hearts to pump blood throughout their body so that wouldn’t be an issue. I wonder if they’ll need an extra spike to maintain sentience? I could see that becoming an issue, but maybe not. 

I wonder how minute a Kandra could make their muscles/place where they store their memories/mental functions. Could one say, turn into a cremling or something? I’m assuming a Kandra could turn into a bird or something like that, but could one eat a chasmfiend and become one? (Mostly joking on that last idea, but that would be super awesome)

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On 10/9/2021 at 11:46 AM, #1_Taln_Fan said:

but could one eat a chasmfiend and become one? (Mostly joking on that last idea, but that would be super awesome)

I believe that WoB mentions that they would be able to eat a Chasmfiend but the square cube law prevents them from surviving being a Chasmfiend

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11 hours ago, japjapcat said:

I believe that WoB mentions that they would be able to eat a Chasmfiend but the square cube law prevents them from surviving being a Chasmfiend

But Kandra can bond Spren like any other being, so it need to just bond some Mandras. Besides, this would be necesery to pretend being Chasmfiend, because they always have some Mandras around.

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29 minutes ago, Bzhydack said:

But Kandra can bond Spren like any other being, so it need to just bond some Mandras. Besides, this would be necesery to pretend being Chasmfiend, because they always have some Mandras around.

Unless being a kandra allows them to grow a gemheart that isn't an option, Radiant spren can be bonded by anyone, lesser spren cannot.

Edited by Frustration
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11 hours ago, Frustration said:

Unless being a kandra allows them to grow a gemheart that isn't an option, Radiant spren can be bonded by anyone, lesser spren cannot.

I'd assume the gemheart could be absorbed along with the carapace and other necessary "materials"...

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One of my favorite abilities they have is that they can make near perfect tissue grafts to help a person recover from injury.

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On 11.10.2021 at 8:33 AM, Frustration said:

Unless being a kandra allows them to grow a gemheart that isn't an option, Radiant spren can be bonded by anyone, lesser spren cannot.

 

12 hours ago, Lunu’anaki said:

I'd assume the gemheart could be absorbed along with the carapace and other necessary "materials"...

This. Gemheart is like bones, carapace or hair - Kandra would simply absorbed. Of course, probably they would need some cognitive shenanigans to work with it, but is totaly possible to get gemheart, not only grow it.

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The Ryshadium can bond spren so I don't know that lacking a gemheart is even the hard rule that we might suppose for bonding lesser spren. What might be harder is that the hemalurgy seems to repel spren, and given how the mists shied away from hemalurgists in the time of the Lord Ruler, then it could prove to be a barrier for the Kandra to attract the spren.

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On 10/11/2021 at 2:33 AM, Frustration said:

Unless being a kandra allows them to grow a gemheart that isn't an option, Radiant spren can be bonded by anyone, lesser spren cannot.

Hemalurgy can spike away the ability to grow a gemheart, if it comes to that.

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Man, what Kandra can and can't do is beyond weird to me. We know, if nothing else, that they are able to create cartilage for noses and ears, so they should be able to build cartilage skeletons for themselves. While admittedly, this isn't as ideal as having actual bones, it is better than nothing. But Sanderson himself has admitted to being conflicted on what exactly Kandra can do, and how deep their shapeshifting goes. 

Quote

Questioner

My friends and I had this debate when we were playing the Mistborn Adventure Game. So when a kandra imitates a human, do they replicate the organs perfectly?

Brandon Sanderson

Usually, yes. But there are kandra that do not, by intention, do that.

Questioner

Does that include the reproductive organs?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Questioner

So theoretically if a kandra were to copulate with a human while pretending to be a human, would it create another human?

Brandon Sanderson

It would. And I think I've been consistent on that. So, I have to do things like this because I didn't want a blood test to be able to determine who was a kandra and who wasn't, because that's your go-to way to find a shapeshifter. So I think I had to imitate entirely. But boy, would it imitate the genetic code... *sounds of thought and frustration*

Questioner

That's the question we have.

Brandon Sanderson

You know, I don't know that they would...so they were human...I'm going to go ahead and back pedal and RAFO on that. I haven't decided 100% yet...I know you can't tell with a bloodtest, but if you look at the DNA, would you be able to tell it's a kandra? And I'm kinda thinking you probably would be able to. 

Questioner

So then, following that they wouldn't be able to reproduce.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, they wouldn't be able to reproduce in that case. I'm gonna go--jury's out. And I have to really make a call on this. I'm going to say, "Yes," right now, that they are doing this down to the cellular level, a copy, but I may have to backpedal on that when I get to future Mistborn books, when I really look at it, what it would take, to do that. It's an unofficial yes, with a RAFO attached to it.

FanX 2018 (Sept. 6, 2018)

Personally, I absolutely hate the idea that they can copy to the genetic level, since that means they can fully (and I mean fully) replicate human functions, including bone growth. While admittedly that would take a long time, them being immortal means that over enough time, they should be able to completely build their own skeletons. And then things just get more and more complicated if they can actually alter their DNA and their potential just shoots off the chart in terms of what they are capable of. Can they transform some of their cells into bacteria and then infect other creatures? Could they replicate blood types perfectly to donate blood to humans with 0 compatibility issues? Frankly, until Sanderson decided how deep their shapeshifting goes exactly, its really difficult to pin down their maximum potential.

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9 minutes ago, HSuperLee said:

Man, what Kandra can and can't do is beyond weird to me. We know, if nothing else, that they are able to create cartilage for noses and ears, so they should be able to build cartilage skeletons for themselves. While admittedly, this isn't as ideal as having actual bones, it is better than nothing. But Sanderson himself has admitted to being conflicted on what exactly Kandra can do, and how deep their shapeshifting goes. 

Personally, I absolutely hate the idea that they can copy to the genetic level, since that means they can fully (and I mean fully) replicate human functions, including bone growth. While admittedly that would take a long time, them being immortal means that over enough time, they should be able to completely build their own skeletons. And then things just get more and more complicated if they can actually alter their DNA and their potential just shoots off the chart in terms of what they are capable of. Can they transform some of their cells into bacteria and then infect other creatures? Could they replicate blood types perfectly to donate blood to humans with 0 compatibility issues? Frankly, until Sanderson decided how deep their shapeshifting goes exactly, its really difficult to pin down their maximum potential.

This is one of the reasons I really love the concept of the Kandra but understand that you have to have some handwavium going on otherwise it becomes ridiculously strange that they have certain flaws. I personally would just headcannon the inability to recreate some parts/structures of creatures is due to intent. Kandra have been told over the generations and so most if not all can't get past that.

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10 minutes ago, HSuperLee said:

Man, what Kandra can and can't do is beyond weird to me. We know, if nothing else, that they are able to create cartilage for noses and ears, so they should be able to build cartilage skeletons for themselves. While admittedly, this isn't as ideal as having actual bones, it is better than nothing. But Sanderson himself has admitted to being conflicted on what exactly Kandra can do, and how deep their shapeshifting goes. 

Personally, I absolutely hate the idea that they can copy to the genetic level, since that means they can fully (and I mean fully) replicate human functions, including bone growth. While admittedly that would take a long time, them being immortal means that over enough time, they should be able to completely build their own skeletons. And then things just get more and more complicated if they can actually alter their DNA and their potential just shoots off the chart in terms of what they are capable of. Can they transform some of their cells into bacteria and then infect other creatures? Could they replicate blood types perfectly to donate blood to humans with 0 compatibility issues? Frankly, until Sanderson decided how deep their shapeshifting goes exactly, its really difficult to pin down their maximum potential.

I'd say that an even further issue is that mistwraiths are descended from humans, so genetics becomes even weirder at that level. but if they have DNA at all, they may be able to reproduce with their own personal genetic code

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Something that we have yet to discuss in this topic is Kandra lifespan -- aside from the "immortal" presumption. I was thinking that the First Generation Kandra offer decent evidence that Kandra are not immortal (probably not living much longer than 1000 years), and I pulled up a WoB to that effect:

 

Spoiler

 

Reilly Russell

Are kandra/mistwraiths naturally immortal? If so, is it magically sustained, or natural, like the immortal jellyfish? If not, what is the natural lifespan of a kandra/mistwraith?

Brandon Sanderson

No, they are not immortal, but they are very, very long lived. If you look at the First Generation, you'll see an example of aging happening. They will eventually die of old age. They don't suffer from some of the ailments that, say, humans do, and it takes a bit longer, and there is some magical sustaining of them going on.

Read For Pixels 2018 (Sept. 1, 2018)

 

My personal headcanon is that their awareness of microscopic structures within themselves (basically, they have the ability to "taste" and identify everything within themselves, which is how they can reproduce organs and tissues) allows them to identify and destroy any tumors and most other pathogens. That, coupled with the investiture afforded by their spikes, explains why they live so much longer than Mistwraiths (which lack the intelligence to destroy malignant tumors and pathogens, even if it is within their capabilities -- and they have the ability to reproduce within their short lifespan, so there's no evolutionary pressure to gain that ability).

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I'm not so sure the First Generation are a good take on how long a Kandra can live. By Alloy of Law Tensoon is about a thousand and isn't described like them.

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On 10/11/2021 at 1:33 AM, Frustration said:

Unless being a kandra allows them to grow a gemheart that isn't an option, Radiant spren can be bonded by anyone, lesser spren cannot.

Not necessarily.

Quote

Fantasy Faction

Could any type of spren bond with a person (even if the results wouldn't be a Knight Radiant)? Or only the ones associated with a branch of the Knights?

Brandon Sanderson

Ooh, that's an excellent question. This is something theoretically possible for a lesser spren to achieve.

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Something to consider is the number of neurons. Melaan has said that kandra don't go much lower in size than dogs because they can't fit all of the neurons required for sentience. There could be an upper limit on size based on the number of neurons a kandra can make. 

Regarding the cartilage skeleton, I think only some species of fish, shark, rays and other water species have them. This suggests that type of skeleton can only be used in water. The vast majority of humans live on land (citation needed) so the kandra never encounter situations where they would need one. 

Finally, something to consider is that the Lord Ruler designed kandra. The reason that they can't make skeletons could be that he designed them with this limit as a way to control them. They are almost useless with out them. 

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5 hours ago, DougTheRug said:

Finally, something to consider is that the Lord Ruler designed kandra. The reason that they can't make skeletons could be that he designed them with this limit as a way to control them. They are almost useless with out them. 

Lord ruleeeeeeer!

 

 

One other thing that I thought of regarding Kandra abilities, do we know if they tire? If they have such minute control over their bodies, I would imagine it would be easy for a Kandra to repair their bodies, hence granting them a form of enhanced stamina/endurance, no?

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47 minutes ago, japjapcat said:

Lord ruleeeeeeer!

 

 

One other thing that I thought of regarding Kandra abilities, do we know if they tire? If they have such minute control over their bodies, I would imagine it would be easy for a Kandra to repair their bodies, hence granting them a form of enhanced stamina/endurance, no?

They may be able to ignore or repair muscle fatigue as we know it by constantly rebuilding their muscle fibers, but they are going to run into an issue once their body starts running out of nutrients to turn into forms of energy. So they probably don't get tired, but they can completely use up their energy supply and basically starve themselves. Granted, there's then the blessing of potency which would extend how well they can use that energy. I can't remember exactly, but I believe when TenSoon replicates a horse Sazed specifically notes he's able to run much faster and longer than an actual horse would be able to.

 

Small tangent, but as this conversation continues, it is occurring to me how much kandra really do limit themselves by being attached to nearly human forms. I know that's something TenSoon himself pointed out, but I don't actually think we've seen any kandra but him take on a non-human form. Which is a shame, because they could do so many interesting things if they got more creative with their true bodies.

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On 10/9/2021 at 0:46 PM, #1_Taln_Fan said:

I wonder how minute a Kandra could make their muscles/place where they store their memories/mental functions. Could one say, turn into a cremling or something? I’m assuming a Kandra could turn into a bird or something like that, but could one eat a chasmfiend and become one? (Mostly joking on that last idea, but that would be super awesome)

While we're not sure the exact extent of this, I remember one kandra mentioning that kandra needed to be at least a certain mass to stay sentient, with a bunny being almost too small for them to handle regularly. While a large bird probably isn't out of the picture, I don't think they could do cremlings. I think the only spy-bugs we need to worry about come from the Sleepless. 

That being said, I wonder if a kandra can maintain control of a body part they intentionally lose. I know getting blown up or dismembered causes kandra flesh to act normal, but could a kandra essentially send out a scout for a short time?

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@stonewalker16 my guess would be no. The meta reason could reasonably be "That would make them too much like a Sleepless and Brandon wants them to be different". The in world reason would be that because they can only do so many things at the same time. If they have similar cognitive limits to humans (which I believe is a reasonable assumption), they aren't that great at multi-tasking.

@HSuperLee that's a great point. I remember him being exhausted after running for a few days in chest high ash while carrying a human. So we can could actually can make a reasonable guess at the caloric reserves that a kandra with the blessing of potency has. I do wonder if his ability to perform cognitive tasks was impacted by him being a horse. Like, he could definitely beat a regular horse in a footrace but could he beat a regular human in a chess match?

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Now that we're talking about Sleepless, here's a thought experiment for you all (perhaps someone better acquainted with WoBs can offer a definitive answer):

Suppose a Kandra has distributed its neurons & brain tissue into two equal halves, like a human brain (you all probably know where I'm going with this -- I'm sure I'm not the only one who has thought of it). Say the kandra is chopped in half via a giant guillotine, with an equal portion of his/her brain tissue in each half, and each half also contains one blessing spike.

I know about the WoB regarding radiant healing in such a case (i.e., the spirit arbitrarily chooses one half of the body as the base for regeneration and the other half dies), but I have a feeling it could be different in the Kandra's case, given that:

1. We know such methods are normally non-lethal to Kandra, unlike cutting a human in half -- so the other half should still be biologically viable,

2. We know that Kandra can survive with only one spike, and

3. Kandra's spirit webs are kind of messy, for lack of a better term.

I think that if the two halves were rejoined quickly, the Kandra would likely be completely unaffected (we see MeLaan endure similar abuse in BoM, I believe). However, if they were separated for long enough, could they become capable of independent cognition? (My reasoning: even human brains are remappable to a certain extent -- people with traumatic brain injuries in their youth can regain cognitive functions that are normally associated with the dead part of their brain, and I assume Kandra have much greater neuroplasticity) ...or would they maintain a telepathic link similar to individual Sleepless cremlings due to their cognitive/spiritual aspects?

Another question: Assuming they retain their identity as a single unit in the cognitive and spiritual realms, would the individual halves experience the madness that comes from losing a spike, despite the fact that together they hold a complete blessing?

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@Olmund I suspect that trying to compare a Kandra brain to a human brain isn't exactly possible. Whatever the natural state of their "brain" is, is such that can exist despite the weight of their bodies pressing down on it without bones to protect it. Frankly I was shocked when MeLaan stated Kandra have an organ dedicated to thinking in the first place. Until then I assumed that each of their cells, whether biologically or magically, was capable of acting as a neuron in and of itself, and that their entire bodies basically would function a brain with lots of redundancies. Apparently I was wrong. Knowing there is a specific organ Kandra use to think, I suspect that cutting it in half would drop it below the minimum mass needed to maintain the kandra's consciousness. Maybe some of them keep it large enough that bisecting it wouldn't be an issue, but I suspect that's not the case. Even if it were though, I worry about the realmatic effects of trying to divide a Kandra's consciousness. We know that souls exist in the Cosmere, but not where they come from. So its possible that only one half of the Kandra would get the soul, and the other would either revert to some pseudo-mistwraith state, or would die. Or maybe the original soul would stick with one half, and the other would develop a copy of it, or even a brand new "blank" soul. Its difficult to say. But I doubt the results would be in any way clean or simple.

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