13

This has always bugged me; a long time ago (like, 15 years), I spent some hours trawling through books 1-6 or so looking for evidence that there is a substantive difference other than "a sa'angreal is a much more powerful angreal", or as the glossary put it, "it increases the amount of Power that can be drawn as much more than an angreal does, than an angreal does over channeling unaided" (or something close to that).

There may be partial hints later in the series. The way the Choedan Kal is described repeatedly makes it sound as though it provides a fixed, enormous amount of channeling capacity. Is the difference perhaps that an angreal provides a small multiplier? Was this answered in any interviews or RPG manuals that I haven't seen?

15

As far as I remember, they are just much more powerful. But it's been years since I have read any of them. (I kept waiting for the series to finish... Then he died.. then.. gah!)

From the WOT Wiki on Angreal:

Sa'angreal are like angreal, but much more powerful. All known angreal and sa'angreal are aligned for use by either a man or a woman, never both.

See also: Sa'angreal

are similar to angreal in that they allow channelers to use more of the One Power than they could otherwise safely access. Lots more. All sa'angreal multiply exponentially the amount of the Power upon which the channeler may draw; probably as a consequence, they are much rarer even than ordinary angreal.


Some relevant passages from the books on them... (trying to find as much description of what they are / where they came from / etc.)

The Great Hunt:

That girl had remembered tales of angreal and even more powerful sa'angreal – those fabled remnants of the Age of Legends that allowed Aes Sedai to channel more of the One Power than any could safely handle unaided – remembered and thought some such focus was required to channel at all.


"Ter'angreal do many things, child. Like angreal and sa'angreal, they are remnants of the Age of Legends that use the One Power, though they are not quite so rare as the other two. While some ter'angreal must be made to work by Aes Sedai, as this one must, others will do what they do simply with the presence of any woman who can channel. There are even supposed to be some that will function for anyone at all. Unlike angreal and sa'angreal, they were made to do specific things.
"What is it?" Rand asked.
"A sa'angreal." She sounded as if it were really not very important, but Perrin suddenly had the feeling the two of them had entered a private conversation, saying things no one else could hear. "One of a pair, the two largest ever made, that we know of. And an odd pair, as well. [...] Together, they might well be powerful enough to Break the World again, perhaps even worse than the first Breaking."

The Dragon Reborn:

Sa'angreal were like angreal, allowing an Aes Sedai to channel more of the Power than she safely could unaided, but far more powerful than angreal, and rare.


Sa'angreal had no power of their own, of course – they were merely devices for focusing and magnifying what an Aes Sedai could channel – but with that wand, a strong Aes Sedai might be able to crumple the walls of Tar Valon.

The Great Hunt:

With one of the even rarer sa'angreal, the flows could be increased as much over those possible with an angreal as an angreal increased them over channeling naked.

The Fires of Heaven:

"If I can make this one, I can make others. Maybe I can even make angreal and sa'angreal. No one in the Tower has been able to do that in thousands of years!"

10

As far as I know, there has never been an explicit explanation given for how to tell the difference between a sa'angreal and an angreal; except that a sa'angreal is much more powerful.

I cannot find a reference anywhere that gives any kind of specific "cut-off point" for when an angreal becomes a sa-angreal.

All the characters in the books seem to agree on which ones are which. For example, everyone knows that the Choedan Kal and Callandor are sa'angreal, and that others are angreal.

More on that point: it appears that the categorisation of angreal and sa'angreal is not subjective and not relative. An angreal to a strong channeler is not a sa'angreal to a very weak channeler; it is an angreal to both of them.

The WOT Wikia page on sa'angreal mentions that they increase the amount of the OP you can draw on exponentially. However, the angreal page mentions nothing about exponential increases in capacity for plain-old angreal.

It's a pure guess from me, but I think that it is just bleeding obvious to the characters as to which is which. An angreal increases your OP strength; a sa'angreal increases it by an amount that makes you think, "Blood and bloody ashes! I AM THE CREATOR!!!!"

1

The answer you seek is in The Wheel of Time RPG published in 2001. In the handbook it states:

Angreal are rated on a scale of 1 to 3, sa'angreal on scale of 4 to 10 (it's actually the same scale; the only difference between the two is their degrees of power).

  • Hi, welcome to SF&F! You can improve your answer by linking to sources; it would also be great if you can determine if the RPG rulebook is considered canon for the WoT universe. – DavidW Apr 17 at 18:13
  • 2
    Yes, this is an interesting answer but there is the possibility that the mechanics were simplified or altered for gameplay purposes. Could you check other quantitative info in there against the canon? For instance, the channeler strength scale that was revealed in the WOT encyclopedia. That would help corroborate it. – Ryan Reich Apr 17 at 18:24
  • The key wording that answers the question is 'the only difference between the two is their degrees of power.' p.159 of 1st edition. The numbers 1-10 are there for game mechanics but does show that angreal def scale much weaker. Not a 50/50 power split. Although not written by Robert Jordan, the Wheel of Time RPG material was approved and Jordan helped flesh out much of the material (especially various historical eras and national histories) and is generally accepted as a secondary source of official cannon.WoT Wiki Cannon – Bhutlah Apr 19 at 1:26
-1

This is never stated explicitly, but from all that is said, apparently angreals multiply OP strength whereas sa'angreals increase strength exponentially. In FoH, the angreal that Lanfear used while battling Rand was almost strong to be a sa'angreal, which apparently means that it had a high multiplier. Ex. 9x is the same as 3 squared, so a powerful angreal that increased strength by a factor of 9, would basically be the same as a weak sa'angreal that increases strength by a factor of 3. Mind you, all of this is strictly conjecture based the Companion book and comments from different characters. Also, check out www.theoryland.com for further elaboration from some of the math/science people on there...the are even mathematical calculations showing how linking works and why the total strength is 2 people linked isn't additive.

  • Once again, some quotes and excerpts would make a much stronger answer. – Gallifreyan Dec 7 '16 at 6:04

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