Is it possible to use a Hemalurgic spike to affect people with other Investiture, like stealing someone's Breaths for example?

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Hemalurgy can steal a lot of things, and in general it seems to steal attributes of a person (as a hemalurgic spike is essentially ripping out part of someone's soul and stapling it onto your own, as Brandon often explains it). According to Brandon, the specific example of stealing a biochromatic breath would possibly not work:

Questioner: With spikes, would you be able to actually transfer Breaths, when they get to the other planets?

Brandon Sanderson: So spikes rip off pieces of the soul and so Breaths are not going to be part of the soul. You could maybe get a divine Breath but I haven't really decided on regular Breaths, they're kind of stuck there in the Physical Realm which is not a thing that spikes are dealing with. Divine Breath, potentially, because that's something that's actually melding onto your soul. But, you know, when you're using the Breaths they reach through to the Spiritual Realm so, maybe if you got it while the Breaths were kinetic, right, while you're using them, then you might be able to rip them off. I'm not a hundred percent certain on that one.

Bystander: There's still things to decide upon.

Brandon Sanderson: Yeah there's still things, like I have to kind of see. My instinct says no right now. But, you know, how they interact is not something that I have-- Yeah.


That's because the breath isn't really tied into their soul the same way abilities are. This also leaves the possibility of spiking a divine breath from a returned still. It seems like the only way to spike a regular breath using Brandon's logic is to take it while it is being used, and therefore actually has the connection in the spiritual realm needed to take the breath. Even then, he didn't really confirm it would work; but those are the types of hoops you might have to jump through.

It also may have changed somewhat, given what is shown in the new Hemalurgy chart; but I am thinking "steals investiture" is a bit more vague than being able to take and use biochromatic breaths spiked from someone else. Until we see an example of it, based on the linked WoB (and you can find several like this here) it seems as though it cannot steal breath from an awakener; but it could steal other abilities which are actually tied to the person (surgebinding, Elantrian, etc) Elantrian source, Surgebinder source

So yes, you can use hemalurgic spikes to effect someone with other investiture; but how you can effect them depends on what it is you want to use the spike for. You can steal their access to another magic system generally; but you can't take directly spike away the power that fuels the magic from what we have seen. The new Ars Arcanum on hemalurgic spikes could put this into question; but given what Brandon has said and what we have seen so far, it doesn't seem possible to spike breaths away.


It's definitely possible, even likely.

The recently released leather bound edition of Hero of Ages included a chart showing common Hemalurgic bind points for Steel Inquisitors and what the spikes made of different materials do.

The chart lists several types of spikes that might allow for taking abilities related to non-metallic powers. Specifically

  • Nicrosil - steals Investiture
  • Atium - steals any power
  • Lerasium - steals all abilities

Many of the others specify that they steal Allomantic or Feruchemical powers so the lack of those qualifiers on the three I listed implies that it's not limited to just allomancy or feruchemy.

This comment thread on the reddit post asks the same question and links to a Word of Brandon post that seems to support using Hemlurgy to steal powers from other worlds.

  • Not to mention while I'm not aware of him talking about this particular question, Sanderson has said that certain of his magic systems can work using the investiture from a different world, for example, he has said Nightblood can work using Stormlight as well as Breath.
    – Kai
    Commented Jan 8, 2019 at 18:12

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