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The Old Magic is a magic system. Little is known about the Old Magic, other than by those who seek it by traveling west to the Nightwatcher.

The Nightwatcher grants what they desire and gives them a curse, not necessarily related to the gift. It is said that every man gets only one chance to ask a boon of the Nightwatcher.[1] She always grants one curse and one desire.[2] Most consider the Nightwatcher to be some kind of powerful spren.[3] Those who seek the Old Magic have to go to the west in a valley.[1] Soliciting the Old Magic is offensive to the devotaries because it defies their control within Vorin culture as a religious influence.

Wyndle, a spren that has bonded with Lift and granted her the powers of an Edgedancer, has referred to the Nightwatcher as "Mother." This has lead to speculation as to the Nightwatcher's possible link to Cultivation, one of the sixteen Shards of Adonalsium and one of the three on Roshar.

People who visited the Nightwatcher[]

Name Boon Curse
Dalinar Kholin The pain of losing his wife, Evi.[citation needed] All the memories of his wife have been removed from his mind. Even when someone mentions her name, all that he hears is a 'whoosh' of air (i.e., Shshshsh).
Av's Father A heap of good cloth; sold to keep his family from starving during the lurnip famine.[1] Sees the world upside down.
Extes The boon Extes had wanted was to know what happened the day he was fated to die.[4] Sacrificed his son to the Voidbringers and would suffer everyday by having his arms torn off.[4]

"Did I ever tell you what I asked for?" he whispered. ... "Capacity," he whispered. The capacity to stop what was coming. The capacity to save humankind."[5] He wakes up each day with a different level of intelligence. Sometimes he's a genius, sometimes he's an idiot. His boon was Capacity - to be intelligent enough to prepare for the coming Desolation - which allowed him one day of extremely lucid insanity (the Diagram). Similar to Dalinar, he believes he must unite the people (of Roshar altogether, we don't yet know), but he has definitely taken control of significant territory by the end of Words of Radiance.

The curse associated with this boon is the intelligence to make the decisions which need to be made while retaining compassion to feel the consequences of those decisions.[5].
Lift Can physically interact with spren and metabolize food directly into Stormlight.[6] Inability to change/grow mentally.[7]
  • Took's greatest tale was of the time he had seen the Nightwatcher herself and stolen a sphere that glowed black at night.[8]
  • Axies the Collector may also have visited the Nightwatcher, as he claims to have The Curse of Kind.[9]

Q&A with Brandon[]

Q. Are the Ashynite magic system, in which micro organisms cause diseases and bestow powers, and the Old Magic related? You could sort of see the powers and the disease as a boon and a curse. If so, does the "Old" part come from that?

A. Yes, they are related, but the name comes from the magic actually predating spren bonds.[10]