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Pattern form.jpg
by Sheep
Type Spren
Abilities Nahel bond, Lightweaver magic, Splinters
World Roshar
Universe Cosmere
Featured In The Stormlight Archive
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I'm dying, aren't I? Healer, why do you take my blood? Who is that beside you, with his head of lines? I can see a distant sun, dark and cold, shining in a black sky.
— Collected on Jesanach 1172, 11 seconds pre-death. Subject was a Reshi chull trainer. Sample is of particular note.[1]

The Cryptics are a race of sapient spren that dwell primarily in the Cognitive Realm of Roshar. They are the personification of the underlying mathematical truths that govern Roshar and the Cosmere.[2]

They are related to the Order of Lightweavers, the sixth Order of Knights Radiant which have access to Illumination and Transformation.[3]


Physical Realm[edit]

Cryptics manifest in the Physical Realm as a complex geometric pattern that is constantly shifting, slightly raised off a surface or object.[4] On occasion they can also manifest as a floating three-dimensional mass of twisting lines.[5]


Cryptics take the form of tall, willowy figures in "too stiff" robes that hang is if "made from glass". Above their collars, where a human's head and face would be, they have a floating symbol "full of impossible angles and geometries."[6] These symbols are not glyphs but it is possible that readers would recognize them.[7] Different individuals have slightly different head patterns.[8]


Forming a Nahel Bond with a Cryptic makes one a Lightweaver, with access to the Surges of Illumination and Transformation.[3]

A Cryptic can also grant access to the Cognitive Realm after accepting enough spoken truths from a Lightweaver. It is through these spoken truths that a bond with a Cryptic strengthens. The truth must be personal in nature and the more "powerful" the truth, the stronger the bond.[9]

In the Cognitive Realm, Cryptics can understand the thoughts of objects represented by glass beads in the Rosharan subastral, allowing them to translate for Lightweavers who wish to Soulcast an object there.[10]


The Cryptics rule a city in Shadesmar, one that enjoys some renown.[4] Unlike the honorspren, Cryptics do not have any inclination to conquer more territory, so other types of sapient spren do not war with them. They are content with listening and learning, but are seen as weird and discomforting even by other spren because of their fascination with lies[11] and their mathematical approach to everything.[2]

They are known to gather in groups wherever a falsehood is uttered.[11] However, they do not like being called "liespren"[4]. A Nahel bond between a Cryptic and a human requires understanding truths as well as lies,[12] and Cryptics themselves appear to be exceedingly honest. In fact, it is only through bonding with a human that a Cryptic could incorporate less straightforward ways to communicate like sarcasm and humor into his speech.[13]

Cryptics as a whole are supportive of their members bonding with humans. One of the first Cryptics to do this in recent times is Pattern[14], who did so with the approval of his peers.[15] Because of the Recreance, many of them believe that such a bond is a death sentence, but they also believe that the things they could learn from humans are worth it.[16]


  • Shallan Davar, bonded to Pattern, is known to have the ability to capture in her mind—and then replicate through sketching—an image of anything in front of her, including Cryptics hidden in the Cognitive Realm.[17]
  • Tien, younger brother to the Windrunner Kaladin, had attracted a Cryptic some time before he was forced to join the army as a kid.[18] Young and untrained, he was killed in battle.[19]
  • Hoid rescues Elhokar's Cryptic from Kholinar after the city's fall to Odium's forces.[23]


  • Before their name was revealed, Brandon said "truthspren" was a reasonably accurate way to refer to the Cryptics. This is perhaps a reference to the truth they require to strengthen their bond.[24]
  • If exposed to computers, Cryptics would like them very much, though they "might be offended that the computer isn't talking back to them, because they would think the computer's a pattern and should just be talking to them".[25]


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