Karger

The SA hole that I cannot find a good solution for.

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The SA hole that I cannot find a good solution for is Lin Davar's soulcasting scheme.  At first it made sense.  Lin has a soulcaster.  Soulcasters turn stuff into other stuff.  Lin has stuff he can turn into more valuable stuff.  He does so.  Sells that stuff and makes money.  Only one problem.  Soulcasters need gemstones to function.  On Roshar a gemstone's value is based on how much stuff it can soulcast before shattering.  So Lin can't realy make much money.  The fuel he needs(gemstones) is going to be about as expensive as the product he is making.  It would honestly be easier for the ghoostbloods to just give him money.  Can anyone figure out why this is?

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Soulcasting doesn't always use up the gemstones, often just the stormlight which can be recharged in a highstorm for free.

 

I think there's something about gemstones used to make food often shattering but I assume that you could make marble without shattering your gemstones.

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Yeah, like rjl said, the gems don't always break. Even if they break every other time, you're still making a near-double profit per gemstone, and it seems like the ratio would have been less than that as they learned the limits of the Soulcaster.

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The value of gemstones has nothing to do with how well you can soulcast with them. 

The value is tied to what is produced by them. Emeralds are most valuable because they make food. Diamond least because it makes air. Etc. 

We have no idea how often a stone breaks during Soulcasting, just that larger and more difficult Soulcasting seem to strain the gems further. 

I very much doubt producing a quarryable amount if marble intended to be sold for statues and construction is going to be worth less monetarily than the gems used to produce it, especially considering that Soulcasters are normally both rare and owned by the ardentia, which means paying someone else an amount to rent the services of Soulcasters. 

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Even a single buildings' worth of marble is worth quite a bit, and on a planet where gemstones are to some extent farmable, that seems like a really good trade

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2 hours ago, Calderis said:

The value of gemstones has nothing to do with how well you can soulcast with them. 

The value is tied to what is produced by them. Emeralds are most valuable because they make food. Diamond least because it makes air. Etc. 

We have no idea how often a stone breaks during Soulcasting, just that larger and more difficult Soulcasting seem to strain the gems further.

Just re-listening to WoK and it mentions that the important variable for soulcasting without shattering is gem size. (this being the primary reason that the large gemhearts of the Chasmfeinds are so valuable) It even says that a chasmfeind sized gem could make a near infinite amount of food. 

I also would assume that making a marble quarry would be a relatively simple transformation as all you would need it to transform a single (albeit large) chunk of bedrock into marble. As we have seen with Jasnah soulcasting is difficult when creating complex objects like jam or starting with amorphous substances, but turning a big rock into another kind of rock seems much like the routine soulcasting that the army uses

Tib 

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20 hours ago, Calderis said:

The value of gemstones has nothing to do with how well you can soulcast with them. 

The value is tied to what is produced by them. Emeralds are most valuable because they make food. Diamond least because it makes air. Etc. 

We have no idea how often a stone breaks during Soulcasting, just that larger and more difficult Soulcasting seem to strain the gems further. 

I very much doubt producing a quarryable amount if marble intended to be sold for statues and construction is going to be worth less monetarily than the gems used to produce it, especially considering that Soulcasters are normally both rare and owned by the ardentia, which means paying someone else an amount to rent the services of Soulcasters. 

This. The gems aren't the same value as what they're producing, but their value relative to other gems is set by what they can produce. 

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We have no evidence that, say, 1 emerald broam could be used to make an average of 1 emerald broam worth of grain if used in a soulcaster.  There is probably a sizeable markup, which is where Lin Davar's income comes from.  Its like how if a woodcarver makes something, they can produce a profit even though they had to spend money to buy the wood in the first place.

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On 9/21/2019 at 10:58 AM, Tiberius Gracchus said:

 

I also would assume that making a marble quarry would be a relatively simple transformation as all you would need it to transform a single (albeit large) chunk of bedrock into marble. As we have seen with Jasnah soulcasting is difficult when creating complex objects like jam or starting with amorphous substances, but turning a big rock into another kind of rock seems much like the routine soulcasting that the army uses

Tib 

Totally agree here. Soul casting food should be most difficult coz it has to be edible, safe, taste

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On 9/20/2019 at 11:15 PM, Calderis said:

I very much doubt producing a quarryable amount if marble intended to be sold for statues and construction is going to be worth less monetarily than the gems used to produce it, especially considering that Soulcasters are normally both rare and owned by the ardentia, which means paying someone else an amount to rent the services of Soulcasters. 

Exactly my point.  How does this make money?

 

On 9/20/2019 at 7:13 PM, rjl said:

Soulcasting doesn't always use up the gemstones, often just the stormlight which can be recharged in a highstorm for free.

 

I think there's something about gemstones used to make food often shattering but I assume that you could make marble without shattering your gemstones.

Their worth is based on how much you can get out of them.  Not how much each soulcasting gives you.

On 9/21/2019 at 9:31 PM, Twinborn said:

We have no evidence that, say, 1 emerald broam could be used to make an average of 1 emerald broam worth of grain if used in a soulcaster.  There is probably a sizeable markup, which is where Lin Davar's income comes from.  Its like how if a woodcarver makes something, they can produce a profit even though they had to spend money to buy the wood in the first place.

You are forgetting convenience.  It is mostly people like royalty who use soulcasters not ordinary merchants and they tend to use them in remote locations.  A gemstone is therefore worth.  What a king or other military leader will pay for a convenient source of supplies the average amount of supplies a gemstone produces right next to his base minus the cost of transporting said gemstone(negligable) minus the opportunity cost of soulcaster use(also fairly negligible).  I doun't see how you can make money just by having a soulcaster.

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47 minutes ago, Karger said:

You are forgetting convenience.  It is mostly people like royalty who use soulcasters not ordinary merchants and they tend to use them in remote locations.  A gemstone is therefore worth.  What a king or other military leader will pay for a convenient source of supplies the average amount of supplies a gemstone produces right next to his base minus the cost of transporting said gemstone(negligable) minus the opportunity cost of soulcaster use(also fairly negligible).  I doun't see how you can make money just by having a soulcaster.

A few things to note.  First off, soulcasters are not mostly used in remote locations.  The Azish don't use their bronze soulcaster in remote locations, they use it to make their capital look all bronze-colored.  Kholinar (not a remote location, but rather the capital of the largest country on the planet) has been stated to rely on soulcasting to provide a portion of its food.  We know that there is a significant farming industry based off of farming gemhearts, and it seems unlikely that the merchants would all be making money off of the trade of these gemhearts but the King (who owns all the soulcasters in Alethkar through the ardentia) doesn't get his own cut.  The King wouldn't be buying heliodor from gumfren to produce soulcast meat in Kholinar unless he could make a profit off that transaction or if it was absolutely necessary to avoid a famine (and we know that, while Soulcasters are the economic option, Northern Alethkar food production could provide sufficient food to maintain Kholinar without soulcasting).  We know that with regards to other ancient artifacts (Shardblades and Sharplate) the Alethi Royals are always trying to turn a profit by renting it out at high prices, so it seems reasonable to assume that they charge significant fees for the use of their soulcasters.

Additionally, if Jah Keved doesn't have a large supply of stone soulcasters capable of producing various valuable kinds of rock, and have a high demand for them, then the price of, say, marble in Jah Keved could be largely disconnected from the soulcasting industry.  Soulcasters are rare artifacts from thousands of years ago, not every location has a soulcaster to produce everything.

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On 9/20/2019 at 11:15 PM, Calderis said:

I very much doubt producing a quarry-able amount if marble intended to be sold for statues and construction is going to be worth less monetarily than the gems used to produce it, especially considering that Soulcasters are normally both rare and owned by the ardentia, which means paying someone else an amount to rent the services of Soulcasters. 

This is all ultimately a local economics question, and I dont think we really have enough question to answer.  All value is relative, so value of the Marble is 100% based on the Marble Market in that particular part of Jah Keved; it will vary by demand and the price of it's competitors, which are going to depend on how many other Marble quarries are nearby and whether there are any soulcasters (both the fabrial and a properly skilled user) publicly available to challenge them in that industry.  Quarried stone is one of those things that can very quickly become expensive the further you have to transport it, but in a war-heavy war that likes stone fortifications is going to have high demand.  Marble is also a non-renewable resource (ignoring soulcasters) while Gems can be farmed indefinitely. 

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Gems are common enough to use as a standardized form of currency that must be heavily produced in glass spheres. 

When a soul casted gem breaks, the pieces can then be recut into smaller gems and depending on size be used again... Or made into spheres. 

The sizes of gems used in Soulcasters compared to the size of gems in spheres makes the currency itself basically just waste from Soulcasting. 

Quote

MS-07B-3

So what you're telling me is that not only my first edition Words of Radiance, but also my first edition Way of Kings are Dragonsteel guaranteed to be worth at least a sapphire broam in ten years time.

Peter Ahlstrom

I wouldn't go so far as that! Looks like 2-carat cut sapphires are going for about $2000. They printed tens of thousands of copies of Way of Kings. They're not that rare.

MS-07B-3

Ah, so is that the canon size of the gem in a broam?

Peter Ahlstrom

Yes. 2 carats.

R'Shara

Oh, I've been curious about this for a long time. One of my hobbies is working with gemstones, so knowing the sizes (and cuts, because of how light is affected by the cut) of the gemstones in spheres and Soulcasters would be wonderful!

PeterAhlstrom

I'm not sure about the cuts, but broams are 2 carats and the other sizes are proportional to their value.

R'Shara

Thank you, that helps a lot!

would be happy to offer input on cuts, should that ever be wanted

Peter Ahlstrom

The canonization of the cuts is being worked on, just not by me.

Argent

This is great to know, thanks! One last clarification though: is this proportionality linear? In other words:

* Since there are 4 marks per broam, does that make marks 0.5 carats each?

* Since there are 5 chips per mark, does that make chips 0.1 carats each?

Or is there some wonky formula with diminishing returns?

Peter Ahlstrom

Yeah, that's it.

Phantine

Just to clarify, as a jeweler I think those numbers might be a bit on the small side.

A 2 carat sapphire (assuming a standard well proportioned round cut) is going to be about 8 millimeters in diameter.

A 1 ct sapphire is going to be around 5 mm ish.

A 0.1 carat sapphire would be really tiny. Like, about 1 mm in diameter ish? Depends heavily on how shallow the cut is.

It just seems way too tiny (and imagine the poor high-precision lapidarists working on making pennies - diamonds require specialized cutting equipment because they're WAY harder than anything else)

Peter Ahlstrom

Those sizes are pretty much right.

General Reddit 2018 (June 29, 2018)

So you could soulcast until a gem cracks. Then possibly soulcast more after recutting the pieces. Then worst case scenario you could sell the pieces off to be made into currency. 

How is this ever a losing proposition? 

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4 minutes ago, Karger said:

Exactly my point.  How does this make money?

 

Their worth is based on how much you can get out of them.  Not how much each soulcasting gives you.

You are forgetting convenience.  It is mostly people like royalty who use soulcasters not ordinary merchants and they tend to use them in remote locations.  A gemstone is therefore worth.  What a king or other military leader will pay for a convenient source of supplies the average amount of supplies a gemstone produces right next to his base minus the cost of transporting said gemstone(negligable) minus the opportunity cost of soulcaster use(also fairly negligible).  I doun't see how you can make money just by having a soulcaster.

I don't think it makes sense to say that the value of gemstones used for money directly correlate to what they can produce in a soulcaster.  That doesn't seem to line up with the way the Rosharan economy is shown to be working.  If the value of gemstones is the value of their soulcasting (i.e. 1 emerald brohm can produce a total amount of food by soulcasting that costs 1 emerald brohm to buy on the market), then it would not make sense to ever make anything that can be soulcast by any means other than soulcasting.  It's much easier to soulcast a piece of marble than it is to mine it out of the ground and people are not going to do extra work they don't need to do.  You might see the wealthy paying for the exotic "natural" goods, while the poor would live on the cheap and lower quality soulcast goods.  People would work in soulcasting factories rather than mines and farms.  Instead, you see the opposite.  The rich pay extra for exotic soulcasting, while the poor use the baseline natural goods.

I believe the way the economy works is that only certain large gemstones are very effective at soulcasting and can produce a lot more before breaking than what their value would be if it was just based on them being the next biggest size gem with a proportional price increase.  The price of these special gemstones is set specifically based on their soulcasting ability.  The rest of the gemstones produce significantly less than their value before breaking, their price is set based on the economy.  The real world analogue to this is that the price of gold and silver are much higher than their actual utilitarian value in things like electric wiring which is why we use copper for most wiring rather than gold even though gold is more effective.  People probably do use the smaller gems in soulcasting because of the convenience factor, like you said.  It's more cost effective and/or worth the extra price to have a soulcaster and burn up the smaller gems than to bring a huge supply train on a military campaign.  The idea that soulcasting usually costs more than "natural" production lines up with how it's shown in the economy of the books - a luxury reserved for the rich or only used in a time of need like during war.

Another alternative that would explain the scarcity of soulcasting in the Roshar economy is that the price of having something soulcasted is mostly in the usage charge for the soulcaster itself.  Maybe soulcasters are so scarce that even though they can produce 1 for 1 value or better for any gemstone, the people using them can charge huge convenience fees.  Another possibility is that the pool of people who have the ability or desire to use soulcasters is so low that their labor price makes up the majority of the cost. You do get the sense that the regular people of the world and even minor nobles don't have access to soulcasters very often.  It seems like there are a very limited number of them that are used for the highest ranking people in society and their needs such as supplying their armies. 

Now, as far as the actual scheme Linn Davar was doing, I think it was the Rosharan version of money laundering.  I still think you are right that what he is doing does not make economic sense in a normal, above board market.  Mined marble would probably have value and exist in the market because it is probably more cost efficient or just simply available to more people to use mined marble for very large projects like marble floors of palaces, columns, etc.  Mined marble is almost certainly priced lower than soulcast marble, so he is probably taking a loss on every sale.  That's where the money laundering comes in.  Linn Davar is essentially converting gems from the Ghostbloods that were probably obtained through illegal means into many gems that have a "legitimate" source.  You can take a loss in money laundering and consider it the price of business.  Or, alternatively if the value is in the soulcaster itself he's using a stolen soulcaster at below market rates for soulcasting but still turning a profit because there was so much margin there in the above board market. 

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10 minutes ago, agrabes said:

Now, as far as the actual scheme Linn Davar was doing, I think it was the Rosharan version of money laundering.  I still think you are right that what he is doing does not make economic sense in a normal, above board market.  Mined marble would probably have value and exist in the market because it is probably more cost efficient or just simply available to more people to use mined marble for very large projects like marble floors of palaces, columns, etc.  Mined marble is almost certainly priced lower than soulcast marble, so he is probably taking a loss on every sale.  That's where the money laundering comes in.  Linn Davar is essentially converting gems from the Ghostbloods that were probably obtained through illegal means into many gems that have a "legitimate" source.  You can take a loss in money laundering and consider it the price of business.  Or, alternatively if the value is in the soulcaster itself he's using a stolen soulcaster at below market rates for soulcasting but still turning a profit because there was so much margin there in the above board market. 

This makes much more sense.  However this also means Shallan is a bit stupid for not realizing that the soulcaster she is trying to steal from Jasnah will not solve her problems.  You can't money launder without money to launder.

Edited by Karger
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Gemstones have never been the limiting factor either. Soulcasters have been, which seem to be somewhat rare, claimed by religion, and shrouded (somewhat deliberately) in mystery such that many people assume it takes significant special training to use one.

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Seriously. A broam is a 2 carat gem that looks huge because of the glass sphere. We've seen chasmfiend gemhearts that a shardbearer can palm. 

Gems can be recut into smaller gems after they crack. 

There is no storming way that value is tied to Soulcasting output. It makes no sense whatsoever. 

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27 minutes ago, Kon-Tiki said:

Gemstones have never been the limiting factor either. Soulcasters have been, which seem to be somewhat rare, claimed by religion, and shrouded (somewhat deliberately) in mystery such that many people assume it takes significant special training to use one.

But soulcasters are not limited.  Remember.  They only start using them at higher efficiency in WoR.  They have been at war for at least a good 6 years before that.

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There is a finite number of available Soulcasters on Roshar. Gemstones are a fairly renewable resource on Roshar. One of those becomes the limiting factor.

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8 minutes ago, Karger said:

But soulcasters are not limited.  Remember.  They only start using them at higher efficiency in WoR.  They have been at war for at least a good 6 years before that.

A single soulcaster was able to feed all of Kholinar. If it required as many gems as you seem to think, the gemstones should have been disappearing just as fast as the food would have, and in a blockade, Azure should have been desperate to get more, and there wouldn't have been an mystery as to how she was providing the food. 

Please pull a line that provides your reasoning @Karger. The only things I remember anywhere in the book speak of the value being tied to what they produce. Not how much. That's a simple size calculation as I shared above.

Quote

Before this trip, she’d never used money; she’d just admired the spheres for their beauty. Each one was composed of a glass bead a little larger than a person’s thumbnail with a much smaller gemstone set at the center. The gemstones could absorb Stormlight, and that made the spheres glow. When she opened the money pouch, shards of ruby, emerald, diamond, and sapphire shone out on her face. She fished out three diamond chips, the smallest denomination. Emeralds were the most valuable, for they could be used by Soulcasters to create food.

The glass part of most spheres was the same size; the size of the gemstone at the center determined the denomination. The three chips, for instance, each had only a tiny splinter of diamond inside. Even that was enough to glow with Stormlight, far fainter than a lamp, but still visible. A mark—the medium denomination of sphere—was a little less bright than a candle, and it took five chips to make a mark.

 

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3 minutes ago, Kon-Tiki said:

There is a finite number of available Soulcasters on Roshar. Gemstones are a fairly renewable resource on Roshar. One of those becomes the limiting factor.

I agree that the availability of soulcasters is probably the biggest factor in the price of soulcasting.

I think separate to that, even if soulcasters were plentiful the soulcasting value of a gemstone would not control its monetary value.  The value of 1 broam is greater as money than what it could produce if it were used for soulcasting.  

5 minutes ago, Calderis said:

A single soulcaster was able to feed all of Kholinar. If it required as many gems as you seem to think, the gemstones should have been disappearing just as fast as the food would have, and in a blockade, Azure should have been desperate to get more, and there wouldn't have been an mystery as to how she was providing the food. 

Please pull a line that provides your reasoning @Karger. The only things I remember anywhere in the book speak of the value being tied to what they produce. Not how much. That's a simple size calculation as I shared above.

 

I also agree that the value of the money/gems is not tied to the value of what they can create by soulcasting, but I don't think your idea makes sense economically.  Think about it - if one gem could produce many times its value in some type of good then you would see the intelligent people of the world immediately taking any money they get and having someone soulcast it, then sell whatever they soulcast for a profit.  You could argue that the people who control the soulcasters know this and intentionally control their use to keep the price of all goods high, but it feels like we would have at least some hint that this was going on after 3 books.  If it's really that bad, I think this would be a significant plot point at some point in the books.  This isn't just making a little money by keeping supply of one good artificially low like the diamond market in the real world, this is denying people the Star Trek replicator that can make them anything they want for free.  People could have had whatever they want for essentially free if people used the soulcasters to their potential, but nobles/clergy/corporate fat cats kept people starving and deprived so they could make more money.

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5 minutes ago, agrabes said:

I also agree that the value of the money/gems is not tied to the value of what they can create by soulcasting, but I don't think your idea makes sense economically.  Think about it - if one gem could produce many times its value in some type of good then you would see the intelligent people of the world immediately taking any money they get and having someone soulcast it, then sell whatever they soulcast for a profit.  You could argue that the people who control the soulcasters know this and intentionally control their use to keep the price of all goods high, but it feels like we would have at least some hint that this was going on after 3 books.  If it's really that bad, I think this would be a significant plot point at some point in the books.  This isn't just making a little money by keeping supply of one good artificially low like the diamond market in the real world, this is denying people the Star Trek replicator that can make them anything they want for free.  People could have had whatever they want for essentially free if people used the soulcasters to their potential, but nobles/clergy/corporate fat cats kept people starving and deprived so they could make more money.

We do have that evidence. Soulcasters are the main reason for the military might of Alethkar, even beyond its shards. 

Soulcasters completely replace the need for supply lines. 

Quote

“Elhokar Kholin should be ashamed to let his sister use that fabrial, particularly so trivially. But if we were to steal it…Well, the repercussions could be felt across all of Vorin Roshar.”“Is that so?” Shallan said, feeling sick.He nodded. “Most people don’t think about it. I didn’t. Kings rule and war with Shards—but their armies subsist through Soulcasters. Do you have any idea the kinds of supply lines and support personnel Soulcasters replace? Without them, warfare is virtually impossible. You’d need hundreds of wagons filled with food every month!"

 

Edited by Calderis
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50 minutes ago, Calderis said:

A single soulcaster was able to feed all of Kholinar. If it required as many gems as you seem to think, the gemstones should have been disappearing just as fast as the food would have, and in a blockade, Azure should have been desperate to get more, and there wouldn't have been an mystery as to how she was providing the food. 

I do not think that they need an incredible number of gemstones.  Think about how much grain you could buy for just a few large emeralds. 

I don't have WoR with me right now but in the coppermind chapter summary for 35 Adolin converses with the main ardent soulcaster Kadash and learns that their services are in high demand and that they have to increase their training and work shifts.  If Soulcasters are in incredible high demand then they should be giving them maximum shifts at all times and training should be as hard as possible as long as possible.  This indicates that the gemstones are realy what limits the soulcasters not the soulcasters themselves.

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3 minutes ago, Karger said:

I don't have WoR with me right now but in the coppermind chapter summary for 35 Adolin converses with the main ardent soulcaster Kadash and learns that their services are in high demand and that they have to increase their training and work shifts.  If Soulcasters are in incredible high demand then they should be giving them maximum shifts at all times and training should be as hard as possible as long as possible.  This indicates that the gemstones are realy what limits the soulcasters not the soulcasters themselves. 

Considering the consequences of overuse, which are obvious and include death, I really don't think that's the case. 

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I thought the increase in demand was due to Dalinar needing to be prepared by the Weeping.

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