Karger

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

113 posts in this topic

Honestly, the most limiting factor, which is continually ignored, and has only been mentioned once in passing here by @Pathfinder I believe, is and always will be the fact that most soulcaster fabrials are extremely limited in what they can make.

 

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Nine out of ten Soulcasters were capable of a few limited transformations: creating water or grain from stone; forming bland, single-roomed rock buildings out of air or cloth. A greater one, like Jasnah’s, could effectuate any transformation. Literally turn any substance into any other one. How it must grate on the ardents that such a powerful, holy relic was in the hands of someone outside the ardentia. And a heretic no less!

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There were some tents—mainly on the outside of the armies—but most of the troops were housed in large stone barracks. That meant Soulcasters.

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Though the Soulcast stone barracks each looked exactly the same, the rim of the camp was broken distinctively, like ragged mountains.

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Sebarial got a twinkle in his eyes. “The others hunt quick income from gemhearts, but what will they spend their money on? My textile mills will soon produce uniforms at a much cheaper price than they can be shipped in for, and my farmers will provide food far more varied than what is supplied through Soulcasting. I’m growing both lavis and tallew, not to mention my hog farms.”

And what I can't remember the wording of that sent me on a hunt that found all these quotes, is one that lines up with how nearly everything in Lift's interlude is Bronze is because the Azish only soulcaster is only able to turn things to bronze. 

Add in Lin himself and the evidence seems fairly clear. The raw marble he created was worth almost as much as if the soulcaster could just make gemstone. 

Soulcasting is limited by gems to an extent... But it's far far more limited by the rarity of soulcasters as a whole, and the extreme limitations that the majority of the fabrials operate under. 

The alternative makes this quote make no sense at all. 

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Each highprince wanted those gemhearts. Paying and feeding thousands of troops was not cheap, but a single gemheart could cover a highprince’s expenses for months. Beyond that, the larger a gemstone was when used by a Soulcaster, the less likely it was to shatter. Enormous gemheart stones offered near-limitless potential. And so, the highprinces raced. The first one to a chrysalis got to fight the Parshendi for the gemheart.

They can't make anything the want for the most part. But what they can make they can make a hell of a lot of. 

The wasteful use of soulcasters for ornamentation, and decorative islands, and all of the weird random crap they make doesn't make much sense otherwise. 

Edit: heh. Ninjad by Pathfinder 

Edited by Calderis
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40 minutes ago, Pathfinder said:

Personally I do not think we have the kind of information to derive any of those conclusions. And you are forgetting that soulcasting is ultimately a death sentence. But beyond that, we have only seen soulcasters in the possession of high lords, kings, and secret societies with the means to gain access to such objects. Until we know how much can be made, how much the gemstones are worth, how many soulcasters exist, of those that exist what essences they can do (for instance we have seen two so far that only transform smoke), I do not think we can adequately make those kind of statements.  

 

for instance:

Way of Kings Page 91

It was true; jasnah really did have a functioning Soulcaster. And a powerful one too. Nine out of ten Soulcasters were capable of a few limited transformations: creating water, or grain from stone; forming bland, single roomed rock buildings out of air or cloth. A greater one, like Jasnah's could effectuate any transformation. Literally turn any substance into any other one. How it must grate on the ardents that such a powerful, holy relic was in the hands of someone outside the ardentia

I am not forgetting that soulcasting has its risks, I directly addressed that in my post.  If it really is limitless and essentially free, it would be so good that the entire economy would be built around it.  You could have 100 or even 1000 people operating a soulcaster.  You could set up rules saying that no one person can use it more than X times in their life.  Maybe you rotate through several different ones over your lifetime so that you don't let your training go to waste and you won't turn to smoke because you aren't just making smoke only.  It's only a death sentence if you continually use it many times over a long period of time.  

I had never really taken notice of your quoted section of tWoK before though.  I think that is an important point and you have provided a few good quotes on the topic.  This and your other quote feel like they could be Sanderson's way of saying, "I don't know exactly how this works, I don't want soulcasters to be too good, so I'm putting some limits on them.  Don't think about it too much, just know that they are limited and that's why the entire economy is not just based on them."  From his Writing Excuses podcasts, we know that he does put a lot of thought into how the magic would effect the economy of his worlds.

It could also be that Shallan is just wrong about this, or the ardents are either lying or lack knowledge about the true capabilities of the soulcasters.  She is an unreliable narrator for sure.  That said though, I'm coming more toward your view that we probably just don't know enough.  If you've found two quotes on this in a short period of time, I've got to imagine there are a dozen more limitations on soulcasters that are mentioned periodically throughout the series that we are not thinking about right now.  Thinking about the Rosharan economy is just interesting to me, so that's why I'm even discussing the topic.

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13 minutes ago, agrabes said:

I am not forgetting that soulcasting has its risks, I directly addressed that in my post.  If it really is limitless and essentially free, it would be so good that the entire economy would be built around it.  You could have 100 or even 1000 people operating a soulcaster.  You could set up rules saying that no one person can use it more than X times in their life.  Maybe you rotate through several different ones over your lifetime so that you don't let your training go to waste and you won't turn to smoke because you aren't just making smoke only.  It's only a death sentence if you continually use it many times over a long period of time.  

Personally as it stands in the book I do not see soulcasting as limitless and essentially free. Soulcasting till you are changed into the essence is savantism. From what I understand (though this part is on recollection, so I could be wrong), but savantism is cumulative. As in, if I used a soulcaster 10 times today, and then stopped for a year, to then begin again, does not mean the damage done to my spirit web went away for me to be fresh and do more. It is still there. Also since savantism is the result of investiture forced through the cracks of your soul, personally I do not think it matters whether you switch from smoke to grain, to rock. Investiture is investiture. Just because you are creating different matter, does not change you are still forcing stormlight through your spirit web. 

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I had never really taken notice of your quoted section of tWoK before though.  I think that is an important point and you have provided a few good quotes on the topic.  This and your other quote feel like they could be Sanderson's way of saying, "I don't know exactly how this works, I don't want soulcasters to be too good, so I'm putting some limits on them.  Don't think about it too much, just know that they are limited and that's why the entire economy is not just based on them."  From his Writing Excuses podcasts, we know that he does put a lot of thought into how the magic would effect the economy of his worlds.

I think what might be confusing things is there is soulcasting with a fabrial, and soulcasting as a radiant. Soulcasting with a fabrial is very limited, and we have WoB supporting that. Soulcasting as a radiant is much more open ended. 

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It could also be that Shallan is just wrong about this, or the ardents are either lying or lack knowledge about the true capabilities of the soulcasters.  She is an unreliable narrator for sure.  That said though, I'm coming more toward your view that we probably just don't know enough.  If you've found two quotes on this in a short period of time, I've got to imagine there are a dozen more limitations on soulcasters that are mentioned periodically throughout the series that we are not thinking about right now.  Thinking about the Rosharan economy is just interesting to me, so that's why I'm even discussing the topic.

I will pull up some WoB on the capabilities of soulcasting, and edit my post to include them (unless @Calderis ninjas me in return lol). 

Also to be clear, I don't want you to think I am trying to prevent you from discussing the Rosharan economy. I just feel some of the assertions being made in this thread are a bit far given what information we have to draw on at this time. 

 

 

 

ebilutionist

How would food production be like without soulcasters? Has Alethkar, for example, grown far beyond what it could (population-wise) without them?

Brandon Sanderson

The food question is a great one. As far as the Alethi go, it's more a matter of concentration than raw food production. Shipping is SLOW in Alethkar. It's long, which makes getting between north and south difficult, and the rivers aren't as useful as they are on (say) Earth.

The warcamps, for example, would starve themselves out short order without soulcasters. Supply lines are just not an Alethi strength. Kholinar, while not as big as Scadrian population centers, is also large enough that it depends on soulcasters for some of its food. It could survive without them, though, with northern Alethi food production.

Really, warfare is where they've learned to extend themselves, and depend on the soulcasters. Remember, gemstones in them DO break, so you do still need a ready supply of emeralds. The larger, the better.

ebilutionist

Very interesting on the food logistics of Alethkar - I never did quite imagine Kholinar was smaller than say, Elendel, but the technological progress there explains it.

Given how slow food transportation is, I would presume fresh food is a no-go. Are spices and preserved food selling well in Roshar, then? As for population centers, is Kholinar the largest around, or are other places a lot larger?

Brandon Sanderson

There's a reason that Herdazian food (which makes soulcast meat taste good) is popular these days.

Azimir is larger in population than Kholinar. Kholinar is big by Rosharan standards, but far smaller than an Earth population center (like London) at a comparable time. The warcamps had it beat by a lot--depending on how you view the warcamps. (As one city, or ten small ones.)

ebilutionist

Does that just mean Herdazian food is incredibly spice-heavy, then? Also, why is Soulcast food bland? Is it due to the nature of the object (changing food to food makes it tastier than stone to food), or just because the Soulcaster lacks practice, like Jasnah did with strawberry jam?

Brandon Sanderson

Flavorful, rather than spicy. Most western food is already spicy. The Herdazians offer something a little different, and are pretty good with soulcast meat. The portability is also a bit of a revolution.

Soulcasting anything other than the basic Essence requires some innate knowledge and practice. People could learn to soulcast better food, but it would have to be a Radiant with control over the process. The soulcaster fabrials are far more rigid in what they can create.

ebilutionist

As for soulcasting - now that is... interesting. So are Surgebinding fabrials more rigid in general? And what of an Honorblade when a non-Herald uses it?

Brandon Sanderson

A soulcaster is built to do a certain thing, and can do that certain thing well, but without as much flexibility. It is the difference between having a computer output a picture of a circle--following some inputs such as size and some changes to shape--and having an artist who can draw what you want.

Stormlight Three Update #4 (Oct. 20, 2016)

 

 

Darkness (paraphrased)

Further on in that… do different gemstones hold a different flavor, or different "frequency" of Stormlight?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Umm…. Nnnnnnnnooooooo… But kind of? Here's the thing: So with the gemstones on Roshar… scientifically some of these gemstones are just really close to one another. Like chemical formula and whatever. But, their cognitive selves and their spiritual selves are gonna be very different because of human perception, right? (sure) And so, the answer is both a no and a yes because of that. So people's perception has sort of changed how the magic works, to an extent… but it's the same amount of investiture, just with slightly different flavorings.

Darkness (paraphrased)

Right, so… is it easier for a Soulcaster to turn rock into smoke with a smokestone as opposed to a ruby?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

So… Soulcasting… is gonna really depend on whether you're using a soulcaster.

Darkness (paraphrased)

First is for a Soulcaster, second is for a Surgebinder.

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

A Surgebinder is far less constrained than someone using a device accessing surges, right? A Knight Radiant is far less constrained than somebody using a mechanical means of accessing magic, and I would include Honorblades as a mechanical means of accessing a surge.

Darkness (paraphrased)

Cool! So with the whole Jasnah scene, she inhales Stormlight, for using Soulcasting. So how is it the Soulcaster appears to glow more fiercely instead of growing dimmer in that scene?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Um… heh heh heh… So… this is perception on Shallan's part, watching and kind of resonating with the Soulcasting, and some weird things are happening that she sees, and not necessarily anyone else is seeing.

Darkness (paraphrased)

I love that! Alright… Also, did Taravangian recognize that Jasnah was not Soulcasting traditionally? Like was it the hand sinking into the rock that gave it away?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Taravangian knew and already suspected.

Supanova 2017 - Sydney (June 16, 2017)

 

 

Questioner 1

Do all Soulcasters risk turning into the element or is it only those using the device?

Brandon Sanderson

All Soulcasters have an affinity but the ones using the device are locked down much more than the Soulcasters who are Knights Radiant.

Questioner 1

So they are protected from being turned into--

Brandon Sanderson

Oh no they-- I wouldn't say protected... *clarificaiton* Protected is the wrong term but that event, the savanthood and how it affects them and things like that is much less pronounced if you are a [Knight].

Questioner 1

Or is that counteracted by the healing as well?

Brandon Sanderson

Healing doesn't have to do with it because-- in cosmere terms there's nothing wrong with your body, your spirit is actually drifting, and so it's not hurting you physically by what's happening with the magics. So it's not the healing but if you have an active bond with a spren it takes a little different path. Let's just say, in simple terms--

Questioner 1

You are not losing body parts to smoke.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, you are not using body parts to smoke. 

Questioner 1

What timeframe does it happen for the normal Soulcasters then?

Brandon Sanderson

For normal Soulcasters? It takes-- I mean, you've seen it happening in the books. We are talking [about] a process of years even decades, depending on the person. It happens to some--

Questioner 2

Depending on how often they Soulcast?

Brandon Sanderson

It depends on how often they Soulcast, and it depends on the person. 

Oathbringer Leeds signing (Dec. 1, 2017)

 

 

Questioner

Soulcasters that use the fabrial.  Do they visit Shadesmar?  Or do we see more about them?  Because they are hidden and there is something about them that they get the stone face.  

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.  The actual Soulcasters.  The use of of the Soulcasters is affecting them on one of the realms other than physical.  

Words of Radiance Omaha signing (March 13, 2014)

 

 

The Forumlurker (paraphrased)

If a Radiant tried to Soulcast directly with the Stormlight from the highstorm, what essences could they create?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

They could basically do whatever they want. There wouldn't be any limitations, but only for Radiant Soulcasters.

Stuttgart signing (May 17, 2019)

 

 

Kurkistan

So for Soulcasting—-I talked a lot about those ideals that a lot of things are based on—-is that also like there's an ideal of stone that when you Soulcast stone if you don't do anything special, it just defaults as that?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, there will be a default of all of them.

Kurkistan

And that's the same exact thing as spren and why the Lord Ruler dies of old age and all that stuff?

Brandon Sanderson

That is-- Yes, that's the same sort of concept. Yes.

Firefight Chicago signing (Feb. 20, 2015)

 

 

ebilutionist

Regarding Soulcasting, I have a question - why do people continue to use it post-Recreance? Would it not have been seen as a betrayal, given that the Radiants abandoned them? Why this Surge but not others? Was it simply the only Surge available and people would have kept using the others anyway? I guess it's a matter of practicality but given how devout Vorinism can be it does seem odd.

Brandon Sanderson

Good question. You'll notice that Soulcasters aren't the only fabrial that access a Surge, however. They're just the one most commonly used.

There are plenty of rationalizations. But it comes down to this: they are too useful to give up.

ebilutionist

Ah yes, now that I think of it Navani's conjoined-gem fabrials seem to utilize Gravitation and perhaps the heating one uses Abrasion(?) to produce heat. Or are there others I did miss?

Brandon Sanderson

I was referencing a Regrowth fabrial, actually, which I believe has appeared several times.

ebilutionist

Isn't the Regrowth fabrial incredibly rare? I was under the impression it disappeared with the Recreance and only Nin's reappearance brought it back. AFAIK, only a Radiant in Dalinar's vision and a Herald have actually used it so far.

Brandon Sanderson

Their rarity depends on the time period in question. But yes, I'd list them as incredibly rare.

Stormlight Three Update #4 (Oct. 20, 2016)

 

 

Questioner

If I were to impulsively Soulcast pewter, the way Shallan does with the blood in The Way of Kings, would it come out that an Allomancer be able to use it?

Brandon Sanderson

You could create Allomantically viable metals, yes.

Questioner

But is it automatic?

Brandon Sanderson

I would say that the pure metals are, but the alloys are not.

Words of Radiance Chicago signing (March 22, 2014)

 

 

Questioner

So Allomantic Savants. So I was curious-- That system-- When that happens, is it purely physiological, or is there something else happening in terms of--

Brandon Sanderson

Uhh, it's physiological in a cosmere sense, but that can involve your Cognitive and Spiritual aspects.

Questioner

I guess the question there is, are there other similar processes to savantism with other--

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, yeah you've seen it. So, Soulcasters.

Argent

Where their skin turns--

Brandon Sanderson

Where they're slowly being-- their spirit is slowly being merged and infused with Investiture that is having Physical ramifications. It's the same thing.

Arcanum Unbounded Chicago signing (Dec. 6, 2016)

 

 

Questioner

I want to know if there is a toxic level for Stormlight? If you're in the storm, can you get to the point where you have too much?

Brandon Sanderson

No, it doesn't quite work that way. Good question, though.

Questioner

You said there was one person, I guess it was the Soulcasters, who were starting to change because of that?

Brandon Sanderson

That's more the magic changing their soul over time. It's not necessarily a function of the storms.

Oathbringer San Francisco signing (Nov. 15, 2017)

 

 

 

Edited by Pathfinder
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2 minutes ago, Pathfinder said:

Personally as it stands in the book I do not see soulcasting as limitless and essentially free. Soulcasting till you are changed into the essence is savantism. From what I understand (though this part is on recollection, so I could be wrong), but savantism is cumulative. As in, if I used a soulcaster 10 times today, and then stopped for a year, to then begin again, does not mean the damage done to my spirit web went away for me to be fresh and do more. It is still there. Also since savantism is the result of investiture forced through the cracks of your soul, personally I do not think it matters whether you switch from smoke to grain, to rock. Investiture is investiture. Just because you are creating different matter, does not change you are still forcing stormlight through your spirit web. 

I think what might be confusing things is there is soulcasting with a fabrial, and soulcasting as a radiant. Soulcasting with a fabrial is very limited, and we have WoB supporting that. Soulcasting as a radiant is much more open ended. 

I will pull up some WoB on the capabilities of soulcasting, and edit my post to include them (unless @Calderis ninjas me in return lol). 

Also to be clear, I don't want you to think I am trying to prevent you from discussing the Rosharan economy. I just feel some of the assertions being made in this thread are a bit far given what information we have to draw on at this time. 

In terms of savantism the one example we have seen is the woman who turned to smoke after using a smoke soulcaster for years.  I agree the effect is cumulative, it doesn't matter how often you use it it makes how many times.  So a person who used it once per year for 10 years is just as bad off as the person who used it 10 times in one day.  You could still account for that by putting a lifetime cap on a person's use of soulcasters.  I think of it similar to the Chernobyl cleanup effort.  They had people go up onto an extremely radioactive rooftop for a very short period of time, essentially receiving their lifetime safe dosage of radiation in 90 seconds.  Other workers were exposed for longer times to lower level doses, but still go up toward a maximum safe dosage eventually.  At least, on paper that's how it was supposed to work though I know there is plenty of controversy over what really happened in practice.

We've never seen a person turn into a part smoke, part grain, part rock chimera.  So, you may be correct that that is what would happen if you switched soulcaster types, but I don't think we know that.  Also, since "spirit web" is not a term that's been introduced in SA (has it even been introduced in any of the actual novels, or only WoB?) I don't really put a lot of stock in concepts about it until its explained in universe, if it ever is.

At least for me personally, I definitely was considering the difference of radiant soulcasting vs. fabrial soulcasting.  I think the piece I was missing was how limited each soulcaster fabrial was.  I assumed that they were limited in that they could only make one type of thing - a stone one could make any type of stone, a metal one could make any type of metal, etc.  I didn't realize they were so limited they could only make one exact thing (the stone one can only make one exact kind of stone barracks, or that one soulcaster that may only be able to make bronze).  This may still be a limit in training or knowledge on the part of the ardents, but that's getting into more speculation.

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1 minute ago, agrabes said:

In terms of savantism the one example we have seen is the woman who turned to smoke after using a smoke soulcaster for years.  I agree the effect is cumulative, it doesn't matter how often you use it it makes how many times.  So a person who used it once per year for 10 years is just as bad off as the person who used it 10 times in one day.  You could still account for that by putting a lifetime cap on a person's use of soulcasters.  I think of it similar to the Chernobyl cleanup effort.  They had people go up onto an extremely radioactive rooftop for a very short period of time, essentially receiving their lifetime safe dosage of radiation in 90 seconds.  Other workers were exposed for longer times to lower level doses, but still go up toward a maximum safe dosage eventually.  At least, on paper that's how it was supposed to work though I know there is plenty of controversy over what really happened in practice.

Well I think what also needs to be considered is what is soulcasted, and how big the soulcasting is. So I could soulcast once, but if I soulcasted a boulder, I might be worse off than someone that soulcasted 100 pebbles. I have updated my prior post with WoBs

1 minute ago, agrabes said:

We've never seen a person turn into a part smoke, part grain, part rock chimera.  So, you may be correct that that is what would happen if you switched soulcaster types, but I don't think we know that.  Also, since "spirit web" is not a term that's been introduced in SA (has it even been introduced in any of the actual novels, or only WoB?) I don't really put a lot of stock in concepts about it until its explained in universe, if it ever is.

This may be covered in some of the WoB I added to my prior post

1 minute ago, agrabes said:

At least for me personally, I definitely was considering the difference of radiant soulcasting vs. fabrial soulcasting.  I think the piece I was missing was how limited each soulcaster fabrial was.  I assumed that they were limited in that they could only make one type of thing - a stone one could make any type of stone, a metal one could make any type of metal, etc.  I didn't realize they were so limited they could only make one exact thing (the stone one can only make one exact kind of stone barracks, or that one soulcaster that may only be able to make bronze).  This may still be a limit in training or knowledge on the part of the ardents, but that's getting into more speculation.

Same here, this may be covered somewhat in the WoB I just updated in my prior post. Check them out, and let me know what you think. 

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1 hour ago, Pathfinder said:

And you are forgetting that soulcasting is ultimately a death sentence

The Ardents involved don't seem to mind that much if Kaza is any indication.  After all she almost welcomed death and the fact that she did not shocked her entire family.

1 hour ago, Pathfinder said:

But beyond that, we have only seen soulcasters in the possession of high lords, kings, and secret societies with the means to gain access to such objects

Having a soulcaster is basically worthless if you do not use it frequently.  Do you really think anyone is going to let a large number of soulcasters just sit around in a vault somewhere unused?

Also in as I mentioned before.  Soulcasters in Alethkar are common enough that they altered the way Gavilar's unification campaign went.  This indicates several dozen soulcasters that can produce food and other amenities for an army under siege.  Even if soulcasters are not often used to their full potential anyone who knows something about economics(and some people on Roshar do know a thing or two about economics) will realize that gemstones have an expected value.  Basically even if you can't convert them right at this moment you can still stockpile gemstones and use them latter. 

Actually I found a better metaphor for what Lin Davar is doing.  He is buying marble (because that is what soulcasting marble is) with money and then selling that marble for money and making a profit off of doing so.  Do you see why I find this prospect silly?  Gemstones on Roshar were only valuable because of soulcasting for most of their history(during the age of solitude).  That was their only inherent value.  Now they can use them to carry stormlight and make fabrials but that actually drives up their inherent worth causing what is essentially deflation and making having money more desirable then spending it(soulcasting).

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And clearly that's not the case, as there are specifically markets for non-soulcast things because often soulcast things are seen as lacking. 

Lin was able to make a profit because what he was doing is not readily available to any but the most powerful and/or wealthy. 

Soulcasters are limited by a large number of factors. 

What Lin is doing is basically an elaborate counterfeiting scheme yes. You still need to buy the materials to produce and money launder counterfeit bills, but if it weren't profitable people wouldn't do it. 

It's clearly profitable. 

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36 minutes ago, Calderis said:

And clearly that's not the case, as there are specifically markets for non-soulcast things because often soulcast things are seen as lacking. 

What is clearly not the case. Sorry if I am being dense but I am not sure what exactly you are referring to.

37 minutes ago, Calderis said:

Lin was able to make a profit because what he was doing is not readily available to any but the most powerful and/or wealthy. 

This does not matter.  Provided the soulcasters the wealthy people own can work fast enough.  Think of it this way.  If you live on Roshar and have a gemstone that gemstone has actual inherent worth(unlike our money).  To a person with a soulcaster this gemstone is worth the exact amount of goods that it can be used to produce.  Everyone knows that amount(or at least business people who know about gemstones and soulcasting).  Basically.  From an economic standpoint.  There is no real difference between soulcasting something worthless into the goods you want and just going to the store and buying it.  In both cases you are exchanging money for a group of goods. 

Here is the problem with Lin Daver's scheme.  He can't use his soulcaster at peak efficiency(he can't use topaz to produce just anything it has to be marble) .  Even if the price stays the same he is putting marble on the market that is competing with other soulcast marble.  If I can afford soulcast marble I am not going to just buy marble slabs.  I am going to mail them what I want soulcast and save myself the labor and time costs of working it(working marble correctly can take months or years soulcasting can save me time) or just summon the soulcaster to my place of work and have them do it their.  Either way saves me money but both are things that Lin is not going to be able to do.  Also if for whatever reason marble prices fall dramatically(as they will if he produces too much) his scheme will start loosing money.  If Navani Kholin discovers a great use of Topaz in a fabrial then the price of topaz goes up the scheme is shot.  Even normal market fluctuations of earthen materials and the topaz gemstone are going to make his scheme (which he can't very at all) impractical at best.

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2 hours ago, Karger said:

Actually I found a better metaphor for what Lin Davar is doing.  He is buying marble (because that is what soulcasting marble is) with money and then selling that marble for money and making a profit off of doing so.  Do you see why I find this prospect silly?  Gemstones on Roshar were only valuable because of soulcasting for most of their history(during the age of solitude).  That was their only inherent value.  Now they can use them to carry stormlight and make fabrials but that actually drives up their inherent worth causing what is essentially deflation and making having money more desirable then spending it(soulcasting).

This is what I meant is clearly not the case. 

2 minutes ago, Karger said:

This does not matter.  Provided the soulcasters the wealthy people own can work fast enough.  Think of it this way.  If you live on Roshar and have a gemstone that gemstone has actual inherent worth(unlike our money).  To a person with a soulcaster this gemstone is worth the exact amount of goods that it can be used to produce.  Everyone knows that amount(or at least business people who know about gemstones and soulcasting).  Basically.  From an economic standpoint.  There is no real difference between soulcasting something worthless into the goods you want and just going to the store and buying it.  In both cases you are exchanging money for a group of goods. 

Why would anyone do this? The wealthy hoard. Intentionally flooding a market does nothing but make what you have worthless. 

There is an incentive for false scarcity. Just look at real world diamonds. 

Just because gem value is tied to what the gem type can create doesn't make that value literal, any more than the paper number in my bank account were still literally tied to gold.

Marjets fluctuate off supply and demand. Flood the market and it devalues. Flood the market with things easily producable and all you would do is make things that aren't easy producable more valuable. You'd be undermining the very source of your wealth. The highprinces don't do this. They produce other things. The Sadeas prince dome is farmland. Sebarial produces food to sell for higher cost than the bland grain and meat that soulcasters make. 

There is demand for goods. This doesn't necessitate that Soulcasting is limited by gems. It just means that it either can't produce everything people want, which with what we know about the limitations of Soulcasting is obviously true, or that the soulcaster fabrials are limited in ways that prevent making everything, which the vast vast majority are. See identically shaped buildings and such. 

Fabrials are not nearly as versatile as the constant production you propose implies, and even if they were the limited number of people who could wouldn't because they would be literally undermining their own source of power and wealth. 

This leaves openings for people to abuse the system. Again, exactly like counterfeiting. There's material costs. And equipment costs. And bribes, and protection, and distribution, and money laundering... And it's still done because it's still profitable.

What do you think would have happened to Lin if it were found out how he was making the money to reduce his debts? Do you think he'd have been congratulated for getting a leg up? Or do you think he'd have been condemned? 

I think he'd have been condemned for "abusing a holy artifact" which would then have been returned to the ardentia... And by extension placed into the hands of someone already in power. 

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2 minutes ago, Calderis said:

There is an incentive for false scarcity. Just look at real world diamonds. 

You can limit false scarcity to things like aluminum which can be only produced by soulcasting.  If you try and limit the amount of something when you have no real control over the supply it does not work.  Marble mining is common enough that Lin Davar's wealth can pass without undue consideration.  This indicates that their are more profitable uses for topaz soulcasters then making marble.  This should drive up the cost of topaz to above marble. 

5 minutes ago, Calderis said:

Just because gem value is tied to what the gem type can create doesn't make that value literal, any more than the paper number in my bank account were still literally tied to gold.

Depends weather or not you are still on the gold standard.  Up until 1970s you could go to a bank and get however much cash you had converted into gold at any time.

6 minutes ago, Calderis said:

Marjets fluctuate off supply and demand. Flood the market and it devalues. Flood the market with things easily producable and all you would do is make things that aren't easy producable more valuable. You'd be undermining the very source of your wealth. The highprinces don't do this. They produce other things. The Sadeas prince dome is farmland. Sebarial produces food to sell for higher cost than the bland grain and meat that soulcasters make. 

The highprinces don't have soulcasters.  They realy on the king for them.  They also have to feed their own people and give them basic necessities so it makes sense for them to produce these or trade for them with each other.

8 minutes ago, Calderis said:

There is demand for goods. This doesn't necessitate that Soulcasting is limited by gems. It just means that it either can't produce everything people want, which with what we know about the limitations of Soulcasting is obviously true, or that the soulcaster fabrials are limited in ways that prevent making everything, which the vast vast majority are. See identically shaped buildings and such. 

I am not sure why this matters.  Even if they are limited they still have various things they obviously can produce and I would be shocked if marble was somehow the best of them.

9 minutes ago, Calderis said:

Fabrials are not nearly as versatile as the constant production you propose implies, and even if they were the limited number of people who could wouldn't because they would be literally undermining their own source of power and wealth. 

If they move the soulcasters to different locations(this is pretty easy) then the flooding will not matter as much.  With Topaz you could just vary the mineral you are producing at the time(you have quite a few options).

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11 minutes ago, Karger said:

If they move the soulcasters to different locations(this is pretty easy) then the flooding will not matter as much.  With Topaz you could just vary the mineral you are producing at the time(you have quite a few options).

With 90% of soulcasters, no, you can't. You can make what specifically it allows you to make 

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1 minute ago, Calderis said:

With 90% of soulcasters, no, you can't. You can make what specifically it allows you to make 

We are not talking about 90% of soulcasters.  We are talking about one specific type of soulcaster(or actually two).  The anything two one type of essence(in this case topaz) and the anything to anything.

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Just now, Karger said:

We are not talking about 90% of soulcasters.  We are talking about one specific type of soulcaster(or actually two).  The anything two one type of essence(in this case topaz) and the anything to anything.

And you assume this is common. I don't. 

Your also assuming that the economy can work anything similar to ours, and it doesn't. Pay is not assessed by value of service. You're paid according to your nahn or dahn. The exception is selling goods. Spheres are used worldwide, despite national boundaries and lack of quick transportation meaning separate economies with limited trade. Even in nations that have very limited access to soulcasters (the bronze on mentioned) or none. 

Gumfren are farmed specifically for their gemhearts which can be used to make meat. 

The economy as a whole functions off of gemstones that are produced through a wide variety of creatures, even in places where Soulcasting isn't an option. 

Your sure it works one way. I'm sure it works another. I'll just agree to disagree and walk away from this at this point. 

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1 minute ago, Calderis said:

Your also assuming that the economy can work anything similar to ours, and it doesn't.

The fundamental laws of economics are immutable unless scarcity does not exist.

1 minute ago, Calderis said:

Pay is not assessed by value of service. You're paid according to your nahn or dahn

Not completely true.  I am pretty sure you get the same pay no matter what nahn you are and while your dahn does matter the fact that there exists more government control over wages does not alter economic realities.  This is not realy that different from base minimums of pay.  In fact having cultural decided upon wages for certain tasks that were more or less immutable was common through large periods of human history(the bible discusses them). 

5 minutes ago, Calderis said:

Spheres are used worldwide, despite national boundaries and lack of quick transportation meaning separate economies with limited trade

Same as with silver and gold which were used across the entire known world for centuries.

6 minutes ago, Calderis said:

Gumfren are farmed specifically for their gemhearts which can be used to make meat. 

So gemstones are a renewable resource?  How does this have any bearing on the discussion?

7 minutes ago, Calderis said:

Your sure it works one way. I'm sure it works another. I'll just agree to disagree and walk away from this at this point. 

Goodbye.  I hope you are not to frustrated(I mean that sincerely I am not being facetious). 

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3 minutes ago, Karger said:

So gemstones are a renewable resource?  How does this have any bearing on the discussion?

It could, but it doesn't. Gumfren gemhearts make meat, which is not marble. And anyway, why would the Ghostbloods even give Lin Davar a topaz Soulcaster? topaz is one of the least valuable polestones, and polestone value is based on Soulcasting use. therefore, the Davar soulcaster scheme looses merit when considering that they could've given him an amethyst Soulcaster, for example. unless the topaz soulcaster was all they had, in which case why give it to an outsider?

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21 minutes ago, Bearer of Agonies said:

It could, but it doesn't. Gumfren gemhearts make meat, which is not marble. And anyway, why would the Ghostbloods even give Lin Davar a topaz Soulcaster? topaz is one of the least valuable polestones, and polestone value is based on Soulcasting use. therefore, the Davar soulcaster scheme looses merit when considering that they could've given him an amethyst Soulcaster, for example. unless the topaz soulcaster was all they had, in which case why give it to an outsider?

It could have done two or three transformations or all of them.  The only thing we know about it is that it could use topaz.

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2 minutes ago, Karger said:

It could have done two or three transformations or all of them.  The only thing we know about it is that it could use topaz.

Even so, most transformations are more valuable than topaz. Discounting Sapphire (air), Smokestone (opaque gas), Ruby (fire), and Zircon (oil, which is worth the least), that leaves Emerald (grain), Diamond (glass, crystals), Garnet (liquids other than oil), Amethyst (metal), and Heliodor (meat) as gemstones considered more valuable than topaz. I discounted the gasses because those are used to clear obstacles and debris, so they are used to produce an effect, not an object. Transforming something to air or smoke is not sellable when you're not supposed to be able to do that. So, most likely, the Davar Soulcaster either was a single-mode Soulcaster, or it's other two modes were less profitable than topaz in the Davars' situation.

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15 hours ago, Karger said:

The Ardents involved don't seem to mind that much if Kaza is any indication.  After all she almost welcomed death and the fact that she did not shocked her entire family.

Having a soulcaster is basically worthless if you do not use it frequently.  Do you really think anyone is going to let a large number of soulcasters just sit around in a vault somewhere unused?

Also in as I mentioned before.  Soulcasters in Alethkar are common enough that they altered the way Gavilar's unification campaign went.  This indicates several dozen soulcasters that can produce food and other amenities for an army under siege.  Even if soulcasters are not often used to their full potential anyone who knows something about economics(and some people on Roshar do know a thing or two about economics) will realize that gemstones have an expected value.  Basically even if you can't convert them right at this moment you can still stockpile gemstones and use them latter. 

Actually I found a better metaphor for what Lin Davar is doing.  He is buying marble (because that is what soulcasting marble is) with money and then selling that marble for money and making a profit off of doing so.  Do you see why I find this prospect silly?  Gemstones on Roshar were only valuable because of soulcasting for most of their history(during the age of solitude).  That was their only inherent value.  Now they can use them to carry stormlight and make fabrials but that actually drives up their inherent worth causing what is essentially deflation and making having money more desirable then spending it(soulcasting).

To be fair, this actually exists in the real world.  It's a market concept called "Arbitrage".  There was a famous article about people doing this with college textbooks a few years ago.  At that time, you could buy the textbooks off Amazon at the end of semesters when everyone wanted to sell them, then resell them for a profit on Amazon when a new semester was starting and everyone wanted to buy.  I think Amazon has closed this loophole now, but there were a few years where you could make a good amount of money.

The general concept of arbitrage though is that it may work on the short term, until the market figures it out and all the pricing comes in line.  That sounds a lot like what Linn Davar was doing - even if he was just playing 100% straight up with no money laundering, it was only going to work for so long before the market caught up.  I've just always felt that what was going on was basically a criminal scheme where the Ghostbloods were using his desperation to get him to do something that a normal person would never do and that probably was going to be really bad for him long term.

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16 minutes ago, agrabes said:

To be fair, this actually exists in the real world.  It's a market concept called "Arbitrage". 

Yes but arbitrage only works in the short term.  Lin was doing this for several years.  Market forces are occasionally slow but I find myself doubting that they are that slow.

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12 hours ago, Bearer of Agonies said:

It could, but it doesn't. Gumfren gemhearts make meat, which is not marble. And anyway, why would the Ghostbloods even give Lin Davar a topaz Soulcaster? topaz is one of the least valuable polestones, and polestone value is based on Soulcasting use. therefore, the Davar soulcaster scheme looses merit when considering that they could've given him an amethyst Soulcaster, for example. unless the topaz soulcaster was all they had, in which case why give it to an outsider?

The reason for marble is because Lin already had marble mines in existence, so him "finding" new veins on his land made sense and could avoid suspicion. 

12 hours ago, Karger said:

It could have done two or three transformations or all of them.  The only thing we know about it is that it could use topaz.

The reason why Calderis said 90 percent can't is because Shallan, quoted from the book by both myself and him, stated 9 out of 10 soulcasters could only do limited soulcasting. Additionally the only soulcaster we saw on screen that could do multiple transformations was Jasnah's, and the reason she could was because she was a radiant, not because of the fabrial. If we were to take arbitrary numbers for illustration, if there were 100 soulcasters known on the planet, that means 10 could effect more transformations than one specific transformation. Shallan commented on Jasnah's in particular being exceedingly rare. So if you want to talk about a prevalence that could upend an economy, to me, you would need far more than that. 

11 hours ago, Bearer of Agonies said:

Even so, most transformations are more valuable than topaz. Discounting Sapphire (air), Smokestone (opaque gas), Ruby (fire), and Zircon (oil, which is worth the least), that leaves Emerald (grain), Diamond (glass, crystals), Garnet (liquids other than oil), Amethyst (metal), and Heliodor (meat) as gemstones considered more valuable than topaz. I discounted the gasses because those are used to clear obstacles and debris, so they are used to produce an effect, not an object. Transforming something to air or smoke is not sellable when you're not supposed to be able to do that. So, most likely, the Davar Soulcaster either was a single-mode Soulcaster, or it's other two modes were less profitable than topaz in the Davars' situation.

Personally I think it is single mode because Lin just needed to accomplish one thing to maintain the same appearance. Anyway his soulcasting wasn't meant to be permanent, nor his only means of income. The idea was to make him appear solvent enough to make deals and bribes to raise his standing and thereby make more money to balance it out. Finally the ghostbloods aided him because he was going to make a try at the princedom. The soulcaster was only a means of hiding their bankruptcy and keep them afloat long enough to secure allies, and assets to balance. It was borrowing from Paul to pay Peter. Or another real world example, a Ponzi scheme. For those that do not know how that works, a quick explanation. 

1. Me being charismatic convinces an investor to give me a load of money for "the next big thing"

2. I promise the investor huge returns on his or her money

3. he or she convinces his or her rich friends to invest in the same "next big thing" and give me even more money

4. I take the money the new investors gave me, pocket some of it, and then hand a chunk over to the first investor claiming it was dividends from "the next big thing"

5. Original investor overjoyed, starts to tell others and brag about how much money he or she is making because of me. 

6. More people flock to me, giving me more money, that again some of which I pocket, while some goes to prior investors, making them think they are making bank, to then get more people to go to me for investing. 

 

So there ultimately is no increase of money on the part of the investors. It is just money changing hands, while I pocket and enrich myself behind the scenes. The marble deposits give the illusion of solvency and house power for Lin. That allows him to borrow money against assets he does not have, to then make bribes and allies he cannot back up. This wouldn't have been a problem because with the help of the ghostbloods, he would have attained a position of power where he could either pay off the debts, or pretty much tell the creditors to go to braize. Marble deposits were never meant to be permanent. The "unfortunate" thing is he died before he got anywhere near that, so Shallan was hoping to just make enough deposits to pay off their debts. Not make a profit. Just get to the point where they would not be sold off into slavery. Then they could join up with some other minor house as a landless lighteyes or some such. 

27 minutes ago, agrabes said:

To be fair, this actually exists in the real world.  It's a market concept called "Arbitrage".  There was a famous article about people doing this with college textbooks a few years ago.  At that time, you could buy the textbooks off Amazon at the end of semesters when everyone wanted to sell them, then resell them for a profit on Amazon when a new semester was starting and everyone wanted to buy.  I think Amazon has closed this loophole now, but there were a few years where you could make a good amount of money.

The general concept of arbitrage though is that it may work on the short term, until the market figures it out and all the pricing comes in line.  That sounds a lot like what Linn Davar was doing - even if he was just playing 100% straight up with no money laundering, it was only going to work for so long before the market caught up.  I've just always felt that what was going on was basically a criminal scheme where the Ghostbloods were using his desperation to get him to do something that a normal person would never do and that probably was going to be really bad for him long term.

I agree. 

9 minutes ago, Karger said:

Yes but arbitrage only works in the short term.  Lin was doing this for several years.  Market forces are occasionally slow but I find myself doubting that they are that slow.

Several years in the grand scheme of things is short term. Ponzi schemes have lasted a few years as well. They aren't meant to be long term. It is supposed to be a get rich quick scheme, and then either run before anyone catches you, or be in a position where the fall out does not effect you. 

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1 hour ago, Pathfinder said:

Personally I think it is single mode because Lin just needed to accomplish one thing to maintain the same appearance. Anyway his soulcasting wasn't meant to be permanent, nor his only means of income. The idea was to make him appear solvent enough to make deals and bribes to raise his standing and thereby make more money to balance it out. Finally the ghostbloods aided him because he was going to make a try at the princedom. The soulcaster was only a means of hiding their bankruptcy and keep them afloat long enough to secure allies, and assets to balance. It was borrowing from Paul to pay Peter. Or another real world example, a Ponzi scheme. For those that do not know how that works, a quick explanation. 

This is the one interpretation that I think actually makes sense.  Lin is not actually gaining any money the ghoostbloods are supplying him with money that he turns into marble and then sells.  However this raises the new question.  How does Shallan expect to make money once she gets the soulcaster?  She must known the economics so she knows that their is no way to actually make money just by having a soulcaster.

1 hour ago, Pathfinder said:

Several years in the grand scheme of things is short term. Ponzi schemes have lasted a few years as well. They aren't meant to be long term. It is supposed to be a get rich quick scheme, and then either run before anyone catches you, or be in a position where the fall out does not effect you. 

Not the same thing or even realated.  Assuming good communication which we know exists(spanreads).  Market forces will react quite quickly.  A ponzi scheme is about keeping people fooled by clever book keeping.  You just have to say that you are making reasonable profits when you are actually getting new investors in your pyramid scheme.  Arbitrage(in this case) requires everyone on the planet to not know the price of a major commodity and for this to last several years. 

Edited by Karger
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2 minutes ago, Karger said:

This is the one interpretation that I think actually makes sense.  Lin is not actually gaining any money the ghoostbloods are supplying him with money that he turns into marble and then sells.  However this raises the new question.  How does Shallan expect to make money once she gets the soulcaster?  She must known the economics so she knows that their is no way to actually make money just by having a soulcaster.

As far as I am concerned, it is doing exactly what Lin did, but just enough to pay off the debts which based on my reading would work. I was just commenting that it was never meant to be a long term solution. To me both Lin's plan, and Shallan's were both meant to be short term. Lin to get enough quick money, to gain enough power that it wouldn't be a problem. For Shallan to get enough quick money to just shore up the prior debts, and not be sold into slavery. Since we still very much disagree on the access of soulcasters, the prevalence of soulcasters, the ability of soulcasters, the cost of soulcasters, and the money made from mining marble, we are not going to come to an accommodation on how it works in the book. I wish you luck in finding the answer you seek. 

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9 minutes ago, Pathfinder said:

As far as I am concerned, it is doing exactly what Lin did, but just enough to pay off the debts which based on my reading would work.

So she has left over gemstones or something?

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34 minutes ago, Karger said:

So she has left over gemstones or something?

Once again, we differ regarding multiple core bits of information. Based on my reading, she does not need left over gemstones or something. I think it works as presented based on the information I have read regarding the world as I understand it. 

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31 minutes ago, Karger said:

So she has left over gemstones or something?

If you mean Shallan, I believe her issue and plan was that (as far as she knew) the Ghostbloods didnt know they'd broken the original Soulcaster, so they were stalling until they could get a replacement and keep up their end of the bargain.  Whatever the economics of Marble via Soulcasters, the Soulcaster was a valuable resource, the Davar children seemed convinced that the Ghostblood's retribution for breaking it would be quick and lethal.  

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