Karger

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

113 posts in this topic

On 9/25/2019 at 11:32 PM, agrabes said:

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. 

Maybe. They need to train. Hence you need them to do a minimal number of transformations. This may or may not be safe. Unknown to us. The description of savantism sounded like an addiction and if there is personal variability it is possible that you need to accept a certain quota of deaths if you want to use soulcasting at all.
 

On 9/26/2019 at 3:50 AM, Karger said:

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

I am afraid you are answering slightly the wrong question. How can the Danvar family make money? How can the whole operation be profitable? Distinct questions. The Danvars need not pay for the soulcaster. Yes, they need gems for the transformation. But anybody else would need to pay for gems and the device. Devices that break relatively easily and need experts to repair and maintain. And those experts will cluster where they find a legal market for their services. That would form the limit on price created by soulcasting, not just the gems. Soulcasters are rare and legally restricted, especially in rural Jah Keved, and marble is expensive to transport. The arbitrage is created by legal limitations and hence stable.
How can the whole operation be profitable? It does not matter. The Ghostbloods are not doing this for money.

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On 9/24/2019 at 11:23 AM, agrabes said:

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. 

Point of interest my impression was always that Lin soulcasted a marble deposit on his lands every so often that he would then mine using conventional means. They talked about a new deposit being discovered just when the current one was running out. So he would use the soulcaster to create the marble and pretend it had always been on his land, then his total net worth would be higher by publicizing the marble deposits. 

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On 26.9.2019 at 0:16 AM, Karger said:

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?

It would depend on the circumstances - Kaza wasn't turning things into smoke 24/7. During Dalinar's campaign against the Herdazians he had only one soulcaster, which he held in reserve and actually mainly provisioned his army in conventional ways - which he specifically noted in his PoV. Veden kings may have wanted to keep prices on certain things high and demanded a healthy fee for the use of their soulcasters. Asking for a soulcaster to come to you may not have been all that feasible unless you lived in the capital - because they'd have needed to be payed for the inconveience, they'd have needed security escorts that also cost money, etc. And a king might not have agreed to it all, preferring the prestige of people coming to him.

 

On 26.9.2019 at 0:16 AM, Karger said:

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. 

There is just one soulcaster in the whole of Azir, though, which can only make bronze, and as for Jah Keved, it is anybody's guess. IMHO, it is very likely that Alethkar has so many soulcasters because Sadees the Sunmaker looted them from the peoples he conquered - which would suggest that the Vedens have significantly fewer of them. It also fits well with the the fact that Jah Keved was a proper kingdom throughout, whereas Alethkar consisted of constantly warring princedoms since Sunmaker's day. Their many soulcasters were what allowed them to continue like that for so long without becoming brutally poor.

We have no clue how many topaz-using soulcasters there are in Jah Keved and if any of them can produce marble. The fact that mining natural marble is profitable suggests to me that there is a healthy demand for it.

 

On 26.9.2019 at 0:16 AM, Karger said:

  Basically even if you can't convert them right at this moment you can still stockpile gemstones and use them latter. 

I am sure that Veden king had healthy stockpiles for his soulcasters. There is little reason to think that this would have made topazes - which aren't even the most valuable gemstones, super-rare or super-expensive.

 

On 26.9.2019 at 0:16 AM, 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?

It is about as "silly" as investing money into producing anything at all, by whatever means. Obviously, the quantity of marble that can be produced sells for more than the topazes expended, even after taking the actual quarrying and transportation into account. I am sure that no having to pay the royal soulcasting fee helps too. 

 

On 26.9.2019 at 0:16 AM, Karger said:

  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).

 

Supply and demand. We saw no evidence of the gem hoarding you suggest. And looking at the "ten essenses" table the  topazes are only good for soulcasting something into "rock and stone". But the polestones themselves can't be made through soulcasting, so what is there that would be so much more worthwhile than marble to make with them?

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On 9/26/2019 at 1:29 PM, Pathfinder said:

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. 

If Shallan has no money how is she going to get any amount of marble out of the soulcaster.  Just having it is not enough.  She is going to need some method of getting a moderate number of good quality topazes.  This is even if you can actually make money by having a soulcaster(which I don't think is possible).

On 9/26/2019 at 1:29 PM, Quantus said:

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

Reread WoKs.  Shallan and Co did not know that the ghoostbloods were a thing until after Shallan became Jasnahs ward and their plan was already in motion. 

6 hours ago, Oltux72 said:

Maybe. They need to train. Hence you need them to do a minimal number of transformations. This may or may not be safe. Unknown to us. The description of savantism sounded like an addiction and if there is personal variability it is possible that you need to accept a certain quota of deaths if you want to use soulcasting at all.

WoBs indicate that developing Savantism can take years or decades depending on the person.

6 hours ago, Oltux72 said:

I am afraid you are answering slightly the wrong question. How can the Danvar family make money? How can the whole operation be profitable? Distinct questions

If we except that these are distinct questions then the ghoostbloods are essentially using the Davar family as a money laundering group.  This is the one solution that I actually except to the original problem.  IE the ghoostbloods are running things at an absolute loss.  However Shallan cannot make money like this because the ghoostbloods are not backing her.

6 hours ago, Oltux72 said:

The Danvars need not pay for the soulcaster. Yes, they need gems for the transformation. But anybody else would need to pay for gems and the device. Devices that break relatively easily and need experts to repair and maintain

We have no idea how often soulcasters break but it cannot be that often or their would be none left(it has been over 2 thousand years).  Navani also implies that they are fairly easy to fix if they do break and it is just the fact that Shallan and Co have never seen a soulcaster before that makes it impossible for them to do so.

6 hours ago, Oltux72 said:

And those experts will cluster where they find a legal market for their services. That would form the limit on price created by soulcasting, not just the gems. Soulcasters are rare and legally restricted, especially in rural Jah Keved, and marble is expensive to transport. The arbitrage is created by legal limitations and hence stable.

Marble is also used mostly in cities not the countryside.  So transport costs are still the same.  Soulcasting is also common enough to support countrywide industries(gremfeind farming) so it cannot be extraordinarily rare.  Also as this is an illegal practice they can only make deposits of marble that they still have to mine.  They can't just make marble slabs the way people who can do so legally do.  They are thus at a major competitive disadvantage.

3 hours ago, cfphelps said:

Point of interest my impression was always that Lin soulcasted a marble deposit on his lands every so often that he would then mine using conventional means. They talked about a new deposit being discovered just when the current one was running out. So he would use the soulcaster to create the marble and pretend it had always been on his land, then his total net worth would be higher by publicizing the marble deposits. 

I agree with your impression.

2 hours ago, Isilel said:

It would depend on the circumstances - Kaza wasn't turning things into smoke 24/7.

We never saw he during her active career.  Only after deep savantism and her running away.

2 hours ago, Isilel said:

During Dalinar's campaign against the Herdazians he had only one soulcaster, which he held in reserve and actually mainly provisioned his army in conventional ways - which he specifically noted in his PoV

But the soulcaster was "in use" the entire time.  Kind of like if a soldier is in the field they are still "fighting" even if they are not actually killing people.

2 hours ago, Isilel said:

Veden kings may have wanted to keep prices on certain things high and demanded a healthy fee for the use of their soulcasters. Asking for a soulcaster to come to you may not have been all that feasible unless you lived in the capital - because they'd have needed to be payed for the inconveience, they'd have needed security escorts that also cost money, etc. And a king might not have agreed to it all, preferring the prestige of people coming to him.

Every landed Lighteyes is soulcast at their funeral.  Even Roshan's son who was a member of an impoverished noble family.

2 hours ago, Isilel said:

There is just one soulcaster in the whole of Azir, though, which can only make bronze

Patently false.  Dalinar specifically notes that "The Azish only have a few soulcasters and famously one could make bronze."  We also know nothing about the other kingdoms in the empire.

2 hours ago, Isilel said:

and as for Jah Keved, it is anybody's guess

They have quite a few.  During Taravangian's visit Adrotagia notes that they are one of the causes of the civil war as each army has at least one.

2 hours ago, Isilel said:

Jah Keved was a proper kingdom throughout, whereas Alethkar consisted of constantly warring princedoms since Sunmaker's day

Also not true.  Jah Kavad's civil wars are almost as bad as the Alethi's.  A soldier notes to Dalinar that they fight each other exactly as much as the Alethi.  WoBs also indicate that the place has not always been untied.

2 hours ago, Isilel said:

We have no clue how many topaz-using soulcasters there are in Jah Keved and if any of them can produce marble. The fact that mining natural marble is profitable suggests to me that there is a healthy demand for it.

I am not sure how this is relevent.  The Altethi clearly have farms despite the fact that war on the plains is maintained by harvesting gemhearts that make food.

2 hours ago, Isilel said:

I am sure that Veden king had healthy stockpiles for his soulcasters. There is little reason to think that this would have made topazes - which aren't even the most valuable gemstones, super-rare or super-expensive.

Yes this is actually why diamonds are rare and expensive in the real world.  One company has a huge stockpile of about half of them.

2 hours ago, Isilel said:

Obviously, the quantity of marble that can be produced sells for more than the topazes expended, even after taking the actual quarrying and transportation into account. I am sure that no having to pay the royal soulcasting fee helps too. 

Lin Davar soulcasts mines that have to be mined the normal way.  The only item he is saving on is the soulcasting fee.  Everything else is the same and because he does not have a number of advantages(he can only make one product, he can't make soulcasting artwork, and he has to much higher transportation costs for example)things are likely worse for him.

2 hours ago, Isilel said:

It is about as "silly" as investing money into producing anything at all, by whatever means. Obviously, the quantity of marble that can be produced sells for more than the topazes expended, even after taking the actual quarrying and transportation into account. I am sure that no having to pay the royal soulcasting fee helps too. 

This is not investment it is conversion.  Let us say that we are back in the 1960s and we are still on the gold standard.  I ask you if you will sell me your dollar bill for .95 in gold.  You would say no because you can just go to the bank and get a full dollar in gold whenever you want.  Sure you may have to pay a possessing fee but this is likely not that much.

2 hours ago, Isilel said:

Supply and demand. We saw no evidence of the gem hoarding you suggest. And looking at the "ten essenses" table the  topazes are only good for soulcasting something into "rock and stone". But the polestones themselves can't be made through soulcasting, so what is there that would be so much more worthwhile than marble to make with them?

Then why did you mention confidence that the king had a hoard of topaz earlier?  As to more worthwhile they are useful in emergence military construction.  The creation of other semiprecious stones(their is quite a list and all of it fluctuates widely due to economic forces) and lets not forget funerals(every ligheyes will pay for that)...

Edited by Karger
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1 minute ago, Karger said:

If Shallan has no money how is she going to get any amount of marble out of the soulcaster.  Just having it is not enough.  She is going to need some method of getting a moderate number of good quality topazes.  This is even if you can actually make money by having a soulcaster(which I don't think is possible).

Reread WoKs.  Shallan and Co did not know that the ghoostbloods were a thing until after Shallan became Jasnahs ward and their plan was already in motion. 

 

Im...pretty sure that's not true, but i will check as soon as I get home.  They may or may not have known the name or broader details Ghostbloods and she certainly didnt know they were targeting Jasnah at the beginning, but Im pretty sure they knew that their father was involved with some nefarious group that had loaned him the Soulcaster, some group that they were afraid of and whom they were trying to get a working Soulcaster to appease.  

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25 minutes ago, Karger said:

If Shallan has no money how is she going to get any amount of marble out of the soulcaster.  Just having it is not enough.  She is going to need some method of getting a moderate number of good quality topazes.  This is even if you can actually make money by having a soulcaster(which I don't think is possible).

This is the crux of our disagreement. I think based on the information from the book, you can make money from creating marble deposits with a soulcaster. You do not. So further discussion is pointless. 

edit: for clarity, further discussion on the topic between you and I is pointless. Not saying it cannot be discussed at all. 

Quote

WoBs indicate that developing Savantism can take years or decades depending on the person.

It can also take much shorter than that. It depends on usage. How big is the soulcasting, and how often. 

Edited by Pathfinder
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Just now, Karger said:

If Shallan has no money how is she going to get any amount of marble out of the soulcaster.  Just having it is not enough.  She is going to need some method of getting a moderate number of good quality topazes.  This is even if you can actually make money by having a soulcaster(which I don't think is possible).

The Danvar family has a certain cash flow. They can simply chance it. It may go wrong of course, but the topaz may also survive. And they do not need to do this often.

Just now, Karger said:

WoBs indicate that developing Savantism can take years or decades depending on the person.

How long does it take to train a soulcaster user for the more advanced techniques? Years?

Just now, Karger said:

If we except that these are distinct questions then the ghoostbloods are essentially using the Davar family as a money laundering group.

Their aim is not economic. That much is obvious. They'd just make the transformation themselves. The soulcaster has the function of involving the Danvar family into something illegal and/or blasphemous. Blackmail essentially. Whether they lose money on the operation is a different question. The soulcasting market is not completely free. The government surely takes a hefty surcharge. Meaning that even if you could not make money by paying the official rates for soulcasting, you may still make a profit by making an illicit soulcaster. Particularly if you are particularly advanced in making fabrials. They can use off-world technology.

Just now, Karger said:

  This is the one solution that I actually except to the original problem.  IE the ghoostbloods are running things at an absolute loss.  However Shallan cannot make money like this because the ghoostbloods are not backing her.

Again, Shallan intended to operate with a stolen soulcaster. In that case she need not pay for manufacturing it. Nor would she pay the king's inflated rates. Her calculations are better than normal. You cannot draw any conclusions from that onto the normal case.


Now, for the generic case, the Ghostbloods are obviously not maximizing profit. That does not tell us that they are operating at a loss. It is plausible that mining marble is cheaper than soulcasting it. That depends on a great number of factors, among them the rarity of topaz, which we know nothing about. I am repeating this just to establish the base.
But can you make money anyway? In the Vorin lands at least the price of soulcasting is artificially inflated. The devices may be operated only by a subset of the population, of which only a subset is available, and they are effectively heavily taxed. We simply have no idea how much of the cost is due to gems and how much due to the soulcasters themselves. Nor do we know how much the price for manual marble is below the price for soulcasting.

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4 minutes ago, Oltux72 said:

How long does it take to train a soulcaster user for the more advanced techniques? Years?

We have no idea.

4 minutes ago, Oltux72 said:

Their aim is not economic. That much is obvious. They'd just make the transformation themselves. The soulcaster has the function of involving the Danvar family into something illegal and/or blasphemous. Blackmail essentially. Whether they lose money on the operation is a different question. The soulcasting market is not completely free. The government surely takes a hefty surcharge. Meaning that even if you could not make money by paying the official rates for soulcasting, you may still make a profit by making an illicit soulcaster. Particularly if you are particularly advanced in making fabrials. They can use off-world technology.

Again.  Maybe.  I still have some problems with this.  However the plothole is mostly filled if the ghoostbloods are loosing money.

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13 minutes ago, Karger said:

I still have some problems with this.  However the plothole is mostly filled if the ghoostbloods are loosing money.

There are good geological reasons for marble being rare on Roshar. And the Ghostbloods presumably picked the most profitable material that can be made with topaz when they built the soulcaster. And the assumption that the breakage rate is independent of the quality of the soulcaster is also daring.

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3 hours ago, Karger said:

This is not investment it is conversion.  Let us say that we are back in the 1960s and we are still on the gold standard.  I ask you if you will sell me your dollar bill for .95 in gold.  You would say no because you can just go to the bank and get a full dollar in gold whenever you want.  Sure you may have to pay a possessing fee but this is likely not that much.

 

I don't think this comparison is valid.  The Rosharan money system has not been shown to be a system where the currency gems are pegged to the exact value of what they can soulcast like the US Dollar was pegged at one time to a specific amount of gold.  Under the gold standard, the reason that 1 US Dollar = 1 ounce of gold is because the government said so.  It doesn't matter if gold itself becomes more or less valuable over time because the government who controls the paper money says that $1 always equals 1 ounce.  For example, let's say some new invention comes along that takes 1 ounce of gold plus $5 worth of other materials and labor, and makes something that will sell for $10.  You could argue that gold should really now be worth $5 instead of $1, but the price of gold can't rise because it's pegged to the dollar even though it "should."

Compare that to the Rosharan Money system.  For simplicity's sake we'll say it takes 1 topaz brohm can make 1 ton of marble in a soulcaster before it breaks.  You could then argue that 1 ton of marble should be worth 1 topaz brohm.  But what about all the other things you might buy with that topaz brohm?  Or, since the money system is based on more than one type of gem, what about the value of what you could make with an emerald?  The Coppermind says that 1 emerald brohm is worth 10 topaz brohms.  So let's say 1 emerald brohm can make 1 ton of grain.  Does that mean that 1 ton of marble is always equal in price to 10 tons of grain?  I don't think that is likely the case. 

I think you have this off in your mind.  In your analogy, the gems are the paper dollars of the currency, pegged to the stuff they can make which is the "gold" - an item of theoretically fixed value.  I think in the Rosharan money system there can't be a gold standard reference.  It's more like if there was a gold standard, a silver standard, a copper standard, a platinum standard, and a titanium standard each backing a different type of currency that has an exchange rate with each other and each one of these metals can fluctuate in value relative to the others (i.e. 1 oz of gold may be worth 1.5 oz of silver today, but it might be worth 2 oz of silver tomorrow).  It's even more complicated than that because there are more than just 5 gemstones and therefore there are more than 5 goods that can be made from those gems to peg the value of gems to, but there are only 5 tiers of value in the Rosharan currency.  You can't say I have 1 ton of marble and I want to trade it in for 10 tons of grain because the price of grain is not set based on the price of marble.  It's set based on the market for grain and relative to the value of the gems.  Instead, the relative values of the gems are pegged to each other.  You can always say that you have one emerald brohm and you want 10 topaz brohms.

Another point is that the reason the gold has value (in theory) is because it's a specific metal that has a fixed and limited supply.  Aside from minor fluctuations like mining, the supply of gold isn't going to change much year to year which means its value is going to stay pretty stable.  If you consider grain as the "gold", the same principle does not work.  The value of grain changes a lot throughout the year, from year to year, and even from place to place based on scarcity, etc.  Grain is too volatile to be the backing of a money system.

I think the Rosharan money system is more like the ancient/medieval style money systems where actual gold and silver coins were used as the currency and the value of the money was derived from the actual precious metal content of the coin itself.  The gems themselves are the value, they are not pegged to anything else.  

Edited by agrabes
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1 hour ago, agrabes said:

I think the Rosharan money system is more like the ancient/medieval style money systems where actual gold and silver coins were used as the currency and the value of the money was derived from the actual precious metal content of the coin itself.  The gems themselves are the value, they are not pegged to anything else.  

The Coppermind says this:

Quote

The gem type is a little more complicated. The value of each type of sphere - and, therefore, the relative values of all types - is intrinsically tied to how valuable the given gemstone is in Soulcasting. This makes emeralds -- which can be used to Soulcast grain -- the most expensive kind of spheres,[1] while diamonds are the cheapest. The rest of the sphere types, however, don't all have unique values; instead, they fall within one of three tiers: prime pair, middle weight, and less weight.[9] Combined with the emerald and diamond spheres, this establishes a system with five distinct value tiers.

 

 

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1 hour ago, agrabes said:

For simplicity's sake we'll say it takes 1 topaz brohm can make 1 ton of marble in a soulcaster before it breaks.  You could then argue that 1 ton of marble should be worth 1 topaz brohm.  But what about all the other things you might buy with that topaz brohm?  Or, since the money system is based on more than one type of gem, what about the value of what you could make with an emerald?  The Coppermind says that 1 emerald brohm is worth 10 topaz brohms.  So let's say 1 emerald brohm can make 1 ton of grain.  Does that mean that 1 ton of marble is always equal in price to 10 tons of grain?  I don't think that is likely the case.

No. But it gives a boundary for the profitability of soulcasting. If you can buy 1 ton of marble for less in the market, there will be no point in soulcasting. You should go to the market, but what you want and pocket the change. In reality you need to pay wages to the soulcaster, pay the king's share and pay for the manufacture of the soulcaster. So soulcasting will become uneconomical at an even higehr price. Likewise there is a point where manual manufacture would be stupid. However, it is not so wasy to give.

There is a range in which both methods can be used with a profit. How large it is depends on how much it costs to make a soulcaster and how much you need to pay to the ardents.

1 hour ago, agrabes said:

Instead, the relative values of the gems are pegged to each other.  You can always say that you have one emerald brohm and you want 10 topaz brohms.

Within limits. I wonder actually who guarantees this. The price of food is not fixed. It depends on the weather and indeed how long the harvest is past and so on. But the price of other goods like stone is not subject to these variations. There has to be an institution that keeps the prices fixed.

1 hour ago, agrabes said:

I think the Rosharan money system is more like the ancient/medieval style money systems where actual gold and silver coins were used as the currency and the value of the money was derived from the actual precious metal content of the coin itself.  The gems themselves are the value, they are not pegged to anything else.  

The problem here is that the money can be used up

 

5 hours ago, Karger said:

We have no idea how often soulcasters break but it cannot be that often or their would be none left(it has been over 2 thousand years).  Navani also implies that they are fairly easy to fix if they do break and it is just the fact that Shallan and Co have never seen a soulcaster before that makes it impossible for them to do so.

If you know what you are doing. The Danvars broke it the first time they exchanged the gems.

5 hours ago, Karger said:

Every landed Lighteyes is soulcast at their funeral.  Even Roshan's son who was a member of an impoverished noble family.

Dangerous grounds to draw conclusions from. The Ardentia are a priesthood. They may not charge full rates for a funeral.

 

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On 9/26/2019 at 4:30 AM, 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.

No. If I may quote:

Quote

... holding a triangular group of gemstones ... The Soulcaster looked identical to the one she and her brothers had found in the inside pocket of her father's coat.

It has three gemstones. For the rest we need to speculate. The Ghostbloods have a connection to places where mass manufacture is known. They are very good at making fabrials. That they make Soulcasters for their own members as tools is likely. What do you put into a soulcaster used as a survival tool? Assuming that you are sure that your people do not end up in airless places, you'd have to cover:

  1. water
  2. shelter
  3. heat
  4. defense
  5. communication

Ideally you'd want also food and healing, but that requires extensive training. So I would include

  1. water
  2. stone for construction (metal and glass are options, but given lightning and stealth, worse options than stone)
  3. fire (heat and defense)

Water and fire are reasonably suited for removing obstacles, too.

 

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On 9/27/2019 at 7:49 PM, Oltux72 said:

Within limits. I wonder actually who guarantees this. The price of food is not fixed. It depends on the weather and indeed how long the harvest is past and so on. But the price of other goods like stone is not subject to these variations. There has to be an institution that keeps the prices fixed.

Banking is a thing on Roshar.  It could be quite profitable to keep prices of certain gemstones at a specific average value for long ranges of time.

On 9/27/2019 at 7:49 PM, Oltux72 said:

If you know what you are doing. The Danvars broke it the first time they exchanged the gems.

I thought that they broke it by accidentally stabbing it with a sharp blade(Shallan's patricide flashback)

On 9/27/2019 at 7:49 PM, Oltux72 said:

Dangerous grounds to draw conclusions from. The Ardentia are a priesthood. They may not charge full rates for a funeral.

But they do charge.  Shallan mentions that you have to pay for it.

On 9/28/2019 at 11:05 AM, Oltux72 said:

That they make Soulcasters for their own members as tools is likely

No it is not.  If they could make soulcasters they would not bother demanding their own back and would also rule Roshar by now.

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15 minutes ago, Karger said:

I thought that they broke it by accidentally stabbing it with a sharp blade(Shallan's patricide flashback)

Yes, I am sorry. Still they cannot be repaired by lay people.

15 minutes ago, Karger said:

But they do charge.  Shallan mentions that you have to pay for it.

Yes, but how are the rates?

15 minutes ago, Karger said:

No it is not.  If they could make soulcasters they would not bother demanding their own back and would also rule Roshar by now.

Again their aim is not economic. Either

  • they just want to cover up loose ends
  • or this is blackmail and they seek concessions rather than the device

And they have access to (Scadrial spoilers)

Spoiler

fire arms and flying machines,

as well as ethers. Whatever be their ultimate motive, if they wanted to rule, they could.

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2 minutes ago, Oltux72 said:

Yes, I am sorry. Still they cannot be repaired by lay people.

On the other hard they don't seem to go through ware and tear.  Just don't smash the thing.

3 minutes ago, Oltux72 said:

Yes, but how are the rates?

Expensive enough that Shallan mentions that they can't afford it despite having enough money that she treats bromes like pocket change.

3 minutes ago, Oltux72 said:

Again their aim is not economic. Either

We don't realy know that.

4 minutes ago, Oltux72 said:

they just want to cover up loose ends

Then I would recommend tracking down and assassinating everyone involved.  Extorting them for a soulcaster that they are not giving you seems stupid when you can just get it out of them by force.

5 minutes ago, Oltux72 said:

or this is blackmail and they seek concessions rather than the device

The Davars are not powerfully people.  What concessions could they make?

5 minutes ago, Oltux72 said:

And they have access to (Scadrial spoilers)

Neither of those is much good on Roshar. 

Spoiler

Fire arms are not amazingly good.  Rosharans could also probably reverse engineer them quickly.  They will not work that well.  Flying machines seem a bit hard to move through a perpendicularity.  They also require a constant amount of ettmetal that would have to be shipped through shadesmar.  We also don't know what aethers can do now that that work has been cannibalized.

 

8 minutes ago, Oltux72 said:

as well as ethers. Whatever be their ultimate motive, if they wanted to rule, they could.

Could they?  They have a limited membership.  Much of their strength comes from things that have limited practical use in anything but assassination and they are going up against sharebearers.

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8 hours ago, Karger said:

On the other hard they don't seem to go through ware and tear.  Just don't smash the thing.

Hm. We have seen few of them outside the Ardentia. In particular none of the universal kind.

Quote

Expensive enough that Shallan mentions that they can't afford it despite having enough money that she treats bromes like pocket change.

Shallan never really had experience with money.

Quote

We don't realy know that.

Well, if they wanted to maximize the monetary gain from the device by the marble scheme they would have made multiple mines in a short time and repeated the scheme at multiple locations throughout Roshar. You would also pick locations that allow shipping the marble out by ship easily. And you wouldn't train local people in the use of a soulcaster. And foremost, they would have kept the device. Would you really leave your only soulcaster in the hands of a man of ill repute and questionable economic sense?

And why operate in the Vorin east, where the Ardentia is a problem and soulcasters are more common?

Quote

Then I would recommend tracking down and assassinating everyone involved.

Plan B I suppose. Why interact with the Davars in the first place? That they selected a man with political ambitions indicates political goals.

EDIT: It is very much of a coincidence that they picked the family of the first Lightweaver. But they were not the only ones. Hoid showed up, too. And he did not know who would be the Surgebinder. It is quite possible that the Ghostbloods also can use Fortune. In that case it is possible that they do not know what they want. In that case killing the Davars is not an option. Putting pressure on them to do something unusual or spur a third party into doing so is very much an option.

Quote

  Extorting them for a soulcaster that they are not giving you seems stupid when you can just get it out of them by force.

Assuming you care about the device. If you are running some political scheme, you can continue it that way.

Quote

The Davars are not powerfully people.  What concessions could they make?

They wanted to become powerful people. It looks like "The Manchurian Candidate" in an aristocratic version to me.

Quote

Could they?  They have a limited membership.  Much of their strength comes from things that have limited practical use in anything but assassination and they are going up against sharebearers.

(Scadrial spoilers)

Spoiler

I have little doubt Rosharans could replicate a Scadrian gun if they got one. But not the ammunition. They are based on something like nitrocellulosis. Getting the finished product tells you nothing about how it is made. Based on that a fall can kill a Shardbearer, a large explosion will do the job.

And if you are going up against Shardbearers, assassination is exactly what you want. They cannot wear plate 24/7.
They could always hire mercenaries. And employ really new tactics. Like a chull cart full of explosives.

Edited by Oltux72
Fortune
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10 hours ago, Karger said:

Expensive enough that Shallan mentions that they can't afford it despite having enough money that she treats bromes like pocket change.

 

They couldn't afford to do it, because they couldn't publicly admit that their father was dead, not necessarily because they couldn't scrape together the money, IIRC. They also lived relatively close to some city, because Jushu was going there to gamble. So the soulcaster ardent didn't have that far to travel. Or maybe they were themselves supposed to bring the body to the temple? This last actually makes more sense to me than sending out ardents with valuable artefacts to tempt the robbers or sending them out under enough escort for security.

Did we learn what happened with Rillir Roshone's body? Or Wistiow's? I don't remember. Lin Davar was one of the 4 most significant men after the Highprince in his princedom, while the Hearthstone nobles were less important, IIRC, so it would be interesting to learn where the cut-off for this funerary practice happens. For that matter, would it have been done for his spouses or children? I somehow doubt that late Lady Davar, with her burned-out eyes was paraded before strangers in this way.

 

10 hours ago, Karger said:

They have a limited membership.  Much of their strength comes from things that have limited practical use in anything but assassination and they are going up against sharebearers.

 

I very much disagree with this. Both technology and magic from  other cosmere planets would give them a wide variety of applications, from spying and stealing to quickly amassing riches. And it seems to me that firearams would shatter shardplate quite nicely, if they hit the same section of it a couple of times.

 

1 hour ago, Oltux72 said:

We have seen few of them outside the Ardentia. In particular none of the universal kind.

 

Nor how many of them still function at full capacity. Kaza's soulcaster, after all, was supposed to have 3 modes, of which only one worked.

 

1 hour ago, Oltux72 said:

 Would you really leave your only soulcaster in the hands of a man of ill repute and questionable economic sense?

 

They did have a member in place to babysit him, but yes. Which is very interesting in itself, since unlike some other household staff, Shallan didn't think about Luesh as a newcomer. So, this tatooed Ghostblood member (not a freelancer like Tyn!) was apparently placed in the Davar household years ago, for some reason? Before Lin had gone on his spending spree and they managed to secure his cooperation as a result?

OTOH, I don't think that a marble-producing soulcaster would have been quite as valuable to Ghostbloods as to it was to normal Rosharans. They certainly have better ways to get rich quick than to set up such an operation.

 

1 hour ago, Oltux72 said:


Why interact with the Davars in the first place? That they selected a man with political ambitions indicates political goals.

EDIT: It is very much of a coincidence that they picked the family of the first Lightweaver. But they were not the only ones. Hoid showed up, too. And he did not know who would be the Surgebinder. It is quite possible that the Ghostbloods also can use Fortune.

Not only that, but according to a WoB, the Davars also somehow attracted the special attention of an Unmade, to whose influence Lin succumbed, while his children were still putting up a struggle - likely due to Shallan's interventions. Wouldn't we all like to know why this relatively insignificant family somehow became a confluence of all these disparate interests? Was it just their location? Is something hidden on their lands that all these parties wanted? Or what?

 

1 hour ago, Oltux72 said:

They wanted to become powerful people. It looks like "The Manchurian Candidate" in an aristocratic version to me.

You'd think that they'd be able to find more suitable people for this than Lin Davar. He really wasn't a hot prospect as a political figurehead.

Here is to hoping that the Davar boys getting reunited with Shallan will give us an opportunity to learn WTH was going on with this family.

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49 minutes ago, Isilel said:

OTOH, I don't think that a marble-producing soulcaster would have been quite as valuable to Ghostbloods as to it was to normal Rosharans. They certainly have better ways to get rich quick than to set up such an operation.

How can we know that the device could make only marble? The argument of economics still applies. Is there any other kind of stone that would be economic to make? And it had sockets for three gemstones. Furthermore how sure are we that the jewelery made from aluminium Shallan got was actually purchased in that material?

It still seems inconsistent to me that a group able to make a new fabrial for smoke who can afford to just use it to run a fire in a basement would have difficulty with a soulcaster. I suspect they just took one out of a storage bin for standard equipment.

49 minutes ago, Isilel said:

Not only that, but according to a WoB, the Davars also somehow attracted the special attention of an Unmade, to whose influence Lin succumbed, while his children were still putting up a struggle - likely due to Shallan's interventions. Wouldn't we all like to know why this relatively insignificant family somehow became a confluence of all these disparate interests? Was it just their location? Is something hidden on their lands that all these parties wanted? Or what?

Fortune. At least a plausible answer and better than many others.

49 minutes ago, Isilel said:

You'd think that they'd be able to find more suitable people for this than Lin Davar. He really wasn't a hot prospect as a political figurehead.

He had the advantage of being an unobvious candidate.

Or they asked their oracle based on Fortune: "We have this scheme to make a house material for blackmail with a soulcaster in order to gather information among aristocrats. Whom should we pick? ". Answer: "Davar". They just assumed it was Lin Davar. The oracle latched onto Shallan.

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Or they knew the children were of more interest (I think Mraize alludes to this at one point -- they just thought it was Heleran). They would need to plant the seeds for blackmail, control, etc. Also, taking advantage of one goal to achieve another as well plus providing a better cover for the ultimate goal (radiants).

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On 9/27/2019 at 6:49 PM, Oltux72 said:

No. But it gives a boundary for the profitability of soulcasting. If you can buy 1 ton of marble for less in the market, there will be no point in soulcasting. You should go to the market, but what you want and pocket the change. In reality you need to pay wages to the soulcaster, pay the king's share and pay for the manufacture of the soulcaster. So soulcasting will become uneconomical at an even higehr price. Likewise there is a point where manual manufacture would be stupid. However, it is not so wasy to give.

There is a range in which both methods can be used with a profit. How large it is depends on how much it costs to make a soulcaster and how much you need to pay to the ardents.

Within limits. I wonder actually who guarantees this. The price of food is not fixed. It depends on the weather and indeed how long the harvest is past and so on. But the price of other goods like stone is not subject to these variations. There has to be an institution that keeps the prices fixed.

The problem here is that the money can be used up

 

If you know what you are doing. The Danvars broke it the first time they exchanged the gems.

Dangerous grounds to draw conclusions from. The Ardentia are a priesthood. They may not charge full rates for a funeral.

 

I agree that the "cost" of soulcasting vs. the cost of traditional production is a factor in economic choices.  However, the entire point we are arguing here is that the value of the money gems (spheres) is not directly tied to the value of goods that they can produce.  It is not a "gold standard" type system where the value of the money is directly tied to a certain physical good.

In terms of the values of the gems relative to each other, the Coppermind has a chart showing all the values of every kind of sphere relative to each other.  The chart is based on an email note from Sanderson's staff.  For length, I won't quote it here but here is the link to it https://wob.coppermind.net/events/354-miscellaneous-2018/#e10402.  There's no explanation given as to why the exchange values are what they are, but the way these are fairly round numbers like 5:1, 2.5:1, 10:1, etc between the different types of gems makes it seem like they are artificially set by government.  If it was an organic exchange rate set by the exact intrinsic value  of the spheres then it would probably be something like 68:29 that is not a nice round number.  That's how real world currency works too (i.e. USD:Euro is not a nice even fraction or ratio).

So, as per the coppermind the value of the highest and lowest valued gems is set somewhat based on what they can soulcast, but the relative values of the other stones are just set arbitrarily by rule.  None of the gems' values are based exactly on the soulcasting value because too many other things fluctuate in the market.  I highly doubt that there is an institution that keeps prices fixed.  What most likely happens is that the market fluctuates freely and then once it gets too far out of line with the soulcasting cost, people start soulcasting a lot more (or less) and there is a correction and the price comes either up or down to come back more in line with the soulcasting cost/value.

In the ancient societies, gold can also be used up in the sense that it is taken out of circulation as money.  If you make a statue, or a gilded suit of armor, etc you are losing gold to being money.  It's not a huge percentage of the gold supply, but I would also argue that gems destroyed in soulcasting is also a small percent of the money gem supply.

 

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So I am only commenting once more because I came across a quote that states why it would work. Now I say that fully acknowledging that this quote may not work for you Karger, or may not seem enough, but to me it is. So I am more posting it for informational purposes, than for debate. Feel free to completely disregard it, or ignore it if you so see fit:

 

(This is regarding Jasnah's Soulcaster, which we know according to Shallan, she believes can transform any of the 10 essences)

Way of Kings

"It seemed that this Soulcaster was attuned to three Essences in particular: Vapor, Spark, and Lucentia. But it should be able to create any of the Ten Essences, from Zephyr to Talus. That last one was the most important to Shallan, as Talus included stone and earth. She could create new mineral deposits for her family to exploit. It would work; Soulcasters were very rare in Jah Keved, and her family's marble, jade, and opal would sell at a premium." 

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16 hours ago, agrabes said:

I agree that the "cost" of soulcasting vs. the cost of traditional production is a factor in economic choices.  However, the entire point we are arguing here is that the value of the money gems (spheres) is not directly tied to the value of goods that they can produce.  It is not a "gold standard" type system where the value of the money is directly tied to a certain physical good.

Right. What you have is instead a kind of floor in the value given by the physical value. If the price goes too low, people will "burn money".

16 hours ago, agrabes said:

In terms of the values of the gems relative to each other, the Coppermind has a chart showing all the values of every kind of sphere relative to each other.  The chart is based on an email note from Sanderson's staff.  For length, I won't quote it here but here is the link to it https://wob.coppermind.net/events/354-miscellaneous-2018/#e10402.  There's no explanation given as to why the exchange values are what they are, but the way these are fairly round numbers like 5:1, 2.5:1, 10:1, etc between the different types of gems makes it seem like they are artificially set by government.

The priesthood actually I suspect. They also set wages, if I understand the system correctly. I suspect that that is also a part of the reason Roshar does not advance faster. Too much government and administration.

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we can assume that the ghost bloods gave him gems to soulcast with, the reason for this is so other people can see that Lin was making money in a legal way (finding veins of semi-valuable stone) the ghost bloods wanted to have Lin make a play for high prince and it would be harder for him if people knew that he had just been given a bunch of money for a group like the ghost bloods but if he was mining stone they would see him as truly wealthy and would give him more consideration for high prince.

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