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Stormlight exchange rates


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Has anyone seen a WoB on the amount of Stormlight held inside each denomination of Sphere? Or one for how long each denomination will hold a visible amount of Stormlight?

I'm wondering if the current 1-5-20 exchange rate is going to prove accurate for either the amount of Stormlight held or for the number of days each holds Stormlight for.

If it's not accurate, and there's a sudden demand for large amounts of Stormlight from, say, 10 working Oathgates, 4 Radiants, and various members of Bridge Four who need to Regrow some limbs, the Rosharan economy could be in for rough times...

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Well, the Stormlight is a convenient way of telling whether or not it's counterfeit. If it doesn't hold Stormlight, it's fake.

 

With all the Radiants taking up the Stormlight, it would just be annoying to have all the shopkeepers check all the gems at checkout. 

 

I guess. *shrugs* Interesting ideas though. :)

Edited by Slowswift
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Well, they were already having trouble with the Stick People to Walls experiments with Kaladin. They have no clue how to measure Stormlight. Though spheres generally seem to go dun at around the same time.

One does not simply measure the power of creation itself.

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Well, the Stormlight is a convenient way of telling whether or not it's counterfeit. If it doesn't hold Stormlight, it's fake.

With all the Radiants taking up the Stormlight, it would just be annoying to have all the shopkeepers check all the gems at checkout.

I guess. *shrugs* Interesting ideas though. :)

I think you misunderstood my concern. The 1-5-20 exchange rate is for chips-marks-broams. Within the same gem type, 1 chip = 1 chip, 5 chips = 1 mark, 20 chips = 1 broam.

So if 20 chips hold as much Stormlight as 1 Broam, there's no major problem (except maybe during the weeping). But if 1 Broam holds as much Stormlight as 30 chips, the value of a Broam is going to increase significantly in a very short time.

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Well, they were already having trouble with the Stick People to Walls experiments with Kaladin. They have no clue how to measure Stormlight. Though spheres generally seem to go dun at around the same time.

One does not simply measure the power of creation itself.

 

Navani platform is a keen example on how little they know about the "amount of stormlight" stored into a sphere. It kept falling because some of the points must have gone weaker than others faster, hence the platform became unstable.

 

They have yet to figure out how to turn their energy source into modern technologies. In other words, they need to invent electronics.

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Yes they do! ( Sarcasm ) How do you expect them to do this? What is the fuel source? What would be a reliable way to conduct electricity during a highstorm not to mention the everstorm? All things to be considered.

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Navani platform is a keen example on how little they know about the "amount of stormlight" stored into a sphere. It kept falling because some of the points must have gone weaker than others faster, hence the platform became unstable.

We don't know for certain that was the reason. I've got a bunch of ideas why it failed, and only 2 of them relate to the amount of stored Stormlight.

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But if 1 Broam holds as much Stormlight as 30 chips, the value of a Broam is going to increase significantly in a very short time.

 

I see what your saying...

 

My gut says that every sphere is so small, it's unlikely a broam has that much more stormlight than a chip, but what do I know.

 

Actually, Marks and Broams are cut, right? And Chips are literally just broken shards with sufficient carats. So yeah, Marks and Broams prolly hold a LOT more Stormlight than Chips.

 

However, I disagree about the change in value. First, there are a few dozen Radiants total across the planet, not enough people to affect any economy. Second, the stormlight itself was never the value, it was the gemstone. The stormlight was just a convenient way to have some light if you need it. If anything, with Broams holding more light and thus being more useful for Oathgates and Surges, you might expect that chips will actually increase in value, since people will be far more willing to trade them.

 

Recall that it's stated in the first book that one reason the diamond spheres are the cheapest is that they give the best light; they're simply too useful to use as currency. If you want to fill a goblet with clearchips so you can have the best light, you don't want to be displaying your actual best wealth for thieves to pilfer. Sometimes, a thing's usefulness actually gives it a lower monetary value.

 

And, as Ham said in Mistborn, money is just an abstract conceptualization of effort. The paper money prevalent in our real world holds little to no intrinsic value. For the very long length of time without Surgebinders, the spheres themselves had little worth inherently. People will tend to be set in their ways, and things like financial institutions exist, in part, to make sure there aren't drastic changes in the value of money.

 

And as a final note, the entire world is about to be thrown into complete and utter chaos.

 

Well of Ascension spoilers:

 

In Well of Ascension, when the Final Empire collapsed and the world was ending, merchants charged ridiculous rates for the most basic of goods. Nothing had to change about how useful money was or wasn't to Allomancy in order for economic anarchy to ensue.

 

So, in short, I think you're right, that as the world governments destabilize the value of various monies will be impacted. I don't think, however, that the resurgence of Surgebinding will be one of the factors.

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This is a pretty interesting topic, albeit one that I doubt Brandon will explore that much. However, for the economics nerds out there....

 

The sphere system of currency is an interesting mix of a fiat currency (meaning the govt sets the relative value) and a "gold standard" currency (meaning the currency has some intrinsic value in and of itself). On one hand, the spheres are clearly useful - they provide clear, steady light in a medieval world, which is extremely valuable. On the other hand, we're told that different gem types occur with equal frequency in gem hearts, meaning that their value should be roughly the same, and yet there are vast differences between the value of different gemstones in spheres. We're further told that the relative values are related to Soulcasting uses, and yet the gemstones in spheres cannot be used to Soulcast. 

 

In terms of their use to surgebinders, the 10 different types are identical - all the characters we've seen use them interchangeably, including Jasnah for Soulcasting (when she's not pretending to use a fabrial). The amount of Light they hold, otoh, is probably very much related to size and cut. I would bet that the amount of Light held increased exponentially with size (if physics were to be a guide, it would be to either the 3rd or 4th power). I would bet that the 1:5:20 ratio of chips:marks:broams roughly follows the amount of stormlight they hold, on average.

 

As the utility of spheres to hold stormlight becomes more important, I bet we'll see a breakdown in the relative value of different types. However, it will likely be a pretty slow process, since there just aren't that many surgebinders around at the moment.

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I see what your saying...

 

My gut says that every sphere is so small, it's unlikely a broam has that much more stormlight than a chip, but what do I know.

 

Actually, Marks and Broams are cut, right? And Chips are literally just broken shards with sufficient carats. So yeah, Marks and Broams prolly hold a LOT more Stormlight than Chips.

 

Assuming a gem needs to be 20x larger to hold 20x the Stormlight, then the Radius of a Broam would only need to be 2.7x larger than a Chip. I think that's definitely within possible limits.

I think Chips are cut as well, they're just called "Chips" because the facets aren't large enough to be visible without magnification. However, if you're right, then this change will have a massive impact on any business that deals in items valued in Chips.

 

This could also have an impact on overall exchange rates. Right now, 2 Ruby Chips = 1 Diamond Broam. That value is based primarily on the Soulcasting value of the different gem types, but if the Stormlight itself has a value (like, say, activating the Oathgate to escape the Everstorm), then that exchange rate goes out the window.

 

 

However, I disagree about the change in value. First, there are a few dozen Radiants total across the planet, not enough people to affect any economy. Second, the stormlight itself was never the value, it was the gemstone. The stormlight was just a convenient way to have some light if you need it. If anything, with Broams holding more light and thus being more useful for Oathgates and Surges, you might expect that chips will actually increase in value, since people will be far more willing to trade them.

 

True there's only a few dozen, but things like the Oathgate EVERYONE will want to use. Even if the Radiants operate it for free, for practical reasons each traveller will likely be expected to supply their own Stormlight, making a full sphere more valuable than a dun sphere.

As for the Gemstone being the valuable part and the Stormlight not having value... that's kind of my point. That's going to start changing.

 

And, as Ham said in Mistborn, money is just an abstract conceptualization of effort. The paper money prevalent in our real world holds little to no intrinsic value. For the very long length of time without Surgebinders, the spheres themselves had little worth inherently. People will tend to be set in their ways, and things like financial institutions exist, in part, to make sure there aren't drastic changes in the value of money.

 

I get what you're saying, and overall I agree, except that there's nothing Abstract about Kaladin coming across a travelling Citylord who has a wealth of Stormlight, using it to defeat a group of Voidbringers, and then continuing on his way... later, he shows up to defend that Citylord's village, but the populace has no Stormlight because for the last 3 days the Citylord was exchanging his dun spheres for the townspeople's full spheres at double value.

 

Money is only "an abstract conceptualization of effort" when the money itself has no value.

 

And as a final note, the entire world is about to be thrown into complete and utter chaos.

 

Well of Ascension spoilers:

 

In Well of Ascension, when the Final Empire collapsed and the world was ending, merchants charged ridiculous rates for the most basic of goods. Nothing had to change about how useful money was or wasn't to Allomancy in order for economic anarchy to ensue.

 

So, in short, I think you're right, that as the world governments destabilize the value of various monies will be impacted. I don't think, however, that the resurgence of Surgebinding will be one of the factors.

 

Again, true, but in your example 2 half-boxings still equalled 1 boxing. The currency itself retained its relative value, you just needed more of it. Therefore life was easier for the rich and harder for the poor (a bad situation, but ultimately normal). If it turns out that, for example, a Broam holds only 4x the Stormlight of a Chip, then the rich will suddenly be much less rich, and the poor will see their meager funds swell in value (an overall "good" situation, but destabilizing)

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Kinda off topic, but didn't the book say somewhere that even radaint soulcasters needed to suck in stormlight from specific types of gems to soulcast things. It might have been in my mind, but ill look for it.

 

Back to the topic of economy...

Remember that the stormlight, for a while, will still be relatively unused by the common person. Except for the rare surgebinder, most people will only need to use the stormlight every couple of days to get to Urithiru , and only if they cant find a suitable shelter. And even then, the gems will be reinfused before the next Everstorm hits.

Edited by Renarin_Kholin
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Kinda off topic, but didn't the book say somewhere that even radaint soulcasters needed to suck in stormlight from specific types of gems to soulcast things. It might have been in my mind, but ill look for it.

I think it was a WoB that Soulcasting requires certain gems, depending on the type of Casting they are doing, and not just Stormlight.

 

Edit: Found it.

 

 

"Why Can Kaladin Surgebind with any gem type but Jasnah and Shallan need specific types?"

BRANDON SANDERSON

A lot of that will be explained as the series comes along. It is really the difference between Soulcasting and the other forms of Surgebinding. It's more a quirk of Soulcasting than it is something that is different about about Kaladin. So you've kind of got it reversed a little bit though; Soulcasting has this additional restriction that the other ones don't.

Source.  (Courtesy of a post by Aleksiel found here, for credit.)

 

Edited by kaellok
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...and yet the gemstones in spheres cannot be used to Soulcast.

Do we know for sure they do not? I read a debate some time ago where someone insisted that ONLY spheres could be used to Soulcast. Do we have definitive proof that if a vinemark were held at/near a Soulcaster, it wouldn't use the Stormlight inside to make grain?

 

In terms of their use to surgebinders, the 10 different types are identical - all the characters we've seen use them interchangeably, including Jasnah for Soulcasting (when she's not pretending to use a fabrial).

This took me a second to realize what you were saying. Yes, to other Radiants, one gem seems to be the same as any other. (Though I am going to point out the 'seems'.) However, I do not think we actually have an example of either Jasnah or Shallan, the only two people we've seen Soulcast, ever expressly use Stormlight from one type of gem to make something different. The times the gem is expressly stated, they always Soulcast that essence. Other times, we either don't get told what kind of gem it is, or they specifically Invest with stormlight of every color, and who knows how that works out (I've got some ideas but it might derail this topic). I'm going to try to find the quote I'm thinking of. (Also, thank you, Renarin, for also thinking you've heard this quot.)

 

The amount of Light they hold, otoh, is probably very much related to size and cut. I would bet that the amount of Light held increased exponentially with size (if physics were to be a guide, it would be to either the 3rd or 4th power). I would bet that the 1:5:20 ratio of chips:marks:broams roughly follows the amount of stormlight they hold, on average.

I'm gonna point out again that I believe chips are uncut, and this will likely throw off the ratios somewhat. I don't believe we know enough to do more than guess at how much a cut changes things. Also per Rat's comment below, I'm gonna try to find the quote I'm thinking of; I believe at some point in Words of Radiance Shallan takes a shattered gem and comments that someone could break it apart, cut the larger pieces into broams and marks, and use the splinters just as chips. Maybe a splinter is small enough to count as cut? What is the difference? This being Roshar, I wouldn't be surprised if it's mostly important just that the gem by symmetrical, which is incredibly unlikely to occur naturally without cutting.

 

As the utility of spheres to hold stormlight becomes more important, I bet we'll see a breakdown in the relative value of different types. However, it will likely be a pretty slow process, since there just aren't that many surgebinders around at the moment.

 

Concur.

 

I think Chips are cut as well, they're just called "Chips" because the facets aren't large enough to be visible without magnification. However, if you're right, then this change will have a massive impact on any business that deals in items valued in Chips.

As mentioned above, I will try to find the quote. I'm pretty sure chips are expressly not cut, just weighed.

 

This could also have an impact on overall exchange rates. Right now, 2 Ruby Chips = 1 Diamond Broam. That value is based primarily on the Soulcasting value of the different gem types, but if the Stormlight itself has a value (like, say, activating the Oathgate to escape the Everstorm), then that exchange rate goes out the window.

 

Emphasis on "based on". Once, long ago, this was the case. It's been... well we don't know how long, but long enough for even the Envisagers, people who pride themselves on the lore of Surgebinders, to get nearly everything wrong.  As Knight pointed out, by this point it's fiat. once, Ruby had this value compared to Diamond because magic, but for the lifetime of some Kingdoms, Ruby has had this value compared to Diamond axiomatically. On its own, I wouldn't expect this to change overnight because of some very niche powers. However, I'm throwing out this caveat again; the entire world is about to be thrown into chaos. Many things, money included, are going to change drastically very soon. How much or how little impact Surgebinding will have on the value of money will likely be impossible to determine.

 

True there's only a few dozen, but things like the Oathgate EVERYONE will want to use.

Eh... there's the matter of viability. Imagine there's a vending machine that produces unicorns, and only accepts $5 bills. Now imagine there are only ten of these vending machines around the world; barely more than one per continent, and almost every country on the planet will not have one. Now imagine you live in a world where the fastest way most people have to travel hundreds of miles across Europe to use the vending machine is in a cart pulled by a large crab, hoping that your math is right and you get to safety before one of two permanent storms sweeps by the kill you, and also keeping in mind that not everyone has the legal right to travel and that even the crab-mobile is more expensive than most people could contemplate...

 

Either traveling to Urithiru will simply be an option, in which case the vast majority of people will not go. Or it will be a mass exodus, in which case it's hard to imagine very many governments telling people, "Die in the Everstorm, you penniless wretch". Sure, people providing as much Stormlight as they can themselves will be totally useful, but first of all it's a renewable resource and second, the Alethi nobility has a bunch of broams and gemhearts; The army had enough stormlight on them to transport literally everyone to Urithiru when it was weeks into the Weeping and they didn't expressly know to bring a ton of Stormlight, so presumably the amount needed is not so much as to change everything.

 

And since every Oathgate but Stormseat is locked and we don't yet know how, people would all have to travel to one coast of Roshar, and cross all these un-bridged plateaus with no protection from the Highstorms or Everstorms just to use it. That trip would cost SO MANY MORE SPHERES than could possibly be needed to actually activate the Oathgate.

 

Also, people aren't gonna be hopping in and out of Urithiru. If people go, it will be for sanctuary, not as a vacation destination. No amount of one-time trips are going to ultimately affect the economy of a planet very strongly.

 

So imagine you're in Kharbranth. City of tens of thousands, for sure, who knows, maybe as many as a million. Surgebinders, for so many reasons, are not exactly common. Let's say there's a dozen in the whole city. Human beings love stability. Sure, people will admit that now money can do something different. And people will totally acknowledge that maybe some types of money are more useful, now, than others. But no one is going to start changing the price of all money because of a trick a score of people can do.

 

As for the Gemstone being the valuable part and the Stormlight not having value... that's kind of my point.

I think you missed my point. The Stormlight does have value... and that's why clearchips are so cheap. Usefulness is actually already inversely proportional to value. It's stated in the first book that diamonds are worth less specifically because they give the best light. Both so that you can spend your highest-valued money and still have good light, and also so you can use diamond chips as a light source without tempting thieves with more than pennies, the Stormlight in a clearchip is currently too valuable to be worth much.

 

...except that there's nothing Abstract about Kaladin coming across a travelling Citylord who has a wealth of Stormlight, using it to defeat a group of Voidbringers, and then continuing on his way... later, he shows up to defend that Citylord's village, but the populace has no Stormlight because for the last 3 days the Citylord was exchanging his dun spheres for the townspeople's full spheres at double value.

 

It's not abstract, but it is INCREDIBLY niche. For every Citylord that Kaladin happens to come across and take Stormligh from, there will be dozens, hundreds, who never meet a Surgebinder and have no reason to think the stormlight itself within the spheres has any real value as anything other than a source of light.

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Do we know for sure they do not? I read a debate some time ago where someone insisted that ONLY spheres could be used to Soulcast. Do we have definitive proof that if a vinemark were held at/near a Soulcaster, it wouldn't use the Stormlight inside to make grain?

 

However, I do not think we actually have an example of either Jasnah or Shallan, the only two people we've seen Soulcast, ever expressly use Stormlight from one type of gem to make something different. The times the gem is expressly stated, they always Soulcast that essence. Other times, we either don't get told what kind of gem it is, or they specifically Invest with stormlight of every color, and who knows how that works out 

 

To point 1, yes, we know that for sure. Soulcasting fabrials use the large gemstones that are set into the actual fabrial to power whatever transformation they're doing. That's what makes the large gemstones so much more valuable than small ones - the large one actually have utility (beyond providing light). This is also why the Alethi need gemhearts; without them there is no more supply of the large, Soulcasting-caliber gemstones. If they could simply use the Light from spheres, gemhearts would not be nearly as valuable. 

 

To point 2, we actually do have an example, albeit a rather subtle one. In the hospital room scene at the end of Way of Kings, Jasnah secretly Soulcasts both the bread and the jam, both of which are organic materials which (in standard Soulcasting theory) should require an emerald. She never wears an emerald in her Soulcaster.

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I dispute your conclusions in point the first. Larger, cut gemstones are better because they hold more Stormlight. They get used because they're better. It does not prove that spheres wouldn't work.

 

In point the second, Jasnah surely has a coinpouch on her, as most people do most of the time. We see Surgebinders Invest from their pouches all the time. She was not restricted to the gems in her "Soulcaster"; if she had a vinemark in her purse, not an unreasonable coincidence, problem solved.

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Seems my edit above got missed, since it happened several hours after new post below it (which makes total sense) so re-posting here!

 

 

"Why Can Kaladin Surgebind with any gem type but Jasnah and Shallan need specific types?"

BRANDON SANDERSON

A lot of that will be explained as the series comes along. It is really the difference between Soulcasting and the other forms of Surgebinding. It's more a quirk of Soulcasting than it is something that is different about about Kaladin. So you've kind of got it reversed a little bit though; Soulcasting has this additional restriction that the other ones don't.

Source

 

Soulcasting requires more than just Stormlight, whether it's due to fabrial (in-text) or Surge (per WoB).

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