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Soulcasting Question


Karger

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So we have a soulcasting question.

1 hour ago, ChickenLiberty said:

How does soulcasting work for things that do not fall under the category of the Ten Essences, such as Fungi?

Let us do our best to answer it.

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2 minutes ago, RithmaMists99 said:

Well, given that fungi share more in common with Kingdom Animalia than Kingdom Plantae, I'm guessing they might fall under the 10th Essence, though that might just be due to how closely related they are and nothing more.

My understanding is that it is based on what laymen see these the essences as not their actual properties.  As such they are plants.  Also remember that many plants on Roshar move.

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Transforming fungi into one of the ten essences does not matter what essence it is associated with. Transforming something into fungi would depend on the soulcaster understanding the result. Once they understand that, they could soulcast anything. The essences are just what is defaulted to. As to what gemstone a fabrial would need, it would be emerald as that is what essence it falls under

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36 minutes ago, Pathfinder said:

Transforming fungi into one of the ten essences does not matter what essence it is associated with. Transforming something into fungi would depend on the soulcaster understanding the result. Once they understand that, they could soulcast anything. The essences are just what is defaulted to. As to what gemstone a fabrial would need, it would be emerald as that is what essence it falls under

I agree with you but our questioner disagrees as fungi are technically not plants.

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Remember that what they define as plants does not necessarily line up with with modern science reveals about what actually makes a plant. Due to this flaw, it is likely that fungi fall under the same category as plants due to the presence of a cell wall in all true forms of fungi.

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We've seen many examples of soul casting that was not strictly under the Ten Essences. One example that comes to mind is Jasnah's lesson to Shallan in the alley. She soulcasted multiple materials, including human bodies, clothing, and weapons. I suspect for a skilled soul caster, there is a matter of interpretation or association for most materials in the world. 

This is an art that has existed for thousands of years on Roshar, even through the poor record keeping that affected other knowledge. If nothing else, they've likely discovered which stones/essences apply to less obvious materials through trial and error.

Edited by Q10fanatic
Completely misunderstood the question.
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4 minutes ago, Q10fanatic said:

We've seen many examples of soul casting that was not strictly under the Ten Essences. One example that comes to mind is Jasnah's lesson to Shallan in the alley. She soulcasted multiple materials, including human bodies, clothing, and weapons. I suspect for a skilled soul caster, there is a matter of interpretation or association for most materials in the world. 

This is an art that has existed for thousands of years on Roshar, even through the poor record keeping that affected other knowledge. If nothing else, they've likely discovered which stones/essences apply to less obvious materials through trial and error.

Soulcasting restrictions are more on the destination substance, rather than the originating substance. So you can Soulcast from just about anything, but only Soulcast to certain things (increasing with practice and knowledge).

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3 hours ago, Pathfinder said:

Transforming something into fungi would depend on the soulcaster understanding the result. Once they understand that, they could soulcast anything. The essences are just what is defaulted to. As to what gemstone a fabrial would need, it would be emerald as that is what essence it falls under

I think this is the key point. The questioner seems to want the magic to follow our modern standards of classification, but Roshar isn't there yet. While there are a lot of Newtonian-esque rules that work on a general level, a lot of the nitty gritty details of magic depend on the magic users' own perceptions, beliefs, and understanding about how the magic system works.

We see this understanding of magic changing as time goes on. Both Roshar and Scadrial in Era 2 have communities that are devoted to discovering the mechanics of their respective magic systems, but they lag behind the practical applications that people have discovered over time.

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9 minutes ago, Q10fanatic said:

The questioner seems to want the magic to follow our modern standards of classification

Okay.... I think that my question has been very misinterpreted. I'm not saying that things like this would/should follow our classification, I was just wondering how the Rosharans would classify things like this. (Or other odd things)

I had put it in the questions for Brandon thread, as this is really only a question that he can answer, as no amount of speculation would be able to meaningfully determine what Rosharan beliefs about fungi are.

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14 hours ago, Karger said:

My understanding is that it is based on what laymen see these the essences as not their actual properties.  As such they are plants.  Also remember that many plants on Roshar move.

This does seem to match with the way magic tends to shape around shared consensus of reality.

Even using an emerald (generally used for grain), I think creating a mushroom out of soulcasting would be prohibitively complex and draining.  Soulcasting seems to do its best work creating relatively homogenized materials en masse.  Grain, generic "meat", a single type of metal etc.  Maybe it could make a product formed from mushrooms like a cream of mushroom soup.  Replicating life itself is likely far too complex.

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8 hours ago, ChickenLiberty said:

Okay.... I think that my question has been very misinterpreted. I'm not saying that things like this would/should follow our classification, I was just wondering how the Rosharans would classify things like this. (Or other odd things)

I am fairly sure that they use a vegetable matter classification system.  Anyone have a quote that could back me up on this?

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A lot to catch up on, so lets begin

 

12 hours ago, Karger said:

I agree with you but our questioner disagrees as fungi are technically not plants.

For reasons I will elaborate below I still believe it would fall under emerald, but as technology advances I could see it falling under heliodor. 

12 hours ago, Invocation said:

Remember that what they define as plants does not necessarily line up with with modern science reveals about what actually makes a plant. Due to this flaw, it is likely that fungi fall under the same category as plants due to the presence of a cell wall in all true forms of fungi.

I agree. Doing a quick bit of research, fungi was originally viewed under the purview of botany till greater research and microscopes became a thing as the main difference of fungi from plants which denotes its own area is because of the fungus's cellular walls as well as that they do not photosynthesis. Both things that cannot be observed just from the naked eye. Though it could be said you could put a mushroom and a plant in the dark and notice one thrives while the other dies. 

9 hours ago, RShara said:

Soulcasting restrictions are more on the destination substance, rather than the originating substance. So you can Soulcast from just about anything, but only Soulcast to certain things (increasing with practice and knowledge).

Yep yep. If you could create plutonium, then I am sure with the proper knowledge you could create dead mushrooms for consumption. 

9 hours ago, Q10fanatic said:

I think this is the key point. The questioner seems to want the magic to follow our modern standards of classification, but Roshar isn't there yet. While there are a lot of Newtonian-esque rules that work on a general level, a lot of the nitty gritty details of magic depend on the magic users' own perceptions, beliefs, and understanding about how the magic system works.

We see this understanding of magic changing as time goes on. Both Roshar and Scadrial in Era 2 have communities that are devoted to discovering the mechanics of their respective magic systems, but they lag behind the practical applications that people have discovered over time.

I agree

8 hours ago, ChickenLiberty said:

Okay.... I think that my question has been very misinterpreted. I'm not saying that things like this would/should follow our classification, I was just wondering how the Rosharans would classify things like this. (Or other odd things)

I had put it in the questions for Brandon thread, as this is really only a question that he can answer, as no amount of speculation would be able to meaningfully determine what Rosharan beliefs about fungi are.

True Brandon is the ultimate authority, but if we can reasonably state that in our own world for a long time fungi was viewed as plants till technological advancements that Roshar does not have access to yet, then I think we can also reasonably state Roshar would view fungi in the same manner. 

46 minutes ago, Subvisual Haze said:

This does seem to match with the way magic tends to shape around shared consensus of reality.

Even using an emerald (generally used for grain), I think creating a mushroom out of soulcasting would be prohibitively complex and draining.  Soulcasting seems to do its best work creating relatively homogenized materials en masse.  Grain, generic "meat", a single type of metal etc.  Maybe it could make a product formed from mushrooms like a cream of mushroom soup.  Replicating life itself is likely far too complex.

I disagree. Grain was once alive as a plant yet soulcasting it is no problem. Meat was once "alive" yet soulcasting it isn't a problem. So why would once a soulcaster learned how to, soulcasting dead mushrooms for consumption be prohibitively hard?

2 minutes ago, Karger said:

I am fairly sure that they use a vegetable matter classification system.  Anyone have a quote that could back me up on this?

Well under the ten essences, emerald encapsulates wood, plants, and moss. If zircon is all kinds of oil, and garnet can be all non-oil liquids, I think emerald can cover quite a bit of plant-like life. 

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I wonder if M-bot would know? He would probably know. 

29 minutes ago, Pathfinder said:

Though it could be said you could put a mushroom and a plant in the dark and notice one thrives while the other dies. 

I think that under the influence of Highstorms, mushrooms would probably only grow in Sinovar and in the mining communities that allow lean-tos and such, meaning that people could notice that mushrooms can grow in the dark, while plants can’t. But honestly, I don’t actually know enough about mushrooms to say that for certain, I just thought I’d bring it up.

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6 minutes ago, Ethan_Sedai said:

I think that under the influence of Highstorms, mushrooms would probably only grow in Sinovar and in the mining communities that allow lean-tos and such, meaning that people could notice that mushrooms can grow in the dark, while plants can’t. But honestly, I don’t actually know enough about mushrooms to say that for certain, I just thought I’d bring it up.

Considering the weirdness of Rosharan ecology.  Do they even have mushrooms anywhere except shinovar?

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41 minutes ago, Ethan_Sedai said:

I wonder if M-bot would know? He would probably know. 

I think that under the influence of Highstorms, mushrooms would probably only grow in Sinovar and in the mining communities that allow lean-tos and such, meaning that people could notice that mushrooms can grow in the dark, while plants can’t. But honestly, I don’t actually know enough about mushrooms to say that for certain, I just thought I’d bring it up.

I think you just caused me to have an idea that would solve all of this. The chasms. Kaladin mentions how they are so deep they largely never see sunlight, which is why they need to bring torches down even during the day. There are all sorts of flora that Kaladin comments on seeing while down there. I will need time to locate those scenes and read for any insights, but it may answer our question depending on how Kaladin comments on them. 

 

Way of Kings page 389

The chasm was shallow here, only about fifty feet down, but that was enough to take him into a different world. A world where the only natural light came from the rift high in the sky. A world that stayed damp on eve the hottest days, a drowned landscape of moss, fungus, and hard plants that survived in even dim light.

 

So fungus is specifically named, but whether that is a translation for us readers, or a Rosharan term knowing they are not planets, I think is ambiguous. I think given the grouping Kaladin would view them all under the same essence but I need to read more of the scene first.  

 

Words of Radiance page 689

Behind Lift, Wyndle grew around the doorframe, a dark green, funguslike creep of vines that covered the door, then the wall beside her. 

 

Rosharans might see plants and fungus interchangeably, considering they use descriptors for both. 

Edited by Pathfinder
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17 hours ago, Pathfinder said:

Transforming fungi into one of the ten essences does not matter what essence it is associated with. Transforming something into fungi would depend on the soulcaster understanding the result. Once they understand that, they could soulcast anything. The essences are just what is defaulted to. As to what gemstone a fabrial would need, it would be emerald as that is what essence it falls under

I agree, I don’t think there would be any restrictions beyond the soulcasters knowledge, power, and skill. Remember that while Jasnah is an adept soulcaster but sucks at organic soulcasting. Many ardents trained on soulcasters specifically make food.

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5 hours ago, Subvisual Haze said:

This does seem to match with the way magic tends to shape around shared consensus of reality.

Even using an emerald (generally used for grain), I think creating a mushroom out of soulcasting would be prohibitively complex and draining.  Soulcasting seems to do its best work creating relatively homogenized materials en masse.  Grain, generic "meat", a single type of metal etc.  Maybe it could make a product formed from mushrooms like a cream of mushroom soup.  Replicating life itself is likely far too complex.

I dont think we can count on that, at least in light of the fact that (under the Essences) it is easier to make Blood than Water with a Garnet, even though Water is scientifically the less complicated fluid by a wide margin.  

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Soulcasting is just Alchemy under a different name.  Just as alchemists had some unusual ideas about what the elemental building blocks of the universe are, so too does Alethi.  Blood can be easily perceived by a pre-microscope culture to be one of the pure essences from which all of creation is built.  So too a very homogeneous pile of processed grain (not the plants themself but processed and ready to consume grain) or artificial meat (bridge 4 evens notes that the texture of soulcast meat is slightly off from real meat, similar to science’s current struggles to make a non animal derived meat alternative).

A unprocessed mushroom though would unlikely to viewed as a pure elemental form.

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1 minute ago, Subvisual Haze said:

Soulcasting is just Alchemy under a different name.  Just as alchemists had some unusual ideas about what the elemental building blocks of the universe are, so too does Alethi.  Blood can be easily perceived by a pre-microscope culture to be one of the pure essences from which all of creation is built.  So too a very homogeneous pile of processed grain (not the plants themself but processed and ready to consume grain) or artificial meat (bridge 4 evens notes that the texture of soulcast meat is slightly off from real meat, similar to science’s current struggles to make a non animal derived meat alternative).

A unprocessed mushroom though would unlikely to viewed as a pure elemental form.

Why? What makes mushrooms so different?

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32 minutes ago, Subvisual Haze said:

I seriously don't know what you want here.  The post you're responding to is my effort to answer the exact question you're asking.

I think the question that still remains it why you are asserting that Processed Grain be less homogeneous than a Mushroom.  I (and Im guessing @Pathfinder) see them as falling into the same category.  

Edited by Quantus
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1 hour ago, Quantus said:

I think the question that still remains it why you are asserting that Processed Grain be less homogeneous than a Mushroom.  I (and Im guessing @Pathfinder) see them as falling into the same category.  

Brandon's magic systems have firm rules, that makes them more fun than "wizard waves hand, literally anything is possible".  A logical restriction on Soulcasting (based on its similarities to alchemy/chemistry) is that what you make needs to be an essence, sort of like an element in modern chemistry but with flexibility related to how humans conceive of the world around them. The key idea of here is that it needs to be homogeneous (adj. "composed of parts or elements that are all of the same kind").  The thing you make is of the same substance in a very small amount as in a very large amount.  When you soulcast a block of stone, the whole is elementally identical to each of the small parts that make it up.

Jasnah even mentions these building blocks of the universe (roughly their equivalent of atoms)

Quote

NotOJebus

Hey Brandon!

Here's a quote from Oathbringer:

She willed steps to Soulcast beneath her feet. Individual axi of air lined up and packed next to each other, then Soulcast into stone—though in spite of the realms being linked, this was difficult.

Hey Brandon, what's an axi?

Brandon Sanderson

It is the word for an atom in the cosmere, coming from one of the original magics used on Yolen pre-shattering. To some, it's a theoretical smallest division of matter. But others use it scientifically to mean simply an atom.

Skyward Pre-Release AMA (Oct. 22, 2018)

 

The axi are the building blocks of their world, the smallest piece that soulcasting changes.  It sounds like the soulcaster chooses a group of axi (which itself doesn't need to be elementally pure), then "instructs" each individual axi to turn into an essence (of which their is some flexibility).  So basically what you make needs to be a big collection of small identical parts.  Grain is no longer a plant with a complicated superstructure and differentiated parts, it's a processed material which you could reduce to a small replicable part (Starch+Cellulose for the most part).  Similarly with wood.  We've never seen someone soulcast a complete plant or other higher living thing though.  Full plants are complicated things with differentiated unique parts, and if it were possible to make an approximate of such a thing if would likely involve multiple essences and multiple soulcastings.  Same deal with a mushroom.  Mushrooms have parts.  Maybe you could choose a particular part of a mushroom like the stem and form a building block from it, but that wouldn't exactly be a mushroom anymore at that point, it's a building block of a mushroom mass replicated.

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1 hour ago, Subvisual Haze said:

Brandon's magic systems have firm rules, that makes them more fun than "wizard waves hand, literally anything is possible".  A logical restriction on Soulcasting (based on its similarities to alchemy/chemistry) is that what you make needs to be an essence, sort of like an element in modern chemistry but with flexibility related to how humans conceive of the world around them. The key idea of here is that it needs to be homogeneous (adj. "composed of parts or elements that are all of the same kind").  The thing you make is of the same substance in a very small amount as in a very large amount.  When you soulcast a block of stone, the whole is elementally identical to each of the small parts that make it up.

Jasnah even mentions these building blocks of the universe (roughly their equivalent of atoms)

The axi are the building blocks of their world, the smallest piece that soulcasting changes.  It sounds like the soulcaster chooses a group of axi (which itself doesn't need to be elementally pure), then "instructs" each individual axi to turn into an essence (of which their is some flexibility).  So basically what you make needs to be a big collection of small identical parts.  Grain is no longer a plant with a complicated superstructure and differentiated parts, it's a processed material which you could reduce to a small replicable part (Starch+Cellulose for the most part).  Similarly with wood.  We've never seen someone soulcast a complete plant or other higher living thing though.  Full plants are complicated things with differentiated unique parts, and if it were possible to make an approximate of such a thing if would likely involve multiple essences and multiple soulcastings.  Same deal with a mushroom.  Mushrooms have parts.  Maybe you could choose a particular part of a mushroom like the stem and form a building block from it, but that wouldn't exactly be a mushroom anymore at that point, it's a building block of a mushroom mass replicated.

I would argue that fungus is at least as homogeneous as wood (both on visual inspection and microscopically), and we know they soulcast things into wood.  

Beyond that, I don't think to be homogeneous, it's just that "Soulcasting anything other than the basic Essence requires some innate knowledge and practice", and what's more it specifically takes a Radiant rather than a Fabrial (which are significantly less flexible).  There's also This WOB that says it's not just a matter of the Soulcaster having the knowledge, they would in turn need to get the Spren to understand it.  All that to say that the WOB's imply it's a limit of understanding and/or education rather than any actual limitation of the Magic System itself.  The Essences are just the default substances that are easiest to accomplish.  

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