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Soulcasting

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Soulcasting
Jasnah Soulcasting.jpg
by Grant M. Hansen
Related to Surgebinding, Fabrials
World Roshar
Universe Cosmere
Featured In The Stormlight Archive

I need you to change.

— Shallan[1]

Soulcasting is a form of Surgebinding on Roshar that involves manipulating the Surge of Transformation to turn one material into another.[2] A Soulcaster may refer to a special kind of fabrial which allows its user to Soulcast, a person who uses such a device, or a person who is able to Soulcast by means of Surgebinding.[3]

Mechanics[edit]

Soulcasting is the manifestation of the Surge of Transformation, normally available only to the Orders of Lightweavers and Elsecallers. It allows the user to transform any material into any other material, with possible exception of gemstones and Shards.[4] This is performed by altering the object's spiritual nature.[5] Under most circumstances, Soulcasting is mass-conservative.[6]

In order to perform a Soulcasting, the user needs to send their mind into Shadesmar to connect with the cognitive aspect of the object they wish changed. Once connected, they must convince the object to change.[7] The transformation itself consumes Stormlight at a rate that can crack the gemstones holding it.[3]

The target of Soulcasting can be both an inanimate item and a person, although a person will present greater difficulty, due to the innate Investiture they hold.[8][9] Both highly-invested people, like Knights Radiant or Mistborn, and natural Investiture blockers, like aluminium or Shardplate, will resist Soulcasting.[9][10] Likewise, Soulcasting cannot create materials that are naturally Invested, such as god metals.[11] Aluminium, however, can be created via Soulcasting.[12]

Apart from those edge cases, any object can be Soulcast, although what it can be Soulcast into varies. It's much easier to create the Ten Essences than other materials; for example, fruit juice would be harder to make than blood.[4] Materials that do not exist naturally, such as plastic, are possible to Soulcast into, provided the closest possible Essence is identified.[13] This being said, a major limitation is the knowledge of the end material - while a Surgebinder could Soulcast matter into radioactive particles such as plutonium, modern-day Rosharans are unaware of its existence and nature.[14]

Moreover, when Soulcasting, both Surgebinders and fabrial users are limited by the types of gems available to them.[15] While the chemical composition of the gemstone is important, its color is paramount, with every color of a gemstone corresponding to one of the Ten Essences.[5] A gemstone that has been bleached of color - for example, by Awakening - would either work very poorly, or not work at all.[16]

By contrast, within a highstorm, a Surgebinder can create almost anything.[17]

Soulcasters[edit]

by Sheep
Jasnah's Soulcaster

Fabrials[edit]

In the present day, most of Soulcasting is performed by fabrials called Soulcasters. The fabrials are composed of two rings and a bracelet, connected by a set of chains over the back of the hand, holding a trio of gemstones. It seems to be typically worn on the freehand (right hand), although whether this is necessary is uncertain.[3] Each gemstone corresponds to one of the Ten Essences, allowing for the Soulcaster to transform matter into one of the three. When Soulcasting, the fabrial draws Stormlight from the corresponding gemstone. What Essences the Soulcaster can use is referred to as the Soulcaster's modes.[18] This being said, Soulcasters capable of using all three modes are rare, and a vast majority can only utilize one.[3] Soulcasters with access to the same Essence can work together to Soulcast objects of greater size.[19]

Even apart from the mode limitation, Soulcasting fabrials are far more limited than Surgebinders, with far less variety in what they can create within the confines of the Ten Essences.[20] This being said, their capacities remain somewhat broad -- for example, any liquid that is water-soluble can be Soulcast with a Soulcaster attuned to the Essence of Blood.[21]

Operation[edit]

Supposedly, operating a Soulcaster is extremely simple - one needs only to press their hand against the item that should be Soulcast, and tap the appropriate gemstone with a finger.[22] However, the actual mechanics appear to be more complicated. Much like a Surgebinder, a fabrial user's mind is drawn into Shadesmar, where they must negotiate with the object they wish to transform. The person's will is reinforced by some other entity, attracted to the user's request for aid -- possibly the fabrial itself.[18]

Creation and Spread[edit]

Soulcasters are an ancient design, and how they're made is unknown.[23] In the West, it's believed that Soulcasters originally came from the island of Akinah in the land of Aimia.[18] Vorin teachings claim that they came from the Almighty, through the Knights Radiant.[22] Whether or not Soulcaster fabrials use trapped spren is unknown.[24]

Where the Soulcasters can be found is uneven. Nations like Alethkar possess numerous ones, capable of creating materials such as grain or stone. Other states, like Azir, have very few, while places like Liafor have only one.[25][18] Countries such as Iri, Rira and Kharbranth have none whatsoever.[26]

Uses[edit]

Religious significance[edit]

Soulcasters are extremely valuable for their various applications. Vorinism considers them to be holy, despite the betrayal of the Knights Radiant from whom they supposedly originated, because of how useful they are.[27] In the Vorin countries, the use of Soulcasters is restricted to the ardents and performed in extreme secrecy, either under the cover of night or with curtains set up to hide the happenings within.[3][19] High-ranking lighteyes are often Soulcast into stone after death, so that they may be preserved forever.[28] Such funerals are the only times where Soulcasting is performed publicly.[29]

Food production[edit]

The most important function of Soulcasters is food production -- fittingly, most Soulcasters to have survived to the present day are capable of producing either grain or flesh.[30] The existence of Soulcasters enables the existence of large armies that the Rosharan logistics would not normally allow for, as any material around, such as rocks or waste, can be Soulcast into food so long the fabrials can replenish Stormlight. Even static settlements, such as Kholinar or the Shattered Plains warcamps, depend on Soulcasting to provide some of their food.[20] As the gemstones break with use, farming for emeralds -- used for Soulcasting grain -- is a crucial element of Rosharan economy, with animals such as gumfrems and chasmfiends being either domesticated or hunted for their emerald gemhearts rather than their own meat.[31][32]

Combat[edit]

In close-range combat, Soulcasters can kill their opponent by Soulcasting their body into anything else, though normally, this is strictly forbidden to fabrial users. It appears that Elsecallers are capable of doing so at a considerable distance, without the need for physical contact.[8] Similarly, it appears those who come into contact with a person Soulcast by an Elsecaller can likewise become transformed into the same material.[33]

Other uses[edit]

Soulcasting is useful in engineering and construction. Many items or buildings on Roshar are first constructed out of light and easy-to-shape materials, such as wood or wax, and then Soulcast into more durable substances.[34][35] Conversely, luxury items and objects can be made by Soulcasting a common, simple substance into something more lavish or complex.[36] Soulcasting also alleviates the need for proper plumbing, as waste can be disposed of by Soulcasting it into another, more useful material.[37]

In medicine, Soulcasting can be used to treat poisoning by transforming the blood into its pure version.[4] Soulcast blood can also be used for transfusion for any person, as it corresponds to blood from a human universal donor.[38] This being said, Soulcast meat is not human flesh.[39]

Soulcasting can also be used to obtain materials that are difficult to mine, such as metals. Shinovar only purchases iron created through Soulcasting, due to their perception of stone as sacred, and therefore mining as sacrilegous.[40] It's also possible that the only way to obtain aluminium on Roshar is through soulcasting.[41][42]

Savants[edit]

by Botanicaxu
Kaza, a smoke Soulcasting savant

Long-term use of Soulcasting, whether via Surgebinding or a fabrial, can lead to the user becoming a savant, transforming slowly into the essence they frequently transform other objects into.[43] The effects of savanthood are much less pronounced for Surgebinders and can take a different path in their manifestation, due to the Nahel bond.[44] This process is different from simply having transformed a portion of oneself accidentally.[18]

Some Soulcaster ardents on the Shattered Plains developed crystalline eyes and stone-like skin with cracks.[19] Another ardent in Kholinar appears as if there are vines growing under her skin and poking out from her eyes.[45] Kaza is slowly becoming smoke in places, to the point where she has a hole in her cheek leaking smoke. Her hair, ears and fingers have also started to transform. The personality of the Soulcaster might also be affected, as Kaza feels drawn to become smoke with the objects she transforms, and begins to lose normal human emotional responses.[18]

Known Soulcasters[edit]

Surgebinders
Fabrials
  • House Davar's broken Soulcaster
  • Highmarshall Azure's captured Soulcaster (likely controlled by the Fused now)
  • Liaforan royal Soulcaster (used by Kaza, a runaway from the royal family)
  • Jasnah's Soulcaster (fake)
  • House Kholin maintains a monopoly on all Soulcasters in Alethkar, and charges fees for their use.[47]
  • The Azish have a few Soulcasters, including one famous for its ability to make bronze.[48]
  • The Diagram has access to at least one Soulcaster able to make things into smoke, as evidenced by the man who gave Szeth his first orders from the Diagram.[49]

Trivia[edit]

  • Soulcast blood matches someone's DNA.[50]
  • An early version of Soulcasting had it available to all orders of Knights Radiant. A Knight could only transform the material corresponding to their Order, but they could transform it into anything. This was eventually changed, as it made Orders feel too similar to one another.[51]

Notes[edit]

  1. Words of Radiance chapter 7 Summary: Words of Radiance/Chapter_7#
  2. West Jordan signing
    Arcanum - 2011-08-04#
  3. a b c d e The Way of Kings chapter 5 Summary: The Way of Kings/Chapter_5#
  4. a b c The Way of Kings chapter 72 Summary: The Way of Kings/Chapter_72#
  5. a b Oathbringer Ars Arcanum Summary: Oathbringer/Ars Arcanum#
  6. 17th Shard Forum Q&A
    Arcanum - 2012-09-26#
  7. Words of Radiance chapter 11 Summary: Words of Radiance/Chapter_11#
  8. a b The Way of Kings chapter 36 Summary: The Way of Kings/Chapter_36#
  9. a b OdysseyCon 2016
    Arcanum - 2016-04-08#
  10. JordanCon 2018
    Arcanum - 2018-04-21#
  11. General Signed Books 2014
    Arcanum - 2014-04-29#
  12. Oathbringer release party
    Arcanum - 2017-11-13#
  13. Legion Release Party
    Arcanum - 2018-09-19#
  14. Stormlight Three Update #4
    Arcanum - 2016-10-19#
  15. The Rithmatist signing Albuquerque
    Arcanum - 2013-05-22#
  16. /r/fantasy AMA 2013
    Arcanum - 2013-04-15#
  17. Stuttgart signing
    Arcanum - 2019-05-17#
  18. a b c d e f Oathbringer interlude I-4 Summary: Oathbringer/Interlude_I-4#
  19. a b c Words of Radiance chapter 35 Summary: Words of Radiance/Chapter_35#
  20. a b Stormlight Three Update #4
    Arcanum - 2016-10-20#
  21. Oathbringer chapter 109 Summary: Oathbringer/Chapter_109#
  22. a b The Way of Kings chapter 42 Summary: The Way of Kings/Chapter_42#
  23. The Way of Kings chapter 39 Summary: The Way of Kings/Chapter_39#
  24. English Reading Series at BYU 2018
    Arcanum - 2018-02-23#
  25. Words of Radiance interlude I-9 Summary: Words of Radiance/Interlude_I-9#
  26. Oathbringer chapter 19 Summary: Oathbringer/Chapter_19#
  27. Stormlight Three Update #4
    Arcanum - 2016-10-20#
  28. Words of Radiance chapter 2 Summary: Words of Radiance/Chapter_2#
  29. Oathbringer chapter 105 Summary: Oathbringer/Chapter_105#
  30. Oathbringer chapter ars Summary: Oathbringer/Chapter_ars#
  31. Oathbringer chapter 10 Summary: Oathbringer/Chapter_10#
  32. The Way of Kings chapter 13 Summary: The Way of Kings/Chapter_13#
  33. Oathbringer chapter 119 Summary: Oathbringer/Chapter_119#
  34. The Way of Kings chapter 17 Summary: The Way of Kings/Chapter_17#
  35. Oathbringer chapter 4 Summary: Oathbringer/Chapter_4#
  36. The Way of Kings chapter 8 Summary: The Way of Kings/Chapter_8#
  37. Oathbringer chapter 16 Summary: Oathbringer/Chapter_16#
  38. English Reading Series at BYU 2018
    Arcanum - 2018-02-23#
  39. Oathbringer release party
    Arcanum - 2017-11-13#
  40. The Way of Kings interlude I-4 Summary: The Way of Kings/Interlude_I-4#
  41. Words of Radiance chapter 48 Summary: Words of Radiance/Chapter_48#
  42. Oathbringer release party
    Arcanum - 2017-11-13#
  43. Arcanum Unbounded signing Chicago
    Arcanum - 2016-12-06#
  44. Oathbringer signing Leeds
    Arcanum - 2017-12-01#
  45. Oathbringer chapter 81 Summary: Oathbringer/Chapter_81#
  46. Oathbringer epilogue Summary: Oathbringer/Epilogue#
  47. The Way of Kings chapter 15 Summary: The Way of Kings/Chapter_15#
  48. Oathbringer chapter 65 Summary: Oathbringer/Chapter_65#
  49. The Way of Kings interlude I-6 Summary: The Way of Kings/Interlude_I-6#
  50. Oathbringer release party
    Arcanum - 2017-11-13#
  51. Oathbringer Houston signing
    Arcanum - 2017-11-18#
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