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|Related to||Surgebinding, Fabrials|
|Featured In||The Stormlight Archive|
“I need you to change. ”—Shallan
Soulcasting is a form of Surgebinding on Roshar that involves manipulating the Surge of Transformation to turn one material into another. 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.
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. This is performed by altering the object's spiritual nature. Under most circumstances, Soulcasting is mass-conservative. A Soulcast object is generally room temperature, although fire may be an exception to this.
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. The transformation itself consumes Stormlight at a rate that can crack the gemstones holding it.
The target of Soulcasting can be an inanimate item or a person, although a person will present greater difficulty, due to the innate Investiture they hold. Highly-invested people, like Knights Radiant or Mistborn, and natural Investiture blockers, like aluminium or Shardplate, will resist Soulcasting. Likewise, Soulcasting cannot create materials that are naturally Invested, such as God Metals. Aluminium, however, can be created via Soulcasting, although it cannot be turned into anything else. A metalmind that is Soulcast into a different type of metal, will retain its Feruchemical charge, however, the Investiture will no longer be accessible. It is said to be impossible to create gemstones (i.e. polestones) with a soulcaster, although it is possible to create non-polestone crystals like quartz.
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. Materials that do not exist naturally, such as plastic, are possible to Soulcast into, provided the closest possible Essence is identified. 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.
Moreover, when Soulcasting, both Surgebinders and fabrial users are limited by the types of gems available to them. 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. A gemstone that has been bleached of color - for example, by Awakening - would work very poorly, or not work at all.
By contrast, within a highstorm, a Surgebinder can create almost anything.
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. 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. This being said, Soulcasters capable of using all three modes are rare, and a vast majority can only utilize one. Soulcasters with access to the same Essence can work together to Soulcast objects of greater size.
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. 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.
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. 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. Different strategies work better on different essences. For example, stone is stubborn, and should be coerced with freedom and movement, while air is easier to order with discipline. The person's will is reinforced by some other entity, attracted to the user's request for aid -- possibly the fabrial itself. Humming is said to make the process easier, and Soulcasters can be seen chanting during their work.
Creation and Spread
Soulcasters were created before the modern age of humans on Roshar, and their fabrication and origin is largely unknown until the occupation of Urithiru. In the West, it's believed that Soulcasters originally came from the island of Akinah in the land of Aimia. Vorin teachings claim that they came from the Almighty, through the Knights Radiant. Current artifabrians don't understand and can't replicate Soulcasters because they somehow function without trapped spren. However, the presence that can be felt by its user is similar to what occurs with the Oathgate spren.
During the occupation of Urithiru by Raboniel's forces, Navani discovers that Soulcasters are spren manifesting in the Physical Realm as a device, similar to Shardblades.
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. Countries such as Iri, Rira and Kharbranth have none whatsoever.
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. 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. High-ranking lighteyes are often Soulcast into stone after death, so that they may be preserved forever. Such funerals are the only times where Soulcasting is performed publicly.
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. 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. 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.
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. Similarly, it appears those who come into contact with a person Soulcast by an Elsecaller can likewise become transformed into the same material.
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. Conversely, luxury items and objects can be made by Soulcasting a common, simple substance into something more lavish or complex. Soulcasting also alleviates the need for proper plumbing, as waste can be disposed of by Soulcasting it into another, more useful material.
In medicine, Soulcasting can be used to treat poisoning by transforming the blood into its pure version. Soulcast blood can also be used for transfusion for any person, as it corresponds to blood from a human universal donor. This being said, Soulcast meat is not human flesh.
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 sacrilegious. It's also possible that the only way to obtain aluminium natively on Roshar is through soulcasting, as there are a few soulcasters capable of creating aluminum.
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. The effects of savanthood are much less pronounced for Surgebinders and can take a different path in their manifestation, due to the Nahel bond. This process is different from simply having transformed a portion of oneself accidentally.
Some Soulcaster ardents on the Shattered Plains developed crystalline eyes and stone-like skin with cracks. Another ardent in Kholinar appears as if there are vines growing under her skin and poking out from her eyes. 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.
Known Fabrial Soulcasters
- 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.
- The Azish have a few Soulcasters, including one famous for its ability to make bronze.
- 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.
- Ardent Rushu is given a smoke creating Soulcaster by Navani in preparation for the expedition to Aimia, expecting that their objective would be hidden underground.
- Eight Soulcasters were recovered from Aimia. Five were given to Thaylenah (2 for food, 1 for metal, 1 for smoke, and 1 for wood) and three of uncertain type were given to Alethkar (it is unclear if the smoke soulcaster is the Liaforan fabrial).
- Soulcast blood matches someone's DNA.
- 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.
- Pattern has claimed that Shallan used "the power of transformation" to change a group of bandits into good people. It is unclear if this is some form of Soulcasting or if Cryptics simply have a different understanding of the Surges.
- The Sleepless indicate that Soulcasters are "practically useless" to their kind. The reason for this is unclear.
- ↑ Words of Radiance chapter 7Summary: Words of Radiance/Chapter_7#
- ↑ West Jordan signing
— Arcanum - 2011-08-04Cite: Arcanum-10086#
- ↑ a b c d e The Way of Kings chapter 5Summary: The Way of Kings/Chapter_5#
- ↑ a b c The Way of Kings chapter 72Summary: The Way of Kings/Chapter_72#
- ↑ a b c Oathbringer Ars ArcanumSummary: Oathbringer/Ars Arcanum#
- ↑ 17th Shard Forum Q&A
— Arcanum - 2012-09-26Cite: Arcanum-1139#
- ↑ General Reddit 2020
— Arcanum - 2020-12-22Cite: Arcanum-14595#
- ↑ Words of Radiance chapter 11Summary: Words of Radiance/Chapter_11#
- ↑ a b The Way of Kings chapter 36Summary: The Way of Kings/Chapter_36#
- ↑ a b OdysseyCon 2016
— Arcanum - 2016-04-08Cite: Arcanum-2675#
- ↑ JordanCon 2018
— Arcanum - 2018-04-21Cite: Arcanum-9599#
- ↑ General Signed Books 2014
— Arcanum - 2014-04-29Cite: Arcanum-2661#
- ↑ Oathbringer release party
— Arcanum - 2017-11-13Cite: Arcanum-8306#
- ↑ Arcanum Unbounded release party
— Arcanum - 2016-11-22Cite: Arcanum-9681#
- ↑ The Way of Kings chapter 33Summary: The Way of Kings/Chapter_33#
- ↑ Legion Release Party
— Arcanum - 2018-09-19Cite: Arcanum-10904#
- ↑ Stormlight Three Update #4
— Arcanum - 2016-10-19Cite: Arcanum-3811#
- ↑ The Rithmatist signing Albuquerque
— Arcanum - 2013-05-22Cite: Arcanum-2784#
- ↑ /r/fantasy AMA 2013
— Arcanum - 2013-04-15Cite: Arcanum-4080#
- ↑ Stuttgart signing
— Arcanum - 2019-05-17Cite: Arcanum-12723#
- ↑ a b c d e f g Oathbringer interlude I-4Summary: Oathbringer/Interlude_I-4#
- ↑ a b c d Words of Radiance chapter 35Summary: Words of Radiance/Chapter_35#
- ↑ a b Stormlight Three Update #4
— Arcanum - 2016-10-20Cite: Arcanum-3824#
- ↑ Oathbringer chapter 109Summary: Oathbringer/Chapter_109#
- ↑ a b c The Way of Kings chapter 42Summary: The Way of Kings/Chapter_42#
- ↑ Oathbringer chapter 120Summary: Oathbringer/Chapter_120#
- ↑ The Way of Kings chapter 39Summary: The Way of Kings/Chapter_39#
- ↑ JordanCon 2018
— Arcanum - 2018-04-22Cite: Arcanum-9533#
- ↑ Rhythm of War chapter 46Summary: Rhythm of War/Chapter_46#
- ↑ Words of Radiance interlude I-9Summary: Words of Radiance/Interlude_I-9#
- ↑ Oathbringer chapter 19Summary: Oathbringer/Chapter_19#
- ↑ Stormlight Three Update #4
— Arcanum - 2016-10-20Cite: Arcanum-3817#
- ↑ Words of Radiance chapter 2Summary: Words of Radiance/Chapter_2#
- ↑ Oathbringer chapter 105Summary: Oathbringer/Chapter_105#
- ↑ Oathbringer chapter 10Summary: Oathbringer/Chapter_10#
- ↑ The Way of Kings chapter 13Summary: The Way of Kings/Chapter_13#
- ↑ Oathbringer chapter 119Summary: Oathbringer/Chapter_119#
- ↑ The Way of Kings chapter 17Summary: The Way of Kings/Chapter_17#
- ↑ Oathbringer chapter 4Summary: Oathbringer/Chapter_4#
- ↑ The Way of Kings chapter 8Summary: The Way of Kings/Chapter_8#
- ↑ Oathbringer chapter 16Summary: Oathbringer/Chapter_16#
- ↑ English Reading Series at BYU 2018
— Arcanum - 2018-02-23Cite: Arcanum-9237#
- ↑ Oathbringer release party
— Arcanum - 2017-11-13Cite: Arcanum-8161#
- ↑ The Way of Kings interlude I-4Summary: The Way of Kings/Interlude_I-4#
- ↑ Words of Radiance chapter 48Summary: Words of Radiance/Chapter_48#
- ↑ Oathbringer release party
— Arcanum - 2017-11-13Cite: Arcanum-8183#
- ↑ Dawnshard chapter 7Summary: Dawnshard/Chapter_7#
- ↑ Arcanum Unbounded signing Chicago
— Arcanum - 2016-12-06Cite: Arcanum-1557#
- ↑ Oathbringer signing Leeds
— Arcanum - 2017-12-01Cite: Arcanum-8742#
- ↑ Oathbringer chapter 81Summary: Oathbringer/Chapter_81#
- ↑ The Way of Kings chapter 15Summary: The Way of Kings/Chapter_15#
- ↑ Oathbringer chapter 65Summary: Oathbringer/Chapter_65#
- ↑ The Way of Kings interlude I-6Summary: The Way of Kings/Interlude_I-6#
- ↑ Dawnshard chapter 15Summary: Dawnshard/Chapter_15#
- ↑ Dawnshard epilogueSummary: Dawnshard/Epilogue#
- ↑ Oathbringer release party
— Arcanum - 2017-11-13Cite: Arcanum-8587#
- ↑ Oathbringer Houston signing
— Arcanum - 2017-11-18Cite: Arcanum-8359#
- ↑ Words of Radiance chapter 20Summary: Words of Radiance/Chapter_20#
- ↑ Dawnshard chapter 19Summary: Dawnshard/Chapter_19#