Author Topic: Soulcasting and AonDor too powerful!  (Read 1992 times)

Tangletalon

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Soulcasting and AonDor too powerful!
« on: January 16, 2011, 05:12:33 PM »
Brandon Sanderson has always put limits on his magic systems. There is no unlimited magic source. The most limited magic source is hemalurgy and allomancy: they are completely based on four levels (normal, flare, duraluminum, and I assume you get a bigger boost if you flare duraluminum) of 16 powers. You can't do anything else. Feruchemy is similarly limited, although there are no levels. BioChroma is based on a 1-1 power basis: you take one Breath, you have one more Breath. Surgebinding gives you three abilities, and it is also on a 1-1 power basis, although power levels are harder to judge.
Unfortunately, AonDor is about as limited as magic in the Harry Potter universe (meaning: you have to know what your doing do do anything, but you can still do just about anything). Soulcasting seems to be going the same way. We can excuse AonDor for being his first book, but he should have learned a few things from his other books. When will he add limits to soulcasting?

EDIT: I have changed my opinion of Soulcasting. However, I have stopped excusing AonDor as well.
« Last Edit: January 17, 2011, 04:54:56 PM by Tangletalon »

Argent

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Re: Soulcasting too powerful!
« Reply #1 on: January 16, 2011, 05:36:57 PM »
I don't think Soulcasting is as powerful as you make it look. Least of all, there is a hard limit on how much you can Soulcast - determined either by the gems in your fabrial, or by the amount of Stormlight you have access to. Without spoiling the book, when Jasnah used Soulcasting for her philosophy lesson, she had to use a pretty big gem in order to handle four people. I doubt she could have kept doing what she was doing for too long.

In addition to that, Soulcasters are limited by the Ten Essences. They can't be skilled in all of them, or so I guess - prodigies excluded. It's more versatile than the other magic systems, which all have some strong limitations, but I find it far from overpowering.
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hubay

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Re: Soulcasting too powerful!
« Reply #2 on: January 16, 2011, 07:31:45 PM »
it might be overpowered economically, in that enough trained soulcasters could run a lot of other businesses into the ground via overproduction. but i think that might be limited by the scarcity of fabrials and gems

foodwise, at least, it allows the world to have a higher population then it naturally could support

Link von Kelsier Harvey XXIV

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Re: Soulcasting too powerful!
« Reply #3 on: January 16, 2011, 11:57:04 PM »
1) There is nothing wrong with "Soft" (no concrete rules) magic systems.  They have to be handled differently than "Hard" (rules set in stone) systems like Allomancy, but it's okay for authors to use them.
2) Surgebinding is kind of a general term.  Szeth's powers are called Windrunning.
3) AonDor has plenty of limiting factors, like distance from Elantris, and the Aons that allow it to be used.  (There's even a glossary in the back.)  Just because we don't know the exact limits of the magic, doesn't mean Brandon doesn't.  Would you want to have to memorize Aons to be able to read the book?
4) Soulcasting has similar limits.  Want Strawberry Jam?  You're going to need an emerald.  And each gemstone can only be used to Soulcast so much before being destroyed.  There's a table in the back of the book that shows what can be Soulcast from which gem.  And, again, just because we don't know the exact limits doesn't mean Brandon doesn't.
5) It's a story!  When Vin's Pewter runs out it isn't because Pewter burns faster than other metals. (Though that is the explanation the book gives.)  It runs out because Brandon decides it is time for her pewter to run out.
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Ari54

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Re: Soulcasting too powerful!
« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2011, 01:39:27 AM »
Keep in mind that because tWOK was deliberately light on magic details, we might not have got an accurate impression of how hard it is to Soulcast, especially seeing Shallan is the only person we see do it in viewpoint, and she soulcasts directly to one of the essences rather than something more complicated.

As above we also don't have much of an idea about how quickly soulcasting uses up gems or stormlight yet, so I think it's a little premature to cry foul already.

Tasslehoof

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Re: Soulcasting too powerful!
« Reply #5 on: January 17, 2011, 02:11:03 AM »
I agree with ArgentSun, I think Soulcasting is very limited by the amount of gems you have with you (basically wealth), as well as other limitations that I'm sure we will begin to learn more about as the story unfolds throughout the rest of the series.  I'm excited to see the magic systems develop further, but so far I don't think anyone can make a judgement on how "overpowered" or "underpowered" a certain magic system is.
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CabbyHat

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Re: Soulcasting too powerful!
« Reply #6 on: January 17, 2011, 06:29:15 AM »
I just feel like I have to chime in here that AonDor doesn't need to be "excused" for any reason. I thought it was a wonderfully written magic system, intuitive, consistent, and fitting for the world, with clear limits and consequences. Just one uninformed, ranting fan's point of view.
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Argent

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Re: Soulcasting too powerful!
« Reply #7 on: January 17, 2011, 08:48:31 AM »
What I loved about the AonDor was how close it was to science. You write Aon formulae, and you get result. Shameless plug.
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andygal

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Re: Soulcasting too powerful!
« Reply #8 on: January 17, 2011, 09:05:53 AM »
I note that I don't see how a powerful magic system is automatically "bad". There are lots of excellent stories involving powerful and versatile  magic. Granted it can be bad in the hands of a bad writer,  but so can anything else. And Brandon is an excellent writer.

Also, I agree that we really don't know a lot about the various forms of magic in TSA yet, it's a little early to be passing judgment.

Tangletalon

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Re: Soulcasting too powerful!
« Reply #9 on: January 17, 2011, 04:52:40 PM »
OK, I will admit that I was being a little hasty with Soulcasting; it does have limits (currently it is directly related to the size of the gemstone, but more limits may arise). However, I will complain about AonDor.

I just feel like I have to chime in here that AonDor doesn't need to be "excused" for any reason. I thought it was a wonderfully written magic system, intuitive, consistent, and fitting for the world, with clear limits and consequences. Just one uninformed, ranting fan's point of view.

If you don't think it should be excused, I won't excuse it. I will instead complain about it.

Where are the "limits and consequences?" The system is, "if you draw the shape correctly, you get power." The only "limit" is distance from Elantris.

A magic system that is powerful isn't necessarily bad, but a system that has no limits is. It's nice knowing exactly what people can and cannot do. With the AonDor, Sanderson can do pretty much whatever he wants to if, say, Raoden draws the Aon "Eda." Since the AonDor is a language, it must have adjectives. Sanderson has never defined what the adjectives can do. In fact, he never defined what the words like "flower" can do. What happens if I draw the Aon "Opa"?

Another thing: the AonDor is a developing language. Maybe one day a character will draw a random symbol that will turn out to be an Aon. Then, Brandon has yet another Aon to do stuff with. He doesn't have to stick to the 41 Aons already made.

There are no power limits; it is implied that you can make it as powerful as you want with enough add-ons. They also never mentioned getting tired after repeated use of the AonDor.

Don't get me wrong: Elantris is a good book. But that is because there isn't a magic system through most of the book. If Sanderson writes a sequel, he will have to put more limits on the system.

Argent

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Re: Soulcasting and AonDor too powerful!
« Reply #10 on: January 17, 2011, 07:14:27 PM »
However, the way I see it, you still have to be pretty knowledgeable about how you draw your Aons. It's not like writing a sentence. In fact, I think using the AonDor is very similar to using the BioChroma to Awaken. In both cases, it seems, you know not only to know what you want to "say", but how to say it as well. Type III BioChromatic entities, Awakened objects, won't obey a Command you have phrased poorly, or ambiguously, or you haven't imagined well. I suspect your Aons won't work if you don't draw - or write - them exactly as they should, or in the order they should appear, or in the proper combination.

As I said, it looks like science to me. And if Earth is any indication, good scientists are not that easy to come by...
Power doesn't always have to corrupt. In many ways, it can change a man for the better.

CabbyHat

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Re: Soulcasting too powerful!
« Reply #11 on: January 18, 2011, 01:54:44 AM »
OK, I will admit that I was being a little hasty with Soulcasting; it does have limits (currently it is directly related to the size of the gemstone, but more limits may arise). However, I will complain about AonDor.

I just feel like I have to chime in here that AonDor doesn't need to be "excused" for any reason. I thought it was a wonderfully written magic system, intuitive, consistent, and fitting for the world, with clear limits and consequences. Just one uninformed, ranting fan's point of view.
Where are the "limits and consequences?" The system is, "if you draw the shape correctly, you get power." The only "limit" is distance from Elantris.
You don't think that every magic user in the world suddenly transforming into a tortured, immortal being when there's an earthquake is a "consequence"? AonDor is very closely tied to the land, and if something happens to it, everyone who uses it suffers. If I had a choice, that would definitely be enough to make me think twice about taking it up.
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Tangletalon

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Re: Soulcasting and AonDor too powerful!
« Reply #12 on: January 18, 2011, 02:22:48 AM »
Re
However, the way I see it, you still have to be pretty knowledgeable about how you draw your Aons. It's not like writing a sentence. In fact, I think using the AonDor is very similar to using the BioChroma to Awaken. In both cases, it seems, you know not only to know what you want to "say", but how to say it as well. Type III BioChromatic entities, Awakened objects, won't obey a Command you have phrased poorly, or ambiguously, or you haven't imagined well. I suspect your Aons won't work if you don't draw - or write - them exactly as they should, or in the order they should appear, or in the proper combination.

Comparing BioChroma to AonDor works only if someone has an infinite amount of Breath. Only then do they both have the same power base.

TheFinisher4Ever

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Re: Soulcasting and AonDor too powerful!
« Reply #13 on: January 18, 2011, 03:53:03 PM »
You all are forgetting the most limiting factor of AonDor: Time and mobility. Unlike every other magic system named here, you must stand still until the Aon is complete. Depending on how many modifiers are used and how much you practice, that time could be very long. Here is a test, get a piece of paper and see how long it takes you to draw a perfect Aon with modifiers.

happyman

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Re: Soulcasting and AonDor too powerful!
« Reply #14 on: January 18, 2011, 05:01:35 PM »
Overpowered compared to what?

In one of his podcasts, Brandon says essentially that characters can be as powerful as the story needs, as long as they can't solve everything with just a wave of their hands.  Or if they can solve everything with a wave of their hands, the story is over, a la HoA.

Presumably in the Elantris sequel, the Elantrian's will be in conflict with the Dahkor monks.  The Dahkor monks seem to have access to the same powers the Elantrians have, in deviously different ways.  Perhaps most importantly, the Dahkor monks can get their powers on demand, rather than needing to draw Aons (the downside is that each monk, and their connected powers, are relatively expensive).  As long as these two systems stay balanced, there will be enough conflict and tension for the books to be decent, regardless of what powers people discover.  In fact, I suspect that Wyrn will have the upper hand much of the time; there are already hints of that in Elantris.
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