Artifacts/MoxianeConstruction

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Contents

Artefact Construction System

By Moxiane

Index

[#Introduction]

Introduction

The five-dot system for rating artefacts that is used in Exalted is beginning to show its cracks – artefact articulated plate from the main rulebook and the Dragon Armours from Outcaste are both rated at •••• and yet the latter is demonstrably far more powerful than the former. Similarly, the system presented in the Book of Three Circles for constructing artefacts doesn’t hold up under scrutiny – it described a level five artefact as being “worldshaking”, and yet artefact superheavy plate, which is essentially just very good armour, is listed as Artefact •••••.

At the same time, the five-dot system is very useful, particularly so during character creation (the Artefact Background), wherein the rating system provides a way of representing how much of a difference the artefact makes to the character – in this situation the author feels that artefact superheavy plate deserves its rating.

These two issues, when taken together, clearly require a solution. One possibility is to give artefacts two separate ratings – one for purchase during character creation, and a second for their “real” power. I find this idea unsatisfactory for a number of reasons, not least that it “breaks” the five-dot idea and would require artefacts that “deserve” a ••••• rating to have one raised much higher during the creation process. The system below is not an attempt to create a “point-balanced” system for designing artefacts. Even if the author thought such a task was achievable the diverse nature of magical equipment in the world of Exalted would render it so full of exceptions and special cases that it would soon collapse under its own weight. It is also an attempt to provide a second axis on which to rate artefacts while retaining the elegance of the • to ••••• system.

[#Ranking]

Artefact Ranking

Artefacts in Exalted have both a rating (between • and ••••• or N/A) and a rank (first to third), wherein the rating represents the approximate power of the artefact within its rank. First rank artefacts are the weakest sort, being relatively common and readily (if not cheaply) available to Essence-users, while third rank artefacts are things of legend, with their own histories and legends, and those who would use or wield them would be wise to keep this in mind, since items of such power have their own destinies to fulfil.

[#Guidelines]

General Guidelines & Glossary

The system presented below uses a number of terms and abbreviations which are repeated on numerous occasions. Rather than explain what these mean after every use, the vast majority of them are defined below:

A
Artefact rating (i.e.: • to ••••• or N/A). Most often used as a number in a formula or as the difficulty for a particular test. Where applicable an N/A rating is considered to be 10.
R
Repair rating (see Exalted: the Outcaste for more details). This represents the relative difficulty in maintaining and repairing the artefact, and is rated between 0 and 5. A Repair 0 artefact is essentially maintenance-free.
Major power
The prime function of the artefact & the purpose for which is was constructed. The major power(s) for most artefacts should be intuitively obvious to someone looking at or holding the artefact in question, since its shape and appearance is most strongly affected by them, for example: the major power of a daiklave is its power as a weapon.
Minor power
Secondary functions of the artefact, these are often linked to the major power(s) of the artefact, either modifying its functions somewhat, or providing additional functionality – albeit somewhat limited. The minor powers of an artefact affect its appearance or behaviour, creating changes that allow the highly-learned to make educated guesses as to what they might be. For example: a suit of artefact armour that greatly increases the distance that its wearer can jump would have extra structures around the leg area, Essence redirection vanes, blue jade inlaid in sweeping and whirling patterns, and so on; while a reaver daiklave that can be thrown by its wielder to strike a target and then return to his hand would have wing- or bird-like qualities about it.

[#PowerLevels]

Relative Power Levels

Rather than using some kind of point-based method to enforce “balance” on the artefacts created with this system, it relies on the Storyteller and player to come to an agreement on the rank and rating of the artefact that the player wishes his character to construct. As a general rule, the higher the rank of the item the stronger its major and minor power(s) will be, as well as the latter being potentially more numerous. It is important to try and keep the abilities of any artefact to a single idea or theme, however – constructing an artefact that is simply a grab-bag of useful but unrelated abilities (the Swiss Army Knife effect) goes against what the author of this system believes to be the spirit of Exalted.

[#Charms]

Charms and the Process of Artefact Design & Construction

Stripped of the flavour text and the notions of thematic design, this system is, at its heart, highly mechanistic, requiring the player of the artificing character to make a number of dice rolls, first to simulate his character’s attempts to successfully design the artefact, and then to build it. Exalted characters have access to Charms which can enhance their abilities to superhuman levels, allowing them to instantly grasp extremely complex problems or to search through a massive library for a single obscure reference in the space of a night. Many of these Charms could easily be applied to the processes of artefact construction – first during the research & design phase when Investigation or Lore Charms could be invaluable and then during the construction phase when Craft Charms could save days if not weeks of time.

While the R&D phase uses Abilities which have Charms that are very easy to apply to the process, the construction phase uses the character’s Occult ability, while the Charms that could help with building the artefact come under Craft. In order to resolve this problem the following rules are suggested:

  • When using Craft Charms during the process of artefact construction the character uses the lower of his Craft and Occult abilities.
  • Charms which add dice or successes to a single Craft roll (i.e.: Flawless Handiwork Method) can be applied as normal, but motes spent on them are committed for the duration of construction.
  • Charms which accelerate the construction (such as Craftsman Needs no Tools) can only be used if the character intends to apply them for the whole of the construction phase. This renders these Charms inefficient for anything but low-level artefacts.

[#ConstructionTeams]

Construction Teams

Some artefacts, particularly high rank and rating ones such as skyships or heavy essence cannons are so large that it is ludicrous to expect a single character to construct them, even with some of the astoundingly powerful Charms available to elder Exalts. If Craft Charms are to be used during the construction of these huge projects then every Exalt working on the artefact must know the Charm in question (or as similar a Charm as possible if a different type of Exalted).

[#MagicalMaterials]

The Five Magical Materials & Other Components

Most artefacts above the first rank (particularly weapons and/or armour) require the presence of at least one of the Five Magical Materials to act as a conduit for the Essence that gives them their abilities, and many use two or more in their construction. Not only that, but many artefacts also require the presence of exotic components (usually sympathetically linked to major and/or minor powers) in order to operate at full efficiency.

The Five Magical Materials (jade, moonsilver, orichalcum, soulsteel and starmetal) are all capable of channelling Essence, but each of them gives its own “character” to the Essence that flows through the artefact, altering its properties somewhat if the user is capable of harmonising his anima with the item. The most commonly known examples of this effect are artefact weapons and armour, whose properties can be quite dramatically altered by the material that they were largely constructed from. These alterations are generally considered as part of the artefact’s major power(s) and do not need to be separately accounted for during the design or constructed processes.

Exotic materials are just that, exotic. A character might be forced to go on a long quest into the far East to gather the copper-laced petals of a particular Wyld-touched flower that grows only in branches that are at least a mile above the ground, or question ten thousand people to find the gravesite of a renowned mortal hero & retrieve his skull while keeping his ghost appeased. There are very few limitations on the sorts of things that can be necessary, merely that they are spiritually or thematically linked to the purpose for which the artefact is being made and that they have a real, physical existence (or can be granted one). There are tales of Exalted sorcerers making terrible pacts with the Fae for their ability to make the impossible real.

As a general rule the more powerful the artefact the more obscure and difficult to obtain any exotic materials required for construction will tend to be. While a simple daiklave that stifles any sound its user or victims makes might simply require the fingerbone of a mute assassin and the outer pinions of a great owl from the far North, a Daiklave of Conquest (Castebook: Dawn) might well require such things as the skull of a great general, the claws of a jade lion and the horn of an orichalcum furnace rhino, to name but three. Mechanically, the number of exotic components required for an item is a function of its rank and rating, calculated as follows:

# components = (A-1) x rank

As will be described below the number of exotic components required for the construction of a given artefact can be reduced through good design. However an Exalted who uses more such than required while building the item will find the going easier, as the sympathetic magic the components invoke speeds construction, each extra component (up to twice A) subtracts two successes from the total required to complete the artefact.

[#MinorArtefacts]

Minor Artefacts

The sheer weight of Essence that continually pours through Creation gives rise to a great many strangenesses, some of which can be harnessed to benefit the mortal population in a number of ways. Minor artefacts are an example of this, since they some few of them can be found occurring naturally (yasal crystals & waterstones) or can be constructed relatively simply by any occult theorist or thaumaturgist (warding talismans and the Cord of Winds).

For more detail on constructing artefacts of this type, see the Path of Enchantment or the Exalted Player’s Guide.

[#TerrestrialRank]

Terrestrial Rank Artefacts

Terrestrial rank artefacts represent the vast majority of the magical items that an Exalted character will encounter and/or own. Daiklaves, artefact armour, hearthstone bracers, and thunderbolt shields are just a fraction of the (combat-oriented) items that an Exalted can come across. Most often quite simple in design and construction, they make up for a relative lack of power (compared to second rank or higher artefacts) through the ease with which they can be built and maintained. Despite their overall low power-scale, they should not be underestimated – a Dragon-blooded sword-master wielding a grand daiklave is an opponent to be respected, regardless of whether his sword was built during the heyday of the Shogunate or has only recently left the occult forges of the Heptagram.

First rank artefacts cover the gamut of ratings from • to •••••.

[#TerrestrialBasics]

Building a Better Daiklave

First rank artefacts are, generally speaking, relatively quick and easy to design and construct, requiring only a few weeks or months of effort before being ready for use. Artefacts of this rank usually require an Essence-user to operate them, although it is possible to make them capable of absorbing ambient Essence instead (usually for artefacts that have a continuous effect, or for those that mortals are meant to use & have a limited number of uses per day).

To design & construct a Terrestrial rank artefact the sorcerer must meet the following requirements: Intelligence •••, Craft A (minimum of •••), Lore A (minimum •••) and Occult A (minimum •••). The Craft ability must be of a type appropriate to the artefact being constructed. The character must also have access to a large occult workship costing at least Resources ••• or A whichever is higher, mundane materials costing Resources A as well as whatever amounts of the Five Magical Materials or other exotic ingredients (see above) that the Storyteller says are necessary, or have access to artefacts and Charms that obviate these needs.

[#TerrestrialResearch]

The Research & Design Phase

There are three basic ways that a character can come up with the design for a Terrestrial artefact that he intends to construct: he can take an existing artefact and decipher its workings to the point where he can make a copy of it, he can pore through book after book looking for accounts of an artefact similar (or identical) to the one he wishes to create, or he can attempt to create one from scratch using only his imagination and innate intelligence. Of the three, the first is the fastest but also the most restrictive, whereas the latter is the hardest but offers the greatest potential. Should the player choose the second route then it is up to the Storyteller to determine if such an artefact ever existed in the past and whether or not any records or accounts of it exist within the occult library the character is using.

To copy an existing artefact
The character must have constant access (14-16 hours a day) to the artefact in question for A days, after which he can make an Intelligence + Occult or Investigation (whichever is higher) roll against a difficulty of A. If the character succeeds he understands the artefact well enough to begin to copy it. Should he fail, then the study period may be repeated but with a cumulative -1 dice-pool penalty to the Attribute + Ability roll. If the character botches a roll then he may have damaged or even destroyed the artefact (depending on the magnitude of the botch). Should the artefact still be intact then he may try again, just as if he had failed normally.
To research a prior instance
The Exalted must have near constant access (10-12 hours a day) to an occult library rated •• or higher (if it is the character’s own library then the normal bonuses apply). After A weeks, the character makes an Intelligence + Investigation roll (difficulty A+1). If the test is successful the character can move onto the construction phase, otherwise he can try to research the artefact in question some more, but with a cumulative -1 dice-pool penalty for each attempt. A botch on this roll means that the character has found an occult library without any reference to the artefact he wishes to study, but only discovers this after a further two research periods (i.e.: 2 x A weeks).
To create the artefact from scratch
The character must have constant access (14-16 hours a day) to an occult library rated ••• or higher (if it is the character’s own library then normal bonuses apply). After A weeks the character may make an Intelligence + Occult roll with a difficulty of A+2 – if this is successful, has created a functional design and can begin to construct the artefact. If the character fails then he may try again after a second study period with a cumulative -1 dice-pool penalty. On a botch the character has created a design with deep flaws that do not become apparent until after the first construction roll, but which consume all of the materials (magical or otherwise) required for the artefact, and may not try to design the artefact in question again until either his Intelligence or Occult are increased.

The design for a Terrestrial rank artefact can include the following: 1 major power, up to 2 minor powers (although no more than half of A) and up to three Hearthstone sockets (but no more than A).

Any extra successes from Intelligence + Investigation / Occult rolls can be used to affect the dice-rolls required for the Construction phase (representing the way that good design can make the process of building easier, faster and simpler) in one of three ways:

  • For the cost of 1 design success the player can reduce the number of successes required for construction by two (down to a minimum of A).
  • For 2 design successes the player can remove the need for one exotic component for construction of the artefact.
  • By spending 5 design successes the player can instead reduce the difficulty of the rolls required for construction by 1 (down to a minimum of 1).
  • For 5 design successes the player can add an extra minor power to the design above the normal rank limits (up to a maximum of 2)

While a single successful Intelligence + Investigation / Occult roll is all that is required for the character to design an artefact that will work, the player may decide that there aren’t enough successes to spend on making construction easier and so wish for the character to refine his design. This requires further Intelligence + Investigation / Occult rolls but with the following limitations:

  • The total number of design rolls made for a single artefact cannot exceed A.
  • The time taken for each successive design roll doubles compared to the previous one.
  • Each successive design roll suffers a cumulative +1 difficulty penalty.

Once the R&D phase is completed it is time for the character to move on to constructing the artefact.

[#TerrestrialConstruction]

The Construction Phase

Once the character has a completed design for a particular artefact (it need not be his own design), then he can begin constructing it. As stated above the character will require an occult workshop that had a Resources cost of at least ••• or A whichever was higher as well as mundane materials with a Resources cost of A and any exotic components that the Storyteller judged were required (see The Five Magical Materials & Other Exotic Components above).

Once the character has gathered everything he needs he can begin to work. Artefact construction is physically and mentally intensive, and it requires almost all of the character's attention (12-14 hours a day), essentially precluding him from doing anything else while working at the project. Not only that, but apart from any Charms that the character uses during construction (see Charms and the process of Artefact Design & Construction above) the Exalted has to keep a number of motes equal to A committed for the duration, which also keeps the sorcerer's caste-mark visible.

Mechanically, artefact construction is an extended Intelligence + Occult roll with a difficulty of A and a time between rolls of A weeks. The total number of successes requires is dependent on a variety of factors, some of which have already been touched on above (extra exotic components & a well-executed design), but the basic formula is as follows:

successes required = 10xA + 5/minor power + 2/hearthstone socket

As noted above it is possible for a character to build an artefact from someone else's design. There are many reasons for doing so, perhaps because the building character doesn't have access to an occult library, perhaps because he discovered an old design and wants to build it himself. Regardless of the reason, there is an effect on the amount of work it requires to construct the artefact, it adds another 5 x A successes to the total needed – the slight paranoia that has been endemic to sorcerers since the First Age ensures that every one uses his own variations on standard magical notation, forcing another to work that much harder at building the item.

[#CelestialRank]

Celestial Rank Artefacts

Second rank artefacts are wonders of the Age of Sorrows, barely understood and extremely difficult to reproduce, and yet enough of them survived the ravages of the Great Contagion and the subsequent Fair Folk incursions to keep the armies of Creation capable of inflicting massive devastation upon their enemies, at least for a couple of centuries. Unlike Terrestrial rank artefacts, many of those in the Celestial rank require regular and extensive repair and maintenance to keep them in fully-working order, and as the years rolled on much knowledge that had survived from the First Age and into the Shogunate became lost, and the artefacts this knowledge required broke and became useless or even dangerous.

The most commonly-seen second rank artefacts are weapons and armour left over from the First Age, things like warstriders and Dragon Armours, or naval and emplacement weapons like implosion bows or lightning ballistae, things that the powers-that-be had a vested interest in keeping maintained in working order. Less militarily important artefacts, such as those designed to control the local weather or to keep the water supply for a city clean and pure, fell by the wayside and succumbed to the ravages of time and poor maintenance.

Second rank artefacts are generally rated between •• and •••••, although some few rate as high as N/A (Lookshy’s prime skyship Skywolf is one such).

[#CelestialBasics]

Shock Lance and Dragon Armour and Implosion Bows, Oh My!

The design and construction of second rank artefacts is a highly labour- and resource-intensive process, and only those nations and powers with ready access to a pool of Essence-users and access to great wealth (i.e.: Looksky, the Realm and the Deathlords) can build these items of power on anything resembling a regular basis. Even so, construction of a warstrider is not something to be undertaken on a whim, and the design process alone can take months (or even years) before the artificer is satisfied with the results.

To design and construct Celestial rank artefacts the Exalted must meet the following minimum requirements. Essence •••, Intelligence ••••, Craft (appropriate sub-skill) A (minimum ••••), Lore A (at least ••••) and Occult A (minimum of ••••). The character must also have easy access to an occult library rated at least •••, an occult workshop with a cost of A or •••• (whichever is higher), and materials costing A+1 – some of the material requirements may be negated if the character has access to appropriate Charms or artefacts.

[#CelestialDesign]

The Research & Design Phase

The process for designing second rank artefacts is largely similar to that for third rank artefacts, however the extra complexity that most artefacts of this power-level have means that the character must have a much greater level of appreciation for and comprehension of the arcane workings within the artefact to be studied and/or constructed. The same three methods of design remain however.

To copy an existing artefact
The character must have constant access (14-16 hours a day) to the artefact he wishes to copy, and easy access (8-10 hours a day) to an occult library rated at least ••• - if this is the character’s own library it provides the normal bonuses to the research process. There are two separate steps that the character must successfully complete before he has a useable design. The character studies the artefact for A weeks and then makes an Intelligence + Lore roll with a difficulty of A. If this test is failed then the character may try again after another A weeks and with a -1 penalty to his dice pool. If the character succeeds then he may make an Intelligence + Investigation or Occult roll with bonus dice equal to the extra successes obtained on the Lore test against a difficulty of A. If this second test is successful then the character has a workable design with which to copy the artefact. If it fails, then the character can try again after a week’s study with a -1 cumulative penalty to his dice pool for each additional test. A botch on either roll indicates that the character has damaged the artefact somehow, rendering it useless for further study.
To research a prior instance
The Exalted must have near constant access (10-12 hours a day) to an occult library rated at least •••• which provides the normal bonus if it belongs to the Exalted. After A months, he may make an Intelligence + Lore roll (difficulty A+1). If successful the character can then attempt an Intelligence + Investigation roll at a difficulty of A+1 and with bonus dice equal to the number of extra successes obtained on the preceding Lore roll, otherwise the character can try again after another A months of study and with a -1 penalty to his dice-pool. If the Investigation roll is successful then the character has a working design, otherwise he can try again after a month of study and with a -1 penalty to his Investigation pool. A botch either roll indicates that the character has found a library without any reference to the artefact in question (or has accidentally such references as there were), and must try a different library to continue his researches.
To create the artefact from scratch
With constant access (14-16 hours a day) to an occult library rated at •••• or higher (normal bonuses apply to the character’s own library) the Exalted can attempt to create an original artefact. After A months of intense study the character makes an Intelligence + Lore roll against a difficulty of A+2 which, if successful, allows the character to make an Intelligence + Occult test (against the same difficulty) with bonus dice equal to the extra successes scored on the Lore test. If the character failed, then he may try again after another month of study, albeit with a -1 penalty to his Lore dice pool. If the Occult test was successful then the character can begin construction on his artefact, otherwise he must labour for another full month before trying again – this time with a -1 penalty to his previous Occult dice pool. A botch on the Lore roll has a similar effect to that above, while a botch on the Occult roll introduces fundamental flaws into the design of the artefact which do not become apparent until after the first construction period is done (generally A months), but which consume all materials, magical or otherwise, allocated for the construction process.

A completed design for a Celestial rank artefact can include the following: 1-2 major powers (no more than half of A), 1-5 minor powers (no more than A) and up to four hearthstone sockets (less than or equal to A). Celestial rank artefacts either have an R of 0 (being maintenance free) or else R is between half of A and A - with a maximum of 5.

The rules for design refinements are essentially the same as those for Terrestrial rank artefacts (see above), but with the addition that each extra Intelligence + Investigation / Occult roll also loses one die from the pool, up to a total equal to the number generated in the initial Intelligence + Lore test (if applicable). Once the design has been completed, the player can spend any extra design successes for precisely the same effects as for Terrestrial rank artefacts.

[#CelestialConstruction]

The Construction Phase

The construction process for second rank artefacts is largely similar to that for the first rank, only far more expensive and time-consuming. As stated above the Exalted must work in an occult workshop costing at least Resources ••••, mundane materials costing A+1, and whatever amounts of the Five Magical Materials and/or exotic components that the Storyteller felt was necessary (adjusted for good design) – barring any Charms or pre-existing artefacts which can remove some or all of these needs.

Mechanically, the construction process is an extended Intelligence + Occult roll against a difficulty of A - R/2, with each roll covering A months of intense effort (12-14 hours per day). For the duration of the project the character must keep Ax2 motes committed and his caste-mark gleams as if the character has spent 6-10 motes of peripheral Essence – this is in addition to any Essence expenditure that the character makes for Charms or artefacts. The total number of successes required for the construction is as follows:

successes required = 10xA + 10/major power + 5/minor power + 2/hearthstone socket

A botched construction roll will either remove a number of successes equal to A times the number of 1’s rolled on the botch and/or introduce some deep-seated quirk or flaw into the artefact that will not become apparent until the job is completed (Storyteller discretion).

[#CelestialTeamwork]

Teamwork

When working on particularly large projects (such as heavy warstriders or skyships like the Manta- or Skywolf-classes) it is ludicrous to assume that a single Exalted performs all of the work, either on design or on construction – projects of that scale would take a single character decades or even centuries to complete, and the relatively short-lived Dragon-Blooded who make up the majority of those able to construct such items, simply don’t have that much time available to spend. Instead a team consisting of tens, or even hundreds, of occult technicians, sorcerers and artificers will work under the direction of one character (or a small group of characters), reducing the time required for both tasks to manageable levels.

[#CelestialResearchTeams]

Research Teams

A character leading a team of researchers can use their efforts in one of two ways, the amount of help he gets depends on the size of the team, the size of the project and his own ability to lead his assistants in the correct directions. First of all the character must obtain the services of qualified research assistants – these can be mortals, other Exalted, spirits or even summoned demons (the source is irrelevant) who meet the following criteria: Intelligence •••, Lore ••• and Investigation or Occult ••• - depending on the research process being used (see above).

As a general rule the more complex the project being attempted the more researchers can be usefully applied to assist the character, however a larger research team becomes difficult to handle and eventually the character can spend more time managing than researching, which is counterproductive. For any given project a number of people up to 3xA can be usefully employed as research assistants, with each three such providing one research point (RP) (see below). However, in order to successfully manage and motivate his team the character must first make a Charisma + Presence roll with a difficulty equal to the number of assistants divided by three.

If the character succeeds then he gets one RP per three assistants (up to twice the rating of the occult library being used), if he fails then count the number of successes he failed by and subtract double this amount from the RP generated by his assistants – there are aren't enough RP being generated then subtract any excess from all research rolls required during this research period. A botch means that the team disintegrates into pointless bickering and squabbling for a full research period. As ever, the character may use appropriate Charms to affect any or all of the above. These same rules may also be applied to the rolls required for any refinements that the character wishes to make to the design (if initially successful).

Research points generated by the character's assistants can be spent as follows:

  • Add two dice to any single research roll (may add up to the character's Intelligence + Investigation / Lore / Occult as appropriate) = 1RP.
  • Reduce the length of a research period by 10% (to a minimum of 20% of the base time) = 1RP.
  • Reduce the difficulty of any rolls required for this research period by 1 (to a minimum of 1) = 2RP.

Any dice-pool penalties from failed research rolls also apply to the Charisma + Presence roll needed to make effective use of the researcher (the team gets bored doing the same thing over again). Note that it is up to the character (and his player) to obtain appropriate assistants, these rules do not cover the possibility of coerced workers sabotaging the character's plans, for example.

[#CelestialConstructionTeams]

Construction Teams

The teams that construct large-scale artefacts tend to be rather bigger than those that researched it, but are also generally easier to manage, since they are all working from a single plan, rather than trying to discover one. Those employed in this task must meet the same requirements as for a research assistant (although the Investigation minimum is waived), and up to 10xA such people (or other appropriate creatures) can be gainfully assigned to the construction of a single artefact.

Before each Intelligence + Occult roll required for construction the player makes a Charisma + Presence roll, and for every success scored on this roll adds to those from a construction roll - the maximum number of successes that may be obtained in this manner is equal to one-fifth of the size of the construction team. A simple failure has no additional effect, the team simply didn't perform very well during the construction period in question, but a botch reduces the number of successes the character scores on the construction roll by half before comparing it to the construction difficulty. Charms may be used to affect the Presence roll as usual.

[#SolarRank]

Solar Rank Artefacts

Third rank artefacts are wonders of the First Age, the stuff of myth and legend even in that many-splendoured time. Even the weakest of them can outshine the Tlower ranks, and the greatest are known throughout Creation, their very names the subject of beer-fuelled discussion amongst the scavengers of the East – such creations as Soul Mirror, and the Defences of the Realm, as well as the ancient First Age weapons that were used against the Fair Folk during their incursions following the Great Contagion.

Solar rank artefacts all uniformly powerful, usually rated between •••• and N/A

[#SolarBasics]

The Destiny of Kings, the Fate of Cities

A third rank artefact is never constructed on a whim – the sheer effort and time involved in the process ensures that they are always made for a specific purpose, almost always some epic task that would be impossible without the assistance of the artefact, and almost as difficult with it. Perhaps surprisingly, however, these were almost all personal projects on the part of their creator – only with the very largest and most powerful would a team of assistants be brought in.

[#SolarDestiny]

The Hand of Destiny

In an artfully hidden corner of one of the many libraries contained within the Forbidding Manse of Ivory is the Concordance of Destiny. This otherwise unassuming volume is a meticulously kept record of every Solar rank artefact that exists, or that ever existed, within Creation or without. There are wonders contained within this book that are unknown anywhere else, relics of the time before the Gods, things that were destroyed in ages past still have a mention in the Concordance. This is at the specific request of the pattern spiders, for it is through their works that the destinies of these objects come to fruition.

It is the pattern spiders that ensure that any attempt to create a copy of a third rank artefact, whether it is destroyed or still extant fails, for Creation itself is twisted out of shape by their forging, and the pattern spiders will not countenance a second such. However, it is also the pattern spiders that must manage this twist, which manifests itself in the destiny of the artefact. Some can operate on their own but self-motivated artefacts have always been rare, even during the First Age, due to numerous “mishaps” (similar to the story of Eyem in Aspect Book: Air), but most require a user or wielder to at least commit Essence to it.

Mechanically, the destiny of the artefact inflicts spiritual damage on the character if he is not at least attempting to work towards it. This can appear as anything from fatigue to a loss of Willpower, spontaneous wounds to an inability to control his Essence pools, and the Exalted whose life has become entwined with the destiny of a powerful item may not always realise where this “damage” is coming from.

At the end of every session where the character has been defying the destiny of the artefact (knowingly or not) the Storyteller makes an opposed roll between the character’s permanent Essence and A. If the character wins, then his destiny suppresses that of the artefact for now, but the next roll gives the artefact a cumulative +1 bonus to its dice pool. On a draw (equal successes from both character and artefact) things remain as they were, but if the artefact wins, then the character begins to suffer from one of the effects listed below while the number of consecutive times the character has lost determines the depth of fortune’s displeasure. All of the effects of defying the will of the pattern spiders last for the entirety of the next session.

”Destiny’s gaze” (1 loss)
    • The character’s temporary Willpower pool reduced by one.
    • The character suffers one level of unsoakable Bashing damage.
    • The character make Stamina + Endurance rolls against fatigue at +1 difficulty.
    • The character “bleeds” 1d10 motes of Essence per hour (lose peripheral Essence first if Exalted).
”Touch of destiny” (2 losses)
    • The character receives one less die when channelling Willpower through a Virtue.
    • The character suffers from a one mote surcharge for each Charm he uses.
    • The character suffers from a +1 difficulty penalty to all social Abilities.
    • The character suffers from one level of unsoakable Lethal damage.
”Destiny’s kiss”(3 losses)
    • The character’s permanent Essence is counted as one lower for the calculating the size of his Essence pool(s).
    • The character cannot use his Stamina to soak Lethal damage.
    • The character no longer regains Willpower by rolling his Conviction in the morning.
    • The character makes Stamina + Endurance roll against fatigue at a +3 difficulty.
”Destiny’s embrace” (4 losses)
    • The character acts on his compulsion unless he spends a point of Willpower at the start of each day.
    • The character loses one success for every 1 that turns up on a die roll.
    • The character cannot spend Willpower for an automatic success.
    • The character loses access to his personal Essence pool (if applicable).
”Overwhelmed by destiny” (5+ losses)
    • The character gains no benefit from Stunts.
    • The character cannot use Combos.
    • The character no longer regains Essence from respiration.
    • Whenever the character achieves no successes on a die roll it counts as a botch.

The destiny of these artefacts has another, often unexpected, effect. Since they force the pattern spiders to alter their works to accommodate the power of the artefact, the pattern spiders express their displeasure with the creator by inflicting Paradox on him (see Exalted: the Sidereals p. 214-5). He suffers a number of dice of Paradox equal to the rating of the artefact he created (N/A rated artefacts count as 10) and, if appropriate, immediately suffers from pattern bite. The Sidereal Exalted are struck especially hard by this, since the pattern spiders feel that the Maiden’s Chosen should know better - they will always receive at least one point of Paradox regardless of the result of the dice, this point is permanent and thus reduces the total amount of temporary Paradox that the Sidereal has to accumulate before suffering pattern bite by one.

[#SolarDestinyFulfilled]

A Destiny Fulfilled?

What happens when an artefact’s destiny is met? What became of Melancholic Tone when it was used to slay the last member of the Three Devil Council? The circumstances of the fulfilment of destiny are what determine what happens next – maybe the artefact and character are freed from the confines of destiny, or maybe a new one is forged. Regardless, it is strongly recommended that a character who wishes to begin play with a Solar rank artefact not have one that has been freed from its destiny, such an event should be the focus of play for some time.

[#SolarDestinyThwarted]

A Destiny Thwarted?

Sometimes fate fails. Sometimes a destined end becomes impossible to achieve. When this occurs the Tapestry begins to fray, potentially causing a breach that would allow things from beyond Creation a foothold. In order to prevent this from happening something must be sacrificed, and the pattern spiders are the prime movers in this function when it comes to the destinies of artefacts.

Should a Solar ranked artefact’s destiny become impossible to fulfil, for whatever reason, the following things happen: The artefact loses one of its major powers (if it had more than one), as well as half of its minor powers (the Storyteller chooses which powers are lost). The item also loses one dot of Artefact rating and drops to the Celestial rank. Finally, its old name is lost and it must be given a new one – this last is more of a role-playing tool, but it is still important symbolically.

[#SolarResearch]

Research & Design Phase

As mentioned above a Solar rank artefact must be unique in design and construction, this restriction being enforced by the pattern spiders that maintain the Loom of Fate, and so each time that one of the Exalted begins to research such an item he must begin from scratch. The process is similar to that for designing Celestial rank artefacts, requiring that the character utilise both the Lore and Occult Abilities, but the character must also unify his Essence with the design – artefacts with this level of puissance are always, in part if not in whole, shaped by the character’s Essence and his connection to Creation.

The character must meet the minimum requirements of Intelligence •••••, Essence ••••••, Craft (appropriate type) ••••••, Lore •••••• and Occult ••••••, as well as have constant access (14-16 hours a day) access to an occult library rated at ••••• or higher (normal bonuses are received from the character’s own library). After A seasons of intense study the player makes an Intelligence + Lore roll and an Intelligence + Occult roll, both of them at a difficulty of A+2. If both rolls are successful then the player rolls his character’s Essence plus a number of dice equal to extra successes obtained on the prior Lore and Occult rolls after another full season (this time in deep and intense meditation) – this roll having a difficulty of A. If this final roll is successful then the character has a functional design for his artefact and has altered his anima in such a way as to allow for construction.

If the character fails on his Lore and/or Occult rolls he may try again after another full season of work – both rolls must be successful before the character can progress, and both rolls suffer from a cumulative -1 dice pool penalty. Similarly, if the Essence + extra successes roll fails, then the character may make another attempt to harmonise his anima with the construction after a month has passed, with a cumulative -1 penalty to his dice pools – although the player will never roll less dice than his character’s Essence.

The completed design for a third rank artefact can have the following: 1-3 major powers (up to half of A), 2-6 minor powers (no more than A) and 1-5 Hearthstone sockets (again, no more than A).

Any extra successes on the initial Lore, Occult and Essence tests can also be used to affect the construction process in a similar manner to that for Terrestrial and Celestial rank artefacts, being spent by the player for the same effects as those listed for first rank artefacts above. Unlike first and second rank artefacts however, the design for a third rank artefact cannot be refined – the process requires as much mystical intuition as it does occult understanding, instead the character must try to start again from scratch, something that can only be attempted after a break of at least A seasons from his research.

[#SolarConstruction]

Construction Phase

The construction of Solar rank artefacts is an epic undertaking in and of itself, requiring unimaginably vast resources and huge amounts of time and effort on the part of the artificer (and any assistants). The character requires an occult workshop costing at least Resources •••••, mundane materials (gold, jewels, marble, etc…) having a total Resources cost of A+2 as well as amounts of the Five Magical Materials and whatever exotic components are required.

The construction process itself is simulated with an extended Intelligence + Occult test against a difficulty of <A with each single roll representing A seasons of intense work. The character must also keep Ax4 motes commited for the duration of the project and his castemark flares as if he had expended 6-10 motes of peripheral essence. The character may use Charms or artefacts to assist with the construction process but his Essence pools will necessarily be greatly diminished by the not inconsiderable commitment that artefacts of this power require. The total number of successes required for the construction can be determined from the following formula:

successes required = 10xA + 10/major power + 5/minor power + 2/hearthstone socket

A botched construction roll will either remove a number of successes equal to A times the number of 1’s rolled on the botch and/or introduce some deep-seated quirk or flaw into the artefact that will not become apparent until the job is completed (Storyteller discretion).

[#SolarTeamwork]

Teamwork

As mentioned above Solar rank artefacts were rarely the product of a design committee or construction team. However, the very largest and most powerful magical creations of the Solar Deliberative, such as the Realm Defence Grid or the vast jade seal that maintains the River of Tears are simply too large for a single Exalted to have constructed in anything less than a millennium. Should the construction of a third rank artefact require a team then the rules provided above can be used with the additional proviso that all beings working on the object be Essence-users – during the First Age this usually meant teams of Terrestrial Exalted and/or artificer demons.

[#MissingStuff]

Missing Items & Notes to Self

  • Variable power systems (Hearthstone, essence drain, elemental) – reagent-power covered under Repair rules.
  • Should 2nd or 4th rank have Repair? If so, how to fit in?
  • Figure out a better way of integrating Charms into the design and/or construction processes. Write-ups per Charm perhaps necessary, but I hope not.
  • Does Skywolf’s listed construction time (2 centuries?) fit into rough scheme? (c. 120 successes at difficulty 8 with 10 months/roll). follow-on 10-20 years, not 200 years. Much better.

[#Comments]

Comments

Look here for old comments

OK - this now is functionally complete. Fluff and stuff needs adding, but the basic structure seems sound. Reduced to three ranks of artefact - sorcery gets by on Terrestrial to Solar plus thaumaturgy, so I can too. - Moxiane

Err... I could just be missing something, but from what I can see, having a maximum size construction team for a rating 5 artifact (50 people) would let you get an entire 5 extra dice on all rolls. Considering those rolls are taking months each... this doesn't actually help all that much, especially compared to how much easier many people make the research. Am I missing something?
-- Darloth expects he's missed some weird CP(construction point) mechanic somewhere in there

No, actually you didn't miss anything. I just made construction teams crap - which really wasn't the point. >_< Edit Switched extra dice for extra successes on Construction Teams section - Moxiane
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