There is a problem with artifacts in Exalted. That is... there's really no good system to make 'em, save by eyballing it and hoping the ST agrees with how powerful it should be. The corebook system isn't centralized enough and isn't hardly a system anyway, more of a "roll the dice and get alot of successes!" and that's about it. The Bo3C system is great for finding how powerful an artifact should be, but there are so many formatting errors and the rules themselves don't help much with making the artifacts in-play. Meanwhile, Savant & Sorcerer is great for making artifacts in-play, but is horrible for rating how powerful an artifact is, for taking them at creation or acquiring them in-game. Therefore there is no one system that can be used to make artifacts in Exalted, so I have to make one.
There are really only two types of artifacts we see these days. The first are the sleek, streamlined artifacts that really can't be improved upon considering what they do. Daiklaives, Superheavy Plate, and small automata fall into this category. Then we have more complicated artifacts, complex examples of Shogunate construction. Warstriders, Dragon Armor, and airships are all good examples of this second category.
In order to differentiate these two, I am going to take a nod from Dragon Blooded: Outcastes and divide artifacts into two backgrounds: Artifact, and Armory. Artifact will handle simple, integrated artifacts, while Armory will handle complex, multi-part war machines.
This will allow STs to allow or restrict war-machines in play just by controlling a single Background, instead of having to convern themselves with each individual artifact, and help players by making more clear the difference between simple artifacts and multimodal war machines. It can also be used as a guide for making Manses, since many manses are discussed as having first age defenses and other things and yet there is no good system for integrating these into the Manse - Bo3C doesn't have the rules, and S&S makes them far too fragile when compared to the corebook, so this too needs to be handled.
The artifact creation system has three basic powers. Greater, Major, and Minor. These powers are rated from 1 to 5.
- Greater powers are often found in Hearthstones and powerful, focused artifacts like the Singing Staff from Bo3C. These are often very complex powers and allow characters to do things they wouldn't be able to otherwise.
- Major powers are the most common and represent the primary power in most artifacts - for instance, a Daiklaive would have a level 2 Major power to represent the fact that it is a weapon. This level 2 Major power could be found on any artifact, making it as a weapon with stats comparable to a daiklaive. But an artifact without this power would be unable to be used as anything but an improvised weapon, having worse stats.
- Minor powers are less obvious but you see them around. 5MM bonuses, 2 die bonuses, lowered attunement costs and the like are good examples of minor powers.
Artifacts will start with a Major and a Minor power at the same level, both of which can be traded in for a Greater power of the same level. Likewise, a Major power can be traded in for a Major and a Minor power of one level less. Minor powers cannot be traded in, merely to simplify the process and also because any direct trade-in inevitably leads to people desiring many lower level powers over one higher level powers, which leads to more complex and less focused artifacts.
War Machines will instead be constructed out of artifact Powers, allowing you to write up it's powers and then choose which artifacts to build it out of for the most efficent use of your time and resources. So for instance a war-machine with three Major powers and three Minor Powers would be the same time to build as three artifacts.
War Machines will compensate for these extra powers with Drawbacks, such as Size and Maintnance. These Drawbacks can be reduced by advanced first-age Technology - but doing so raises the value of the artifact, thus making it worth more dots in Armory.
Finally, Manses will be constructed with twice it's level in points, dividing them between Power and Social categories. Power will be related to the strength of the essence flows, determing Hearthstone Level, but Hearthstone Level can be decreased in order to provide the ability to use the Essence other ways, such as powering defensive Artifacts. Social is more related to the physical size of the Manse, allowing for people to have Libraries and Laboratories and elegant ballrooms suitable for inviting and housing guests. In this way, Manse isn't assuming that hearthstone power is most important, but that having a retreat that is easily defensible or the perfect place to study, hold parties, and build artifacts is just as possible.
Old Artifact Creation System
Artifacts are tools of myth and legend, forged from exotic reagents and magical metals. Though some can be surpassed by mortal works, the most powerful devices cannot be created in this age for the tools and knowledge are gone, and the lack of recources is terrible indeed.
Artifacts are rated from one to five dots, with mortal thaumatugry and cterrestrial circle spells being capable of creating simple artifacts easily. Level one artifacts are equivalent to minor enchantments, for utility or need. Allowing untrainted mortals to perform at the peak of human norm, one-dot artifacts could be considered goods and services in a compact form. Mortals make frequent use of one dot artifacts. Level two artifacts are suprernatural in scope, gifting mortals abilities and powers they would never actually gain. Exalts often use them as shortcuts to power, comprimising for lack of experience or training, and boosting competent abilities to fearsome levels. Exalted commonly use artifacts of this level.
- incomplete record
Greater Power 3/3
Major Power 2/3
Minor Power 1/3
Major Power - a lage, noticeable effect such as a daiklaive's stats or any other power that can coexist with a lesser power.
Minor Power - supplementary effects that improve the effectiveness of the major power or add useful functionalry to the weapon.
Greater Power - Spell-like effects that the artifact has to focus on to the exclusion of all else. Example: the singing staff.
Each artifact has a major and a minor power at a level equal to it's rating.
To get a greater power, both the major and the minor powers mkust be merged, increasing the size of the artifact (Bulkiness +1) and requiring either Repair(+1) or Powered (Hearthstone +1)
You may exchange a single Major power for a Major and Minor power of the next lowest level, or a Minor power for two powers of the next lower level.
Lesser Powers- Hearthstone Slots, soulgem slots, 5MM powers are essentially free but may have limits and increase the difficulty of making the artifact. An artifact may have a number of lesser powers equal to the artifact Level. However each option increases the difficulty of creating the artifact by one. One difficulty gained in this way can be exchanged for additional success totals at the rate of one difficulty = 5 successes and a flaw.
Repair: The Artifact is made without all the necessary components. Thus magical materials must be used to compensate during the operation of the device. Usually paired with a "bulky" flaw.
Maintnance: The Artifact is made in a shorter amount of time, but this time must be compensated for later. No magical materials are needed, but time must be spent to re-calibrate the device or it will require Repairs instead.
Hearthstone: The artifact uses a hearthstone to power a continually active effect. Hearthstone should not be used to lower commitment cost: that requires special compontents instead.
Bulky: The artifact is large and cumbersomoe, apply penalties to its use. Compensates for lack of skill & knowledge.
Piercing damage: level 3 minor
Automaton (Major Power)
level 2 - may do simple, repeated tasks that may not be customized significantly. For instance, chopping wood, operating a well, acting as a stationary sentry that sounds an alarm when a general condition is reached.
level 3 - may perform any task that can be done with an attribute + ability roll. However it is only able to use that roll in one instance (as if a specialty). It may have its own dice pool, or use it's owners - or offer a choice as a level 2 lesser power.
level 4 - Can operate proficently with a small set of abilities, able to use them with discretion as any character would. The artifact may be capable of whatever is needed to express these abilities, such as movement or speech, but is not actually intellgent or capable of learning. It may be possible to program new responses to old stimuli.
level 5 - true Artifical Intelligence.
Hearstone Slots & Manses
Hearthstones are nice but many bulky artifacts seem to waste them. Aartifact with a hearthstone slot can be carefully integrated into the gemoancy of the manse, allowing it to operate as if it had a hearthstone of the appropriate level without using up all the gem. These artifacts cannot be mobile, but but may be combined with other artifacts that are temporarily distinct from the base artifact. see above.
First age materials - special components created from unique sorcery and charms no longer present in the second age. The Incarane, Dragon Kings, Mountain Folk, and the Demon Princes are the only ones capable of producing (or reclaiming the ability to produce) first age materials.. besides the Solars. In the first age, other beings were capable of producing the materials, such as the Lintha, but the Lintha are no longer pure and incapable of such works - now totally a creature of the second age. The same goes for the darkbroods and buried gods.
Essence Bateries (Minor artifact power)
level 2 - can hold up to 10m for the device, 2m per activation
level 3 - up to 40m, 8m per activation
level 4 - 80m, 20m per activation or 20m pod available beyond artifact powers.
level 5 - unlimited*, or 50m pod available beyond artifact powers.
- remember that the artifact needs to be recharged. never start an essence battery with more than 100m
Some artifacts require operators to direct the artifact as it is using it's power. This should be considred a flaw - counterpart to the Automation merit. The operator must use Int + Lore to direct the effect of the artifact. This allows greater control without sacrificing power, and makes the artifact less dependant on repairs or essence sources.
Artifacts may be combined together to create more powerful artifacts. Thus war-machines fall under Armory, as do flying machines such as Skywolf and complicated structures like the imperial manse defense grid. Full or partially complete artifacts may be used in the construction, so treat a device created with Armory as a selection of Major and Minor powers. They can have Greater Powers also but these always take the form of distinct modules added to the artifact late in creation.
This is the only time one should get a discount for not taking full advantage of all an artifact's powers. When creating artifacts for a war machine, mix-and-match powers however desired to reach the most efficent use of time and resources possible. But remember - tht these artifacts cannot be used seperate from the completed project. The artifacts may be of distinct components but each component is not actually able to function independant of the whole. Modular designs may be possible, but such design is only able to work when it is created seperately as an independant artifact. Hearthstones can even be used instead of artifacts, in order to provide Greater powers to the artifact, but whatever module the hearthstones are placed in will not function without the hearthstones in place.
1 - simple, personal devices such as shock lances and Ashigaru armor.
2 - more complex devices like Gunzosha and Warstriders.
3 - Devices on the large scale - lesser skyships, first age ships, or more complicated weapons such as dragon armor. Scrying devices that managed large systems such as farms or the weather over a large area might also be on this level. Creating technomagic races is probably at this level. However, it definately requires first age materias and extensive effort in miniaturization, never mind the extensive medical knoweldge.
4 - Large devices such as the Skywolf, first age manses, thousand forged dragons, the brass leviathon. May not be appropriate to start with as player characters.
5 - Devices of world-spanning complexity such as the Five Metal Shrike and the Jade Prison.
Bulkiness - All devices created with the Armory background start with a bulkiness, repair and hearthstone requirement equal to it's level. This may be decreaed as normal, with first age components and other drawbacks.
Manse design here is divided into two parts, Power and Social. Each manse serves a unique purpose, which the player (or ST) must decide. A manse built for Power may have other facilities, but they exist merely to fill space. A manse built for Social purposes may infact far outgrow the simple geomantic construction which can be considered the manse itself.
In the first age, a balance was met - inportant buildings were more powerful, and weak ones were often disregarded in terms of economic or strategic gain. But in the second age with less access to aerial transportation and other means of conveyance, such ideal situations are spread far and wide, and, most often, already taken.
- Early research in geomancy actually might have involved building huge, massive manses to channel all the essence in a large region into the building that is today considered the manse proper. Now, geomantic work is done to the landscape itself, which is just as effective but far less labor intensive.
"Why does his manse look awsomer than mine?"
Ultimately, Storytellers are going to be faced with a significant problem. Manses are focal points of essence, controlling vast ambient essence patterns and channeling them in ways that produce supernatural effect - resulting in Hearthsones that provide essence and special powers. Manses are also centers of Learning, debate, beuracratic organizations, social clubs, or simply somewhere secluded the Exalt likes to go and rest after a hard season of saving the world. Because such material benefit is expected in a manse, it is necessary to include not just the power of a manse in it's background cost or time to build, but also the cost of whatever social amenities the Exalt desires to indulge in within his mighty fortress. Storytellers intending for an empty manse should inform their players so that the characters might seek the resources needed to furnish their manses with the desired aneminities.
Like artifacts, manses serve a Major and Minor purpose. However, no Manses can have a greater aspect: it is simply impossible to miniaturize the geomancy to such a level. Lower powered manses might be able to do it, resulting in strange obelisks and monolithic structures, mysterious groupings of pillars and lakes that none may enter. But such a lack of social arrangements are always a matter of choice.
Instead, manse builders may choose a major and minor aspect of their choosing. The Major aspect determines the size of the Manse, and the minor aspect determines what ration of that sprawl is related to power.
Manses often contain strange defensive devices like artifacts, or not-quite social facilities like libraries of mysstic knowledge, first age forges and equipment, towers filled with specialized tools to track the stars and so forth.
These additional Benefits make up the difference between the minor and major aspects of a house. While it does not change the size of the sprawl, it can be used to ill space when the manses' power outstrips its social facilities, or to convert excess room to better use the lvel of additional benefits that is possible is equal to the (Major Rating - Minor Rating) + excess Social space. This allows a manse to have a static and easily specified level.