In some ways, this is the hardest part. Clarifying how artifacts should be created, and how many points they are worth is one thing. Building them in character is another. This is based off of Bo3C's system, so it's pretty similar, but I felt that was a bit too rough. I tried to simplify it, but it's not very good so I'd like some input. http://hammerand.com/CreatingArtifactsInCharacter.jpg
Creating Artifacts In-Game
In order to create an artifact in-game, the character must have sufficent knowledge and skill, just like a swordmaster's Melee Skill or a Artisan's Performance Skill.
Crafting an artifact should need either a simple or an extended roll. Simple rolls are for things like talismans or prayer strips, which are really more of an Enchantment, and ought to fall under thaumaturgy. But most artifacts are too complex to be made as a simple action, and thus require an extended roll. Since these are both really the same process, they will all be dealt with at the same time.
- Knowing how to make the artifact -
Once an artifact has been designed, it becomes necessary
Lore and Occult are the two main arbiters of knowledge, but Occult is the arbiter of advanced mathematics and knowledge of Essence flows. Lore can be substituited for Occult, but at a -2 die penalty due to lack of understanding.
For enchantments, they must have two dots of the relevant ability per every level of the artifact they wish to create. This means either Lore 4 or Occult 2, to make a level one artifact. Specialties count, so someone with Occult 5 (+3 Artifacts) specialty in Occult would be able to make a Level 4 artifact with a simple roll! A character with Occult 8 (+3 Artifacts) would be able to make N/A artifacts with a simple roll as well. This is the power of the Primordials and the Celestial Incarnae, to be able to create wonders intuitively, without painstaking research. This ability level cannot be raised with charms or artifacts, and must be the natural ability of the character.
Artifacts require a roll, instead of a simple flat ability count. They should roll their Intelligence + Occult against a difficulty of twice the Artifact level, which can be boosted with dice adders and other charms. Storytellers should feel free to raise or lower this difficulty depending on how much they like the artifact. If you feel the player has been bargining with you to max out the power of the artifact as much as possible for it's level, go ahead and add a few points to Difficulty. On the other, if the player clearly wanted to make you happy with his new invention (even if it's an artifact 5 daiklaive of deathlord-slaying), drop a few points off. This represents the innate difficulty of min-maxing, even for the Exalted. It takes an Exalted with more skill to create a artifact that takes advantage of all the materials of his craft, than to just whip up something that will get the job done. War Machines have a difficulty of the total Artifact levels to create, making them far more difficult a invention than any other.
This roll takes no time. Exalted don't like to waste their time sitting around thinking. If they want to do the planning first, that's fine - let them roll Wits + Lore against the difficulty of the Artifact. If they succeed, the Storyteller should improve the artifact in some way, either by adding a power or making it cheaper to make or use. This should not be a required roll, however - merely one the Storyteller should request if it seems like the artifact creation is bogging down the game somehow and as an excuse to speed it up a little. Characters should not be able to choose the effect gained, in order to prevent them from breaking the fragile balance of the game.
- Being able to make the artifact -
Just because the character knows a lot, doesn't mean they can just whip it up instantaneously. Even the most skilled artifacer needs time to work his craft, materials to work, and tools to do what his hands cannot.
Time is the most relevant issue to tackle first, since it is the one that will be dealt with over and over again. Materials can be bought, tools can be reused, but most characters would rather spend their downtime learning charms than buildings artifacts.
There is a simple progression of time units found in Exalted. This is the moment, the minute, the hour, the day, the week, the month, the season, and the year. It makes sense for each higher level of artifact to be completed in the next higher unit of time. Enchantments are simpler and faster, however, and so take less time to make. This is including time to sleep, of course. consider a day to be roughly equal to 10 hours.
Enchantments start at the moment, level 2 artifacts take a minute, level three an hour, and so on. Keep in mind that most characters, without specialties, will not be able to make level 3 artifacts this way. They must create an Artifact, which uses a progression of one level higher this way. Also, since this is an extended roll, it takes that long of an interval between every roll. War Machines start at a time period of one day, and go up from there.
Materials are usually easier to get for the Exalted than free time. They can be easily bought, and used to make something new. In fact, magical materials are not at all required to make artifacts. Instead, they offer bonuses to those able to possess them. A daiklaive can be made out of steel as easily as jade, but that daiklaive would never be as manuverable or light, and wouldn't gain the magical material bonuses either. Feathersteel could be used to make it lighter, but it still wouldn't be as strong, and an Adamant daiklaive would likely shatter under the strain. Each of these issues are dealt with under the Materials section.
The key thing to remember is that when crafting something, it doesn't matter what you're making - you're adding value to the raw materials. This is as true with artifacts as it is with pottery. Thus, the resources cost for the raw materials depends on quality and volume rather than artifact level. It is also going to vary by campaign, and from area to area within creation. Never mind the chance that the lucky Solar might suddenly find a meteorite landing at his feet - an instant "free" source of Starmetal (Though he best be ready to defend it!) Likewise, Moonsilver always has to be gathered by the Lunar seeking to use it.
Since the resources cost varies so wildly, it's simple enough to say that the cost to buy materials for a simple artifact hover around Resources 3. If the character does extra work, hunting around for prices and buying them cheap and inexpensive, he can lower that to resources 2; if he wants higher quality to save him time, raise it to a Resources 4 purchase. It will be a Craft (Artifacts) + Perception roll at difficulty 3 to evaluate and refine the purchased material into Artifact quality. This is for all the materials, not each one. This process takes a day to do. This time represents the time needed to get the artifact in the basic shape needed, giving it it's proper shape,
More importantly, each artifact also needs a number of special ingredients equal to the artifact's level. Some of these can be created: incense and prayer might work, if it sucessfully catches the attention of the god. On the other hand, it might be simpler to go fight a river dragon and grind it's teeth down to a find powder, mixing it with the jade and the steel. This really depends on the Exalted's style.
Buying tools typically is a once in a lifetime purchase for an Exalt. Thus, it's safe to say that if they have enough Resources to buy the materials, they already have enough equipment to make artifacts. If a character has resources 3, it's safe to say they have the equipment. If they lose their equipment, or are just starting up, it's a Resources 3 purchase to buy it all back again. Simple replacements or a few new tools are a resources 2 purchase, so it's assumed the character has been hunting the market as he practiced his trade instead of buying a complete kit. Keep in mind that this is just for making simple artifacts (eg Enchantments). If the character is going to be building war machines or delicate automata with precicsely shaven gears, he needs the kind of laboratory that is typically part of a Manse.
- Making the Artifact after all -
When it comes down to it, the character still needs to do a few things before she holds the completed artifact in her hands. First, she must set aside a portion of her essence equal to twice the commitment rating of the artifact (assume full attunement, even if the wrong magical material), and not use this essence until the artifact is completed. This essence is considered committed for the duration of creating the artifact.
Then, she combines the artifact's components and applies her ancient and destructive lore with a Dexterity + Craft (Artifacts) roll at a difficulty equal to the level of the artifact. She will need 5 successes on this roll, for each level of the artifact.
Failing this roll with an enchantment meants that they would have to start over with new materials. On the other hand, if she was taking it slow with the artiface path, she could roll again as many times as she liked, unless she botched.
Examples: A daiklaive made of jade would be a level two artifact. It is simple enough that it could be made as an Enchantment, so it could only take one minute to make by anyone with Occult 4. They would then need to roll 10 successes on their difficulty 4 Dexterity + Craft (Artifacts) roll.
Making it as an artifact, it would take a day and they would have to roll 4 successes on their Intelligence + Occult to be able to make this daiklaive. They woulds still need 10 successes, but it would take a day on each roll, and they would be fine unless they botched.
There are a few problems I have with this.
First, it's a bit TOO fast at the lower levels, and a bit too slow at the upper levels. I need a system for creating mundane items, like swords. Any ideas where I could find that? I'd prefer to have a reasonable base time, but should I just start at a month and put in effects to lower that time way down? Should I require that the mundane portion of the artifact be built first, and then just consider working it as an artifact an 'add-on' system?
Second, I figure I need to split Enchantment right out of it, and just allow for extended rolls in certain cases.
Third, there needs to be some kind of system for coming up with materials and how much each material costs, as raw ore. This fits in with the first point, but also factors into magical materials and special ingredients. Sure, we can use the jade talent as a standard, but how much magical material, in terms of talents (volume), does the average magical material deposit have?
Fourth, need to make the "special ingredient" more central to the concept of the artifact... it should probably be someting you START with, rather than just something you throw in midways.