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​Artifacts – Rarity and Personality

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  • ​Artifacts – Rarity and Personality


    So in the games people here have played/ran how common are Artifacts? Adding to that how much personality do said artifacts have.

    I will hopefully be running a game here in the future and I am trying to find the balance between giving players cool stuff & making said things feel special. There are no +1 swords in exalted but at the same time players might still accumulate a bunch of artifact weapons, armor, and doodads from fallen foes. How has it balanced out in your games? Where have you found the sweet spot between quantity and personality when it comes to equipment?

  • #2
    Artifacts are things PCs often take right out of chargen, but they're rare enough that for the rest of the world, you barely see them outside the hands of the local Dynast (and even then a lot of Dynasts don't have those). If you find your players try to accumulate Artifacts by, say, defeating a whole Wyld Hunt and reaping the spoils (or at least they appear to have such intentions) limit the amount of Artifacts you give your antagonists at any given point. That said, Artifacts require XP and mote investment, so it balances itself out if they try to attune too many at once, or even juggle them (since they would not have any depth in any of their Evocation trees). Old Exalted like Ma-Ha-Suchi have whole collections of Artifacts and that's fine, they've been around and encountered many people who used them. Hell, the Exigent in Adversaries has THREE Artifacts just on her own. One given to her by an outcaste crafter, one taken from the body of an outcaste priest she defeated, and one taken from a Lintha iirc. So while rare, you can assume supernatural beings will sometimes carry one or two.

    Edit: All Artifacts have their own personality and encourage different approaches to power with their Evocations. Their number has no bearing in their personality; a player going "I'm taking an Artifact but only for the stats" is what makes it a sword+1.

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    • #3
      I find it that well placed or notable Exalts to have at least two Artifacts, that is a weapon and an armor, like taking a look at the dragon-blooded QCs, thats typically the lay out though that doesn't mean its universal. Ledaal Kes and Cynis Cogen has no Artifacts, while Amon and Ragara Benoru has just one. At a side point though, Mnemon has 3. So it very much fluctuates depending on the character, their resources and whether on not they have a valid reason for even needing an artifact in the first place


      .

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Iceblade44 View Post
        I find it that well placed or notable Exalts to have at least two Artifacts, that is a weapon and an armor, like taking a look at the dragon-blooded QCs, thats typically the lay out though that doesn't mean its universal. Ledaal Kes and Cynis Cogen has no Artifacts, while Amon and Ragara Benoru has just one. At a side point though, Mnemon has 3. So it very much fluctuates depending on the character, their resources and whether on not they have a valid reason for even needing an artifact in the first place

        Mind, these are Dynasts, aka bearers of Creation's greatest infrastructural benefits. Other Exalted will vary much more than they do, from no Artifacts to a literal hoard, and will have a much harder/more random time getting one.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Iceblade44 View Post
          Ledaal Kes and Cynis Cogen has no Artifacts…
          To be fair, Szaya and Kes made Icemind.

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          • #6
            I think part of what you have to consider is "main character bias"

            Most PCs and canon NPCs will have artifacts cos they're important. Random Outcaste Winglord #12 probably won't.

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            • #7
              Well, asking things from an opposite direction - do you want a NPC's panoply to have a personality sorts that will not only enhance the antagonist, but could potentially maake those objects into recurring characters of their own even after ripped from said antagonist's broken, dead fingers?

              If so, give them artifacts and cook up some evocations to threaten and at the same time tease the PCs - if not, just use mundane stuff enhanced by Ritual of Elemental Empowerment or other spells, charms, thaumaturgy or other stuff.

              Or demonic/elemental surrogates - if we can have a perronele playing armor, i very much doubt sorcerers across the ages would not have experimented with finding or making up other stuff for their own (weird) convenience. [what could also make for an awesomely weird way to create a panoply with personality, i guess]

              That said, artifacts can be important and plot devices without stealing the spotlight or anything. Thor's hammer in the films can be said to make a pretty good case of an artifact showing its personality through the story in an overall unobstrusive manner. Not all of them need to manifest the One Ring, Stormbringer and such levels of atitude.
              Last edited by Baaldam; 06-13-2019, 09:22 AM.

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              • #8
                In the low-xp game I run (20xp now?) between 6 Lunars, there's 2 artefacts (both moonsilver weapons).

                In the Essence 4 game I play, between 7 characters, there's... 2 artefacts? 3? Again, all weapons. There's a handful of others that have been owned at various points, but since lost.

                In the Essence 5 game I play, between 6 characters; the Dawn uses a daiklaive and soulsteel plate and owns another 1-2 artefacts, one Eclipse has a daiklaive and has picked up another 3-4 daiklaives/short daiklaives that I don't know what she's done with, the Zenith has an orichalcum wrackstaff that turns into a priest's staff, the Casteless Lunar has 2-3 daiklaives she's looted but generally doesn't use them (as she uses Dreaming Pearl), and the other Solar and Lunar don't have any.
                There's also a broken warstrider (Godspeed Vanguard) in the tomb of my previous character, and a level 5 hearthstone knocking around (not sure who's got that).
                I should also say that, despite there being 4 Solars and 2 Lunars, there's more soulsteel

                But in the medium-to-high-xp DB game I played back in 2nd ed, between 6 players there was maybe 10-20 artefacts and 4 hearthstones. Quite a lot of us had a jade weapon, hearthstone bracers and power armour.

                Of course, back then artefacts were a bit cheaper for DBs, but I think there is a huge difference between a fabulously wealthy noble in an empire that actively seeks out and captures artefacts, who wants to use the most common artefact material, and a peasant hero trying to get her hands on an artefact made up of materials both extremely rare and forbidden.


                Still, when you've got 2-3 artefacts per person, I do think they become a bit... un-legendary.


                Avatar by Jen.
                My Exalted characters:
                Dr Soma Vaidya, viper-totem Lunar and kung-fu doctor
                Brother Alazar, Zenith occultist and last survivor of the Black Monastery of Leng

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                • #9
                  In all my games, the players have had a grand total of...

                  2 artefacts. A moonsilver ship that could turn into a submarine, using the stats of the flying ship from Arms of the Chosen, and a Red Jade Daiklave from the same game, which was bonfire-themed (its flame grew fueled by succesful Decisive attacks, or if you were a Fire Aspect, by spending an anime level while at Iconic level, and this grew the power of the weapon for the scene, or you could use Bonfire-levels to activate some of its Evocations. This one was designed by the player, with my help and supervision). Some NPCs had artifacts (in fact, one of them had an artifact that a player wanted: he said he had a cool idea for an artifact, a Green Jade bow which used the blood of the user to grow, some time after the start of the campaign, so I gave the artifact to the next villain so he could get it after the adventure. Sadly, we finished the campaign early, due to some group shenanigans, a big argument with a player, and burnout on my part, mostly due to the aforementioned argument), but for reasons, they never kept them if they defeated the enemy (they gifted the Black Jade Goremaul to a God to gain his favour, for example, instead of keeping it. There were only two characters using Melee in that game, and one had the Red Jade Daiklave, and the other one had Melee 2, so... They thought it would be more useful as a gift)

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                  • #10
                    Yeah, I find that, unlike DnD, Exalted artefacts are often not very useful for some characters, which means you're less likely to just be carting around a ton of artefacts you've found. Attunement, dissonance, the fact you can't use a Daiklaive with Brawl or most Martial Arts, etc, etc.


                    Avatar by Jen.
                    My Exalted characters:
                    Dr Soma Vaidya, viper-totem Lunar and kung-fu doctor
                    Brother Alazar, Zenith occultist and last survivor of the Black Monastery of Leng

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      So first off, lots of good ideas, I especially like Baldaam’s idea of using other sources of ‘artifact’ power without an actual artifact.

                      So I have spent most of my RPG GM time with D&D and Numenera where you give out lots of stuff, or Mage the Awakening (1e) and Fate where stuff really doesn’t matter. When I have ran the former two games I have at times been a little more generous than I should probably have been. Let us be honest players like getting stuff and as a GM I like my players to enjoy themselves.

                      However I really want exalted artifacts to mean something, to be characters/forces in their own right. Now there are some artifacts that really are just utilitarian (most of the two dot ones, some 3 dot ones) that I am not too worried about. It just feels as though an important opponent should probably have a few items on them. At the same time how many legendary swords can there be in the world, before it becomes a joke or meaningless? Additionally I don’t want to spend time making artifacts for opponents just for the PCs to go ‘ha, that is neat’ then throwing it in a back pack to be forgotten.

                      My idea of how many artifacts one should have though may have been skewed by one of my own character that was a crafting supernal. That I had to retire after outfitting the whole party with all their hearts desires and sort of running out of things to do.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Snakesandsuns View Post
                        It just feels as though an important opponent should probably have a few items on them. At the same time how many legendary swords can there be in the world, before it becomes a joke or meaningless? Additionally I don’t want to spend time making artifacts for opponents just for the PCs to go ‘ha, that is neat’ then throwing it in a back pack to be forgotten.
                        No problem with that either. That the PC has no use for an artifact except as a trophy doesn't mean other people in Creation - that might even know more of its past history and exploits of previous holders, agree with the sentiment and won't try to negotiate or steal it from them, among other things.

                        Originally posted by Snakesandsuns View Post
                        My idea of how many artifacts one should have though may have been skewed by one of my own character that was a crafting supernal. That I had to retire after outfitting the whole party with all their hearts desires and sort of running out of things to do.
                        Yes, i guess that can skew one's perception of the subject at least a little. That said i would suggest you take a look at your own experiences to think of bits you would like to repeat/toy with, stuff you might do differently from your ST and see where that leads you. Also, take a look at the blurbs on each artifacts' story on Arms for ways to make them tools of world-building and some more of your own.
                        Last edited by Baaldam; 06-14-2019, 06:53 PM.

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