Crafting Artifacts

Crafting Artifacts

Basics Using Wyld Shaping

1. The Base: What am I making?

Am I making a staff? A sword? A breastplate? A longbow? Nunchucku? Whatever it ends up being, I need my base first. It gives me my flavor, and whether it’s a weapon or armor will help give me direction and focus.

2. The Concept: Why is it special?

What can this item do? This is not the place to list its specific powers or plan out the evocations. It’s a very high-level description of the artifact’s specialness. If you are making a Staff that Grows Food and Makes Poison, then the Staff is your Step 1, and Grows Food and Makes Poison is your Step 2. Zeus’ Thunderbolt is a Spear that Electrocutes Foes. Bam. Concept.

3. The Materials: What is it made of?

Determine what magical material the item will be made of.

Note: in 3e you are encouraged to combine different materials to get different effects! Black Jade for talking with spirits, or Green Jade for stealing Essence! Orichalcum for power or sorcery, with some Soulsteel to make it deadlier.

4. Attunement: What do (Insert Exalt here) get out of it?

Reading the examples in the book you’ll notice that every artifact has “Evocations of [Artifact Name]” before the evocation list which describes a special bonus that comes merely from attuning to the weapon.

First of all, this is the place where you specify if only certain exalts can gain the benefits of these evocations (which is most often the case, but you’re welcome to make the exception) and per book rules, that should almost always include Solars (because they are quote/unquote “the best at evocations”). Dragon-blooded are up there so they could be added to this list. But I always like to include the exalt types that synch with the materials I use. If it’s made of Starmetal and Jade, then I’ll give an attunement bonus to Solars, Siderals, and Dragonblooded. Not too tricky.

Next is to figure out what the actual bonus will BE. Now, I don’t always figure out this part before the evocations, but as much as possible I try to make the attunement bonus feed into the powers of the evocations, where a specific playstyle benefits the user. For example, in my Heartfeast axe, if you know a specific Intimacy in the foe you get a series of passive benefits which are decent but relatively minor. However, all of the evocations of the axe gain an additional bigger benefit if the user knows this particular intimacy. So a concept that is introduced in the Attunement bonus is played upon throughout the artifact and points the playstyle of the user who wants to take advantage of the axe and it’s powers.

I wouldn’t put any attunement bonus cost above 3 additional motes, and even then it should be pretty strong to warrant it.

5. Evocations: High-level!

So you want to write a bunch of powers for your weapon. Great! Start REALLY high level. You know your Concept already. Break that down a bit. Is it broad enough to turn into multiple powers of varying levels? Or is your concept best as a capstone? Be wary about falling into the trap of making your Essence 3+ capstone evocation the whole purpose of the weapon, otherwise its preceding evocations will feel useless.

It’s important that your first few evocations be your bread and butter. You should be encouraged to use those evocations relatively frequently. I usually do this in 2 ways. 1) I make the first or second evocation give a bonus or a counter that future evocations rely on. 2) The evocations need to grant something on their own so that it’s not useless to use without the future powers. No one wants a speed bump.

An example of these rules are with my warfans Affable Crag Leaves. They build a different type of elemental charge each round depending on where your initiative stands. These charges give small bonuses at various levels, but otherwise are just counted. The first 2 evocations affect the battlefield, but also swap charges between the two types to help you manage your levels. The pinnacle evocation uses equal amounts of those charges for a big effect. The pinnacle power cannot function without using the first ones, but if you haven’t learned the pinnacle power yet, you should never feel like the first two evocations are useless.

So back to my point, using your Concept write a few words to describe what powers your artifact should have. “Helps with stealth”, “Grants bonus armor”, “Hits better, reveals an intimacy”. My target number for evocations is between 3-5 but it obviously varies based on your need. Just make sure that each evocation is useful enough to stand on its own. The PC using it might go many sessions before raising enough essence to unlock greater powers!

  • Using Wyld Shape with Evocations
    • making an artifact 3 rating will have one evocation (and requires phase 3 of Wyld shape), making an artifact 4 rating will have one evocation (and requires phase 4 of Wyld shape), artifact 5 will have two evocations (and requires phase 5 of Wyld shape)
    • any evocations on and after that (phase 6+) add one evocation per phase
    • Additional Evocations
      • must reach the Phase that corresponds to the Artifact, then spend an additional 2 motes for each Evocation added to the weapon

6. Formatting: The Icing

So you have your high-level ideas for powers now and you want to write them.
Do what I do and Copy/Paste!

Fancy Evocation Name
Cost: 5m Mins: Essence 1
Type: Simple
Keywords: None
Duration: One Scene
Prerequisites: None

If your power affects Withering or Decisive attacks call them out and bold them. It helps the reader find them quickly in the text and keeps them from glossing over the fact that it’s different (this is also why you use keywords like Dual or Uniform).

7. Mechanics: The Meat

Some basic Cost rules

  • Most dice adders are 1-2 motes in cost. If it’s not attack/defense-ability related, it can be cheaper.
  • If it lasts for a scene, more often than not it should cost 4-6 motes and a willpower included in the cost
  • Counterattacks or things that grant automatic successes to decisive damage usually have a willpower in the cost. If it doesn’t, raise the mote cost above 5
  • Upgrades to previous evocations should only list the added cost and put it in (parentheses)

If you’re trying to figure out how many dice to add to something, I think of it this way. Flat numbers are fine, but never change as you level up. This can make a weapon feel too powerful early on, or not powerful enough later on. That doesn’t mean don’t use them, but keep that in mind when deciding. I almost NEVER use Ability or Attribute scores. If you want to use a number that changes, you have 2 solid options:

  • Essence starts small at 1 and ranges big up to 5. It’s more granular and is directly representative if your power level. Adding or subtracting 5 to anything, however, is VERY GOOD in 3rd Edition, so be careful and think about the high level game before throwing this at everything. It doesn’t belong everywhere.
  • Intimacy strength is a favorite of mine, because the ratings go from Minor at 2 to Defining at 4. It starts stronger than Essence but finishes a little weaker. More than that, you can get the higher strength at lower levels, but through more effort. It requires game work and not time spent and this adds dynamics to your strategy. I usually recommend using Intimacies where possible, but I’ve absolutely used Essence and you should consider both options when picking your modifiers.

Decisive attacks are easily very brutal in 3rd edition, so I tend to be very reluctant to ADD dice to Decisive attacks and I pretty much never add automatic successes beyond 1 to them. However, a fun mechanic can be to transform damage dice INTO automatic successes. This still gives you a bonus without greatly modifying the curve. You don’t add dice and it’s still powerful.

Exalts have them, and you need to remember that they do when designing your artifact, because they will USE them with your artifact if they can. This can include multi-attack charms. what happens to your artifact’s ability if it’s applied 5 times to a target in a single round. Does it break it’s power? Put a limiter on the gain. Does it make it too expensive? Maybe that’s a good thing. Does it exactly copy a power an exalt has easy access to? Maybe it’s not a good evocation idea. This is just worth keeping in mind when designing.

The final evocation should not only be the most powerful, but should realize the vision of the artifact. The best ones build on earlier evocations without replacing them. Sometimes, they should come with a reset condition, but that should be based on how great it is. If it’s something that will easily decide a major battle, it’s probably good enough to require a cooldown/reset condition. My favorite evocations upgrade the previous ones to make them better in some way, but I do love me my upgrade evocations. It should be noted that the capstone usually helps me determine the Artifact rating (3-5 dots) of the weapon. Is it’s power huge and showy, or is it more internal and restrained? This is a tricky process, and I usually just default to artifact 4 for most of mine. Easier to scale them back a level than raise them.

8. Backstory: Tie it all together

Who made it? What drove them to make it? What trials did they face in finding the materials? What processes did they go through to forge this mighty tool of the chosen? What happened to it afterwards? Did it fall into obscurity, or get passed along from hero to hero?

Crafting Artifacts

Champions of the Sun GMJJ