An Artifact is an item of power, often made out of Magical Materials, to channel Essence to a specific effect. Many Artifacts are simple in design and composed of a single Magical Material, however, more complex and powerful Artifacts are known to exist, crafted from multiple Magical Materials. The most powerful Artifacts in Exalted can dramatically alter the landscape of any Story and have effects that can shape the whole of Creation and beyond.
Rules for building Artifacts can be found on page 133 of the Second Edition Core, and additional rules on their construction can be found in Wonders of the Lost Age on pp. 6-9 and in Oadenol's Codex on pp. 11-30. Further listings of Artifacts can be found in both Wonders of the Lost Age (pp. 33-160) and Oadenol's Codex (pp. 30-43). More Artifacts can be found throughout the first and second edition books.
Artifacts have a number of properties that determine their basic restrictions and usage. The properties are used within the rule system.
Rating determines the overall power level of any given Artifact. Some Artifacts can have a variable rating depending on what additional features the Artifact may possess. Artifacts may also have variable ratings depending on how many of any given Artifact you may happen to be using, such as in the case of paired weapons.
Commitment is the value associated with any given Artifact that determines what it costs an essence user to own and/or use that Artifact. Many simple Artifacts cannot even be lifted without first paying the commitment cost and attuning to the Artifact, while many complex Artifacts simply will not function without it.
Repair/Maintenance is required of nearly all complex Artifacts, from crafted consciousnesses to techno-magical suits of armor to the fantastic and awesome might of warstriders. This value reflects how difficult it is to keep such Artifacts in use and how to maintain their powers.
Players will spend a number of Background points per Artifact. The number of background points is equal to the Rating of each Artifact desired. Example: Suppose you wanted a Dire Lance and a Thunderbolt Shield. You would have to spend 2 Background dots for the Dire Lance and an additional two for the Thunderbolt Shield. For purposes of clarity, it is suggested that you keep individual artifact purchases on separate lines i.e., two instances of Artifact ●●○○○ as opposed to one instance of Artifact ●●●●○.
- Also known as Infernal Relic.
As of the Manual of Exalted Power: Infernals, the term "relic" has been used to describe certain Artifacts made by and out of demons. Some relics, known as hellforged wonders have a secondary trait called Sapience that grants the Artifact a personality of its own. During Character Creation, Sapience is a trait that must be bought just like any other background if the character's Artifact has it. For example, an Artifact that is Artifact ●●●○○, Sapience ●●○○○ would cost as many bonus points as if the character were buying two separate backgrounds, even though the relic is one background unto itself.
Sapience is a trait that some hellforged wonders (Artifacts crafted from demons) possess. This trait is a reflection of the Artifact's will and Urge, but can benefit the user in that it bestows upon the Artifact the use of a certain number of Charms based upon its rating. The sapience rating of an Artifact may never be higher than the Artifact rating of the infernal relic. Using the relic's Charms counts as a Charm use for the character and sapience must be bought as though it were a separate background during character creation.