I have read elsewhere for Numenera and the Cypher System as a whole, that there are no limits on the number of artifacts a character may possess. However, I have both the Discovery and Cypher System rulebooks and have yet to identify the source for this rule. Does anyone know where this rule comes from? Also, without limits, how does a GM know how to balance access to artifacts with Tier level?
There is no rule establishing a maximum number of artifacts.
There doesn't need to be a rule which says that something isn't true. You can find the rules for artifacts on pgs.298-299 of the Numenera core rules. There is no rule describing a limit on the number of artifacts a person may have.
You can scour other sections, other books, or other games if you want, but looking for something which doesn't exist can be an endless search. In the absence of any rule which establishes a maximum, there is none.
Artifacts are not a part of balancing characters.
You are likely bringing a Pathfinder/D&D-based mindset into a game that doesn't use it. Artifacts (and equipment in general) aren't a part of character advancement in Numenera.
If your tier 1 characters want to spend a lot of time scavving together a bunch of artifacts, by all means let them. In the process:
- They will need access to interesting technology. Make them adventure for it.
- They will need to scavenge the necessary parts. This could be a great opportunity for a GM intrusion, or to implement some kind of plot-hook.
- Once pieced together, they will need to identify the item or experiment to understand its use. More opportunities for the GM to push a plot ("you can't identify it, and the local Aeon priest won't do it unless X") or to add great intrusions.
- Once they have identified it, they have to learn to use it. More Intellect tasks, and more chances for GM shenanigans.
At the end of all of this, they have had a great adventure and plenty of fun. Not only do they get the artifact, but they get XP.
On the GM's side, there are quite a few reasons not to worry. First, artifacts are generally not a permenant kind of wealth. The depletion rules mean that many artifacts will eventually (either quickly, or just eventually) become unusable. Some objects deplete at the GM's discretion.
Also, using artifacts still invokes the normal Numenera rules. Are you attacking with the Exploding Arrow artifact? That's a Speed task - be prepared to spend that effort! Or would you prefer an intrusion which makes you reconsider using it?