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Motivation for the question

We are running into questions around whether and how mortals can use artifacts in Exalted 3E. My Twilight has now twice wanted to make artifacts to give to mortals, once to bribe a mortal that had useful influence and connections and once a weapon to make an ally more effective, and we are a bit stymied on how or even if it should work.

Problem: Almost all Artifacts require essence to use, which Mortals lack.

Almost all artifacts either require attunement or require spending motes to get any use from them at all. Winterbreath Jars (essentially magical refrigerators, p. 118 of Arms of the Chosen) are the only clear exception to that that I am aware of, specifically stating that attunement is not required. The Lotus Blossom Cup (id. at p. 117) also implicitly seems like it works without attunement. But the vast majority seem unusable by someone without an essence pool. In fact, the description of attunement on p. 594 of the main book suggests that without attunement most artifact weapons cannot be wielded at all.

But despite all that, the discussion of artifacts on page 593 refers to scavenger lords and heroes from the Threshold using artifacts. Presumably, this refers to more than the very few and very minor artifacts that do not absolutely require essence.

So, the question is, can a mortal make use of an artifact and if so how?

Solutions that didn't work, or at least not fully.

One idea that we have explored is allowing an exalted to commit essence on the mortal's behalf for attunement. This does not have any rules support that I can find, but seems a reasonable stunt for an exalted. It essentially comes with a permanent cost since the motes would be committed, but that might be a price worth paying to properly outfit an ally that fights with you often. Should this work?

The other option we looked at is Prophet-Uplifting Evocation (EX3, p. 373) which grants a small essence pool. This seems like it would work under the rules. but it seems incomplete. First, it doesn't explain how scavenger lords or heroes from the Threshold used artifacts before the Solars returned. Second, it just doesn't work well for my particular character who has no investment in Presence at all yet so it would be a long time before that became an option.

Is there another way for my Twilight to let mortals use artifacts, and if so, what?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Did you vcheck if any of the socketed gems might provide an essence pool? \$\endgroup\$
    – Trish
    Mar 20 at 22:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Trish That's something I hadn't thought of. I haven't scoured the books for that and I don't own all of the books that exist, but to the best of my knowledge no hearthstone or gem provides an essence pool (and for my character's purpose, certainly nothing he has laying around handy). \$\endgroup\$ Mar 20 at 22:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ 2e had several ways mortals could learn to access their Essence. Decades of training was the safest way, but there were drugs and Charms that could blast someone awake and risk overloading. Gunzosha soldiers used implants that didn't technically give them access to their Essence, but would interface with their artifact armor and handle attunement for them. No clue if any parts of that have been carried over to 3e. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 23 at 20:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ @gatherer818 That is definitely interesting. As far as I know, none of that has been ported over to 3e yet, but I don't own all of the books. How compatible would those things be with 3e? I never played 2e, but as I understand it, they changed a lot. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 23 at 21:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ Very little 3e experience here, which is why I haven't answered, I just hoped to provide some context. I forgot there were also Solar Charms that gave mortals limited access to Essence in 2e, as well. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 26 at 8:07

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