Sample Artifacts

Examples of artifacts include the following.

Caesar’s Shield

This is the shield that Julius Caesar carried with him from Britain to Egypt and back to Rome. The shield is said to have disappeared at roughly the same time Caesar was slain by ambitious senators. It has reportedly surfaced from time to time, appearing on auction blocks and being alternately decried as a forgery and contested in bidding wars more savage than any of Caesar’s campaigns.

This +3 large shield, emblazoned with the image of a roaring lion’s head, allows the bearer to wield any weapon as though he was proficient in its use. It also grants whatever weapon its bearer uses a +3 enhancement bonus. The bearer has damage reduction 10/+1 while grasping Caesar’s shield as well.

Type: Artifact (magic); Caster Level: —; Purchase DC: 70; Weight: 15 lb.

Crescent of the Moon

Legend says that the stone blade of this ancient scythe is carved from rock that came from the moon. Given the age of the specimen, this seems patently impossible, but its previous owners have been unwilling to submit the crescent to scientific examination. Experts estimate that it was made during the early iron age, though why one would make a stone blade when metal ones were widely available, no one can say. The crescent has a long and colorful history as an object both desired and feared by pagan sects.

This +3 scythe, with images of the lunar cycle and baying wolves carved into its shaft, also has the quality of lycanthrope bane (gaining an additional +2 enhancement bonus and dealing an additional +2d6 points of damage to werewolves, wererats, and other lycanthropes).

The crescent of the moon has other enchantments that activate only during specific phases of the lunar cycle. The following effects are active only from dusk to dawn on the days in question:

New Moon: On the three nights of the new moon, the crescent grants its wielder the ability to recognize lycanthropes by sight regardless of their current form—humanoid, hybrid, or animal.

Waxing: During the period of time between new and full moon, the crescent grants its wielder darkvision out to a range of 60 feet.

Full Moon: On the three nights of the full moon, the crescent grants its wielder the ability to throw himself into a violent rage once per night. This rage lasts 1d4+3 rounds, and the wielder cannot choose to end it prematurely. Beginning a rage is a free action. In the rage, the wielder temporarily gains +4 Strength, +4 Constitution, and a +2 morale bonus on Will saves, but suffers a –2 penalty to Defense. The increased Constitution increases the wielder’s hit points by 2 per level, but these hit points go away at the end of the rage when the Constitution score drops back to normal. (These extra hit points are not lost first the way temporary hit points are.) While raging, the wielder can take no action other than attacking; if there are no foes to attack, he must forfeit all actions until the rage has passed—he does not have to attack his friends. At the end of the rage, the wielder is fatigued (–2 to Strength, –2 to Dexterity, can’t charge or run) for 1d4+3 rounds. The wielder may only fly into a rage during his action, not in response to somebody else’s action.

Waning: During the period of time between full and new moon, the crescent grants its wielder the scent special quality.

Type: Artifact (magic); Caster Level: —; Purchase DC: 68; Weight: 12 lb.

Cup of Curing

The origins of this gold chalice, crafted in intricate baroque patters and encrusted with dozens of jewels, are as mysterious as its powers. At various times in history, the cup has an object of worship for nearly every major religion—indeed, there is evidence that its possession has precipitated innumerable wars.

Any liquid drunk from the cup takes on amazing curative powers. One swallow cures all diseases, blindness, deafness, hit point damage, and all temporary ability damage. It also neutralizes poisons in the drinker’s system (so that no additional damage or effects are suffered) and cures mental disorders caused by spells or injury to the brain.

A second swallow in the same sitting removes negative levels and restores permanently drained levels and ability scores.

A third swallow grants the drinker a +5 bonus on saving throws, attack rolls, and skill checks for one day.

A fourth swallow causes the drinker to glow with a brilliant white light. One round later, as the light grows brighter, anyone looking at the person must succeed at a Fortitude save (DC 25) or be struck blind for 2d6 minutes. On the next round, the drinker’s body is completely consumed as the light flares—anyone still watching must succeed at a Fortitude save (DC 35) or be struck permanently blind. The following round the light ceases, and the cup of curing disappears along with any trace of the greedy drinker. No spell can divine where the cup goes or when it will surface again.

A character may drink from the cup on up to five different occasions. The sixth time, he immediately suffers consequences identical to drinking four times in a sitting.

Drinking from the cup is a move action that provokes attacks of opportunity.

Type: Artifact (magic); Caster Level: —; Purchase DC: 51; Weight: 3 lb.

Dagger of Eternal Unrest

The curved, black blade of this dagger leads into a hilt inlaid with human bones ending in a large black onyx gem. It is a relic formerly used by a cult that performed ritual sacrifices then brought their victims back from the grave as the walking undead. The dagger has a +3 enhancement bonus plus a secondary enchantment.

Three times per day, if the dagger is used in a successful coup de grace, the wielder may choose to have the blade cast animate dead on the victim. This creates a zombie under the control of the dagger’s wielder. If the dagger changes hands, so too does the zombie’s loyalty.

Type: Artifact (magic); Caster Level: —; Purchase DC: 47; Weight: 1 lb. Houdini’s Watch Fob

This short length of gold chain with a belt clip on one end and a wooden fetish at the other once belonged to the famed stage magician Harry Houdini. The fetish is a crude, tiny carving of a human figure with strange glyphs gouged into its chest and back. Houdini, it is said, was never seen without this fob hooked to his belt—never, that is, except for the night that he died.

In the intervening years, the fob has passed through the hands of several collectors, all of whom swear that they will give the artifact a permanent home. Each owner, though, has fallen on hard times, passed away, or come to a particularly valid reason to sell the item less than a year after taking possession. The fob, it seems, does not want to stay in one place.

Anyone wearing the fob gains a +3 luck bonus on Reflex saves, as well as a +6 luck bonus on Balance, Bluff, Climb, Disguise, Escape Artist, Move Silently, and Tumble checks. Furthermore, the fob grants the wearer the Improved Initiative feat.

Type: Artifact (magic); Caster Level: —; Purchase DC: 50; Weight: —.

Index of Alexandria

There are four copies of this large, leather-bound, illuminated tome believed to exist (although rumors perpetually circulate about more). They represent the life’s work of a monk identified only as Ranald de St. Augustine (exactly which site named for St. Augustine remains unclear). They are Latin translations of a series of Greek scrolls attributed to Aristarchus of Samothrace —the last known librarian of the Great Library of Alexandria —that purport to be a complete index to the 40,000 volumes housed in that legendary temple to knowledge.

Reading the Index takes 40 days (which do not have to occur in a row). At the end of each day, the reader must make a Decipher Script check (DC 30) or that day’s effort is lost.

Upon completing the book, the reader gains +4 Intelligence, +2 Wisdom, and a +3 insight bonus on all Knowledge (arcane lore, art, civics, earth and life sciences, history, physical sciences, tactics, or theology and philosophy) checks.

After completely reading the book, a person may return to the volume to try to glean specific information or insight on matters of ancient history, languages and translation, various sciences, theology, and philosophy. (It is up to the GM to decide whether or not a specific subject falls into one or more of these categories.) This requires 2d6 hours and a successful Research check (DC 25).

Type: Artifact (magic); Caster Level: —; Purchase DC: 60; Weight: 30 lb.

Sphere of Annihilation

A sphere of annihilation is a globe of absolute blackness, a ball of nothingness 2 feet in diameter. The sphere is actually a hole in the continuity of the universe. Any matter that comes in contact with a sphere is instantly sucked into the void, gone, and utterly destroyed.

There are several known spheres of annihilation. Most belong to government agencies, some to universities or private research groups, and a few to private collectors. It is even feared that one or two have fallen into the hands of radical terrorist groups.

The origin of the spheres is uncertain, but the most common rumor is that they are all small pieces of a single original globe of annihilation. It is said that the globe is over 200 feet in diameter and that the U.S. government has it secreted away in an underground bunker in the Nevada desert.

A sphere of annihilation is static, resting in some spot as if it were a normal hole. It can be caused to move, however, by mental effort. The brain waves of the individual concentrating on moving it bend spatial fabrics, causing the hole to slide. The range of this control is 40 feet initially, then 40 feet + 10 feet per character level once control is established. Control is based on the character’s Intelligence and level. (The higher his level, the greater his mental discipline.) The character adds his Intelligence bonus and character level and then applies the total to a 1d20 roll. To control the sphere, the DC is 30. The sphere’s speed is 10 feet per round + 1 foot for every point by which the control check result exceeds 30.

If two or more characters vie for control of a sphere of annihilation, the rolls are opposed. If none is successful, the sphere slips toward the one who rolled lowest.

Should a teleport incantation be cast upon a sphere of annihilation, there is a 50% chance (a 01–50 result on d%) that the spell destroys it, a 34% chance (51–85) that the spell does nothing, and a 15% chance (86–100) that a gap is torn in the spatial fabric, resulting in a tremendous explosion. Everything within a 60-foot radius takes 2d6x10 points of damage. Dispel magic has no effect on the sphere, although a greater dispel magic incantation has a chance of succeeding (treat the sphere as a spell effect created by a 20th-level spellcaster for this purpose).

Type: Artifact (magic); Caster Level: —; Purchase DC: 40; Weight: —.

Staff of Sorcerous Might

A long wooden staff, shod in iron and inscribed with sigils and runes of all types, this potent artifact had been sitting in a display case in the British National Museum for decades. No one knows exactly what caused it to release a lightning bolt, shattering the case along with any illusions that it was just an ordinary decorative walking stick. Some people say it belonged to Merlin, Circe, or any one of a dozen other literary or historical sorcerers. Others say that it is just another magical piece of detritus that has come through Shadow in recent years. No one truly knows whether it is one of a kind, or if there are other staffs like it waiting to be found. In any case, it is one of the most powerful items that any spellcaster could possess.

The staff of sorcerous might gives the wielder spell resistance 23. It has several other spell powers, as well. Some the staff’s powers drain charges, while others don’t. A fully-charged staff of sorcerous might has 50 charges. The following powers do not drain charges:

The following powers drain 1 charge per usage:

These powers drain 2 charges per usage:

A staff of sorcerous might has the following additional spell-like abilities:

Absorb: As an readied action, the staff’s wielder can draw spells or spell-like abilities into the staff. The magic absorbed must be a single-target spell or a ray directed either at the character possessing the staff or her gear. The staff then nullifies the spell’s effect and stores its potential, converting spell levels into charges. The GM should keep a running total of the number of charges currently in the staff. If the staff absorbs spell levels beyond its charge limit (50), it explodes as if a retributive strike had been made (see below). Note that the wielder has no idea how many spell levels are cast at her—the staff does not communicate this knowledge.

Absorbing spells is risky, but absorption is the only way this staff can be recharged.

Retributive Strike: The staff of sorcerous might can be broken for a retributive strike. Such an act must be purposeful and declared by the wielder. All charges in the staff are released in a 30-foot spread. All within 10 feet of the broken staff take points of damage equal to 8 times the number of charges in the staff, those between 11 feet and 20 feet away take points equal to 6 times the number of charges, and those 21 feet to 30 feet distant take 4 times the number of charges.

A successful Reflex save (DC 17) reduce damage by half. The character breaking the staff is destroyed in the explosion.

Only the staff of sorcerous might is capable of a retributive strike—this is not an act that can be performed with any other staff, wand, or magic item.

Type: Artifact (magic); Caster Level: —; Purchase DC: 95; Weight: 5 lb.

Talisman of Pure Good

A divine spellcaster with an allegiance to good who possesses this item can cause a flaming crack to open at the feet of a divine spellcaster with an allegiance to evil who is up to 100 feet away. The intended victim is swallowed up forever and sent hurtling to the center of the earth. The wielder of the talisman must have an allegiance to good, and if he is not exceptionally pure in thought and deed (GM’s discretion), the evil character gains a Reflex saving throw (DC 19) to leap away from the crack. Obviously, the target must be standing on solid ground for this item to function. (In the air, in a highrise building, or on a boat or airplane are all places of safety against this otherwise potent item.)

A talisman of pure good has 7 charges. If a divine spellcaster without an allegiance to good touches one of these medallions, he takes 6d6 points of damage. If a divine spellcaster with an allegiance to evil touches one, he takes 8d6 points of damage.

All other characters are unaffected by this item.

Type: Artifact (magic); Caster Level: —; Purchase DC: 35; Weight: —.

Talisman of Ultimate Evil

A divine spellcaster with an allegiance to evil who possesses this item can cause a flaming crack to open at the feet of a divine spellcaster with an allegiance to good who is up to 100 feet away. The intended victim is swallowed up forever and sent hurtling to the center of the earth. The wielder of the talisman must have an allegiance to evil, and if he is not exceptionally foul and perverse (GM’s discretion), the good character gains a Reflex saving throw (DC 19) to leap away from the crack. Obviously, the target must be standing on solid ground for this item to function. (In the air, in a high-rise building, or on a boat or airplane are all places of safety against this otherwise potent item.)

A talisman of ultimate evil has 6 charges. If a divine spellcaster without an allegiance to evil touches one of these medallions, he takes 6d6 points of damage. If a divine spellcaster with an allegiance to good touches one, he takes 8d6 points of damage. All other characters are unaffected by this item.

Type: Artifact (magic); Caster Level: —; Purchase DC: 35; Weight: —.

Screen printing