You wedge yourself sideways through the narrow fissure in the wall, having to stoop so low as to use oil on your body in order to slip across the sharp, jagged rocks. The rest of your crew waits anxiously for you to fulfil your duties. The room you enter is not large, barely big enough even for your small frame as the cylindrical opening holds but a single pedestal. Resting upon the top is the artifact you have been searching for through the Caskaleed Mountains for the past month. It may be the first step to begin closing the dimensional doors the wizard enclave continues to burst open and wreak havoc upon the nation. However, you try to recall what your wizard friend warned you to say before you could safely touch the artifiact….it definitely started with a K.
Artifacts are underrated and underused in role playing games. They are so powerful that they barely ever come into play because after they do, the game generally shifts dramatically. Suddenly the artifact grants the players abilities, changes the conditions of the world, alter a collection of people, use powerful energy, etc. They are often a pinnacle of a campaign, they must be rare and a focal point because of their awesome power. Otherwise, they would just be boring magical items, right?
© Paizo Publishing
I am curious if a GM can implement artifacts on a more common ground without breaking the game wide open. The pieces would lose a little of their luster because they are more readily available and easier to acquire, but if they were widely unique to the point where no two were alike, then suddenly the artifacts regain much of their attraction. Much like magic items are not entirely commonly found at every bazaar stand, artifacts would be sold by exclusive proprietaries that would require highly sought after official licenses to legally carry them. Naturally this will lead to a more uncivilized business side to artifacts, perhaps counterfeiting would be common and require a new skill to be created to identify them (or simply Appraisal would finally not be worthless to have).
The GM could have a field day coming up with a list of artifacts. They could be in a huge list of 100 for a random roll or selectively picked from the list. Either way, the choices truly are limitless. They would be beyond magical items that caused more damage or cast certain spells. Here are a few possible examples:
- Control whether it is night or day
- Bring about storms on either a country-scale or global-scale
- Render the world of magic while it’s activated.
- Everyone suddenly becomes attuned to magic, having at least 1 spell
- All animals have average intelligence and can speak
- Time speed shifts both directions periodically
- Causes religions to unify into one of either good or evil
- Nocturnal metamorphosis among all humans or demihumans
- Vampirism among humans
- Crops grow exponentially
- Physical and mental strength increased
- Animal control, midsize critters
- Global teleportation
- True invisibility
- Specific or all planar travel
- Transform another
- Elemental immunity
© Paizo Publishing
Artifacts are seldom equal among themselves. They range in varying degrees of power, and so much like magical items of minor or major powers, artifacts can share multiple levels of intensity. This can open up more believable artifacts for common folk who would not be expected to have the mental capacity to wield colossal items. Granted, these would be bordering along your typical magical items, but it would add some uniqueness to the settings. This entire concept could be concentrated to a single country or an isolated continent that is difficult to reach.
Naturally the concept is geared more for the high-fantasy settings, and it may not be for everyone. But adding this element to a setting might bring more flavors to the typical scenario that has grown stale. Bring it up to a global scale, and it is set apart from your traditional fantasy settings. Bring it into a modern day setting, and everyone is a varying level of super hero, each with their own sense of purpose in life.
One could even make the truly overwhelming artifacts hidden in their world. Perhaps several artifacts combine for a much more powerful one, but each piece is already used by those who truly need it. The megapowerful artifacts could be more along the lines of god-like powers.
- Bring cosmos disaster to the planet
- Resurrect the dead on a colossal scale
- Shift time by millennia back or forward
- Introduce new supreme beings
- Fuse 2 worlds together
- Shift gravity and tides
- Create a water world
- Remove all land and create lift among most things
Perhaps the ultimate point is to never narrow yourself to what has always been. Sometimes ideas work, sometimes they are colossal failures. Know that without applying change of some kind, the feeling of static sinks in along with a monotonous sense of repetition. Don’t be afraid to experiment, especially after consulting with the entire group. Find a new concept to nurture and grow with. Perhaps interest and excitement will extend further than your normal runs.
Until next time, lie about your dice roll as much as you can get away with. Thanks for stopping by.