Thursday, August 19, 2010

Open Call: minor artifacts & relics

Last week I talked a little about artifacts and relics as they appear in Eldritch Wizardry and the 1st edition Dungeon Masters Guide.  I think it's time we all did something about the paucity of lesser artifacts in that mold.  What I propose is that everyone interested write up one or two new artifacts, I'll stitch 'em together and publish the result as a free download and at-cost book on Lulu.  For the benefit of people who don't own the original books, I'll tack on an OGL version of the fill-in-the-blank powers list.

To submit an artifact you can email me (jrients, gmail, etc, etc.), post it as a comment here, or put it somewhere else and send me the link (via email or comment here).  By submitting you are granting me perpetual permission to print your material, properly credited, in both the print and electronic format of the resulting book, but you retain rights to use it anywhere else you wish.  Here's the format I'd like to see:

[name of artifact]
by [how you want to be credited]

[one or two paragraphs of text]

2 x class I power
1 x class II power

The main text should mostly function as a brief history or origin story of the item.  Try to suggest a lot of cool stuff rather than specify a few points exactly.  Don't assign your artifact a bunch of powers in the text, as that's what the customization rules are for.  It's okay to say something brief at the end like "The Key of Qugnar can be used to automically open any wizard locked door along with the following powers:" or "The Shimmering Cloak functions as a cloak of protection +2 in addition to the powers listed below."  But try not to go overboard on the power level, as the point of the project is to provide less extreme uses of the artifact and relic rules than already attested in the rules.  If you are assigning more than five power slots (including drawbacks)to your item, you're probably overdoing it.  And don't start with an item that's already at near-artifact levels and add stuff (no "Ruprick's Mallet has all the powers of a hammer of thunderbolts plus the following:", please).  Please note that if you go overboard with powers or get too wordy I will brutally edit that sucker.

Class V abilities are the big guns of the artifact world.  As such, their use will be limited in the proposed volume.  If you want to submit an item with a class V power, you must meet the following criteria:
  • You must submit at least one other artifact that does NOT have a class V power.
  • Your item with a class V power must also come with a class IV curse.
  • No item may have more than one class V power.
I want to make this "class V power" stuff as clear as possible so that folks who don't own the old books can still play along.  To keep the players guessing as to the powers of these ultimate magic items their coolest powers were expressed as a series of blanks like this:

3 x I ___ ___ ___
2 x II ___ ___
1 x V ___

At the end of the section was a list showing 30 or so powers for each category.  These powers all had a letter code assigned to them.  The idea was that the DM could pick the letter codes and mark in their own copies what specific powers the items possessed.  So in the above example one DM's copy of the book might say:

3 x I _C_ _G_ _DD_
2 x II _D_ _J_
1 x V _R_

Which would indicate, according to the DMG tables, that this particular artifact granted the following powers:
Audible Glamour 3/day, Color Spray 3/day, Possessor Immune to Fear
Cause Serious Wounds by touch, Cure Disease by touch
Prismatic Spray 1/day

But another DM's book would have a different set of powers assigned, so even if your PC found the Eye of Vecna there's no sure way of knowing what the crap it does except by trial and error, consulting sages, divination, etc.  The five categories of powers break down like this:
class I - Minor Benign Powers
class II - Major Benign Powers
class III - Minor Malevolent Effects
class IV - Major Malevolent Effects
class V - Prime Powers (the real big time stuff)

In general anything with two or more class I powers probably ought to have at least a class III drawback and anything with a class II power should definitely have one or more drawbacks.  If you don't have the books and don't know what powers to give your item, just write up your item and then copy this down:

1 x I ___
1 x II ___
1 x IV ___

So get crackin'!  Feel free to steal from the ideas I floated last week if you want.  And if you want to send in an illo with your designs, so much the better.  Don't be afraid that you 'can't draw'.  This is meant to be a fun little amateur project.  No big whoop.


  1. Count me in. I'll send something in the next couple days.

  2. Do you want any artifacts for other gaming systems that users can then translate if they like them? I'm not terribly hip to the D&D rules (of any version). Though I've played and DMed them all save 4e, its been quite a while and they've never been my preferred systems.

  3. Anonymous1:14 AM

    Torch of Leviathan
    by Morgan May

    This appears to be merely piece of polished driftwood. When submerged in water it attracts a small cloud of bio-luminescent algae, which shed light in the same radius as a torch. In addition, it grants the bearer the following powers/effects while underwater:

    2 x I ___ ___
    1 x III ___

  4. Nick (the diviner)6:41 AM


    by Elizabeth Rients (as divined by Nick)

    Some say this was created by the mad wizardess Elizor, it is a hunk of metal that is both unbreakable and has a magically lowered melting temperature. Rubbing ones hands together will generate enough heat that the outside surface can be altered a bit by hand, such as sharpening an edge. Keeping the Adamanclay close to ones body (under a shirt) for a few hours while hiking or working is enough to make it as malleable as tough clay. The Adamanclay is not only unbreakable while cold, it is also an extremely cohesive ooze when red hot, not a single drop can be seperated from the blob. Non-toxic if eaten.

    1 x I ___
    1 x II ___
    1 x IV ___

  5. I'm in, let me get to work...

  6. Dude, I am SO there.


    by Zak S.

    Hope that fits--it's a little long on power description and short on history.

  8. Anonymous12:35 PM

    Caber of Nollaig
    By Twee T. Bird

    This is a log, stripped of its branches, that is approximately 20' long and weighs equivalent 1500 gp. It can be borne and used by any class, but in the hands of a fighter/druid it causes no encumbrance penalty (only the predictable trouble of going through doorways).

    The primary purpose of the caber is to be thrown. As a missile weapon, it has short range of 1", medium range of 5", and long range of 10". It is aimed at a primary target, and inflicts 2-16 points of damage if it hits, but rolls "to-hit" at an additional -1 penalty may be made for any other entity within a radius of 3" to the primary target; these suffer only 1-8 points of damage on a hit.

    The secondary purpose of the caber is to ignite: upon command, which can be issued mid-flight, the caber bursts into flame, striking all flammable opponents as by burning oil. The caber burns perpetually until commanded to cease.

    I: DD

  9. Hourglass of Fharlanghn

    This small hourglass is made of brass and is around 7 inches tall. At the top of the hourglass is a small loop for which it could hang from someone's cloak.
    The hourglass of Fharanghn was one of his early creations.The hourglass will give the player a permanent pass without a trace. When the hour glass is turned upside down, the player will travel at 3 times his or her normal speed for 1 hour.

    Other powers:
    2x1 ___ ___
    1x2 ___

  10. Amulet of Moral Decay
    by Tim "arcadian" Stephens

    Created by the Lich Masters of the Utter East , this amulet gives the owner power over the dead and recent dead, but at a cost.

    The amulet itself is fashioned from the ossified heart of a nameless lich from that undead order's beginnings, and was used by acolytes of the order to terrorize the common folk with the scourge of the undead. Opposed by a paladin Sir Teraz, the Lich Master were defeated after a long campaign, but at the cost of the paladin's life.

    The paladin's dying wish was to expose the evil of the amulet, and Sir Teraz's patron, a goddess of life, heard his plea and altered the amulet's power to identify those who would toy with the dead.

    Using the amulet's unholy powers causes the user to stink like the corpses they desecrate, an supernatural stench that cannot be washed or healed away. The users flesh does not rot, but all in his vicinity will feel that they are in the presence of the dead.

    2 x 1_B_XX
    1 x III_C

  11. Here are two possibilities:

    One with a type V power:

    And the additional without:

  12. Here are two possibilities. One with a type V power:

    and one without:

  13. here's another one...

  14. Slashghoul’s Robe of the Magi
    by EvilBen

    Not much is know about how Slashghoul became one of the most powerful mages in known history, especially since he was a half orc, but his exploits are legendary. It is believed that Slashghoul constructed a Robe of the Archmagi to aid in his journey to the planes of the Abyss with his adventuring companions, the mighty Ale Slingers.

    Why they went is unknown, but when he returned, his power had grown and the robe was changed. Some believe he found dark secrets in the abyss and wove the very fabric of the abyss into the garment, while others claim he traded his magical knowledge with demons for souls which were boded to the robe. While the knowledge of how it was crafted is lost, what is know is that Slashghoul’s Robe of the Magi functions like a Robe of the Archmagi except it appears to be a fancy charcoal grey robe with black, blood red and silver embroidery, thus revealing its alignment (neutral). It is also rumored to have the following powers.

    3 x I _____, _____, _____
    3 x II _____, _____, _____
    1 x III _____
    1 x IV _____

  15. You can find my entry here:

    I may make more. When is the open call closing?

  16. I only just came across this post and I think the idea's great. So, if I'm not too late, please consider my entries, which you can find at my blog. Thanks!

  17. I think I ignored one or more of your guidelines, but please take a look at Hyneman's Clockwork Mouse, The Stalwart Scabbard of Sir Twembly Backslider, and Mulligan's Bauble.

    If you choose to include them, please credit them to Seeful the Unforgiving.

  18. This is a great idea. My husband and I will likely submit something and have some ideas already.

    I would also love to help out by drawing some art should you find yourself in need of any.

    I'm sure you know me most from my response to your phrase of the day long ago...

    I also do more "realistic" work too.

    I could even email some drawings as inspiration for others to write items around them if you like - just let me know.

  19. My first is up here:

    I should have a second up tomorrow.

  20. Magic Butler
    by Chris Weller

    Note: For the life of me, something is telling me that there’s already an artifact like this somewhere in AD&D 1e. It's a small automaton servant.

    I’ve googled the heck out of it. If you know of something really similar to this, post a comment so I can revise it.

  21. Anonymous6:39 PM

    Here's one!

    The Clay Sickle
    by Isimud

    A crude, fired clay sickle, about two hands-span long, weathered but with a sharp edge and faintly incised all about with ancient, wedge-shaped sigils. Unutterably old, the Sickle, sages say, was in the beginning borne by gods in the reaping of the first harvest before Men. Father Enki, maybe, caused it to fall into the hands of the hero-king Utu-hegal who used it in driving the bestial Gutti from the Cities of the Plain. Thereafter, it enters many tales called by many names (Inanna’s Crescent, or Utu’s Axe, or Tiamat’s Tooth, or The Fang of Burnt Earth), always in times of war and when it seemed as if the civilisation of Man verged again on the brink of annihilation, wielded by those who defended City against the horde, or the Sown against the Desert. Though appearing delicate, in battle it apparently acts a +2 Scimitar of Speed; its further powers are rumoured to further the governance of kings and the arts of civilisation:

    2 x I: ______, ______

    1 x II: _____

    1 x IV: _____

    There's a pic at


  22. Here's another:

    Emerald Decanter of the Addled Gods

  23. Here you go Jeff,

    Iron Shoe of Blix

    By Ekimus

    Long, long ago a goblin by the name of Blix ruled over a great horde of goblin tribes and other humanoids. Though his wits and strength were exceptional for his ilk, it was his iron shoe that enabled him to rise to such heights. Blix had made a pact with an archdevil from the Nine Hells and received the shoe in exchange for the promise that he would provide a steady stream of sacrificial victims to his new diabolical master.

    Led by Blix and his stomping iron shoe, the goblin horde descended on the civilized lands like a plague of locusts, laying waste to fertile fields, toppling walls and towers and enslaving whole provinces. The human and demi-human races of the realm seemed doomed until one fateful, moonless night when an unknown, but matchless thief stole into Blix’s camp and stole the iron shoe. After the discovery of the theft, the horde immediately began to disband and disperse, the focus of it’s victories gone. In the confusion, Blix disappeared, never to be seen again.

    Since then the Iron Shoe of Blix have been found several times, but only to mysteriously vanish again soon after, as if some force wishes to keep it idle.

    The Iron Shoe of Blix can in melee combat kick for 2d7+2/2d8+2 damage (as a +2 Footman’s Flail). Once per day the iron shoe can stomp, causing a magical effect the same as an Earthquake spell (7th level Clerical spell). In addition to this, the iron shoe has the following powers listed below:

    2 x I ___ ___
    1 x II ___
    2 x III ___ ___