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Creating DND Artefacts




Introduction


An artefact is a rare or unique item of immense power, only a select few are capable of wielding it and there is often a heavy price to pay when mortals interfere with objects and weapons that are far beyond their pay grade.


Therefore, as I will argue in this post, less is most definitely more. The fewer artefacts there are, the more significant they become (we as DMs know they are significant, obviously, but the players often don't).


As a dungeon master (DM), it's important to consider how to introduce and use artefacts in your campaign if you're going to use them. While they can add excitement and flavour to your game, they can also create problems if not used carefully.


Even in a world where magic and magic items are common, an artefact is meant to be rare and unknown to most and its appearance in the world is a troubling occurrence. A good rule of thumb is to consider how many artefacts show up in epic stories like Lord of the Rings (The One Ring itself and the various rings such as Narya used by the elves and Gandalf, a couple of Palantirs, Galadriel's pool thing and possibly Anduril?). In a trilogy of that size, Tolkien was pretty sparing and with good reason. The power of the one ring and its significance within the narrative is partly the product of its uniqueness.


Artefacts can upset the balance of power between the players and the enemies, and can even make some challenges too easy to overcome, there must always be a cost in wielding them. Helping players evaluate whether they really want what the artefact offers and are willing to pay the price it demands can make for some amazing role playing.


So, how can you use artefacts effectively in your campaign? First and foremost, you need to consider the impact they will have on the story and gameplay. Will the artefact be a major plot point, or just a powerful item for the players to discover and use? How difficult will it be to obtain and use the artefact? Will it create an imbalance in power between the players and the enemies? These are all important questions to consider before introducing an artefact into your campaign.


Solving the Artefact Problem

There are several potential solutions to the problem of introducing artefacts into a D&D campaign without unbalancing the game. Here are some suggestions:


  1. Difficulty: Make the artefact difficult to obtain: One solution is to make the artefact very difficult to obtain, either by requiring the players to complete a challenging quest or by making it hidden and well-guarded. This can make the artefact feel more valuable and satisfying to obtain, while also ensuring that the players don't get it too early in the campaign.

  2. Purpose: Why do the PCs want to in the first place? If the answer is 'so I can become the baddest, most powerful destroyer of worlds' then it's perfectly ok to let the artefact do something truly terrible to the PC. If they survive, maybe they've earned it. More likely is that if they survive and still want it, it will do something even worse to them.

  3. Downsides: Another solution is to give the artefact a downside or limitation that balances out its power. For example, a powerful sword might drain the user's life force or require them to make a sacrifice in order to use it. This can create interesting dilemmas for the players and prevent the artefact from being too overpowered.

  4. Story. This rule is pretty essential, if there is a sword, a helmet or an orb of immense power it needs to shape the story, not just feature in it. If the artefact is a major plot point in the campaign, it can be easier to balance its power and make sure it doesn't unbalance the game. By tying the artefact to the story, you can control when and how it is used, and ensure that it doesn't overshadow other parts of the campaign. (A great example of this was Thor's creation of Stormbringer in Avengers Infinity War - this awesomely powerful weapon has a single purpose and is a device for advancing the narrative forward).

  5. Temporary alliance: Artefacts have a mind of their own and are many thousands of years older than even the most venerable PC. This means that they have the ability to come and go as they please from the hero's hands and will allow themselves to be wielded only temporarily. The player might well think that they are in change (players think all sorts of stupid things) but it will take some pretty impressive dice rolls to bend an item like an artefact to the PC's will. Most items of immense power will indulge naïve mortals temporarily, only to show them who is boss later on.

  6. Less is definitely more: Use the artefact sparingly. Even if the artefact is very powerful, you can still use it sparingly in order to prevent it from unbalancing the game. For example, you might have the artefact break or become unusable after a certain number of uses, or limit the number of times it can be used in a given period of time.

  7. Adjust the difficulty of encounters: Finally, if you do introduce a powerful artefact into the campaign and allow the PC to wield it., you can adjust the difficulty of encounters to ensure that they remain challenging and engaging for the players. For example, you might increase the number or strength of enemies, or add new obstacles or challenges that require the players to use their skills and wits in addition to the artefact's power.


New Artefact Ideas


The Heart of the Wild


History: The Heart of the Wild is a powerful artefact that was created by Enkaladeus, the first druid, who imbued it with the essence of nature itself. It has been passed down through generations of druids, and is said to contain the very soul of the earth. It is a fist sized knot of wood that resembles a heart, on a long silver chain.

Power: The Heart of the Wild grants its wielder immense power over nature, allowing them to control the elements, summon creatures of the wild, and heal wounds. It can also be used to commune with the spirits of the land and to sense threats to the natural world.

Interaction: The Heart of the Wild is highly coveted by druids and those who seek to protect the natural world. It has been wielded by some of the greatest druids in history, including the legendary Archdruid of the Oakheart peoples

Whereabouts: The Heart of the Wild is said to be hidden in a secret location deep within the forests of the North untouched by civilization. Many adventurers have sought the Heart of the Wild, but few have returned.


Powers

1. Elemental Mastery

- Ability: The artefact allows the user to cast powerful elemental spells "Control Weather", "Earthquake", and "Fire Storm".

- Cost: Each use consumes 5 charges. After using this ability, the artefact can't use it again until the next dawn.

- Impact: These spells can significantly alter the environment and can be used strategically in combat or exploration.


2. Greater Summoning

- Ability: The artefact can be used to cast "Conjure Fey" or "Conjure Elemental" spells at their highest level without requiring material components.

- Cost: Using this ability consumes 10 charges. The summoned creatures are more powerful, having additional hit points or special abilities as determined by the DM.

- Impact: This allows the user to summon powerful allies for combat or specific tasks.


3. Advanced Healing

- Ability: Grants the ability to cast "Greater Restoration" or "Resurrection".

- Cost: "Greater Restoration" uses 5 charges, while "Resurrection" uses 20 charges. "Resurrection" can only be used once per week.

- Impact: This provides powerful healing and revival capabilities, significantly aiding in recovery and survival.


4. Nature's Wrath

- Ability: Unleash a powerful attack, similar to "Wrath of Nature" (5th level spell) or a unique spell dealing 8d10 damage in a 30-foot radius.

- Cost: This ability consumes 15 charges. The exact nature of the attack (thorns, earth, stone) can be chosen at the time of casting.

- Game Impact: This serves as a high-damage ability useful in large-scale combat or against tough foes.


5. Nature's Barrier

- Ability: Create a barrier akin to "Wall of Thorns" or a unique shield that provides half cover and resistance to damage from non-magical attacks for those within 10 feet.

- Cost: Uses 10 charges and lasts for up to 10 minutes, concentration not required.

- Impact: This ability provides significant defensive benefits, useful in protecting the party during combat or in dangerous situations.


General Artefact Mechanics

- Charges: The artefact has 100 charges and regains 1d10 + 10 charges daily at dawn.

- Overuse Risk: If all charges are expended, roll a d20. On a 1, the artefact loses its magical properties and becomes a non-magical item.

These mechanics integrate the enhanced powers into the D&D framework, providing clear guidelines for how they can be used in gameplay. The DM can adjust the specifics to better fit the campaign's power level and narrative.


The Blade of the Auros


History: The Auros was created by a powerful necromancer who sought to overwhelm the kingdom of Nyares by raising armies of the dead from the cemeteries of the great cities of the West. It was said to be so powerful that it could raise the dead with a single swing.


Power: The Blade of Auros grants its wielder immense power over death, allowing them to control undead creatures, raise the dead, and drain the life force from living creatures. It can also be used to create powerful curses and to summon dark spirits.


Interaction: The Blade of Auros has been wielded by some of the most infamous necromancers in history, including the lich Lord Blackthorn. Many adventurers have sought the blade, either to destroy it or to use its power for their own purposes.


Whereabouts: The Blade of the Fallen King is said to be hidden in a secret location deep within a cursed graveyard. Those who seek it must brave the dangers of the undead and navigate treacherous tombs and catacombs.


D&D Stats: The Blade of the Fallen King grants its wielder a +3 bonus to all necromancy-related skill checks and a +3 bonus to damage against living creatures. It has 50 charges, and can be used to cast any spell of 5th level or lower that is related to necromancy or death.


1. Control Undead

  • Ability: The blade grants the ability to cast "Control Undead" (akin to the 7th-level spell "Finger of Death" but focused on control rather than damage).

  • Mechanic: Consumes 5 charges. Allows the wielder to control any undead creature within 60 feet for 24 hours, no concentration required.

  • Game Impact: This ability provides strategic control over undead, useful in both combat and exploration scenarios.


2. Raise the Dead

  • Ability: The blade can cast "Animate Dead" or "Create Undead" without requiring material components.

  • Mechanic: "Animate Dead" uses 2 charges, while "Create Undead" uses 10 charges.

  • Game Impact: This allows the wielder to raise undead servants, expanding their combat and utility options.


3. Life Drain

  • Ability: On a successful hit, the blade can drain life force, similar to the "Vampiric Touch" spell.

  • Mechanic: The wielder can choose to activate this ability, draining 3d6 hit points and healing the wielder for the same amount. Consumes 1 charge per use.

  • Game Impact: Provides a powerful means of both damaging enemies and healing the wielder.


4. Curses and Dark Spirits

  • Ability: Cast curses akin to "Bestow Curse" at a higher level or summon dark spirits (similar to "Summon Greater Demon" but with undead spirits).

  • Mechanic: Casting a curse uses 3 charges, while summoning dark spirits uses 15 charges.

  • Game Impact: Adds versatility in combat and utility, enabling debuffing enemies or summoning allies.


5. General Artefact Mechanics

  • Charges: The blade has 100 charges and regains 1d10 + 10 charges daily at dawn.

  • Overuse Risk: If all charges are expended, roll a d20. On a 1, the blade crumbles to dust and is destroyed.



The Eye of Nemasces


History: The Eye of the Oracle is a powerful artefact that was created by a mysterious order of seers, the Nemascerion, led by the time wanderer Nemasces, who was said to have travelled to the end of the world. It is said to contain the wisdom of the ages, and to be able to see the future.


Power: The Eye of Nemasces grants its wielder immense power over foresight and divination, allowing them to see into the future, predict the actions of others, and even alter fate. It can also be used to communicate with the spirits of the dead and to gain insight into the mysteries of the universe.


Interaction: The Eye of Nemasces has been sought after by many throughout history, including kings and emperors who seek to gain an advantage in war, and scholars who seek to unlock the secrets of the universe. However, the order of seers that created the eye guards its secrets closely, and only a select few are allowed to wield its power.


Whereabouts: The Eye of Nemasces is said to be kept in a secret location known only to the seers who created it. This location is heavily guarded and protected by powerful wards and magical traps.


1. Foresight

  • Ability: The artefact grants the ability to cast the "Foresight" spell (9th-level divination).

  • Mechanic: Consumes 20 charges. The spell grants the wearer the ability to see into the near future, providing advantage on attack rolls, ability checks, and saving throws for 8 hours.

  • Game Impact: This significantly boosts the user's capabilities, reflecting the artefact's power in foresight.


2. Predict Actions

  • Ability: Grants the ability to cast "Detect Thoughts" or a modified version of "Divination" to predict actions.

  • Mechanic: "Detect Thoughts" uses 2 charges, while the modified "Divination" uses 5 charges, providing insights into an individual's immediate future actions.

  • Game Impact: This ability is useful for planning and strategy, especially in social or combat situations.


3. Alter Fate

  • Ability: Allows the user to cast "Lucky Charm" (a custom spell that functions like the "Lucky" feat).

  • Mechanic: Each use consumes 3 charges, granting the ability to reroll an attack roll, saving throw, or ability check.

  • Game Impact: This represents the artefact's power to subtly alter fate, providing a significant advantage in critical situations.


4. Communicate with Spirits

  • Ability: The artefact can cast "Speak with Dead" or "Contact Other Plane".

  • Mechanic: "Speak with Dead" uses 3 charges, while "Contact Other Plane" uses 10 charges.

  • Game Impact: Provides a way to gain information and insights from beyond, useful in gathering intelligence and solving mysteries.


5. Insight into Mysteries

  • Ability: Grants the ability to cast "Legend Lore" or "Commune".

  • Mechanic: Each use consumes 10 charges.

  • Game Impact: This ability helps uncover hidden information and lore, beneficial for delving into ancient secrets or solving complex puzzles.


General Artefact Mechanics

  • Charges: The artefact has 100 charges and regains 1d10 + 10 charges daily at dawn.

  • Overuse Risk: If all charges are expended, roll a d20. On a 1, the artefact becomes dormant for a year and a day.

Whereabouts and Quest Potential

  • Secret Location: Enhance the narrative around its location, with challenges that test wisdom and understanding rather than brute strength.

  • Quest Lines: Develop quests that involve uncovering the artefact's location, understanding its powers, and the ethical implications of using such foresight.



The Horn of the Titan


History: The Horn of the Titan is a powerful artefact that was created by a race of giants who sought to challenge the gods themselves. It is said to have been blown by the giant Fylor so loud that it caused the mountains to shake and the seas to part.


Power: The Horn of the Titan grants its wielder immense power over sound and vibration, allowing them to create earthquakes, control the elements, and shatter objects with a single blast. It can also be used to communicate over great distances and to summon powerful creatures of the earth.


Interaction: The Horn of the Titan has been sought after by many throughout history, including kings who seek to expand their kingdoms and adventurers who seek to challenge the gods themselves. However, the giants who created the horn guard it fiercely, and few who seek it ever return.


Whereabouts: The Horn of the Titan is said to be kept in a secret location deep within the mountains, where the giants who created it still dwell. Those who seek the horn must brave treacherous terrain and battle powerful giants to claim it.


1. Earthquake Creation

  • Ability: Grants the ability to cast the "Earthquake" spell (8th-level evocation).

  • Mechanic: Consumes 15 charges. The spell causes intense tremors that can cause massive damage and alter the terrain.

  • Game Impact: This ability is powerful for area control and environmental manipulation, especially in large-scale battles or altering landscapes.


2. Elemental Control

  • Ability: Allows the user to cast "Control Weather" and "Stone Shape".

  • Mechanic: "Control Weather" uses 10 charges, while "Stone Shape" uses 3 charges.

  • Game Impact: These spells offer significant environmental control, useful in various exploration and combat scenarios.


3. Shatter Objects

  • Ability: The horn can cast "Shatter" at a higher level or a custom spell that amplifies its destructive capabilities against objects and constructs.

  • Mechanic: Each use consumes 5 charges and can affect a larger area or deal increased damage.

  • Game Impact: Useful for breaking through obstacles, damaging constructs, or disrupting enemy fortifications.


4. Long-Distance Communication

  • Ability: Mimics the "Sending" spell, allowing communication over vast distances.

  • Mechanic: Consumes 2 charges per use.

  • Game Impact: This enables strategic coordination and information gathering across great distances.


5. Summoning Earth Creatures

  • Ability: Can cast "Conjure Elemental" (Earth-based) or a unique spell to summon powerful earth creatures or giants.

  • Mechanic: Uses 10 charges. Summoned creatures are more powerful or have unique abilities as determined by the DM.

  • Game Impact: Adds a strategic element by summoning powerful allies for combat or specific tasks.


General Artefact Mechanics

  • Charges: The horn has 100 charges and regains 1d10 + 10 charges daily at dawn.

  • Overuse Risk: If all charges are expended, roll a d20. On a 1, the horn becomes dormant for a year and a day.


The Ring of Adjara

History: The Ring of the Djinni Adjara is a powerful artefact that was created by a race of trickster spirits of the great Iron Desert of Navarne. It is said to be able to summon the powerful djinni Adjara, whose soul was tied to the ring.


1. Enhanced Wish-Granting

  • Ability: The ring allows the casting of "Wish," but with unique twists.

  • Mechanic: Can be used once per week instead of daily to reflect its immense power. The DM has the discretion to interpret and twist the wish based on the djinni's whimsical nature.

  • Game Impact: This keeps the core power of wish-granting but adds a layer of risk and unpredictability.

2. Elemental Command

  • Ability: Grants the ability to cast elemental spells like "Conjure Elemental" or "Control Weather," reflecting the djinni's mastery over the elements.

  • Mechanic: Each use consumes a set number of charges (5 for "Conjure Elemental," 10 for "Control Weather").

  • Game Impact: Adds versatility and control over environmental factors.


3. Illusion and Deception

  • Ability: Allows the user to cast high-level illusion spells like "Mirage Arcane" or "Programmed Illusion."

  • Mechanic: Consumes 5 charges per use.

  • Game Impact: Reflects the deceptive nature of djinni, useful for trickery or creating advantageous scenarios.


4. Teleportation and Plane Shift

  • Ability: Mimics spells like "Teleport" or "Plane Shift," aligning with the djinni's ability to traverse different realms.

  • Mechanic: "Teleport" uses 3 charges, while "Plane Shift" uses 10 charges.

  • Game Impact: Provides significant mobility and access to different planes of existence.


5. General Artefact Mechanics

  • Charges: The ring has 50 charges and regains 1d6 + 4 charges daily at dawn.

  • Overuse Risk: If all charges are expended, roll a d20. On a 1, the ring's powers are lost for a year and a day.


Whereabouts and Quest Potential

  • Desert Challenges: Enhance the narrative around its location with challenges like navigating sandstorms and facing mystical desert creatures.

  • Quest Lines: Develop quests involving the retrieval of the ring and dealing with the consequences of using its powers.



The Shield of the Celestial

History: The Shield of the Celestial, a legendary D&D artefact, is an embodiment of divine craftsmanship and ethereal power. Forged in the celestial realms by a council of archangels, this shield radiates an aura of sublime purity. Its surface, not forged from mundane metal but conjured from the very essence of light, shimmers with a spectrum of iridescent hues, reflecting the heavenly domain's boundless beauty. Intricate engravings, etched by the hands of seraphs, depict scenes of epic battles between forces of light and darkness, symbolizing the eternal struggle between good and evil.


1. Barrier and Shield Creation

- Ability: Grants the ability to cast spells like "Wall of Force" or a custom spell to create barriers of light.

- Mechanic: "Wall of Force" uses 5 charges, while a custom light barrier uses 3 charges.

- Game Impact: Provides significant defensive capabilities, useful in protecting the party or important areas.

2. Deflection

- Ability: Mimics the "Shield" spell and reflects half the damage back to the attacker.

- Mechanic: Each use consumes 1 charge and activates a reaction-based deflection.

- Game Impact: Enhances the wielder's defensive capabilities, especially against powerful attacks.

3. Healing Wounds

- Ability: Allows the user to cast "Cure Wounds" at a higher level or "Mass Healing Word."

- Mechanic: "Cure Wounds" uses 2 charges per level, while "Mass Healing Word" uses 5 charges.

- Game Impact: Provides a crucial healing ability, reflecting the shield's protective and restorative nature.

4. Banishing Evil

- Ability: Grants the ability to cast "Banishment" or "Dispel Evil and Good."

- Mechanic: Each use consumes 5 charges.

- Game Impact: Useful for dealing with evil entities, aligning with the shield's purpose of protecting against evil.

5. Summon Divine Aid

- Ability: Mimics the "Summon Celestial" spell, calling upon angelic beings for assistance.

- Mechanic: Uses 10 charges.

- Game Impact: Adds a strategic element by summoning powerful allies for combat or specific tasks.

General Artefact Mechanics

- Charges: The shield has 100 charges and regains 1d10 + 10 charges daily at dawn.

- Overuse Risk: If all charges are expended, roll a d20. On a 1, the shield loses its magical properties for a year and a day.

Revised D&D Stats

- Skill Bonuses: Increase bonuses to holy-related skill checks to +5.

- Armor Class Bonus: +3 bonus to armor class remains.

- Spellcasting: Can cast holy or protective spells of up to 5th level. The number of charges used depends on the spell level.

Whereabouts and Quest Potential

- Holy Temple Location: Enhance the narrative around its location, including divine challenges and moral dilemmas.

- Quest Lines: Develop quests involving the retrieval of the shield, understanding its divine origin, and the consequences of wielding such a powerful artifact.

By diversifying the abilities of the Shield of the Celestial and maintaining its theme of divine protection and light, it becomes a more dynamic and intriguing artefact for a D&D campaign.

Interaction: The Shield of the Celestial has been wielded by some of the most powerful paladins and clerics in history, who seek to protect the world from evil. Many villains have sought to destroy the shield, either to weaken the forces of good or to claim its power for their own purposes.



The Crown of the Elemental Lords


History: The Crown of the Elemental Lords is a powerful artefact that was created by the binders of fire and stone themselves, who sought to gain control over the elements of the world. It is said to be able to summon powerful elemental creatures to do its bidding.


Power: The Crown of the Elemental Lords grants its wielder immense power over the elements, allowing them to control the weather, summon powerful elemental creatures, and create powerful storms and earthquakes. It can also be used to speak with elemental spirits and to gain insight into the workings of the natural world.


Interaction: The Crown of the Elemental Lords has been sought after by many throughout history, including druids who seek to understand the workings of the elements and powerful wizards who seek to control the elements for their own purposes. However, the elemental lords guard the crown closely, and few who seek it ever return.


Whereabouts: The Crown of the Elemental Lords is said to be kept in a secret location deep within a mountain range that is constantly wracked by storms and earthquakes. Those who seek the crown must battle powerful elemental creatures and brave the dangers of the elements themselves.


1. Elemental Control

  • Ability: Grants the ability to cast high-level elemental spells like "Control Weather," "Earthquake," and "Chain Lightning."

  • Mechanic: Each of these spells consumes a varying number of charges (10 for "Control Weather," 15 for "Earthquake," 5 for "Chain Lightning").

  • Game Impact: These abilities provide significant control over the environment and powerful offensive options.

2. Summon Elemental Creatures

  • Ability: Allows the user to cast "Conjure Elemental" or "Summon Elemental."

  • Mechanic: Consumes 10 charges for "Conjure Elemental" and 5 charges for "Summon Elemental."

  • Game Impact: Enables the summoning of powerful allies, adding a strategic element to both combat and exploration.

3. Speak with Elemental Spirits

  • Ability: Mimics the "Commune with Nature" spell, but specifically for communicating with elemental spirits.

  • Mechanic: Consumes 3 charges per use.

  • Game Impact: Provides valuable information about the natural world and elemental planes, useful for planning and decision-making.

4. Insight into Natural World

  • Ability: Grants abilities akin to "Divination" or "Legend Lore" with a focus on natural phenomena and elemental lore.

  • Mechanic: Uses 5 charges for each use.

  • Game Impact: Offers deep insights into mysteries and lore, aiding in puzzle-solving and knowledge gathering.

General Artefact Mechanics

  • Charges: The crown has 100 charges and regains 1d10 + 10 charges daily at dawn.

  • Overuse Risk: If all charges are expended, roll a d20. On a 1, the crown becomes dormant for a year and a day.

Revised D&D Stats

  • Skill Bonuses: Increase bonuses to elemental-related skill checks to +5.

  • Initiative Bonus: +3 bonus to initiative rolls remains.

  • Spellcasting: Can cast spells related to the elements or natural phenomena of up to 8th level. The number of charges used depends on the spell level.


The Mirror of the Mind


History: The Mirror of the Mind is a powerful artefact that was created by a group of powerful psions who sought to unlock the secrets of the mind. It is said to be able to show the true nature of a person's thoughts and emotions.


Power: The Mirror of the Mind grants its user immense power over the mind, allowing them to read thoughts, manipulate emotions, and create powerful illusions. It can also be used to scry on others and to gain insight into their motivations and plans.


Interaction: The Mirror of the Mind has been sought after by many throughout history, including powerful psions who seek to unlock the secrets of the mind and powerful rulers who seek to control the thoughts of their subjects. However, the psions who created the mirror guard its secrets closely, and few who seek it ever return.


Whereabouts: The Mirror of the Mind is said to be kept in a secret location deep within a hidden temple of the mind. Those who seek the mirror must navigate powerful mental barriers and battle powerful psionic creatures to claim it.


1. Reading Thoughts

- Ability: Grants the ability to cast "Detect Thoughts" or a similar psionic ability.

- Mechanic: Each use consumes 2 charges.

- Game Impact: Enables the user to understand the thoughts and intentions of others, which is particularly useful in social interactions and strategy.


2. Manipulating Emotions

- Ability: Mimics effects similar to "Calm Emotions" or "Crown of Madness," allowing manipulation of others' feelings and actions.

- Mechanic: Consumes 3 charges for "Calm Emotions" and 5 charges for "Crown of Madness."

- Game Impact: Offers control in various situations, from diffusing tense scenarios to controlling adversaries.


3. Creating Illusions

- Ability: Allows the user to cast illusion spells like "Phantasmal Force" or "Major Image."

- Mechanic: Each use of these spells consumes a number of charges depending on the spell level.

- Game Impact: Adds versatility, allowing the user to deceive, distract, or intimidate others.


4. Scrying and Insight

- Ability: Grants the ability to cast "Scrying" or "Clairvoyance," providing insight into distant places and people.

- Mechanic: "Scrying" uses 5 charges, while "Clairvoyance" uses 3 charges.

- Game Impact: Useful for gathering information, surveillance, and planning.


General Artefact Mechanics

- Charges: The mirror has 50 charges and regains 1d6 + 4 charges daily at dawn.

- Overuse Risk: If all charges are expended, roll a d20. On a 1, the mirror loses its magical properties for a year and a day.

### Revised D&D Stats

- Skill Bonuses: +3 bonus to all psionic-related skill checks.

- Initiative Bonus: +3 bonus to initiative rolls.

- Spellcasting: Can cast psionic or mind control spells of up to 5th level.

### Whereabouts and Quest Potential

- Hidden Temple Location: Enhance the narrative around its location, with challenges like overcoming mental barriers and facing psionic creatures.

- Quest Lines: Develop quests involving locating the mirror, understanding its powers, and navigating the ethical dilemmas of using such abilities.

By integrating these mechanics, the Mirror of the Mind becomes a powerful and intriguing artefact in a D&D campaign, offering a unique blend of mind-reading, emotional manipulation, and strategic insight.


The Spear of the Dragon


History: The Spear of the Dragon is a powerful artefact that was created by a group of dragon hunters who sought to slay the most powerful dragons in the world. It is said to be able to pierce even the toughest dragon scales.


Power: The Spear of the Dragon grants its wielder immense power over dragons, allowing them to slay even the most powerful dragons with a single blow. It can also be used to summon powerful dragon allies and to create powerful fire-based attacks.


Interaction: The Spear of the Dragon has been sought after by many throughout history, including dragon hunters who seek to slay the most powerful dragons in the world and dragon riders who seek to gain control over the dragons themselves. However, the dragon hunters who created the spear guard it fiercely, and few who seek it ever return.


Whereabouts: The Spear of the Dragon is said to be kept in a secret location deep within a dragon's lair. Those who seek the spear must navigate powerful dragon defenses and battle powerful dragon guardians to claim it.


1. Enhanced Damage to Dragons

  • Ability: Grants an enhanced ability to pierce dragon scales, akin to dealing extra damage to dragons.

  • Mechanic: On a successful hit against a dragon, the spear deals an additional 2d6 damage, specifically against dragons.

  • Game Impact: This makes the spear particularly effective in dragon hunting and combat scenarios involving dragons.

2. Fire-Based Attacks

  • Ability: The spear can unleash fire-based attacks, similar to casting "Flame Strike" or "Fireball."

  • Mechanic: Each use of these fire-based spells consumes a set number of charges.

  • Game Impact: Adds offensive versatility, making the spear useful in a variety of combat situations, not just against dragons.

3. Summoning Dragon Allies

  • Ability: Allows the wielder to summon a dragon ally, similar to "Conjure Celestial" but specifically for dragons.

  • Mechanic: Consumes 20 charges. The summoned dragon is allied with the wielder for a limited time.

  • Game Impact: Provides a powerful ally in battle, adding significant strategic value.

General Artefact Mechanics

  • Charges: The spear has 50 charges and regains 1d6 + 4 charges daily at dawn.

  • Overuse Risk: If all charges are expended, roll a d20. On a 1, the spear loses its magical properties for a year and a day.


The Mask of the Trickster


History: The Mask of the Trickster is a powerful artefact that was created by a group of mischievous fey creatures who sought to play tricks on mortals. It is said to be able to make its wearer invisible and to create powerful illusions.


Power: The Mask of the Trickster grants its wearer immense power over illusion and trickery, allowing them to create powerful illusions, become invisible at will, and even create powerful hallucinations. It can also be used to summon mischievous fey creatures to aid the wearer in their pranks.


Interaction: The Mask of the Trickster has been sought after by many throughout history, including thieves and tricksters who seek to use its power to pull off daring heists and pranks. However, the fey creatures who created the mask guard it closely, and few who seek it ever return.


Whereabouts: The Mask of the Trickster is said to be hidden in a secret location deep within the fey realm, where the mischievous creatures who created it still dwell. Those who seek the mask must navigate the tricky and unpredictable realm of the fey and outsmart its inhabitants to claim it.


D&D Stats: The Mask of the Trickster grants its wearer a +3 bonus to all deception and sleight of hand-related skill checks and a +3 bonus to initiative rolls. It also allows the wearer to become invisible at will and to create powerful illusions. Additionally, it can be used to summon mischievous fey creatures to aid the wearer in their pranks.


The Book of Shadows


History: The Book of Shadows is a powerful artefact that was created by a group of powerful warlocks who sought to unlock the secrets of the dark arts. It is said to be able to teach its reader powerful spells and rituals.


Power: The Book of Shadows grants its reader immense power over the dark arts, allowing them to cast powerful spells and summon powerful demons and other dark creatures. It can also be used to gain insight into the workings of the underworld and to commune with powerful dark entities.


Interaction: The Book of Shadows has been sought after by many throughout history, including warlocks who seek to gain power and knowledge of the dark arts and powerful rulers who seek to use the book to gain an edge over their enemies. However, the warlocks who created the book guard it fiercely, and few who seek it ever return.


Whereabouts: The Book of Shadows is said to be kept in a secret location deep within a hidden library of the underworld. Those who seek the book must navigate powerful magical barriers and battle powerful demons and other dark creatures to claim it.

To fully bring to life the "Book of Shadows" in D&D, incorporating its lore and power into mechanics, we can develop specific abilities that align with its description. Here's a detailed approach:


1. Mastery Over Dark Arts

- Ability: Grants the ability to cast high-level necromancy and dark magic spells like "Animate Dead," "Bestow Curse," or custom dark spells.

- Mechanic: Each spell uses a number of charges depending on its level (e.g., 5 charges for a 5th-level spell).

- Game Impact: Enhances the reader's capability in dark magic, allowing for powerful and versatile spellcasting.


2. Summoning Dark Creatures

- Ability: Allows the user to cast "Summon Greater Demon" or "Conjure Shadow Demon."

- Mechanic: Consumes 10 charges for "Summon Greater Demon" and 5 charges for "Conjure Shadow Demon."

- Game Impact: Enables the summoning of powerful and potentially dangerous allies, adding a strategic element to combat and other situations.


3. Insight into the Underworld

- Ability: Mimics the effects of "Contact Other Plane" or "Legend Lore," specifically tailored to gaining knowledge about the underworld and dark entities.

- Mechanic: Uses 5 charges for each use.

- Game Impact: Provides valuable information and insights into dark entities, useful for planning and decision-making.


4. Commune with Dark Entities

- Ability: Grants the ability to communicate with powerful dark entities, akin to "Commune" but with a focus on darker powers.

- Mechanic: Consumes 3 charges per use.

- Game Impact: Offers a direct line to malevolent forces, potentially with great risks and rewards.


General Artefact Mechanics

- Charges: The book has 100 charges and regains 1d10 + 10 charges daily at dawn.

- Overuse Risk: If all charges are expended, roll a d20. On a 1, the book becomes dormant for a year and a day.


Revised D&D Stats

- Skill Bonuses: +3 bonus to all dark magic-related skill checks.

- Spellcasting Bonuses: +3 bonus to spell attack rolls and spell save DC for dark magic spells.

- Spellcasting: Can cast spells related to dark magic or summoning dark creatures of up to 5th level.


Whereabouts and Quest Potential

- Hidden Library Location: Enhance the narrative around its location, involving challenges such as navigating magical barriers and facing demons.

- Quest Lines: Develop quests that involve uncovering the book's location, understanding its dark powers, and dealing with the ethical implications of using such magic.

By expanding the Book of Shadows' abilities and incorporating these mechanics, it becomes a powerful and intriguing artefact in a D&D campaign, offering a blend of risk and reward.



Bonus Essay: Creating your own Artefacts


Creating powerful artefacts is one of the most exciting aspects of running a Dungeons & Dragons campaign. However, it can be a tricky task for a DM. The balance of power between the players and the artefacts must be considered. The following hints and tips can be useful for DMs wanting to create their own powerful artefacts for their players.


  1. Consider the impact on the campaign world: Creating a powerful artefact should have an impact on the entire D&D campaign, not just one adventure. Think about how the artefact will affect the story of the campaign world and how it will fit into the lore.

  2. Think about the damage output: Powerful artefacts should deal a significant amount of damage, but not so much that they become a one-shot kill. Consider how the artefact will affect damage rolls and saving throws.

  3. Make it challenging to obtain: Powerful artefacts should not be easy to obtain. This should be a challenge for the player characters, and it should take time and effort to obtain the artefact.

  4. Think about the attuned creature: Powerful artefacts should only work for certain characters or classes. Consider which characters would be appropriate for the artefact and what would happen if someone else tried to use it.

  5. Add a downside: Powerful artefacts should have a downside to using them. Consider adding negative effects such as necrotic damage, negative levels, or curses to balance out the powerful benefits.

  6. Use existing magic items: DMs can use existing magic items such as the Ring of Winter or Sword of Kas as inspiration for their own artefacts. Consider how they can be modified or improved to fit into the campaign.

  7. Make it unique: A powerful artefact should be the only thing of its kind. Avoid creating duplicates or similar items, as it can diminish the value and rarity of the artefact.

  8. Use deck of many things or tarot cards: DMs can use tarot cards or the deck of many things as inspiration for creating their own powerful artefacts. Consider how the cards can be modified or combined to create unique artefacts.

  9. Give the artefact personality: DMs can make the artefact sentient or give it a personality. Consider making the artefact a character of its own, with its own motivations and desires.

  10. Make it a quest: Powerful artefacts should be the final piece of a long and challenging quest. Consider making the artefact the goal of a Planescape adventure or a Baldur's Gate-style city map.


Case Study


The DM of a Dungeons & Dragons campaign had been working on a homebrew campaign for their party members, centred around the theme of a long wooden staff with great power. In order to make the campaign more interesting, the DM decided to create a new artefact that would complement the staff and add an element of excitement and unpredictability to the game.

The DM began brainstorming ideas for the new artefact, considering its narrative purpose and how it could fit into the campaign. They wanted the artefact to have a magical power that was unique and tied into the lore of their world. After considering several ideas, the DM came up with the concept of a deck of cards with magical powers.


The DM worked on creating the deck of cards, each card having a different magical power and requiring a saving throw to activate. They also included a unique card that, when drawn, would summon a powerful creature to aid the party members in battle. The DM balanced the powers of the cards by adjusting the saving throw DC based on the strength of the power.

To make the deck more exciting, the DM added a unique element - a specific number of cards that could be drawn each day. The party members would not know how many cards were available to them until they began drawing. The DM also added a chance element to the game, by including a few cards with random effects that could be beneficial or detrimental to the party members.


To further balance the power of the artefact, the DM limited its use to specific characters and required attunement. They also set a limit on the number of times each card could be used per day, to prevent overuse and keep the game balanced.


During the first adventure of the campaign, the party members encountered the sphere of annihilation, a dangerous artefact that could destroy everything in its path. The DM had created a staff of the magi that could control the sphere, but it required a move action to activate and had a bright light that signalled its use. The party members had to make a percent chance roll to determine the success of controlling the sphere, adding an element of excitement and tension to the game.


The DM had also included the Hand of Vecna in the campaign, as a powerful artefact that was the only way to defeat the final boss. The DM balanced the power of the Hand of Vecna by requiring the sacrifice of a limb to obtain it, and including a negative effect on the character who wielded it.


Overall, the DM had successfully created a new artefact that worked within the campaign, and added a unique element of unpredictability and excitement to the game. They had balanced the power of the artefact by limiting its use and adding chance elements to the game, while still keeping it relevant to the story and lore of the campaign.


FAQ: How to Create Your Own D&D Artefacts - Magical Items


1. What is a Magical Item?

A magical item in D&D is an object imbued with magical power. These range from minor artefacts with minor powers to legendary items with significant power.

2. What Makes an Item "Unique"?

Unique items have special powers, detailed histories, or unique effects. They are not just powerful magic items but also have a distinct story or feature.

3. How Do I Determine the Power Level of My Artefact?

The power level depends on your campaign's needs. It could range from a minor artefact like a single-use talisman to major artefacts like the Eye of Vecna. Consider the character levels and the intended impact on your game.

4. What is a "Wondrous Item"?

A wondrous item is a category of magical items that includes a variety of objects with magical abilities. They aren’t weapons, armour, or rings but offer unique effects, like the Belt of Giant Strength.

5. Can I Create a Magical Weapon?

Absolutely! A magic weapon can be as simple as a sword with an enhancement bonus or as complex as a powerful weapon with major benign powers or even a major malevolent effect.

6. Should I Include Negative Effects, like a Negative Level?

Yes, many powerful items, like the Talisman of Ultimate Evil, have major drawbacks or minor malevolent effects to balance their power.

7. How Do I Assign a Caster Level to My Artefact?

The caster level dictates how powerful the spell effects of the artefact are. For instance, a 5th-level spell in an artefact might require it to have a caster level of at least 5.

8. Can My Artefact Deal Physical Damage?

Yes, artefacts can deal points of damage, similar to a breath weapon or a successful hit from a weapon. You can specify the damage type and amount.

9. What is a "Living Creature" in Terms of Artefacts?

Some artefacts, like the Book of Infinite Spells, have powers that directly affect living creatures, such as healing hit points or casting a divine spell.

10. How Can I Make My Artefact a "Very Rare Item"?

To be very rare, an item should have unique or powerful attributes, like the Ring of Illusory Flames, or be a single-use item with a significant effect.

11. What Are "Homebrew Items"?

Homebrew items are custom magical items created by the Dungeon Master (DM) for their own campaigns, not found in official sources like the Dungeon Master’s Guide.

12. Can Any Character Use an Artefact?

It depends on the item. Some, like the Talisman of Pure Good, might require the bearer to be a character of a specific class or alignment.

13. How Do I Incorporate Artefacts Into My Campaign?

Artefacts can be introduced through detailed histories that tie into your campaign's storyline. They can be the central focus of a quest or a reward for a major accomplishment.

14. Are There Any Risks in Adding Powerful Items to My Game?

Yes, introducing artefacts with much power, like the Regalia of Might, can unbalance your game. It's a good idea to consider how they might affect game dynamics.

15. Can Artefacts Have "Special Powers"?

Definitely. Special powers, whether they're a major power or minor powers, make an artefact unique. They could range from casting time manipulation to granting the owner an appropriate number of wishes.

16. What's a Good Source for Artefact Ideas?

The Dungeon Master’s Guide is a great source, as are previous editions of D&D materials. You can also draw inspiration from board games or fantasy literature.

17. Should I Use "Further Ado" in Presenting Artefacts?

Using "further ado" means introducing the artefact with a flourish in your campaign, making its discovery a memorable event.

18. How Can I Balance an Artefact's Power?

Balancing an artefact involves giving it both powers and limitations. For example, an artefact may grant significant power but only work in an open area or have a major drawback.

19. Can I Make Artefacts That Were in Previous Editions?

Yes, you can recreate artefacts from previous editions, like the fabled orbs or Nether Scrolls, in your own campaigns, adjusting their powers as needed.

20. How Do I Create a New Magic Item Table?

To create a new magic item table, consider the range of items from single-use items to powerful items and categorize them based on rarity and power. Use the following tables in the Dungeon Master’s Guide as a reference.

Remember, the most important aspect of creating homebrew magic items is ensuring they enhance the fun and narrative of your campaign!

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