On sale September 18, the 3.5 Edition premium reprints go on sale, featuring new covers and the latest errata -- so, be sure to pick yours up at your friendly local book or gaming store!
As the books themselves described their contents and role within the game:
- The Player’s Handbook has all the rules players need to create characters, select equipment, and engage in combat with a variety of supernatural and mythical foes.
- The Dungeon Master’s Guide provides the DM with advice, guidelines, and everything he or she needs to create challenges, adventures, and full-fledged D&D campaigns, including sections on prestige classes, magic items, and character rewards.
- The Monster Manual contains material that players and DMs alike will find useful. With hundreds of monsters to populate all levels of dungeons, this tome also includes monster creation rules, information on playing monsters as characters, details on monster tactics, and powered-up versions of standard creatures.
In today's excerpts, we consider the subject of artifacts from the 3.5 Dungeon Master's Guide. And, as we did with the beholder, we also look back at artifacts as presented across multiple editions!
1st Edition Artifacts
Each artifact or relic is a singular thing of potent powers and possibly strange side effects as well. Regardless of how any of these items come into your campaign, only 1 of each may exist. As each is placed by you or found by player characters, you must draw a line through its listing on the table to indicate it can no longer be discovered randomly — if the dice indicate an item no longer available, you may substitute a clue as to its whereabouts or simply ignore the result so that no magic item is found at all.
Because of the unique nature of each artifact and relic, their powers are only partially described. You, the Dungeon Master, must at least decide what the major powers of each item are to be. This prevents players from gaining any knowledge of these items, even if they happen to own or read a copy of this volume, and it also makes each artifact and relic distinct from campaign to campaign.
Those artifacts and relics which you bring into play should be so carefully guarded by location and warding devices and monsters that recovery of any one is an undertaking of such magnitude that only very powerful characters, in concert, and after lengthy attempts have any chance whatsoever of attaining one. Naturally, each artifact and relic might have a body of rumors, tales, and other lore. Discovery of such information should not be by chance. Minor clues may be placed, but any extensive oral or written information must be sought out and obtained only after considerable expenditure of time and money, if at all.
Please note that you need not use any or all of the artifacts and/or relics here. If you prefer, you may rename those in your campaign to suit a particular mythos, or you may devise your own entirely. But any creation by you must be done so as to maintain the item in balance with the game as a whole — and this goes for assignment of powers with respect to any of these items, too! A super-weapon is certain to blast the whole campaign to smithereens, unless it is given proper limitations (and also a nemesis creature in some cases).
3.5 Edition Artifacts
The misty past holds many secrets. Great wizards and powerful clerics, not to mention the deities themselves, have used spells and created items that are beyond the ken of present-day knowledge. These items survive as artifacts, but their means of creation are long gone.
Artifacts are extremely powerful. Rather than merely another form of magic equipment, they are the sorts of legendary relics that whole campaigns can be based on. Each could be the center of a whole set of adventures—a quest to recover it, a fight against an opponent wielding it, a mission to cause its destruction, and so on.
4th Edition Artifacts
Artifacts are unique, named magic items whose creation or existence can’t be explained by the normal laws of magic. Unlike common magic items, artifacts are an essential part of the world’s weave, a piece of the story of the universe.
Bart Carroll has been a part of Wizards of the Coast since 2004, and a D&D player since 1980 (and has fond memories of coloring the illustrations in his 1st Edition Monster Manual). He currently works as producer for the D&D website. You can find him on Twitter (@bart_carroll) and at bartjcarroll.com.