Artifacts are special magic items, items typically distinctive -- meaning there is only one of it. There are some exceptions to this rule, artifacts that were created in sets.
Two things are certain about artifacts. One is that they embody powerful magic, sometimes magic that is almost too powerful for any one creature to wield.
The other certainty is that artifacts are often as dangerous for the user as for those the artifact is used against! All artifacts have banes, some minor and some not-so-minor. Player characters who acquire an artifact may be forced to decide if the benefits sufficiently outweigh the drawbacks!
Nine Steel Horns of Valhalla
Rod of Seven Parts
Cleavers of Epixennexipe
Sword & Star of Kold-Robi
In the distant past, long before the Sack of the Northern Kingdoms, nine horns were fashioned of the finest steel by the greatest of the Dwarven smiths, Gallahend. The human Archmage Tuamin enchanted each of these horns into the most powerful of all the Horns of Valhalla. Nine warriors of Neutral alignment were each given a horn to better balance the effects of Law and Chaos, of Evil and Good.
For centuries this quest carried on, each Horn passing from father to son as each warrior was slain or grew too old to continue. Sadly, with the passage of time the descendents of the original nine lost the zeal that their forefathers possessed. They drifted apart and the belief of Neutrality became muddled.
Eventually the Horns shifted and one became aligned to each of the nine ethos. For a great many years they passed out of knowledge and were lost, although that could have been a result of the destruction that happened with the Sack of the Northern Kingdoms. From time to time one turns up, and it is believed that eight of the Horns bear heavy banes, although the single horn still aligned with Neutrality is said to be a greatly desired item.
Each Horn can only be possessed by a warrior of the same ethos as that of the Horn. Any creatures of any other alignment attempting to use a Horn will suffer 10-100 points of damage, will be Feebleminded, and must save vs. Magic or lose 1-8 levels.
Each Horn is capable of summoning, once per month, a berserk Lord of 13th level, having 102 hit points, 18/00 strength, 18 in all other statistics. Each wears Plate Mail +3, carries a Shield +3, and wields a Broadsword of Defending +5. Once summoned a berserker remains for 13 rounds or until slain. When the berserker's duration ends through time or death, he fades away along with all items he arrived with.
The Neutral Horn has the following powers/effects:
The other eight Horns have the following powers/effects:
Author's Note: I cannot remember what I intended to do with this. It may be that this was simply my first stab at creating artifacts and that having completed my fit of creativity, I shelved it.
The Rod of Seven Parts was created by the Wind Mages of Karik for the High King of the Gnomes, Gonklyn. It was a gift to repay a favor done, the substance of which was unknown even at the time. The Rod was passed down the line, from father to son, as each in turn grew too old to maintain the throne.
The Rod was lost during the Sack of the Northern Kingdoms, the High King at that time being Mengon IV. It was buried with him when the city Marnio was destroyed in the cataclysm that marked the end of the Sack, also known as the Wars of Rendelshod.
The Dwarven Lord Bolo sought and found the Rod in the ruins of the once great city and returned with it to defend his remaining people from a force of Black Elves and Orcs. Bolo returned at the height of the final battle and used the Rod to defeat the enemy forces.
Upon the end of the battle the Rod of Seven Parts broke up and scattered across the Planes. Since that time different pieces have shown up, but quickly disappeared back into obscurity.
No two sections of the Rod were ever joined until the Lord-Mage Susafras led the Council of Rendelshod across the Planes in finding the pieces. He gave the Rod to his patron deity Ptah, who used it to end a major war between the Gods. Upon using it thus the Rod broke up and is again scattered across the Planes.
The Rod of Seven Parts has the following powers and effects gained by joining the different sections:
1 & 2
touch kills any plant or plant like creature, no saving throw
2 & 3
possessor immune to Charm and Hold spells
3 & 4
cast Audible Glamour 3 times per day
4 & 5
cast Lightning Bolt twice per day (at level of holder)
5 & 6
cast Wall of Fire 2 times per day
6 & 7
cast Fireball twice per day (at level of holder)
The possession of any part causes the possessor to eat 6 times normal amount.
When all parts are joined the following powers and effects are gained:
In addition the following prime powers are gained:
Whenever a prime power is used all friendly creatures within 20' radius suffer 2-16 points of damage, and there is a 15% chance that the Rod will break up and scatter.
Author's Note: The search for the Rod of Seven Parts kept my first campaign VERY busy for about 6 months real time. Originally I planned to let one of the characters keep it, but decided, after much consideration, that the Rod was FAR too much for a character to have. So Ptah got the rod, trashed his opponents, and generally stopped a major war between the gods. Then he broke the Rod up and scattered it across the multiverse and that was that.
I later put other artifacts into my campaigns, but these were less powerful and more balanced. In this case the party never got to use the full powers, so it kept things in balance while teaching me a valuable lesson as a DM.
A thousand years before the Sack of the Northern Kingdoms the Lords of Rendelshod held sway in many desolate areas. They were originally lords of all races, of Chaotic Good alignment, who banded together in a common society. Each fought Evil the best he could.
The Lords of Rendelshod knew they could not destroy all Evil and so fought on a limited scale. Vast areas came under their protection and they sought to extend their influence to even greater areas. For all their power they did not rule, they merely fought great sources of evil. The act of governing and of fighting lesser evils they left to others.
At any one time there were eighteen of their fighting men. Each carried a great weapon, a Cleaver, gifts from their patron goddess Epixennexipe. These were weapons of great power, with many powers including intelligence. What was most feared was their ability to cleave in twain the bodies of their foes, much as does a Vorpal blade remove heads. Each had a special purpose to destroy Lawful Evil beings.
Constantly on their guard, the minions of Lawful Evil including the greatest arch-devils could not destroy them or keep them from their duty. The Lords, however, failed to watch for other great sources of evil, their single-mindedness protecting them only from Lawful Evil.
The demon lord Jxtl, the Prince of Deception, saw this weakness and waited. Finally he saw his chance and began a web of trickery and lies that the Lords could not see through. The web was completed when the Lords were deceived into allowing their patron goddess to be killed.
The Lords of Rendelshod then saw that their arrogance had paved the way for the betrayal of themselves. With Epixennexipe gone the castles of the Lords were sacked, one by one. Hosts of evil things advanced on the Last Keep of Rendelshod, the first and strongest of their order. This was the beginning of the Sack of the Northern Kingdoms.
Seeing their doom the Lords sent away all their remaining servitors and lesser members. The eighteen went to face down Jxtl and at least pay a little for their arrogance. They went to their dooms.
After defeating them the Prince of Deception used his demonic powers and transformed them into Skeleton Warriors. He doomed them to wander the Prime Material plane until each of the 18 Cleavers, which he scattered, was recovered.
His doom was a deception, for the first sword that could be recovered he kept in his possession so that the doom would be eternal. The rest he scattered about the Prime Material knowing that without the first none of the others would be found.
Unfortunately for Jxtl a brave adventurer stole that fateful blade, not knowing what it was. The adventurer lost it shortly after and none no knows where that fateful blade now rests. The Demon Lord still searches for that Cleaver, knowing that if the Lords regain their swords they will regain their power.
Each Lord is the equivalent of a 15th level fighter. Each has 138 hit points and has the human equivalent of 18 in all statistics except strength, which is 20.
Any encountered will be wearing Chain mail +4, carry a Shield +4, a magic weapon of at least +3 quality, and one item from each of the following tables: Rings and E1 through E5 (see DMG).
In addition each is 90% magically resistant and is immune to the following effects: Sleep, Charm, Hold, Cold, Insanity, Electricity, Enfeeblement, Polymorph, Slow, Haste, and Death Spells/Symbols. Attacks are 3 per round at +3 to hit and +8 damage (due to strength). If alignment is detected they will radiate Chaotic Neutral.
A Lord will try to regain his Cleaver without violence, but if pressed will fight savagely. Upon gaining the sword the Lord will be teleported to the Castle Rendelshod to await the coming of his fellows in the crypt deep below the castle.
A Cleaver has an intelligence of 18 and ego of 35. Each is capable of speaking human, all demi-human, and all humanoid languages. The sword is +3, +7 vs. Lawful Evil creatures and demons. Each has the following powers usable at will, one per round: Detect Alignment, Detect Secret Doors, Flying, Protection from Evil, and Telekinesis. Each also has the special purpose of destroying Lawful Evil creatures and the special purpose power of Disintegrate. On a natural 20 the opponent is dealt an additional 10-100 points of damage, and if this kills the opponent is cloven in twain.
When each of the Lords of Rendelshod regains his Cleaver all will be in the crypt below the Castle Rendelshod. From there they will Plane Shift to the domain of Jxtl and will seek to destroy him.
Jxtl knows this and knows fear. He will do anything in his power to prevent they Lords from finding their Cleavers. He will not hesitate to destroy any and all who attempt to aid the Lords, regardless of whether the aid is direct or indirect, intentional or not.
Author's Note: The Lords of Rendelshod reassembling and facing Jxtl down played out as a mind game for the players of my first campaign. Most of it took place off stage, although we did run a LONG game one night (started at 2PM and finished 3AM) in which the players took on the part of the Lords of Rendelshod and trashed Jxtl's palace and killed him.
This reinforced the rule that undead are NOT player characters, and showed that even a poorly played Skeleton Warrior is a deadly thing. I also gained understanding of why a good villain should never be killed, which is why Jxtl was only slightly dead and later regained his power. <G>
In ages past the Elven fighter-mage Kold-Robi obtained from the demon lord Jxtl a pair of artifacts of great power. Weakened by the loss of these items Jxtl later lost a great battle and was imprisoned by the Archmage Ignatz. He later fought his way free and was forced to remain on his own plane for many centuries. Kold-Robi felt himself safe from the revenge and influence of the demon lord and rule a small kingdom for many decades.
Kold-Robi had not reckoned with the undead mind of the Arch-Lich Benra Sal Kee. From afar the lich watched the prosperity and happiness of the Elven kingdom; hatred and envy grew. Finally Benra Sal Kee, with a horde of evil and undead creatures, attacked. The countryside was laid waste and peasants were kills by the hundred, bolstering Benra Sal Kee's army with new conscripts. Siege was levied upon the castle of Kold-Robi. Help was sent for but did not arrive in time to save the valiant defenders. The day before help arrived the castle fell, only a handful survived. Legends tell of the terrible battle between the two powerful spell casters, one Elven and one undead.
The body of the mighty king was recovered, but not so his Sword and Star.
Enraged by the slaughter the reinforcements carved the army of Benra Sal Kee to pieces. No quarter was offered even to the non-undead members of that army.
Benra Sal Kee was tracked back to his lair and was believed destroyed. But the Sword and Star were never recovered.
Stories persist that the Sword turns up from time to time, but no reliable sightings have ever occurred. Legends state that anyone can use the sword, but it's full powers are available only to fighter-mages of Lawful alignment.
The location of the Star is shrouded in mystery. Learned sages believe that Benra Sal Kee still exists and that the Star is in his possession.
The Sword of Kold-Robi is a Long Sword +5 with Vorpal ability. It also has the following powers which are activated by the mental command of the possessor if the possessor is a fighter-mage:
There are two banes: All possessor saving throws are at -1, and none of the powers will work upon a lich or within 20' of one, including the Prime power:
One 24 HD Elemental can be conjured once per day. The conjuring takes 1 full round to accomplish, and can be whatever type the summoner choose. The elemental has 192 hit points and is AC0. It has two attacks per round for the same damage as an elemental of its type. It will cooperate fully with the summoner.
Upon use of this power the user will age 3-30 years and the magic will be drained from one randomly determined item within 30'. If there is no other magic item within range the user will be aged a further 3-30 years.
There is a 3% cumulative chance per use that the owner will be charmed by the Sword. This is calculated daily. A charmed person will not permit the Sword from his possession and will fight with no other weapon except where a dagger or hammer is necessary. In addition the owner will attack any lich on sight and will fight until the lich is dead.
The Sword has an intelligence of 21 and an Ego of 27. If the personality scores of the owner can overweigh that of the Sword the charm can be negated.
The Star is a 7 pointed star 5 inches in diameter. At each point is a 5,000 gp ruby and embedded in the center is a diamond of 15,000 gp value. The Star and the chain it hangs on are made of platinum, and as a piece of jewelry it is valued at 100,000 gp. As an artifact it is worth well over 200,000 gp, as is the Sword.
The following powers activate automatically:
The following powers are activated by touching certain gems in a particular order. The numbers in parenthesis indicate which gems must be touched and in which order, starting with the bottom gem and going clockwise.
The preceding powers require 3 segments to take effect. In addition there are two banes. The casting of spells that have a verbal component require that the caster shout. The second is that all dogs coming within 20' will try to urinate on the possessor's legs.
The prime power of the Star is a Time Stop at 30th level spell use. This power takes 5 segments to activate. There is a 3% cumulative chance per use, maximizing at 24%, that the user will be disintegrated at the completion of the Time Stop (1-3-5-7-2-4-6-D).
The Star has an intelligence of 21 and an Ego of 22. If it is possessed by the same person as the Sword it will reinforce the charm.
That the Sword and Star are a set is of little doubt. In addition to reinforcing the charm of the possessor, a third prime power is gained when both are possessed. Once per day the user may invoke a double-strength Power Word Kill, activated by placing the hilt of the Sword against the diamond of the Star. Regardless of the effect of the spell, the user must save vs. Death Magic or be killed.
Author's Note: I had planned the Sword & Star as an artifact for Susafras, my brother's Elven fighter/mage. Again, I can't remember the details, but if I recall correctly the combination proved FAR too powerful and upset game balance. So the Sword & Star went bye bye.
In their place Susafras gained Kith-Kanae, which means Wyrm Slayer in old Elven. Some where I have the write-up on Kith-Kanae, but it's essentially a long sword made from one of the fangs of a great wyrm in antiquity -- imagine a wyrm with a 3' plus fangs, if you will!
I can't find my index card with Kith-Kanae's abilities -- it may be that it's in a box in my brother's attic. One of these days I'll prevail upon him to dig it out ...
Copyright 2007 Bryan Fazekas