Artifacts are the relics of ancient civilisations which the combination of age, long-forgotten magics, and other-planar influences have elevated beyond the power of even the most potent magic items. A well known example of an artifact would be the One Ring from Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, or the krang from Alan Dean Foster’s “The Tar-Aiym Krang.” As one might deduce, the power of an artifact is potentially destructive to the campaign in which it is introduced and artifacts should therefore never be randomly generated or lightly placed. Artifacts are divided into two groups: minor and major. Major artifacts are unique items of great power, to rival that of the gods. Minor artifacts are not unique, though still quite rare, and of somewhat lesser power than major artifacts. Any artifact, major or minor, is nearly impossible to destroy.

Minor Artifact Descriptions

Book of Infinite Spells (any)

This ancient tome appears to be a non-descript and well used travelling spellbook of the type favoured by adventuring wizards. This artifact grants to any player of any class the ability to cast the spells contained within its pages, though any character of a class unable to cast spells will function at one level lower while in possession of the artifact. The book of infinite spells contains 2d6+20 pages (22-32 pages) and the nature of the spell scribed on each page is determined randomly using 1d10, with a die roll of 1-5 indicating an arcane magic spell and a roll of 6-10 indicating divine magic. GMs may use the following table to assist with random selection of spells.

d% Spell level d% Spell level
01–05 4th 71–85 7th
06–50 5th 86–95 8th
51–70 6th 95–00 9th

This artifact book has a rather curious property—the pages may only be turned from front to back. Once a page has been turned, it may never be unturned, and the book always opens to the page it was on when last used. When the last page is turned the book vanishes and if the player lost a level when first opening the book that level is restored to the player. The owner can cast the spell scribed upon the active page once per day and if the spell is one usable by the user’s class it can be cast up to four times per day. The book’s owner need not have the book on his or her person to use its power. The spells inscribed therein may not be copied into a spellbook, for the magic is bound up within the artifact itself, nor may a page be ripped from the book without destroying it.

Any casting of a spell from the book creates an energy feedback which has a chance of causing the page to magically turn. This turning of the page will occur in spite of any precautions taken to prevent from it doing so. Of course, due to the random nature of the book’s content, the turning of the page to a new spell may actually benefit the owner. The owner knows the newly-available spell as soon as this occurs. The book of infinite spells is treated as a scroll in terms of actual casting time, effects, saving throws, material components and so on.

Condition and Chance of Page Turning

Caster employing a spell usable by class and level: 10%
Caster employing a spell not usable by class and level: 20%
Non-spellcaster employing a divine or druidic spell: 25%
Non-spellcaster employing an arcane or phantasmal spell: 30%

Deck of Many Things (any)

This artifact is the ultimate two-edged sword, conferring effects both beneficial and baneful. It consists of a deck of 22 finely-carved ivory plaques in an intricately-carved box of polished ebony. There have also been reports of versions of the deck consisting of fine vellum cards in a leather bag. The individual carvings on the plaques or cards are composed mainly of an archetypal character derived from ancient human lore and a variety of runes of power. The owner of the deck draws as many plaques as he or she wishes from the deck and whatever effect is bestowed takes place instantly, whether for weal or woe.

The following conditions apply to using this artifact. First, the owner must declare beforehand exactly how many cards he or she wishes to draw from the deck before he or she begins; otherwise he or she will be unable to draw from the deck. Once the number of cards is declared they must be drawn from the deck within an hour of each other. If the character does not draw the declared number of cards from the deck, either willingly or unwillingly, at the end of one hour the specified number of cards will flip out of the deck automatically at the rate of one per turn. Each time a card is drawn it is returned to the deck before drawing again, making it possible to draw the same card multiple times.

The table on the following page is a listing of the various plaques and their effects, following the table is a more complete description. Included is a corresponding card, both Tarot and common playing card, so the GM can have the player actually draw from a deck. Dice may also be used to generate a random result.

Plaque Tarot Card Playing Card Summary of Effect
Balance XI. Justice Two of Spades Change alignment.
Comet Two of Swords Two of Diamonds Defeat the next monster you encounter to gain one level.
Donjon Four of Swords Ace of Spades You are imprisoned.
Euryale Ten of Swords Queen of Spades Permanent -1 to all saving throws.
The Fates Three of Cups Ace of Hearts Avoid, one time, any situation of your choosing.
Flames XV. The Devil Queen of Clubs Enmity between you and an outsider.
Fool 0. The Fool Joker (with tm) Lose 10,000 xp and you must draw again.
Gem Seven of Cups Two of Hearts Gain your choice of 25 pieces of jewellery or 50 gems.
Idiot Two of Pentacles Two of Clubs Lose intelligence permanently, you may draw again.
Jester XII. The Hanged Man Joker (no tm) Gain 10,000 xp, or, two more draws from the deck.
Key V. The Hierophant Queen of Hearts Gain a major magic weapon.
Knight Page of Swords Jack of Hearts Gain the service of a 4th level fighter.
Moon XVIII. The Moon Queen of Diamonds You are granted 1d4 wishes.
Rogue Five of Swords Jack of Spades One of your friends turns against you.
Ruin XVI. The Tower King of Spades Immediately lose all wealth and real property.
Skull XIII. Death Jack of Clubs Defeat dread wraith or forever be destroyed.
Star XVII. The Star Jack of Diamonds Immediately gain a +2 permanent bonus to one ability score.
Sun XIX. The Sun King of Diamonds Gain beneficial magic item and 50,000 xp.
Talons Queen of Pentacles Ace of Clubs All magic items you possess disappear.
Throne Four of Staves King of Hearts Gain a +1 to charisma.
Vizier IX. The Hermit Ace of Diamonds Know the answer to your next dilemma.
The Void Eight of Swords King of Clubs Body functions but soul is trapped elsewhere.

Dread Wraith

Frequency:Very rare
No. Encountered:2d6
Move:120 ft, 240 ft flying
Armour Class:1
Hit Dice:16
Special Attacks:Level drain
Special Defences:Only hit by silver or magic weapons; immune to certain spells
Magic Resistance:Standard
Lair Probability:25%
Alignment:Lawful evil
Level/XP:9/ 5,900 +23/hp

Dread wraiths are insubstantial undead creatures that exist partially in the negative material plane, giving them the power to drain one level of experience when they score a hit upon an opponent. In sunlight, the dread wraith cannot drain levels.

Wraiths are shadowy, man-like shapes, dark and indistinct. Silver weapons inflict only half damage upon a dread wraith; magical weapons of at least +2 inflict full damage. They are immune to cold damage, charm, sleep and hold spells.

Treasure: (in lair only) 5% chance of 1d10×1,000 cp; 25% chance of 1d12×1,000 sp; 25% chance of 1d6×1,000 ep; 25% chance of 1d8×1,000 gp; 15% chance of 1d12 gems; 10% chance of 1d8 items of jewellery; 25% chance of 3 magic items plus 1 scroll

Hammer of Thunderbolts (CFPR)

This powerful weapon appears as a square-headed, 15 lb war hammer with a shorter than normal haft. The hammer of thunderbolts strikes as a +3 weapon and deals 4d6 damage, and can also be hurled as a missile weapon (30 ft range bands) which will return to the wielder after the attack is resolved. Note that this is the maximum power the item can attain if wielded by a cleric; only one who can wear the belt of giant strength can unlock its full potential.

If the wielder is wearing both gauntlets of ogre power and a belt of giant strength the slumbering power of the hammer of thunderbolts is revealed to the wearer. First, the owner knows the weapon for what it is. Second, the weapon gains a full +5 attack bonus, all damage bonuses from the hammer, gauntlets, and belt stack, and the weapon will strike dead any giant on a successful hit. The giant is allowed a saving throw vs death magic to avoid the instant death but not the damage.

Further, when hurled the weapon gains a new power. On a successful attack the hurled weapons emits a clap of thunder which stuns all living creatures within 90 ft (saving throw vs petrifaction to avoid).

Chiselled into the base of the stone hammerhead are the words "æsir Hammers, Ltd."

Philosopher’s Stone (any)

Produced by an alchemist of some long-forgotten civilisation, the philosopher’s stone appears as an unremarkable, dull black rock of irregular shape and about the size of a clenched fist. Upon inspection the stone seems heavy for its size and, if spun on a flat surface the stone wobbles about its axis as if the centre were liquid. Breaking the stone open will reveal the hollow centre is filled with alchemist’s quicksilver, a wonderful substance able to transmute base metals such as lead or iron into pure gold or silver. The amount of alchemist’s quicksilver in the philosopher’s stone is sufficient to convert 5,000 lbs of iron into pure silver, or 1,000 lbs of lead into gleaming, pure gold. The potent magic of the stone also has another use. The quicksilver can be mixed with a curative potion to create oil of life. When applied to a corpse the oil acts as a resurrection spell.

The quicksilver is sealed into the stone because it breaks down rapidly when exposed to air. The quicksilver must be used within 24 hours of breaking the stone or it loses its potency forever. Any use of the quicksilver uses all the contents of the stone, so one must decided beforehand whether to produce silver, gold, or the oil of life.

Sphere of Annihilation (IM)

This “object” is not so much something as pure nothing, a spherical wound in reality consisting of a malignant absence of matter. Any matter from the Prime Material Plane coming into contact with the sphere is sucked into its utter blackness, instantly and irrevocably destroyed. A wish cannot restore the unfortunate victim; only the direct intervention of a deity may do so.

A sphere of annihilation can be moved without touching it, using only the power of the mind. The character must roll a save vs death magic, modified by +1 for each point of intelligence over 15, to move the sphere 10 ft per round plus 5 ft for each point he or she exceeded his or her save. Initial control of the sphere can be attempted from as far away as 40 ft and once control is gained the distance the sphere can be controlled increases to 40 ft + 10 ft per controlling character’s level. If a control check fails the sphere slides 10 ft in the direction of the controller who was attempting to move it. Controlling a sphere uses all of a character’s actions for that round.

Control of the sphere can be challenged. All creatures attempting to gain control of the sphere roll their saves as above, and the rolls are compared. If all fail their saving throws the sphere moves 10 ft toward the one who rolled the lowest number. If only one saves, he or she gains control of the sphere for 1 round. If more than one (or all) vying for control of the sphere of annihilation make their saving throws, the person exceeding their saving throw by the most number of points gains control. Should the contest for control of the sphere come out exactly equal, control should pass to the person with the highest intelligence score or, failing that, have the players roll d% and give control to the random winner.

The sphere of annihilation cancels most magic in the same way it absorbs matter. Therefore spells such as dispel magic and the various protections from magic have no effect on the sphere. There are, however, two exceptions. First, if a rod of cancellation touches the sphere, the incompatibility of the respective connections to the Negative Material Plane will cancel each other with great vigour. The resulting explosion will inflict 2d6 × 10 damage on everything within a 60 ft radius, no saving throw allowed. Second, a gate spell has a 50% chance of destroying the sphere (roll 01-50 on d%), a 35% chance of having no effect at all (51-85), or a 15% chance (86-100) of ripping a hole into the very fabric of reality and sucking everything within 180 ft of the now-destroyed sphere into the tear and depositing it on an alternate plane of existence.

See also: Talisman of the Sphere.

Talisman of Pure Good (CP)

Any cleric or paladin of good alignment (LG, NG, CG) can use this artifact to damn an evil cleric (LE, NE, CE) up to 100 ft away to a fiery judgment. When the talisman is activated, the ground cracks open at the cleric’s feet, flames shooting upward as the victim is sent hurtling down to the very centre of the earth. The following round the ground closes and forever after, nothing will grow on that spot.

The wielder of the talisman must be exceptionally pure of thought and deed, or else the target of the talisman’s effect gains a saving throw vs death magic to leap aside as the crack forms. It should be also noted the target must be standing on solid ground for the talisman to function. None but a good paladin or cleric may use the talisman of pure good, and none but an evil cleric may be damned by it. Any neutral cleric (LN, N, CN) touching the talisman takes 6d6 damage, no saving throw allowed. An evil cleric touching the talisman takes 8d6 points of damage, no saving throw allowed. The talisman is inert to any other character.

Talisman of the Sphere (IM)

This item is only usable by arcane or phantasmal spellcasters. Any character unable to cast arcane or phantasmal spells cannot use the talisman and, in fact, will take 5d6 points of damage if they attempt to pick it up. The talisman, consisting of a braided gold and adamantine cable forming a loop closed by an adamantine handle, allows a magic user to exert greater control over a sphere of annihilation (see above) by increasing the character’s modifier on the control check (double intelligence bonus and character level). A character using the talisman to exert influence on a sphere of annihilation need only check for maintaining control every other round after initial control is established. If the wielder fails to establish initial control or subsequently loses control, the sphere will move toward him or her at a rate of 10 ft per round. Though spells such as dispel magic are ineffective against a sphere of annihilation, these spells function normally when used on the talisman of the sphere—which counts as 20th level for the purposes of dispel magic attempts.

Talisman of Reluctant Wishes (any)

This nondescript artifact causes any character touching it to try to roll his or her charisma or less on 1d20.

If he or she fails the roll by exceeding his or her charisma score, the talisman acts as a stone of weight (detailed in the Cursed Magic Items section). Discarding or destroying the talisman results in 5d6 damage, no save allowed, and the talisman disappears.

Success means the talisman will remain with the character for 5d6 hours or until he or she makes a wish with it. When one or the other event occurs, the talisman disappears.

If he or she rolls a natural 20 the character and talisman become bound together for a number of months equal to his or her charisma score and he or she will be unable to rid him- or herself of the talisman during that time. The artifact will grant the owner one wish for every six points of charisma during this time, but as above all wishes must be used before the time expires. During this time the talisman, if held, will grow warm and vibrate whenever the owner comes within 20 ft of a magical or mechanical trap. The talisman must be held in order to receive this benefit.

No matter which result is rolled, when the talisman of reluctant wishes disappears, a flawless white diamond worth 10,000 gp is left in its place.

Talisman of Pure Evil (C)

Any cleric of evil alignment (LE, NE, CE) can use this artifact to banish a good cleric or paladin (LG, NG, CG) up to 100 ft away to an icy prison. When the talisman is activated, the ground cracks open at the victim’s feet, chunks of ice flying upward as the victim is sent hurtling down to the very centre of the earth. The following round the ground closes and forever after, only white roses will grow on that spot.

The wielder of the talisman must be relentlessly and irredeemably evil of thought and deed, or else the target of the talisman’s effect gains a saving throw vs death magic to leap aside as the crack forms. It should be also noted the target must be standing on solid ground for the talisman to function. None but an evil cleric may use the talisman of pure evil, and none but a good cleric or paladin may be banished by it. Any neutral cleric (LN, N, CN) touching the talisman takes 6d6 damage, no saving throw allowed. A good cleric touching the talisman takes 8d6 points of damage, no saving throw allowed. The talisman is inert to any other character.

Major Artifacts

Unlike minor artifacts, major artifacts are unique (meaning each is one of a kind). These are the most potent magic items known to mortals. The power contained in a major artifact is capable of completely altering the balance of power in a campaign. Major artifacts are not easily unmade and each has a single and very specific means of destruction.

A detailed description of major artifacts is not a fit subject for the OSRIC core rules. As with certain other parts of the First Edition system—planar travel, encounter statistics for major demons and devils, and the like—major artifacts will be dealt with in separate and subsequent volumes, on the grounds that such things are not suitable for play at the more usual character levels.