D&D: Top 5 Most Iconic Artifacts

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wizard artifact dungeons dragons

We’re hungry for power this week, as we grasp at five of the most iconic artifacts in all of D&D.
Artifacts are the stuff of legends. They bear names that are whispered in hushed voices around darkened tables. Or. Y’know, on every adventurer’s wishlist. Entire adventures, nay, campaigns revolve around them. In the right hands, an artifact can reshape the world. Here are five that have shaped D&D.

hand and eye of vecna dungeons and dragons

The Hand and Eye of Vecna.

Perhaps the most famous set of artifacts in D&D. The Hand an Eye are reputed to be all that remains of a powerful lich and you know what? No. Sorry Vecna. You were an evil lich, but, like Picard, I’m drawing the line here. You have to cut off your hand and gouge out your own eye if you want to use these. Sure there’s the whole “price for power” thing, but that’s supposed to come later. Evil corrupting artifacts are supposed to be seductive. Top five status revoked!

For my money, you’d be better off with The Acorn of Wo Mai.

First appearing in The Book of Artifacts, this is a large lead acorn that was built to trap an incredibly powerful fiend inside. After the fiend’s captors drug it off, they turned it into an oracle. Now the fiend telepathically communicates with whoever possesses it, providing supernaturally sound advice–but, at the price of trying to convince its possessor to free it.

There you go, immediate benefit, drawback that anyone is sure to think “well yeah, but I won’t fall for it…” perfect recipe for the kind of hubris you wanted Vecna. It should be you as the header, Acorn. Can we do that?

acorn

Acorn of Wo Mai

Although now that we’re here, I suppose being the remnants of a powerful villain who BECAME A GOD is pretty iconic. Alright Vecna, top five status restored–but I’m watching you.

dungeons and dragons axe of the dwarvish lords

The Axe of the Dwarvish Lords

Powerful enough to have its own high-level adventure, the Axe of the Dwarvish Lords was forged when the world was new by a master dwarven smith who loved to create so much that Moradin himself undertook to teach him the arts of crafting. This axe as been many things throughout the ages: symbol of Dwarven High Kings, cause of at least one civil war, prophecied tool of legendary heroes yet to be. Functioning as both deadly weapon and powerful tool, the Axe of the Dwarvish Lords is the capstone to any adventuring dwarf’s career.

rod of seven parts dungeons and dragons

The Rod of Seven Parts

The only one of these to have its own novel, the Rod of Seven Parts has everything you’d want in an artifact: ancient item of power, destroyed long ago in battle between order and chaos, scattered throughout the world, needs to be reassembled to stop a powerful evil–the whole thing is an adventure that practically writes itself (although I believe it was Skip Williams that actually did that–it culminates in a fight against an evil lich).

demogorgon orcus dungeons and dragons

“Hey, think one of us will ever end up on TV?” “Stranger Things have happened…”

The Wand of Orcus

The signature weapon of its namesake, the Wand of Orcus has appeared throughout the ages. From 1st – 5th edition, the wand has been at the side of the Demon Prince of Undeath as he battles against his ancient foe, Demogorgon. Rightly called the wand of death, this artifact once had the power to destroy nearly any being in the cosmos (a 50% chance, anyway). Most of the time, this artifact appears in a campaign as an item the PCs MUST destroy.

orb of dragonkind dungeons and dragons

The Orbs of Dragonkind

If the Wand of Orcus was wielded by an iconic monster, the Orbs of Dragonkind revolve around THE iconic monster. It’s right there in the name of the game, right after the ampersand. And like the Rod of Seven Parts, these artifacts stepped out of the game and into fiction, appearing in the classic Dragonlance novels as well (aother iconic part of D&D). There seems to be a version of their origins for just about every edition, campaign setting, or age category you can think of. Yes, wherever people fight against dragons, the Orbs of Dragonkind can’t be far behind.

These are five of the most iconic artifacts from D&D. Think we left some out? Let us know in the comments below.

  • yergerjo

    Don’t forget the Head of Vecna…a more powerful item than the Hand or Eye…

    • The_Illusionist

      Heh, I was going to suggest the same thing. A truly evil item that definitely changed the way that adventurers look at D&D…. 5 or 6 in particular, one would hope…..

      Seriously though, the artifact that has had the biggest influence on me and my RPGing history is probably going to be the Throne of Bhaal. It’s a bit of a cheat, I know, but without it and the plot line to which it is the capstone, I and a generation of gamers may well not have existed, such was it’s scope and reach.

    • Will Frank

      Isn’t that guarded by the deadly Gazebo?

  • Xodis

    Holy Avengers….kills more PC Paladins trying to find one than Dragons lol

  • Vepr

    Artifacts are powerful and all but I don’t know if anything is more powerful than the profession “DM significant other”. I have seen some pretty miraculous TPK avoidance due to this profession. 🙂

  • JJ

    The Deck of Many things.. Ooops you lost your soul, do you want to draw again?

  • blackmoor

    Baba Yaga’s Hut1

  • Malevengion

    I’ve always enjoyed throwing artifacts into my campaigns. They always have incredibly useful power…but with a catch. Keeps the Munchkins on their toes.

  • MightyOrang

    No Hammer of Thunderbolts?!?

  • Will Frank

    Really? REALLY?

    No love for the Deck of Many Things??

  • Commissar Molotov

    Bag of Holding? Not sexy, but USEFUL!