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.
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 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.
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.
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).
“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.
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.