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D&D: Five Artifacts Straight Out of Legend

4 Minute Read
May 10
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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, if not, 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

hand and eye of vecna dungeons and dragons

Perhaps the most famous set of artifacts in D&D. The Hand and Eye are reputed to be all that remains of a powerful lich. Sure, you have to cut off your hand and gouge out your own eye if you want to use these, but that’s the whole “price for power” thing. But wait, you might be saying, shouldn’t evil artifacts be seductive? Gouging out your eye is all kinds of body horror-y.

Well these artifacts give you phenomenal power. The Eye gives you truesight, x-ray vision, and some incredibly powerful spells. Not the least of these are Disintegrate and Dominate Monster. Alone the Eye can solve a lot of problems.

The Hand makes your Strength become 20, gives you extra damage on any melee attack, and lets you teleport. Wield ’em both and you can cast Wish and can liquefy someone’s skeleton from the inside. Of course you might lose your soul in the process, but you know, not a bad way to go.

The Axe of the Dwarvish Lords

dungeons and dragons 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 has been many things throughout the ages: symbol of Dwarven High Kings, cause of at least one civil war, a prophesied tool of legendary heroes yet to be. Functioning as both a deadly weapon and a powerful tool, the Axe of the Dwarvish Lords is the capstone to any adventuring Dwarf’s career.

In 5th Edition, the Axe deals extra damage on a crit, and if you roll a second 20, you also lop off a limb causing all sorts of problems. And you can throw it such that it comes back to you.

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The Rod of Seven Parts

rod of seven parts dungeons and dragons

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).

This one isn’t in 5E yet…but there’s still time.

The Wand of Orcus

demogorgon orcus dungeons and dragons

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.

This powerful artifact might just kill you for picking it up. But if you live, you not only deal scads of extra necrotic damage on any hit, but you also can cast powerful necromancy spells. Animate Dead, sure, but you also get Circle of Death, Finger of Death, and Power Word Kill. Plus Speak with Dead so you can kill first and ask questions later.

The Orbs of Dragonkind

orb of dragonkind dungeons and dragons

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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 (another 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.

They let you cast some interesting spells: cure wounds, death ward, scrying – but what really makes them powerful is their ability to call dragons from up to 40 miles away. It doesn’t let you control them, though, so you might want to leave before they arrive.

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

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