The most powerful artifacts in D&D are typically those that most characters know to fear and only the most foolhardy would even dare wield. These are the items that are so powerful that no character of NPC would stand against them without having to steel themselves to the thought that they might not be making it out of the encounter if the item was to work and the effect took hold. Unlike regular magical items like say, an enchanted blade or item of clothing, artifacts tend to come with a much heavier price when they’re used and tend to have the kind of power that can change a character or even obliterate them if they’re not careful. Throughout the history D&D there have been many artifacts that have come and gone, but the greatest and the most powerful tend to stick around like bad seeds waiting to be picked up and a possibly be used by those that have little to no understanding of their true abilities. But the best part is that if you have a wise and fair DM leading your session they won’t be throwing artifacts at you every other session. You’ll have to earn them, and therefore come to understand the real meaning and the true warnings of their power.
Here are five of the most powerful D&D artifacts to ever be created for the game.
5. The Talisman of Pure Good/Ultimate Evil
This talisman’s powers depend on who holds it and how strong their beliefs are, so you can imagine that if someone of middling belief and lesser power were to somehow gain hold of it the artifact would be fairly useless, at least to them. Yet if it was given to a paladin or an evil cleric the ramifications would be huge. The talisman grants the power to those of devout belief the ability to utterly destroy a divine spellcaster that is being targeted. What this means is that if someone such as a cleric, a paladin, or anyone else that draws power from the gods is targeted by this thing then they get no saving throw and are about to enter a world of the worst kind of pain imaginable. In a way it’s almost like a toy that the gods of D&D can give to mortals to destroy each others followers.
4. The Eye and Hand of Vecna
Vecna is one of the biggest, baddest villains in all of D&D history and the fact that two of his body parts are considered artifacts only strengthens this legacy. His eye and hand were both taken during a battle with his traitorous henchman Kas, and as a result they became powerful relics. But despite the fact that they grant the user an amazing array of spells and the ability to ignore 70 percent of ALL spells in the game, the user has to remove a corresponding body part to even use these items. That’s right, they have to lose a hand and an eye or either/or in order to make use of this deadly artifact. They also have to, according to the DM, occasionally roll a saving throw to see if the artifact is affecting them in an adverse manner.
3. The Orbs of Dragonkind
The orbs are pretty straightforward in their purpose and the abilities they grant the bearer. There is an orb for every type of dragon, meaning white for white, blue for blue, and so on and so forth. But while the orbs can make the bearer immune to the breath weapon of the dragons they control and all a player to dominate and control dragons, the use of one of these artifacts is enough to earn the undying enmity of all dragons. Dragons in D&D are on the same level as Smaug from The Hobbit, they don’t like being tricked, used, or dominated in any way and will retaliate pretty quickly. That’s why these orbs are usually very hard to find and aren’t always as useful as one might think. Now as a last ditch effort to survive, or for use as a warlord that doesn’t care about offending anyone they’d be perfect.
2. The Cyrinishad
Cyric the Mad was a newly converted god in the Forgotten Realms pantheon at one time and the Cyrinishad is, more or less, his own bible. Unfortunately since he was all about violence, deceit, and madness, his bible has the ability to turn those who read it, or even those that listen to it being read, insane. This is one of those books that you don’t just open on a whim as it has the power to drive even gods crazy, so you can imagine what it might do to mortal characters. As an in-game artifact it’s something that any respectable DM wouldn’t just leave lying around unless they were wanting their PC’s to really mess something up.
Ah yes, the Crystal Shard, one of the absolute nastiest artifacts in the game not just because it grants such awesome protections, but also because like many artifacts it is sentient and can lure the user to commit one act of depravity after another until their alignment is to its liking. There have been a few that have possessed the artifact, such as Akar Kessell, who was eventually abandoned by it, the balor Errtu, who was finally banished by Drizzt Do’Urden, and even Jarlaxle the mercenary and the assassin, Entreri, who refused to fall prey to the thing. The crystal grants the user the ability to cast as though they were an 18th-level caster, which as D&D aficionados know is quite powerful, but the continual mental barrage is something that many people don’t seem to think about nearly enough when it comes to the power they’ll be able to wield.
Artifacts are nothing to be taken lightly in the game of D&D, as a lot of them have rather nasty side effects that kind of balance out their more awesome abilities.
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