An artefact is a powerful weapon, armour or piece of jewellery that possesses wondrous properties, making it more powerful than "normal" magical equipment. Unidentified artefacts always carry unusual names, such as "a golden sword" or "a shimmering scale mail". When identified, an artefact reveals its true name and all powers it has.
Types of Artefacts
Artefacts come in three distinct (and perhaps confusing) flavours:
- randarts - randomly created artefacts with normal properties
- unrandarts - predefined artefacts with normal properties
- fixedarts - predefined artefacts with special properties unique to the artefact (eg, the Staff of Dispater, which lets you evoke Damnation)
Properties of Artefacts
Artifacts have ego properties or brands depending on their type. Randart jewelry always has a random base piece of jewelry, which may be a useful or harmful type. Randart weapons always have a brand, and in addition may carry brands not normally generated on that type of weapon (e.g. a speed branded axe or a vampiric brand whip). Randart armours do not have an ego, although both randart and unrandart dragon armours exist.
Randarts can have, in addition, other beneficial properties:
- Varying levels of fire resistance, cold resistance, or life protection
- Electricity resistance or poison resistance
- Bonuses to slaying, attributes, stealth, or magic resistance
- Evokable powers such as flight, invisibility, blink, or berserk
- See invisible
Unfortunately, they can also have some negative properties:
- One level of fire or cold vulnerability
- Penalties to accuracy, damage, stats, stealth, or MR
- A chance to autocurse when equipped
- Making noise while wielded
- Preventing teleportation
- Preventing spellcasting
- Causing mutagenic glow when unwielded
- Causing teleportitis
- Causing you to go berserk when attacking enemies
- Causing you to sometimes be corroded or slowed when taking damage
- Fragility - if unequipped, the item is destroyed
The game will auto-inscribe all of an artefact's properties when identified, allowing you to reference them at a glance.
Artefacts cannot be modified by most means. Scrolls of enchant weapon/armour won't work on them.
Sources of Artefacts
Artefacts can come from many sources:
- Some gods bestow upon favored followers gifts from time to time, including artefacts.
- Shops may carry artefacts (identified or not). "Antique" shops are most likely to carry artefacts.
- A scroll of acquirement may create an artefact for you, depending on the category of item you pick.
- Every so often you'll find an artefact lying around the Dungeon, or wielded by a monster.
It is easy to recognize an artefact: all artefacts, even when unidentified, have their name displayed in white text.
Normal magical weapons and armor are always "glowing", "runed", "shiny", "dyed", or "embroidered" when unidentified. Unidentified artefacts draw from a broad selection of adjectives, although normal amulets and rings also have many different descriptors, and even nonmagical helmets can be winged, visored, and so on.
- Prior to 0.12 artefacts with the "Contam" property caused glow over time instead of a higher amount on unwielding them. That made artefact weapons much more useful as a situational weapon and much less useful as primary weapon