An Artifact is an item of the Shadowlands that temporarily bestows power upon the user or owner. Artifacts can either be made from Shadowlands-based materials such as soulsteel or Stygian steel, or from relics, which case they are known as Relic Artifacts. The former category is the more common of the two.
Powers bestowed by artifacts are usually reflections of low-level Arcanoi abilities, although other abilities such as Attribute enhancers and aggravated damage are not unheard of. Especially powerful and rare Artifacts may have altogether unique abilites.
Overall, both kinds of Artifacts are rare and valuable, and needless to say, many are held by the Hierarchy. It is not unheard of for Heretics, Renegades, or Guilds to be in possession of less valuable ones. Some Guilds, in particular the Artificers, Pardoners, and Sandmen, use simple Artifacts extensively in their everyday work.
There are four broad classes of artifacts in the underworld:
- Hard artifacts are made through soulforging. These include most metallic artifacts ranging from wheels to ashtrays.
- Soft artifacts are made through Moliate; these include things such as cushions or thread.
- Artifacts made exclusively from materials unique to the Shadowlands, such as Stygian paper, which is made from the reeds that grow on the banks of the River of Death, or Stygian ink, which is made from powdered Angst.
- Stygian Steel artifacts, which involves souls combined with substances scraped from the Veinous Stair. These artifacts are among the strongest and most durable in the Shadowlands.
Relic Artifacts are especially rare because they must not only be made, but maintained with emotions and memories from the Quick. Items of great fame or renown, such as the Holy Grail or Excalibur, are prime candidates for becoming potent Relic Artifacts, and are some of the most powerful items in the Shadowlands. Because of the fame attached to them, Relic Artifacts never fade away.