Incredible magic for all campaigns! The Book of Artifacts will help every adventure reach new plateaus of mystery, danger, and epic excitement. Within these pages is the most complete collection of legendary and obscure artifacts ever assembled for the AD&D 2nd Edition game. Each enigmatic token or powerful relic has a detailed history, special powers that truly fit the theme of the item, and even tips on how to introduce - or remove - the artifact from a campaign.
New and valuable information is also included for characters who want to create magical items or recharge existing ones. Making that special magical sword or finding ingredients for that powerful potion can be the basis for whole adventures! Whether the characters find the Machine of Lum the Mad or the Jacinth of Inestimable Beauty, the Book of Artifacts packs enough adventure between its covers to be an invaluable addition to every AD&D game!
Book of Artifacts (1993), by David "Zeb" Cook, is a hardcover rules book for AD&D 2e. It was published in October 1993.
Completing the 2e Hardcovers. In contrast to AD&D 1e, the second edition of the AD&D rules just had six hardcovers of rules. The core rules were collected in the Player's Handbook (1989), the Dungeon Master Guide (1990), Legends & Lore (1990), and Monstrous Manual (1993) - which had been released just a few months earlier to collect some of the monsters previously released in looseleaf folders. Beyond that, there were just two optional rulebooks: Tome of Magic (1991) and Book of Artifacts.
TSR would dramatically revamp its hardcover publication plans just a few years later when it published several "Options" books for the 2.5e version of AD&D (1995-2000).
A Book by Any Other Name... Cook's Book of Artifacts wasn't the first RPG product by that name. A decade earlier Dragon Tree Press published The Book of Artifacts (1982) as a "generic fantasy" supplement that was clearly intended for use with D&D. It included, among other things, stats for the magical rings of Middle Earth, up to and including the One Ring.
A History of Artifacts. "Official" artifacts first appeared in D&D Supplement III: Eldritch Wizardry (1976), by Gary Gygax and Brian Blume. That tome contained 22 artifacts: the Axe of the Dwarvish Lords; Baba Yaga's Hut; the Codex of the Infinite Planes; the Crowns, Orbs, and Sceptres (of Might); the Crystal of the Ebon Flame; the Eye of Vecna; the Hand of Vecna; Horn of Change; the Invulnerable Coat of Arn; the Iron Flask of Tuerny the Merciless; the Jacinth of Inestimable Beauty; the Mace of Cuthbert; the Machine of Lum the Mad; the Mighty Servant of Leuk-o; the Orbs of Dragonkind; Queen Ehlissa's Marvelous Nightingale; Reward's Mystical Organ; the Ring of Gax; the Rod of Seven Parts; the Sword of Kas; the Throne of the Gods; and the Wand of Orcus.
It's a pretty impressive list. Most of the classics are already there, including a few with Greyhawk connections, like the Sword of Kas and the Vecna body parts. Each artifact gets between a third and a half a page of (digest-sized) text, with most of that given to the description. The actual powers are drawn from a set of tables. To make the artifacts work sensibly, a suggested list of powers is included; to keep the players on their toes, all of the powers can be randomized.
Artifacts reappeared for AD&D in the Dungeon Masters Guide (1979). This time there were 27; the list is largely the same with just a few additions, including the Cup and Talisman of Al'Akbar; Johydee's Mask; Kuroth's Quill; the Recorder of Ye'Cind; and the Teeth of Dahlver-Nar. Meanwhile, a few names changed too: Arn became Arnd, Gax became Gaxx, and Reward became Heward. This time around, some of the artifacts had set powers, while the rest of the powers were entirely random.
An artifact lover coming to AD&D 2e for the first time would probably be disappointed, however, as the 2e Dungeon Master Guide (1989) lists artifacts as "optional rules" and focuses largely on how GMs can create artifacts on their own. Only three are included as samples, but at least they're classics: the Hand of Vecna; Heward's Mystical Organ; and the Rod of Seven Parts.
Which brings us to the Book of Artifacts (1993). It's the largest and more comprehensive collection of artifacts ever, containing a total of 50. Almost every one gets at least a full page of text, including extensive history and other info. Each artifact also has set powers (though there's still a 20-page listing of random powers at the end!).
Author Zeb Cook promises that "all the old favorites" are here, and he's almost correct. Every artifact from either Eldritch Wizardry or the 1e Dungeon Master Guide is here, except for the Wand of Orcus (perhaps because demons & devils were personae non gratae at TSR at the time). The Wand can instead be found in Encyclopedia Magica IV (1995).
Finally, Book of Artifacts also acknowledges that many of the original artifacts were tied to Greyhawk and so gives some attention to artifacts for Al-Qadim, Dark Sun, Dragonlance, Forgotten Realms, Ravenloft, and Spelljammer. Some of these artifacts came from other sources, including The Horde (1990), I10: "Ravenloft II: The House on Gryphon Hill" (1986), and Spelljammer (1989).
Future History. Artifacts got a bit more attention toward the end of 2e. First the Dancing Hut of Baba Yaga (1995), by Lisa Smedman, became an adventure in the "S" series. Then the AD&D "Tomes" adventures included two modules centered around artifacts: The Rod of Seven Parts (1996) and Axe of the Dwarvish Lords (1999), both by Skip Williams.
About the Creators. Cook was the author of the AD&D 2e rules and also the main developer for both of the optional rulebooks, Tome of Book and Book of Artifacts. In 1993, Cook was also writing up one of his last game systems, the Amazing Engine (1993).
About the Product Historian
The history of this product was researched and written by Shannon Appelcline, the editor-in-chief of RPGnet and the author of Designers & Dragons - a history of the roleplaying industry told one company at a time. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to firstname.lastname@example.org.