ARTEFACT is a story game for one player, designed for contemplative solo play.
In the classic dungeon crawl, you follow the lives of adventurers as they overcome challenges to gain prestige and, most importantly, magical treasures. But what were those treasures doing before the adventurers came along? How many aeons have passed, in silent darkness, since they were last used?
ARTEFACT shifts the focus to the perspective of a single magical item, and its history as it passes through the hands of many different keepers. You’ll feel the weight of time as the item is lost or abandoned again and again, the dust & decay piling around it until it’s found again by someone new.
It’s a great way to spend an hour; sketching, world-building and storytelling in your own company. It’s also a fantastic way to generate really unique items for tabletop games like D&D, with detailed histories far more vivid than any you’d typically find in a compendium.
Tell me more…
First, you choose your Artefact from nine different archetypes. Give it life by sketching it and naming its properties. Who was its maker? What were they like?
The available Artefacts are:
- The Weapon – A tool of war: a blade, axe, or something stranger.
- The Shield – A bulwark of protection: from towering scuta to deft bucklers.
- The Instrument – Produces musical sounds, conventionally or otherwise.
- The Ornament – Jewellery, charms and trinkets: small but potent.
- The Deck – A collection of worn cards, an oracle or something stranger.
- The Footwear – Shoes: they are for going places, conventionally or otherwise.
- The Staff – A conduit for magic: a focus for arcane power.
- The Tome – A receptacle of knowledge, lost or forbidden.
- The Automaton – A self-operating machine, responsive to orders.
Eventually, a new Keeper will arrive—until they don’t, and the item is left broken beyond repair or abandoned in a cold, dark place forever.
An item cannot act alone—a Keeper must seize it. Only then can it travel around, seeing wondrous places and having grand adventures. Its agency is limited, shackled to its Keeper, but it can influence its situation through magic, communication and force of will. You’ll answer questions about your Keeper and consider what kind of mark they left on the world—with your help.
However, magical items outlive even the most venerable Keepers.
Through death, bestowal or carelessness, a Keeper relinquishes the item and your stint with them ends. The sun turns, seasons pass and flesh & blood return to the earth. The item is at Rest—inert and waiting. You always choose how much Time passes as well as the myriad events and developments that occur while you wait.
You’ll always have your story, though.
Artefact is by Jack Harrison, who you can find on twitter as @mouseholepress.