15 Most Powerful D&D Artifacts And What They Do

Most Powerful DnD Artifacts

For some who play Dungeons & Dragons, the goal is to have their character become one of the strongest heroes the world has ever known. In order to do that, they’ll need a powerful magical item, or better: an artifact. The list of artifacts below (not ranked in order) are some of the most powerful in the game, spoken about as legends in many campaigns, and some even seen as a prized items since 1e.

Some of these items who have made it to premiering in 5e and dndbeyond.com have undergone some changes where they are now listed as legendary items instead of artifacts, despite being listed as an artifact in previous editions. They also have had their magical effects and statistics altered as well, which is why I will not list the details in depth like I would normally do unless the details have remained the same (some people prefer 3e version of an item instead of 5e, as an example). That however should not make you believe that these items have become lesser over time, for they are still incredibly powerful to behold in any campaign. 

Without further ado, feast your eyes and let’s begin!

1. Deck of Many Things

Deck of Many Things

Feeling lucky?

A Deck of Many Things contains a number of cards that are each possessing a magic effect that is released when a person draws the card. Once a card is drawn it fades away (unless it is the Fool card, in which case it goes back into the deck).

This artifact has enough power to single-handedly turn the tide in any situation, both good and bad. It also has the power to completely cut the story of a campaign short if a player’s luck is that bad. Therefore, if you feel like playing with fate with these cards, may the odds be ever in your favor.

What Makes Deck of Many Things Powerful

  • Can potentially cast Wish 1d3 times.
  • Can disappear and be trapped in an extra dimensional sphere.
  • Can lose or gain XP, or the same with wealth

Artifact Details

  • Type: Wonderous item, Legendary
  • Attunement: Not required
  • Other Notes: A player must announce how many cards are intended to draw, and if they fail to draw the chosen number within an hour of each draw, the remaining cards will fly from the deck on their own and take effect all at once.
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2. Eye and Hand of Vecna

Hand and Eye of Vecna

Priceless artifacts with significant power

These two items are actually separate from each other, and each contain different powers. For the sake of this article though, they are paired together since they are from the same source and contain the same “nuance” after attunement.

These two parts of Vecna are said to have been the only things that are left after he fell to his doom. The hand is shriveled, blackened and dried while the eye glitters in the same way as the eye of a feline. In order to access their remarkable powers, the hand must be pressed against the stump of an arm while the eye needs to be placed in an empty eye socket.

But who cares that you’re attaching an old eye and shriveled hand to yourself (potentially replacing them with your own parts) for power? No big deal. I’ve seen players do sillier things for benefits that are a lot smaller. Because, well, Dungeons & Dragons.

What Makes Eye and Hand of Vecna Powerful

  • See through illusions and the future.
  • Possess superhuman strength.
  • Freeze creatures with a touch and drain their life force to kill instantly.

Artifact Details

  • Type: Wondrous item, Artifact
  • Attunement: Required
  • Other Notes: Once the items are attuned, they are very difficult, if not impossible, to remove; and removing usually involves the death of the character that has them attuned.
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3. Staff of Magi

Staff of Magi

A staff admired by any spellcaster

This is a long wooden staff decorated with sigils and runes of all types. It is what a lot of magic users seek on their adventures because not only does it add bonuses to their spell attacks, but it grants the user access to spells that they may not know already (not to mention saving them some spell slots for other actions). These spells also range from plane shift to the infamous fireball, so the opportunities and damage that this item brings is something worthwhile.

This weapon is both pretty and powerful, and has certainly been the saving grace in some encounters of my own campaigns. So if you come across this item in your journey and begin to wield it, all I can say is “You got the power!”

What Makes Staff of Magi Powerful

  • Advantage on magic saving throws and regain charges with spell absorption
  • Access to a vast list of spells based on how many charges are used (50 charges)
  • Retributive Strike: break the staff as an action to release magic in an explosion that fills a 30ft. radius centered on it.

Artifact Details

  • Type:  Staff, Legendary
  • Attunement: Required
  • Other Notes: Requires attunement by a sorcerer, wizard, or warlock. If you also regain charges with spell absorption that equal to greater than 50, the staff will explode and activate retributive strike.
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4. Orbs of Dragonkind

Orbs of Dragonkind

Summon the dragon!

This item is also sometimes known as a dragon orb, and they were created during a war that elves and humans waged against evil dragons. Over time the five orbs have disappeared and became legends of old. However, each orb still contains the essence of an evil dragon that resents any character who tries to control the magic within it.

Honestly the idea of trying to will a dragon sounds awesome. Or is that just me? I mean, dragons can be seriously intimidating, so I wouldn’t mind a chance of subduing one; even if there might be some consequences from it not working.

What Makes Orbs of Dragonkind Powerful

  • Access to a vast list of spells based on how many charges are used (7 charges)
  • Ability to telepathically call dragons and compel them to come to the orb
  • Possesses random properties
  • 2 minor beneficial properties
  • 1 minor detrimental property
  • 1 major detrimental property

Artifact Details

  • Type: Wondrous item, Artifact
  • Attunement: Required
  • Other Notes: While attuned to an orb, you can use an action to peer into the orb's depths and speak its command word. You must then make a DC 15 Charisma check. 
  • On a successful check, you control the orb for as long as you remain attuned to it. 
  • On a failed check, you become charmed by the orb for as long as you remain attuned to it.  While you are charmed by the orb, you can't voluntarily end your attunement to it, and the orb casts suggestion on you at will (save DC 18), urging you to work toward the evil ends it desires. The dragon essence within the orb might want many things: the annihilation of a particular people, freedom from the orb, to spread suffering in the world, to advance the worship of Tiamat, or something else the dungeon master decides.
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5. Talisman of Ultimate Evil/Pure Good

Talisman of Ultimate Evil/Pure Good

Epic talismans of epic proportions

Another pair of items that will be discussed together, due to how similar they are in magical effects and requirements.  These are the kind of artifacts that are useful, or severely damaging, based on the alignment of the characters and their enemies; and if everything aligns just right (ha, see what I did there?), along with lucky dice rolls, you can easily have a terrifying boss monster end its existence by falling through a fissure to the center of the earth.

There are tons of other stories about how encounters that seemed impossible have been utterly shut down by these items, both from friends and all over the internet. If you are in need of entertaining stories and a good laugh, look them up. These artifacts are some of the best weapons ever.

What Makes Talisman of Ultimate Evil/Pure Good Powerful

  • The talismans can create a fissure against creatures of evil or good alignment (depending on the talisman) and erase their existence completely.
  • Creatures that wear or carry the Talisman that neither good nor evil in alignment take necrotic damage at the end of every turn. Creatures of opposite alignment of the Talisman (evil for Talisman of Pure Good, good for Talisman of Ultimate Evil) take more damage.
  • Clerics and Paladins that use the Talismans as a holy symbol gain bonuses to spell attacks while wearing or holding it.

Artifact Details

6. Sphere of Annihilation

Sphere of Annihilation

Two words: don't touch

This artifact is a ball of utter blackness. Just imagine a levitating black hole, the size of a gnome, that is able to be controlled by anyone powerful enough in magic. Black holes are an eerie mystery to begin with that most people don’t want to get near, so the fact that your character can run into one of these in a room is terrifying enough.

The sphere is extremely straightforward in terms of magical effects, and acts just as you might think if you consider the word “annihilation” in its title. You are destroyed instantly if you go through it. If you only come into contact with it, you take a good chunk of damage. Enough said. I recommend staying away from it unless the only magic user in the vicinity that can control it is someone in your party.

What Makes Sphere of Annihilation Powerful

  • Destroys everything that it engulfs. Anything else that touches it takes damage.
  • When controlled, can move in any direction willed by the controller (after a successful arcana check).
  • Other effects can occur if the sphere comes into contact with a portal to another plane or an extra dimensional space (determined by rice rolls and dungeon master).

Artifact Details

  • Type: Wondrous item, Legendary
  • Attunement: Not Required
  • Other Notes: If controlled, another magic user can make an arcana check to contest the current controller of the sphere.
  • Source

7. The Sword of Kas

The Sword of Kas

Slayer of the archlich

Of course, if you bring up the eye and hand of Vecna, you have to bring up Kas. Kas was Vecna’s lieutenant who betrayed him and engaged in battle; and just like the eye and hand of Vecna were all that survived, so was the sword that Kas used.

This is a mighty, mighty, sword. It has a great attack bonuses along with magical powers that can be used (all of which can vary depending on which edition you use). However, this great power is also intelligent and evil. Since Kas was destroyed by Vecna during the battle, after cutting off his hand and eye, the sword forever seeks vengeance against the archlich and will make that known to the person wielding it.

What Makes The Sword of Kas Powerful

  • Strong attack bonuses as a longsword
  • Access to spells that can be used
  • Intelligent and possesses separate statistics

Artifact Details

  • Type: Weapon, Artifact
  • Attunement: Required
  • Other Notes: The sword can attempt to dominate the wielder. Have fun!
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8. The Wand of Orcus

The Wand of Orcus

Not for your average adventurer

The most iconic description of the wand is the skull that tops the rod, just as Orcus is an iconic demon prince for constantly making appearances in campaigns. The effects and statistics of this wand have changed constantly in every edition of Dungeons & Dragons, but it will forever remain a powerful weapon to wield. Yet also extremely dangerous. For example, aside from being functioning mace, there is a 50% chance of a creature, different than Orcus, being annihilated by the wand just by touching it. Talk about taking a risk!

What Makes The Wand of Orcus Powerful

  • Can function as a mace with increased attack bonuses
  • Armor class bonuses
  • Access to other magical effects

Artifact Details

  • Type: Weapon, Artifact
  • Attunement: Required
  • Other Notes: If the wand is used by any other creature other than Orcus, there is a 50% chance the wand can annihilate it, except for types such as princes, high devils, saints, godlings etc., merely by touch.
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9. The Axe of Dwarvish Lords

The Axe of Dwarvish Lords

A dwarf's treasure

Deep in the heart of a volcano was forged an axe by a dwarven king, passed down for generations. It is an axe that is now long forgotten since over a thousand years ago.

This is a very powerful axe and would be the perfect prized possession for any dwarf battlemaster. It not only covers benefits during encounters (like an incredible attack bonus), but also benefits outside of a fight, such as an increased ranged on their darkvision. Or better yet, this axe can summon an elder earth elemental! So if the powerful attacks aren’t enough somehow and you are in a bind, summon that rocky ally for some assistance.

What Makes The Axe of Dwarvish Lords Powerful

  • Double the range of darkvision as a dwarf
  • Can summon and elder earth elemental once per week
  • Additional bonus on craft checks

Artifact Details

  • Type: Weapon, Artifact
  • Attunement: Required
  • Other Notes: Any non-dwarf wielding the axe takes a number of points of charisma damage that cannot be healed or restored in any way while the axe is held.
  • Source

10. Ring of Winter

Ring of Winter

I am one with the wind and sky!

It is said that those who are on a quest to find the ring of winter are met with disaster in one way or another. Yet when the ring is found and worn, it is definitely a force to be reckoned with. It is a force of good, so if you try to use it for evil, there will be some serious consequences. 

For example, the lore of the ring gives the story of a lord (Rayburton) trying to use the ring to frighten a rival noble in allowing him to perform an archeological dig on that noble’s property, but the outcome was the ring burying the entire estate and village in ice and killing many within mere miles.

Moral of the story? When you find the ring and want to use it, you might want to make sure that your character is the type of personality who likes to help others and sing “Let it Go” on a self-discovery journey, instead of one who prefers chaos and destruction.

What Makes Ring of Winter Powerful

  • Increases the powers of other magical items near it. 
  • Can alter climate around it
  • Possesses magical effects in relation to ice and is capable of casting spells

Artifact Details

  • Type: Ring, Artifact
  • Attunement: Required
  • Other Notes: wearing the ring causes the bearer to not age, but the ring also tempts the wearer with unbridled power through visions.
  • Source

11. Invulnerable Coat of Arnd

Invulnerable Coat of Arnd

Something to protect you from almost any danger

A cleric named Kord who fought to save his village from tyranny was the original owner of this invulnerable coat. Now, his essence of holy strength and fighting spirit is within it, causing the armor to strive in reclaiming former glory.

This chainmail possesses power and resistances to damage so that it is an ultimate protection while fighting. In exchange for this protection, the armor seeks a wielder who is valiant and ready to be hurled constantly in danger; all in the name of justice!

Just like with the ring of winter, this artifact is a force for good and has the goal of overthrowing tyrants. Therefore, if you aren’t one for danger, or for being the golden voice of the people, this armor will most likely not be fond of you.

What Makes Invulnerable Coat of Arnd Powerful

  • Bonus to saving throws
  • Armor class bonuses
  • Damage resistances

Artifact Details

  • Type: Legendary
  • Attunement: Required
  • Other Notes: 
  • Source

12. Crenshinibon (The Crystal Shard)

Crenshinibon (The Crystal Shroud)

Anyone order a crystal tower?

A force of darkest evil that draws its strength from the light of day: that is what is known to be the Crenshinibon, otherwise known as the crystal shard. With enough power residing in the shard, the wielder can create and manage towers that are known as Cryshal-Tiriths, which can do some seriously cool things. This includes teleportation, scrying, allowing the wielder to cast as an 18th level spellcaster, casting spells itself, communication, and other methods of transportation. 

Oh, and let’s not forget that occupants inside the Cryshal-Tirith is invulnerable to all forms of damage. Honestly, who doesn’t want that kind of impenetrable fortress?

Yet like almost all cool items listed here in this article, this one too comes with a curse. This item is massively evil. While the wielder possesses the shard over time, the shard will begin to communicate and cast suggestion as an 18th level spellcaster to promote plans of chaos and evil. So if the ring of winter or the invulnerable coat of arnd was too “goody” for you, this might be your cup of tea. Regardless of your alignment, the crenshinibon is arguably one of the most powerful artifacts to exist in Dungeons and Dragons.

What Makes Crenshinibon Powerful

  • Invulnerable to all forms of external magical, psionic, and physical attacks
  • Possesses a scrying room inside the tower
  • Can teleport “error-free”

Artifact Details

  • Type: Artifact
  • Attunement: Required
  • Other Notes: Crenshinibon burns any creature of good alignment that physically touches it.
  • Source

13. Annulus

Annulus

No more mind tricks

Three words: suck it psionics. A lot of my friends know that I am not a fan of enemies that play games with the mind (they’re so good narratively as enemies but I’ve had the worst luck while fighting them), so they would completely understand my high regard for this item. After all, this thing would have been a godsend for an encounter with a specific elder brain.

Among other benefits, the largest perk that this artifact has is that it can nullify, or just plain destroy, psionic targets. This is comparable to how the talismans of ultimate evil and pure good can essentially wipe out a dangerous enemy with a fissure. In this case though it’s more like a disintegration on a group of targets if needed. Sign me up!

What Makes Annulus Powerful

  • Can generate a continuous catapsi
  • Once a day can trigger ultrablast
  • Trigger dimensional anchors

Artifact Details

  • Type: Legendary
  • Attunement: Required
  • Other Notes: If the annulus is used  to nullify a more powerful being like a demigod, the item will succeed but will be destroyed in the process.
  • Source

14. Rod of Seven Parts

Rod of Seven Parts

Ready for a journey?

If a party or character locates a piece of this artifact, all I can say is get ready for an adventure. The rod of seven parts is an intelligent artifact with the primary goal of being put back together. As a character you will feel the will of that goal starting with the first part that’s located, and each piece will lead to the next one, no matter how far away it is. It becomes more and more rewarding as well as pieces are continued to be found too, for the greater combination of the parts will lead to great powers that are accessible. Finding all of the parts won’t be easy though. Each part can be spread across different points of the world, and even different planes of existence. 

Instead of including the description and statistics of this item as part of the source link, I’m including an article that discusses the publications of the item that spans over time. I find the writing really inspiring to create or start a campaign that revolves around this artifact. If anything though, you will find the specific magical effects that you can implement for the item. Unless you want to homebrew your own of course. You do you my friend!

What Makes Rod of Seven Parts Powerful

  • Each part of the rod contains a different magical effect or power
  • The completed rod grants access to powerful spells that can be used once per day
  • Provides the wielder feats

Artifact Details

  • Type: Legendary
  • Attunement: Required
  • Other Notes: Once the rod is completely assembled, there is a 5% chance each time it’s used that all of the pieces separate again.
  • Source

15. Cyrinishad

Cyrinishad

Read with caution

On a creep factor scale of 1 to 10, the cyrinishad takes the cake. It has skulls, black leather, and the pages are even made of skin from past scribes who worked on previous drafts of the tome. Just by looking at it, this thing has bad news written all over it, and that’s disregarding the fact that it will randomly glow green.

This item was created as an attempt by the god Cyric to dominate and conquer the realms and other deities. It almost worked. Any reader or listener of this tome was converted to a follower of Cyric as a way for him to become the only powerful being in existence. The plan was thwarted in the end, but the book still remains, and it’s the most dangerous book of all.

What Makes Cyrinishad Powerful

  • Just like in the history of the item, if a character read the tome, he or she will become an avid follower of Cyric.
  • Even if a character succeeds a saving throw from being enchanted by the tome, the character becomes under the effect of a feeblemind spell that only a heal or wish an cure.
  • When a character becomes a follower of Cyric, they see to spread the word throughout the world.

Artifact Details

  • Type: Artifact
  • Attunement: Not Required
  • Other Notes: Only a wish spell can cure the condition of becoming a follower of Cyric
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Ah, what I would give to have some of these items in the hands of my characters! If you are a dungeon master looking to reward your players after accomplishing a very difficult feat, you may want to add one of these items as part of the treasure (without breaking your campaign of course). Otherwise, feel free to share any thoughts or stories about these items from your own experiences. Some of these items have created ridiculously epic and fun situations in campaigns for both players and dungeon masters; but it wouldn’t be Dungeons & Dragons any other way!

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