|This article is about an older version of DF.
Dwarves in strange moods will create legendary artifacts, unique, "named" items which are of unsurpassable quality (and often value as well). An artifact is the ultimate expression of a dwarf's desires, fears, memories and hopes in art form, and each dwarf will produce at most only one in their lives (or die trying). Dwarves that create an artifact immediately gain enough experience to boost them to legendary level in the affected skill unless they were possessed.
Dwarves carry their artifacts around with them everywhere they go. After enough time passes, they are intended to become obsessed with their artifact (holding onto it), become uneasy and drop it on the floor, or become nervous and hide it (effectively destroying it); due to a bug, however, this never happens. Once an artifact is dropped (generally due to death or injury), it can be used just like any item of its type, except for clothing and with some limitations to armor and weapons (see below), but it cannot be traded. A list of all artifacts that the fortress has created can be seen by pressing .
Artifacts cannot be destroyed unless lost in a chasm or dropped to the magma, though the heat generated by a Spirit of fire could potentially melt artifacts. They can be stolen by thieves; an artifact lost to you will have a note to that effect in the Artifacts screen (), and if the owner then tries to look for it, he will immediately go insane.
Dwarves will normally use anywhere from one to ten items in their construction. If you view () the workshop a dwarf has seized while the dwarf is in it, you can see what materials he or she plans to use (see strange mood for further details). Once the dwarf has started to construct the artifact, you can also use to see exactly what materials have been tasked (although some may be tasked to be hauled away).
It's worth noting that artifacts can be made out of materials that normally could not produce the base furniture or item in question. For example, you may get stone beds, wooden statues, or even gem furniture. Further, these artifacts could be produced in workshops by professions that could not normally build such an item, such as a bone door being made by a bone carver in a Craftsdwarf's workshop.
Artifacts will automatically have one "free" decoration of the same material as its base material. For instance, an artifact "perfect Ruby" might have "images of mangrove trees in Ruby". This decoration doesn't consume additional materials: in the above example, only one ruby was used.
Artifacts can range in value from 2,400☼ (all-stone furniture or finished good) to 5,184,000☼ (adamantine Platemail fully decorated with rare gems). Since immigration totals are, among other factors, based on your fortress's "Created Wealth" (and held/worn items count double in the total), expensive artifacts are often the driving factor behind how many immigrants show up in the first years.
It has been reported that artifacts can occasionally glitch in the number of materials needed, with a corresponding increase in value.
When an artifact's details are viewed, all "craftsdwarfship" will always be listed as being "of the highest quality". Artifact items have a value modifier of 120×. This is applied on top of the item's base value, its decorations and the value of all materials used in its construction.
Artifact armor and weapons have at least the damage/protection modifier of masterful (×2.0) quality items. Many players suspect it's (much) higher, but this has yet to be confirmed one way or the other.
- (* The problem is that only a hero ("Great" skill level) or legendary champion can wield an artifact weapon, and even just a masterful silver weapon (with a relatively low damage multiplier) in the hands of such a hero will insta-kill or dismember almost anything it hits with one strike - so, since an artifact weapon is significantly better than that, how does one tell the difference, much less quantify it? Who can tell the difference between "dead" and "doubly dead"? (It's possible that such a difference would only be discernible against megabeasts, demons, and other huge creatures.) For similar reasons, it's also unclear whether an artifact weapon of a lesser material is better than a normal-quality adamantine one (at least a 4:1 material value multiplier).)
- With regards to artifact armor, without tedious combat logging of the highly-random combat system, again, it's very difficult to tell whether a strike that bounces off artifact armor would not have been blocked by masterful steel, etc. etc.
Artifacts of types which can be built (furniture, animal traps, chains, etc...) can be used as normal. Weapons can be built into traps in the room. Mechanisms can be made into levers or be used to build deadly-accurate weapon traps. Often artifacts of this nature are used to meet noble room requirements or establish high-quality dining halls as a single artifact is typically capable of bumping a room up to royal quality on its own; however, a particularly poor artifact may turn it to at least grand. Object types which are used for storage in stockpiles (bins and barrels) will be used by your dwarves without regard to their status.
Object types which require a dwarf to wear or use the item will generally not be used by your dwarves, with the exception of artifact weapons and armor, which can only be used by heroes and champions.
Of course, this only comes into play if the artifact's creator decides to drop the artifact in the first place - if he hides it, the artifact is effectively lost forever. Due to a bug, however, this never happens - the dwarf will carry the artifact around forever, so the only easy way to make use of an artifact is to kill its owner.
Artifacts cannot be designated for Chasming or Melting, not that one would ever want to do this to such a valuable item.
Artifact Weapons & Armor
Artifact weapons and armor will only be equipped by heroes and champions (even if they are novice in the artifact's weapon skill). This means that an artifact axe can be wielded by an Axe Lord but cannot be used for woodcutting, as a dwarf that reaches Elite status can never return to civilian life. Similarly, an artifact pick will never be used by your miners.
Be warned that when a dwarf equips an artifact, he will not drop it - changing the weapon or armor setting in the military screen won't help. However, he will also exhibit the same behavior as the artifact's original creator and will eventually be overcome by it and either possess it (unless he's already possessed another artifact), hide it, or drop it (provided the appropriate bugfix patch has been applied).