There are a number of artifacts in the DM's Guide and they are awesome. The thing is that it doesn't seem very plausible to get these items. If they aren't obtainable, why are they in the Guide? If there is a way to get them please explain how to obtain them.

For example, the Wand of Orcus: If you were playing as a Necromancer this item would be the best thing in the world, but Orcus isn't exactly a beatable creature. So is it possible to get this?

  • 10
    \$\begingroup\$ [Related] Does the DM have to give me magical weapons? \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 9, 2016 at 20:36
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Reminder: comments are for clarifying content, not posting small or incomplete answers. Please use answer posts to submit answers instead. Prior comments containing answers have been removed. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 11, 2016 at 6:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ The OP just wants to know how if a GM is following DnD--5e lore how he provide access to artifacts. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 18, 2020 at 7:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ Looking at those artifacts helped me a lot as a DM with figuring out my own Homebrewed artifact in my campaign. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 6, 2021 at 3:50

4 Answers 4


Try not to treat the DMG as a shopping list

The thing is that it doesn't seem very plausible to get these items.

D&D 5e isn't designed as a video game with "must have to beat the game" items. If someone could "get them easily" (your words) then someone else in the game would already have it, not your party. This opens adventure possibilities, such as:

  • How do you get it from them? An entire campaign with many adventures could culminate with that objective.

  • Two different parties from two different factions are both trying to get the same artifact. Who will get to it first?

If they aren't obtainable why are they in the guide.

  1. For a DM to use as his own artifact to place in game,
  2. As a model, or example, for a DM to homebrew his own artifact.
  3. To read about and choose not put into his world/game.
  4. To act as the world changing artifact in an extended campaign.

    • An artifact can be obtainable. What it is not is guaranteed.
    • Each artifact has variable powers. The Wand of Orcus when I DM will likely have different final features than the Wand of Orcus in another DM's game. That is on purpose.

If there is a way to get them please explain how to obtain them.

Your DM puts it somewhere in the game world. Then ...

  1. The characters find out about it/stumble across it (dumb luck/plot device a la Bilbo Baggins, though most DM's don't go for this).
  2. The Characters find one in a treasure hoard/secret location/ancient ruin
  3. The Characters defeat a monster that has it and take it from that monster
  4. Other variations on the basic "magic item quest" native to the D&D game.

For example the Wand of Orcus. If you were playing as a Necromancer this item would be the best thing in the world. But Orcus isn't exactly a beatable creature. So is it possible to get this.

Yes. The challenge for your group of players, in your DM's world, is to figure out how to get their hands on that wand(and survive doing so).

If you were Orcus, would you give up your Wand of Orcus without a fight? I think not. (Stealing it while he isn't looking is one way to try ... the Finieous Fingers cartoons had a funny little story about an attempt along those lines).

By the way, a Necromancer doesn't need the Wand of Orcus to be successful in D&D.

  • 20
    \$\begingroup\$ +! for the first sentence which nails it. :) \$\endgroup\$
    – Lexible
    Commented May 9, 2016 at 20:53
  • 9
    \$\begingroup\$ Almost everything in this answer is equally applicable to magic items in general in 5e. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 9, 2016 at 21:30
  • 27
    \$\begingroup\$ "Why are there monsters in the monster manual if there's no way to choose which ones you encounter?" Some stuff is there for the DM, not for players. \$\endgroup\$
    – GMJoe
    Commented May 9, 2016 at 23:59

Think of the artifacts as MacGuffins - plot devices; objects with qualities that make them desirable or undesirable, and which would motivate characters to find them - whether to use them, give them to someone else, take them out of circulation, or destroy them.

Given that these are massively powerful items, there are all kinds of implications coming out of what a given object can do. Who else might want this object? Would they try to take it by force? By stealth? By out-and-out bribery? Do they have more resources than the character does? If that person or persons does obtain it, what might happen? Would the character want this, or want to prevent it?

Where might this object be now? Who might have it? Are they using it now? Might they use it to stop the character from possessing it? How would the character foil this? Could the character foil this? Do they need more experience or information first? How would they get it?

Take as an example the Eye of Vecna. The characters hear the legend of Vecna and a rumor that someone many years ago might have possessed it. They take on quests and exploration to find out who would know more; perhaps they make deals with more powerful beings to gain information. They eventually find it - only to have someone else be there first. Who has it? What are their motivations? Are their motivations aligned with the character's motivations? If so, will they team up, or will the characters decide they need to be the ones in charge of the object? If they're not aligned, how will the characters deal with having to find that person and obtain the artifact from them? Is everyone in the party unified - or is there someone with plans of their own? Will one of the persons or beings they got information from require the artifact themselves? What happens if the characters say yes? What if they say no?

Every action going toward finding it and after they find it, if they ever do, informs the world they live in, the conception of each character, and provides more options for adventures.


Many fantasy stories include a powerful artifact that falls into the hands of an unlikely group of heroes - The One Ring is an immediate example. Artifacts are in the Dungeon Master's Guide because the only way to get one is for the DM to include it as part of the story - they never appear on random treasure tables. But if your DM wants your story to include an artifact, they have everything they need to do so.

  • 10
    \$\begingroup\$ In other words: How do I get it? Plot. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 9, 2016 at 22:32

Regarding the Wand of Orcus specifically, Wikipedia (I don't have my books handy) says Orcus will sometimes allow the Wand to get loose in the Prime Material Plane in order to create havoc:

"The first edition Dungeon Masters Guide notes that while this "ghastly weapon" is the property of Orcus, "at times it is said that he will allow his Wand to pass into the Prime Material Plane in order to wreak chaos and evil upon all living things there."[4]:162 The Book of Vile Darkness similarly notes that Orcus sometimes lets the wand fall into the hands of mortals in order to allow them to wreak chaos and evil, but adds that he grows bored after only a year or so and reclaims his wand and usually the soul of the mortal who wielded it as well.[6]:138"

So that's how a player can get it. There's a price, indeed.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .