I remember artifacts being singular items that shook up a campaign by their very mention, and were often the focus of entire story arcs. In my new campaign, I intend to turn that convention on its head - everyone will heave the opportunity to acquire an artifact or relic...for better or worse. In fact, I see the makings of an Artifact War looming upon the horizon.
The premise for the campaign, along with the event that set all this nonsense in motion:
Generations ago, one of the most celebrated groups of heroic adventurers, the Blade of Light, used an ancient artifact known as the Fulcrum to effectively eradicate planar evil on a large scale. This act dissolved entire planes such as the Abyss and the Hells, while shifting other planes in undesirable ways. Certain upper planes became rigidly Lawful, turning to tyranny in ways to rival those of the bygone Dukes of Hell. Now, the planes thunder to the clash of Law vs. Chaos and those worlds that remain are caught in the middle.
You have heard the almost mythic stories and read the fragmented histories of a time when the entirety of Creation could be catalogued and diagrammed with reassuring clarity. When worlds and planes moved to a cycle defined by celestial harmonies and the unseen machineries of cosmic purpose. Sages predicted the end at the loathsome hands of the countless demonic hordes festering and seething in the deepest pits of reality. Doomsayers cried out against the monolithic and precise evil of the Dukes of Hell. None could predict the true instrument of our destruction.
The Blade of Light was long heralded as the greatest and most devoted band of heroic adventurers in recorded history. Entire nations owed their deliverance to Roen Curientine and his mighty companions. Kings bowed in their august presence. Gods watched over their epic exploits. No quest was too arduous and no deed too great. Their lives were devoted to the defense of civilization and the eradication of evil. When they discovered the existence of a primordial artifact known as The Fulcrum, the Blade of Light vowed to be the ones with the lever.
Harmony was broken. Order overturned. Evil found itself crushed by the shifting of the wheels of infinity. Good found itself suddenly eclipsed within the penumbra of distant glory. Good and Evil diminished before the rising forces of Law and Chaos. There came a splintering and a sundering on a cosmic scale.
Today's reality is no longer definable by mortal observation or the values of cosmological science. It is all broken. No patterns. No cycles. No certainties. Gods have died and been reborn. Entire worlds have been lost spinning into the furthest void. Demons and devils have fallen while angels and saints have transcended - to become...something other. Prayers go unanswered while mortalkind shivers alone in the dark.
You are heroes.
Sworn to right the greatest of wrongs. Dedicated to securing a future for all worthy creatures. Determined to stand against the tide of entropy that threatens to consume all that you cherish. The ideals to which all the best-intentioned adventurers of your generation aspire.
Will you rise to what could be the final challenge? Or, will you fall with the rest of civilization?