Let's Make Artifacts Great Again!


I want to mess with the code for artifacts, but I can’t figure out how to edit them, mess with the values/options for artifact drops, and I can’t even find the folder for the json properties of non-natural artifacts.

Are they cool the way they are now?

Is there any point to getting them? (i.e. running a mine or strange temple)
Artifacts suck right now.

It may be “game breaking,” but I want to get rid of negative properties of artifacts so that my characters actually have a good reason to run these locations, and so that I have something to look forward to late in the game. Can someone help me? I would even be okay with leaving some mildly unpleasant properties, such as increased hunger or thirst, noise, slight pain, slight irradiation, or minor stat debuffs, or even properties that have positive and negative effects, such as light emission when worn, or smoke emission, but as of right now, all of these properties are so extremely debilitating on any artifact that has any relatively useful property. I want artifacts to be powerful tools, weapons, or armor to look forward to rather than avoid. They have literally no use right now, and it seems like an annoying part of the game that hasn’t been balanced yet.

How is making them so f*cking unpleasant, debilitating, or unusable a good way to balance the artifacts that have powerful properties? It makes no sense to me, and I want to fix it. Maybe as a mod, maybe even just in my own build of the game, or maybe mainlined into the game eventually, but right now I just want to play with artifacts as a cool and useful feature, and not a dead end. Literally, an end to the game that involves my character going through crazy trials of the mine or strange temple only to die a stupid death from the loot I got from that venture.


I think the appeal or idea of them is that the game is still harsh and they’re not reliably useful like bionics, they will usually come with sacrifices.

Perhaps making them when found in dungeons more reliably good is an idea, but it may lead to them being overpowered.

I like their unpredictability myself.


I would argue that they aren’t really unpredictable in a way that is interesting or even worth exploring in the game. They are predictable due to the fact that they will always be bad, and there are never any substantial good properties without extremely destructive and inhibitory bad properties. They aren’t really that random, because they either do next to nothing, or they have very good and very bad effects together when used. Essentially, there is no point for any character to get them, ever, other than the fact that they are bored and have nothing better to do than brave a super-difficult dungeon (for no real reason?). Cool, I get to see what this random thing will do. It might do something cool, but then it will probably kill me, or at least mess me up really bad, to the extent that the cool thing isn’t even helpful anymore.

If anything, I’m arguing to make them more unpredictable. I would even be okay with having artifacts that are completely negative, with no good or beneficial properties, as long as there were a chance that you could get one with only beneficial properties, and no (or almost no) negative properties.


An interesting thing could be to have a second “artifact” pool: technological artifacts. Bear with me for a second, but keeping technological and “otherworldy” artifacts separate could allow a difference between “supernatural” locations, and could have an allusion to the mutation/cyborg paths.

Some ideas:

  1. Energy tools: could provide things like lighting, charge for cars/rechargeables, a source of heat for cooking.

  2. Nutrition/self tools: A “mysterious box with buttons on it” i.e. food printer could be a tool which provides enjoyable food for your character (going as far as to limit pools to that which you’re not allergic/disgusted by). Another device could force a shallow water tile if activated near ground that is dirt or grass. A regeneration/anti-sleep tool could be used for those activities.

  3. Weaponry/defense. Tools that fit some skill, but don’t require ammunition or have high stats.

The drawbacks could be based on increasing severity or flat potency of the tool: A regeneration tool could induce illness and then mutations if used excessively, a food replicator could spit out old then expired food. Energy tools could cause straight damage or just be unusable until time has passed. A Doom like BFG weapon could be a free shot over x time units and have AOE/spread, while more than one shot causes you to lose half of your health for all limbs and has a risk of breaking something. There could additionally be 1-time artifacts, such as something which generates a free small ‘house’, which propagates a grenade-like damage to destroy surrounding terrain before converting it. Go as far as having a “Genesis Device”: convert an entire area to forest! … with a guaranteed Triffid Spire/Fungal Bloom or something.


Okay… I like where you are headed with these ideas. These things seem viable, or at least possible in theory to implement, but first of all, we need someone to figure out how to mess with the artifact code and the file location to work in even the most basic changes to artifacts. I don’t know where the code for artifact generation is, or how to edit it. Someone who is more experienced with the game’s files and code would need to lend some advice and instruction… Kevin? Coolthulu? Anyone?


Artifacts effects are hardcoded and located in artifact.cpp.


I have no idea where that is. I’ve combed through every folder I could find regarding the game and I didn’t see any that mentioned artifacts. Are you saying that there’s no way to modify that code?

Is it possible, and if so, how? What tools or program would I need to modify it?


Basically if you want to make a modified artifact effects you are going to have to compile your own version of the game.


The .cpp files can only be found in the sources. You need to download the sources from https://github.com/CleverRaven/Cataclysm-DDA and use some program to compile (like Code::Blocks or Visual Studio).


Personally I don’t think you need to remove the negative effects entirely, just make them more interesting. For example, the one that makes you mutate randomly is an instant dealbreaker on any artifact I find. At best it might get you some good mutations, but even then it basically just limits the usefulness of the artifact to before you get all the mutations you want. One I rather like is the noise negative, where you make noises every so often.

Some fun ones could be that it makes it dark around you, or randomly eats food out of your inventory every so often, or even that it makes uncomfortable humming noises on occasion. Some artifacts could even spawn a pseudoNPC that follows you around, as if the artifact is sentient and can talk to you. It might be nice and helpful, or just scream insults.

I’d also like to see some artifacts that are more mundane, but very useful. A bottomless magazine, for example. It has a very high number of charges and each counts as 1 bullet for whatever gun you stick it in. It might also have weird effects, like each round is randomly chosen from the different types for that calibre or it randomly teleports the corpse of anything it kills. Perhaps an instant frying pan that can cook simple things instantly, but it has a habit of giving you something slightly different to what you cooked (put a chunk of meat on it, get a cooked fish fillet back). A lamp that only works so long as no other living thing can see you.

As well as the weird shit that falls into our world from others, some of our shit could have fallen into another world, then back into ours and gotten changed along the way.


For some reason I am now imagining an artifact that is literally just a chunk of grass that is constantly on fire and when you hold it you also become on fire where instead of killing you it keeps you warm and makes entities that come in contact with you (you attack them they attack you) take fire damage.


I have come into contact with some Artifacts that don’t have negative qualities when just held in inventory (one such artifact gives free Clairvoyance and only gives me negative effects if I hold it or use it).

The idea is that any form of “Magic” in game needs to come with some kind of negative. The problems are:

  • There’s (seemingly) no balancing negative to positives. This can be good or bad, depending on your artifact (example, my artifact that gives me full Clairvoyance with no downsides unless I wield it is an example of this working in my favor).
  • A lot of the negatives outweigh the positives (You’ll rarely find an artifact worth using without save scumming). For example, an artifact that gives you a -2 to all your stats except for the +2 it gives to one of them.
  • A lot of the positives aren’t too good (Granted, Clairvoyance and +20 Speed are awesome, Shadow Snakes would be better if they didn’t disappear on you after 20 turns). Artifacts with charges are kinda crap, because you have no idea how to recharge, if you even can recharge, and what that thing does when you set it off.

Personally, stuff like making you thirstier quicker or slowly damaging your health every once in a while seem like the better things; they add up, and if you have multiple artifacts those eventually end up starting to incur some big penalties, sorta like how Chimera mutations creates a high-maintenance character. You can see this in PK’s Rebalance too; a lot of the mutations have little metabolism modifiers to make it so having a lot of them makes you strong, but also high maintenance by default.


That sounds AWESOME. And exactly like what I was talking about. Right now artifacts are mostly clothing or weapons with slightly weird, very “evil” effects. I’d like it to be more mundane items with incredibly weird effects, with the Shadowy Swords of Shadows (legit something I found) being a bit more rare and awesome.

I miss my Cube of Shattered Dreams.


If you do make new artifacts, please make it possible to find a Halo that allows you to shoot bolts of energy.


Artifacts are underwhelming.

Humans have high tech items as a high-end reward and lab dangers are the risk. Robbing banks are too low risk at the moment.

Blob/Zombies have mutagen for high skill crafting with no real risk curve (I think killing higher tier zombies should produce better materials).

Triffids and Fugus don’t have great rewards to make them worth seeking out.

Horrors seem tied to artifacts but they are too random. Need some tiers and crafting ability to encourage exploring and taking risks to improve artifacts you find.


I’ve heard good things about the Mycus Tree. I’ve never tried it (because starting a new game is super hard for me) but those mutations seem pretty good.


Eh, Mycus is good but the necessary materials are pretty rare… and it takes a lot of successive good RNG to get all of the correct mutations. I think it would be really cool if you could get some sort of plant mutation tree from materials collected from Triffids, like eating their plant matter and water sacs had a low chance to mutate you… I could probably easily code that in the json, now that I think about it… lol


Artifacts are underwhelming, random, not very useful, ect., but I want to change that, and that’s the point of this whole thread.

Banks are just basically buildings at this point, they store money and pre-cataclysm valuables, so why would they be useful in the cataclysm? The only thing I’ve ever used them for is to teleport into for safety when I have a teleporter.

It would be cool if higher level zombies dropped more valuable items. This could be easily solved with editing the drops in the code.

Triffids and fungus would be cool if they had some sort of mutation-related item that they dropped… Fungus has Mycus, so I’m not really going to bother with that, but I might see about changing the json so that plant matter and water sacs dropped from butchered triffids have a chance to mutate in the plant tree…

If your point is that the end game is not balanced, that’s not really a great counter to my goal of balancing one aspect of the endgame. I know that there are many ways that late-game characters can be overpowered, or have a lack of things to do, or meaningful goals. There are mods centered around giving more of a sense of progression later in the game, and more things to do for overpowered endgame characters. I don’t really care about all that though, I just want to change artifacts to make them more fun and cool to play with, for me personally in my own game, if nothing else. I’m trying to fiddle with the source code to make that happen but its slow going. A lot of the other things you mention in your post could easily be modified to be more balanced or progressive via the json files in Notepad++.


Drop list for bank vaults include:

[“purifier”, 12],
[“plut_cell”, 10],
[“ftk93”, 1],
[“canister_goo”, 8],
[“UPS_off”, 5],
[“adv_UPS_off”, 3],
[“bio_time_freeze”, 10],
[“bio_teleport”, 10],
[“bio_probability_travel”, 10],
[“recipe_mil_augs”, 3],
[“rm13_armor”, 2],
[“power_armor_helmet_basic”, 3],
[“power_armor_basic”, 3],
[“power_armor_helmet_light”, 2],
[“power_armor_light”, 2],
[“power_armor_helmet_heavy”, 2],
[“power_armor_heavy”, 2],
[“modularvesthard”, 5],
[“minireactor”, 1],
[“recipe_caseless”, 5],
[“alloy_plate”, 10],


lol never once seen any of that in a bank. I guess I should be checking them more often