[RPG] What’s the definition of an artifact in regards to a Sphere of Annihilation


A sphere of annihilation erases all matter except for artifacts. What exactly would the prerequisites of an artifact be for it to be an exception to the Sphere's effect?

From the sphere's description:

The sphere obliterates all matter it passes through and all matter that passes through it. Artifacts are the exception. Unless an artifact is susceptible to damage from a sphere of annihilation, it passes through the sphere unscathed. Anything else that touches the sphere but isn't wholly engulfed and obliterated by it takes 4d10 force damage.

Best Answer

Artifact is a rarity type in D&D 5e. As you can see in this filtered list from D&D Beyond, artifacts are the next level of rarity up from Legendary.

There isn't a specific guide to what makes an artifact an artifact, but by scanning the list, it becomes clear that these are one-of-a-kind items, frequently associated with iconic and powerful characters from various settings and adventures. Meanwhile, the list of legendary items contains various items that are incredibly powerful, yes, but most of them are items that there could feasibly be more than one of in existence.

Artifacts are incredibly powerful when equipped and attuned by players, which means that it'd be a tragedy if someone accidentally destroyed one with the Sphere, but more importantly, many of them are big evil macguffins. Allowing the Sphere to destroy them would cut many a quest quickly short!

For example, the Sword of Kas is an artifact that can only be destroyed by someone who possesses both the Eye and Hand of Vecna; this is a two-part artifact that imposes serious alignment issues on the attuned party. Allowing a single legendary item to destroy the sword would be anticlimactic to say the least.