Artifacts are items that can be found on the Adventure Map. Heroes can pick them up, which causes the artifact to disappear from the map and to be stored in hero's backpack. From backpack a hero can equip the artifacts in the appropriate slot. Every hero has a backpack that can hold up to 64 unequipped artifacts. If the hero's backpack is full, he cannot pick up anymore artifacts.
While equipped artifacts typically somehow enhances the hero's abilities. This includes increasing hero's primary skills, movement, morale or luck, enhancing hero's secondary skills or providing immunity against certain spell. However, equipped artifacts may also provide extra income for the kingdom or increase the productivity of creature dwellings in towns.
An artifact laying on the Adventure Map can also be guarded, even though it has no apparent creatures guarding it. When a guarded artifact is tried to pick up by a hero, a text appears asking whether or not the hero wants to attack the guardians. If the hero manages to defeat the guardians, he will receive the artifact. If he is forced to retreat from the battle or dies during it, the defeated guardians will not regenerate. It should be noted, that if the map maker has set guards for the artifact without a text, then no question is asked and the guards attack immediately.
Artifacts are split into 4 categories roughly rating their power and usefulness. The Class rating is not listed on the item in game, and provides no other effect. it is only for map making purposes. The map editor allows for placing of a random artifact of that Class, allowing for creating a variation in that map from one play through to the next.
The 4 Classes are: Treasure, Minor, Major, and Relic. Treasure classed artifacts typically give the hero +1 luck or +2 attack. Relics can give a user +4 attack and defense or knowledge of all Air spells.
Equipped artifacts are placed on squares on hero menu called slots as seen on the picture below. Slots represents different parts of the hero's body, and every slot can hold one artifact at the time.
|Slot 1 – Right hand (offensive): Typically gives bonus to attack skill.|
|Slot 2 – Helmet: Typically gives bonus to knowledge skill.|
|Slot 3 – Necklace: Varies, but commonly gives spell immunities.|
|Slot 4 – Torso: Typically gives bonus to spell power.|
|Slot 5 – Ring (left and right hand): Varies.|
|Slot 6 – Left hand (defensive): Typically gives bonus to defense skill.|
|Slot 7 – Cape: Varies.|
|Slot 8 – Feet: Typically gives benefits to hero's movement.|
|Slot 9 – Miscellaneous: Varies greatly. Note: In Shadow of Death and Heroes Chronicles there are five misc slots.|
|Slot A: Reserved only for ballista.|
|Slot B: Reserved only for ammo cart.|
|Slot C: Reserved only for first aid tent.|
|Slot D: Reserved only for catapult.|
|Slot E: Reserved only for spell book.|
|Slot F: Your backpack. Where you can store up to 64 unused artifacts.|