A downloadable game

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printed copies now available for purchase!

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PRESS

Shut Up & Sit Down

Podcast #113: The Double-Monster Solo-Roleplay Small-Box TeamBuilder 8000 — Timestamp: 01:06:37

Quinns & Tom had quite a lot to say about my game, but this is my favourite part ❤️

Quinns: Wow! So hang on, this is now a solo RPG that involves drawing, and some writing -- well, mostly writing -- and resting and music.
Tom: Yes! [Tom laughing] Does a little bit of everything. But that resting… So the thing that I wanted to get across in the ex review was that the resting is such a wonderful mental health balm for 2020. It’s such a busy, horrible year to be in. And taking time to just sit? In a space that isn’t- You know, you’re not just sitting and thinking. Because meditating is tricky. Like, the idea of mindfulness and emptying your mind of thoughts is so hard, especially right now. You know, it’s a noble goal to achieve, but it’s difficult.
But Artefact, by pushing you into thinking about a game and a fantasy world, and when you’re resting you’re thinking about the game, it kind of locks you into a space where you’re almost forced to be mindful, because you’re thinking about something that ultimately doesn't matter, right? [Quinns laughing]


Quite a few folks have told me that playing the game was restorative for them. It’s obviously mainly about making RAD STORIES about RAD MAGIC, but the idea that you might feel better after playing it is really nice to consider. 

Dave Thaumavore RPG Reviews

Dave did a great review of Artefact, if you'd like to learn more about the game.

Questing Beast

Exploring the Weird World of DnD Zines: Part 1 — Timestamp: 52:53

Get Ben’s first impressions of the game, and a look through the book, in this little roundup of ‘Weird Zines’ 😂
& if you're worried that there aren't enough Keepers to have the game be replayable, never fear! I made a supplemental KEEPER GENERATOR offering thousands (millions?) of potential new Keepers to grasp hold of your magical item.

SO, WHAT IS ARTEFACT?

ARTEFACT is a story game for one player, designed for contemplative solo play.

In the classic dungeon crawl, you follow the lives of adventurers as they overcome challenges to gain prestige and, most importantly, magical treasures. But what were those treasures doing before the adventurers came along? How many aeons have passed, in silent darkness, since they were last used?

ARTEFACT shifts the focus to the perspective of a single magical item, and its history as it passes through the hands of many different keepers. You’ll feel the weight of time as the item is lost or abandoned again and again, the dust & decay piling around it until it’s found again by someone new.

It's a great way to spend an hour; sketching, world-building and storytelling in your own company. It's also a fantastic way to generate really unique items for tabletop games like D&D, with detailed histories far more vivid than any you'd typically find in a compendium. 

Philippa did a fantastic job summarising the game in this short tiktok, if you'd rather watch a video!

OKAY, TELL ME MORE

Okay, here goes.

ARTEFACTS

First, you choose your Artefact from nine different archetypes. Give it life by sketching it and naming its properties. Who was its maker? What were they like?

The available Artefacts are:

  • The Weapon - A tool of war: a blade, axe, or something stranger.
  • The Shield - A bulwark of protection: from towering scuta to deft bucklers.
  • The Instrument - Produces musical sounds, conventionally or otherwise.
  • The Ornament - Jewellery, charms and trinkets: small but potent.
  • The Deck - A collection of worn cards, an oracle or something stranger.
  • The Footwear - Shoes: they are for going places, conventionally or otherwise.
  • The Staff - A conduit for magic: a focus for arcane power.
  • The Tome - A receptacle of knowledge, lost or forbidden.
  • The Automaton - A self-operating machine, responsive to orders. 

KEEPERS & TIME


An item cannot act alone—a Keeper must seize it. Only then can it travel around, seeing wondrous places and having grand adventures. Its agency is limited, shackled to its Keeper, but it can influence its situation through magic, communication and force of will. You'll answer questions about your Keeper and consider what kind of mark they left on the world—with your help. 

However, magical items outlive even the most venerable Keepers

Through death, bestowal or carelessness, a Keeper relinquishes the item and your stint with them ends. The sun turns, seasons pass and flesh & blood return to the earth. The item is at Rest—inert and waiting. You always choose how much Time passes as well as the myriad events and developments that occur while you wait.


Eventually, a new Keeper will arrive—until they don't, and the item is left broken beyond repair or abandoned in a cold, dark place forever.

You'll always have your story, though.

Thanks so much to all of the playtesters that helped make this the best possible version of ARTEFACT imaginable:

Aaron K., Alec Boyle, Aleksandar Saranac, Alex B., Ben King, Buchko, Christian Sorrell, Damien Lagauzere, David Adams, Emely Pul, Eric Bright, Graeme Lewis, Grayden Pierce, innovan, James Millichamp, Jephque, John A. Paradiso, Jonathan Ricks, Laura Robertson-Card, Luka Skylark, Matt K-B, Mattie Artemis , Pascal Deslauriers, Paul, Robert Coleman, Russell S. Hammond, Samuel Argento, Shu Sam Chen, Jim Stitzel, Sigimund Kresh, Stephen Masson, Tilli, Tim Hall, Vimorys & wych.

Purchase

Buy Now$10.00 USD or more

In order to download this game you must purchase it at or above the minimum price of $10 USD. You will get access to the following files:

00 - Introduction.txt 1 kB
01 - Artefact Play Materials.zip 11 MB
02 - Artefact Play Materials (Printable).zip 4 MB
03 - Artefact Play Materials (Plain Text).zip 302 kB
04 - Audio Files.zip 163 MB
05 - Artefact Soundtrack (Highest Quality).zip 337 MB
06 - The Artefact (Archive).zip 32 MB

Community Copies

Support this game at or above a special price point to receive something exclusive.

Community Copy

Claim a free copy of ARTEFACT if you are marginalised/in need. Copies will be limited but I'll be adding more here as people donate.

We’ll have more community copies available soon after the Koriko campaign has concluded.

Donate a Community Copy

For $20 you'll get a copy of ARTEFACT and donate a copy of the game for others to claim. 

Development log

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Comments

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(+1)

What a beautiful game and perfect for encouraging player creativity and world building! I'm relatively new to solo RPGs but this was such an amazing place to start. It was actually a very meditative experience and got me back into writing (which I haven't done in a while!) 

I particularly enjoyed the audio file narration/introduction to the rules. I'm definitely hoping to spend some more time exploring the concept with the different artefacts and stories, and hopefully getting some of my friends into the game it as well. 

Also wanted to comment because I really appreciate the community copies that were stocked a while back - I'd heard about the game on reddit and was very lucky to get a copy, so I truly appreciate the creator and those who funded them. It gave me the opportunity to spend a great night storytelling - thank you! 

Hi

I have a print copy of this awesome game, which has the weapon artefact playbook included.

In the book it says the other playbooks are available here, but I can’t seem to see them, unless I should just buy the whole digital version?

Hey! Where did you get a print copy? You should’ve gotten a digital code too. Drop me an email and I’ll sort you out (jack at mousehole dot press) 😊

Where is the mentioned Keeper Generator because that is something that kept me from replaying it as much as I wanted to because I love having massive amount of random in my games? Love the game by the way and am always on the lookout for expansions or similar projects elsewhere because I love the idea of worldbuilding by solo play

(+1)

Hey! It’s in the play materials, called ‘All Walks of Life’ :)

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awesome, thanks for the quick response


And now after finding them I realize that I knew of them but had somehow promptly forgotten about them. My memory man, sometimes I tell you lol

(+2)

Ha, I’m the same these days 😅

Lots of good solo worldbuilding games these days, and more cool ones I know planned for ZineQuest 2022 😉

Hi. I'd really love to play this game, but I can't afford it at the moment. It looks really awesome and intriguing.

(+3)

Hey! I just added 500 community copies, thanks to the generosity of my supporters who opted to fund them :)

Feel free to grab one!

(+1)

Thank you so very very much!

(+2)

Artefact is an ABSOLUTELY STELLAR spin on the Lost and Found system. Seriously, what a gem! The variety of items that one could play as really open the prompts up to a whole spectrum of wild stories. Every moment of the game on the first play though has you tempted to peek forward at the later prompts just to see what could possibly happen to your beloved item next, how will the world effect us, and more importantly, how could the world get effected by us? I had an absolute blast playing as a Deck, and I plan on coming back for each of the rest of the Artefact types, though whether they'll be on stream I haven't quite decided. Either way, this is a great way to not only tell a fun and engaging story, but also to use that creative work elsewhere! I know I'm tempted to run a few of these to give my Monster of the Week campaigns a hair more backstory, and of course the obvious, get some lore behind all the loot in those dungeons full of dragons. Oh man, and that doesn't even touch on how fun it is to view the item through the lens of each of the new Keepers, there's some fantastic prompts to build more into the world around the item while we push the story forward. Genuinely 100% worth buying, I wholeheartedly suggest it. Anyway, if all that didn't sell you, come check out my actual play, and hopefully you'll go for this incredible story generator.

(+2)

I've played all the way through twice so far, and wow!  Artefact is really absorbing to play!  It's a nice way to use mindfulness/meditation alongside random tables and imagination.  The emotions I found bubbling up while I played were something to remember.

As well as all that, Artefact has helped me create some really original items to take afterwards into my Fighting Fantasy RPG.  It's immensely satisfying to play with an  item that's passed through multiple peoples' hands (and the tragedies or victories along the way).  Much more enjoyable than simply adding a "+1 sword" to a character's inventory.

I can definitely recommend this!

(+1)

That’s so good to hear :) Thanks so much for sharing your lovely feedback!

(+3)

If you haven’t bought Artefact yet, then get to buying. There’s very little chance you’ll regret it, unless you are one of those strange people who dislikes excellently produced, flavorful, evocative games. Avoid it if you are mortally allergic to fun. Otherwise…

It is one of the touchstones of solo RPGs according to just about everyone and is likely to be remembered as a classic.

Ha, thanks David this is a really kind (and funny) comment :)

(+2)

Played for the first time with SO, both of us shared our items stories after. Intend to use this to create DND items and either add them in mid life- or 'finish' the life of discarded or lost items

That sounds like a lovely evening! It can also be fun to swap with a partner after every Keeper, so you each tell part of both stories.

today is thier Bday, and we've been itching to play again, so we might to just that <3 ty for making cool thoughtful things

thanks for supporting them :)

(+2)

Played for the first time tonight, what a wacky and fun experience.  I have to be honest, I didn't quite know what I was getting into except that it was a solo RPG kind of experience.  Now having played it, I would call it more like a guided imagination journaling experience.  Truly unique for me and really enjoyable.  Can't wait to try Bucket of Bolts.

Good for you for trying something new! I’m glad you had a fun time with it :)

(+3)

Artefact is the genuine artifact. Never has a game left me so inspired to create and so willing to trust where my imagination will take me next. What a treasure. Thank you.

That’s so wonderful to hear, thank you so much!

(+1)

i have a really cool idea for a game that this has sort of inspired

(+4)

Awesome! If it’s helpful, I put together this website to help people hack the game :)

http://srd.mousehole.press

(+2)

This is a really beautiful game and incredibly fun to play.

Thanks so much! ☺️

(+2)

hi! i just got a copy through the community copies and wanted to say thanks for making those available :) it's v cool and i cant wait to play!!

No worries, many of the copies were kindly donated by other purchasers of the game so I can’t take all the credit :)

Hi! I was just wondering, will physical copies be available again anytime soon?

Yes! They are currently being printed, so hopefully the shop should reopen in the new year :)

Awesome! I'll definitely be getting myself a copy :)

Great. I've been wavering about buying, but I'm definitely in if and when you have a print product! Hope I don't miss it.

Hi, just to know what's the difference between these new files and the olders?

Hey Damien, nothing, just cleaning up a little as there was an unwieldy number of downloads and not much clarity about what it all was. Hopefully it’ll be much clearer for new players now!

Oh OK ^^ Thanks a lot... and, as i am here... thanks for this game i really like :)

Thanks for your support of it! :)

You're welcome, all the pleasure is for me ;)

Hi Jack, first off the game looks beautiful and I am incredibly excited to play. I just wanted to check the criteria for those you want to use community copies of the game. What does marginalised mean to you in this case as I wouldn't want to claim one a copy when it is meant for others? Thanks in advance!

(+2)

If you think it might apply to you, then go for it! There are plenty available, it’s just about a broad intention to provide a bit of support to those whose lives mean that spending money on a game is otherwise a difficult choice.

(+7)

I made a review video of the 2nd edition of this game. Here it is!

Really like the bi-color art style!

Hey, reading this was really interesting! I found the way you constrained the seemingly limitless amount of possibilities for "magic item wielder" into a clean and understandable game really neat. The game itself serves as a great artefact and introduction to solo RPGs!

Because I like this game so much, I'm working on a hack of it that adds an extra artefact, a cyber-pet or robot pet companion similar to Neopets. It'll include a new artefact, some new keepers, and some origins. I'd love to hear any thoughts you have about it! Thanks!

Oh rad! I’m also working on an SRD at the moment so anyone can release a similar game to Artefact 😉

I realise that you might not want to disclose your email in a public space, which is perfectly reasonable, my email is here.

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I missed the Bucket of Bolts KS. Will there be a PDF version of the foldout 8 page + reference on the back version for printing at home (of both games, eventually)? I'm pretty curious how you got the game down from 28 pages down to 8. Thanks! :)

*Or is that what the "Playkit" file is? I haven't purchased my copy here yet.

The reverse of the new layout, the big poster with all the tables on it, will be available. I’m not sure I’ll make the condensed rules available as it feels a little redundant.

A beak zine actually has 16 pages, 8 on each side. So it’s not so dramatic! The main difference is that the playbooks aren’t printed in the zine, instead you’ll print them out from the playkit (or use the digital files).

J

Also you can still preorder here!

Huzzah! I had so much regret. Thank you!!!!

thanks, is there an ETA?

I’m saying July, though hoping it’ll be sooner than that. Depends on a bunch of stuff that’s out of my control.

Just backed Bucket of Bolts on KS; very excited!  I got the tier that comes with a copy of Artefact; very excited to receieve it.... although I suppose it'll be awhile.  That's ok!  Thanks

Thanks to the post on reddit i found this treasure

Im glad i grabbed it and im just gonna sit down relax and make a wonderful (or dreadful) journey for my sword-self.

(im gonna use it frequently due to my fantasy world's need of artifacts)

Thanks again

Thank you. <3

Oh, no problem! Thank you!

Hi, Jack! I purchased this for my boyfriend for Xmas, and I want to print it out and bind it together. I want to include all of the bonus content pieces too but can't figure out what order to put things in. Could you please let me know what order to put the pages in? I would appreciate it if you could be extremely specific because I don't want to mess it up. I'm super excited for his reaction because he's quarantined alone and misses playing RPGs something fierce. Thanks so much! 

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Hello Jack, 

I have downloaded The Artifact to print and gift to a friend. 

Is there a step by step anywhere to how to print and what exactly is needed to have in the physical world to get going? I am confused by the archive not being the same content as the print friendly etc. 

Please treat me like an idiot who has no idea what he is doing. Thanks.

Hey! The ‘archive’ content is from the first version of the game, before the Kickstarter back in February. Avoid it unless you’re curious!

You should download ARTEFACT (Printer Friendly).zip and print Artefact - Print Friendly.pdf. You could also print the two bonus content pieces in that zip, if you wanted (though neither are required to play!).

From the book, you’ll need the following to play:

WHAT YOU NEED TO PLAY

  • An hour or two.
  • A quiet place to play, ideally one that can be darkened.
  • A journal, index cards or sheets of paper to write & draw on— or a fresh set of printed sheets from the playkit. (You could print this off if you wanted, but it’s not necessary! It’s in ARTEFACT.zip).
  • Art materials and writing implements.
  • A way to play the soundtrack, available to download or to stream at THEARTEFACT.NOW.SH
  • A way to track time, if not using the soundtrack.

I hope that helps!

Hello, I was just looking at the Playkit and I noticed page 8 was missing. Is there something I missed? 

No! It’s just a weird output bug that I should probably fix at… some point :D

I have the same question! I'd love to print this out myself, but I don't seem to have access to the printer-friendly version in the game files!

Hey! Should be there now :)

Thank you so much!! :)

Would it be possible to get a version of the book without the textured background? I would love to print this on aged paper (while I wait for a reprint of the book)

Hey! Should be there now :)

Deleted 1 year ago
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Hey! I think you asked for printer friendly copies of the bonus content too? It’s there now!

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I did. Thanks for the new files. I printed out everything and was in the middle of glueing the spine on a homemade book when I realized I forgot to include the second page of Burrows. Now I need to figure out how to fix this :D

Cute! Share a pic when you’re done :)

Here’s the final result. It’s my first attempt of doing anything like this and I’m quite happy. Now to actually play the game!

https://imgur.com/gallery/25rsK3k

This is incredible! Do you mind if I share on Twitter?

(+2)

Hi, Jack. I heard about your game from Shut Up and Sit Down. It's amazing, and I can't wait to play.

I bought a copy through itch.io, here, and can download most of the files, but I'm having trouble getting the printer friendly version on your blog, https://mouseholepress.itch.io/artefact/devlog/139063/new-edition-launch.

Do you have any idea how I can download that?

(+1)

Hey! Should be there now :)

Hi Jack, as a GM I love using your game for creating items for my campaigns. I was just wondering if you had any suggestions for creating armour or would you just suggest using the Shield?

(+1)

That’s a cool idea for an artefact that I never thought of! Maybe I’ll try and find a few hours to knock out a new playbook :)

In the meantime, some combination of the Shield and the Footwear would serve you well.

(+1)

Thanks, that should work well.

(+1)

Hi Jack! I was gifted a copy of your zine which I am in love with! The prompts and game play open up a doorway into the depths of my mind and fill me with so much joy in story telling, thank you! 
I however, am a little bit unsure about the set up, and I was hoping you could clarify something for me.

Under "create your item", when you say answer the opening questions about your artefact, do you mean just the initial paragraph about your creator? 

I have played Artefact twice, and both times i answered all the Artefact Questions before i started playing, and I felt like I'd already been on an epic journey before I started, so I wonder if maybe I got it wrong... I'm not very experience with dnd style games, so sorry if it's a silly question!

Hello! It’s intended to be just the opening paragraph about the creator - I should clarify in the book as I had a similar question last month!

The Artefact Questions are answered as part of the Keeper process :)

ah, I suspected I had got it wrong. 

Thanks so much! 

(+2)

This looks so gorgeous, and yet out of sheer personal preference I prefer the design of the original. Is a physical copy of that available?

(+4)

Hey! I love the original layout too, don’t sweat it 😉

All the original files (book, sheets, soundtrack) are zipped together into ‘The Artefact (old).zip’ for exactly this reason.

Cheers! J

(+2)

Hi there, is there currently anywhere we can buy a physical copy of this?

(+1)

Hey! There’s a little note at the top about this which should give you all the info you need 😊

(+1)

I just put down my pen from my first game of Artefact. Mind blown! Thanks!

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Thank YOU!

(+1)

honestly this game is one of the most inspiring things i have seen in a long time. The game inspires to create, to make games, to make books, to illustrate, to enjoy. It makes you want to try to create something as beautiful as this. Congratulations and thank you

Thanks so much for your kind words! 😊

(+2)

After cooing over the lovely book after it arrived in the post, I've just completed the tale of my first Keeper and subsequent decade long wait.

Holy. Fuck. This game, this game, is absolutely superb. The relatively simplicity of the ruleset and open nature of the prompts hide an incredibly engaging experience.

I started with the idea that I might put my Artefact into another RPG, but I'm already certain that this story needs to play out and conclude in the pages of my journal.

How do I rate this game? I wish to shower it in stars.

Wow thanks so much Jason, so kind of you to leave feedback like this!

I think there’s a button to rate the game on the game page (this page!), though it’s hidden on mobile.

You're welcome, it's rare to get such a beautiful work for such a minor financial investment! I'll be finding some community copies when payday rolls around.

Am I right in thinking you're based in Southampton? If so, greetings from a Ringwood native!

👋🏻

(+1)

A brilliant solo piece about being an artefact. The numbers of types of artefacts and keepers will bring a lot of replayability. The prompts are interesting and the layout is wonderfully clean.

(+1)

Thanks so much Nicolas! 😊