AVARICE – Artifacts

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AVARICE is a story-telling game of Dwarven hubris. It launches for digital distribution via DriveThruRPG on Tuesday May 7, just two more weeks.

Today, we look at how Avarice is designed to give a positive feedback loop, creating a fun minigame and character advancement in response to failed skill rolls. We fail forward, always, and use this mechanical character development to reinforce the escalating tension that accompanies the late stages of the game.

The Dwarven Clans in a Fortress learn from their mistakes and grow. After three failed skill checks by any of the Clans, the currently acting Clan enters a Strange Mood. They are stricken with an insatiable, burning desire to craft a magnificent artifact. An artifact is the ultimate expression of a Dwarf’s desires, fears, memories, and hopes in art form.

The player must draw out the artifact on a separate, small piece of paper, such as on an index card. Consult Appendix G and roll randomly for the base type of item. Draw it. Other players then call for three types of material found within the Fortress, such as lumber, gems, metal, scraps of leather, etc. The weirder and more mysterious the material, the better. These are needed to complete the artifact. The active player then draws out the artifact, using each of these materials. These creations are often adorned with jagged, menacing spikes and exquisitely cut cabochons. The artifact created increases one of the acting Clan’s skills by one.

Describe it—it is of the highest craftsdwarfship.
Draw it—including where all of the exotic materials come into play.
Name it—this artifact is an invaluable object of grandeur that shall be passed down as a family heirloom for all eternity.

Example: A Dwarf living in a Fortress in a sand-scrubbed badlands area enters a Strange Mood. The other players decree that to craft this artifact the Clan needs high-value metal (rose gold), rare stone (blue kimberlite), and the hide of an exotic animal (alligator). I took literally five minutes to scribble this together and it comes out pretty cool.


This artifact is a regal throne carved of flawless blue kimberlite.


It is encircled with bands of rose gold and studded with carbochons of rose gold.  An oversized rose gold crown rises from the back of the throne.


The seat and back are upholstered in soft alligator leather.


The Dwarves know this great work as The Blood-Gilded Serpent.
All craftsdwarfship is of the highest quality.

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