Public Domain Artifact
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Basic Information

Public Domain Artifact is the name for the trope of using some prominent Legendary Artifact as the MacGuffin or Applied Phlebotinum of a story. Many Public Domain Artifacts are holy relics

List of common Public Domain Artifacts


2. RPG Sourcebook: GURPS Warehouse 23 - covers several of these

Game and Story Use

  • As with Mythological Characters or Mythological Places, most of these will have name recognition (or popfinition) for your players, making them an instant plot device.
    • Mention the bad guy is after a particular Public Domain Artifact, and the players will race him for it.
    • Some fun can be had by taking one of the more recognizable items, and never explicitly say it is or isn't the famous one.
      • In WWII the PCs storm a bunker complex, and find a cache of items including a spearhead, several old silver coins, and some fragments of wood. Watch their eyes bulge. They don't know if it's legit and actually valuable, and even if the characters are atheists and the setting's been magic-free thus far, they'll struggle hard to keep this stuff out of Hitler's hands.
  • Copyright free! You can feature them prominently in your story, adventure, or published RPG without opening a can of legal worms.
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