One of the primary reasons I picked the Cypher System for The Devil’s Debtors was because of how it handles unusual effects and objects in the form of cyphers and artifacts. In an early post, I explained my vision of cyphers as divine and demonic enchantments that twist the souls of whomever they influence. Just like cyphers, artifacts in this campaign setting take on a similar religious guise, this time as Hellspawned artifacts (generally just called artifacts) and relics.
Artifacts in this world are mostly of mundane items which have fallen into hell and become enchanted with infernal energies. Items can be drawn into hell for a few reasons, but most commonly by being tainted with stigmatic cyphers. Given enough time (or enough stigmas), an item with tainted essence will simply tumble into the abyss and be lost from the material plane. Because the generation of artifacts is intrinsically tied to cyphers, most items that eventually become cyphers were used in criminal or unsavory acts which infected the items with sinful energy. Once these items enter hell, their cyphers are released into the infernal realm in a burst of spiritual power and the item takes on more permanent abilities.
Artifacts eventually find themselves in the hands of Collectors by way of Hellspawn, the depraved creatures that scour the depths of hell for these mystical tools. Once they’ve found an artifact among the brimstone and fire, Hellspawn hurry to a Red Market to sell their newfound wares in return for their precious hardened hearts.