Artifact Research is the branch of Research concerned with the identification and possible testing of dangerous, unpredictable artifacts of extraterrestrial origin. An artifact is a large or handheld item of non-Nanotrasen origin whose function is unknown. These artifacts are usually dug up by miners, and the station always starts with two in the Artifact Lab and several littered around maintenance tunnels. Others can be found in the debris field and adventure zones, or purchased from certain traders.
Flavors of Artifacts
Discovering an artifact's effects takes more than repeatedly poking it (although this helps in a fashion). Using the DWAINE terminal, you can advance the station's knowledge of artifacts and their properties and make your analysis more precise. To do this, you must:
- Insert your card into the terminal, and type term_login
- Type cd /mnt/artlab to move to the default location of the artifact research tape.
- Type gptio list to list the available research equipment. You'll either need to write these IDs down somewhere, memorize them, scroll back to this output or re-run the gptio list command whenever you need to use a piece of equipment. The name of each device (i.e. ELEC_BOX) may be used in the place of the ID in any of the gptio commands.
- gptio list
- Lists the currently connected devices and their IDs.
- gptio activate device-id
- Activates a device. This can be anything from shooting an object across the room to irradiating whatever is in the x-ray scanner. Note: Some devices, like the electrical tester, don't like being activated without something loaded.
- gptio deactivate device-id
- Some devices don't automatically deactivate after a short amount of time. You'll need to use this command to make them safe to touch.
- gptio sense device-id
- Instruct the device to take readings about its state and the state of whatever object is inserted into it.
- gptio read device-id
- Retrieve the data generated by gptio sense. Note, this will report the state from when you last sense:d, not the state right now.
- gptio info device-id
- Show the status of a device, including if it's active, if it's an "enactor" and/or a "sensor" and maybe most importantly what variables it has to mess with.
- gptio peek device-id variable-name
- Read the value of a variable. Note that most if not all variables can be read on the device itself.
- gptio poke device-id variable-name value
- Change the value of a variable.
The artifact lab comes with five devices: Pitcher, impact pad, electric box, heater and x-ray scanner.
- The pitcher is not for shooting artifacts, though that's fun too. You insert something for the pitcher to fire (say, a fire extinguisher), and the pitcher fires it at the artifacts on the impact pad.
- The pitcher has one variable, POWER, which goes from 0 to 100. Simple enough.
- The impact pad is for putting artifacts on. Fire an item at the artifact and then read the sensor data-
- The pad has one variable, STAND, which is binary (0 or 1). Setting it to 1 extends a stand for putting handheld artifacts on.
- Two datapoints will be reported: Vibration amplitude and vibration frequency.
- The electric box will run an electrical current through the artifact.
- It has two variables, WATTAGE (1-50) and VOLTAGE (1-100). Remember, Wattage = Current * Voltage, so "Selected current" will just be Wattage/Voltage.
- It returns three datapoints: Returned current, circuit capacity and interference.
- The heater will heat the artifact, or cool it. (Note, the sensor used to be bugged. It's been fixed as of February 2013.)
- It has one variable, TEMPTARGET (accepts 200-400 in Kelvin), which the actual temperature will slowly reach.
- The sensors will report current temperature, artifact temperature and whether the artifact responds to temperature at all.
- The X-ray scanner will scan the artifact.
- It has one setting, RADSTRENGTH, which goes from 1 to 10 (multiples of 10%).
- You'll get a load of data back: Object density, structural consistency, structural integrity, special features of object and like the heater, whether it responds to radiation.
The dirty secret of Artlab is that each specific artifact always gives the same sensor data. So you can potentially know what a certain artifact does after analyzing it in the lab, but you'll still need to figure out how to activate it.
Analyzing sensor data
Note that during the time of this update, artlab is being rejigged, so this is subject to change:
Vibration Amplitude and Vibration Frequency (Force)
- Something that has low returns for these categories is something that absorbs physical shock well - if its high, its probably made of something that reverberates a lot when struck, such as metal.
- Right now these are based entirely off the artifact's origin and thus aren't very useful at all
Test Voltage, Load Impedance, Circuit Capacity and Interference (Electricity)
- Test Voltage is just the voltage you have the electrobox set to.
- Load Impedance is how much of the electricity put into the artifact was returned to the electrobox. If you're getting back 100% of what you put in or close to it, you've likely got something that involves electrical charge on your hands.
- Circuit Capacity is how much electrical charge the artifact seems to be able to hold. Anything with this most likely has some kind of internal charge it draws on to power itself. The higher this is, the longer the artifact can do its thing without having to stop and recharge. However, sometimes artifacts can contain internal power cells which hold the charge - if this is the case, the artifact may return a very low value since the artifact itself is useless without its battery.
- Interference is how much the electrical charge is being disrupted when ran through the artifact. Something with a lot of this is probably some really goddamn weird thing. It's normal for any kind of artifact to have a little of this though.
- Other things can affect these readouts - certain artifact origins can skew the results a little, and if an artifact is faulty it can disrupt the capacity and interference readouts. The best way to figure this out is to take multiple readings and compare them - if your readings are all the same there's likely nothing wrong with it, but if they're inconsistent you might want to be cautious.
Current temperature, Artifact Temperature, Response to Heat (Heat)
- It only checks to see if the artifact responds above or below certain temperatures. This is useful to basically tell you this artifact will activate if you raise/lower the temperature some more
- The heater pad also has a details readout, which will give information on the artifacts features specifically to heat.
Density, Structural Consistency, Structural Integrity, Response to Radiation and Special Features (Radiation)
- Density is how dense the artifact's mass is. Readings above 10 mean the artifact is more likely to be something weird or something that can fuck with physical forces. Low density means the artifact is likely built to contain something else or is otherwise hollow/cavity-filled.
- Structural Consistency means how much of the artifact's internal structure is solid or similar. The higher this is, the less likely the artifact is to be something useful. Readings will always generally be fairly high though, but ones at or close to 100% are probably worthless. Remember - machines and biological things have lot of complex parts inside so they're not solid!
- Structural Integrity is how "solid" the artifact is in terms of construction, is it very damage-resistant and well put together or is it something you could probably crush like a soda can? Very low readings can also indicate the artifact may have something wrong with it, such as it is damaged/malfunctioning/dangerous or what have you.
- Response to Radiation is how much the artifact responds to being irradiated. You'll have to play around with the radiation strength setting on the equipment to get an accurate picture of what's going on here - the artifact's origin can muck with this reading sometimes. The stronger the response, the more likely it is the artifact is activated via radiation - you just need to find out the right amount to use.
- Special Features details anything that is paticularly unusual about the artifact's shape - these are mostly a hint towards what the artifact does.
..But I just wanted to know how do I get the artifact out of the damn device??
Click-drag from the machine onto the floor to remove an artifact that's inside of it.
Artifacts can be interacted, and thus activated, through other ways than the devices in the laboratory. The various stimuli mentioned below can be used to substitute the various devices; however they do not give as much control as the dedicated machinery. This is worth noting because a certain amount, not just the presence, of a stimulus is needed to activate an artifact. ALL artifacts can be activated within artlab; external devices are not required, but having them tends to greatly reduce the tedium involved.
The correct mild stimulus in an artifact will give you a hint if you are on the right tracks to activate the artifact. You'll get something along the lines "Offensive Gadget makes a faint noise!"
It is possible to damage an artifact, this is down to too much stimulus. In addition to potentially destroying the artifact if too much damage is done, it can also cause them to develop faults and malfunctions, which are almost always a bad thing.
Artifacts will glow, shimmer and generally look turned on when activated. If the artifact produces a temporary effect like a Forcewall or Darkness upon being activated for the first time, in most cases it will only need a simple touch to activate again depending on the effect.
Basically a human, monkey or what have you touched it. It also happens if a blob hits the artifact, but the likelihood of that happening is slim.
A cyborg touched it, Or at least somebody holding a part of one. This doesn't count the AI.
Hitting it with something. This is invoked when you smack the artifact with something, throw something at it, or if it's hit by an explosion, meteor, or other things. It's also invoked in a very tiny amount when the above touch stimuli are used, but this will never be enough to get a reaction from a force-activated artifact. Most regular physical bullets will also set off a force stimulus. Note that enough force, specifically an explosion will either damage or outright destroy the artifact. Do your research before blowing up shit.
This happens if the artifact is burned by paticularly high or low temperatures. The baseline is 310 - anything above that is a hot stimulus, anything below it is a cold stimulus. The heater pad is the most controllable source of this - apart from that you can also burn it with a lit welder (a lot of heat) or lighter (a fair amount of heat). Explosions also invoke this - the closer the artifact is to the epicenter, the more heat it gets. Some types of bullet also invoke the heat stimulus. There are currently no cold stimuli apart from the heater pad.
While chemicals won't activate the artifact, there are various chemicals that will stimulate the artifact and give you a hint to what way you should progress from there. Chemicals may have unpredictable effects upon the artifact, such as acid outright destroying the artifact in a similar manner to excessive force.
The electrobox deals with this. You can also hit it with electric by beating it with a baton, or shooting it with certain kinds of bullet.
The x-ray scanner invokes this. You can also invoke it by hitting it with an EMP blast (like the blob, unlikely), or certain kinds of bullet. Note that radstorms do not set off artifacts.
So, what happens when you actually activate an artifact? That's the fun of it, it's entirely random. Aside from the artifact's size, you'll have no way of knowing just what it will do until you activate it. What we can tell you is what the potential abilities of the artifacts are:
These are giant-looking things that you can't pick up, only drag around. Note that pulling or pushing them doesn't count as a TOUCH stimulus, you must click it with an active hand for that. This lets you drag it around safely.
- Forcefield generator: The artifact will produce a shiny forcefield of varying size and duration. Until it powers down after a random amount of time, nothing short of teleportation will break through its stubborn walls.
- Lamp: Emits a bright, permanent light. Harmless, unless you're a vampire or something.
- Darkness: A cloak of absolute darkness will envelop the artifact and area around it, preventing any actions short of walking around in it until it powers down. Having Thermals or Mesons can make it easier to navigate.
- Healer: One of the few benign artifacts you'll come across, touching it will heal all damage types.
- Damage: The polar opposite of the above, if this is within half a screen's length of you, you'll take damage of a randomly-selected type constantly until you get away from it. This can eventually be fatal if you're not quick.
- Prison: Not as bad as it sounds, the artifact will drag you into it and lock itself for a minute or two before spitting you out again. Handy for trapping people or jumping into for protection. These are one of the few artifact types that don't require activation, and will only do the "lit up" animation when someone is inside of it.
- Human2cyborg converter: The above's much meaner cousin, this one pulls you in when you touch it and painfully turns you into a generic light Cyborg! It gibs your old body as well, losing you everything you had on your formerly fleshy self. If a Cyborg touches it, they'll receive a mysterious message to UPGRADE OTHER BIOLOGICALS. You'll know one of these is kicking around somewhere on the station if you suddenly see a lot of borgs with weird names.
- Note to Cyborgs: forcing people to touch a Converter artifact against their will is considered harming a human! Don't do this unless your laws allow it!
- Mutation: This silly artifact will give you a certain mutation when you touch it. Sometimes this is bad, other times it's beneficial!
- Injector: This picks a random cocktail of up to three chemicals and injects anyone who touches it. This is usually never good, though if you're careful and lucky enough you can harvest reagents from it; some very rare reagents can only be found from these.
- Gravity: A mildly annoying artifact, this will either pull things towards it or push them away from it.
- Noisy thing: Harmless, unless you consider the grating noises they make as "harm". These will incessantly play a random, looping sound until destroyed.
- Container: When activated and touched, this artifact will vanish and leave its contents behind, which can be anything from items to weapons to critters to mobs. Be on guard in the case of the last two!
- Warp: Touch the artifact. Now go run off somewhere and wait a couple of minutes, and you'll suddenly be warped back to wherever the artifact is! This one doesn't need to be activated to work.
- Bomb: If you see a message about an artifact catastrophically overloading, GET RID OF IT IMMEDIATELY! This means it's about to light up like the fourth of July, going off in a spectacular explosion and likely gibbing anyone who stands too close when it does. Artbombs take a while to get up to critical mass, at which point you'll be given another message stating as such; if you're wandering around and suddenly see that second message, run.
- Due to a bug, the second message doesn't always reliably follow the artifact and instead plays from the tile where the artifact was activated. Just in case you start panicking from an invisible artbomb or something.
- Turret: When these artifacts are activated they reveal an array of GUNS. The artifact will automatically 'turn' and shoot nearby people/monkeys. They deactivate after a while if there is nothing to shoot. Be warned, these can and will shoot you soon after you turn it on for the first time, so run away and come back after a while, the artifact will probably have turned off.
- Plant-helper: Boosts the health and growth rates of nearby plants in hydroponics trays, like some really weird alien UV Lamp.
- Wishgranter: Make a wish! When activated, a booming voice will give you a choice of either great wealth or great power. Depending on its mood (which to say, completely randomly), it may do exactly as you intended, bestowing great wads of credits or fabulous genetic powers (or a great power cell if you're a robot). Or it might just pull a literal genie and just kill you in suitably ironic (and irreversible) fashion.
- Surgery: Replaces one of your limbs with a snazzy new robot limb when you click on it. Certain limbs will always be replaced with certain augmentations, and you can use it as many times as you'd like. Just have a few styptic patches ready.
- Generator: Click on it while it's over a wire (insulated gloves recommended) to connect it the station power grid, and it'll generate anywhere from 5kW to 5MW of electricity. If it spontaneously bursts into flames/rumbles, do not be alarmed.
Smaller artifacts that you can carry around. These will come with extra messages such as "having a handle to hold it by" to tell you it can be picked up.
- Teleporter: Make your problems disappear! Whatever you whack with this will be teleported away in a random direction and distance.
- Self Teleporter: Click the floor, any floor. VOOM! You are there.
- Melee: Well yes, you could technically whack someone with any kind of handheld artifact, but these specific ones inflict way more of a certain damage type than normal. You'll know if you have one of these if it makes a bizarre sound when you hit someone with it.
- Gun: Like the Melee artifact, but ranged. It picks a random damage type, damage amount and number of bullets fired in one burst. Depending on how the RNG rolls, these can be amazingly deadly.
- Forcewall: Like the bigger artifact, but it only makes a wall in one direction.
- Mining: Cuts through asteroids like nobody's business. The Miners will love you if you toss one of these their way.
- Beaker: A Scientist's best friend, these things have obscene reagent limits and come pre-loaded with massive amounts of obscure chems (usually Saltpetre, which means happy days for any Scientist or Botanist). These can fit into any machine that a regular beaker can, and don't need to be activated before they can be used. Note that these do not have the "has a handle" message when examined, so you'll have to pay attention to whether it looks like it can be picked up or not.
- Magic: Comes with a very random effect, such as shooting out lightning or stunning everything within a certain radius, and does so wherever you click with it. Needs to recharge itself after each use.These can be very deadly even to the user, so be careful with them!
- Noisemaker: Portable version of the bulky one. Stick it in your backpack or something and laugh as people go crazy trying to find the source of that horrible noise.
- Instrument: Click on it/activate it in-hand to play...something that can probably be called music.
- Activator: Quite possibly the holy grail of artifact research, this will activate and sometimes deactivate any artifact of its type (Eldritch, Wizard, Martian, Forerunner, Robot), and sometimes every type. If you obtain this, then throw your hands up in the air you lucky bastard, because you are really goddamned lucky.
- Note that while they're handheld size and (usually) have the sprites for such, they're have a "It kinda looks like it's supposed to be inserted into something." message when examined. Makes sense, they are, technically, activator keys.
- Lightning: Not to be confused with the lightning that can sometimes occur in Magic artifacts, with these you aim at an area and the artifact will zap everyone within, causing a variable amount of burn damage. Careful not to use it too close!
Similar to handhelds in that they can be picked up, but they'll look pretty small. They'll usually come with an extra "It kinda looks like it's supposed to be inserted into something." message when examined. Most of these will already look activated before you find them.
- Seed: Fun stuff for Botanists, these can produce all sorts of weird and wonderful plants for them to play with, such as ore plants.
- Cell: The ultimate power cell, having an absurd charge limit as well as charging on its own without need of a charger. A Cyborg with one of these is unlikely to need a recharge ever again. Most tiny artifacts tend to be these.
- Noisemaker: Why is this minuscule piece of junk so LOUD!?
If you're a traitor with a penchant for the weird and are willing to play chicken with the RNG, then you're in for a fun time. A traitor Scientist well-versed with Artifact Research can build a neat arsenal of alien weaponry, and one that can also decode Telescience can drop undesirable or unfriendly artifacts at places where they'll do a lot of damage. The best part is that unless someone sees something really blatant (like a Bomb artifact left at a key place, or someone being shot/beaten with highly lethal Gun/Melee artifacts), you'll hardly ever be suspected as a traitor until it's too late, since screwing up the station on accident is what's expected of an Artlab Scientist.