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[[User:RisingDusk/Sandbox1|Sandbox 1]]
=== Artifact Definition ===
This is a point of major contention for me, as artifacts are perhaps the topic that interests me most about the Elder Scrolls lore; the items themselves that traverse the lore matter more to me than anything else. The current definition of an Artifact, insofar as what gets put on the Artifacts page of a specific namespace (ie. [[Morrowind:Artifacts]], [[Oblivion:Artifacts]], [[Skyrim:Artifacts]], [[Dragonborn:Artifacts]]), is as follows:
* Be unique in appearance.
* Only appear once in the game.
* Have a unique and useful enchantment.
This definition has problems, though, which I will invoke one-by-one:
*1. '''There are many items which fit this definition and should not be an artifact (ie. [[Skyrim:Archmage's Robes]], [[Skyrim:Targe of the Blooded]])'''
It is difficult to say what "should" or "should not" be an artifact because it is—by definition—subjective. However, users tend to have a "feeling" about what constitutes an artifact and what doesn't. These feelings tend toward lore significance and uniqueness. When I say that the Targe of the Blooded should not be an artifact, I am saying that it has no historical value whatsoever, and is simply a unique looking shield with a unique enchantment on an item that appears once. That doesn't ''feel'' like an artifact to me, or to many others based on the discussions had over this topic in the past. This is a subjective consideration, but one that should absolutely be kept in mind when considering that our current definition is insufficient.
*2. '''There are many items which do not fit this definition and yet are still considered an artifact by exclusion (ie. [[Skyrim:Dragonbane]], [[Skyrim:The Rueful Axe]]).'''
Like above, players and wiki editors ''feel'' like certain items belong in the list of artifacts, such as Dragonbane or the Rueful Axe, and yet they simply don't meet the requirements. Dragonbane isn't the only weapon with its model, for example, meanwhile The Rueful Axe's enchantment is generic. However, wiki editors and players have made exceptions to the rules and listed them both on the Skyrim namespace's Artifacts page. We could simply remove them, sure, and enforce the rules with an iron fist, but consider for a moment '''why''' people added those items to the page. They added the items because they believe that the item is an artifact, and that our current definition is insufficient.
*3. '''It is inconsistent with the definition used by the [[Lore:Artifacts]] page'''
The lore namespace uses the following definition for its artifacts: "''Artifacts are ancient items of significant power, fame, and historic relevance.''" By definition this is also subjective, but it is much closer to achieving what players ''feel'' makes something an artifact: historical significance in one form or another. I consider it a major shortcoming of the definition of an artifact in our game namespaces that it is incongruent with the lore definition, as for a viewer of our wiki, seeing something fit one definition and not another is jarring, confusing, and inconsistent.
These issues come together and lead me to the conclusion that '''we need to change our rules about what constitutes as an artifact for purposes of inclusion in game namespace artifacts pages'''. I have toiled over this a bit and come to a set of rules that I believe describe what we all ultimately think an artifact should be when we say we ''feel'' that something is an artifact. My suggestion is also consistent with our current lore definition of an artifact, which I consider necessary for any revamped artifacts definition. My suggested rules for what makes an artifact are as follows:
* Is an acquirable item in the related game (for any amount of time)
* Has defined and unambiguous historical significance within the history of Tamriel; this includes items which are...
** ...well-known among the people of Tamriel.
** ...associated with a Daedric Prince, Aedric God, or other deity.
** ...described in the in-game literature of Tamriel as an artifact.
This makes no claims about the uniqueness or quality of its enchantment, the uniqueness or quality of its appearance, and indeed even the number of times it can be acquired in a game (though an item can hardly be considered historically significant if it can be replicated so easily). However, this definition enables us to include items that are otherwise excluded but shouldn't be and also exclude items that are currently included but really aren't artifacts. While these rules allow for some measure of subjectivity, they also provide measuring sticks that we can use for determining just how much of an artifact something is. For instance, the Rueful Axe is associated with Clavicus Vile, and therefore absolutely is an artifact. Dragonbane is historically significant because it was a weapon for a dragonslayer in the days of old when the Blades fought dragons, and thus qualifies. There might be some opposition to this definition because it includes some measure of flexibility, but I firmly believe that ultimately we as a community can come together to discuss something if it is ambiguous, and that we should pursue the best definition of artifact even if it requires we discuss any possible borderline cases that come up over the course of current and future games in the series.
Lastly, thank you for reading, and I welcome and encourage your feedback on the matter.