Out of the Ashes
The Ancients used devices of wonder that held powers that dwarf the mightiest of magics. They also had devices that were kind of silly, and existed for no apparent purpose. It is mostly the latter group that survives intact to the modern day, for fate is fickle. Still, objects will be found from time to time that seem useless until someone discovers their function, or figures out how to fix them if they are broken.
(Reprinted from Prologue)
Artifacts of the Ancients await intrepid explorers, and likewise their wisdom lies hidden in their ancient devices. Unlocking these secrets requires careful study and tedious devotion to lost knowledge. Bards and rogues are especially adept at puzzling out unknown magical devices via Use Magic Device. With time and study, they can turn this capacity to the secrets of the Ancients. Knowledge: History of the Ancients is the skill that such a person must pour their research (skill points) into. (Having 5 ranks grants a +2 synergy bonus to Use Magic Device rolls on artifacts.)
One can eventually learn the Ancient language (must have 10 ranks in Knowledge: History of the Ancients) by spending 5 skill points (normal cost of extra language is 2). Knowing the tongue of the Ancients is especially helpful in puzzling out what their devices do (+2 synergy bonus to Use Magic Device rolls concerning Ancient devices). If a PC learns additional Knowledge skills for the purpose of aiding in identifying artifacts, the DM’s discretion is encouraged in giving out synergy bonuses, IE: a medical device would be easier for someone with the Heal skill to figure out (5 ranks = +2 synergy). Similar situations abound.
UMD Minimum Knowledge:
DC Action History of the Ancients
10 verify that an artifact is a genuine Ancient device 4 ranks
15 determine whether or not it is in working condition 4 ranks
18 determine whether or not parts are missing 7 ranks
20 determine purpose of artifact 7 ranks
20 determine activation method of a functioning device with known purpose 7 ranks
25 activate blindly (determine activation method of a functioning device with unknown purpose) 10 ranks
25* repair a non-functioning device with guidance (manual, robot, computer) 10 ranks
30 determine activation method of a non-functioning device with known purpose 13 ranks
45* repair a non-functioning device without guidance (manual, robot, computer) 24 ranks
55 determine activation method of a non-functioning device with unknown purpose 30 ranks
* Repairing an Ancient device is possible only with Ancient tools and materials. If no such items are available, then there is no chance of success. Repairing an object takes as long as crafting a masterwork item that costs 300gp.
As far as what kinds of artifacts can be found, the possibilities are fairly limitless. The Ancients were at war with the xel, and they left behind many weapons. Likewise, armor and other accoutrements of war await the wary searcher. But even in war, the Ancients still carried on with their daily lives. They planted and raised food, distributed goods, prepared meals, bathed, dressed, sang, danced, lived and died much as we did, and they used their technology for all of that too.
We have recently discovered, for instance, that the tiny brushes frequently found in what appear to be bathing areas were not meant for cleaning hard-to-reach portions of the bathing rooms fixtures, but were actually meant to scrub the Ancients’ teeth! It is unclear what part this ritual played in their daily lives, or if it was done for health reasons, but research continues, and in the meantime, tooth brushing has become a popular fad in the Confederacy, and toothbrushes therefore are fetching as much as 1-5gp each, so keep your eyes open for any!