Artifacts are items which a hero may find while out questing. Monsters usually carry them around and some even fall from the sky from time to time.
List of Artifacts
A list of artifacts the hero is currently carrying appears in their inventory. The hero will sell them all for gold when they next visit a town. That is their only use hero knows about on his own.
However, there is a plethora of special artifacts with special abilities. Most are very rare though.
Very rarely, when the hero is bored, by rummaging idly in his knapsack he may be able to combine a few artifacts into a single rare and expensive bold artifact.
How to use
You can tell your hero to examine an artifact by putting its name in quotes in a Voice of god message, such as:
examine "portable photon generator"
It's important to remember that your hero may not listen, so you might have to keep trying. If the hero chooses to listen, a variety of things could occur -- some beneficial, and some useless.
The possible outcomes are: