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My precious...
Gollum / Smeagol, The Lord of the Rings

The Artifact of Attraction is a MacGuffin that goes beyond being merely desirable for its own sake and is supernaturally super desirable. It can cause a group of friends to become paranoid and distrustful, making them stop working together or even come to blows over ownership. Unsurprisingly for an object that can bring about a veritable Hate Plague on those who set eyes on it (or even just know of its existence), the Artifact Of Attraction tends to be a powerful Cursed item, though a few uncursed ones can get this kind of reputation.

Any object can serve as an Artifact of Attraction, but they tend to have a certain je ne sais quoi. They may be a luxury item like a fashionable pair of red shoes and ring, or a perfectly mundane red stapler and warm blanket.

Knowing the Artifact of Attraction is capable of this doesn't stop the effects it causes, but may give the heroes enough warning to resist the effects long enough to destroy it or give it to the bad guys. Of course, because of its nature no one wants to destroy it, making this kind of curse ideal for preserving an Artifact of Doom and Amulet of Dependency from being destroyed.

Though plenty lethal on its own, the Artifact Of Attraction may be triple enchanted to serve as an Artifact of Death (to up the kill count) and as an Artifact of Doom (to corrupt the hapless holder) and serve as a trifecta of desire, death and corruption.

Not to be confused with Apple of Discord, which is not about the object, but a group of friends bickering to the point of coming to blows after a seemingly trivial comment or question (who is fairest, strongest, etc), or with Gold Fever, which is about the mentality that makes normally good people so greedy and paranoid they want to kill their friends and fellow prospectors to possess gold or some other valuable.

Compare Hypno Trinket and Glamour.

Examples of Artifact of Attraction include:


Comic Books

  • Nodwick had 'This One Ring' as a parody of The One Ring, from you know where. It didn't do anything and was eventually replaced by 'This One Rock'. Which also did nothing. Everyone still wanted both of them.
  • There's an inversion in Green Lantern. Larfleeze, the Orange Lantern of the light of avarice, is the greediest being in the cosmos. How greedy? Everything and even everyone he sees become Artifacts Of Attraction for him. He hoards precious and useless things and he even "steals" the people he kills by turning them into "ghosts" under his control, making up the Orange Lantern Corps.

Comedy Newspaper

Fanfiction

  • The Slytherin Horcrux ring has this effect on Sirius in Oh God Not Again. Harry telling him that putting the ring on would kill him doesn't disillusion him in the least. Hilariously, he's only able to resist when Harry says, " Sirius, if you put that on then Snape will have to save your life. SNAPE.”

Film

  • From the quotation on the beginning of the post: the precious ring of The Lord of the Rings.
  • The Coke bottle from The Gods Must Be Crazy is treated like this. It's pretty and useful, but the fact that there's only one causes the tight-knit villagers to fight over it. It's also harder than anything that can be found in the Kalahari Desert (namely wood or bone), so to dispose of it, the protagonist sets off on his quest to throw it off the edge of the world.
  • South Korean film The Red Shoes has the titular (highly cursed) red shoes.

Literature

  • The titular Silmarils in The Silmarillion are a prime example of Artifacts of Attraction. They don't have any special powers and possessing them provides the owner with no benefits whatsoever. But when Finwë (the creator Fëanor's father) is murdered and his murderer Morgoth (the local Devil stand-in) takes them with him just because they looked interesting, Fëanor swears revenge and makes an oath that he, his sons, and their people will not rest until the murder is avenged and the three jewels returned to their rightful owners. 500 years and no less than seven battles of epic proportions later, almost the entire High Elven nobility has been wiped out one after another, thousands if not millions of elves have been killed by orcs or other elves, and the entire region of Beleriand has been swallowed by the ocean, just because one elf eight elves did not Know When to Fold'Em.
    • And all of the Silmarils end up where mortals (and immortals alike) can no longer reach them, by the way. One was sunk into the depths of the sea, one was thrown into a fissure into the core of the Earth, and the final became the planet Venus. Though that might have been the only way to end the whole mess.
  • The Zahir from Jorge Luis Borge's 1949 short story El Zahir is the most fascinating object in the world. It doesn't matter what it is - but there's always one Zahir in the world at any one time. Zahir is an Arabic word meaning "the obvious meaning," "the conspicuous" or "something that cannot be ignored."
  • Rudyard Kipling's The Second Jungle Book story "The King's Ankus" is named after a jewel-studded ivory artifact that Mowgli finds in a lost treasure chamber and then carelessly discards. He soon discovers that the Ankus causes men to kill each other for greed, and wonders why he alone is immune.
  • Red gold from the Belgariad.
  • The Sword of Tears from The Legend of Huma.
  • In E. Nesbit's Five Children and It, the children accidentally wish their youngest sibling into this. Fortunately, it wears off at sunset, after a long day spent chasing after everyone who kidnapped him.
  • The Stormlight Archive has Shardblades, which may not have any supernatural attraction, but they're so valuable (there are approximated to be a hundred on the planet) that they may as well.
    • Also Nightblood from the same author's Warbreaker; not its primary purpose, but deliberately built in because it was created to destroy evil and needs a mechanism to detect such (since a sword has no innate sense of right and wrong). Essentially, anyone who is exposed to Nightblood and is someone who would want to wield such a powerful weapon for destructive purposes will be compelled to take it and draw it, at which point another of the sword's powers kicks in. Those who do not want to use it for destructive purposes can wield it safely, though it makes them uneasy to touch it. This isn't, however, a perfect test- The Dragon is able to resist the effect because even though he's a bad guy, he doesn't want to use Nightblood.
  • The Apple of Discord from The Illuminatus-trilogy has the power to appear as the most desirable object or concept that whoever viewing it holds in their mind. It's used unexpectedly for benign purposes, preventing a small army of Nazi zombies from slaughtering thousands of festival goers.
  • The Elder Wand in Harry Potter, a wand so powerful that nearly every person who has ever owned it was murdered by someone else who wanted it. The only known exceptions have been Dumbledore (who died for other reasons), Draco Malfoy, and Harry himself.

Live Action TV

  • The Sword of Kahless in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Kor starts seeing it as a way to reclaim his glory days in the Empire and Worf nearly lets Kor fall to his death (he claimed there was a ledge that Kor could reach below, but Kor couldn't see one and Dax saw it and could tell it wouldn't support Kor's weight) in an attempt to keep the sword for himself. Eventually, Dax has enough of Klingon posturing and stuns them both just to get them to shut up. The writers resisted any attempt to say that the sword or the air or whatever had any kind of mind-altering effect and that it was simply the idea of having the sword once possessed by Kahless himself that made them act like they had.
    • In this case, simple lust for power is a likely culprit, as both Klingons contend that ownership of the sword would give the holder a solid claim to leadership of the Klingon Empire. Considering the holy status of Kahless, this is a pretty reasonable argument.
  • An episode of The Big Bang Theory parodied the attractiveness of The One Ring by having the geek protagonists pool their money to buy a prop from the movie, then going to ridiculous lengths to make sure it was shared fairly, then fighting over who should get to keep it.
  • One episode of Angel had a group of thieves (and Gunn and Angel, who'd infiltrated the group) try to steal a shroud containing the soul of a demon, which turned them against each other.
  • An episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, "Him", had an enchanted letterman jacket which transformed the wearer into one of these, supernaturally irresistable to women, causing friction.
  • The Tenth Kingdom has magical shoes that make the wearer invisible, but the longer you have/wear them, the more you want to keep wearing them...

Western Animation

  • American Dad: The Running Gag of Roger's golden jewel-encrusted poo (also an Artifact of Death).
  • The episode "Crystal Canyon" of Thundercats had the Keystone, an object that could boost the powers and intellect of the holder, but was addictive. Tygra and Alluro fought over it before Alluro got it and Tygra was forced to give up the addiction.
  • In The Simpsons episode "Three Men and a Comic Book", the #1 issue of Radioactive Man acts like this on Bart, Milhouse and Martin.
  • The key and the treasure itself, in the episode, "The Lost Treasure of the Golden Squirrel" of The Penguins of Madagascar.
  • In the My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic episode, "Lesson Zero", Twilight Sparkle's Smarty Pants doll takes this role after she enchants it with a "Want it, Need it" spell, causing practically every pony who sees it to fight each other over it.

Video Games

  • The Red Marker and the Black Marker in Dead Space have this effect. The hallucinations of deceased friends and relatives will often urge the victims to "protect the Marker" which often leads to them being fanatically devoted to the Marker in a matter of hours. Not even Unitologists are safe- the Red and Black Markers both affect everyone equally.
  • The "World's Most Interesting Bomb" in MDK. Dropping it causes every enemy to drop what they're doing and run up to ogle the bomb. Which then explodes.

Webcomics

Real Life

  • Many expensive luxury goods have this effect, which is part of the reason that older rich folk go without them. A shiny new Porsche is considerably more likely than a low end Toyota to 'disappear' if you leave the key in the ignition.
  • The legendary Hope Diamond; started out as the biggest blue diamond in the world and even after being cut down a few times is still ginormagantuan. The story is that it was stolen from a temple in India and the god who was robbed laid a terrible curse on the gem. Every owner of the Hope has suffered immense tragedies; deaths of family and friends, collapsing businesses, ruined reputations, all that. And yet there was always someone who was willing to chance the curse just so they could say they owned the Hope. The last owner donated it to the Smithsonian and so far nothing bad has happened to them.
    • Though the actual story of the Hope diamond is quite the opposite. The supposedly cursed jewel has been owned by various people like Catherine the Great; very few of the supposed 'mysterious deaths' attributed to the diamond were those of people to have ever actually owned it.
  • Gold has been this-- there's even a term for it: "Gold Fever".
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