The Nature of Talismans
Talismans are concentrated essence; they are stored arts, ready for evoking. Many talismans can be used by all dreamers, and require no training. Some talismans are strongly keyed to a particular element. Only dreamers with a matching focus element can use keyed talismans. Some talismans are so powerful that they require a powerful dreamer to evoke them. Though less powerful dreamers can possess these talismans, they cannot evoke them until they increase their elemental force.
There are several ways to get talismans. During the Dreamer Wars, many talisman generators were created by the Master Dreamwrights. These generators still exist throughout the city; talismans found near generators are free for the taking. More powerful dreamers can create new talismans out of the fabric of dreams, imbuing them with certain arts they know. Some dreamers may be willing to give you talismans they cannot or do not wish to use. Also, nightmares may be holding talismans they captured from unfortunate dreamers, and will leave them behind if destroyed. Lastly, when a dreamer loses coherence they may drop one or more talismans they had been carrying.
The true nature of a Talisman is only discovered through use; only those skilled in the proper art can determine otherwise. Some Talismans have malignant powers or several uses both helpful and harmful; some are rumored to exceed the known arts.
Talismans generally have a set number of charges; once used the talisman loses coherence and is gone forever. Though arts exist to recharge talismans, they can sometimes backfire and destroy the talisman.
While talismans have a set number of charges, Artifacts never run out of charges. For this reason they are the most sought-after talismans in the City of Dreams. Only Master Dreamsmiths of Underlight can create artifacts. The least of these items can be destroyed, will remain with Dreamers while they wake, and will not lose coherence if dropped. These are the Lesser Artifacts.
A second class of artifacts will never lose their coherence, and can never be destroyed. These are the Artifacts. Artifacts can never leave the City of Dreams; should a dreamer attempt to wake while in possession of Artifact, it will be dropped where they left.
An even more powerful type of talisman exists - Prime Artifacts. Prime Artifacts are basic artifacts: they will never run out of charges. They are also like Artifacts in that they cannot be destroyed and they will always remain in the City of Dreams. Prime Artifacts can also manipulate essences, and for this reason they are at the core of the belief structure of the game.