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An Artifact Spot (also known as worms, stems, or twigs) is a tile that is guaranteed to provide an item when dug up with a Hoe (other tools do not work).
A variety of location-dependent items can be obtained from artifact spots; they are a key source for Artifacts and Lost Books. They are much more common in Winter, when they can also yield Snow Yams and Winter Roots.
The possible contents of an artifact spot are controlled by the map where it is located. The specific item found in any artifact spot is fixed for a given day, even if the game is reloaded. However, a different item is possible the next day (assuming the artifact spot does not disappear overnight).
The possible items are checked in the order listed below. The chances of items later in the list vary depending upon the details of which earlier items are possible.
- 20-32% chance of a Lost Book. Not possible on the Farm. Note that once all Lost Books are found, any potential Lost Book is replaced by Mixed Seeds.
- Various Artifacts, dependent upon location. Note, however, that some artifacts can never be found in artifact spots (namely, Dwarf Scrolls, Dwarvish Helm, Dwarf Gadget, Rare Disc, and Skeletal Tail).
- In Winter only: 28-50% chance of a Winter Root or a Snow Yam (Winter Root is 50% more likely than Snow Yam in all locations). Not possible in the Desert.
- In Spring only: 3-6% chance of 1-5 Rice Shoots. Not possible in the Desert or Beach.
- A location-dependent list of other items. Some artifacts can reappear in this second list, but most of the items are resources. The percentages provided are valid for summer and fall (values are generally 50% smaller in winter and 6% smaller in spring).
- 1-3 Copper Ore: Pelican Town (14%), Railroad (11%), Bus Stop (9%), Backwoods (7%), Cindersap Forest (5%), the Mountains (5%)
- 1-3 Coal: Backwoods (5%), the Mountains (4%), the Farm (4%)
- 1-3 Gold Ore: The Beach (4%)
- 1-3 Stone: possible anywhere (8-20% depending on location)
- 1-3 Clay: possible anywhere (24-60% depending on location)
- An unseen Secret Note: up to 5% chance, only if the player has a Magnifying Glass
Overnight, artifact spots randomly spawn in exterior locations at a rate that is highly dependent upon the map. Average spawn rates range from 0.1/day (Cindersap Forest, Bus Stop) to 1/day (Desert). Other than during Winter, artifact spots will only appear in tillable soil, i.e., yellow/brown tiles that can be tilled with a Hoe. In Winter, the spawn rate is higher and they can also appear in grass-type tiles (i.e., tiles that are colored green during non-winter months; this designation is not based on whether or not harvestable Grass is growing). Winter-time average spawn rates range from 0.4/day (Railroad) to 1.4/day (Desert).
The primary limit on the chance of artifact spots appearing is the fraction of map tiles that are valid locations, which is why the likelihood varies significantly between maps (it's also one reason why they're more common in winter). Existing artifact spots also limit the spawn rate, because new spots are only possible when the existing number is less than a threshold value. In general, that threshold is two; on the Farm the threshold is one. In Winter, the threshold for all locations increases to five. However, spawning is calculated after possible removal of any existing spots, so artifact spots that are left in place do not necessarily completely prevent new spawning.
Artifact spots never spawn in hidden tiles behind buildings, bushes, non-removable trees, or other permanent features. However, they can spawn in difficult-to-see locations behind removable trees (ones the player can chop down). They never spawn in tiles where other objects are present (chests, trees, equipment, weeds, debris, etc.), or in any tilled soil (anywhere a crop is planted or could be planted). Thus, placing equipment or planting trees in tillable soil can reduce the chance of artifact spots spawning, but only if a large fraction of the tiles are occupied.
If the player does not dig up an artifact spot, it is likely to remain in place for multiple days. Normally, there is a 15% chance of any spot disapparing overnight, but the chance increases at the end of a season (28%) and Sunday morning (39%). Also, all winter-time artifact spots that spawned on grass-type tiles are always removed at the end of the winter.
Digging up an artifact spot also tills the soil. Off the farm, these tilled spots always revert to standard tillable soil overnight. On the farm, the tilled soil typically remains in place until the end of the season. If you wish to immediately restore standard tillable soil you need to use an Axe or Pickaxe on the tile.
- Many players call them worms, but their internal name is Artifact Spot and an episode of Livin' Off The Land describes them as "little brown stems":
- The contents of an Artifact Spot are determined by GameLocation::digUpArtifactSpot, using data from ObjectInformation.xnb (for artifacts) and Locations.xnb (for extra items). The random number generator is seeded by the save game ID, the days played, and the location. Each item is checked sequentially to see whether a random number is less than the item's specified chance; the first item that succeeds is the one found. One result of this algorithm is that the actual chance of finding a given item is smaller than the value in the input file, because it can only be found if all previous artifacts failed their tests. Extra items are affected the most strongly, because they are checked last, and therefore they are less likely in winter (by 50%) and in spring (by 6.25%).
- All locations (other than the Farm) have a fixed 20% chance of spawning a lost book. Although GameLocation::digUpArtifactSpot does this check after scanning for artifacts from ObjectInformation.xnb, a Lost Book overrides any previously-found artifact and therefore is effectively given precedence. Most locations also have a secondary check for a Lost Book based on the data in Locations.xnb.
- Once the player has a Magnifying Glass, any Clay found in an artifact spot has a chance of being replaced by an unseen Secret Note. If the player has seen all possible secret notes, Clay is found. The chance of being replaced ranges from 1.3% to 9% depending upon how many notes have been seen, see GameLocation::tryToCreateUnseenSecretNote.
- Artifact Spots are spawned and destroyed by GameLocation::spawnObjects. Note that GameLocation::dayUpdate can call GameLocation::spawnObjects multiple times on some days (three calls on Sunday; two calls on first day of the month; two calls on each of first three days of game). Therefore spawn rates and removal rates can be nearly three times faster on some days.
- The removal algorithm is fully random (it does not use a seeded random number generator), so which artifact spots disappear at the end of a day can change if the entire day is replayed.