You've taken the artifact. You know what to do now! There is a serious lack of chase mechanics in RPGs these days. The only one I've seen recently is the one from 7th Sea. Which was a quite excellent setup. You roll to see if you catch up or fall behind. Best part is what happens if no one wins the segment. "Random stuff" all sorts of random stuff from the swashbuckling genre like carts going across the path to the chase setting things on fire.
Many many fantasy campaigns have a trip to the magic shop. Some have frequent visits. Some not at all. In any case you usually here the same refrain over and over again from DMs "I want magic to be special and unique". Why not start with the most obvious place first. The magic shop. When your players can view the magic shop like a big box retail store of course magic isn't going to seem special. Sure you can drop the magic shop completely from your game. But where's the fun in that. Make getting a new magic item an experience. Doesn't have to be a massive quest, but anything more memorable than "I slap down 10000 gp for my new sword" will add to the atmosphere of the game.
Did you pass the geek test? I admit a little bias here since not everyone will think about zombies. I know that in case of zombie apocalypse I'd want something like this around for defense, silly name aside. Which is really the only use for a $120 shovel. Yes, it costs $120.
Art from GIS for Super Penetration Shovel. I first saw it on The Awesomer.
It is only by our superior medical technology that we stay in this fight! That and the cats inherent laziness. We must take the fight to them or they shall soon overrun our civilization! Oh wait, they already have. We serve them treats and clean their toilets while they sleep all day. Darn their brilliance!
You know this is why you want to play a druid. Calling down lightning, fire and ice from the heavens. Especially ice because it works extra well for reshaping the landscape and clearing out all those pesky man-made structures.
Dwarves are a hardy people. Which is why they party hearty and have the kegs to show for it. Woe be unto the weak of fortitude at a dwarven party, for they will be the first to pass out and receive their just desserts for leaving the party early.