The Orb of Golden Death
Note: This information was taken from TSR's original AD&D adventure, the Temple of Elemental Evil.


This item (a.k.a. Yellowskull, Goldenskull, or the Death Orb) is a powerful magic item created by Zuggtmoy and luz. Because of its nature and aura, no paladin will touch it willingly, nor will any Good cleric; they feel its immense innate Evil.

The Death Orb is a gold sphere three inches in diameter, shaped to resemble a human skull sans lower jaw. Atop the crown is a raised diadem with depressions, the latter designed to accept four large gems, one representing each element. The Orb has only limited powers without these gems. Its possessor can, at will, detect lie, know alignment, and poison (as the reverse of a neutralize poison spell).

The possessor learns directly from The Orb full details of usable powers, but no information about Charisma effects (explained below), potential powers (such as those gained by addition of gems), unfavorable effects, nor the Orb's following protection ability. Neither Zuggtmoy nor luz can harm the possessor of Goldenskull, nor can either be the agent employing another to cause the user harm.

If the possessor gazes upon the great throne in the Temple of Elemental Evil, he or she immediately knows how to operate it. The Throne can be caused to raise and lower itself, with the user, between the upper Temple works and dungeon level three.

The user's Charisma with respect to Chaotic Evil creatures is raised to 20, or to -3 when angry. The corresponding effects apply, i.e. for Charisma 20, +45% Reaction Adjustment, Maximum 25 Henchmen (all Chaotic Evil), 60% Loyalty Base, Awe Power affecting up to 2 Hit Dice or Levels; for Charisma -3, -50% Reaction Adjustment, Horror affecting up to 4 Hit Dice or Levels (again, only of Chaotic Evil creatures) . Those affected by Awe or Horror are stunned into inaction by the mere sight of the possessor (no saving throw), and cannot initiate any action other than physical defense.

III Effects:
No Good ever results from the employment of the Death Orb's powers, except on a very short-term or temporary basis. Thus, if evil can result from any use of the Orb, that occurs along with whatever was actually done. For example, an elemental conjured to fight against some evil creatures will do so, but in such a way as to allow them to harm the conjurer's associates to a maximum extent. Also, each time the Awe Power is brought forth, the user actually loses 1 point of Charisma (but only with respect to those not Chaotic Evil).

Both Zuggtmoy and luz know the identity and exact location of any person in possession of Yellowskull (their detection ability overpowering any and all protections magical or mundane). The protection of the Death Orb notwithstanding, Zuggtmoy and/or luz can attempt to persuade or coerce the possessor to hand over the Orb (though they cannot take it by force). However, the possessor is forced to react to these Evil beings in a somewhat cooperative manner, the degree corresponding to Charisma loss (from the use of the Awe Power)a 10% chance of persuasion existing for each point so lost. In play, if the character does not naturally cooperate, roll d% to check the correct current chance, and privately inform the player if persuasion has occurred.

Any character who actually gives the Death Orb to either Zuggtmoy or luz becomes the hopeless thrall of the appropriate Evil being ever afterwards. (This permanently removes the character from PC play.)

The Elemental Power Gems
The gems of the Orb, and additional powers they bestow, are as shown on the table. The four gems of the correct size and shape to fit the diadem of the Orb are hidden in the Elemental Nodes connected to the Temple of Elemental Evil.

Each gem radiates a strong enchantment. When touched, a loose gem immediately transports all creatures within 50 feet to the corresponding Elemental Node. No saving throw applies, and the victims arrive in the center of the Node map (q. v.). The gem travels with the victims. No other effect occurs, and no powers are bestowed. No effect occurs if a gem is touched while in its corresponding Node, but remember that the transport effect occurs elsewhere whenever the loose gem is touched. Repeat trips may thus occur before the possessor realizes that a container (ideally the Orb) must be used to prevent involuntary travel.

When one of these gems is placed within its diadem mounting, the possessor gains the following abilities, and immediately realizes (and magically understands the process of) each of the effects.

1. The noted spell power, usable once per week.
2. Travel to and from the corresponding Elemental Plane at will (as if by using the teleport without error spell, but with no chance of error).
3. Comfortable existence in the corresponding element or Elemental Plane, taking no environmental damage.
4. Conjure elemental once per week, summoning from the appropriate Plane; however, no mental control is needed as long as the Orb is held (producing an effect much like the druid spells). The elemental is of small size (8 HD) but maximum hit points (64). (Note, however, that such summoning is NOT possible while on the same Elemental Plane.)
5. Summon and control a demon of the type noted up to 3 times per day, but never more frequently than once per hour (6 turns).

Element Gem Spell Demon
Air Smoky quartz Wind walk Babau
Earth Carnelian Earthquake Type I
Fire Garnet Flame strike Type II
Water Aquamarine Wall of ice Type III

Before the final assault on the Temple by the forces of Good, Zuggtmoy carefully hid the gems in their corresponding Elemental Nodes. She then entrusted the gemless Yellowskull to her priesthood, while she faced the onslaught of those whose magic then trapped her in her own stronghold.

Destroying the Orb:
The Death Orb can only be destroyed if all of its gems are properly inset. It must then be subjected to the following effects, in quick succession and in the proper order: a wind of 50 or more mph force; the strike of a maul made from a solid piece of granite; a very hot flame (1,000 degrees R); and immersion in very cold water (32 degrees F.). The procedure causes the Orb to shatter, which causes the Elemental Nodes and the Greater Temple (Dungeon Level Four, area 417) to collapse, and the dungeon levels above as well. Zuggtmoy takes 111 points of physical damage, is unable to use any powers for four days, and cannot leave her own Abyssal Plane for 40 years. luz, having less invested in the Death Orb, merely loses the services of evil elemental creatures for four years.