The Death Moon Orb was a magical artifact of domination. Originally created by the Netherese lich-king Larloch to control his court, it was famously employed by Szass Tam, Zulkir of Necromancy, to gain power over Thay and attempt to enslave the demon prince Eltab. It had the power to charm and dominate the minds of others, to spy on faraway points, to raise the dead, and to summon and compel fiends, but had a corrupting influence.[1][2][3]


The Orb was a gleaming and glassy sphere, colored black and violet. The colors swam uneasily together, so the surface shifted and shimmered like oil on water.[1][2][3][4][5] The Death Moon Orb seemed to absorb light around, and to carry an aura of gloom and melancholy. If one gazed into the orb for long, then they could see a negative image of Selûne, the moon above, faintly glimmering on its surface.[1][2][3]

For reasons unknown, it changed size at irregular intervals, from the size of an apple or something that could fill a human man's hand, to the size of a man's head, though its size did not affect its power.[2][5][6]


The Death Moon Orb had the power to invade and control almost any mind.[5] Its possessor could invoke its powers to cast charm person five times a day and mass charm once a day, which both made target creatures trust and befriend the caster, and domination thrice a day, which forced victims to obey and follow the will of the one who possessed the Orb.[1][2][3]

The Orb could also be used to summon fiends. The possessor could summon one baatezu, tanar'ri, or yugoloth at a time and compel them to perform one specific task. Upon completion of the task, the fiend was free to return to its plane of origin, if it was able. However, this power taxed the orb: if one summoned a lowly fiend, then the Orb could not be used to summon another for a tenday. Summoning a fiend of middling power meant it could not be so used for a month. Tasking the mightiest fiends saw the Orb's summoning power spent for a whole year.[1][2][3]

Its necromantic powers also allowed one to animate dead three times a day.[1][2][3]

Finally, it also functioned as a crystal ball, with the powers of ESP and clairaudience. This power was always available.[1][2][3]

However, the Death Moon Orb predictably bore a subtle curse. It drove the user to perform increasingly evil acts, and if one used it too long or too often, then they would be turned to chaos and evil, becoming monstrously cruel and wicked. Most such folk would inevitably be slain, unless they were already evil beings who survived in undeath, like Larloch and Szass Tam.[1][2][3]


Szass Tam and the Death Moon Orb

Szass Tam evoking the powers of the Death Moon Orb.

The Death Moon Orb was created by Larloch, the Sorcerer-King of the enclave of Jiksidur in Netheril.[7] This powerful artifact allowed him to charm and mentally control the members of his court, to spy on his enemies and learn their plans, and to summon powerful fiends from the Outer Planes. It did so successfully, and Larloch ruled for many years, gaining great power.[1][2][3]

In the Year of Sundered Webs, −339 DR, a contingency spell warned Larloch that Jiksidur was facing impending doom, and he fled the city riding a dragon, presumably rescuing treasures like the Death Moon Orb before he left. Very soon after, Netheril suffered Karsus's Folly, all magic failed, and Jiksidur fell from the sky to crash, utterly destroyed. Thus Larloch survived the fall of Netheril, as one of its last arcanist-kings, and the Orb as one of the few extant Netherese artifacts.[8][9][10]

Some months later, Larloch discovered the ruins of Orbedal, another Netherese enclave. He claimed the city as his own and constructed himself a crypt out of its broken towers, Larloch's Crypt. After many years, he discovered its surviving ruler, Rhaugilath the Ageless. Larloch bound Rhaugilath to serve him. He became the first of Larloch's lich servitors.[11][10]

Szass Tam, the Zulkir of Necromancy of Thay, visited Warlock's Crypt, as it was now known, around 1366 DR.[1][4][2][3] What transpired was unknown to the outside world;[12] the two came to some deal or alliance, the details of which were again unknown to outsiders. Larloch gave Szass the Death Moon Orb and several other powerful magic items and artifacts, including Thakorsil's Seat, and a number of hooded companions, to aid him in his plots to control Thay and the demon Eltab.[1][2][13][4][12]

He used the Orb to great extent in his war against the other zulkirs, gaining full control over Thay.[1][3][4] He then embarked on his scheme to bind the demon lord Eltab.[1][3][4] Centuries before, Eltab had aided the Thayans in shaking off Mulhorandi rule,[4] but was subsequently imprisoned beneath the capital, Eltabbar. Szass Tam had realized that the demon lord would soon break free, and decided to instead hasten his escape and then fully enslave the fiend.[14] In the Year of the Shield, 1367 DR, Szass Tam used the Orb's power to first free Eltab—which triggered a major earthquake in Eltabbar—then compel him to sit in Thakorsil's Seat, which immediately imprisoned him again.[1][2][12][14] He then began the terrible task of performing the ritual of twin burnings and inscribing the runes of chaos upon the Seat to make Eltab his eternal slave.[1][2][4][12][14] During this time, the Death Moon Orb hovered in place over Eltab in Thakorsil's Seat in the Chambers of Twin Burnings.[15][16]

Nathor, a Thayan civil servant, bore witness to much of Szass Tam's wicked deeds, and once held the Death Moon Orb in trembling hands. Nathor later fled to Aglarond in horror.[17][18]

However, before Szass Tam could inscribe the ninth and last rune of chaos, a band of mighty adventurers got into the Chambers and foiled his scheme.[2][14] Amidst a terrific explosion, the Death Moon Orb swirled black and purple, flickered with red and green flashes, then vanished.[19] It was lost, thought to have teleported to anywhere in Faerûn.[2] Some feared it would be recovered by another powerful archmage, who would put its powers to their own evil purposes.[1][2][3]

However, the Orb eventually found itself back in the possession of Szass Tam by 1372 DR.[5][20]

The Orb finally combusted in Szass Tam's hands at the moment Mystra, the Lady of Spells, was murdered by Cyric, Prince of Lies, in the Year of Blue Fire, 1385 DR.[21]


Several possible methods were proposed for destroying the Death Moon Orb. Firstly, it could be devoured by a great feyr or a tarrasque. Secondly, it could be taken to Arborea or another outer plane of goodness and there be obliterated by one of the deities that resided there. Thirdly, it could be annihilated with elven high magic, such as that commanded by the high mages of Evermeet.[1][2][3] However, it was ultimately destroyed upon the demise of Mystra, the goddess of magic.[21]


In the library of the Chambers of Twin Burnings, Szass Tam owned historical texts that covered the Death Moon Orb.[22]


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 1.16 Anthony Pryor (1995). Spellbound (Campaign Guide). (TSR, Inc), p. 106–107. ISBN 978-0786901395.
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 2.16 2.17 Ed Greenwood, Eric L. Boyd (1996). Volo's Guide to All Things Magical. (TSR, Inc), p. 104. ISBN 0-7869-0446-1.
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 3.13 Dale Donovan (July 1998). Villains' Lorebook. (TSR, Inc), p. 128. ISBN 0-7869-1236-7.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 Anthony Pryor (1995). Spellbound (The Runes of Chaos). (TSR, Inc), pp. 28, 29. ISBN 978-0786901395.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Richard Lee Byers (March 2008). Undead. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 4. ISBN 978-0-7869-4783-6.
  6. Richard Lee Byers (March 2008). Undead. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 62. ISBN 978-0-7869-4783-6.
  7. Richard Baker, Ed Bonny, Travis Stout (February 2005). Lost Empires of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 108. ISBN 0-7869-3654-1.
  8. Sean K. Reynolds, Jason Carl (November 2001). Lords of Darkness. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 161–162. ISBN 0-7869-1989-2.
  9. Richard Baker, Ed Bonny, Travis Stout (February 2005). Lost Empires of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 108. ISBN 0-7869-3654-1.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Brian R. James and Ed Greenwood (September, 2007). The Grand History of the Realms. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 47–48. ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.
  11. Richard Baker, Ed Bonny, Travis Stout (February 2005). Lost Empires of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 102. ISBN 0-7869-3654-1.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 Anthony Pryor (1995). Spellbound. (TSR, Inc). ISBN 978-0786901395.
  13. Anthony Pryor (1995). Spellbound (Campaign Guide). (TSR, Inc), p. 9. ISBN 978-0786901395.
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 Jeff Crook, Wil Upchurch, Eric L. Boyd (May 2005). Champions of Ruin. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 132. ISBN 0-7869-3692-4.
  15. Anthony Pryor (1995). Spellbound (Campaign Guide). (TSR, Inc), p. 108. ISBN 978-0786901395.
  16. Anthony Pryor (1995). Spellbound (The Runes of Chaos). (TSR, Inc), p. 28. ISBN 978-0786901395.
  17. Anthony Pryor (1995). Spellbound (Campaign Guide). (TSR, Inc), p. 3. ISBN 978-0786901395.
  18. Anthony Pryor (1995). Spellbound (The Runes of Chaos). (TSR, Inc), p. 8. ISBN 978-0786901395.
  19. Anthony Pryor (1995). Spellbound (The Runes of Chaos). (TSR, Inc), p. 29. ISBN 978-0786901395.
  20. Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 208. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
  21. 21.0 21.1 Richard Lee Byers (March 2008). Undead. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 64. ISBN 978-0-7869-4783-6.
  22. Anthony Pryor (1995). Spellbound (The Runes of Chaos). (TSR, Inc), p. 23. ISBN 978-0786901395.
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