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I am one of the (un)fortunate people to get a Talisman of the Sphere and have a decent goal to find/get a Sphere of Annihilation any time soon. Is it really that if I force its movement to the enemy then it will only deal 4d10 damage? Even if that is true the enemy only needs to save a DC 13 Dex save just to deal 4d10 force? There is no insta kill component into it?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ @Axelord Please avoid answering in comments. We do not support answers in comments because comments do not support features like proper voting and the wiki-style editing that allow us to vet, correct, and improve the content. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Sep 9 '17 at 2:01
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Yes, there is no insta kill component unless whatever is touching the sphere is smaller than 2 feet in diameter

The Sphere of Annihilation is a 2-foot diameter sphere and states:

Anything else [except Artifacts, which are in the general case immune,] that touches the Sphere but isn't wholly engulfed and obliterated by it takes 4d10 force damage.

In regards to moving the sphere it states:

A creature whose space the Sphere enters must succeed on a DC 13 Dexterity saving throw or be touched by it, taking 4d10 force damage.

Therefore the answer is: yes, there is a saving throw allowing creatures to escape the relatively small sphere and everything that is not wholly engulfed in the sphere only takes 4d10 force damage. Most creatures will therefore be allowed to make a saving throw when you force the sphere into their space. In the case that whatever the sphere is touching is small enough it states:

The Sphere obliterates all matter it passes through and all matter that passes through it. Artifacts are the exception.

This means that you can obliterate items and creatures alike.

Tiny creatures

In general even Tiny creatures, the smallest category, have a space of 2,5 feet * 2,5 feet, although they are normally not that big, it's just the space they occupy. This might make you think that you should be able to obliterate Tiny creatures. But that is wrong as the Sphere of Annihilation states (emphasis mine):

A creature whose space the Sphere enters must succeed on a DC 13 Dexterity saving throw or be touched by it, taking 4d10 force damage.

This means that any creature that is not prevented from making Dexterity Saving Throws can always try to dodge the sphere and not take any damage at all. Possible conditions to constrain a creature so that it cannot make a Dexterity Saving Throws are:

  • Restrained
  • Stunned
  • Unconcious
  • Paralyzed
  • Petrified

When you constrain a creature it would of course still take the 4d10 damage until it's dead and not be annihilated entirely. But you might be able to talk with your DM about the case where the constrained creature is entirely engulfed in the Sphere of Annihilation. It would be homebrew, but there is a chance to rule for instant obliteration if the creature is small enough. In the case that you can constrain the creature the 2nd level spell Enlarge/Reduce might be interesting for you, too. Under Reduce it states:

The target's size is halved in all dimensions, and its weight is reduced to one-eighth of normal. This reduction decreases its size by one category - from Medium to Small, for example.

This might help you obliterate enemies with your Sphere of Annihilation if you are bent on using it on creatures. I would recommend talking with your DM about methods to use the Sphere of Annihilation so that you are on the same page regarding occupied space and a creature's size.

According to RAW there is no way for an insta kill with the Sphere of Annihilation for any creature, no matter what size and in what condition the creature is.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ But even if the creature is denied a dex save, it will only take 4d10 damage every round, until it drops to zero HP. Then it will be killed by the sphere. Most low HD creatures will die in round 1, but a tougher creature will have to "grind the HP shields" for a bit. Such is the price of the 5e game damage abstraction, and it is perfectly fine that way. No more cheese. \$\endgroup\$ – Mindwin Sep 3 '17 at 12:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ 2nd level spell Enlarge/_Reduce_ might help. But yes, it is really weak, from level 11 even your cantrips have better DPR \$\endgroup\$ – András Sep 3 '17 at 14:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ The 4d10 damage is for grazing the edge of the sphere. The first effect listed is "the sphere obliterates all matter it passes through and all matter that passes through it." This isn't flavor text. If it passes directly through your head, your head will cease to exist. Now technically speaking there's no rule that says you need a head to survive and the 4d10 force damage is simply the game's representation of decapitation in this case (decapitation effects like a Vorpal Sword specifically state they kill you), but that's getting into some serious munchkin territory. \$\endgroup\$ – r256 Sep 19 '17 at 14:43
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A Sphere of Annihilation's strength comes from more than combat application

Although another answer has discussed its combat inefficacy there are a great deal of obstacles that a sphere of annihilation will trivialize if you can reliably control it.

Locked doors aren't locked if you annihilate the lock. Cursed items cease to exist (except artifacts). Support beams are collapsed from a safe distance. Villain set up an alchemical bomb? Good thing this Sphere of Annihilation caused it to cease to exist. Room filling up with water? Move the Sphere of Annihilation under the flow. Stop traps by removing their mechanisms from this plane of existence. Enemy setting up an ambush on the other side of the door? Pop a hole in the wall and let your archer friend have a heyday from behind partial cover.

In the end I lump this item together with a few other tools for overcoming obstacles. Sovereign Glue is the ultimate adhesive, the Immovable Rod is the ultimate doorstop. And the Sphere of Annihilation is the ultimate trashcan. It just happens to also have combat uses.

So the next question is: why bother fighting for control over it if it is weak in combat? Many encounters have something more at stake than killing the other side. Nothing stops a ritual to summon a demon quite like a Sphere of Annihilation through the pentagram and the cultists will likely try to stop you. Perhaps you are tasked with protecting the sacred (not artifact) relic that is the super evil person's greatest weakness. Higher dps isn't going to stop a Sphere of Annihilation, but contesting may.

So in the end it is a very powerful tool. But only a mediocre weapon.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ +1, but a mediorce weapon has twice the DPR. This one is way below mediocre. \$\endgroup\$ – András May 5 at 20:22

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