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A character of mine just came into possession of a Sphere of Annihilation in Adventurers League. The out of combat possibilities of this item are quite interesting, but the ways to get it to where you need it to be are less than ideal.

As the item is written, there does not seem to be a way to gain permanent control of it. The DC 25 Arcana check only seems to allow you to move the sphere once.

My character is a wizard of the transmuter variety, just hit level 16, and I've yet to pick my ASI (if that matters). With my 10 to Arcana, this character can only make the required check to move the orb on a 15 or above, meaning that most of the time, he would have a speed of 10 by being ahead of the sphere. This is, of course, unacceptable, for delving and travelling both.

I've picked away at my brain at that others for solutions to this issue, but so far the only workable solution was to move the sphere via the Telekinesis spell, preferably using a Ring of Telekinesis, but that solution relies on the DM being willing to consider the sphere an Object. With an AL character, that can be quite a lot of people to convince.

It's not that I want to avoid a lot of rolling, it's more that AL modules and many hardcovers tend to include some kind of time crunch, to create some sense of urgency during travel (looking at you, ToA) or just to limit the amount of long/short rests the party takes. If my wizard is, effectively, moving at ⅓ the pace of everyone else, that's an issue. There's also the issue of urgent situations, when the party really needs to get moving. Abandoning the sphere in a crumbling dungeon isn't a very tempting prospect.

Hence my question: What are practical and effective ways to move a Sphere of Annihilation?

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Being a wizard definitely expands your options. A quick recap of the sphere movement rules for posterity:

The Sphere is stationary until someone controls it. If you are within 60 feet of an uncontrolled Sphere, you can use an action to make a DC 25 Intelligence (Arcana) check. On a success, the Sphere levitates in one direction of your choice, up to a number of feet equal to 5 x your Intelligence modifier (minimum 5 feet). On a failure, the Sphere moves 10 feet toward you. 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.

What to take from this:

  1. Any creature with 60 ft. of the sphere can attempt to move the sphere
  2. Any creature without training in Arcana or a high Intelligence is very likely (or certain) to fail
  3. Failing still moves the sphere (10 ft. toward creature attempting to move it)

My assertion: failing to control the sphere and having it move 10 ft. toward you does not constitute having control over the sphere (since it doesn't respond to your wishes), so it would remain 'uncontrolled' by definition. This is debatable, as it's not explicitly laid out in the text for the sphere, but I think it makes sense. If anyone can find precedent that this specifically does NOT work, let me know.

Taking the assertion as true, you can have multiple creatures attempt and fail to control the sphere in the same turn as a means of moving it. By creating a chain of creatures focusing on this task, you should be able to move the sphere up to the speed of the creatures involved without any of them being annihilated.

The sphere can only move as fast as your 'train' can move (to avoid having the sphere destroy the creatures), so assuming you had six creatures with a fly speed of 60 feet of the non-simulacrum variety, you can have your creatures arranged as such (position is the X coordinate on a grid):

Sphere: 0
Cre1: 12
Cre2: 14
Cre3: 16
Cre4: 18
Cre5: 20
Cre6: 22

Your turn:
Cre1 moves sphere to 2 as an action, then flies to 24
Cre2 moves sphere to 4 as an action, then flies to 26
Cre3 moves sphere to 6 as an action, then flies to 28
Cre4 moves sphere to 8 as an action, then flies to 30
Cre5 moves sphere to 10 as an action, then flies to 32
Cre6 moves sphere to 12 as an action, then flies to 34

In this way the sphere would move 60 ft. per turn with no action on your part (just an initial instruction to the creatures to perform in this manner until instructed otherwise). Obviously this exact example only works in wide open areas so the creatures can move freely, although you can have the creatures move around corners and such in a similar fashion.

Sphere: 0, 0
Cre1: 0, 4
Cre2: 0, 5
Cre3: 0, 6
Cre4: 4, 6
Cre5: 6, 6
Cre6: 8, 6

Your turn:
Cre1 moves sphere to 0, 2 and moves to 6, 8
Cre2 moves sphere to 0, 4 and moves to 6, 10
Cre3 moves sphere to 0, 6 and moves to 6, 12
Cre4 moves sphere to 2, 6 and moves to 6, 14
Cre5 moves sphere to 4, 6 and moves to 6, 16
Cre6 moves sphere to 6, 6 and moves to 6, 18

Lower level wizards can use Animate Dead cast in a 4th level slot to create and maintain 3 skeletons (speed 30 ft.) which would work about as well, although the sphere would move at 30 ft. per turn instead, skeletons can't fly, and it gets a little trickier with the skeletons' initiative, but it's still not bad.

Sphere: 0
Skel1: 6
Skel2: 8
Skel3: 10

Skel1's turn:
Skell1 moves sphere to 2 as an action, then walks to 12

Skel2's turn:
Skell2 moves sphere to 4 as an action, then walks to 14

Skel3's turn:
Skell3 moves sphere to 6 as an action, then walks to 16

The only caveat is the skeletons not all acting simultaneously, so you might end up with unexpected behavior if one gets killed, etc.

The only other realistic option I can think of would be to use Geas, although this moves into the category of DM fiat in whether or not the hapless peasants would comply, screw up because they're stupid peasants, or just willingly die, etc., since you don't have absolute control over them. A number of other summoning/animation spells exist, but none that have a reasonable duration that I know of (Animate Objects or Conjure Animals, for example).

So here are the best options so far as I can see:

  • Best: 7th level wizard with Animate Dead in a 4th level slot
  • 2nd Best: 9th level wizard with Geas and 3 hapless peasants (DM can screw with it)

Of course you could create a simulacrum of yourself, have them create one, etc. and have them True Polymorph themselves into owls! This does NOT work in AL , though, Sansuri's Simulacrum or otherwise.

Joke answer: Hire 3 peasants 1gp per day to do this

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    \$\begingroup\$ Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't you limited to only one simulacrum at a time? Though I do remember a special version of the spell from a certain cloud giant countess in SKT.. missed my chance on that though. Otherwise, I rather like the skeleton/peasant idea. Of course this doesn't help much in an emergency situation, but from what I've seen, not much will get this thing moving in a hurry. +1 \$\endgroup\$ – QDust Dec 4 '17 at 17:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ D'oh! You're right of course: I think my brain reverted to 3e on that one. I'll edit my answer. \$\endgroup\$ – barvobot Dec 4 '17 at 18:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ Although there is the simulacrum of a simulacrum cheese, and they could True Polymorph themselves into owls afterward! :P Added this to the bottom of my answer for posterity. \$\endgroup\$ – barvobot Dec 4 '17 at 18:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ You thought it was just an owl.. but it was me, a 17th level caster! But because we're not allowed to have fun, I'm pretty sure an AL ruling came out saying Simulacrums aren't allowed to cast Simulacrum. No Mr. Smith takeover for us in organized play, I'm afraid \$\endgroup\$ – QDust Dec 4 '17 at 18:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ Sansuri's Simulacrum does not have a full spell description, and therefore is not a valid AL spell. It's specifically addressed in the campaign documentation. \$\endgroup\$ – T.J.L. Aug 20 '18 at 20:09
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You need a Talisman of the Sphere. This legendary magic item makes you better at controlling Spheres of Annihilation, as well as letting you move them farther.

Outside of that, any method of boosting your Arcana check will help. The Guidance cantrip, inspiration from a friendly Bard, Expertise, Help from any friendly character, and so on.

In terms of circumventing the Arcana check and moving the sphere directly, every method I can find relies on you persuading your DM(s) that the sphere is a creature (unlikely) or an object, which is the problem you already have. Given how straightforward it is to boost your Arcana check, I'd recommend that over trying to find a workaround.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Practical and simple, though I don't know if there even is a Talisman of the Sphere available for AL. Alternatively, gaining Expertise through the new Xanathar feats would achieve a similar effect.. and unfortunately still leave me with a coin flip to move the sphere 25 ft. Still, good realistic answer. \$\endgroup\$ – QDust Dec 4 '17 at 17:56
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How did you acquire the Sphere? By RAW, if you wrested control from another creature you would gain control of it at that point. (And beware it can be taken from you!)

If you attempt to control a sphere that is under another creature's control, you make an Intelligence (Arcana) check contested by the other creature's Intelligence (Arcana) check. The winner of the contest gains control of the sphere and can levitate it as normal. (DMG 201)

If it was uncontrolled when you found it, by RAW it doesn't look like the DC 25 Intelligence(Arcana) check grants control, but it seems that maybe it should have. Also seemingly left out, does having control of a Sphere allow you to move it without a check? By RAW, you can only move an uncontrolled Sphere, which would be silly (since gaining control would immobilize it).

The sphere is stationary until someone controls it. If you are within 60 feet of an uncontrolled sphere, you can use an action to make a DC 25 Intelligence(Arcana) check. On a success, the sphere levitates in one direction of your choice, up to a number of feet equal to 5 x your Intelligence modifier (minimum 5 feet). (DMG 201)

The description for the Talisman seems to indicate that the Arcana check on the Sphere is for control (and now you are better at it):

When you make an Intelligence (Arcana) check to control a sphere of annihilation while you are holding this talisman, you double your proficiency bonus on the check. In addition, when you start your turn with control over a sphere of annihilation, you can use an action to levitate it 10 feet plus a number of additional feet equal to 10 x your Intelligence modifier. (DMG 207)

The Talisman explicitly grants a way to move a Sphere under your control and it is better than the check in the Sphere's description (twice as far plus 10 more feet).

Personally, I think if you go letter-of-the-law RAW, then you can never gain control of a Sphere nor move it without a Talisman (or DM fiat). Even with the Talisman, the Sphere's description is vague enough I think you could argue that you could never attempt a control check on an uncontrolled Sphere, only a controlled one. I find this straw man argument to be overly legalistic and in no way fun.

As I interpret the rules (RAI, filling in blanks and cross-referencing) and also my version of RAF (Rules as Fun), I would consider the Arcana check a test of control. Once controlled I would allow automatic 5xInt feet movement as an Action. And I would keep in mind that any opposing spellcaster might try to gain control for themself. Also, I would allow the Talisman's bonus to apply to maintaining control as well.

Good luck in AL. If the Sphere is in AL adventures and it's on your sheet, I hope they would have clarified the ambiguities of it. This is legendary treasure after all. Quite possibly enough of a reason to lock yourself in a tower for lifelong study and quit adventuring altogether if you can't bring it with you.

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