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Usually, a Sphere of Annihilation can only be moved in a single direction at a time:

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 × your Intelligence modifier (minimum 5 feet).

The legendary item Talisman of the Sphere gives the user more control over the sphere:

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 × your Intelligence modifier.

Here there is no mention that the sphere must levitate in a single direction.

Does this mean that with a Talisman of the Sphere, the sphere can be moved in multiple directions in a turn, such as in a zigzag pattern?

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2 Answers 2

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No, it does not.

The description of the Talisman of the Sphere says (emphasis mine):

When you make an Intelligence (Arcana) check to control a sphere of annihilation while you are holding this talisman, [...]

What does it mean to control a Sphere of Annihilation? This is provided by your quote: on a successful INT (Arcana) check, you take control of a uncontrolled sphere which means that you can levitate in one direction of your choice, up to a number of feet equal to 5 × your Intelligence modifier (minimum 5 feet).

The Talisman of the Sphere allows you to

  • double your proficiency bonus on the check
  • on a turn in which you have already the control of the Sphere, you can levitate it 10 ft plus a number of additional feet equal to 10 × your Intelligence modifier.

This last point overcomes the rule for moving the sphere: it means that you can double the movement, 10ft instead 5ft multiplied by 1+(INT mod). Nowhere it is stated that you can move it in more than one direction.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ It seems like you are not reading the second part right (the sentence starting "In addition, ..."). That reads to me as a separate action, not a replacement of the action available to anyone within 60' of the sphere. If it's a separate action, there is nothing preventing a player from moving a sphere in 2 straight-line directions. \$\endgroup\$
    – order
    Dec 2, 2021 at 14:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ @order The second part is in addition to doubling the proficiency bonus: it is the second benefits given by this magic item, not in addition to the property of the SoA. As explained above, it augments the amount of movement of the SoA. \$\endgroup\$
    – Eddymage
    Dec 2, 2021 at 15:08
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Yes, but not on the turn you gain control

Let's start with gaining control:

Without the talisman you take control in one of 2 ways:

you can use an action to make a DC 25 Intelligence (Arcana) check

or

you make an Intelligence (Arcana) check contested by the other creature's Intelligence (Arcana) check

This is improved by the talisman because:

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

So the talisman helps you gain control.

However the only reference to what happens when you gain control is on the sphere itself:

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)

What happens once you have control?

The talisman gives you an additional option, which is (emphasis is mine):

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

So you take control of the sphere and get limited movement when you do so, but once in control the talisman gives effectively perfect control.

It is noticeable that the talisman does not refer to moving it in a single direction and I do not believe that is an accident. If all it did was let you increase the movement distance it would say something like "you increase the distance you can move to sphere to ..." but it doesn't.

This makes sense thematically too as you are no longer forcing your raw will on the sphere but have a proper link to it via the talisman, getting fine control as a result makes sense. I always imagine a lich using a sphere of annihilation, but imagining them slowly moving it back and forth and then going "grr I need to spend time developing an amulet to let me move it slightly faster" doesn't sit right. Even if the amulet was available at the general store it would waste more time going shopping than it would ever save even in a lich's (un)lifespan!

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