In my DnD 4e group, they will stumble upon a Sphere of Annihilation (Tomb of Horrors) in the near future, they just don't know it yet - unless the wizard calls for an Arcana check. Now I, the DM, have warned them upfront that the gloves are off (from two session ago), so I am assuming the worst and that someone is going to stick an arm in - not necessarily their own.

Since the 4e version is too friendly for my taste I have opted for the 3.x version, aka you jump in = you die

The question is: What happens if someone just sticks their arm in, rather than jumping in outright.

Do I call instant death via being sucked in/disintegration? Do they lose said limb and similar damage as the Eye of Vecna ritual? The actual effect of the SoA isn't really described, which leaves a lot open to the DM's interpretation, which places me in a bind as whether to PK or grievously maim.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Are you asking us to house rule your imported 3.5 version in to 4e? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 14, 2015 at 16:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ I've dropped the 6d6+10, 15 ongoing damage for 'if you jump in, you die'. I'm just not sure where the SoA stands on 'Player A thrusts his hand into the darkness' \$\endgroup\$
    – Rodhan
    Commented Jan 14, 2015 at 16:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ 4e basically tends to avoid those type of story driven mechanical situations as much as possible. Save or Die effects dont exists for a reason because save rolls happen after an effect applies to a target vs. how earlier editions (and 5e) had save rolls to avoid damage/affects instead of targeting a defense. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 14, 2015 at 16:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie I rolled back your edit; knowledge/mastery/expertise in 4e is worthless to this question, and the fact that it will be used in a 4e game is irrelevant because the question is literally "I don't like the new one; how did it use to work?" 4e's presence in this question is just background, not what the question is actually about. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Jan 14, 2015 at 21:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan Hm. The "actually about" principle is persuasive. If I look at it that way, the question really doesn't need to mention 4e in the slightest, actually. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 14, 2015 at 23:31

3 Answers 3


It's a sphere of annihilation. It annihilates. If they touch it, they're gone.

You can house rule it any way you'd like, but historically that's how it works.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I can't help but ponder the possible hand of Daleks in its design... \$\endgroup\$
    – Nigralbus
    Commented Jan 14, 2015 at 16:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ How many people actually got annihilated by a sphere of annihilation in history? ;) \$\endgroup\$
    – Theik
    Commented Jan 14, 2015 at 18:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ So what happens to "an atmosphere" or "an ecosystem" or "a universe" that comes into contact with a sphere of annihilation? \$\endgroup\$
    – Lexible
    Commented Jan 15, 2015 at 0:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Lexible Those, for the most part, aren't modeled in D&D. I do like to imagine that it floats ever so slightly above the ground. Try not to drop one in an ocean… \$\endgroup\$
    – okeefe
    Commented Jan 15, 2015 at 1:16

Since this is essentially now an item that you made yourself, the answer to what happens logically can also only be "Whatever you want to happen."

There are no rules in 4e for losing limbs or such things, and there are no Save vs Death effects either, so you're pretty deep in house rule territory already.

  • \$\begingroup\$ The loss of limb (be it an arm) would be worked out as damage - similar to the eye of Vecna ritual - and the character being limited to one handed weapons. \$\endgroup\$
    – Rodhan
    Commented Jan 14, 2015 at 16:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ For how long? Death isn't permanent in d&d, limb loss should be even less so, even if it requires some form of restoration ritual to be performed. \$\endgroup\$
    – webbcode
    Commented Jan 14, 2015 at 18:47

It sounds like your trying to hybrid the Sphere of Annihilation. Seeing as the 4e mechanics clash with the 3.x mechanics and your choice for PK upon jumping in, it is truly up to DMD. For balance purposes, relating to 4e approach, I would go with Erik's source: Touching resulting being pulled in. This way, should they stick an item in to test the depths first, as paranoid adventurers should, then the items destruction should be a fair warning and still hold true to the ToH.


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