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The Orb of Sol
Posted on Wed, January 16, 2002 by Legate
PSmedger writes "The first in a series of pieces exploring additional material that was edited (for space reasons) from the two-part Death Knights of Oerth article (in Dragon Magazine #290 & #291). This article presents a great artifact of the forces of goodness and light.


The Orb of Sol
An Article in the Death Knights of Oerth series
By: Pluffet Smedger (psmedger@canonfire.com)
(Used with Permission. Do not repost without obtaining prior permission from the author.)


The Orb of Sol
According to legend, the origins of this ancient artifact predate the Great Migrations of prehistory. That the Orb was carried across the Flanaess by the Aerdi tribes a millenium ago is a certainty, for there are many contemporaneous accounts of its use in the halfway lands by such migrations-era luminaries as Orelon the Wan and the much revered high-priest Lothan (one is particularly drawn to the translated histories of Nezirdas of Rel Deven). Of the apocryphal period before the migrations, only fragments of narrative exist. It is believed that the Orb was a gift from the Gods to the heliotheocratic Oeridian peoples of central Oerik to inspire their defense against predatory neighboring tribes who worshipped daemons and other monstrous fiends. Many later legends connect its use to the priestess Johydee who reportedly used the powers of the Orb against the depraved enemies of the Aerdi tribes while they were scrambling to escape the all-engulfing wars of the Suel and Baklunish in the Far West. It was carried in battle against dark Ur-Flan necromancers and Suel Wizards alike before the founding of the Great Kingdom. Over the centuries, its appearances became increasing rare and its verity passed into legend. It has become such a powerful symbol of Aerdi unity that few realize today that it was an actual object, its true value and purpose now lost to the mists.

Its physical description is fairly uncomplicated, though remarkable in its own way. It is a perfect sphere of golden metal (approximately 5 inches in diameter) inlaid with subtle runes throughout its entire surface. Careful study of the runes reveals the markings to be Holy Words written in dozens of languages, including Ancient Suel, Old Oeridian, and the tongue of the Olman. The large majority of these runes are so obscure as to be utterly lost to translation. Some scholars have posited its origins as perhaps Pelorian. Others think it beyond the creation of any one god. It emits a soft yellow glow at rest, but shines fiercely when its powers are activated. It is depicted in this latter state in the heraldry of the kingdom, usually with undulating rays of power. The Orb of Sol is incredibly light, weighing only 5-10 pounds, leading many to suspect that it is hollow or contains some hidden compartment. Over the ages, however, no breach has ever been found on its surface.

Centuries of neglect by Aerdi rulers allowed the Orb to fall out of the public consciousness. Pagan beliefs in an all-powerful Sun Power gave way to a polytheism of more closely involved, practical, urban and societal gods. By the time of the creation of the Great Kingdom, the Orb of Sol had little more than symbolic value. In -24 CY, the Court Mage Schandor had the Orb secretly transported out of Rauxes to a resting place at the Temple of Lothan near Rel Deven which was then under the protection of House Cranden. There it remained under token watch for centuries. In 203 CY, it was recovered by the young St. Benedor (then chief among the Knight Protectors of the Great Kingdom) and used in his crusade against the newly sired Death Knights in the years following their creation. In 213 CY, after more than a decade in his possession, it is presumed that St. Benedor lost the Orb in a great battle against the villainous Lord Kargoth. Neither one is thought to have recovered it since, though various rumors have emerged over the centuries. The valorous saint was permanently blinded by the battle, though the Lord of the Death Knights was himself banished from the prime material plane for a time. St. Benedor was rumoured to have rediscovered the location of the Orb of Sol in 504 CY, but these reports also reached the other Death Knights and a chase between these fiends and the Valrous Knight ensued. No one is thought to have recovered the Orb and St. Benedor has not been sighted in the Flanaess since. It is rumored that the Orb passed into Almor some years ago under the protection of the Prelate, but if so, it likely remains buried under the ruins of Chathold. The Death Knights continue to search for the object they believe will end their everlasting curse, for it was the Orb which burned them and left them low to the mercies of the beast, Demogorgon.

The reported ambient powers of the Orb work at all times, but to activate its special abilities requires the knowledge to decipher its runes as well as great wisdom (equal to or greater than 16). The Orb will scald any inherently evil being in direct contact with the sphere (to the tune of 1d6+6 damage per round). It is often hot to the touch, regardless. Some of the known and reputed powers of the Orb of Sol include (most are activated through invocation of combinations of the holy words written on the sphere):

Continuous Light 5' radius (permanent).
Protection from Evil 10' radius (permanent).
Negative Energy Protection (permanent).
Turn Undead as a 20th level priest.
Holy Aura as a 20th level priest.
Holy Word as a 20th level priest.
Power Words (all) as a 20th level priest.
Prismatic Spray (Golden) 60 points of positive energy damage (double against undead).
Miracle as a 20th level priest.

According to the legends, prolonged exposure to the Orb can have many deleterious effects, such as random aging, powerful geas, and loss of sight. St. Benedor was believed to be greatly strengthened by its effects, but also paid many prices for the use of its power.

"
 
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Re: The Orb of Sol (Score: 1)
by Scottenkainen on Fri, June 21, 2002
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Though I didn't think Oerth needed yet another artifact this powerful, the write-up is particularly useful to me for its NPC and location (a temple) in and near Rel Deven. Having a picture of the artifact is a nice touch, too. Hopefully, it would not take long to convert its powers to a better system than 3E.



Re: The Orb of Sol (Score: 1)
by Abysslin on Tue, February 03, 2004
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I concur, Scott.



Re: The Orb of Sol (Score: 1)
by Tzelios (b_steelio@hotmail.com) on Wed, May 19, 2004
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Really good!



Re: The Orb of Sol (Score: 1)
by Dethand (dethand@triton.net) on Fri, October 22, 2004
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Well while the first two comments may be disparaging I find not only the background but the abilities well put togather to make an exciting artifact and a workable game tool, which is what artifacts are for in the first place. But more to the point, what factions are the 'all-powerful Sun Power' composed of? Isnt that Pelor? ..Just thoughts.



Great Article. (Score: 1)
by Greyson on Sun, November 14, 2004
(User Info | Send a Message) http://www.discoverygaming.com
I like this article a lot. While I will agree with others that an item of this magnitude is superfulous, it has an interesting story - and that's what I enjoyed about this article.

Regarding Dethand's question - the "Sun Power" is probably Pholtus. Pelor is a Flannish deity, and it's doubtful that Oeridians had knowledge of him. So, it is most probably Pholtus. But the Power associated with the Orb of Sol is probably left obscure so individuals can tailor the Orb to their individual campaigns.



Re: The Orb of Sol (Score: 1)
by geeze on Fri, May 08, 2009
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ty so much for making this i will be using it in my epic lvl game. I have a LG pelorian paladin questing to become a saint, so far his list is to find saint benedor, find the orb of sol, destroy the death knights of the old kingdom and bring low the scarlet brotherhood. lol finding this article makes me have to write up one  less thing he was talking about.



 gary might be gone but mine shall be greyhawk to the end!



PS the rest of the party is a NG tiefling gatecrasher <dalt>, a human desertman CG psionic barb (home prestige class) <kord>, and N a master transmog <fharlagan> and there all like 15th to 19th lvl racial adjusts and not showing up for game makes the diff!




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