The Orb of the Moons is an ancient artifact of unknown origin. The power of the orb lies in its ability to create a red moongate, which can enable transport to places on the same world, to other worlds, and to other times. The placement of the orb relative to the caster is key to determining where the gate will lead. Travel to other worlds is only possible with much experience; therefore, in Britannia the orb is most often used only for travelling to specific locations throughout the land.
The Orb of the Moons was first encountered Ultima V, left behind by Lord British in his Sandalwood Box. The Avatar returned it to its rightful owner, as it was the only way for Lord British, the Avatar, and the companions to escape from Dungeon Doom. Lord British implied that the orb had been in his possession for some time by this point.
Two more orbs featured in Ultima VI. The second appeared in the circle of stones behind the Avatar's house on Earth, as part of a trap devised by the gargoyles to ensnare the False Prophet. After explanations on its workings from Lord British, the Avatar employed it for efficient travel around Britannia. Since the hero was not skilled at using the orb, departing the land was not possible. Later, after the Codex was sent to the Ethereal Void, a red moongate heralding the appearance of Lord Draxinusom revealed the gargoyle king also possessed an orb.
In Martian Dreams, the Avatar followed specific instructions in order to use the Orb of the Moons to travel backwards in time.
In Ultima VII, the Avatar neglected to take the Orb of the Moons to Britannia, thus Lord British lent the hero his own. Disturbances from the Sphere Generator sometimes made its use unpredictable, with the summoned moongates often repelling the Avatar. With the destruction of the Sphere Generator, the orbs ceased to function and Lord Draxinusom's even exploded.
The Orb of the Moons reappeared in Ultima IX, wherein it was perfectly spherical and functioned in a different manner. Instead of being able to form a moongate anywhere, it could only be used at a circle of stones to teleport the Avatar to a different circle, providing the mantra of the corresponding city was spoken and its adjacent Shrine had been cleansed.
- While never mentioned in the games themselves, Richard Garriott raised the concept of the Orb of the Moons, as well as the moonstones, being formed out of blackrock in his interview with Caroline Spector for Ultima: The Avatar Adventures.
- With the appearance of the orb, the gate travel spell lost its usefulness, since the orb functions the same way -- even better -- without needing mana or reagents. It is useless in Ultima VI, disappearing afterwards, and is only seen once in Ultima Underworld II.
- A "real" Orb of the Moons trinket was shipped with every Ultima VI when it was first sold.
- See Orb of the Moons Locations for how to use the orb.