Whenever a character who doesn’t have the Orb of Golden Death initiates a conversation with the Old Crone, the Old Crone promises the pillar of platinum as an incentive to leave her be. She even offers to enchant it to be light as a feather so that it can be carried out. A character with a high enough Sense Motive skill can sense she’s up to something. Notice however that there’s a Silver Throne behind the Old Crone that you can click onto.
Accepting her offer leads to conflict in any event, so you may as well refuse her. Once the Old Crone disappears, the party member has a few moments to grab the gems in the Silver Throne. These gems are apparently what allows for Zuggtmoy’s presence within the Prime Material Plane. By grabbing them, the party banishes Zuggtmoy back to the Abyss, and the game now comes to an end. If the party takes too long, Zuggtmoy will appear in her true form, and battle begins.
If the character holding the Orb of Golden Death initiates the conversation, Zuggtmoy tries to trick the party into giving it to her. Considering that you could abuse the powers of the Orb to pretty much run over everything hitherto, you have to think giving it to HER has to be a bad idea. Right? Once your character refuses, Zuggtmoy will attempt to control that character’s mind through the Orb. The character must make a Will saving throw to avoid losing control. If the character fails, the party has to contend with both Zuggtmoy and the enthralled character. If the character succeeds, combat proceeds normally.
The official walkthrough indicates that a character with high enough scores in both Intelligence and Wisdom can enter into a battle of wills with Zuggtmoy. The winner enslaves the other. My attempts at testing this out didn’t get anywhere. I suspect that a character needs 24 in both Intelligence and Wisdom by virtue of a Headband of Intellect +6 and an Amulet of Wisdom. If you succeed, you get a separate ending.
First, let me give you a rundown of what Zuggtmoy is capable of. She can summon several Fungi or Tanar'ri from the Abyss approximately every 3 or 4 rounds. The Fungi present several problems, like poisonous attacks and a Melf’s Acid Arrow effect from afar. She’ll initiate an Aura of Fear early in combat, attempting to sow division in the party. She can use Dispel Magic repeatedly. Her physical attacks will score some hefty damage. Not only that, but they come at a range that far exceeds what you’ve seen in the game thus far. There doesn’t seem to be any limit on the number of Attacks of Opportunity she can make each round. This means that simply approaching her means facing up to the assault. A frequent tactic of hers is to try and tie down characters with summoned creatures, and then use the Improved Trip feat on them from afar. She can also augment her own prowess with spells like Displacement.
PLAYER TIP: Nic writes: "Just finished the game and I found out that Zuggtmoy summons new fungus creatures only once all are gone. It was quite easy to trap one creature with an Otiluke's Resilient Sphere spell. That way the bothersome creatures were out of the way to focus all attacks on Zuggtmoy alone."
With the Golden Orb of Death, the party has the option of summoning the demons to their aid. The Balor and the Glabrezu present the best options, since the Vrock and the Hezrou tend to use spell-like powers that don’t discriminate between Zuggtmoy and their summoners. Between yourselves and the party members, you should be able to pound her into oblivion.
Any time that Zuggtmoy is “Near Death” and it is her turn in the combat round, she’ll beg for the party’s mercy and offer to surrender. Whether or not you accept is up to you. If you do accept, you’ll be taken to a separate ending.
This is my preferred ending, seeing as I’ve been playing a good party. It seems more behooving of the party to seek the destruction of an artifact of evil than to use that artifact and risk corruption, ala Sauron’s One Ring. All the more so with a Paladin in my party.
First the party takes the Orb of Golden Death back to Hommlet. The party pays a visit to Rufus’ Tower at #15 in Hommlet. The party speaks to his apprentice, Prishella, just to his right. She outlines what the party needs; a Masterwork Maul, a Scroll of Fireball, a Scroll of Gust of Wind, and Holy Water. Once Prishella destroys the Orb, she tells you that unless Zuggtmoy is killed with 4 days, she will simply be banished to the Abyss and able to return soon. On that note, the party makes straight for her Sanctuary.
Maximum preparation again is obviously the key. Especially Stoneskins and Haste. Whenever she summons Fungi or demons, it is often a good idea to eliminate them as quickly as you can. While they aren’t individually all that powerful (the Fungi at least), the annoyances they present can add up over the long haul. The Fungi are often summoned in clusters around the party. In this regard, Lanatir makes deft use of the Wand of Chain Lightning. Once she’s isolated, it’s a matter of flanking her and cutting her to ribbons. Note that only slashing weapons of at least +3 enchantment seem to cause any real damage.
The end. What that end is though depends on what you did throughout the game.