A crystal ball is a magic device that allows its user to see things that normal sight cannot. These enchanted spheres have long been a staple of divination magic, as well as a means of remotely viewing distant locations.
Crystal balls as a means of divination were not unknown in old Sosaria, as evidenced from pictures that show their use by Oracles of older times. However, these spheres only came into widespread usage during the time of Ultima V. Using one during that time would enable one to see their surroundings in much the same way as using a peer gem. They had to be employed with caution, however, as careless use could result in a "death vision", seriously harming the viewer in the process.
At the time of Ultima VI, crystal balls were still common. Nystul owned one, and presumedly used it to foresee the Avatar's peril at the hand of the gargoyles. Penumbra in Moonglow also was using a crystal ball to divine the future, revealing events that would eventually come to pass. The Avatar's use of a crystal ball during this time would result in a magical scout being created at coordinates of choice, which could be used for a limited time to scout the surroundings.
In Ultima Underworld, crystal balls sometimes enabled the Avatar to see the future. One in particular revealed an escape route that Garamon had prepared in the realm of the Slasher. The villain Tyball had created a special crystal ball that absorbed all mana on the seventh level, which eventually had to be destroyed by a chunk of orb rock.
In Ultima VII, only the gypsy Margareta still seemed to be able to use a crystal ball to divine the future, while those encountered by the Avatar were only capable of showing a fixed location. A noteworthy exception was the crystal ball made by Alagner, which acted as a recording device, allowing him to view the events of his past. After Alagner's murder, the Avatar used it to reveal the murderer's identity.
Crystal balls were nearly unknown on the Serpent Isle in Ultima VII Part Two. Those of true importance belonged to Harnna in Monitor, which, after Cantra's disappearance, revealed what had happened to the girl; the crystal ball of Fedabiblio of Moonshade, showed the fate of Edrin after getting the conclusions from Gustacio's experiments.
Crystal balls saw a surge in popularity in Ultima IX, and were used to scout out faraway places. The Blackrock Crystal Ball was found in the possession of the lich Khelereth, deep within the dungeon Covetous, and was the only one known to actually show possible future events.
- The Guardian prevents the Avatar from using some crystal balls in Ultima VII. Why he does so is unknown.
- The abundance of crystal balls in Ultima IX creates a case of fridge logic. Everyone acts as if they have no idea of the Guardian's presence, yet the crystal balls in the castle clearly show his fortress.