A wacky item included in NetHack by the DevTeam specifically to make reading unidentified scrolls a dangerous way to pass the time and an even-riskier-than-it-already-was way to try to escape from certain death. This is another one of those items that is inherently cursed -- that is, it's bad no matter how blessed it is.

Reading a cursed scroll of punishment will create a very heavy iron ball near you and chain you to it. If the scroll was uncursed, the ball isn't quite as heavy. A blessed scroll of punishment, as befits its paradoxical nature, has no effect other than not being the scroll you actually wanted.

This item is basically a scroll-ified version of a popular punishment handed down by the gods upon misbehaving or blasphemous players. The iron ball can be used as a weapon if you're desperate, but don't throw it if it's still chained to you (*ouch*) and don't try to go downstairs (*crunch*).