Bag of holding
A bag of holding is a fictional magical item in the Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game, capable of containing objects larger than its own size. Since its introduction, it has appeared in other roleplaying games and media.
- 1 Description
- 2 Variants
- 3 Cursed bags
- 4 Interaction with other magical items
- 5 Bags of holding in other games and media
- 6 See also
- 7 Notes
- 8 References
A bag of holding appears to be a common cloth sack of about 2 by 4 feet (0.61 by 1.22 m) in size. It opens into a nondimensional space (similar to a magic satchel) or a pocket dimension, making the space larger inside than it is outside. Each bag always weighs the same amount, between 15 and 60 pounds (6.8 and 27.2 kg), regardless of what is put into it. It can store a combined weight of up to forty times its own weight, and a combined volume of 30 to 250 cubic feet (0.85 to 7.08 m3). A living creature put in a bag of holding will suffocate after about 10 minutes.
If a bag of holding is overloaded, or if a sharp object pierces it (from outside or inside), the bag will rupture and be ruined, the contents lost forever in "nilspace".
Other magical bags similar to the bags of holding include:
- lesser bags of holding: these bags reduce only part of the weight within them, usually between 10% and 50%.
- Bag of tricks: by reaching into this bag, the bearer can pull out some type of animal, such as rabbits, weasels, rats, penguins and bats, or even wolves, bears, horses, or rhinos.
- Heward's handy haversack: this backpack always weighs five pounds and is always the size of a normal backpack. It has two small side pouches that, like a bag of holding, can hold two cubic feet, much more than normal, or 20 pounds of material, while the larger central portion can hold 8 cubic feet (0.23 m3) or 80 pounds. The advantage of the handy haversack is that any item placed inside will be "handy", that is, located on top when intentionally sought. For example, if one were to place a dagger inside the haversack and cover it with a load of paper, upon searching for the dagger it would magically appear above the paper.
Some bags outwardly indistinguishable from a bag of holding have highly undesirable qualities. They are created by spellcasters either purposefully (especially in the case of a bag of devouring), or as a result of a failed spell in the process of creating a bag of holding.
Bag of devouring
Essentially a bottomless pit in a bag, this bag appears to be a normal sack, like a bag of holding, and seems to be a bag of holding on closer inspection. However, the bag is a lure used by an extradimensional creature; it is one of its feeding orifices. Issue 271 of Dragon featured an article titled "The Ecology of a Bag of Devouring" that discussed the nature of such a creature.
Any substance of animal or vegetable matter put into the bag has a chance of being swallowed over time. Even a person reaching in to retrieve or place an item, after the initial time, has a chance of being completely dragged into the bag and swallowed. The bag of devouring will act as a bag of holding, but every hour it has an increasing chance of swallowing the contents. Any plants or animals swallowed by the bag in this way are transported to the creature's stomach, digested, and lost forever, while inedible items are swallowed and spat into another plane.
Bag of transmuting
This magical sack will perform as a bag of holding for 2–10 uses. At some point, however, the magical field will waver, causing precious metals and gems stored in the bag to be turned into common metals and worthless stones. Any magical items placed in the bag will become ordinary lead, glass, or wood as appropriate once the transmuting effects have begun.
Interaction with other magical items
In the physics of Dungeons & Dragons, putting a bag of holding inside a portable hole will cause a rift to be opened to the Astral Plane, and both items will be lost forever. If a portable hole is placed within a bag of holding, it instead opens a gate to the Astral Plane, sucking in every creature in a ten-foot radius, and destroying both the bag and hole. The contents of the bags are either scattered throughout the Astral Plane or destroyed. Placing bags of holding into one another (or within a Heward's handy haversack or vice-versa) has no adverse effects in the 4th edition of the game and would allow one to store an unlimited quantity of items (each bag of holding being limited in total weight capacity to roughly 40 additional bags, depending on the size of each).
In earlier editions of Dungeons & Dragons, putting one bag of holding inside another would have the same effect as placing a portable hole into a bag of holding. Interactions with portable holes had the effects listed above.
Bags of holding in other games and media
The Bagworld is the basis of especially capacious holding devices (e.g. the fanny pack of hefty capacity) in the Knights of the Dinner Table HackMaster roleplaying game (originally a fictionalized form of Dungeons & Dragons). Bagworld is another planet (possibly located on another plane of reality) that is accessed via bag devices, enabling characters to cache enormous amounts of materials. Bagworld possesses its own, apparently infinite breathable atmosphere, but no known native lifeforms; thus, a living creature placed inside is in no danger of suffocation, though death by starvation and/or dehydration is possible if the creature is not supplied with provisions. From the Bagworld point of view, there are a great many holes in the sky from which giants deposit and retrieve items (a creature or object that completely enters the bag device will shrink to Bagworld's scale once inside). If a bag device connected to Bagworld is placed inside another such device, the device placed inside is destroyed, and the contents of all remaining connected devices are "shuffled", with each device's contents moved to the accessible space of another (random) storage device.
- There is no limit on the amount of weight such a bag can hold.
- The bag does not have a constant weight; it varies with the items it holds.
- A cursed bag will be proportionally heavier than the items it contains.
- An uncursed or blessed bag will be proportionally lighter, with a blessed bag being much lighter.
- A bag will explode (destroying all contents) if a charged wand of cancellation, bag of tricks, or another bag of holding is placed inside; if said items are nested within a sufficient number of ordinary bags, adverse effects are less likely.
In the PC role-playing game Neverwinter Nights, any item placed in a Bag of Holding is made weightless, thus lightening the player's inventory. The item description mentions that "a halfling once founded a utopian village inside his Bag of Holding, and that village continues to thrive to this day." Lesser bags of holding which reduce the weight of the contained items by some percentage also exist, both in the original game and in the sequel.
In Terry Pratchett's Discworld novel Making Money, wizard Ponder Stibbons is placed in charge of the "Cabinet of Curiosity", which he describes as "a classic Bag of Holding but with n mouths, where n is the number of items in an eleven-dimensional universe which are not currently alive, not pink and can fit in a cubical drawer 14.14 inches (359 mm) on a side, divided by P." To ask what "P" is, is "the wrong sort of question." The Cabinet manifests as a "tree" of drawers within drawers within drawers, that open in an unfolding fractal pattern of iterations. Iteration one is a simple cabinet, but by the time of the novel they have managed to increase the number of drawers until the Cabinet fills a cathedral-sized room (actually a standard sized room - but the wizards increased the space by decreasing time; asking how is the wrong kind of question). Each drawer holds an apparently random object. If any objects are removed from the cabinet, it ceases to work, limiting its usefulness.
Also in Discworld is the Luggage, a variant of Heward's handy haversack. However, the Luggage has the added benefit that any clothes put in will come out pressed, folded and smelling faintly of lavender. Additionally, it will attack with murderous mindlessness anyone who threatens its owner by stomping on him/her/it/id with its hundreds of little feet. It is also possible that the Luggage will swallow an assailant, and it has been described as having rows of teeth like a shark, which can appear and disappear as needed. It also has command of a possibly infinite number of dimensions, thus anyone it swallows will disappear to a separate dimension from the clothes it carries. It has also been known to lure people into leaning into it by filling itself with gold and gems.
In Robert Heinlein's fantasy Glory Road book, a similar magic object - although not a bag, a fold box is a little black box 'about the size and shape of a portable typewriter', that can be opened again and again 'unfolding its sides and letting them down until it is the size of a small moving van' when folded back up it does not weigh more than a few pounds, even though tons of materials may be carried around in it.
The Thing Your Aunt Gave You Which You Don't Know What It Is
Though its appearance is never described, the Thing Your Aunt Gave You Which You Don't Know What It Is in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy computer game is a Bag of Holding that can hold any number of other items and never becomes too heavy to carry. Only one item you encounter in the game will not fit inside it. If dropped, the Thing mysteriously reappears in your possession several turns later.
A bag of holding is used to allow use of a universe destroying "Ice-9" spell (the enemy is thrown into the bag and the spell fired after them, destroying only the bag's pocket universe rather than the regular universe).
A later strip bears the odd title "I turned my bag of holding inside-out, wrapped it around me, and walked out through the dungeon walls", which is apparently a reference to either a comedy skit by Dead Alewives or a website parodying bad D&D ideas.
- "It all made sense, then. Why something as useful as a bag of holding would be left in the wizard's chest, empty and neglected. Why it had closed up, sealing me in." Issue 271, Dragon magazine, 'The Ecology of the Bag of Devouring' By Kevin Haw
- Terry Pratchett (2007). Making Money. Doubleday. p. 194.
- Terry Pratchett (1983). The Colour of Magic. Colin Smythe.
- Cook, David. Dungeon Master's Guide (TSR, 1989).
- Cook, Monte, Skip Williams, and Jonathan Tweet. Dungeon Master's Guide (Wizards of the Coast, 2000).
- Williams, Skip. "Rules of the Game: Carrying Things (Part Three)" (Wizards of the Coast, 2005). Available online