A bag of holding
, in the Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game
, is a popular magical item capable of containing objects larger than its own size. Since its introduction, it has been used in many other roleplaying games.
A bag of holding appears to be a common cloth sack
of about 2 by 4 feet (0.6 by 1.2 m) in size. It opens into a nondimensional space (similar to magic satchel
) or a pocket dimension, making its inside larger than its outside. Each bag always weighs the same amount, between 15 and 60 pounds (7 and 27 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 (0.8 to 7 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 non-space.
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 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 as a result of a failed spell in the process of creating a bag of holding or purposefully (especially in the case of a bag of devouring).
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 magazine
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, and metals and gems stored in the bag will 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 result in 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 current edition of the game and would allow one to store an unlimited amount of items by storing bags of holding within bags of holding.
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
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.
In the roguelike
video game NetHack
, a bag of holding has slightly different properties:
- There is no limit on the amount of material 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 may be avoided.
In the first-person shooter
video game Heretic
, a bag of holding is a collectible item
that permanently doubles the player's ammunition capacity.
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 man once founded a utopian village inside his Bag of Holding, and that village continues to thrive to this day." Lesser bags of holding also exist both in the original game and in the sequel which reduce the weight of the contained items by some percentage.
In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
, Hermione Granger
charms her small handbag to be functionally similar to a Bag of Holding, using it to transport a large assortment of equipment and items. (Jostling the bag also jostles its contents, a fact that is played for comedy a few times.)
In Terry Pratchett
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 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.
- Cook, David. Dungeon Master's Guide (TSR, 1989).
- Cook, Monte, Skip Williams, and Jonathan Tweet. Dungeon Master's Guide (Wizards of the Coast, 2000).
- Gygax, Gary. Dungeon Master's Guide (TSR, 1979).
- Haw, Kevin. "The Ecology of the Bag of Devouring." Dragon #271 (Paizo Publishing, 2000).
- Williams, Skip. "Rules of the Game: Carrying Things (Part Three)" (Wizards of the Coast, 2005). Available online