Bag of holding

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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 and concepts like it have appeared in other media.

Description[edit]

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 or a pocket dimension, making the space larger inside than it is outside. Each bag of holding 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.[1]

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".[1]

Symbolism[edit]

The bag of holding is an iconic magic item in Dungeons & Dragons. In terms of game mechanics, it is coveted by players because it mitigates encumbrance (the carrying capacity of a player character). However, a number of academics have noted that the bag of holding also has symbolic meaning and uses.[2] Benjamin Woo uses the Bag of Holding as a way of understanding white privilege: "Like the Bag of Holding--a kind of magical 'knapsack' in Dungeons & Dragons and other fantasy games--white privilege is much bigger than it appears from the outside."[3]

Variants[edit]

Other magical bags similar to the bags of holding include:

  • A lesser bag of holding reduces only part of the weight of its contents, usually between 10% and 50%.
  • The bag of devouring seems like a normal bag of holding, but is actually the feeding orifice of an extra-dimensional creature that may eat the user when they reach inside.
  • The 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.[4]
  • Heward's handy haversack is the size of a normal backpack and weighs five pounds regardless of the contents. 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.[1]

Interaction with other magical items[edit]

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.[1]

In other games and media[edit]

Zork[edit]

Historians have noted that the boat in the computer game Zork functioned as a Bag of Holding: "The boat, due to the details of its implementation, turned into a 'bag of holding': players could put practically anything into it and carry it around, even if the weight of the contents far exceeded what a player was allowed to carry."[5]

Discworld[edit]

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."[6] To ask what "P" is, is "the wrong sort of question."[6]

8-bit Theater[edit]

One 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.[7]

See also[edit]

  • Portable hole
  • TARDIS
  • The Luggage

Notes[edit]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Cook, Monte; Williams, Skip; Tweet, Jonathan (2003). Dungeon Master's Guide v.3.5. Renton, Wash.: Wizards of the Coast. p. 248. ISBN 0786928891. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  2. Mizer, Nicholas J.,. Tabletop role-playing games and the experience of imagined worlds. Cham, Switzerland. ISBN 978-3-030-29127-3. OCLC 1129162802.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link) Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  3. The Routledge companion to media fandom. Click, Melissa A., 1971-, Scott, Suzanne, 1979-. New York, NY. ISBN 978-1-138-63892-1. OCLC 1013876252. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  4. Cook, Monte; Williams, Skip; Tweet, Jonathan (2003). Dungeon Master's Guide v.3.5. Renton, Wash.: Wizards of the Coast. p. 259. ISBN 0786928891. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  5. Anderson, T., & Galley, S. (1985). The history of Zork. The New Zork Times, 4(1-3).
  6. 6.0 6.1 Terry Pratchett (2007). Making Money. Doubleday. p. 194. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  7. http://www.giantitp.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-185305.html

References[edit]

  • 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, Dave Arneson. Monsters & Treasure (TSR, 1974).
  • 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 [1]


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