Using the Estimating Magic Item Gold Piece Values table on page 285 of the DMG, how do you accurately price a portable hole on page 264 of the DMG. I am trying to find the accurate pricing formula for a standard portable hole so that I can then just increase the caster level of the item. Currently, a portable hole has plane shift that is a Sor/Wiz Spell of 7th level or a cleric spell of 5th level and a caster level of 12.

I am assuming that they used the level of the creator cut it in half to get the 6-foot diameter of the portable hole; so if you made the hole when at 20th level it would then make the diameter of the hole 10 feet.

What I am trying to figure out truly is a price for the increased manifester level of the same item.


2 Answers 2


The portable hole doesn't obey the table

The portable hole (DMG 264) (20,000 gp; 0 lbs.) doesn't adhere to the formulas on Table 7–33: Estimating Magic Item Gold Piece Values (285). The hole is a nonstandard legacy magic item dating back to at least the Dungeon Master's Guide (1977) for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, wherein, for comparison, either the hole's finder could sell it for 50,000 gp and earn an equal number experience points or the hole's finder could keep it and earn 5,000 experience points.

How Dungeons and Dragons, Third Edition arrived at its 14,000 gp price and the 3.5 revision at its 20,000 gp price is a mystery. (However, I suspect in the former case the price was just set arbitrarily, but in the latter that price was picked because it's conveniently twice the price of the biggest bag of holding (DMG 248) (10,000 gp; 60 lbs.). This is pure speculation, though.)

In each of these three editions plus the one revision a portable hole is 6 ft. in diameter.

Creating a portable hole

Caster level usually isn't a prerequisite for the creation of many magic items, and caster level actually isn't a prerequisite for the creation of a portable hole. (See also answers to this question for a more detailed analysis.) So, while the typical portable hole is created at caster level 12, a portable hole can be created at a minimum caster level of 9 by a typical cleric, at a minimum caster level of 14 by a typical sorcerer, or at a minimum caster level of 13 by a typical wizard, each of whom use the 5th-level Clr spell and 7th-level Sor/Wiz spell plane shift [conj] (PH 262) to create the portable hole.

There's no reason a portable hole can't be made at caster level 9 by a cleric and such a hole will duplicate the effects of a portable hole created at caster level 20 by a sorcerer—except, for example, the sorcerer's portable hole will be harder to suppress for 1d4 rounds with an effect like the 3rd-level Sor/Wiz spell dispel magic [abjur] (PH 223). These decreases and increases in caster level neither arbitrarily change the hole's effect nor the hole's price! (That is, a creator that makes his own portable hole at caster level 20 simply benefits from having made the hole himself rather than buying an off-the-rack hole that was created at caster level 12.)

Creating a bigger portable hole

To create a bigger portable hole, a comparison can be made to the other extradimensional storage space that's like a portable hole, the relic the enveloping pit (Magic Item Compendium 159) (3,600 gp; 0 lbs.). However, the combination of the pit's 50-ft. depth, its relic power, and limited functionality in the hands of a misaligned creature probably—in this DM's opinion—shouldn't've resulted in a pit receiving a weird 82% discount over the price of a typical portable hole that subsequently makes the pit the best storage device for its price in the game… if the owner is the correct alignment and owns a really long ladder.

In other words, ask the DM how to create an even bigger portable hole. This DM and player suspects that were bigger holes easily and inexpensively created, rules for creating them would be printed somewhere, but I'm unaware of a bigger hole (besides the pit, of course) in the whole of the D&D 3e corpus. With the legacy issues the hole has1 and a lack of reasonable items with which to compare bigger holes to, a creator may have to content himself with multiple holes instead of one big hole.

1 The 4-volume Encyclopedia Magica for AD&D 2e that compiles every magic item published for the various D&D versions since the game's inception until 1994 and that has multiple entries for almost everything has in volume 3 but the lone entry for portable hole.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Anonymous User Who Disputes the Price of the Enveloping Pit: Newer books often make changes to older books; see this question for how that works. CD was released before MIC so changes made to CD material by the MIC are accurate, and the pit is untouched by MIC errata. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 9, 2020 at 15:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ I feel like the headline is misleading—to me it suggests that the table suggests one price, but the hole ignores it (certainly something that can and does happen). But it would be more accurate to say that the table doesn’t cover the hole at all. The portable hole certainly doesn’t replicate the effect of plane shift. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Jul 31, 2021 at 14:41

It's not replicating a spell...

The portable hole doesn't follow the rules of the estimating gold piece values table. Its price is significantly too low for it to be replicating plane shift. This is because it doesn't replicate plane shift, but merely produces an effect which the designers chose to have represented by having plane shift as a prerequisite. The caster level is mostly there to show its power level.

@Ols's answer references its comparison to the bags of holding, which is a good idea. However, you can merely refer to the portable hole itself. If you intend to increase its volume by ~67%, and its caster level to 20, just consider how much improved value that offers and price it accordingly. If you agree that the volume increase is a direct increase to the price, then price it at 33,333gp.

"There is ...another..."


However, compare it to the much cheaper (3600gp) enveloping pit relic item (Magic Item Compendium p.159), which, with its 20th caster level, for lawful neutral, lawful evil and neutral evil creatures (and those who can reliably make a DC 30 Use Magic Device skill check to pretend to be lawful or evil) can have an opening 1-10' wide and is 50' deep. This is ~833% better in volume than the portable hole, which it functions as by default (and it still has its relic power on top of this). It has rules on how big the opening can be when laid upon the ground, and it may be intended that it only be placed upon the ground, unlike the portable hole, but that's not explicit, so up to the DM to decide.

This item is, in fact what some players assume is the replacement for the portable hole, due to its increased flavor and utility, along with cheaper price-tag. The portable hole's pricing is likely a holdover from earlier editions when it was quite expensive, possibly due to the fact that wealth by level was likely to be in the hundreds of thousands or millions long before level 201.

1: In D&D, AD&D, and optionally in AD&D 2e, each gold piece a character collected as treasure and brought back to civilization was also an experience point. In the two earlier editions, it was explicitly expected that the vast majority of a character's experience points actually came from treasure rather than from defeating monsters. XP tables usually topped out at ~2.5 to 3 million, and the fighter table hit 1 million by level 12. Most of which XP was expected to be from treasure that might be either hoarded like Sigurd or merely passed through the adventurer's hands like so much water.

  • \$\begingroup\$ That is preferable. \$\endgroup\$
    – GMJoe
    Commented Jun 25, 2017 at 21:19

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