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I have a player whose PC owns a bag of holding, and as part of a plan, has decided to hide in it for an ambush. According to the DMG, there is about 10 minutes of air inside the bag. The player know this, and has decided to keep the bag 'partially open', so there is a sort of vent to the outside world. For the sake of this question, if the bag is left with the flap open, does a living creature still have to worry about suffocation?

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There are 10 minutes of air, regardless of whether the flap is open or not.

Bag of Holding (DMG p153-154)

... Breathing creatures inside the bag can survive up to a number of minutes equal to 10 divided by the number of creatures (minimum 1 minute), after which time they begin to suffocate. ...

Magic items do exactly what they say in their descriptions and nothing else. There is nothing mentioned about leaving a flap open. You should not assume that air can flow freely across the dimensional portal in the bag's opening. This is of course subject to your DM's ruling on the matter.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Feb 2 '18 at 22:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ So how would the 10 minutes of air refill? or is it that after somebody breaths out the 10 minutes of air then the air is depleted forever? \$\endgroup\$ – Nuloen The Seeker Aug 1 '18 at 17:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ The rules do not specify. The DM will have to fill in the blanks on how this works. If it matters, it would be reasonable for the DM to define where the air comes from and how it can be replenished. \$\endgroup\$ – Nick Brown Aug 1 '18 at 21:05
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What you're really asking is if air flows freely across the dimensional portal that is the bag's mouth. Sounds like it's up to DM interpretation, but the rules as written seem to suggest that air does NOT flow freely.

Here are related questions that might help you (or your DM) decide: Do objects have to be placed in the bag by an intelligent agent (e.g. a person)? If I opened the bag and tossed it in a river, would the river water flow into the bag, or does the bag have to be "activated" for something to enter it? (and can something enter it in a continuous flow?) How about an acorn falling from a tree right into the open bag? Now... is there a difference between a solid object and air -- such as there being a certain threshold of mass/solidity to cross the portal unaided? If you're in the bag, can you see out? (Why or why not?)

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    \$\begingroup\$ For historical reference: Older versions of D&D listed the bag of holding as always appearing empty. If you placed something into it, that thing vanished. If you wanted to take something out, you had to think of what you wanted and put your hand in the bag...that thing would appear in your hand. If you didn't know what was in the bag, the only way to find out was to turn the bag inside out and expel all of its contents for manual inspection. In this case, the 'portal' would only open when something was going in or out of the extradimensional space, not when the flap is opened. \$\endgroup\$ – guildsbounty Feb 2 '18 at 22:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ Based on that, it operates more like teleportation than a portal that remains open. \$\endgroup\$ – Stephen R Feb 2 '18 at 23:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ I understand this adheres to rules as written, but what if you have someone go inside the bag of holding for 9 minutes, then leave for an hour, then go back inside. Do they then have 1 minute of breathing left, or 10 again? Whether the air is finite or resets would be a good indication of RAI. \$\endgroup\$ – Tyler S. Loeper Jun 6 '18 at 14:10
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Yes, rationally, if you leave the bag open (or give the guy inside a snorkel to stick out of the opening and breathe), he won't suffocate. There's no rule that says the game must ignore basic sense in favor of irrational interpretations of the rules.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Feb 2 '18 at 22:14
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I have always thought of a Bag of Holding as an activated device, and the portal does not transmit anything unless it is "willed to". Thus an inanimate object, gas, liquid, etc. would not pass without being assisted by a will as well as the physical act. Under water it would just get wet externally, unless you actively scooped the water in. I never accepted that it could be opened from inside.

Unless you left it open, or it was somehow otherwise physically opened before you ran out of air, you would die. I read that as 10 min plus your normal process of suffocation (health, stamina, etc.).

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I would say that no, you don't suffocate, because how else would the air be replenished? Otherwise, it would only ever hold 10 minutes of air minus whatever was used and it would make sense for the air to be taken from the open surroundings.

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    \$\begingroup\$ "By magic" is the most obvious answer ... and from a physics perspective, any time things were moved in or out of the bag ... but this answer would be a bit better if you support your position with some game rules, rulings, or game mechanics points. Welcome to RPG.SE. Please take the tour and visit the help center to get a feel for how this Q&A site is different from a discussion forum .We hope you'll browse some of the other questions and answers on the site for RPG's that interest you. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Feb 2 '18 at 18:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ "Yes you would" … suffocate, or not suffocate? This seems mismatched to the question (as well as lacking some rules citations, as KorvinStarmast mentioned). \$\endgroup\$ – user17995 Feb 2 '18 at 18:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ @TuggyNE I would say that you do not suffocate because if there is no way for the air to be replenished then it would only ever hold 10 minutes of air minus whatever was used and it would make sense for the air to be taken from the open surroundings \$\endgroup\$ – Sebastian Feb 2 '18 at 18:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ Sebastian please take what you wrote in your reply to @TuggyNE and edit it into your answer. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Feb 2 '18 at 21:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ A good question is, is the air ever replenished? If you breathe 10 minutes of air maybe the bag is now forever devoid of breathable air? \$\endgroup\$ – Tyler S. Loeper Jun 6 '18 at 14:12

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