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One of the available infusions available to the Unearthed Arcana Artificer (2019) is called the Many-Handed Pouch, which links up to 5 pouches to the same extra-dimensional space (emphasis added):

The infused pouches all share one interdimensional space of the same capacity as a single pouch. Thus, reaching into any of the pouches allows access to the same storage space. A pouch operates as long as it is within 100 miles of another one of the pouches; the pouch is otherwise empty and won’t accept any contents.

At first glance, it seems like the clause in bold limits the magic of the pouches to a range of 100 miles. However, things are not quite so simple. If I were to infuse 4 pouches and then keep a pair for myself while giving the other pair to someone else, then every pouch will always be within 100 miles of another pouch, which seems to imply that every pouch will continue to function. (Other similar variations are possible as well, but this example demonstrates the principle.) Even if the other person were to travel to another plane, nothing in the wording seems to indicate that the pouches will stop working.

Hence, at any time, one of us can write a note and put it in the pouch, where the other one can find and read it. Compared to spells, this seems to be roughly on par with the 5th-level spell Dream when used for the purposes of communication. (For example, Dream doesn't work across planes, but can target anyone rather than just the holder of the other pair of pouches.) And that's before considering the non-communication uses of the infusion. A more direct comparison would be a pair of sending stones with unlimited uses.

When read in this way, it seems quite a bit more powerful than what should normally be available to a 4th-level character. It also seems like a non-standard use of the infusion to keep the pouches in pairs rather than handing out one pouch per person.

Is this an allowed use of this infusion as written, or have I missed something that would prevent it from working in this way?

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Strictly as written, your read of its abilities is correct.

The line about distance doesn't apply if two pairs of pouches are very far apart from each other.

With the distance clause, though we can make some well-educated guesses about the intended mechanics of the pouch:
The likely intention is that pouches must be near to other pouches (1), but can be chained (2)(3) - so having all five pouches precisely 100 miles apart could send a small item 400 miles instantly.

  1. pouches are clearly stated to work when near another pouch

  2. pouches are stated to work when near another one pouch, not near every pouch

  3. pouches being easy no-resource ultra-long-distance communication is an outlier in terms of power level compared to other infusions, and is probably not intended.

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    \$\begingroup\$ For what it's worth, I've spent some time thinking about how to express a rule that ensures that each pouch only works while "connected" to other pouches, but I think that might be equivalent to designing an algorithm for distributed database consistency. So I can't really blame them too much for using a simple-but-exploitable rule for when the pouches do or don't work. \$\endgroup\$ – Ryan C. Thompson Jun 10 at 22:45
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Based on RAW, each infused pouch will work with any of the other infused pouches within 100 miles of it. Therefore, your interpretation of passing notes like that would not work as you're intending.

That being said, an Artificer could specialize as an Archivist, infuse the pouches, and then at 6th level use Magical Telephony (description below) to communicate with the rest of the party:

While you have your Artificial Mind item on your person, you can communicate telepathically with anyone carrying an item bearing one of your artificer infusions, as the mind transmits your thoughts to each other. That person can also communicate telepathically with you as long as they have the item. This two-way communication can even cross planar boundaries.

Please note that this would work as you're intending due to the description which does not require the pouches to be functioning, only that they have the infusion, specifically the last line which allows for the communication to cross planar boundaries.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Can you explain which part of the item description supports you interpretation? By my reading, each pouch either works or it doesn't; there's no in-between state of partial functionality. \$\endgroup\$ – Ryan C. Thompson Jul 18 at 14:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome! You can take the tour as an introduction to the site and check the help center if you need further guidance. Good luck and happy gaming! \$\endgroup\$ – Sdjz Jul 18 at 14:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ "Your infusion remains in an item indefinitely" explains how a pouch could be infused even if it is not "connected" to the other pouches thereby allowing the infusion to function as noted in the infusion description. "A pouch operates as long as it is within 100 miles of another one of the pouches; the pouch is otherwise empty and won’t accept any contents." Based on that, an infused pouch will remain infused even if it is not within the 100 mile range thus allowing it to work with Magical Telephony as I stated before while still not making use of the shared space of the pouches. \$\endgroup\$ – daemon780 Jul 19 at 16:12

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