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My party has a bag of holding and I have a fetch quest prepared for them. They have to go run a noble woman's errands and pick up items at the store for her. Some are fragile and they are supposed to be holding them because they are going to wind up in combat and have to make checks to make sure the objects don't break. Well, knowing my party, they will put the items in the bag of holding to work around this issue.

My question is, can fragile items break inside the bag of holding if they are not protected in some way and the bag is jostled thus causing the items to bump into each other?

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    \$\begingroup\$ You may want to wait before accepting my answer. There are other people, in other timezones, and maybe someone out there will provide a more detailed one? If you'd rather not "unaccept" now, feel free to move the green checkmark if you will feel someone else deserves it better. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mołot
    Jun 23 at 18:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ One easy way to circumvent this is to make a couple of large, unwieldly items. A bag of holding has an opening with a diameter of two feet. So anything too big just won't fit. Give them a large vase or a painting for them to pick up and you can avoid the discussion altogether. \$\endgroup\$
    – skippy
    Jun 24 at 14:51
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The rules for Bag of Holding are surprisingly silent on what kind of space is the interior of the bag. Luckily, Handy Haversack has a relevant entry:

Placing the haversack inside an extradimensional space created by a bag of holding, portable hole, or similar item instantly destroys both items and opens a gate to the Astral Plane.

Emphasis mine.

From the earlier Q&A we can see that extradimensional spaces are actually demiplanes - connected, but separate planes of existence. This tells us that fragile items are not in the material realm if they are inside the bag of holding. Thus, we can assume they are safe enough.

Of course DM is allowed to rule that since the bag's fabric exists both in the material plane and in the extradimensional space created by the bag, it can transfer hits to its insides. But we are entering a rabbit hole of houseruling now, so I would advise against it.


But I really want these items to be endangered!

If that's the case, just use the right items. For example, a little box that's exactly 2 rings big but can hold 20. It will be extradimensional space in its own right, unsafe to put inside a Bag of Holding at all! An exotic animal's egg could run out of air in the bag. Get creative! And by all means, let them have some items in the bag! They bought it, it was expensive, they deserve to be able to use it in fun ways.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Wait a minute, RL question: do eggs need air? \$\endgroup\$
    – nitsua60
    Jun 24 at 2:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ @nitsua60: Yup. Eggshells are porous, because the developing whatever-it-is needs oxygen for metabolic processes (the egg is laid with all the food it will need, but it can't be laid with all the oxygen as well). The evolution of the egg, especially the eggs of reptiles and their descendants (which developed hard or leathery shells to retain and even collect water, but still needed to let air through in both directions) is fascinating. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 24 at 3:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ Eggs do need air, but they can only take in what diffuses through the shell, so the actual oxygen use of an egg is small. According to an animal husbandry article about egg incubators, 1000 eggs need about 143 cubic feet of fresh air per day, or about 240 cubic inches per egg, which is less than half of an average shoebox for a full day. Of course a fantasy animal's egg could require a lot more, but if a grown human can survive for 10 minutes in a bag, then even a big egg can probably go nearly an hour between airings. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 24 at 4:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ A ring-box of holding is dangerous, though. If the players don't know about the interaction, or don't notice that the box has an extradimensional space, they might put it in the bag and get sucked into the Astral plane. (Or if the characters don't know both facts but players do, they're going to have to metagame to avoid it.) So perhaps the noble woman assumes everyone else is incompetent and likes to give lectures, and in this case that would actually be helpful... (Or at least point out that the box has bag-of-holding type properties, in case the party has a Bag she hasn't seen.) \$\endgroup\$ Jun 24 at 5:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ A small addition to this, the bags description mentions that the content spill out unharmed if the bag is turned inside out. To me that implies the contents are relatively safe and secure inside of the bag. \$\endgroup\$
    – skippy
    Jun 24 at 14:53
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This is not about a Bag of Holding

Your question remains valid even if the party didn't have a Bag of Holding. There are no specific rules in 5e for breaking fragile things by carrying them (which sometimes leads to ridiculous situations), so a DM has to invent them.

Some are fragile and they are supposed to be holding them because they are going to wind up in combat and have to make checks to make sure the objects don't break.

You already introduced new mechanics. Are these mechanics applicable to a Bag of Holding is up to you. Homebrew solutions require homebrew adjudications.

Whatever option you choose, you should make it clear for the players. "This crystal vase is very fragile, you have to carry it in your hands very carefully or it breaks, even if you put it inside a Bag of Holding". Otherwise players just won't expect carried things to break, so this will become an unpleasant surprise.

Players can (and will) do unexpected things and it's fine

You say players "are supposed to be holding them", but there are plenty of ways of handling fragile things aside from carrying them all the time or using a Bag of Holding:

  • Players can put a fragile thing into a saddle bag or a special container
  • They can buy a service of a cheap untrained hireling, who will carry the thing
  • They can just put it to the ground when combat starts
  • Et cetera, there are a lot of ways of packing and shipping fragile items

Players can do things you didn't expect, and this is not a bad thing. You can keep in mind a particular course of actions (like holding a fragile thing in hands all the time), but try not to make it crucial for the game. If it becomes pivotal for the plot and can be spoiled by one simple solution, it's probably a bad design and should be reconsidered.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Wrapping it in velvet and putting it in a sturdy lockbox ought to work, since bubblewrap probably isn't an option. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 24 at 4:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ Buy a box, fill it with honey, dip the stuff into the honey. Alternatively fill if with butter and chill :) or use salt to pack stuff - lots of ways to get creative \$\endgroup\$ Jun 24 at 9:53
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Unfortunately, there are no rulings on the interiors of extra-planar items

The most popular are the Bag of Holding and Heward's Handy Haversack.

The biggest hurdle is that it is never mentioned whether or not items in the luggage can interact with each other. In other words, if I put in a handful of dirt as one action, and a pitcher of water in as another, will I pull out mud?

This is important as if the characters can put items in one at a time, and they cannot interact, then there is nothing to "bump against" to cause damage. Although external forces against the bag may cause a problem to be addressed later.

The closest we can get to figuring out interaction is with the Haversack:

Retrieving an item from the haversack requires you to use an action. When you reach into the haversack for a specific item, the item is always magically on top.

Since the item retrieved appears "on top", there must be something below it. Therefore items do at least interact during the process of retrieval. As a DM, I would go so far as to say that they are always intermingled, but the retrieval process floats an item to the top.

We also can see in the description that it's always described as a "space". The term space does not imply any sort of organization. When you put money in, there is not a special compartment just for holding coins. Nor a separate vault for armor, and so forth.

There is also the matter of orientation. Would putting said pitcher of water in the space always remain upright?

We do know a certain amount of air exists due to the rules of breathing creatures listed for the Bag of Holding. So the items put in do not exist in a vacuum; hot things cool, cold things warm up, and the two may interact and cancel each other out. This also means items placed inside are not in some bubble that conforms to the object.

Now, with all that said, nothing would indicate that exertion on the outside of the bags would have any effect on the inside as items exist in a different plane.

There are rules for if the bags are pierced or torn, but no rules on crushed. So in theory, you could have a T-Rex walk over over bag and it would be fine, so long as one of its claws didn't rip a stitch.

So depending on what the "fragile" item is, the players may or may not be safe.

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