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Let's say that a bag of holding holding valuable items (I don't think it matters what but tell me if it does) was split in two, and

its contents [were] scattered in the Astral Plane.

In order to retrieve these items, can the party use astral projection to gather the items? The spell mentions that the projection has your

game statistics and possessions

but it doesn't mention anything about coming back. The party knows where the items are in the Astral Plane, the only problem is getting them.

If the party can't use astral projection to get the items, how can they get them?

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2 Answers 2

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They go on a quest

You can physically travel to the Astral with Plane Shift (or Gate, but Plane Shift is lower level and on more spell lists). If you know exactly where the item is, Plane Shift can get you close (though "close" might still mean days of travel or more, if the DM is mean), and Gate could drop you next to it.

But to be clear, when a Bag of Holding ruptures, the contents are not usually in a known location. "Scattered in the Astral Plane" is roughly equivalent to (if not more hopeless than) "scattered across the Earth". There's no specific place you'll find any given item. In most games, you'd just consider them lost. If they're really important, you Plane Shift/Gate after them (or find a portal to the Astral or whatever) and go looking for them, in the same way people on Earth might quest after the Holy Grail. Feel free to use magic, divine contacts, demonic servants, beat a githyanki to reveal where a collected item was hoarded, whatever, but you're looking for a needle in a very large haystack. Good luck!


Side-note: I ignored Astral Projection in the above, because:

  1. It's arguable whether it provides any means of taking items collected by your astral self back to your real body at all (and if it does, you still have to find a portal to some other plane to do it, and you end up whereever that portal goes, not where you started); ending the spell normally definitely doesn't work (your spirit just snaps back to your body), and finding a portal to another plane has wording that favors an interpretation where you'd only have your original equipment, not whatever your astral self might have collected en route (a generous DM might have the stuff you collected spill through the portal as your spirit transitions through the portal and into the newly appearing original body and possessions).

  2. It's higher level and on fewer spell lists than Plane Shift, and unlike either Gate or Plane Shift, provides no means of appearing near any given place in the Astral.

So even if you knew exactly where your items were, and you have a DM that allows collected items to go through a portal with you, you'd have to travel an arbitrary distance from where you appear to find the items, then travel to find a portal (hopefully to a plane you want to be on), where the same level Gate could have you there and back in moments, and Plane Shift would at least get you close and only require resting to cast it again to return.

If you really want to, Astral Projection is a potential option, it just introduces more complications when you've actually found the items. People tend to think of Astral Projection first, because it has "Astral" right in the name, but the Astral is just another plane, so you can reach it with any technique that allows you to plane hop, and it's usually easier than Astral Projection (which is mostly useful for the "you're pseudo-invulnerable to anything that can't cut a silver cord" and "you can always go back where you started easily" effects, but it's not anything special in terms of planar access).

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Note that the question includes the sentence: "The party knows where the items are in the Astral Plane, the only problem is getting them." Otherwise, excellent answer. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 13, 2022 at 5:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ @GroodytheHobgoblin: Frankly, I'm skeptical they'd know where the items are, but heck, if they really do, Plane Shift is the answer. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 13, 2022 at 10:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ Well, there are some magical ways of finding the item and even some things that you always know the location of if you are in the same plane as them. \$\endgroup\$
    – TurtleTail
    Commented Jun 14, 2022 at 13:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ @TurtleTail: I won't say it's impossible, but AFAICT, 5E has no long distance object locating magic; the obvious candidate spell, Locate Object, is limited to 1000'. I'm sure there are some special cases, but they'd be extremely rare exceptions (the odds of multiple such valuable items all being locatable over the infinite expanse of the Astral, so you could track down each wherever it scattered to, seem fairly low). \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 14, 2022 at 14:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Firedestroyer: Okay, so it's just one item they're concerned with, and it's easy to locate. In that case, if they can track that signal from another plane and know exactly where it's coming from on the Astral, Gate can make pickup a breeze. If they have to be on the Astral first to locate it, then they can just Plane Shift, go a-questing, and Plane Shift back when they're done (or locate an acceptable color pool instead if they can't Plane Shift for whatever reason). Travel movement in the Astral isn't well specified in 5E, but in prior editions you could get anywhere in a few days. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 14, 2022 at 17:11
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What happens on the Astral Plane, stays on the Astral Plane

Towards the middle of the spell it states:

Your astral form is a separate incarnation. Any damage or other effects that apply to it have no effect on your physical body, nor do they persist when you return to it.

Your projection is not you. It is, literally, a projection.

Picture it like being in a virtual reality simulator. If you got stabbed in the simulator, you are not stabbed in your corporeal form. Should you actually find the thing(s) you are looking for, you can put it in your Astral pocket. But when the spell ends, you don't get to keep what's in your Astral pocket. Just like you don't bring back damage you took to your projection.

But...what about my stuff?

Part way through the spell it states:

Your astral form can freely travel through the Astral Plane and can pass through portals there leading to any other plane. If you enter a new plane or return to the plane you were on when casting this spell, your body and possessions are transported along the silver cord, allowing you to re-enter your body as you enter the new plane.

So that means that the stuff you grab becomes part of your possessions and appear on the other side, right?

Not so fast.

Earlier in the spell it mentions, "Your astral body resembles your mortal form in almost every way, replicating your game statistics and possessions." So the possessions you bring to the plane are the ones you started with. Then, when you walk through a portal (whether to a new plane or back to where you started), your body, and the possession on your PHYSICAL body, are teleported "along the silver cord" to the destination. If that later phrase didn't say possessions there would be the possibility of you and your possessions being projected, but when you go through a portal, only your body appears. Welcome to the Plane of Fire, naked.

So to actually bring something back, you'll need a different spell.

Using Gate or Plane Shift will bring your bodies to the Astral Plane

So instead of projecting, you need to actually go to the plane and get back your items. And I'm quite impressed that you found it/them; the Astral Plane is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly hugely mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to a whole Plane.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This answer seems to ignore an important fact: "If you enter a new plane... your body and possessions are transported along the silver cord, allowing you to re-enter your body as you enter the new plane." If you astrally project, find some of your stuff, then go through a color pool to, say, the plane of Air, you'd appear in the plane of air in your real body, with all your real stuff, and presumably anything you picked up in the Astral plane. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 17, 2022 at 13:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DarthPseudonym, you're right. I added something to the comment of a different answer, but it never made it to mine. I'll merge that in shortly. But I will say, "presumably" is not "an important fact". It's just a detail I haven't clarified. \$\endgroup\$
    – MivaScott
    Commented Jun 17, 2022 at 17:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ @MivaScott I finally understood what you meant (took me a long time, I know...). The body that is referred to as being transported with its possessions is not your astral form, it is the original body, and hence the original bodies possessions. I deleted my answer for now and upvoted yours. I think that has the interesting aspect that you can generate unlimited uses of consumable items in the astral plane, because when you use them there, the original items are not destroyed. That is likely somehow exploitable... but maybe that is just par for the course on a level 9 spell. Thanks! \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 17, 2022 at 18:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ @GroodytheHobgoblin, I appreciate that. When I moved my comment from your post to my answer, I had more space to clarify details. As for exploiting, remember that any effects from something on the Astral Projection do not transfer back to the host body. So you could spend a month reading a Tome of Understanding in the Astral Plane, and that would boost the wisdom of your projection, but it would not boost the wisdom of the host body. So I don't think there is a lot of exploits available. \$\endgroup\$
    – MivaScott
    Commented Jun 17, 2022 at 18:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MivaScott The fact is that you appear materially when you astrally project and enter another plane. The presumption is that any loot you collected will come with you, though it's hard to see how that would not be the case. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 17, 2022 at 19:42

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