I was slightly shocked to read the 4e version of a portable hole:

Power (At-Will): Standard Action. Place a portable hole on a wall, a floor, or a ceiling. (The surface must be flat for the item to function.) The portable hole instantly creates a 5-foot-wide, 5-foot-deep hole in that surface. With a standard action, any creature adjacent to a portable hole can pick it up, provided there are no creatures or objects inside it.

This strongly deviates from the earlier editions extradimensional space concept. Would it be reasonable to use this "instead of door" if placed against a wall? Or does the hole have a "flat bottom?" Can people on either side of the hole pick it up? What happens if it's placed over an aquifer (or muddy ground?)

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    \$\begingroup\$ It doesn't actually say the created hole disappears either \$\endgroup\$
    – WOPR
    Commented Feb 16, 2011 at 9:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ Oh, that is a good catch .... and completely changes the use cases of the item. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 16, 2011 at 9:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ @WOPR - It's somewhat implied by the requirement that "no creatures or objects" be inside when it is picked up. DM rulings may vary on this particular aspect. \$\endgroup\$
    – Iszi
    Commented Feb 16, 2011 at 13:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ If I were DMing a 4e, I would toss this rule out and restore the classic portable hole. Or else make this a less powerful version run side by side with the classic version somehow. \$\endgroup\$
    – BBlake
    Commented Feb 16, 2011 at 20:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ Wow. It's a Bugs Bunny cartoon portable hole. That is epic. \$\endgroup\$
    – chaos
    Commented Feb 16, 2011 at 23:51

5 Answers 5


Nice catch. This is really a completely different item than earlier editions. Some first thoughts:

  • The Really Secure wizard's lab/panic room/fortress control room. All walls are 5' thick stone; authorized personnel have access to the portable hole. Simple. When under attack, remove the hole... and there's no sign the room even exists. (Plus, it's pretty easy to hide a portable hole in a hurry.)

  • For the acrobatic... instant thief hidey-hole. Place on ceiling, climb up, brace against opposite sides. Makes for some dangerous infiltrators: as we all know, nobody ever looks up.

  • And talking of thieves... if you can close it from either side, who even needs lock-picks? Enter any secure room, from any direction, without even approaching guarded doorways. (Most medieval walls are much less than 5' thick.)

  • Combine with any form of visual illusion that can create the image of a wall for a well-concealed portable ambush space. If that doesn't get you surprise, nothing will.

  • Instead improvised pit trap. Dash around the corner with a move action, then drop it behind you. If the DM is at all nice, charging enemies may fall in.

  • What happens if you put it on the side of a 5' thick dam? Or better, on a storage bin or aqueduct, from underneath? (Run fast afterwards!)

  • \$\begingroup\$ For a good example of how the updated version might work and be used, check out the final battle scene of the Sorceror's Apprentice with Cage. He tosses what would be the equivalent of a portable hole on the ground and hides inside it to keep from being spotted. \$\endgroup\$
    – BBlake
    Commented Feb 16, 2011 at 20:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ @BBlake - Why not post that comment as an Answer? It's a great example! \$\endgroup\$
    – Iszi
    Commented Feb 17, 2011 at 13:59

Seeing as it is a level 19 item with little combat utility, I think it's reasonable to have it bypass most mundane security measures (walls, pft). After all, breaking down a stone door is Strength check DC25, which is quite doable at that level. The portable hole just makes it quicker and less painful.

However, given the overabundance of teleportation in 4e, proper treasure rooms could be warded against extra-dimensional travel, which the portable hole arguably utilises. Without such wardings, all an intruder needs is a tiny hole to see through. With such warding in a room, however, attempting to gain entry into it via a portable hole could result in the would-be thief seeing darkness on the other end of the hole. The hole-portal opens on one end, leads into the extra-dimensional 5x5x5 space, and can't open on the other end. See also the Teleport Catcher ritual, how that would interact with a portable hole is open to interpretation.


For a good example of how the updated version might work and be used, check out the final battle scene of the Sorceror's Apprentice with Nicholas Cage. He tosses what would be the equivalent of a portable hole on the ground and hides inside it to keep from being spotted.


As for portable hole's uses in 4e, the only thing I haven't seen mentioned that I can think of is, it's the perfect grave-robbing tool. I'm pretty sad about the change in rules for this item. It used to be the perfect storage item, with far more capacity than your average bag of holding.

I had a Thief-Acrobat with a portable hole. The DM had ruled that I could use it like an ACME hole, i.e. I could stretch/contract it; so I had a guard chase after me, ran around a corner, dropped into the hole, constricted it to a small size, and hung there. When the guard ran around the corner, I opened up the hole and swung out as he fell in. Then I pocketed and waited for the 10 minute air capacity to run out...

4e's portable hole could be used similarly, if thrown on the ground during a chase, and would definitely grant some mad combat advantage for your allies in the vicinity of the hole, at least for a turn or so. The fall might even injure who/whatever is chasing you. Actually, all-in-all the change in rules is pretty decent. Plus, being able to fill a 10-by-6 hole with items, pick up said hole, and carry it with absolutely no additional burden is kind of ridiculously overpowered when you think about it.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Interesting answer, welcome to the site! \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 9, 2011 at 6:38

A few ideas:

  • sculpt a fake portable hole like that one into a wall, and set a few traps in it
  • use it on a square column and see it collapse
  • use a lot of portable holes to reach the other side of the planet
  • place it on a throne so that you can poop while sitting there

Though it's more complicated, you can also use it to hide gold or other precious solid materials.

  1. carve a cylinder made of that material, of the exact dimension of the hole
  2. place the portable hole on top of hit

doing this the portable hole should... "hole" the whole cylinder, actually hiding it. Yes, the hole itself would still be there, mid-air or something, who knows.

Finally, related to this, you can use it to set a very deadly and horrible trap: do the same as the gold-hiding trick, but hide a cylinder of URANIUM or other radioactive material. As soon as the portable hole is removed, all the people near it will get a lot of deadly radiation.

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    \$\begingroup\$ +1 for the throne idea, but I do find it hard to imagine the hiding of the cylinder part \$\endgroup\$
    – Sir Ksilem
    Commented May 24, 2011 at 13:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ "whole lot of radiations" ?? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 2, 2012 at 14:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ He probably meant that they would get all the radiations :) \$\endgroup\$
    – Tacroy
    Commented May 21, 2012 at 16:35

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