In the Scholar's pack on page 151 of the PHB it notes that you get a 'little bag of sand'. Is there any mention of what the intended use of that is in-game? I haven't found anything in the equipment chapter.

Given the volume of off-topic answers I'll summarize the question as so: Why is it given to Scholars specifically; what use is the bag of sand to a scribe or other scholarly person?

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    \$\begingroup\$ If you just want to make up uses for sand but are not sure why it was included in the 5e equipment list, do not answer this question. This is not a brainstorming site. \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Commented Jul 27, 2015 at 14:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ It seems like this is explicitly asking for the "intended use", which would make it a designer-reasons question and thus no longer allowed on the site (though they were allowed at the time it was asked). This seems to be reflected by the fact that most of the answers seem to be speculating or generating ideas about ways it could be used, without providing any support the idea that those were the intended use of the item (a common issue with designer-reasons questions). As such, it seems like this question should probably be closed. \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Commented Aug 4, 2021 at 5:45

4 Answers 4


Sand is one thing used by scribes to blot ink, so that a document can be handled or moved soon after working on it, without dripping or smearing. You can assume it sees use as a matter of course while the character is mapping a dungeon or composing a letter.

Apart from that intended use in a scholar's pack, it can probably be put to many creative uses under dire circumstances that have nothing to do with ancient ink's inconveniently-long drying time.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Sand is also used in the quill-preparing process. \$\endgroup\$
    – BESW
    Commented Jul 27, 2015 at 0:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for random discussion. Submit your own answer if you have other thoughts. \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Commented Jul 27, 2015 at 5:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ fountainpennetwork.com/forum/topic/… \$\endgroup\$
    – jbruni
    Commented Sep 21, 2019 at 18:49

The classic, cinematic use of a bag of sand by a scholar comes from the opening scene of Raiders of the Lost Ark in which it is used in an attempt to disable a weight-sensitive trap. Shame Harrison fluffed his roll.

That said, D&D 5 harkens back to the era of having players find creative solutions to problems (as opposed to rolling dice to let the characters find them which become more common from 3.x), so it probably doesn't have any specific intended use. It is there to spark creativity.

Use it to mark a trail, hit a goblin (if you can't find a half brick), draw mystic symbols, make a Mind Flayer's undergarments uncomfortable to wear, reveal an invisible bridge (Indy really did like his sand), or whatever else you can come up with.

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    \$\begingroup\$ So why don't all adventurers start with a bag of sand? What's so special about scholars? \$\endgroup\$
    – Oblivious Sage
    Commented Jul 28, 2015 at 13:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ Because it is thematic (adventuring scholars are like Indiana Jones and thus carry a bag of sand) not practical. \$\endgroup\$
    – Quentin
    Commented Aug 4, 2021 at 6:46

Arguably, it could work as a material component for the spell "Sleep" since one of the options are "A pinch of fine sand."


I think that the intended purpose is to use your imagination. The bag of sand is just like the various trinkets you get, they don't have something built into the system for their use.

Here are a few possibilities for a bag of sand:

You can use it to exfoliate before going to a ball where you intend to assassinate a corrupt local merchant.

You can use it to remove the rust from a corroded metal plaque to read the symbols underneath.

Use it to test the direction of the wind.

Sprinkle it on the floor so that an invisible creature leaves footprints.

For a charismatic character with the charlatan background, sell it as fairy dust.

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    \$\begingroup\$ very strange, why the downvotes? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 27, 2015 at 13:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ The question is asking for the intended use of the sand and you just listed a bunch of random stuff to use it for. \$\endgroup\$
    – Aaron
    Commented Jul 27, 2015 at 13:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ I see your point, I'll modify it slightly \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 27, 2015 at 17:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ If the purpose of this answer is to point out that it's a great item for improvisation, what does this answer add that is not already in Quentin's answer? \$\endgroup\$
    – GMJoe
    Commented Jul 28, 2015 at 1:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ @GMJoe It adds specificity. Which is useful for firing the imagination. The answer would have been improved by including the historical ink blotting uses of sand, but most everything can be improved. \$\endgroup\$
    – ValhallaGH
    Commented Aug 4, 2021 at 11:22

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