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My question is fairly simple: is there light inside a bag of holding? I'm asking this because I'm trying to do a passive run and I plan on storing unconscious enemies in the bag.

I know that living creatures suffocate after 10 minutes depending on how many there are, but my plan is this: if I can grow algae, (a few kilograms per person including water) then the algae should be able to filter out CO2 and other toxins while adding oxygen to the air. This whole plan hinges on the fact that there is light (preferably sunlight) so that the algae can perform photosynthesis and stay alive.

I don't know that much but from what I've heard the bag links to a separate dimension and I wasn't sure if this dimension has light or not. I tried really hard to find out the answer before asking but I couldn't find anyone else mentioning this very specific question.

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    \$\begingroup\$ @Frezak Can I put something wider than 2 feet into a Bag of Holding (such as a humanoid)? \$\endgroup\$ Jul 19, 2016 at 14:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ Reminder: comments are for clarifying content, not posting small or incomplete answers. Please use answer posts to submit answers instead. Prior comments containing answers have been removed. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 21, 2016 at 14:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ Wouldn't something like a bottle of air be simpler? \$\endgroup\$ Jul 21, 2016 at 15:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ While the question of whether there's light or not has been answered below, I must note there are many ways to keep a creature live with no breathing. Consult a trusted wizard if in doubt. \$\endgroup\$
    – RafaelLVX
    Jul 21, 2016 at 20:21

5 Answers 5

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Light or not in the bag is not explicitly stated in any rules. With the bag otherwise behaving a lot like a normal bag, I would assume not. You could just put something glowing brightly into the bag though, if you have something appropriate (IMO would need to be bright as daylight).

It is risky to apply too much scientific analysis to items in a fantasy game. Many things in D&D do not make sense if you think about them too hard. It is best to remember that the air being breathed is fantasy air, and any plants you have are fantasy plants. Although fantasy plants no doubt grow in the sunshine, and creatures can suffocate without fresh air, there is no need to invoke scientific understanding of these things such as photosynthesis and oxygen.

One thing to do is present your plan to the DM and hope that they will go along with it. Sometimes a few nods to science and clever plans are all good for a game. Just don't get too bogged down in it. Also accept that between the whole group, your ideas probably won't be too accurate, or you will miss an important detail. For instance, do you know how much algae would sustain a person (assuming bright sunlight), and do you care to research it? (I think around 6 litres of algae-rich water is right from a quick search). How would your character know this?

Better still, find a game item that does what you want mechanically more directly.

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    \$\begingroup\$ "How would your character know this?" by the trail of the dead. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 19, 2016 at 23:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ +1 for the admonition of not applying scientific principles to fantasy, particularly D&D. Genetics makes absolutely no sense within a D&D context for instance. You might want to consider adding to your excellent answer, a note that vast ecosystems exist in the D&D Underdark without light, so perhaps fantasy fungi perform the same life-sustaining role? \$\endgroup\$ Jul 21, 2016 at 15:06
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Jump in and have a look

The rules don't say so this is up to your DM. The easiest way to find out is climb in the bag and have a trusted friend let you out before you suffocate.

By the way, your plan won't fly in my campaign because I would require your character to explain just what type of magic, oxygen, carbon dioxide and photosynthesis are and how they know about them. People in my bags of holding don't die due to lack of oxygen: they die because it says they do.

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    \$\begingroup\$ So, delayed bag of people-devouring. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 18, 2016 at 23:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ While PCs obviously don't know about oxygen, carbon dioxide or phytosynthesis I would not have a problem with a sufficiently learned PC (or one asking somebody suitable) knowing that in a sealed environment you must have both plants and animals--D&D exists in a world capable of producing a closed-jar terrarium and it's been around long enough that some of them should have been built. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 20, 2016 at 3:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ "they die because it says they do". I like this a lot. A lot of rules bending could be averted with this principle. Although creativity is good. many rules are put in place for a game balance reason, rather than a logical consequence. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 21, 2016 at 15:08
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It's dark in there

There is no light inside an empty Bag of Holding. The inside of a Bag of Holding is a closed space, sealed off from both the Prime Material Plane and the Astral Place. It's effectively an air-tight chamber in extra-dimensional space.

We know this because while the Astral Plane is filled with "something sweeter and perhaps more solid than air" that sustains life (Astral Plane, DMG, p. 46), inside a Bag of Holding:

Breathing creatures inside the bag can survive up to a number of minutes...

DM Guide, p. 154

(The fact that you can easily suffocate inside one of these things is a big tip-off that it wasn't meant for you to get inside, and accommodations like lighting shouldn't be expected.)

As the medium of the Astral Plane that sustains breathing does not extend into a Bag of Holding, we can assume the glow that allows creatures in the Astral Place to perceive an "endless silver sea" (DMG, p. 46) is also absent from the bag's interior.

Additional Magical Effects should not be assumed

Magic items resemble their mundane counterparts except as noted in the rules. (That is to say, a magic sword can't brush your teeth, no matter how good a magic sword it is.) Light is not mentioned as a magical effect in the bag of holding's description. It follows that the interior space of a bag of holding would resemble the interior of any other sealed bag.

Special Magic Items

This answer seeks to give guidance based on the best info we have in the rules. But magic items in fifth edition are meant to be unique and special. So, if a DM wants a bag of holding to be lit in the interior, or to have whatever effects, then certainly, rule 0 applies in spades to this.

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    \$\begingroup\$ You got me with your "Additional Magical Effects" line. \$\endgroup\$
    – nitsua60
    Jul 19, 2016 at 12:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks @nitsua60, but I confess I am pretty sure I stole that line from some 1980's Dragon magazine article. I (cough) can't quite find the citation. Maybe KorvinStormast knows. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tim Grant
    Jul 19, 2016 at 12:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ Your final paragraph was something I considered as well; I can easily envision a bag of holding with light emanating from its opening, as a plain indicator of its magical nature - purely as an aesthetic element (i.e., it shines to make you say "Ooh, magical!", but does not serve as a functional light source, nor expose your position if you're hiding in the dark). \$\endgroup\$ Jul 19, 2016 at 15:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ @timster It looks familiar to me, but I have had a few beers since then so those brain cells look to have been victims of attrition by cocktail. I may be able to dig around some tomorrow, and if I do find that I'll provide a ref. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 30, 2016 at 19:24
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No. A bag-oh-holding is connected to an extra-dimensional space practically created specifically for this bag-of-holding. You could put a light source into it though, such as a rock with the Light spell cast on it.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Will the Light spell make the rock light in the right spectrum for the algae? \$\endgroup\$
    – liori
    Jul 19, 2016 at 0:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ @liori At first, I thought this a silly question, since in the real world, algae grow fine in pretty much any artificial light. But in the D&D world, sunlight is magical (or at least, magical creatures are affected by it): so it could be ruled that it contains a magical spectral element, too, which plants could evolve to require... though that's more in the realm of worldbuilding.se, I guess. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 20, 2016 at 1:46
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I don't believe there's a RAW answer to this, but I would tend to assume there is not automatically light inside the bag.

However, you could certainly store something in the bag that emits light, such as a small stone that has had the Continual Flame spell cast upon it (or, if Continual Flame is deemed insufficient for sustaining the algae, you could instead use Daylight, if you had a way to cast it 24 times per day).

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