The D&D Emporium: Portable Holes
The D&D Emporium is a series dedicated to exploring magic items found in The Dungeon Master's Guide and offering advice for how a Dungeon Master can introduce them into their campaign setting.
What Is a Portable Hole?
A potent item, the Portable Hole has been a staple of Dungeons and Dragons for a number of editions. It has also been the subject of many controversies such as the Warhead Arrow which involves firing a Portable Hole into a Bag of Holding, causing a massive explosion in the Astral Plane!
Simply put, a Portable Hole is a 10-feet deep, extra-dimensional space that is often used to store items. It looks much like a handkerchief that can be unfolded to access this space.
How Much Does It Cost?
Any price up to 5,000gp would be fair for the Portable Hole as it is a Rare level item.
What Does It Do?
High-level adventuring parties typically use the Hole as a means of storing the vast amount of gold, treasure, and sometimes food they accrue throughout their campaign. It is much like a Bag of Holding, except that it has almost double the capacity, being six feet wide and ten feet deep as opposed to two feet wide and four feet deep.
Will It Break My Game?
A Portable Hole is unlikely to pose any significant issues. The Portable Hole most often serves as an item of utility for storage. However, when used in a Warhead Arrow, the result is potentially terrible. Opening a hole to the Astral Plane can disrupt a campaign’s entire world as well as deal astronomical damage to surrounding structures. It is advised to discuss with your players in Session 0 about your expectations as a Dungeon Master (we call them Quest Masters). Mention what I call ‘Bag of Holding Shenanigans’ and let your party know it will not be tolerated in your game if you want to avoid this scenario.
An alternative means of breaking this item may be to strap it to a character’s shield, possibly leading the Hole to rupture if an enemy misses with their projectile attack. When a Portable Hole is damaged in this way, it spills all of its contents in a 10ft sphere centered on the Hole. However, if the player placed a metal base at the bottom of the Hole, this could be avoided if you as a Quest Master (QM) support the idea.
What Does It Look Like?
Traditionally, a Portable Hole is a sheet of black cloth that is folded out to form a 6ft circle that one puts items into. If you wanted this to function differently, such as being a false floor or trick rug, your characters may be able to trap enemies within it!
Where Might the Party Have Seen One?
Until they reach higher levels, most parties won’t see Portable Holes during their travels. This is due to the prevalence and social recognition of a Bag of Holding or Heward’s Handy Haversack and how impractical a Portable Hole is for quick use. Nobody wants to have to unfold a 6ft circle to be able to access a healing potion in combat.
Introduce a powerful adventurer to the players, such as a Wizard or Cleric, who provides a service such as Remove Curse or Identify respectively. These characters may bring a Portable Hole around with them to keep their stash of gold in, or even items they find to be useful or sentimental. Maybe Sir Araghast, The Effervescent, sends them on a quest and rewards them with a sword that he pulls out from his Portable Hole.
They may have also seen a Portable Hole used by a wealthy merchant as a mobile banking system, or as a vault within an ancient castle.
Where Can They Be Obtained?
For the most part, Portable Holes will be sold by high-level vendors to party members looking for a means of lugging their gold or magic item hoards around with them. After adventuring for a while, your Wizard or maybe even a party Artificer may decide to craft themselves a Portable Hole!
Where and How Are They Made?
These items start as simple pieces of cloth and are typically enchanted by a powerful wizard or students studying at Magical College.
How About a Different Way?
However, if you want to offer an alternative idea for how the Hole was made, you might suggest that there was once a Great Fabric of the universe. This Fabric was cut many times over, and each time it was cut a Portable Hole formed. Perhaps each Hole contains a sliver of the multiverse within it?
If you want to get very off-piste with the Portable Hole, you can make it an item that many people have access to. In a high magic setting, banks, stores, and traveling merchants might have Portable Holes aplenty to keep greedy fingers off their gold! Create “The Guild of The Hole,” a guild that rents out Portable Holes to common folk similar to a modern-day storage unit facility!
Have your players encountered any portable holes in your campaign? Tell us all about it in the comments below!