I have ranted against the bag of holding, and the fact that it is uncommon, in the past (D.R.E.A.D.: D.R.E.A.D. [Rant]: Bags of holding & Fantasy economy).
But anyhow, it is a staple of D&D, because it’s just practical.
So I prefer to try and think about the consequences an easily available bag of holding could have:
Influence on Merchants
- Magic users capable of creating them would be in very high demand by the merchant class - commoners with money
- Merchants would gain in rentability once they have enough bags, would probably get even richer and more powerful (a renaissance-like switch of power from the nobility to the wealthy gentry)
- Fragile goods would be much easier to transport since there is no risk of the goods moving inside the bag. Crystal, ceramic and glass, was transported in a layer of butter (introduced molten in the cart then hardened thanks to the cold) in medieval germany (there is still a german idiomatic expression “alles in Butter” meaning “everything fine”, literally translated as “all is in butter”). Those product would be much easier to transport safely, and therefore cheaper. And butter would be more available, since the demand for transport of goods would decrease.
- Perishable goods would also not suffer from the rigors of the weather (heat, humidity, even oxygen levels are better inside a bag of holding for non-living food than transport in any kind of sunny weather). On the plus side, Pests would have a harder time getting to foods stored in a bag of holding. This would lead to an availabilty of certain goods outside of their typical regions, like fishes and oysters in the dwarven mountain fortresses or in the capital of the kingdom, with nobles and the wealthy class serving shrips and sushi at their receptions.
Influence on the law
- Most medieval town made a lot of money taxing the goods and persons that enter the city walls. The bag of holding is easily concealable, a boon for smugglers and dirty tricky merchants. The guards would definetly be trained to search for such bags, turning them over to chech their content
- Cities would probably have to either fight hard against smuggling (which becomes easier - just throw a bag of holding over the city walls, or through an iron portcullis) or have to rethink their tax policies.
- A bag of holding is also the perfect place to make a corpse disappear, or to transport it undetected (no smell). If you really really want a body to disappear, put it in a bag of holding, then the bag in another one or a portable hole, and puuuf ! The corpse is lost somewhere in the etheral plane
Influence on war
- Sieges become much more difficult if the city of fortress being under siege has stored loads of grain in a place where they won’t rot - in a bag of holding maybe? Rats can’t get in the bag either.
- Transporting black powder also gets much easier. No risk of having it getting wet.
- War logistics do not need a gigantic “baggage train” any more
Influence on the nobility
- A clever nobility would soon pass legislations and edicts giving them control over either the production or the distribution/sale of such a strategic commodity
Do you have other ideas how the bag of holding could influence a medieval society?
Next week, I intend to fantasize on the horn of plenty, in case you want to think about it beforehand