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In honor of Black Friday: The Bag of Many Things

Written by Alex - Published on November 28, 2013

Welcome back to Blue Lightning. Today I have one of my favorite ideas that I always use.
One aspect that I work into virtually all of my high fantasy campaigns is the beloved Bag of Many Things. My heroes always find it randomly, and I never tell them what it is. But it is always a hoot when they figure it out.

Twice per day they can reach in and pull out a random item. That is it. Really simple. I do not even bother to tell them that it is twice a day. If they try a third time, the bag comes up empty. There is no saying whether the item will even be useful or not, but it is always fun to figure it out. I have a huge list of random items that they can end up pulling from it.

Below is just a fraction of that list. Whoever reaches in gets to roll 2d10 to determine what it produces.

1. Grandfather’s broadsword, plain but quality. An unknown script runs along the inner side of the scabbard.
2. Floppy hat.
3. 100 feet of rope.
4. Jug of pickled eggs.
5. A healing ointment of your mothers, heals 2hp per application. Four applications.
6. A sock full of sling stones.
7. A cat, it followed you into the village.
8. A scroll of deposit worth 168 gold pieces if presented to a member of the Auric Brotherhood of money changers.
9. A shortbow and quiver of eight arrows.
10. A prayer book.
11. A ratty kilt.
12. A flute.
13. An extra pair of boots.
14. Two men-at-arms sworn to six months service. Armed with Chainmail, shield, and spear.
15. A hooded cloak with a dozen inside pockets.
16. A golden signet ring, origin unknown.
17. A dwarven tunnel dog, loyal and well trained. A gift from “uncle Guorgi”.
18. Ten sticks of chalk.
19. A hide of fine leather.
20. A dozen hard sausages.
21. A five gallon cask of usk brandy.
22. Four yarpick thorn javelins.
23. A phostwood staff.
24. A ham.
25. A boar spear.
26. A set of four horseshoes.
27. An ink pot, quills, and sheaf of paper.
28. A small bag of salt, and one of pepper.
29. A sewing kit.
30. A dozen 12 hour candles.

Feel free to use these, or just the idea. Everyone loves getting random junk. Even if it is useless, they enjoy how unpredictable it can be.

And say they roll a 2 and a 4, making it 24. Make it have a fun effect if they decide to eat the ham, like they now smell like ham for three days.
Like I’ve mentioned before, use your words. Don’t just say “You pull out a ham.” Have them smell its smokiness first, see how it glistens in the firelight, and how it drips with fat. Truly tell them what it is, regardless of how mundane it may seem.

The more that you can add to your game that personalizes it, makes it unique, and really encompasses all of their senses, the more fun your players will have, and the more successful your games will be.

Would you consider using The Bag? Do you see any problems with the idea? Or what would you like to see come from the bag? Tell me in the comments!

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Written by Alex

Currently working with dungeonmastering.com on… secret projects…

Scattering random musings on game design theory gathered over 12+ years of roleplaying.

Philosopher, Psychologist, Fencing Coach, Nerd.

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3 Responses to “In honor of Black Friday: The Bag of Many Things”
  1. LonePaladin says:

    This reminds me of the old games I’d run in which I gave a PC a Wand of Wonder, usually with a really low number of charges (like 3). In one instance, every time that PC used the wand, they had aimed it at someone else, and the dice came up with an Enlarge Person effect all three times. They had no idea it was a random effect, assuming the dice was my rolling a save for the target.

  2. Sean Holland says:

    You say roll 2d10, yet your table is numbered 1-30.

    I love crazy items like this, though it must suck to be the Men-at-Arms stuck in the bag waiting to be pulled out . . .

  3. Tiorn says:

    Sean, 2d10 is rolled like percentiles though, so it could easily be a 1-100 list, instead of just 1-30.

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