Of all the frights in Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft, few seem to have had the impact of the delightfully terrifying BagMan.
Sneakily concealed within the pages of the book, readers learn the legend of the BagMan.
But, in Ravenloft, legends are often even less terrifying than the truths that they are based on. You may think you know what it is that you’re encountering only to find your own confidence betraying you.
Prepare yourself, dear reader, for just such a legend.
But be warned…
You’ll never trust your faithful Bag of Holding again…
Beware the BagMan of D&D 5e!
Who (Or What) Is the Bagman?
In hushed tones, adventurers and collectors of urban legends tell the tale of the Bagman.
Long ago, an adventurer sought to escape certain death by abandoning his party and crawling into a Bag of Holding. While this is generally not a good idea to begin with, the adventurer was desperate and you know what they say about desperate times calling for desperate measures.
Upon trying to escape the Bag of Holding, the adventurer’s efforts were useless. Floating in the extradimensional void, he only found a never-ending amount of storage spaces. With no clear escape from his prison, the adventurer continued looking for any way out that he could find.
But the strange magical forces within this extradimensional space began to take their toll on the adventurer…
His body stretched and warped. His skin grayed, his nails grew sharp and blackened, and his limbs grew stretched and gangly.
The adventurer was no longer himself… This tall, sickly creature would come to be known as the BagMan.
What Does the BagMan do?
To this day, the Bagman continues to try to find his way back home. Every single night, he emerges from a random Bag of Holding in hopes to make his return.
If he does not recognize this as his home, he will pull someone near the bag into it never to be heard from again. In their place, he leaves a small piece of junk from his collection in the extradimensional space that he inhabits.
It makes you wonder…
Did you actually misplace that item in your Bag of Holding or did the BagMan take it as his own?
Can You Summon the BagMan?
So you are feeling brave and want to see if the legend of the BagMan is real?
While there is no way of predicting where or when the BagMan will appear, the legends speak of two ways to get his attention.
First, speaking too loudly near an open Bag of Holding might get his attention.
But if you really (and I mean REALLY) want to test the legends, you can try the second way.
Open your Bag of Holding (or any magical storage space) and whisper “follow my voice” into it three times. As the legend goes, the BagMan will come for you.
Does the BagMan Have Stats?
A common truth/joke among D&D players is “if it has stats, we can kill it.”
So what does that say about the BagMan who, in Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft, has no stat block?
Perhaps he really is just a legend? However, it might mean that he is very real and much worse than anyone could expect…
After all, the BagMan isn’t out looking for a fight. He appears when you think you’re safe to drag you into his extradimensional prison so that you might share his same fate. He is an abductor and ambusher.
Personally, I think this makes him even more interesting. He becomes a plot device or, at least, a silent and potential threat. Just like a powerful storm, not every challenge can be overcome with combat.
However, if you must assign stats to the BagMan, Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft gives us some clues about what kind of stats he might have based on his creation.
Mechanically, the BagMan is a reskinned troll.
He gains the Mimic’s Grappler trait and the Black Pudding’s Amorphous trait to aid his ability to snatch his victims and fit through tight areas. Lastly, the BagMan isn’t a minion like a Troll and thus has the Alien Mind trait as a result of his broken and fractured mind.
Using the BagMan in Your Campaign
Learning the legend of the BagMan is a bell that you can’t un-ring. Once you have heard the tale, there is a part of you that will always wonder… what if?
That’s where the power of the BagMan really shines. Perhaps the party finds random things missing from their Bag of Holding or new junk items added to it.
Use the BagMan to create suspense and a constant feeling of unease for the players.
The odds that the BagMan will crawl out of your Bag of Holding are low, but they’re never zero…
I covered the types of horror in my article on How to Run Horror Games in D&D 5e, which I would really recommend you check out. You’ll see exactly how the BagMan can apply to all 5 elements of good horror and get some great ideas for how to spook your players!
The BagMan is just one of many new terrifying creatures and entities introduced in Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft.
The idea that your own gear might somehow be working against you creates a wonderful sense of tension and fear.
But it’s up to you from there: is the BagMan real or is this just an urban legend?
You can pick up your copy of Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft on Amazon or at your friendly local game store!
And don’t forget…
follow my voice… follow my voice…