Talismans and Trinkets

I suppose it’s a blight on my record as a nerd that I’ve never played Dungeons & Dragons. I have, however, seen enough about it to know some of what’s in it, and the magical items interest me. While I know D&D was largely inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy writing, the items probably owe more to classic myths and fairy tales. From what I remember, Tolkien’s writings weren’t big on practical magic. Even when Bilbo Baggins obtained a practical talisman, a ring of invisibility, it turned out to actually be the corrupting tool of a maniac bent on world domination. Holy Hobgoblins, can’t a hobbit get a break?

Anyway, when I posted about the Braided Man from the Oz books, one commenter mentioned that portable holes like the ones he makes also appear in D&D.

Oddly, Wikipedia lists a 1955 cartoon as the probable first appearance of portable holes, even though Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz was published in 1908. That’s not to say that either the cartoon writers or the D&D creators were necessarily influenced by the Oz series, just that it is pretty much the same idea.

Another D&D item that I’ve heard about also has a counterpart in the Oz series, with the book in question this time being Ruth Plumly Thompson’s Jack Pumpkinhead of Oz. As Mari Ness mentions in this post, the pirate’s sack that Peter Brown takes with him turns out to be quite similar to a Bag of Holding.

Jack refers to it by the punnier name of “grab bag,” but it’s a bag that can hold much more than it appears, presumably through some sort of pocket universe.

Peter uses it to swallow the nasty inhabitants of Scare City, and then accidentally has it swallow himself and his companions when he’s trying to capture Baron Mogodore’s invading army. Only Jack escapes the sack, and the Red Jinn tells him the way to get someone or something back out of it, which is to turn it inside out and shake it. I get the impression that the black bag carried by the Wizard of Oz might have similar properties (his pulling a staff out of it in Speedy in Oz is one strong indication), but it’s never specifically stated.

Maybe it’s something like Mary Poppins’ handbag.

If anyone else reading this is familiar with both D&D and Oz, are there any other similar items in the two fictional worlds?

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4 Responses to Talismans and Trinkets

  1. Good thing that the portable hole and the bag of holding were in different stories. If you put the two of them together, it’s just plain bad.

    As the guy who designed an Oz RPG, I should have more on this. I’m disappointed that I don’t.

  2. Pingback: Magical Buildup | VoVatia

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