D&D 5E How do societies communicate across distances in your world?

Magic is the easy answer, especially in Eberron and Ravnica. But in the Realms there's little evidence that Sending Stones are connecting the general populace of Waterdeep and Phandelver for example. So far in 5e there's little discussion of how messages between cities are sent and delivered, outside of knowing that it's done. But who is it done by?
One common quest type is "deliver a message" between two separated locations. This could be a city and an outpost, or two mage towers. Whatever.

Exploring this question took me towards two different backgrounds. In my world animal companions are vital, so one of the two created backgrounds is the Messenger, which has a pigeon or crow or dog or pony. The other is the Far Talker, a person that uses some kind of device to communicate.

How does your world communicate across distance?
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
For very long range e.g. across a continent, most often by direct delivery of messages by people with long-range travel capabilities such as Teleport, Wind Walk, Plane Shift (leave from one place on the game world, return to another), and so on. There's a few instances of permanent very-long-range communication setups but these are rare and hella costly; and a few permanent teleport sites that aren't always reliable.

For shorter range e.g. within the same realm it'd be by fast flight effects (e.g. a Druid shapeshifts into a falcon), messenger birds, Skywrite, and sometimes medium-range magic devices that equate to walkie-talkies or radio-telephones good for 20 miles or so. Or good old-fashioned ordinary messengers. :)

Less common but still out there is telepathy, either by psionics or (more often) device, which works anywhere on the same plane provided both the sender and the receiver somehow have the ability.

Edit to add: this thread really should have the "D&D General" tag rather than 5e, as it's an edition-agnostic question in many ways. :)
 

BookTenTiger

He / Him
In my campaign worlds, they generally don't!

Towns within the same territory, or neighboring territories, will communicate by humanoid or animal messenger.

Powerful cities will communicate through royal edicts sent by messenger.

But I leave the fancy magic communication to the characters! It makes it feel more special.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
Messenger Guild of low level mages, priest, postmen, and animal trainers.

Common quest is take a message outside of their normal areas or through a dangerous area.
 



cbwjm

Legend
Regular people will ask the town scribe to write up a letter and have it sent to their cousin a few towns over (literacy is not assumed 100%). The carrier might be a merchant or someone "going that way" and it could takes days or weeks to get where it needs to go as they drop off letters in towns to be picked up by others.

Spellcasters can get some use out of various magical spells and implements. Crystal balls, sending, etc. I could see some areas having an animal messenger network. A county in one of my kingsdoms primarily follows the wyld faith which only has druids as their priests so it would make sense that in that area, squirrels, raccoons, and ravens are running around delivering messages.

Nothing much more than that, though I've been tempted to add the sorcerous news spell from the old Conan RPG into the game which allows tapping into a sorcerous network, though not quite for passing on messages.
 

I use postal systems a lot (there were some pretty fast methods for conveying messages in pre-modern times: not cell fast but better than one might initially think): combinations of signals, runnings, riders, etc can get messages across distance. Pidgeons are always an option too. I like carrier pigeons.
 


cbwjm

Legend
I use postal systems a lot (there were some pretty fast methods for conveying messages in pre-modern times: not cell fast but better than one might initially think): combinations of signals, runnings, riders, etc can get messages across distance. Pidgeons are always an option too. I like carrier pigeons.
Oh yeah, carrier pigeons, I'd kind of forgotten about those. Reminds me of one of those Avengers shorts with Banner and Thor talking to Ironman on the phone and Thor's all "I don't have a phone, send a raven!" Maybe that could become a standard long distance means of communication. Discworld's semaphore towers could also be a thing that some enterprising individual comes up with.
 

bloodtide

Adventurer
The bulk of all people simply make do with letters. With plenty of flying creatures, "air mail" is uncommon.

Spellcasters, merchants, the Rich and goverments do use all sorts of magical communications.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
Information travels at the same rate as travelers. In a low-magic setting that’s about 24 miles per day, depending. Messenger birds of various kinds can be used. But no guarantees. Boats, caravans, horseback, etc. Each village and town is isolated, basically as most people don’t travel more than 20-some miles from their place of birth. Some local or regional events bring people together, but not all the time.
 

Oh yeah, carrier pigeons, I'd kind of forgotten about those. Reminds me of one of those Avengers shorts with Banner and Thor talking to Ironman on the phone and Thor's all "I don't have a phone, send a raven!" Maybe that could become a standard long distance means of communication. Discworld's semaphore towers could also be a thing that some enterprising individual comes up with.

I picked them up from watching a lot of wuxia movies and because my uncle used to race pigeons. In wuxia series they use pigeons constantly to communicate with their sect from a distance. My understanding, and it could be wrong, is you train the pigeon to go back to a particular spot. So if you have an organization in your setting, they can train their pigeons to go back to the organization HQ and have all their members have a cage of pigeons when they go out into the world. There may be more complicated instructions you can give carrier pigeons but this is how I used them.
 


aco175

Legend
FR does have something in the supplement Aurora's Whole Realm Catalogue. If I recall, it is a portal system between outlets they have in major cities. I never cared for overlaying modern systems on the fantasy feel of worlds. I tend to have a portal, but only the kingdom powerful may have access to it. You would not be sending a message to your cousin telling her about the new baby. You may be able to send it with the merchant who travels around and it could get there by next spring.

1647213549644.png
 


In my campaign worlds, they generally don't!
Same. Most people wouldn't know anyone farther than the nearest town/city anyway, so it doesn't really matter. Organizations and diplomats would rely on messengers, unless they're particularly powerful enough to have some magic. Teleportation Circles in particular bug me, so I have them be closely held secrets that are always under guard (it is a backdoor into your stronghold, after all).

But I leave the fancy magic communication to the characters! It makes it feel more special.
I've got a few, very powerful NPC that would have it. Largely just royalty and powerful churches, but Flanaess spanning organizations like the Circle of Eight and the Old Faith use magic to send instructions to their agents too. It helps show their power, and when the PCs attain similar abilities it shows them how special it really is.
 


Ace

Adventurer
Couriers , messengers, travelers carrying letters or messages and carrier pigeons with an occasional Signal Fire Tower. Adventurers and Important People might have access to magic sometimes.

Things like Heliograph Towers have been experimented with but they are generally too expensive and often get destroyed by monsters.
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
In my previous homebrew I stol. . . uh, borrowed an idea from a fantasy book (maybe the Deathgate Cycle?) of albatross-like birds called "The Faultless" that follow ley lines that connect cities and places of power, allowing the birds to be trained between a few distant locations. So kind of like the Ravens in Song of Ice and Fire, but a unique creature. Most decent sized towns might have a post with a few birds imprinted with other locations to pass messages on and a large city might have several. Messages are then delivered by a messenger by foot once the bird gets local.

Still, that is no guarantee your message will arrive.
 

Level Up!

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top