In lieu of telephones / telegraph / express mail, fantasy settings use ... ?


Advice

Sovereign Court

I'm trying to think of ways a powerful noble in the largest city on a planet would contact an adventuring party when he knows they're in a specific city a quarter of the way around the world.

Any ideas?

The Exchange

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carrier pigeons or the bird of your liking. crows were used in game of thrones as an example.


feather tokens are my favorite.


The Human Diversion wrote:

I'm trying to think of ways a powerful noble in the largest city on a planet would contact an adventuring party when he knows they're in a specific city a quarter of the way around the world.

Any ideas?

That's basically what the sending spell exists for. If he is not personally familiar with them, there a number of scrying spells that would work, or the traditional crystal ball.

The Exchange

I think sending would work too, if he knew someone in the party, or someone in that city? IIRC it doesn't have a range.


Or a Porté Sorcerer. Just give the party a Blooded token of some sort and he can Walk to them at will.

What? Isn't everyone playing 7th Sea?

Sovereign Court

Ahhh, Sending! Thank you! I had forgotten about that spell.


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Sending Stones, from House Sivis.

What? Isn't everyone playing Eberron?


Whispering Wind can also work, but for a shorter distance.


Pony Express.


Don't Powerful Nobles have Networks of Spies to coerce a mage into casting a sending? Or simply deliver a message to the PCs tavern...


Using Dancing Lights as light signals over long range like a magical morse code?


NOG the Demoralizer wrote:

carrier pigeons or the bird of your liking. crows were used in game of thrones as an example.

You mean ravens....

Another suggestion: Owlpost.


Demand is an 8th level version of Sending. It incorporates a Suggestion as part of the spell, so a party that is getting close to some dark secret can be given a magical suggestion to get them back under their benefactor's thumb. Imagine the fun that will ensue when the party fighter begins to INSIST the party ignores the warnings and proceed to the goal by a direct route...Maybe that noble's wizard has a few secrets he wants to keep for himself, and is willing to sacrifice the party to get to them.

Of course, he'll be keeping an eye on the party using scrying and giving suggestions via Message.


The Human Diversion wrote:

I'm trying to think of ways a powerful noble in the largest city on a planet would contact an adventuring party when he knows they're in a specific city a quarter of the way around the world.

Any ideas?

Pigeons or fast birds like falcons + Animal Messenger

An elf with the racial ability to step into people's dreams wouldn't be hard to hire.

A druid.

A sorceror or wizard with teleport to send a courier.

A message through a pair of ring gates passed to his head spy in the city.

Any magic item with telepathic bond to his emissary to that city.

A low level thug, paid to a large sum (which you want the party to get most of) to kill the party with a sealed note containing a message to the group to be discovered after his inevitable demise.

A fetchling with shadow walk.

A high level monk.


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Planar Bound Lantern Archons. Greater Teleport at will and True Speech.


Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber

secret magical brain implants...

Sovereign Court

I'm a big fan of the Dream spell. Unlike Sending, you can send much longer messages. It's a bit slower and only one-way, but the information load is huge.


Greater Teleport, as other people have said. Sending is the standard, but it's also limited and boring.

Silver Crusade

Greater Teleport is risky because you don't know where the adventurers are, and its likely the guy won't be familiar.

I tend to rely on letters and couriers when the guy hasn't met them yet. Routine acquaintances sometimes get issued a communication mirror which is a magic item in my campaign setting that allows for a little better conversation options (kind of like an iphone on face time.)

The way that messages get delivered can say a lot about a guy though, and this shouldn't be overlooked for characterization reasons.

A mage like rely on the 'mephit code' and use mephits to deliver messages if the person is sedentary enough to have a certain location.

An information broker might rub in his chops by having messages waiting for the party when they arrive places.

An alienist might decide to communicate by sending out a hound of tindalos.

Helping Hand is a fun one too, although it usually results in immediate suspicion from adventurers.


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Magical means aside, my campaigns always used messenger hawks and falcons. Yeah, I know. Not as smart as crows. But I didn't think of them first... lol.

The Aztecs (or the Mayans) used a foot relay throughout their empire whereby long distance runners would carry messages, either written or verbal, to other runners until the message reached its destination.

There was a Dragon Magazine article on this very topic back in the mid 80s sometime, too.


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Demons. All phones are actually just silver cages containing demons who can communicate telepathically. A person speaks into the cage, the demon hears it, sends the message to another demon, who then reproduces the first person's voice perfectly to the intended recipient.

Alternatively, every metropolis has a very powerful telepath who works as kind of switchboard and can detect the things said into a special device made of a specific psychoactive mineral. The telepaths of different metropolises are able to communicate perfectly, allowing for calls between major metropolitan areas.

Scarab Sages

All these suggestions and no one thinks of uaing a runner being sent out to find them?


Lucio wrote:
All these suggestions and no one thinks of uaing a runner being sent out to find them?

The OP did suggest that the people were "a quarter of the way around the world."

How fast is your runner? How long can he run without a break?


You can use message spell through greater scrying.


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I've been a fan of semaphore tower lines for years.

It's the sort of non-magical communication that "modern" countries like Cheliax, Andoran and Taldor could have to link major settlements to their capitals along main routes.

It's the sort of communication device that would alert everyone along the way. And unless you have the codebook, the symbols could mean anything.

Now enhance the principle with magic (Silent Image FTW!) and you can have an early warning system that can quickly span a kingdom.

Re-reading the OP, for a king to communicate with heroes... use local spies who were contacted by magic or other means. Otherwise, use magic.


how big is your world?


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Sandbox wrote:
how big is your world?

Golarion is roughly Earth-sized; call it approximately 13,000 km in diameter. A quarter of the way around that would be about 10,000 km.

If you assume that your runner can cover 100km per day, and that there are no inconvenient oceans in the way, then, doing the math, it turns out that your runner gets eaten by a grue about three-quarters of the way there.

Sovereign Court

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Dream spell wrote:

You, or a messenger you touch, send a message to others in the form of a dream. At the beginning of the spell, you must name the recipient or identify him or her by some title that leaves no doubt as to identity. The messenger then enters a trance, appears in the intended recipient's dream, and delivers the message. The message can be of any length, and the recipient remembers it perfectly upon waking. The communication is one-way. The recipient cannot ask questions or offer information, nor can the messenger gain any information by observing the dreams of the recipient.

Once the message is delivered, the messenger's mind returns instantly to its body. The duration of the spell is the time required for the messenger to enter the recipient's dream and deliver the message.

If the recipient is awake when the spell begins, the messenger can choose to wake up (ending the spell) or remain in the trance. The messenger can remain in the trance until the recipient goes to sleep, then enter the recipient's dream and deliver the message as normal. A messenger that is disturbed during the trance comes awake, ending the spell.

Creatures who don't sleep or don't dream cannot be contacted by this spell.

The messenger is unaware of its own surroundings or of the activities around it while in the trance. It is defenseless both physically and mentally (always failing any saving throw) while in the trance.

Quote:
Dreamspeaker: A few elves have the ability to tap into the power of sleep, dreams, and prescient reverie. Elves with this racial trait add +1 to saving throw DCs for spells of the divination school and sleep effects they cast. In addition, elves with a Charisma of 15 or higher may use dream once per day as a spell-like ability (caster level is equal to the elf's character level). This racial trait replaces the elven immunities racial trait.

These two things together make for a potentially very powerful telecommunications cabal of relatively low-level elves.


Ascalaphus, that's AMAZING. Thank you, now I have a way for the more Chaotic oriented people in my campaign worlds to pass information.

Andreww has the right idea. In my campaign world, the primary Lawful Good nation of Raiosar does the "Lantern Express". They can do it as low as 7th level, thanks to Lesser Planar Ally.

Planar Binding gets you enemies. Planar Ally gets you friends. A 7th level Cleric of the LG god casts Lesser Planar Ally and summons a Lantern Archon (2 HD). He has it 'assist' for the maximum time, 7 days. That normally amounts to 2,000 GP of value, but in reality, the task asked of it is completely and totally harmless to it, so at most it costs 1,000 GP.

The Archon is presented with Bag of Holding and shown a scroll with the listed destination described in no uncertain terms (this is only necessary the first time, as it will eventually go back and come to know these locations well). The Bag contains all the communications necessary, be they scrolls or items with Magic Mouths or whatever. The Archon then teleports from the location it was summoned (a Consecrated Cathedral that's as much castle as church, and well defended) to the destination (another of the above in another location). It drops off the bag, is presented with another bag and another destination, whereupon it continues the process until it has 'rotated' through all the destination points and returns back to the first. After a few dozen of these (which still only takes a few minutes), it's given anywhere from 15-30 minutes to 'rest' and converse with its summoner, so that the two become friendly and know each other by name and hopefully 'bond'. The summoning Cleric will summon randomly the second week to get a different one, remember it's name, and then 'alternate' between the two so that they both have experience and are both given the chance to do their own thing and not be a 'message pony' 24/7.

Beings as the nation that uses them is a theocratic nation of the Sun God, I can argue that this task gets the deity's favor and is free, but it doesn't really matter since it happens in the background.

This is just through the efforts of a single Cleric. They have many and will rotate as necessary. Lanterns that are found to be braver or more aggressive than the normal ones may be paid the full amount and sent on 'military intelligence' missions, which is basically the same thing except that some of the locations they rotate through are not in the defended Cathedrals and may be somewhat close to enemies of the state, or even Hero teams out in the field. They have standing orders to 'port out' immediately if things go south, as their lives and abilities are valued, as well as preventing information from being 'dropped' from the network.

---

If you use a situation similar to this (likely minus the LG theocratic nation), you can still have LG and NG churches that employ the "Lantern Express" to deliver messages. So long as such a church exists in the city the PC's are near, a message can be delivered through this method and then the conventional way (ie: birds, runners, town criers yelling for them to report to the local tavern/keep, etc). Be warned the players might think it's an oversight on your part (How DID that bird get around the planet in a day?), but nod sagely if they bring this up and tell them there IS a logical reason, and someday you may even reveal it. ;)


This sort of question seems to come up from time to time so I've started collecting a list of ideas (spells):

- Telepathic Bond, can be made permanent between two (or more) individuals. Fairly expensive to use as a permanent solution.
- Many Scrying spells + Message, can work but Message thru the sensor is unreliable especially at lower levels (5%/level).
- Sending, allows a response by target, can be interplanar but becomes less reliable when across planes (5%+ failure rate). Demand (8th level Sor/Wiz) as Sending but adds in a Suggestion.
- Helping Hand, anywhere within up to 5 miles but lots of delay built into the spell (up to 4 hours at max range) but could be useful when separation is under 1000 feet or the communication is not time sensitive.
- Any familiar (and possible an animal companion taught the right trick) might act as a messenger/go between. Add in Share Senses for extra communication capability.
- Animal Messenger, low level but reliable, ultimate "carrier pigeon" spell. Must send carrier to designated location, potential for interception.
- Teleport Object, high level (7th) but can send an object to a targeted location (and hence obviously one-way).
- Dream, range unlimited but one-way. Requires the recipient to be asleep (and hence capable of sleeping). Either the caster or someone the caster touches can send the message. The messenger must be in a trance for the duration of the spell and is "defenseless" and unaware while in the trance (fails all saving throws, 'helpless condition' implied but not so stated).
- Whispering Wind, lower level but requires caster to send the Wind to a familiar location where it may or may not find a recipient. Range in miles per level
- Message, cantrip (0 level spell) limited range, can be combined with many Scrying spells. Language dependent. Must mouth and whisper the words.

*goes back to reread thread to see what might be added*

Sovereign Court

@Arturius: You're welcome :)

By the by, your Lantern express is a pretty good idea as well.


Ascalaphus wrote:
I'm a big fan of the Dream spell. Unlike Sending, you can send much longer messages. It's a bit slower and only one-way, but the information load is huge.

Do you suppose that two wizards could collaborate and agree to cast Dream at a particular time, and meet one another in a shared dream? Does that sound on par with a 5th level spell between two colleagues?

I've been itching to do a dreamscape adventure, and this has me pondering possibilities.


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Seriously, the sending spell is really awesome! You don't need anything more for long-range communication. You see, all that you need to do is

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Sending, Animal messennger, scrying followed by minor image into room, magically connected magic mouths, lines of magic wire connected to wands of message that slide message spells down the line to their recipient.

Take your pick


Sissyl wrote:
Seriously, the sending spell is really awesome! You don't need anything more for long-range communication. You see, all that you need to do is

I think we've just discovered magical twitter

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