I'm about to start running a homebrew seafaring campaign in which my PC's will spend the vast majority of the narrative travelling on a boat, far from the mainland, on a diplomatic mission to explore a newly discovered archipelago.

While they are geographically distant from their homeland and their country's authorities (initial quest givers), and constantly on the move, I would nonetheless like there to be some limited channel of communication between the ship and the mainland - basically, a way that they can send progress reports from the ship back to the government and receive fresh commands / periodic updates on what's happening at home.

The way that I've hit on doing this is through something like a magic pair of linked cabinets, one of which is on the boat and one on the mainland (inspired by Harry Potter). Objects (in this case written documents) which are placed in one cabinet disappear from that cabinet, when it is closed and appear in the other. These cabinets would be small enough to prevent people travelling through them.

I currently plan on homebrewing this but, can such an effect, or something very similar to this, be achieved through any official spells or items?

Solutions should take into account:

  • The boat will be constantly moving - the mainland will not know the PC's location in advance to send things to them.
  • There will not initially be any high level magic users on the boat - though there may be high level NPCs on the mainland. The PC's will start the game at a low level and I don't want to populate the boat with party-allied NPC's that are more capable than the PC's themselves are. Otherwise why would such an NPC stay on the boat whenever they make landfall, rather than boosting the PC's landing party?
  • my preference would be for a system that transports actual physical objects (such as written documents), rather than provides some form of psychic connection.

marked as duplicate by DuckTapeAl, KorvinStarmast dnd-5e Jul 29 '18 at 18:36

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    \$\begingroup\$ Somewhat Related: How can we communicate short messages long-distance \$\endgroup\$ – David Coffron Jul 29 '18 at 14:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ Also related: How can I send long messages over long distances? \$\endgroup\$ – Ryan Thompson Jul 29 '18 at 15:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ This is a neat question, and I like the inspiration, but it's a dupe of the linked question. It is not uncommon to have the same problem being presented in a variety of different ways. The link Ryan mentioned is also very close to the problem you are trying to solve. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Jul 29 '18 at 18:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ I personally feel like this is a closer dupe of the second link than the first. My ideal being transmitting written documents, that sounds more like long messages to me, (especially considering Sending allows only 25 words. \$\endgroup\$ – Tiggerous Jul 29 '18 at 19:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ This really does look like a dupe, but I'd like to see an answer to the vanishing cabinets for the purpose of sending objects that aren't just messages too! If the purpose of the vanishing cabinets was more than just sending messages it wouldn't be a dupe... \$\endgroup\$ – Isaac Reefman Jul 30 '18 at 0:56

If written communication isn't specifically required, a pair of sending stones could accomplish what you're looking for. You can use the sending spell 1/day with them, which should provide the limited communication you need.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for this answer - having thought abaout it, I think my preference is still for written documents but the sending stones provide me with a suitable benchmark to homebrew my own item from. As they will be more powerful than the 'Sending stones' I may try to balance them by limiting transmission to once per week, or something similar. \$\endgroup\$ – Tiggerous Jul 30 '18 at 9:58

You say there can be high-level NPCs back on the mainland. Perhaps one of those NPCs can use one of the methods outlined in the answers to this question to establish a line of bidirectional communication. Of the solutions presented there, the best ones for this situation seem to be either an Illusion wizard using scrying + magic mouth, or a warlock with Voice of the Chain Master sending their familiar on the ship. If the intent is that the PCs are on one of several such diplomatic missions to different places, then the former solution is better, since a warlock can only send their familiar on a single ship. The solution using dream is also viable, but seems less desirable from an RP standpoint since the NPC would only be communicating with a single sleeping PC, leaving the other players with nothing to do during the conversation. (On the other hand, if this campaign is intended to involve inter-PC intrigue, a dream communication with a single PC, completely unobserved by the others, is the perfect opportunity for that sort of thing.)

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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't know, I kind of like the idea of a bunch of warlocks from the mainland each being in charge of a single ships management via their familiar. \$\endgroup\$ – KingdomGnark Jul 29 '18 at 19:18

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