The Loot Pile: Message in a Bottle



Magical Item

A pair of coarsely blown, thick-walled colored glass bottles with short necks and narrow (1”) mouths topped with corks, each in its own close-fitting drawstring bag made from burlap. Inserting a written message on a small piece of parchment or paper into one bottle and corking it sends it instantly to the other—anywhere in the realm—where it can be carefully withdrawn with a finger and read. Other objects/materials (including magical scrolls or magical papers) or living creatures will not teleport, nor can messages be sent between paired bottles on different planes of existence. If either bottle is broken or a cork is lost, sending will cease.


  1. At my table, inserting a note into one of the bottles and corking it to send a message takes an action, one separate from penning the note previously (provide the materials are available).
  2. Similarly, a short message on parchment/paper that is neither folded nor rolled can be read through the side of the glass bottle once received, but longer messages on larger pieces must be withdrawn, which counts as an action.
  3. A received message must be withdrawn from the bottle before a return message can be sent or a subsequent message can be received. If a second message is corked into the sending bottle before the received message is withdrawn, it will not teleport immediately when corked (signaling the delay in reception to the sender); however, the second message may be left staged in the corked sending bottle, teleporting as soon as the first message is withdrawn at the other end.
  4. In the event that one cork is lost, stolen, or destroyed, a pair of intact bottles can still be used to send messages in one direction only; however, the cork is not interchangeable between bottles.
  5. Each bottle is paired to only one mate of identical construction blown at the same time in the same place, easy to recognize and impossible to replace. If the GM allows players to locate or otherwise acquire multiple pairs of these messaging bottles, it is possible for them to set up a telecommunications “switchboard “ with one bottle from each pair at a central location with an attendant “operator” relaying individual messages between specified destinations.
  6. Your players don’t have to find both bottles at the same time. Just sayin’…
  7. I strongly prefer the game opportunities and mechanics presented by this magical item to those presented by sending stones and the Sending spell from D&D 5e or similar artifacts, which often get extrapolated beyond RAW to equate to magical walkie-talkies; I find that consequence extremely annoying. especially when it gets overused, and it encourages splitting the party. I find this item to be a more measured approach to allowing clever players access to magical communication over great distances with opportunities to increase the value and drama of informational exchanges as part of the in-game narrative.
    8.See what else is on top of The Loot Pile.


does each one of these need a post… ? they’re kind of taking over


Apologies. I corrected and updated notes on these posts without realizing they were going to come to the top. I won’t post any more.