Far Talkers – Converse over miles with this D&D Background

As a horde of humans riding guard drakes crests the Blue Hills, the chappe telegraph operator builds the signal that will reach the Larton Keep now that war has returned to the range. Using whistles, a youngster tells the village miles away that four sheep are lost so they’ll be home late, could his family please have tea ready for when they return.

A thrumming beat injects itself into the air as an owlbear stalks a deer. Knowing the bear is nearing a sacred vale a group of druids and rangers work to separate hunter and prey, for there will be no killing in Frannet’s vale.

The drawing is signed “Keith Thomas” in lower right corner – Retrieved June 11, 2014 from Radio News magazine, Ziff-Davis Publishing Co., Inc., New York, Vol. 32, No. 5, November 1944, p. 71 archived on http://www.americanradiohistory.com/, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=39352497

Sure, a spell caster might be able to use Message, or two people may have Sending Stone for magical cell phones. But, the Far Talkers converse over a distance of miles, not feet. They speak with many, not one, signaling a warning or just chattering about the weather. Far Talkers and Messengers help societies that stretch over leagues communicate and maintain a culture.

Far Talker

You have the ability to converse over miles, sending messages for a government, faction, or some other organization. In war societies seek your aid to help units communicate. In peace you and other Far Talkers help connect towns and cities, or just keep two distant wizard towers in touch.

Familiar with how the weather impacts your mode of speech you have learned the winds and rains of many lands. Expected to see or hear things at a great distance your senses are strong. You may be an expert at the drums, but you have heard of others who use whistles, tree beating, smoke, flags, or other instruments. No matter what tool is used your messages are simultaneously public and semi-secret.

Skill Proficiencies: Perception, Nature
Tool Proficiencies: One musical instrument
Languages: One additional, plus the ability to Far Talk in Intelligence bonus languages (minimum 1)
Equipment: A symbol of service to a government or large church, a gaming set, a spyglass or musical instrument, traveler’s clothes, a notebook with notation for your type of far talk, 1 day rations, pouch with 2 gold

Feature: Far Talking

Using your chosen tool you can communicate over a distance of 6 miles when outdoors, and twice normal speaking distance when indoors, in a number of languages equal to your Intelligence bonus (minimum 1). Extreme weather may make those long-distance conversations more difficult.

When you meet another practitioner of the Far Talking arts they are always one step friendlier than their companions or social situation would indicate. For example if two scout groups from warring nations met their far talkers would be indifferent while everyone else was hostile. This is true even when the far talkers in question use different languages and tools to talk.

Learning Far Talking

A character without the background can learn Far Talking per the rules to learn a new language. They would then learn one method of Far Talking for a single language.

Some groups of druids, rangers, and their allies might spend time learning Druidic spoken via Whistle Cant. A fleet of pirates could all know Yodeling. Have fun with this.

Types of Far Talkers

Roll on the table below or pick your favorite

  1. Whistle Cant
  2. Talking Drums
  3. Smoke Signals
  4. Signal Flags
  5. Tree Drumming
  6. Yodeling/Throat Singing
  7. Bugle
  8. Optical Telegraph

As always, seek ways that cantrips would enhance these. Those that rely on sound would be amplified by Minor Illusion, Thaumaturgy, and can you imagine Thunder Clap sent through a massive bugle-like device. Those that need light can be made more useful by Prestidigitation, Dancing Lights, Light, and Minor Illusion. A world of magic would have Far Talkers that can speak across many miles.

Personality: Use the Soldier or Folk Hero personality traits for now. When the Background project is done each new Background will have traits, ideals, bonds, and flaws that are unique to the Background.

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Design Goals

The Far Talker started out from two different ideas — I wanted to create Whistle Cant as a kind of alt-Druidic and my desire for the Messenger Background. The Messenger became two different Backgrounds. That Messenger will focus on the people who deliver physical messages by walking, running, riding, etc. The Far Talker is the other version. Rather than become Druidic, Whistle Cant became a type of Far Talking, and one of several examples of alt-languages that a Far Talker might specialize in.

Custom Backgrounds for 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons


3 thoughts on “Far Talkers – Converse over miles with this D&D Background

  1. Pingback: Neither darkness, nor snow, nor wyverns – the Message must be delivered | Full Moon Storytelling

  2. Pingback: My 2022 writing in review | Full Moon Storytelling

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