Dungeons & Dragons just introduced a novel new way for players to communicate long distances with each other.
Waterdeep - Dragon Heist released earlier today, giving adventurers a chance to explore the famed City of Splendors. As with every adventure D&D releases, the new storyline comes with several new NPCs and magic items. One of these magic items is a paper bird, a magical piece of paper that can be used to pass off messages to other characters.
Operating a paper bird is simple. It starts off as a piece of paper that you can write a message of 50 words or less on it. Once your message is completed, you whisper the name of its recipient, and then it folds itself into a paper bird and flies off.
While paper birds aren't impervious (they have an AC of 13 and only 1 hit point, so they can be shot out of the air), they're about as a secure as an encrypted email. If a paper bird is shot down or immobilized, it instantly crumbles into ash. The only person who can unfold a paper bird and read the message inside is the person who it's intended for.
This isn't the first bit of D&D magic used to communicate between long distances. The "Sending" spell also allows people to communicate at any distance...but it requires the use of a third level spell slot and can't be used by non-magic users.1comments
If you're looking for a way to shoot secure messages to an NPC or another player and don't have access to GMail in your fictional D&D world, you might want to purchase a few paper birds along the way. Anyone can use them, and they're relatively inexpensive for magic items.
Waterdeep - Dragon Heist is available now wherever D&D items are sold.