The second of three spells to start with ‘Animal’ continues down the route of helping you roleplay a Disney Princess, albeit one that doesn’t mind using her woodland buddies as a fantasy telegram service every now and again.
Animal Messenger allows you grab a tiny beast and send them off to deliver a message to a target of your choice. The message can only be 25 words long, but rather wonderfully the creature will speak it in your voice. One can only imagine the confusion generated when a dormouse climbs on the table and starts speaking Dwarven in a deep baritone.
Bear in mind that you have to be a little careful in selecting who you want the message to be sent to. After all, ‘Baron Wolgraff’ doesn’t mean all that much to a pigeon. Instead, you need to phrase it in terms that the creature might understand, such as ‘the man wearing a red suit in the biggest building in town.’
As Animal Messenger is a ritual it represents a quick and easy way to send a magical message without having to burn a spell slot. However, it’s a little unreliable – cruel DMs will be quick to point out that a bird flying in a perfectly straight line will pretty quickly end up as lunch for a passing hawk – and there’s no way of knowing if the message you sent was actually received.
Weirdly, one of the other downsides of Animal Messenger is that it’s actually a rather slow way to send a message. While it may sound like the target of the spell is sprinting off to deliver your message as quickly as they can, the rules seem to indicate that they take their sweet time about it.
Even flying messengers are only able to cover about 50 miles per day. In comparison a decent, non-magical carrier pigeon can cruise along at 50 miles per hour. If you’re relying on a squirrel then it’ll barely go faster than one mile per hour. You could easily outstrip it at a gentle walking pace, even allowing for sleep and other breaks.
If you have a message that desperately needs to get through and have someone who can cast it, it’s definitely worth spending the resources on a Sending. When things are a little less urgent and your Druid feels like replicating the butterfly scene from Lord of the Rings, Animal Messenger is a great alternative.
Also useful for getting a housecat to bellow abuse at your enemies.
A nice, thematic way to send a message that has it’s low reliability balanced out by an equally low cost. Unfortunately, the ridiculously slow messanger speed makes it wildly impractical if your DM insists on following the rules right down to the letter.
Animal Messenger (Ritual)
Casting time: 1 Action
Range: 30 feet
Components: V, S, M (a morsel of food)
Duration: 24 hours
By means of this spell, you use an animal to deliver a message.
Choose a Tiny beast you can see within range, such as a squirrel, a blue ray, or a bat. You specify a location, which you must have visited, and a recipient who matches a general description, such as a man or woman dressed in the uniform of the town guard or a red-haired dwarf wearing a pointed hat. You also speak a message of up to twenty-five words. The target beast travels for the duration of the spell towards the specified location, covering about 50 miles per 24 hours for a flying messenger or 25 miles for other animals.
When the messenger arrives, it delivers your message to the creature that you described, replicating the sound of your voice. The messenger speaks only to a creature matching the description you gave. If the messenger doesn’t reach its destination before the spell ends, the message is lost, and the beast makes it way back to where you cast this spell.
At higher level
If you cast this spell using a spell slot of 3rd level or higher, the duration of the spell increases by 48 hours for each slot level above 2nd.