[RPG] How to a group of Warlocks create and distribute magical wanted posters


The Question

My dnd-5e party has angered a wealthy and powerful cult of warlocks. That group of warlocks plans to offer a bounty for the destruction of the party.

Using only Warlock spells, Invocations, and magic items, how can the cult efficiently create and distribute magical wanted posters of the players across a continent?

The Details

In my specific case, we have these details available, but the best answers would not use these details, so that the answer can be of use to others in the future:

  • My Warlocks have a Fathomless patron as in Tasha's Cauldron of Everything.
  • One of my warlocks is personally familiar with one of the party members, which matters for spells like Scrying.
  • Several of my warlocks have met the party members in person.
  • (Added after comments:) The continent is a homebrewed setting; large parts of it are barely populated, but there are several population centers and the different regions of the continent are largely at peace with one another, allowing relatively free movement. Think Australia but without a central government.

Example unsatisfying answers:

Magic exists; just say the posters are created by magic.

I like to restrict the NPCs to only abilities that PCs could gain, to set an example for players and encourage them to be creative within the rules. If there is an established magic item that would help the cult do this, that would be much more acceptable to me.

(Added after some comments:)
Just have artists draw mundane posters, then distribute the posters using normal trade routes, or maybe send riders out with the posters.

A good answer should use at least some minimum amount of magic, since the goal is for my players to interact with cool/fun/awesome things.

Major Image and Teleportation Circle are in the Warlock spell list. A very high-level warlock could use a Teleportation Circle to each major city on the continent and put up a Wanted Hologram of the party at each one using a 6th-level cast of Major Image.

This is cool, but not efficient: it requires a very high-level caster to personally travel the world to distribute the wanted posters, and the rules don't technically allow a Warlock to cast Major Image at 6th level. Still, this is close to the answer I am looking for.

Thank you!

Best Answer

Creation: Illusory Script

If you just want an excuse for the posters to be magical, here's one. Illusory Script is a spell on the warlock spell list that, essentially, allows you to write 2 different messages on the same piece of paper and decide who will see which message:

To you and any creatures you designate when you cast the spell, the writing appears normal, written in your hand, and conveys whatever meaning you intended when you wrote the text. To all others, the writing appears as if it were written in an unknown or magical script that is unintelligible. Alternatively, you can cause the writing to appear to be an entirely different message, written in a different hand and language, though the language must be one you know.

So, the warlock casts Illusory Script, creating a poster describing the party's wondrous and heroic deeds, for which a handsome reward is promised if they come to the designated meeting place – at least, that's what the party sees when they read it. For everyone else, it reads as a wanted poster detailing the many crimes of the party and offering a reward for information leading to their capture.

The nice thing about this solution from the perspective of the cult is that both versions of the poster have the potential to get the cult what they want. The nice thing from your perspective is that the posters will show up to Detect Magic and similar effects, and even if the party doesn't inspect them for magic, you have ample opportunity to have passers-by react to the posters while the party is looking at them, in order to suggest that something is not as it seems.

Distribution: Paper birds

A paper bird is a magically enchanted sheet of parchment that can carry a message of up to 50 words to any known recipient. As a sheet of parchment, it is a valid medium on which to inscribe an Illusory Script. Hence, these wanted posters can be created at a central location and then distributed to "field agents" who receive them and hang them up in other towns and cities across the continent. Since some of the cult members know the party's identities, you can also have them send one directly to the party, if you really want to get their attention.

Because Illusory Script has a duration of 10 days, this limits how far you can send your message, since the birds have a speed of 60. However, unlike a living creature, a paper bird can fly toward its destination continuously, 24 hours a day, until it arrives. If we say that you want a minimum of 5 days to display the poster, then the bird can cover 720 miles in the remaining 5 days of the spell's duration, going by the special travel pace rules in the DMG. That gives you some pretty wide distribution, as long as you have a few "field agents" willing to do the legwork.

(Note that once the paper bird reaches the intended recipient, it becomes non-magical, so by the time the posters are actually posted, the only magic on them will be that of the Illusory Script spell.)