The Wars setting in Yellow King RPG includes these sort of portable telegraph machines called boîtenoires. I wanted to generate some prop messages for our campaign, but I couldn’t find any templates, so I whipped up a simple one myself. Then I rang a couple of variations on it. Here they are.
Right-click and save any image for the full sized version. I recommend HPLHS Telegram as a typeface for filling in the body; that’s what I used for the header labels and it’s a free download.
Here’s an example of how I used these:
Pretty self-explanatory. I fiddled around with the header block (To/From) for a while before figuring out how to make it look reasonably official. I smudged the date because time is very slippery in this particular setting.
In our campaign, I decided that paper is in short supply so I used the faded letter background. Since your campaign may be different, I also made a pair of them with generic vintage paper. For my purposes, I used the Scriptorium’s Lysander typeface as the header typeface. (You can buy it individually but that’s very cost-inefficient, so I linked to the package deal. Or wait for one of his occasional 30% off sales, get the full Display bundle, it’s a great collection of historic-flavored typefaces.) This seemed like it might be a bit frilly for everyone’s tastes so I generated another pair of templates using HPLHS Headline One, also available for free from the H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society.
While I’m getting distracted by talking about design resources: Design Cuts is my go-to source for cheap bundles full of resources. Usually $30 for a bundle, there’s always a bundle available, and they usually cycle through typeface collections, vintage design resources, and product mockup bundles. The quality is not insanely high but for the purposes of me fiddling around with props? Awesome. Would also be very good for sourcing Roll20/Foundry backgrounds.