The RPGournal is designed to help you better engage with your game however you’re playing it; as a focused role-player, problem solver, or hack-and-slash adventurer.
It does this by freeing up your working memory, and by organizing things you are likely to need to remember about the game so that you can think about the game instead of switching your focus from the game to recording information about the game.
Working memory lets the brain put together sensory information, something vital for engagement in story — particularly a story which may be long-reaching or complex — and for problem solving.
Switching focus takes willpower, and what a waste to spend it taking notes during a game, because when you’re low on willpower, that’s when your GM gets mad that you keep breaking character and making jokes and not listening.
USING THE GOURNAL
So, that’s great, right? A journal that helps you think less so you can think more.
“Time spent in sharpening the axe may well be spared from swinging it.”
-Josiah Strong, “the Times & Young Men”
But what’s it look like to actually use this thing?
Well, suppose you are playing in a fantasy setting, you and your party have made camp for the night when you get ambushed by murdercorns. The RPGournal’s dot grid makes it easy to sketch out the battlefield.
Perhaps you like more cerebral games, and you are playing in a 19th century cosmic horror setting, or even a modern gothic horror setting. The dot grid is equally suited to helping you map the mysterious Dexter-Ward estate (and what happened in which room) or the nightly path of the Homunculus Pub’s duplicitous owner.
Your elfin Lumberjane and her party have engaged with the great murdercorns of the Hornmoors. Your party has a wild pastor whose prayers to Saint Bill grant bonuses on certain offensive rolls, and they stack with the bonuses from your party’s dire mime. This is the perfect time to make use of the RPGournal’s combat modifiers section. Jot down those extra modifiers and maybe their total score so you don’t have to keep adding your bonuses up. There is also a section to tally up any damage taken so you don’t have to keep erasing your hit points on your character sheet.
As your lumberjane throws her laser axes, you’ll be glad the RPGournal has a little box to record your expended ammunition, too.
These sections of the Gournal will serve just as well for your hapless investigator in the Dexter-Ward estate as she uncovers the forces of non-Pythagorean ennui underpinning the uncaring universe, and must log bonuses from her magical hobo companion as well as spent ammunition.
More obvious is the core of the RPGournal’s utility: the goals and encounters sections. In the ebb and flow of story, the Lumberjane, the investigator, and the there-wolf will all either have, need, or be given goals and motivations. These things drive character and story, but are easy to lose sight of.
“Every character should want something, even if it’s just a glass of water.”
Write down what your character wants, and you will increase engagement, and have more focus. It’s a form of cognitive bias called frequency illusion, and the RPGournal is designed to help you harness it for better gameplay.
There will be plot points, goals, and side-quests for your group, and it can be easy to forget why you’re talking to the gremlin widow outside of town instead of tracking vicious griffogryphs.
Write it down. Free your working memory; write it down.
You will encounter other characters — a suspicious caretaker, a retired murdercorn-turned-inkeeper, a demonic hairstylist — and they will share important information with your investigator, your Lumberjane, your there-wolf, and you will think that you will remember it and them (or you will make a hasty note which will get lost on a disorganized page of other notes), but you will either not remember and ask your GM (maybe several times). Or, you will remember at the expense of your working memory, and that means you’re thinking about that information instead of engaging with your game.
The RPGournal’s encounter section keeps this information in one clear place so you don’t have to think about it or where you wrote it.
You know how it works and how it can help. Convinced?