After reviewing Field Notes’ amazing 5e Character Journals it was brought to our attention that they also made 5e Game Master Journals as well. With this news, we simply couldn’t resist looking deeper into this product to give our honest opinion on how it might help you in your game. Let’s dive right into it!
Robust Structured Journaling for 5E Game Masters
With these Game Master Journals it is no surprise that Field Notes knocked it out of the park again. Not only did Field Notes take the time to consider the needs of game masters while putting the product together, they considered the structure and organizational challenges that one might face with keeping game notes regularly. The journals have well divided sections and are extremely functionality focused.
Right out the gate these journals open with sections for campaign level details to record the campaign name and synopsis. This section also includes a table built to collect player names and contact information as well as what characters they’re playing. This section continues with areas for inspiration, house rules, and world and multiverse notes in a pure dot ruled format.
Immediately this is followed up with a much more structured section for pantheon details, making keeping track of your gods a breeze. These sections are well put together and straight forward, but also easily the least detail rich areas. The next section is where these journals shine, with maps and kingdom details.
In this Geography section you have room for 4 full hex maps, 4 major kingdoms, and 12 settlements or key locations. Each of these location sections has areas for names, rulers, kingdom affiliations, government types, alliances, calamities, and general notes. This is perhaps our favorite part of these journals because these are the little details that your brain has to load up every time your players enter an area. You can take a lot of the burden off your brain very quickly with these clean and well structured notes.
The next section of the journals covers Key and Secondary NPCs. This area gives you room for all the standard notes you’d need and allows for a total of 24 NPCs in the section. The Field Notes team really understood what’s most important for NPCs. They’ve condensed it down into easily notated chunks that make it exceptionally easy to recall roleplaying notes for any NPC on the fly.
Players are covered in the next section, and not necessarily in the way you might think. While we always recommend having your players’ character sheets handy, the Game Master Journals cut that down to essentials. This allows for active note taking that is perfect for keeping your players engaged in the story. These sections really tie the whole journal together as an excellent tool with all the key features up front.
The remaining sections of the book are equally amazing. There’s room for factions, monsters, and magic items, as well as several sections for adventure notes, milestones, and XP. The game master journal is finally rounded out with several pages dedicated to building up your own random tables to keep handy during the game. These journals have everything you could need to run and notate a campaign.
Lastly, we would be remiss to not talk about the amazing reference work they’ve done for the inside covers of the journal. In the front cover alongside the standard “if found please return to:” information there are areas for an index and several random tables. Our favorites are easily the Dwarvish and Halfling Curse tables, containing entries like “un-plumb joints” and “whoopsie-daisy” respectively.
The back inside cover contains an amazing Tavern Name Generator, notes on step by step combat, alignment tables, ability modifiers references, and a few parting notes from the makers. Really a superb and well crafted product cover to cover.
Is This Game Master Journal Right For Me?
It’s no secret we love these journals. We’re fans of note taking, Field Notes as a brand, and organizational tools as a whole. But that doesn’t tell you if these are a good fit for you as a game master.
If you’re struggling to take notes during your sessions or having trouble preparing for them, this is a product that can help with that. It’s well organized and neat, takes a lot of the metal work out of remembering what is and isn’t important, and it’s compact enough to force brevity, which is always a good trait in note taking. Furthermore, this journal is also for scratch note or loose leaf note takers. The game master journal is cheap, reliable, and structured way better than that pile of scrap paper you call notes.
However, these journals are not for super preppers. While these journals do offer 64 pages for various notes, they’re not equipped to handle massive world building notes all in one place. If you’re routinely writing 10 pages of notes before each session, using these journals would be confining for you.
If you fall into this camp but want to move into using journals like these, we would recommend you pick up some additional rules notebooks as well as the player character journals and reference larger note sections and write ups from Game Master Journal itself.
Extreme Value for the Price
Field Notes journals are a quality product. The paper is thick and sturdy. The covers are rigid enough to write on, but flexible enough to bend as you flip through your notes. All the printing is clean and clear and you simply cannot beat their consistent style. A 2 pack of journals is only $17, making them one of the least expensive and most helpful things you’re going to buy for your game by a long shot.