Field Notes 5E Character Journal Review

I pack mountains of information in my Dungeons & Dragons campaigns that my players can choose to latch onto or let loose into the great sea that is our campaign’s narrative. Who is the emperor of the Kothian Empire? How did he reach the throne? Why did the Obsidian Circle want to eliminate the Choqiti wood elves? Where did the Choqiti retreat to in their time of need? Some players love to keep track of this sort of knowledge, keen that it will make an impact later in the campaign; others don’t, either because they’re uninterested or don’t have somewhere clean to write it down.

In all scenarios, invested player and not, I have an excellent solution: the Field Notes 5E Character Journal.

The Field Notes 5E Character journal is a newly released product of Field Notes, a company dedicated to providing tabletop roleplaying game players with clean mediums to keep track of their characters and campaigns. This particular item, the 5E Character Journal, specializes in organizing everything a player in a D&D campaign could ever need or want for their character.

If you’re interested, continue reading. Before you consider ordering this product, check out everything it has to offer — all 64 pages — below.

Quick Overview

In short: this journal is great for players who play a single character for a long stretch of time; it's not the best for someone who plays a variety of characters. However, it’s compact and has pages for any information a player would want to have in a campaign. There’s room for any mechanical detail you might want to note about your character. What does my Champion fighter receive at level 9? How does my warlock’s Hurl Through Hell ability work again? Why is eldritch blast my favorite spell to use? In addition, there’s a plethora of pages 100% dedicated to storing information about your character’s personality and history, not a measly six lines like a normal character sheet. From their backstory to any factions they might be a part of, there’s a page for it. Campaign knowledge has spots too, sprinkled throughout the book. If you’re still not sure about the journal, read the deep delve below!

In-Depth Exploration

The journal begins with a page dedicated to detailing the owner of the little booklet: who they are, how to contact them, and other miscellany. It also explores important D&D rules like exhaustion, area of effect, and size categories. An index also lines the left hand side of the page, explaining where everything in the journal is located. I like this part, especially the index and area of effect pictures. The former helps people navigate the booklet with ease and the latter explains something often lost on players in the midst of battle.

The next page is meant to be a broad overview of your character. Their name towers above everything else, including class, subclass, age, faith, a large box for a sketch of them, and much more. It’s great. This is what I love to focus on, after all. At a glance, you can really get an image of your character without anything truly mechanical invading your vision. I’ve noticed these tidbits have disappeared from the standard character sheets of fifth edition, especially the weight, height, and eye color details; I’m glad this included them.

The next two pages are titled Race Details and Ancestry details. They let you delve into your character’s history, giving you plenty of space. Who are their parents? Do they still live? Where did your race come from? Is your land still thriving? This page is fully dedicated to building on the story of your character, driving home the importance of the fluff & narrative side of your character and not the mechanics of it. Again, lovely.

The next two pages allow room for your character’s bonds, flaws, personality traits, and ideals — a facet of every 5E D&D character sheet. However, these pages give lots of space to build out multiples of each or allow you to really dive in on a single one. A regular 5E character sheet does not allow this at all, giving a measly line or two for each. That’s not enough space for a character who might survive and evolve for 50 sessions.

The next few pages are for your backstory and background, alongside your class and subclass details. The pages after that are your mechanical character sheet. Your stats are there, alongside everything you get at every level so you don’t need to reference the Player’s Handbook constantly; another great addition for players who don’t have a PHB. There’s also a fantastic section on languages your character knows and whether or not they can read, write, speak, or recognize them.

Spells and profiencies line the next chunk of pages in the journal and end with a plethora of pages on equipment, coins, and treasure. This is easily enough room for a 40+ session campaign. There’s even an “Attuned” column for you along the left hand side.

After items, there’s a section on downtime activities. These pages allow you to keep track of any deals you might have going on during the adventure. Are the Greenblades performing a sacred ritual in a faraway grove for you? Are your minions constructing a grand citadel on the edge of a demon-infested gorge? Is the great Handil Iliun forging an artifact in the far-off reaches of Scyth? Everything and anything that might be happening outside the adventure can be kept here.

Next up are 20 pages dedicated to notes on each and every level, including how many hit points you gained at any particular level. This means you can remember specific things that happened across the campaign, including events, monsters slain, and even the time you rolled minimum hit points four times in a row.

Near the tail end of the journal is tons of space for specific pieces of campaign-specific knowledge. There’s room for NPCs, sidekicks, and other important characters in the story. After, there are six dedicated pages to faction notes. You have lots of space to detail the members of a specific faction, any alliance you might have with them, or any prominent goals of the organization. After that is room for campaign specific quotes. We all want to remember what the first big bad villain said as they fell to the ground, lifeless, right? Finally, there is a section for meta theories and a complete session log. These both help you keep track of the progression of the campaign in the long-term.

The journal ends with another information page, containing a detailed alignment chart and table of ability score modifier bonuses, among other things. Another great detail for those who don’t own a PHB.

In Summary

The Field Notes 5E Character Journal is a fantastic resource for folks who love to take notes during a campaign, detail their character, and keep a working history of their character’s journey in the campaign. The journal contains a bounty of mechanical information important to players as well, and plenty of room to detail each and every mechanic your character might have. At the end of a campaign, you’ll have a complete history of it from start to finish from your character’s perspective. Not only is this a great way to stay invested in a campaign, it’s a great way to remember an epic story long after it has ended. Truly, for anyone who plays in a D&D campaign and is dedicated to a single character, this is a fantastic pick-up. If you play lots of different characters or aren't dedicated to a single campaign, this might not be the purchase for you.

I hope this review helped inform your decision on the Field Notes 5E Character Journal. If you’d like to pick one up, make sure to visit their site and let them know I sent you!

Until next time, farewell.

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