I earlier took a look at three dungeon planner products for mapping out fantasy adventures, and added thoughts on what I’d pack into an ideal planner for a game like Dungeon Fantasy Roleplaying Game (DFRPG).
Let’s look at a similar product: the character journal. Picture a slim notebook that includes all the offerings of a full-featured character sheet, plus more space for back story, adventuring records, artwork, and… hmm, what else? That’s the topic.
Why a journal?
Nothing’s wrong with the old way of maintaining your adventuring alter-ego: character sheets! Purchased in pads, photocopied from books, downloaded and printed out, scrawled at home, it’s all good. Plain old sheets – one page or a few, depending on the game – always seemed enough for me, and they are enough.
You don’t even need a fancy sheet. You can scribble your stats and bad artwork onto loose sheets of paper or into any old notebook. I’ve done it, and you probably have, too. (A Car Wars PC? The back of a gum wrapper should do you.)
“Blank paper” doesn’t have to mean plain and homely. Quite the opposite: a fancy artisanal journal, a nice Moleskine, or just a fresh school notebook will turn character notes into The Book of Baye the Bard. Take a look at this D&D journal posted to Twitter: a leather-bound (?) blank book lovingly packed with handwritten entries, drawings, and pasted artwork, taking on the classic look of some wizardly tome. Even more fun, it’s an in-character journal. (Take that as a suggestion for the diary portions of your own journals: entries that aren’t about your character but are by your character.)
So what’s the point of a ready-made character journal? It’s for those of us who want the structured format of a character sheet, but more of it. With prepared spaces for synopses of adventures, notes on relationships, and records of discoveries, all set down for future play. The end reward: even those of us who are less creative than the journal writer above, who are intimidated by the all-white pages of a blank notebook, end up with a bound book chronicling a beloved PC’s tale.
Take a look at one such journal:
The Fantasy Trip Deluxe Character Journal (for The Fantasy Trip)
This review will be only a third as ambitious as my earlier dungeon planner reviews, as I have only one character journal to examine: The Fantasy Trip Deluxe Character Journal (hereinafter “TFTDCJ“), for Steve Jackson Games’ revived The Fantasy Trip.
I bought this book some time in July of last year – by accident. I was shopping for The Fantasy Trip Labyrinth Planner, made a few distracted clicks, and… whoops, what’s this, a character journal? Oh. Wrong product, but it’s all of $2.95 on Warehouse 23, so what the heck. I’ll happily add it to my TFT collection.
I’ll let the book introduce itself, from the pages linked above:
With the Deluxe Character Journal, you’ll never forget how amazing you are. This 32-page book for The Fantasy Trip lets you record your hero’s abilities and deeds. All the most vital info is at your fingertips in a two-page spread. The book also features extra space to track your valuables, allies, and adversaries, and cities, towns, and labyrinths explored. You can document your adventure highlights and rumors you need to investigate. And speed up play with tables from the Legacy Edition – spells, talents, and weapons are at your fingertips!
What’s in it
Cover: Is there a big space on the cover for writing the character’s name? Of course there is!
Introduction: Just a scrap of intro, including this line to inspire journaling: “… it is your efforts – both in writing in this book as well as adventuring in the land of Cidri – that transforms this book from an empty tool to a record of your character’s heroic journey.”
Character sheet: I’ve said semi-jokingly that a journal is overkill for TFT heroes, whose details and lifespans are often better suited to index cards. But generous space to write up a PC is never a bad thing. And who knows, maybe the crazy kids today are playing the reborn TFT in a way that keeps PCs alive for a while.
TFTDCJ‘s sheet-like section devotes a full page to the PC’s simple stats and traits: name, total points, ST, DX, IQ, MA, race, and gender, plus portrait space, little hexes for ticking off hit points, and one generous, unruled box each for Spells and Talents. That covers the core of a TFT PC!
A second page takes on weapons, armor, and gear in an attractive layout, with an interesting checkbox system for noting where gear is carried. A third full page extends the “gear” concept to lines for recording well over a dozen “valuables.” And a fourth page offers one large ruled box each for character description and character background.
Hirelings, friends, and allies: Four pages of character sheets for NPCs important to the PC, with two sheets on each of four pages. It’s a nifty section made possible by TFT‘s simple character format.
Acquaintances: A full page with two ruled columns for freely describing NPCs not close enough to merit the above sheets.
Enemies and rivals: As above, for the villains vexing your PC.
Cities and towns visited: Four pages, each with four blocks of lines for recording city name, characters met, locations visited, and notes.
Labyrinths explored: Similar to the above, with lines for recording labyrinth name, monsters defeated, and treasures discovered. Good luck keeping that TFT PC alive through all 16 of the blocks provided!
Rumors to investigate: Again similar to the above, but with two pages, each with six blocks for recording rumor source, reliability, plausibility, leads to explore, and notes.
Adventure journal: This section (which perhaps overlaps “labyrinths explored” a lot) consists of four pages, each with six blocks of lines to record adventure name, location, memorable encounters, and unresolved issues.
Reference pages: With several pages remaining, TFTDCJ reprints the game’s spells (with generous descriptions), talent list, weapon table, equipment table, and combat options for easy reference.
Notes: A single ruled page for whatever else.
Back cover: There’s an interesting bonus on the book’s back cover: a full-color hex map of Southern Elyntia, the default home area of TFT‘s game world.
I love the idea of a character journal, and I like the generous space provided here for just about everything a player could think to record. This journal offers more pages than many PCs will need, but not so many pages that the book will end up largely empty and lonely (well, save for those early-career casualty cases).
Considering the time players spend creating, playing, and caring for a PC, even the $8.95 printed book is an easy investment; the $2.95 PDF price is just a steal.
What could be better
Hmm. It all looks good. If a shortcoming appears later, I’ll update this.
What could be added
This journal is pretty complete! The best I can do is ponder what other features might go into any sort of feature-packed journal. Keep reading for some of that.
Looking specifically at TFT, though, I will humbly suggest that a future TFTDCJ update make a careful run through books like In the Labyrinth to glean anything else that should go onto a sheet. For example, the sheet’s “Points” field is, I assume, intended for jotting down attribute points – but then where do experience points go? And not to complicate the sheet’s beautiful simplicity, but PC age, weight, encumbrance level, unarmed combat damage, special feats gained at specific ST levels, and other character tidbits pop up in In the Labyrinth; these arguably deserve dedicated spaces on the sheet.
In the Intro section, I’d also welcome brief designer’s suggestions on using the journal’s many features. For example, where would the designers suggest recording details of a mount, or keeping a record of character advancement? Any player can easily make those decisions, of course, and all-purpose pages like “Notes” stand ready to handle anything, but it’s always interesting to hear what the designer intended.
Oh, and then there’s my personal insistence that any character sheet, in any game, needs a “Character concept” space right up near the top, for writing “Disowned son of rural knight, fallen into piracy and roguery” or whatever makes up the PC’s elevator-pitch story. (Is this just me?)
If you’re playing TFT beyond the “occasional arena battle” level, with a PC who actually embarks on continuing adventures, there’s no reason not to get this journal. Go forth and do so.
Planning the perfect character journal
All right. Just as with that earlier look at dungeon planners, let’s imagine what the perfect character journal would look like. Even more than a dungeon planner, a character journal needs to be game-specific. Once again, I’ll direct my imaginings toward DFRPG; that’s the journal I could put to immediate use! (Along with plenty more DFRPG books; see my big wishlist for Santa Claus’ Austin TX workshop!)
I’ll give myself permission to go nuts and suggest everything that sounds good for a character journal. Actual creators of a journal would face the task of paring down the features to something workable.
Physical features of the perfect journal
Dimensions: While it’s fun to consider unusual sizes for a journal (read on), the default would be size and appearance matching the existing product line. For DFRPG, that’s 8″ x 10″, with color art on a black background.
Binding: Stapled binding to lie flat.
Front cover: We need a big space for the character’s name, of course! And fancy art is a good thing – but, hm, would this be a good place to instead leave a blank space on the cover to let the journaler sketch the PC? (Fantastic for artistic journalers, if not for others…)
Back cover: I have no particularly clever ideas for the back cover. You? (If nothing else, reprinting some handy rules bits, or leaving blank space for the player to freely fill in, sounds fine.)
PDF version: Form-fillable is nice for a PDF version.
What’s inside the perfect journal: The big picture
However the content of the perfect journal is categorized and laid out, I see that content falling under three big tentpoles:
- Character stats: PC information normally covered by a character sheet (in expanded form, as needed).
- Play aids: Information that lets the player make smart decisions and help the GM adjudicate things without flipping through books. (In short: More calculated feats, important threshold values, worked-out exploits, etc. than character sheets usually cover.)
- Diary: The adventures, events, and advancements that tell the PC’s tale.
Taking a loose look at each of these:
Content of the perfect journal: Character stats
This is the character sheet portion of the book, as short or as long as it needs to be.
Basics: Start with Adventurers‘ four-page sheet and add the full-page grimoire sheet from Spells (with a note on what non-casters might use the page for). This means the shorter “Spells” entry on the main sheet can be put to use for something else. (“Character Notes” and “Adventure Notes” should similarly expand from small sections of the character sheet to their own big sections of the journal; see below.)
Expansions: Let’s expand existing sections that are arguably skimpy. Like these:
- DR: A single DR box isn’t enough in a game that invites characters to mix and match armor parts. We need one of those little stick-man diagrams with spaces to record DR by location. (Bonus: The diagram can also note each part’s TH mod as a reference.)
- Parry: Likewise, a DFRPG character has multiple relevant Parry scores. I suppose the current sheet is fine here – put your most-used Parry score in the single box, with other Parry scores appearing in weapon stats – but I wouldn’t object to multiple boxes for Parry scores on the first page of the sheet. (Include one for normal unarmed Parry, and one for unarmed Parry vs weapon.)
- DB: Supplement each Dodge, Parry, and Block box with a little extra box – shield-shaped? – in a corner, for recording these defenses with DB added in. That’s the stat a PC will almost always use in play.
- Parry with Retreat: Supplement each Parry box with another little extra box, for recording the Parry’s bonus with a Retreat – normally +1, but +3 for some. (Oh, the shape of this little box? A hex, of course.)
- Languages: With extra room to play with, let’s make this box bigger.
- Reaction Mods: This could be bigger, with specific spots for noting the name or nature of each mod (like “Social Stigma (Savage)”) and its mechanics.
- Special abilities: Sure, the workings of abilities can be spelled out within the “Advantages” list. But a dedicated space might spur players to jot down mechanics, saving lookup time in play.
- Stuff: Whether structured as part of the main character sheet or later pages, let’s lay out plenty of room to record stuff, broken up into sections for weapons, armor, other gear, treasures, etc. The current formats are fine, though I’d welcome more space to record miscellaneous notes. (Side note: A detailed form for equipment could offer a space for the “normal” price of an item, the price actually paid, and the salable value if known. Fun for players who really like money stuff, anyway.) Magic items, custom-built weapons, and piecemeal armor sets in particular need space for notes; many items of “normal” gear do as well.
- Containers: An idea: Set aside some boxes as places to list what’s inside specific containers. Players could see at a glance what’s in a given bag, belt, pouch, bandoleer, etc.
- Consumables: Big boxes are nice for recording ammo, rations, and other consumables that get erased and re-written a lot.
- Moneys: Taking a note from TFTDCJ, how about spaces to note coins by denomination, and other valuables carried, along with their location? Fields for moneys should be big, as they’ll get erased and re-written a lot.
Additions: Let’s also nab space for new items like these:
- Character concept: As noted earlier, a first-page space for “Knight errant seeking riches”, “Druidic master cleansing the underearth of unnatural abominations”, etc. Gotta have this!
- Motivations: This is covered to a degree by the above and by specific disadvantages and quirks, but I’d welcome a field summarizing the PC’s goals, vows, obsessions, and other motivations, forever glaring at the player on the sheet’s first page.
- Profession archetype: A line for players who want to record the PC’s archetype, sub-type, sub-profession, or whatever it’s called: “Beastmaster”, “Elementalist”, or “Green druid” for a druid, etc. Not needed, but fun. (If the journal is used for GURPS Dungeon Fantasy, the space could note lenses, too.)
- Aliases, titles, etc.: I’d welcome a dedicated place for a PC’s nicknames, earned titles, and what not.
- Guilds/affiliations: Not an explicit part of DFRPG at present, but many groups could make use of a field for this.
- Faith/gods: Again, not an explicit part of the game, but even non-cleric PCs take up specific religions in some campaigns.
- Handedness: It’s a thing that matters in the game, so let’s make a space for it.
- Picture: Whether it’s a generous block on the character sheet or a full page elsewhere, every PC needs space for a stunning portrait!
- Recurring expenses: This would mainly be the weekly cost of living in town: $150. But traits like Compulsive Behavior and Disciplines of Faith (Chi Rituals) can modify this amount.
- Downtime and town time activities: I’m not sure where in the book this should go, but how about a space to note the PC’s typical use of downtime (spare hours in camp, etc.) and town time? It’d be color text for many PCs, but some professions and traits require specific uses of time, a thing worth writing down.
Better status trackers: Let’s enhance the sheet’s important function of tracking changes in status:
- Current HP and FP: Replace the existing sheet’s little boxes with big fields to track these see-sawing stats.
- Other energy sources: Next to the box for FP, place boxes for noting and tracking other energy sources: points from power items, Energy Reserve, and possibly special magic items.
- Fatigue loss by source: Shouldn’t the sheet make it easy to note sources of fatigue loss? That sounds needlessly fussy, but it’s important for recovery of FP. Food and sleep are needed to recover FP lost to lack of these. Paut potion erases fatigue from spellcasting but not from physical exertion. And so on.
- Other status items: Consider a box or boxes for recording the many other status items that come and go in a game: ongoing curses, crippling injuries, current diseases, number of spells currently “on”, etc.
All that, and whatever else makes sense. With 32 pages to play with, the core sheet can be as spacious as we like!
Content of the perfect journal: Play aids
Speed up the action by recording things that otherwise have to be looked up or calculated in play.
More calculated feats: This would be a big thumbs-up from me. The existing sheet records a few calculated performance items like Move, but many more things get calculated at some point:
- Punch, kick, and bite damage: Every PC needs to call on natural weapons eventually!
- Feats of strength: Maximum two-handed lift, weight shifted, etc. (Want to grab these numbers quickly? Head here.)
- Adjusted ST: Skill-adjusted ST for feats of grappling (Wrestling, Sumo Wrestling), forcing doors (Forced Entry), etc.
- Throwing distances: Weight thresholds and the accompanying distance and damage for each, based on the PC’s ST.
- Jumping distances: Normal, running start, and combat distances.
- Breath-holding time: Time at each level of exertion (with and without Breath Control roll).
- Fright check roll: The final roll, which is modified by several traits.
- Recovery times: Times and conditions for recovery of stats like HP and FP, which vary with a number of traits. Let’s record these somewhere – next to the respective tracking boxes?
I’d present these as stats that a player doesn’t have to fill in up front (a DFRPG character comes with enough fill-in-the-blanks baggage as is). But when these things come up in play, write them down for re-use! Hurling a piece of furniture at a foe is fun; working out the distance and damage again the next session isn’t.
Thresholds: “Slow-down happens at 1/3 FP, and I have FP 13, so I’m in trouble at… wait, is it FP 3 or FP 4?” As above: Calculate or look up these numbers once and record them for repeated use.
- HP/3 threshold for “reeling”
- FP/3 threshold for “reeling”
- Negative HP thresholds for death checks
- Damage threshold for major wound
- Location-specific damage thresholds for crippling and for dismemberment
- Damage threshold for triggering Berserk (“above HP/4”)
- Basic hits per yard of knockback
It’d be appropriate to note effects of these where helpful: “Halve Move and Dodge (round up)” next to the “reeling” thresholds, etc.
Favored exploits: Are there any exploits that a PC returns to frequently? For a few favorite feats, let’s make a space to note the names of the exploits, the relevant rolls, and other particulars like FP cost.
Use this to record the rolls needed to keep up that 1-arrow-per-second rate of fire with Fast-Draw (Arrow) and Heroic Archer, the roll for an Acrobatic Stand and its effects, the mechanics of lassoing a foe’s foot if that’s your thing, and so on, to cut down on “What do I roll, again?” queries to the GM.
Rules info: There’d be nothing bad about reprinting rules and other useful game info in the journal as TFTDCJ does, but it doesn’t sound necessary for this journal. DFRPG characters are complex, so the journal will have fewer spare pages to begin with. On top of that, DFRPG books’ back covers already make lots of useful info instantly available.
Still, I like the little inclusions of coinage info, TH mods, living expenses, and so on in DFRPG‘s current character sheet. I wouldn’t object to similar tidbits in the journal – especially frequently accessed info like the skill costs table and the workings of critical rolls – scattered about the pages or consolidated somewhere.
Content of the perfect journal: Diary
Here’s where we journal the PC’s tale. Starting with some back story:
Character background: The PC’s birthplace, past history, family, etc. – more generous space than the little box(es) a character sheet typically affords.
Appearance: The first page of the character sheet is perfect for a one-line description of appearance, i.e., what an NPC sees at a glance. But some players like to describe looks and clothing in detail. (How about a full page combining detailed appearance with a big portrait?)
Advancement record: Progress history, power-up page, whatever it should be called: a page to track earned points and how they were spent. It’s not necessary – what matters is the character now – but it can be fun to look back on a record of PC upgrades.
A spot to write out planned power-ups would be fun, too, as a (totally non-binding!) reminder of that next big upgrade goal.
Adventure record: Dungeons explored, lands visited, memorable happenings and milestones, unresolved issues and rumors… a diary record of the story over time (as opposed to the character over time, recorded in the couple of items above). These pages could be structured in all kinds of ways, whether a big chunk of free-form pages, or bespoke sections for session diary entries, adventure recaps, rumors log, gazetteer of places visited, and more. I’ll be lazy and just drop it all here for future picking-over.
Collected lore: Gameworld lore collected by PCs gets reflected in abstract skills levels, but there are always specific campaign bits worth recording for future exploits and plot hooks. The entrance password to that underground mercenaries’ pub, the vulnerable spot in bone demon armor (discovered at great cost), favorite Orcish curse words, the name of the hedge witch and her paralysis-curing herb, specific bird-call signals worked out with other players, that One Weird Trick for revealing gnomish secret doors…
Significant others: Hirelings, allies, friends, enemies, rivals, and so on. An index card-like format is tempting here, but so are free-form pages, to let the player player write as much or as little as makes sense for each NPC.
Mounts, animal companions, pets, favorite summoning pals, and the like could also go here, unless a separate space makes more sense.
Creations: DFRPG encourages PCs to create and sell poems, maps, ballads, reports, and more. There’s zero need to keep track of such things – they’re just a colorful bit of post-adventure loot adjustment – but some players like to title and keep a list of their “works”.
Introduction/Table of Contents: As appropriate.
Blank ruled pages: The all-purpose “stuff that doesn’t go anywhere else” pages.
Blank unruled pages: Again, pages for everything and anything: maps, family trees, sketches (more character portraits, favorite gear, a coat of arms, a barbarian tartan, etc.)…
Bonus shaky ideas for the perfect journal
Action dashboard: A lot of info goes into a DFRPG PC; even the “main character sheet only” stuff spans several pages.
That’s fine, but perhaps this is a good time to rethink the general flow of character sheets and journals, and build a single page that consolidates all the stuff needed in the heat of action. That means bringing attributes, defense scores, HP/FP trackers, HP/FP thresholds, key physical feats, favored weapon stats, and consumables trackers into one spot, instead of wherever a conventional layout might place them. The dashboard would be nicely uncluttered by point costs, equipment weights/prices, and other bookkeeping trivia not needed in action scenes.
Bonus idea: If the book is staple-bound, use the middle two pages, instead of the expected first page or two of the book, for this info. That’s where a staple-bound book will naturally open and lie flat, presenting the player with a “dashboard” for all the stuff that matters in action.
Pockets of holding: Money’s no object for an imaginary book, so let’s place pockets inside the front and back covers. Perfect for stashing GM handouts, passed notes, and that weird sketch of your swashbuckler that Dave tried to draw.
Portrait frame: As long as we’re stuffing the wish list to a degree that’d make Santa cringe:
At the center of the front cover, imagine a pretty picture frame. Inside the frame is not a blank white space, but a cut-out. A cut-out showing what beneath? The first page of the book, of course: an intro page that says Dungeon Fantasy Roleplaying Game Character Journal at top, with a short table of contents and short intro… and a box in the middle for character name and portrait. This box, with its character sketch drawn on pencil-friendly journal paper, is what will show through the cover’s cut-out frame.
But what if you’re timid about committing an eternal portrait to that first page? You could instead draw your pic on a piece of paper (or print a pic from your favorite software), and place that paper behind the cover so the portrait shows through. (Here’s the sort of thing I’m talking about, in mini notebook form.) What would keep the paper in place? The pocket inside the cover, of course!
The point of this: Instead of committing your journal to a permanent portrait, you could swap that cover pic any time your personal Artist skill improves. Or when you re-deck your PC with a seasonal look. Or when an encounter with a gold-bedecked, limb-rending draug spurs a revamp of “Ragged Rognar the Two-Fisted” into “Richly-Appointed Rognar the One-Armed”. A journal with hot-swappable PC portrait would be… okay, odd, but amusing.
Product idea that probably makes no business sense: Mini journals
Don’t ask me why, but a pocket-sized version of a journal sounds cool. Case in point: the Field Notes company, maker of fancy-pants small-format notebooks, has come up with a medium-format Character Journal and Game Master Journal for D&D 5E. (See a gamer’s review of the Character Journal here.)
What’s in the books? I’ll note the content of the Game Master Journal in my thoughts on building the perfect dungeon planner. About the Character Journal, Field Notes says:
Our Character Journals are specifically designed to help you track your D&D character’s statistics, spells, weapons, treasure, history, and more. The 64 pages have room for all of the data normally found on a character sheet, and more, including plenty of space to document your adventure level by level.
Each book in the 2-Pack is designed to track one character. Inside, you’ll find empty charts, tables, and spaces for logging the following character information:
- Character Elements
- Race Details / Ancestry Details
- Personality Traits / Bonds / Ideals / Flaws
- Background / Backstory
- Class / Subclass / Class Table /
- Attacks / Spellcasting / Languages / Ammunition
- Spellcasting Table / Favorite and Frequent Spells
- Proficiencies and Skills
- Equipment / Money / Treasures
- Downtime and Leisure Activity Tracking
- Character Level Notes
- Allies / Hirelings / Sidekicks
- Faction Details
- Campaign Quotes and Notes
- Behind-the-Scenes / Thoughts / Theories
- Session Log
I think I’ve hit most of those items in my ramblings above. (But if you’d like more off-the-wall ideas for things to record, check out the “PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS” list on the inside back cover of the book, seen in this close-up from the above-mentioned user review.)
So. Could SJG make something like that for DFRPG? I don’t know. The company can technically do so, of course (with or without Field Notes’ “beefy Domtar Lynx Ultra Smooth 70# text with clear-but-subtle ‘Adventuring Bindle Light Brown’ ink” and “French Paper Co ‘Pop-Tone’ 100# covers printed with ‘Hell Hound Black’ ink”). But as a product that makes business sense… well, I have it on good authority that the market sizes for D&D and DFRPG just might differ a tad, and what works for one may not work for the other.
Tangent: Behold the Pocket Journal
You may be aware that we already have a “mini journal” for DFRPG: the Pocket Journal, made available with the DFRPG Monsters 2 Kickstarter as Dungeon Fantasy Monsters 2 Pocket Journal. This is a tiny (about 139mm x 88mm) book with 32 blue-lined pages and cover art (in two versions) from the game. And nothing else – no forms or fields at all. It’s not a journal of the sort I discuss here (though it does have a pocket in back!).
For the heck of it, though: Could there be a DFRPG Character Journal, with all the forms and fields, in this micro-tome size? Well, each page won’t hold much data, so it’d need lots of pages. But even if a bit thick, it sure would be handy, easily traveling anywhere and taking up next to no space on the gaming table. (I’m tempted to think of special uses for that portability. Like the Field Notes journal above, we could mark out a ruler along an inside cover for measuring things on a hex-free table top – make the journal a Range Ruler! Then again, no; DFRPG sticks to mapped, hex-based combat, so a Range Ruler doesn’t really fit.)
There’s this, too: Pages in the PDF version of this tiny journal would look great on a smartphone screen.
Well. While a pixie-sized DFRPG character journal would be cute as all get out, I think it’s just too small for recording or finding info without a lot of page flipping. (Even Field Notes’ gaming journals are a size up from the company’s main pocket-sized products). So I’ll set this goofy thought aside.
As with my earlier dump of ideas for dungeon planners, the above is over-thought and just too much. The biggest task in making a real product would be cutting down a pile like the above to what’s needed and workable.
It’s been amusing stuff to think about, though, over a long and lazy period of writing. I’ve been happily using DFRPG‘s nice character sheets, supplemented by plain ol’ freeform sheets of paper, but maybe I’ll play with designing my own expanded sheet/journal.
How about you? Have you crafted your own Perfect PC Portfolio or other tome? What features do you think are critical for an expanded character sheet or full-fledged journal?