Mod of the Week: Journal of the Dragonborn, for Skyrim

Christopher Livingston

It seems like everyone in Skyrim keeps a journal. Bandits, smugglers, fishermen, necromancers, and even serial killers all obsessively document their lives. Yet the most interesting person in Skyrim - that Dragonborn character - does not. It's time to change that, with the Journal of the Dragonborn mod. Take notes, jot down reminders, keep a diary, and record your exciting adventures for posterity, all from right there inside the game.

That last part - writing your journal entries inside the game, while playing - is especially appealing. I often take notes while I play Skyrim just in case I wind up innocently murdering dozens of people , but it either requires having my laptop crammed onto my small and already crowded desk, or alt-tabbing out of the game, which can occasionally cause a crash. I guess you could also use the Steam interface to open a browser window, but you won't have the Steam interface if you're using the Skyrim Script Extender, which I often am. Either way, being able to use an in-game journal to take notes, or read them later, is really convenient.

As for the actual point of keeping a diary while playing, well, I can think of several. Just a couple weeks ago I was looking through my old saved games and I came across one with a level 12 character named Mags. Obviously, I'd put in at least a few hours with her at some point in the past couple years, and looking through her quest history I could see she did some of the Winterhold College quests. She also looked like kind of a badass.

Problem is, I can't remember a damn thing about who this character was or what sort of goals I had for her. Her personality, her loyalties, her alignment, her back-story... I honestly can't recall. Plus, she was just standing up on a mountain, and I have no idea where she was headed or what she was doing whenever it was I decided to take a break.

This mod means I can avoid that in the future. It'll be great, years from now, to load up an old character, open their journal, and read the details about who they are and what my plans were for them, in case I've forgotten. Instead of staring blankly at a forgotten character, wondering who they were, I'll be able to pull up something like this:

The journal is also useful for general day-to-day reminders. Has this happened to you? You're leaving a dungeon, loaded with so much loot that picking up even a single mushroom will render you immobile. You can't fast-travel because some mudcrab or slaughterfish has spotted you from a mile away, and you don't feel like wading into the water to deal with it, so you have to spend some time actually running through Skyrim for a change. Along the way, you spot something interesting: maybe a camp, maybe a cave, maybe just an interesting looking spot on the map, something you want to remember specifically, in a way that a map marker just can't capture.

Speaking of loads of treasure, here's another use for the journal if you're a massive slob like myself. I have an Orc character who owns every house in Skyrim and has stuffed each house with several dozen mounds of loot. For a while I was being careful: putting weapons in racks and armor in wardrobes and valuables in chests, but after a while, I just started running into whichever house was closest and dumping a giant pile of treasure on the floor before running back out.

Not only am I deeply ashamed of my haphazard hoarding, I occasionally need to actually find something specific that I dumped somewhere. For instance, I collected dozens of dragon bones and scales, and later it took me hours of house-scouring to find them when I finally wanted to do some crafting. I also have a special enchanted set of armor that allows me to carry more loot, which I of course dumped somewhere in a random loot pile. Now, at least, when I do something stupid like that, I can write it down.

So there are plenty of practical uses for the journal, but if you really want to do some role-playing, you can also use this journal as, well... a journal. Record your adventures. Write down the things you do. Keep a faithful diary of your heroic and exciting life. Export them from your game so you can read them whenever you want. Send them to someone. (Don't send them to me.)

>As for how it works: the journal opens up with a simple hotkey (X) and lets you type right there inside the game. You can save your entries, edit old ones, or delete ones you no longer need. There's a couple of choices on appearances, and a few different Skyrim fonts to choose from. You can also move the journal interface around the screen, re-size it, and change its opacity. It even enters the in-game date for each entry for you. Pretty cool!

Installation : You can subscribe via the Steam Workshop link or download the mod from the Nexus and drop them into your Skyrim data folder. You'll also need the Skyrim Script Extender and SkyUI installed. If you want to export your journal, you'll need a mod called FISS : it will let you save your journal as a .txt file.

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