The personal journal is the character's record of everything known about the world of Revival. Over time, that knowledge will become seeded with tags, flags, skills of various kinds as well as skill progression, maps and art sketches, scribing and musings. Included here are a number of quotes from the developers describing the form and function of the Journal and how players and characters can use it.
The Personal (Character) Journal
We haven't implemented the system yet, but the plan is that every player will have a journal they can jot down notes in. (Some notes will be added automatically as things happen too, quest journal style. Though the level of detail in these automatic notes might be determined by a player's journaling skill, we haven't decided yet). Right now the thinking is that the journal will be sectioned and that players can add new sections at will. Entering text will be a relatively simple matter of typing it in, no handwriting. That said, when a player goes to reproduce something graphical, e.g. a sketch of a painting, an in-world game object, or symbol on a wall, chances are that some sort of "Art minigame" will be played to determine how good the reproduction is. There are no photographs in Theleston, after all.
Creating ink, quills, paper and parchment are definitely tasks people will have to perform if they don't want to buy these supplies from crafters, but they won't really play into day to day journaling. Instead, if you want to copy information from your journal, or write a book (create journal style content outside of your journal), you'll need them to produce a manuscript. The finished manuscript can then be taken by a bookbinder to produce a finished book with that content in it. (Book binders can combine one or more manuscripts together into a single book too, making omnibus editions possible). - Snipehunter
You can copy pages from your journal with the journaling skill, this will create a loose page of that information. That page can be combined with other pages to form a manuscript, and a manuscript can then be bound into a book by a bookbinder. The original source of each page in a manuscript doesn't really have any impact on whether you can put it in a book or not, so you can absolutely hire an artist or a cartographer to include top quality work of each type (pictures and maps) into your books. - Snipehunter
The Journal in Crafting
...with most crafting skills, doing so will generate a new recipe that you can then add to a book or journal to save and perhaps sell, give away or trade to another player. - Snipehunter
Ty leaves his forge to make his way to the market, where he has no issue finding a few billets of fine metal for his project, and coal for his forge. Once he has returned, Ty fills his coal skip, pops open his journal and activates his weaponsmithing skill revealing a list of all of the recipes that he knows that use his forge, and that he’s got the knowledge, tools, and materials to make. Had he everything at the ready to make the whole dagger, Ty could select the recipe from his journal and step through every necessary step, in order, from pommel to handle, hilt and blade, making substitution choices where indicated, and where his on-hand parts allowed. Today, though, Ty selects the menu showing only hilts from his journal, chooses a swept hilt compatible with the dagger he intends to make, and the game of forging begins.
The inclusion of an artifact pommel, and a custom hilt mean that this longsword is a variant of the recipe in his journal, and as it is the first time that Ty has completed the recipe, he now may name the variant as he pleases, or leave it simply “Longsword (variant).” Being one with a flourish for personalization, Ty chooses to name this blade ‘Woods Walker’ after the adventure that Alexandra told him about while he worked the forge. - Ombwah
If you don't have the ingredients necessary to make a dish, you won't be able to start the recipe and the recipe will be grayed out when you first start cooking. This may seem like it throws the idea of substitution out the window, but while you're cooking you can substitute any of your base ingredients with items from the ingredient shelf. When you use that ingredient in the recipe, a check is made that determines what will happen: It might unlock a new recipe that will be added to your journal, it might alter an effect of the resulting food or it might alter the quality or shelf-life of the food, or it might do all of those things. Note that these changes may be positive or negative. For example, it's totally possible to substitute one ingredient with another that you think is going to be amazing, only to find out that ruins the dish. Your cooking skill comes into play here too. Sometimes a substitution is valid, but requires you know certain techniques (have certain flags) or have a particular level of cooking skill to work, otherwise they'll have a negative effect on the dish. It's also possible that you need to do something to the ingredient first (e.g. cut out the poison sacks in a puffer fish) in some other cooking process before it can be properly used.
When you activate the cooking skill, everything in a certain radius (I think it's 8m right now) is checked to see if it is a cooking fixture that you have permission to use. This is coupled with what's in your inventory (and what it's the cabinets and other storage nearby that you have permission to use) to determine which recipes can be cooked where you are, graying out the rest in your journal's recipe display. When you select a recipe, the necessary ingredients and tools are placed around the various cooking fixtures that need them. The game then positions you in front of the first fixture used in the recipe and zooms the camera into the space, with the recipe in a UI panel for you to reference, another panel showing all of your available ingredients (the ingredient shelf I mentioned earlier) and a third UI element called the rail along the bottom of the screen. The rail shows you the steps of the recipe in order, in a sort of "cooking mama" or "guitar hero" sort of way: the recipe steps crawl along the rail and you're expected to start them when they hit the center of the rail and finish them before their window closes, as illustrated on the rail. As soon as you pick up the tool related to the first step of the recipe, or perform the first cooking action of the recipe, the rail begins to move and from that point on you're cooking on the clock. (You'll move automatically to the next cooking fixture after you finish the current step, when a recipe step calls for such a change). - Snipehunter
Crafting *is* recipe based, in that when you first learn how to make an item you will start with a recipe you learn or buy from another crafter (be they an NPC or another player), but when it comes time to actually do the work, you can substitute materials for comparable ones. (So if you have a recipe for a sword, and you normally make steel ingots as your first step, you could use something else, say carbon heavy steel ingots or something, instead). Likewise, with most crafting skills, doing so will generate a new recipe that you can then add to a book or journal to save and perhaps sell, give away or trade to another player. - Snipehunter
The plan right now is that you'll start with a "base recipe" and modify to create a new one. So, you might start with a sleep draught recipe, but swap out the whiteflower for a more potent healing agent that heals more completely, but that actually boosts the narcotic effect of the basic sleep draught to create a stronger potion that knocks you out longer, that sort of thing. When you modify a recipe this way, assuming you succeed of course, you're given the option of recording the new recipe in your journal, which you could then copy and sell to others.
There are a few things that will confound the ability to look a recipe up via the wiki and have that mean anything, but to answer the question: You can in fact share your recipes. New recipes you discover through experimentation will go into your journal. Not all experimentation, even when successful, will result in new recipes though, in fact most won't. - Snipehunter
We're definitely not anywhere close to implementing it, but that's the plan. Mechanically, the game would take a screenshot of the thing you were looking at from your camera angle and then apply certain treatments to the image to produce a final "drawing." Sort of like the way Valkyria Chronicles did its stylized transitions, if that makes sense. It will tie into a few systems that work with journaling, such as the bestiary system which allows players to learn things about creatures in the wild (weaknesses, biomes normally found in, that sort of thing) and then record those details in their journal alongside a "field sketch" of the creature. the idea is that the first thing you'd record for a new bestiary entry is a sketch, which would require you to get relatively close to a creature without causing it to attack you for some time while you produce the sketch. (you could sketch corpses too, but you learn more from living specimens in the system. Admittedly not totally realistic, but it does have a higher risk factor and thus takes more effort.) - Snipehunter
Cartography is actually meant to use a very similar system. The minigame itself is a little different, but the core idea of using your skill, which snapshots the area and then through the minigame turns the snapshot into a finished product is the same. One of the ways a tiny team like ours can pull off the breadth we're shooting for is by finding as many ways to express the technology we develop as we can so that we get the most use out of the effort that goes into it. (Smithing, Cooking and Alchemy are other examples of this - we present them in very different ways, but the same core technology powers all three crafting styles)
The art skill's ability to illustrate journal entries is used in animal lore too, as part of filling out bestiary entries for the animals you encounter. The idea being that those pages, along with your own narrative and maps made along the way can be combined into books so that you can create Lewis and Clark style guides to regions, with pages that transfer knowledge and tags when read. (with enough variance in the results of all the related minigames and skill uses that your version of a guide can differ from someone else's to allow for value variance, as well.)
You don't need to be a master of all of those skills to create great work, but of course a master cartographer who is also a master artist & accomplished scribe will create very useful guides, especially if that person also has extensive herbology, mineralogy and animal lore to pack details into the maps and other entries. Of course, that person wouldn't have a lot of free skill points for anything else, either. They'd probably want to bring some friends, colleagues or hirelings with them to be safe. Still, thanks to the fact that the world evolves over time and conditions in areas change, there's a sustainable career in that gameplay. - Snipehunter
The Journal as a Record
Right now, if you want to pass along detailed information, e.g. actual locations or tags related to deep lore, you'd have to share your personal journal (using the journaling skill to make a manuscript out of it) which would pass along many, but probably not all, of the tags you had collected. However, certain words in chat can pass along a tag as well, assuming you possess the tag. So you could talk about Falcreek all day, but if you'd never been there you wouldn't pass along a tag to someone if you'd never actually been there or if the character didn't have the related tag himself. But assuming you'd read about Falcreek or the like, you could chat with your fellow players and, assuming they weren't deficient (which is to say they had a high enough investigation, perception or eavesdropping skill to activate the tag) they would gain that simple awareness that Falcreek exists, just as if they'd heard an NPC mention it. - Snipehunter
Your journal will definitely help you track what you know, but it won't illustrate a connection you haven't made. In Ombwah's example, the Song of Haedra might be listed in the knowledge section under haedra lore while the info about the beast off the coast of anakhatha would in the rumors section and the sailor's rede would be in the atlas section on the northern sound. Asking the right people about it might connect the dots for you, at which point those pieces of your journal would be linked together so that you could follow from one to the other, but even then it's on you to realize they're connected and seek out people to confirm your suspicions (or witness it for yourself and make the connections that way). - Snipehunter
Of course, all of this research means all sorts of things to keep track of. Who said there was a god buried in the desert again? That sort of thing. With conventional quests, you’d have some sort of quest tracker to tell you what to do and where, but Revival isn’t really that kind of game, is it? So how do we make it possible for you to track all of this stuff, without a quest tracker? The answer is your journal. Every character you create will have a journal. It is essentially a blank book that your character adds to as you play. When you meet important or powerful people, what you learn about them is added to a dossier you compile in your journal. As you encounter creatures in the world, basic information about is added to your bestiary in your journal, as well. These are just two of the five types of information your journal stores. It also stores basic information about the lands you visit, compiles the results of your research and records the interesting things that happen to you every day. This means that when you overhear a rumor, it will be added to your journal and if you know anything about the subject of the rumor, it will link right to it so that you can read more. This way you’re kept in synch with the knowledge your character has, which is important both because you can forget and because what you the player knows and what your character knows may not be the same thing all the time. In other words: your character’s journal is how you keep it all straight “in your head.” - Snipehunter
The trick to remember with tags is that they aren't an explicitly shown feature: You will never see the tags on you and you will never know explicitly when you receive a tag and when you do not. Your journal will automatically record certain tidbits of information as you hear them, but that doesn't necessarily mean you have gained a corresponding tag - it just means that what you heard triggered a journal update, so even that moment of "ah ha there's a thing!" doesn't actually correlate to tags in your tag queue, all the time. In truth, this is very deliberate design decision on our part.
It's sometimes hard to convey without stepping on some players expectations of gameplay, but in a sense we don't want you to metagame. We want you to interact with the world as your characters rather than as players operating those characters. That's a really hard goal to accomplish, but one of our approaches is to, wherever possible, make the game reflect the choices you've made rather than to telegraph the outcomes of choices you have yet to make. Hiding tags, hiding when the various mechanisms of the game interact with each other and generally forcing a more "organic" approach to what you might call "questing" in other games all help to sort of "limit" player perspective so that it is more in-line with what your character knows and sees. Our hope is that this in turn makes it easier to "be your characters."
That sort of approach absolutely does turn things on their ears for some players of online RPGs though, and so it's an open question as to how easy it will be for players to engage with the game, especially at first, but we feel pretty strongly that the results will be worth it. - Snipehunter
...you could write a journal, (or, I suppose, buy one) which could be stolen by someone in collusion with you, or not, and you could give chase. If, in fact, the book had aome intrinsic value due to the information you put into it, or the tags it carries (or both), that is even a scenario that could play out entirely within the bounds of the game-world itself, needing no textual embroidery on your part. - Ombwah
The Journal as a Legacy
If you're alive, you'll decide to retire, a command you can execute from your character sheet or journal. If you're already dead, you can decide to "release your burden" and remain dead using pretty much the same command.
In either case, you'll then compose either a letter or a will, in which you will assign name and gender to your heir, while also selecting several skills of your own that you have passed on, in addition to your possessions. Then we'll cut to your letter being delivered, and you'll go through a version of the character origin matrix that is themed to receiving the letter, so you can select both your character's background and your relationship to the character who has just retired or died. That character would then enter the game at the port of a city near your retiring character, with a letter of inheritance and your old character's journal in hand.
If your old character is still alive, it will operate as a "free" non-combat hireling for your heir who can either stay at your home, if you have one (you would have inherited your original character's if it had one) and maintain the house for you/mind the store/whatever, or he can follow around. In either case your old character can be used to train you, crew a vessel, manage a store, work on your farm, etc. The only real restriction is that the character is non-combat (it "retired" after all). Well, that and it will still age and eventually die for good when the time comes.
If your character died, your heir won't have the benefit of that character being around, but all other benefits would apply. This might change (maybe we can do some ancestor worship or something, for example), but the idea is to present players with a dilemma: Choose to retire before death and add a greater benefit to an heir, or push as hard as possible with the life you have, potentially risking not being around to "groom" your heir. In truth the benefit of a living ancestor is pretty mild right now anyway, but I still think it's sort of a cool choice to have. - Snipehunter
A character that dies far from a mortality gate is probably not getting its gear back. That character will manage to keep its journal, but when it reembodies it isn't going to have anything else it was carrying when it died. It's only going to be carrying those things it brought back from Animae's realm. This means that someone wanting to, say, extort folks that come out of a mortality gate are going to be people who both know they only have a limited time (as little as an hour of realtime, but it differs from gate to gate) and that their "clients" are likely to be carrying only a certain type of goods. - Snipehunter
It's also a way for us to let a little chaos work its way into the spread of information. It won't prevent information hoarding, but the fact that even well guarded information can occasionally leak out through a random journal page drop does help to act as a relief valve of sorts. - Snipehunter
You can't really steal someone's journal in the current design (you steal copies of the pages you see, sort of), but for the same of theorycraft: If you did many to remove all references to the knowledge you had erased, that character would have to go find that knowledge in the world again, just as if they had never known the thing you had removed. - Snipehunter
Your possessions are passed on to the designated heir - that's the content of your house(s), your journal as a book in the house and anything you had warehoused at a caravan house or in a bank. However, it also includes your financial obligations - if you died owing someone money, they'll be looking for your heir to settle that debt. - Snipehunter
You return from death with any physical objects you gathered in the realm of Animae and your journal, but the other items on your body are gone. Chances are your housekey will end up going with you as well, but we haven't actually decided yet. - Snipehunter