Your player's Journal may be accessed from its quill-and-inkpot button on the left side of the game screen. This is where the game records brief notes on the more important (whether the seem so or not at the time) milestones of your adventure. In "classic" Baldur's Gate your Journal is a single list of date-stamped entries for each Chapter of the game. This list quickly becomes a rather unwieldy reference tool as it fills up with entries for completed quests, etc. The "In your Journal" sections for quests in this wiki still apply, except that the very brief Quest Titles and Entry Titles are not found there.
The rest of this article applies only to Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition, where major changes were made to the journal in a (mostly successful) effort to make it a more useful tool.
The structure and content of this journal would seem to be self-explanatory, and generally does behave as expected, which can cause confusion on the not-infrequent occasions when it behaves (or appears at first glance to behave) ... unexpectedly.
One section of the journal is set aside for you to record any notes you please. All other journal entries are managed by the game, always in response to actions that you make.
When the game begins, your journal gets a single Journal Entry: "Finding Gorion" under the Quest title "Important Events" in the Quests section of your journal, on a page dedicated to journal entries for the Prologue stage of the main story or questline. The journal always opens to the Quests section, so this is what you'll see if you open it before the game makes any further changes to it.
Quest-Related Journal EntriesEdit
The structure of quest-related journal entries, i.e. Quests and Done Quests is:
- Chapter - e.g. Prologue
- Section - e.g. Quests
- Quest Title - e.g. Important Events
- Date Stamp - e.g. Day 1 Hour 1 (2 Mirtul 1368)
- Entry Title - e.g. Finding Gorion
- Entry Text - e.g. "Gorion, my foster father, has ..."
Each Chapter has its own page in your journal, which you can scroll through using the arrows at the upper left and right sides of the journal pane, when they become available. The journal begins with only one page, for the prologue chapter.
Quest Titles appear as expandable/collapsable lists of journal entries, each marked with a '+' or '-' as appropriate to its current state.
Journal Journal EntriesEdit
The redundantly named Journal section of your journal has one fewer layers of structure. These are entries that record events that are not related to any particular quest, and may seem trivial, inconsequential, incomprehensible and/or mysterious at the time, but you may want to look back at them later in light of future events. Lacking a related quest, they appear simply as single list of (sometimes titled, sometimes untitled) date-stamped journal entries. The game allows you to edit these entries, if you wish to record additional information.
User Journal EntriesEdit
Any notes that you wish to record for yourself in the User section of your journal appear as a single list of untitled journal entries, identified only by date stamp on the current Chapter page of your journal.
NOTE: The "current Chapter page" means the page for chapter that you are currently playing, not the chapter page that you are currently looking at! If you are looking at the Prologue page of your journal while playing in the Chapter 1 stage of the main quest line, and make a new User entry, it will appear on the Chapter 1 page and you will not see it when you click DONE, as you will then return to the Prologue page.
Should the Amnish Soldiers or the Guards from the Friendly Arm Inn ever take you into custody and demand to know where you were on the evening of 28 Marpenoth, you could go rooting through a maze of bureaucratically-generated and -maintained journal entries to eventually discover that you were flooding the Cloakwood Mines all day, with no surviving witnesses, but your best bet at having an orderly record of what you were doing when and where (if you care about such things) is to make frequent short User journal entries. User journal entries can, of course, also be used to record information that you may actually find useful at some point.
Quests, Side Quests and Journalistic MayhemEdit
"Well-Behaved" Journal EntriesEdit
If you begin the game by opening and entering the door behind you, you will find yourself in the Candlekeep Inn. Once there, if you speak to Firebead Elvenhair he will ask a favour of you, and the text pane of the game window will inform you that you have been gifted with a Firebead's Scroll journal entry. In your journal, you will find the new Firebead's Scroll journal entry under a new Firebead's Scroll quest heading! (Identical quest titles and entry titles is the norm, even when the available mechanic of separate titles could have been used to build a much more readable and orderly journal.)
This is a Side Quest, also called a Subquest. It has no direct bearing on the main story, and so its completion is optional. It also has a clearly defined goal and, should you complete it, you will find that the Firebead's Scroll quest has moved from the Quests section of your journal to the Done Quests section, and that the Firebead's Scroll journal entry for that quest has been replaced by one that describes not what needs to be done, as it used to, but rather what happened when you completed it. Well-behaved, yes?
Mischievous Journal EntriesEdit
The orderly movement of quests and their journal entries from Quests to Done Quests is interrupted frequently in a variety of ways. Some quests are not completable. Some quest entries do not get moved when the quest is completed. Some quests morph into or merge with other quests. Some quests cleverly conceal multiple sub-sub-quests that appear only in Done Quests! And some quests are not actually quests at all, such as:
Important Events: The Big KahunaEdit
Important Events is a "quest" that behaves like no other in your journal. (Well, almost no other. There are one or two other oddballs, such as Troubles in the Region and Rising Tensions with Amn, which behave somewhat similarly, for somewhat similar reasons.) Important Events is a collection of hints, notes, reminders and nudges towards the eventual completion of goals that move the overall storyline forward. It can be thought of as either not a quest at all, or as the only quest. (Hence the terms Side Quest and Subquest.)
Important Events moves with you from chapter to chapter, and updates across chapters. It exists in Quests and Done Quests at the same time. It is, in a word, (again, almost) unique.