The Hero’s Journal is for ages 7+
The Hero’s Journal is rated for ages 7+ and is definitely accessible to this age range – all the colorable background art, stories, and quotes are suitable for both kids and adults, and journaling is something that’s great for any age to pick up. This could be a really fun way to track homework, see progress throughout a semester, and practice reflective writing in addition to being great for tracking every day “adulting” things (like getting a workout in to level up your strength or battling through laundry day).
In my run through with this, I wrote in my journal primarily for myself, so I was tracking my goals, tasks, and reflection points, but I also included my kid (4yo) where I could. There’s parts of the journal that prompt for what you’re grateful for today, ask who or what are today’s allies and threats, and give a fun quote for the day. I asked kiddo about these and read the quote to him each morning while I was filling my journal out for myself, and he actually really connected with these too, so it really is for all-ages – journaling and reflecting on the topics in this journal are good for kids too.
The Hero’s Journal is set in a medieval fantasy… and more
The journal that I used was the Legend of Istoria, which follows a medieval fantasy themed adventure that’s got some great Lord of the Rings vibes. You start off in Humble Hills with The Mentor visiting your character and inviting them on a quest across the lands. There’s a beautiful map, which your character travels across over the next 90 days of their journey, leading you both to an epic conclusion (no spoilers!) to your personal journeys.
In addition to the Legend of Istoria journal, there’s others available too – Istoria Magic Academy is set in a magic school, Galaxy of Istoria is set in space, and there’s a new one that was recently announced that’s set in a mirror world that looks a little like Alice in Wonderland.
Your character in The Hero’s Journal
Your character in The Hero’s Journal is a person named Yew! This person doesn’t have a stat block or character sheet, but you do get to set them up on their quest. At the start of the journal (and throughout the rest of the story), you give Yew and yourself a quest to pursue for the rest of the journal in the form of taking on challenges, facing baddies, and helping others. This character goes through ups and downs in the story and shows how they face challenges, get back up after falling, accept help, adjust, and learn from previous obstacles via the story going on in the background of your journal pages. Their story is told in pictures and was a great motivational tool to follow along with during my (and Yew’s) quest.
Tools for your quest in The Hero’s Journal
Since The Hero’s Journal is not technically a game (though, it arguably shares many similarities in core foundation to some journaling games I’ve played) with dice and what-not, I’m going to review the tools that this journal uses to help you complete your quest and make it fun!
Fun stuff: background story, coloring, and quotes
Each page of the journal has a colorable picture that shows the story of Yew as they travel across the land and take on new challenges. These pictures are like a flipbook of your character’s quest AND you can color them each day to help relax! There’s also motivational quotes from relevant and often wonderfully nerdy sources (like Lord of the Rings, Edgar Allen Poe, and Winnie the Pooh) that give some fun and poignant quotes for where you and Yew are on your journeys.
Progression: chapters and scenes
The Hero’s Journal focuses on the story of Yew, but it also sets YOU up for your quest in a story format too. The journal is broken up into chapters every 7 days and scenes every 28 days.
Chapters give you prompts to help with reflecting on the past week and connect lessons from Yew’s story to your own main quest. There’s also a part where you get to level up! There’s stats, like strength, dexterity, and wisdom, that you select based on what you were working on the past week.
For scenes, these are bigger divisions and cover about a month. They recap who Yew has met in the past scene and ask you to think about how the past month has gone and give it a title to close out that part of the story.
Both of these are GREAT!! One of the coolest parts of TTRPGs is being able to learn and grow vicariously through your character, so being asked about how Yew’s story connects to your own mission is a really good way to pick up those lessons and see them outside yourself and in a fun way. Leveling up is great because it’s an easy way to track and acknowledge your progress over the past week without needing to really measure it or compare yourself to someone else – if you feel a tiny bit more energized than last week, then that’s progress!! Level up your DEX and congratulate yourself! And going back on a monthly basis to rename your chapters is a wonderful tool for some mild reflection… and if it didn’t go so well, that chapter is done and you can start over with the next one. It’s a forgiving break point that lets you restart or refocus, if you need it.
Questing: remembering your quest and seizing the day!
Each day, The Hero’s Journal asks you to write down your quest and your top three things that you want or need to do for today to feel like a success. This was SO important to keeping my focus on my goal!
Writing my goal everyday helped me to remember and reflect on what I wanted and why, plus, as my goals changed over the past few months, I wasn’t stuck with some locked in mission statement from weeks prior. I had the freedom to change my big overarching goal to fit today and my changing life situation. My goals started out with wanting to set more time to exercise to making sure that I had 30 minutes per day to do something that I wanted and could set down my work and take a breath to read or watch a show just for me. My needs changed over time, and having a daily spot to write that really helped.
Also, having the top three things to do that day made it feel manageable. My to-do list is sometimes 20+ things long and gets really overwhelming, so picking just three things to focus on helped me to make sure I did those every day and they didn’t get lost in the big list. For kids, this short list could be making sure to get a big homework assignment done or going to sports practice or taking time to read – the point is that this helps to take that big list and make it feel more manageable and help you reflect on what YOUR success for the day means.
Awareness: gratitude, allies, and threats
In addition to writing your quest and top three goals for the day, there’s also sections that prompt for things you’re grateful for and today’s allies and threats.
In the gratitude section, it was good to reflect on what I had and was looking forward to that day. It usually ended up going along the lines of my family, my house, it being the weekend, it being TTRPG night, the weather getting nice, etc. which I kind of realized I had been taking for granted. It got me to celebrate those things a little more, and I think that’s important for both kids and adults to practice.
For allies and threats, these are people or things during the day that you think may help or hinder you. My allies usually included my partner and kid, a new episode of my comfort show coming out, or a friend I was going to meet that day, while threats sometimes included my kid (yes… he’s in both depending on morning grumpy level), if I wasn’t feeling well, or if I knew I had some late meetings that night. This helped me to see where I got energy from and what recurring things were making my days harder. With the late night meetings, it helped me to see that it came up A LOT, and I started to shift things and actively reduce those meetings – I’m not sure if I would have realized that without these prompts.
For kids, the allies section might end up including friends at school or a particular teacher, and the threats might be a school bully, another particular teacher, a big test, or a performance that they’re worried about. Being able to identify those is the first step to understanding your allies and trying to find ways to tackle the threats and potentially get help when needed. It’s a gentle way to increase awareness.
Overall thoughts on The Hero’s Journal
If you can’t tell from the review, I loved this journal so much. Since starting to play TTRPGs, I’ve gotten in the habit of trying to imagine some of my chores as more fun quests, and this promoted and played into that so well and was extremely motivating. All the tools that it has set up along with the fun story and all the connections that it made between personal quests and that adventure were fantastic at helping me to keep with my goals. I’ve tried journaling before and always reverted back to doing a to-do list after about a month, but this got me to stick with it for the full 91 days and, as of writing this, I’m still journaling in this fashion. This was a lot of fun, and I can see it being helpful to kids and kids at heart who want to make their personal quests into an epic adventure.
Find a copy of The Hero’s Journal
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