September 7, 2006 - 12:00 am

An Analog Gamer in a Digital World

On a recent trip through Target, I discovered the Perfect Gamer Notebook. It it rightously drool-worthy. Nominally a 2 subject notebook, the first half is college rule paper, the second graph paper. The two sections are separated by a heavy plastic slash pocket perfect for holding character sheets, maps, and other loose handouts. Inside the front cover is another slash pocket, as well as a pocket for holding 3x5 cards (which I use for passing notes to players). My inner 14-year-old envisioned hours of sitting around rolling up characters, drawing dungeon floorplans, and jotting down adventure ideas.

It wasn't until after I bought the thing and took it home that I realized, regrettably, that I really have no use for the thing.

Like many folks these days, I tend to do everything on my computer. I use character generator software, write things in OpenOffice documents or spreadsheets, and generate maps with software. It wasn't until I had this Perfect Gamer Notebook in my hand that I thought about how sad this is. Somewhere out in my garage, in a storage box, I'm got notebooks full of old characters and hand-drawn maps. Some were actually used, many were just so much woolgathering.

I've decided that I need to get use from this notebook. Some people pass the time doing crossword puzzles or Sudoku; as a roleplayer, chargen serves the same purpose, pure intellectual exercise. Not that rolling up a fighter is the same as completing the Sunday New York Times puzzle, but I think you catch my drift. I want to set aside some time to sit at my kitchen table with some dice, generating characters for games at are gathering dust on my shelf. I want to do it for the sheer joy of it, the relaxation of it, without fretting about how unlikely it is that these characters will get used. I need to just allow this aspect of roleplaying to be fun again, and enjoy the zen of analog gaming.

I was going to suggest that, but you're way ahead of me :)

Get a tube of mini dice that'll fit in the spiral binding, tie it on, and you're good to go!

While my adventures are always typed in Word, I almost always handdraw my maps with pencil on paper (sometimes graph, sometimes not).

I've tried the various mapping programs, and while I find them useful for my long-term, permanent maps (like the one detailing the domain my characters adventure in) for my regular adventure maps I find I'm much faster and more creative when I draw them out the old-fashioned way.

As I did tonight. And I've got to say -- you're absolutely right: it is a zen-like moment when you're sitting at the kitchen table, RPG books spreadout around you, pencil in hand and a world (or at least a small corner of it) taking shape before you.

On a related-but-unrelated note, I'm trying to run a wilderness adventure tomorrow in which the party tries to find and destroy or turn away several orc war parties. In an effort to make it more of a challenge (and more than just a bunch of die rolls) I spent more time than usual noting terrain features, the pathes the orcs took and will take, and providing quaint (but ultimately deadly) names the fens, hills and forests the party will be venturing through. It's not something I've done before with overland adventures, so I'm eager to see if its as much fun as I'm hoping it will be. :)

Is there a Brand Name to this analog treasure? tried doing a quick search on the Target site and failed utterly to find it...

That's a really good question... More I think about it, the more I want one. Get back to my roots so to speak.

I'll be taking a trip to my local Target store in search of this item.

IMO, there's absolutely nothing wrong with the Old School way of doing things and it IS a great experience to actually create from your own hand.

(Mind you, I type because MY hand writing is non-existent, so much so that quite often even I cannot decipher what I've scrawled...)

Still, its more than worth the effort.
Thanks, Berin :)

>Get a tube of mini dice that'll fit in the spiral binding, tie it on, and you're good to go!

Genius idea, Stefan.

This one has cloth over the spiral binding so it doesn't snag, and a cloth loop on the front to hold a writing utensil.

>Is there a Brand Name to this analog treasure?

Mead Five Start Advance 2 Subject Notebook Model 06013. I've been looking for someplace online that sells it, but haven't found it anywhere, not on or Mead's website. Copyright date on the label is 2006, so it's not old, should still be available somewhere.

I sort of know the one you are talking about! Last year I had almost the same one, but without the graph paper for classes. One of them has become my official Risus notebook (hopefully I'll someday put it to use.

Well, Target had one. ONE. In the whole city of Reno (no, not a big one, but still) thus far ONLY Reno had ONE; I've checked Office Max and Staples and have yet to check Wal-Mart. I've also checked the Mead website as Berin notes above but, like him, cannot locate them. Anywhere. And it IS very nice. Sigh.

My local Targets are now out. I'm going to keep looking for a source, maybe write to Mead, and see about buying a stash of them.

What is the cover made out of?


On the Mead site, they also have other items in the Five Star series that seem to be similar to what's been described.

Five StarŪ Science Wirebound Notebook (06290)
100 ct. college ruled/50 ct. quad ruled Perforated, 3-hole punched 1 pocket divider and 1 divider

Five StarŪ Math Wirebound Notebook (06288)
100/50 Ct., College ruled/Quad ruled Perforated, 3-hole punched 1 pocket divider and 1 divider,includes removable ruler/protractor and Math specific reference information 1 pocket divider and 1 divider,includes removable ruler/protractor and Math specific reference information Cover is Ochre

Five StarŪ TI Graphing Wirebound Notebook (06340)
100 ct. college ruled/50 ct. quad ruled 1 pocket divider and 10 reference pages with tips and instructions for using a TI-83 calculator and other math reference information Durable plastic cover

Eureka (maybe)! Here's the text of an email I received from Mead:

Dear Consumer:

Thank you for writing MeadWestvaco Consumer & Office Products. We appreciate your
interest in our products. The item you have referenced is an active item in our
product line.

The item you describe is a customer special item for Target.
The item would be a special item we manufacture for one retailer
only. That item would be available only at that retailer.

If you still have problems locating a particular product, please feel free
to contact us at 1-800-648-6323.

Again, thank you for writing. We appreciate your interest in and support of our products.

Renne Smith
Consumer Relations Representative

So now all I have to do is hound Target till the cows come home and get a bunch of them. :)

Well done!

Thanks. :) Having dealt with "the help" at some of these places before, may I recommend to anyone going to Target in search of this item: Print out that Consumer Letter above and TAKE IT WITH YOU when you go.

In this manner, when "the help" looks at you blankly and says something along the lines of "We don't carry that anymore" or "They stopped making it", YOU can then say, "Pardon me, but I believe you are mistaken" and proudly show them the true path to contentment. And get them to order your product.

Trust me, its best this way. :)

Having been one of "the help" I must agree with your assessment. Some of only seemed lazy and rcalcitrant because no one tells the schlubs on the floor doing the real work a damn thing.

So keep in mind one of two possibilities, 1) Bad Touch (need I say more), or 2) they honestly have no idea what you are talking about and starting the conversation with that letter will make you look like much less of a fncking prick.

Sorry. Help them help you.

I'm still chuckling at the thought of an Analogue gamer.

I've bought things before and thought "Now what do I do with it". Some may say I got married on that premise! ;)
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