Full Item Description
A chess journal is a two part book. The first part is normally a rule book for chess, with many of the classic strategies and games being played out. The second part is a journal where you can record your own games (to be reviewed for future strategies and proficiency) and jot down ideas on strategies. Usually the first part has margin notes and cribs as well. This is really a workbook.
So far this is pretty benign.
It is when you carefully read the second part, you realize that the chess being played is not with pieces. It is being used as a symbolic code to plot treachery and intrigue. Each “plan” is a different game on a different page. It all falls into place in a “coded” area. Certain pieces of certain games are given abreviations on this page near the back. Some of them are distinctive, like the local nobles/ royals Prince Bertrand of House Strompson, esq RP B HSt Esq is obvious to anyone with heraldry skill.
The fun part is that the players, if they have been local for a while, will find their initials in the book. They will find themselves as pawns for the “black side” in a couple of middle games. (They might be white pawns in newer games… if you want to make them feel good.)
Once the PCs realize that this Journal is imporant, they will start looking at anyone serious playing Chess as a potential Evil Cultist. Chess Journals start becoming “red flags”. What would be fun if the mage or tactically savy soldier/ warrior in the group already had such a journal in their possession early in the game (and was using it normally). Mistrust and suspission will abound. (Cue Evil GM laugh).