The Compendium or "Zone Pioneer Compendium of Useful Information Concerning These Strange Worlds" is a handbook and encyclopedia provided to members of the Zone Pioneers. Although only Zone Pioneers, their guides, and associated employees can use Compendiums, content is sometimes copies and used by others.
A Compendium is actually a powerful Trans-dimensional object that combines magic and technology using highly secret manufacturing processes. No, you won't get the details here.
A Compendium invariably looks like a book with a cover and many pages. The size ranges from a few inches or a few feet (whatever is appropriate to the user) but they are typically about six by nine by one inch. Page count is tricky. For all practical purposes, they have as many pages as necessary -- certainly more pages than appear possible.
A Compendium is divided into four sections:
Content: the handbook and encyclopedia.
Public Daylogs: A diary intended for pubic consumption
Private Daylogs: A diary intended for private thoughts only
A Compendium can be accessed any number of ways. The owner may become comfortable and expert with a particular way of using the Compendium, but other modes of use are still there.
Reading modes include visual, auditory, tactile, and telepathic. Presumably an alien with other primary senses (taste, smell) could read their Compendium with those senses. The Compendium must be touched to be read. Compendium pages appear blank to anyone not a Zone Pioneer. However, a Zone Pioneer holding their own Compendium can selectively show content to others. The exception is Personal Daylogs. Only the owner can see these. Example: if the owner is holding their Compendium, the owner could ask a question and the Compendium would answer using a voice. Depending on instructions, this voice could be auditable to only the owner or to anyone nearby. A Compendium can display pictures or maps, and can display in any known language.
Writing mode is similar. An owner can certainly use a pen or pencil to enter information into their Day Log. They can also turn to a page that displays a keyboard and type away. They can just as easily speak to their day log or even think to their day logs. Once written, content can't be erased (although it can be annotated).
A Compendium can't be damaged by any normally encountered actions. Surprisingly, a lost Compendium will return to its owner. The owner can "call" a lost Compendium and it will teleport to them. This may be instantaneously or may take a few hours or even a day. If not consciously called, a Compendium still ends up with the owner eventually.
When an owner dies, their Compendium eventually makes its way back to Zone Pioneer HQ in Nexus City. This is not a sure thing.There are Zombie Zone Pioneers who still have their Compendium.
Content - The Compendium contains a relatively short "Handbook" chapter that summarizes Zone Pioneer organization, membership, and rules. The rest of the content section contains page after page of information, news, advice, and maps. This is the sum total knowledge base of the Zone Pioneers and the Zone Assassins that came before them. This content is updated every time a Zone Pioneer returns to HQ in Nexus City. Any information placed in Public Daylogs is copied, reviewed, and if approved added to a master knowledge base. Each Compendium then synchronized and gains any new information hat has been added since the last visit.
This immense amount of information would be useless without some form of index. The index is flexible and based on the aforementioned secret process. An owner can ask for a specific piece of information (example: "What's the capital of Illinois in this reality?") It is also possible to ask more general questions (example: "Are there any cheap places to eat around here?")One can also ask for advice (example: "How do I escape from the lion?")Although the content in a Compendium is extensive, it is not unlimited and it could be wrong or out of date.For example, the answers to the first of the previous three examples could be: "Chicago" even though that city had recently been nuked in the rebellion.The answer to the second example could guide one to an inexpensive but dangerous alien dive specializing in food poisonous to the owner (but not to the alien Zone Pioneer who last visited the area). The answer to the final example might be obvious: "Run." Or might be useful "There used to be a tree just up the path. Run and climb."
A Compendium contains maps of all the tunnels, but will typically contain information about a small fraction of the doors present. Especially in Yellow, care must be taken when using information gathered in one reality in a seemingly similar reality. In Blue, paradox-generating knowledge will be redacted from a Compendium.
Note that the Compendium can't "see" and can only hear what the owner says. For example the question, "What's that building in the distance" or "What is that horrible looking creature" couldn't be answered. Likewise, a Compendium can't easily translate a foreign language. However, if the owner sketches the unknown creature the Compendium might be able to make an identification. If the owner copies (or carefully visualizes) a foreign language, the Compendium might be able to translate.
Public Daylogs - The Public Daylogs contain a diary intended for pubic consumption. Most Zone Pioneers enter any information they think might be important to their comrades. As previously described, this information may be incorporated into future editions. Each Zone Pioneer Hexagon contains an Archivist who is responsible for documenting recent events, places visited, etc. Ideally they are proactive about keeping the Public Day logs up to date.
Private Daylogs - A diary intended for private thoughts only. Zone Pioneers are encouraged to record their plans, goals, observations, etc. here. They can also ask advice and receive answers that only they can see. In effect, the Compendium provides a non-judgmental alternative to advice or instructions from the Hexagon's Leader or Guide.
Badges - A Zone Pioneer can earn badges by passing a short test on a topic. The owner writes, speaks, or thinks of the topic they want and a list of about five questions come are asked. There are tens of thousands of possible topics. Some appear very easy (but, for example, a question about human food might seem very esoteric to an alien Reep). Many guides encourage cross-training between their Zone Pioneers.
Again, the owner can just say the answers, or write them down, or even just think them. The owner has to get every question on the five question test right. If they do a glowing glyph appears in the Badges section. Each glyph is a picture of the topic and a number. The first glyph earned on a topic is level one, the next is level 2, then level 3, etc. The questions for each level are harder and harder.
If they miss even one, they can not take a test on that topic for a few days.
Some Zone Pioneers are extremely motivated to earn many badges (in a few unfortunate cases, to the point of obsession).
There are "shallow" and "abyssal" learners. Shallow learners have a great many level one or two badges. Abyssal learns have fewer badges, but they may have passed many hundreds of levels for a particular topic.
Many Zone Pioneers wear or collect tokens of their accomplishments -- something to indicate number of successful rescues or identify each reality visited. These are often also called "badges," especially by outsiders. These types of badges have no connection to the Compendium badges. Some Hexagons even create a formal heraldry of shields and escutcheons to document each "mission." These shields may include an inspirational motto such as "The industrious gremlin town was saved" or a self deprecating motto such as "All the way to 1066 Scotland 2 and all we got was haggis and a swim."