Thursday, April 30, 2009

Time, Calendars, Gaming, and Thou

Chgowiz's post on Time and XP yesterday got me thinking about my own campaign, and how I keep time in that. To be honest, I've tried really hard over the years to have some fidelity towards actual counted time passage in my games, but it never seems to work out--real life gets in the way, sessions jump around, and time seems to slip about. It isn't a huge deal to me or my players, but I am grateful it's much better than where I was 10 years ago, when characters would level and conquer whole kingdoms in the span of a month of game time.

Another bit that always nagged me in my games was how the various worlds we played in had calendar systems, months, and other time designators that were not exactly memory-friendly. I'm talking about systems that expected you to remember it was the Fourth Phase of Qufar the Blooded, 3rd Moon Ascendant. When I was fleshing out our homebrew of Irrin, I wanted to go with something a bit easier and related to our Gregorian calendar. But you can't just say "Monday, the 13th of March", right? (Well, you can, but I never dug that). So I went with the following system, which has seemed to work pretty well thus far for being grounded in our calendar while being easy to remember:

Hey, want to see a really simple fantasy calendar? One item that made its way from the High Elves to the “lesser races” is their calendar. Each month has 30 days, with 5 days at the end of each year known as Winter’s Turn, a time of celebration, reflection, and respite. Weeks are seven days (hey, how convenient), and are known, easily enough as Primeday, Secondday, Thirdday, Fourthday, Fifthday, Sixthday, and (surprise surprise) Seventhday.

Each month has a numeric and proper name (for example, folks referring to FirstMonth and JoyFollow are referring to the same month).

The Months of Irrin

FirstMonth: JoyFollow
SecondMonth: FrostFail
ThirdMonth: MudPass
FourthMonth: AllShower
FifthMonth: ManyBloom
SixthMonth: JourneyTake
SeventhMonth: JustPath
EighthMonth: AllShade
NinthMonth: StarHarvest
TenthMonth: OldWind
EleventhMonth: NightDeep
TwelfthMonth: DeepWinter

Calendar years use Kingdom Reckoning, which uses the final fall of the Kingdom of Man as Year 0 (this does differ from the High Elves, who simply count forward, and who are currently on Year 19019). Years before Year 0 are noted with a negative sign, such as -17. In the current campaign, it is now Year 1019. Events taking place before the final fall of the Kingdom of Man are marked with a “-“ (so an event taking place 23 years before the final fall would be -23 KR (Kingdom Reckoning). There are of course other dating methods and calendars, but none so commonly in use as the above.

Many nations, cities, and even villages will have their own holidays and festivals. What follows is only a small sampling of widely-spread holidays and those observed by the
church:

The 30th of AllShower: Spring’s Blessing: This day is used by many nations to mark and hold various spring and planting festivals. It is also marked by the High
Church as a day of renewal, blessing, and a chance to do penance for any “sins of winter”.

The 1st of JourneyTake: Kingdom’s Fall: This day marks the final defeat of the Kingdom of the West, and their trials and tribulations at starting over. This holiday has morphed into somewhat of a parade day, with many nations parading their military might before the public, holding martial contests, and essentially reassuring their citizenry they are ready for any threat.

The 9th of AllShade: Martyr’s Day: This High Church holiday sees the highest proportion of the various populaces attending church out of any days of the year. (Usually) colorful, entertaining sermons are told about brave martyrs, selfless heroes, and champions of good and the Church. In the evening, the various congregations gather together for a huge pitch-in dinner, before holding a candlelight vigil to ask for inspiration and guidance from The Most High so that they may also live a life worthy
of remembrance and honor.

The 2nd Week of StarHarvest: Traditionally set aside for harvest festivals, though this may vary slightly depending on your place in the world. The last day of the festivals is usually known as Moon’s Holding, where in a midnight ceremony the common people and nobility gather alike to ask the moon to grow larger/brighter in the sky to help with the harvest.

The 10th of DeepWinter: It is said that a child born at twilight on the 10th of DeepWinter will be successful in life, fortunate, and lucky in all things. It is also the day of the year that many commoners believe to be the best time for a girl to find her life’s true love. Who wins out, lucky marriage or lucky kids? (Hey, it’s winter. They have to do something to stay entertained).

In addition to the above widely-observed holidays, many regional holidays (including various High Church saint feasting days) also exist and are observed.

Overall, I found that allowing for both a number-based nomenclature as well as one where the monthly names would start with the same letter as their Gregorian equivalent allowed for a bit slack in game play--players not wanted to remember DeepWinter can just go with TwelfthMonth instead. For holidays, we mainly chose days we would remember, such as birthdays (the 10th of Deepwinter is mine!).

1 comment:

Gleichman said...

I've had the advantage of using Middle Earth's calendar- really simple and nice.

Although few players take the time to use the actual month names. Lazy players :)