Obdormio.com Unwasted Hours

16 July, 2012

Welcome to My World: Time

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — Obdormio @ 00:00

For previous posts in this series, click here.

I mentioned, in the post that turned out to spark this little series, that I have put some thought into the time keeping of my D&D world. Ludicrous amounts of thought, actually, considering that this is a point which is hardly even relevant when playing a game. I’m just the sort of person who wants consistency of holidays and seasons and full moons, I guess. So I made up a calendar for my world. And then, thinking it very unlikely that everyone would use the same calendar, I made another one. And then two more. Yeah, nuts.

I started by deciding the length of the year – for reasons of pure simplicity, I decided to keep days and hours the same length as their real counterparts. I went for a year of 373 days, because I am a tremendous idiot who didn’t think far enough ahead to avoid a prime. By the time I did figure out that maybe I should have gone with something evenly divisible, I had done too much work to feel like starting over. You should see my spreadsheet. Actually, no, you shouldn’t see my spreadsheet; it is a monstrosity of kludging, but it seems to work.

I wanted leap years, ’cause why the hell not, so my year actually ended up being 373.125 days long. Throw in a moon with an orbit of 28 days and it’s all down to the details.

My first calendar I dubbed the Iounian Calendar, naming it for the goddess of knowledge, figuring that in-story it had been invented by her earliest clerics, not long after the world was finished. This is the main calendar, in use by the gods themselves, and the default for me as GM. It has thirteen months, of either 28 or 29 days – like the Gregorian calendar, it can’t follow the moon exactly. Every eighth year, the last month gains an extra day. The months are mostly named for various gods – and since these are just the core gods, I don’t reproduce them here. In any case, it would only make sense for month names to vary by time and location – it is the system of the months that is the important thing. The year starts with the winter solstice, since that was the position of the sun when it was first made. Much easier to make calendars in magic land.

Along with this system of thirteen months, the Iounian Calendar has a nine-day week, with the days also named for various gods – the thing was thought up by pious clerics, after all. This calendar is in use on the continent where I have done most of my work so far, the site of Arkhosia, Myklafar, and of such from-the-books locales like the Nentir and Elsir vales. Being divinely endorsed, it is very widespread – saving me the trouble of making even more unnecessary calendars.

The second calendar, I thought up almost right after the first – the Dark Calendar. This one’s in use in the Underdark, the vast caverns beneath the world. I figured this one was constructed by the drow following their break from the other elves and relocation into the Underdark. Since the drow sort of give me French revolutionary vibes, I went with clear mathematical precision on this one. None of those weird natural cycles. 10 months, each with 5 weeks, each with 5 days. No names, just numbers. At 250 days a year, this is the shortest of the calendars.

Next, I went for lunar. Since there are about 13 full moons per solar year, the lunar calendar also calls 13 months a year. With each month being 28 days long, though, the year becomes 364 days long, 9.125 days shorter than the solar year. The result, like with the Islamic Calendar, is a system of months which move relative to the seasons. Since the moon is fairly closely associated with the Fey in the core books, I made this the calendar type of the Feywild. In the Sehaninian Calendar, named for the moon goddess, the months all have sort of poetic names – in order they are: Breath, Division, Beauty, Lover, Hunt, Thunder, Twilight, Dragon, Mask, Decision, Light, Wolf and Shadow. I have a notion of Eladrin nobles refusing to make any significant decisions outside the proper month.

I did sort of want to make a lunisolar calendar, but I can’t figure out a good way. Screwed by my prime-based solar year, I have no Metonic Cycle of usable length to make it predictable – and if I can’t predict it, I can’t calculate the dates for it. If more mathematically proficient readers have any hints, I’d be happy for them.

The final calendar is where I clearly lost my mind. This one is used on a continent far removed from my main setting, and I wanted something completely different, so I based it on the Aztec calendar. Instead of months based on the moon, this one divides the year into 18 periods of 20 days, followed by a period of 12 days, followed by what is called the Nameless Day. Every eight years, you get two Nameless Days. The periods are based on the zodiac – each of them begins when the sun rises in a new constellation of the ecliptic, and is named for its constellation. The constellations are each associated with different gods, and so the periods of the calendar are as well. The 19th period belongs to the shortest constellation, the Arrow, which is specifically not associated with any god.

In addition to this count of the year, there is a count of days. There are twenty unique markers which is run through in a cycle in periods of thirteen days. When the thirteenth day is passed, the count starts at 1 again, but continues with the next marker. So the count goes: 1 horn, 2 root, 3 ox, 4 straw, and so on until 13 steel, followed by 1 death, 2 star and onwards. When you reach the last marker, which you would on 7 sun, you go back to the beginning, and the next day would be 8 horn.

I know, it’s kind of hard to wrap you head around the way I’m explaining it. The point is, you go through 260 days before you reach 1 horn again. Pair this up with the constellation periods above, and you go through 65 years between each time 1 horn falls on the winter solstice – a Great Cycle. So you have dates like 8 toad, 6 spider, which can only refer to one specific day within a 65 year cycle, and if necessary you add on a clarification of time period. I figure each new period is named for the king reigning at its beginning, so you’d have 8 toad, 6 spider, in the Great Cycle of King Whatshisface.

And, yeah, I can convert dates between them, using my aforementioned kludged spreadsheet. To pick a not so random date, I can tell you that the 12th day of the 7th month in the year 9580 in the Iounian Calendar, is equal to 13/6/9787 in the Dark Calendar, and to the 9th of Masks, 9820 in the Sehaninian Calendar, and to 13 steel, 5 ear in the 148th Great Cycle. I can also tell you that it was Ninsday, and that the full moon was six days away.

So there, my calendars. I had intended to segue from this into some stuff about the zodiac and astronomy and astrology in general, but this post is too long already, so that’ll have to wait for a different time.

3 Comments »

  1. Cool post. The work you put into this will likely really show in the feeling of depth in all these various cultures, even if you never reference it. Simply the thought and effort behind it, I think, will add realism and dimension to your setting.

    Quick question – you do sort of name that months (and days) would have different names around the place, even for the cultures using the calendar of the gods. Additionally, the Drow doesn’t use names, and the Great Cycles probably use their dating system instead of weekday names. But what about the lunar system? Are there no “official” names of the weekdays in the Fey?

    Comment by Loki — 16 July, 2012 @ 09:08

  2. Yes, the Great Cycle has no week as such, the closest thing is the shortest cycle of 13 days. The Sehaninian Calendar doesn’t have a native week; anyone using it who needed one woukd probably use the Iounian week.

    Also, you failed to note that the not-so-random date was Jed’s birthday.

    Comment by Erlend — 16 July, 2012 @ 13:56

  3. Oh, poor Jed. Even his creator doesn’t recall his date of birth. Makes sense I’d have chosen that, though, as it is mine, but inverted.

    Thanks for answering, even from the road. Hope you’re enjoying your trip!

    Comment by Loki — 16 July, 2012 @ 14:54

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