CRB is a repository of all the creative things that float through my mind about the RPG Pathfinder. Two major features are random character generation and building characters based on the god they worship. Anything that seems like it adds to the creative aspects of the game will pop up from time to time, including location descriptions, adventure ideas and even short stories. CRB won't just be my own creativity, it will open the floor to anyone who has an idea sparked by what I present to you.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

On a Day Like Today

Creating Your Calendar

So you’ve begun to create your world; You’ve laid out your basic geography, the major nations have been chosen, the individual races – or ethnicities if you only have one race – have found their homes. But it’s the little things that really make a world a reality, and one of those things is how your people record the passage of time.

First let’s start with the most basic units of time: seconds, minutes, and hours. Regardless of what these things are called in our world our people will almost definitely come up with measurements of small amounts of time. It seems to me that most world builders try to make their lives and the lives of the people who will explore their world easier by just leaving these measurements the same. Personally I am ok with this even if you only name them something different.

But since we’re talking about small units of time, what about races for whom small units of time might mean very little? An elf can live for hundreds, even upwards of a thousand, years. What is a second to them when even a year is but a blink of an eye? Do they even think about these small units of time, or do they disregard anything that isn’t the equivalent to an hour as meaningless? Probably not, but it’s something to think about.

Days become something different. Seeing as the number of hours in a day is based on the rotation of the Earth, your planet may have a different number of hours in their day. What happens if you have a world where the sun does revolve around the planet? and what if it revolves at a weird angle so one day is 24 hours and the next day is only twenty? It would make for some odd time keeping but could be an interesting twist on time telling.

Then we get right into it the big parts of the calendar: weeks, months, and years. Years are determined by the revolution of the earth around the sun but months and weeks are kind of arbitrary pieces of time sliced up into that year. But that’s where the fun part comes in.

Both months and days are often named after gods. The month January was named after Janus, and June after Juno. The Romans inherited the seven days in a week idea from the Babylonians but instead named the days after their own gods and the planets that represented them. In case you were wondering, before using the Babylonian system the Romans had an eight day a week “nundial cycle” that they took from the Etruscans. It was called a market cycle because the eighth day country folk would come to market to buy groceries.

So naming your months and days can be good fun. But how does a whole planet – which in many places has people who have hardly ever seen an outsider – agree to use one system?  This is further muddled in fantasy worlds with many races. Do elves tell time the same way as dwarves, or the same way as humans?

Although it would be interesting to see a few calendars on the world say one with ten months, five weeks a month and eight days a week,  and another more standard calendar. This could get very confusing. I personally recommend having one agreed upon calendar which has different day and month names. Maybe the humans and elves both name them after their own gods, meanwhile the dwarves name their days after the different stages of forging.

Lastly we look at the big ticket item, keeping track of the years. Now you may have a few calendars that keep track of the years differently. Earth has the Jewish, Gregorian, Chinese, and a few other which are no longer in use but are still monitored, like the Mayan. One of the things I always thought was interesting about Faerun’s calendars is that even though there are five different ones, each year has a name that everyone knows it by. So 1353 Dale Reckoning and 321 North Reckoning are still both the Year of the Arch.

Something else to think about is what people called years before the first when those years obviously existed. AD and BC didn’t actually exist until the 5th century, so how did people number years before then? The Romans Ab urbe conditia or AUC which meant from the founding of the city, making their year one the birth of the city of Rome. So on Pathfinder’s Golarion when did people start numbering the years before they had Absalom Reckoning or AR, and what did they call those years?

Those are some interesting things to think about when coming up with your world’s methods of delineating time. How do your people tell time? Does your whole world use the same calendar? What are your days and months named after?

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