The Red Box Blog

Ramblings about D&D.

Need a Fantasy Calendar? Here’s an Easy One!

I long considered calendars to be a huge pain in the games I ran. I was not willing to use the Gregorian Calendar in a fantasy world; to me it just seemed to wreck the atmosphere. But, I had limited success introducing other calendars – be they my own, or part of a published world.

If its not Gregorian players may have a hard time with calendars.

Learning an Alternate Calendar Can Be a Pain

The root of the problem was that players didn’t interact enough with these calendars to learn them. They might hear a date two or three times in a session and that was it. Further, since any mention of a date was always followed by the question “Um, when is that?” there was nothing forcing them to learn the calendar; they would always get the dates they were presented with explained in a manner they could understand.

Faced with a calendar that wasn’t appropriate or a calendar that couldn’t be understood, I decided to create my own calendar that players could remember. When you give a player a fantasy calendar, they are usually assaulted by twenty or more made up words that don’t really mean anything except in relation to each other. What does Wednesday mean other than the day that comes after Tuesday? Months do have some limited meaning in so far as they take place during certain seasons, and this gave me an idea that became the solution.

A Calendar With Nothing to Learn

The first thing I did was I scrapped days of the week. If I need there to be something that occurs regularly (like a holy day) I just make it occur every x days without worrying about naming the days in between. This has the added advantage of removing another tie to earth’s calendars, plus it makes it easier to institute different intervals between holy days for different religions.

Then I scrapped the months. I instead made the calendar work around the reference point I was already using to answer players questions – the seasons. Basically I decided that every season would have 90 days and that dates were always stated as the how far into each season we were. So today would be the 32nd day of Autumn, Halloween will be the 41st day of Autumn, and so on.

Now believe me, in some ways I wish I really could use a full fledged alternate calendar. But I don’t want dates interrupting my game – for me an alternate calendar is only acceptable at the game table if the questions about it are minimal. I have been using this solution for my last several campaigns, and everyone has been happy about it.


October 22, 2010 - Posted by | RPGs

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