YOU CANNOT HAVE A MEANINGFUL CAMPAIGN IF STRICT TIME RECORDS ARE NOT KEPT.
– Gary Gygax, Dungeon Master’s Guide
Considering the nature of the type of game I want to run in The Gulf I feel that this line from Gygax rings true for this particular game, even if it might not hold for some more narrative type games. For this purpose, and because I think it is neat, I’d like to have a formal calendar that is used by the People of Asila, and, Therefore, the Settlers of the Gulf. While I will mess with the length of a year/months/weeks, I am going to keep an approximate 24 hour day, with normal earth like time-keeping, just to keep things simple.
The Saint’s Calendar
The common calendar of Asila, is one that has been handed down and used since the early days of the Divine Way of the Saint-Heroes. Modern Scholars agree that it was based on an older calendar used by sky-worshipers, and based on the movements of the sun and stars. As a result, one year of the Saint’s Calendar is very close to a tropical year, with special adjustments every 5 or so years to keep it on track. The basics of the Saint’s Calendar are as follows:
- A week is 8 days (a new day is considered begun at first light)
- New Years Day is a special day, that is not counted as part of any month, nor is it any day of the week (but see point 4).
- One year is exactly 47 weeks, plus New Years Day (377 days).
- Every 5 years, New Years Day also counts as the first day of Revelation and first day of the week. Effectively this is a reverse leap day, and done for much the same reasons.
- Much like our leap day, this is actually a slight over correction,
so it doesn’t happen about once every 200 years or so, which can be quite confusing when it happens.
- Much like our leap day, this is actually a slight over correction,
- New Years Day is the end of winter, and is said to mark the founding of The Way, but the actual historicity of this is questionable.
- The year is divided into 12 months, all of which are exactly 3, 4 or 5 weeks long.
- The common vernacular for referring to a date is the <first/second/third/forth/fifth> <Dayname> of <Monthname> (IE the 3rd Saintsday of Highwater instead of the 17th of Highwater)
Days of the Week
- Saintsday: The official day of worship at the time the Saint’s Calendar was established, is still observed by most orthodox sects. Is thought to have been the 5th day of the week in the old calendar. The Way observes this as its holy day (but almost all sects preach that ALL days should honor the Saint-Heroes)
- Gaiusday: Called Kingsday in some areas, named for the emperor at the time of the Calender’s adoption. It is considered bad luck to go hunting on this day, many believe that this is because Emperor Gaius died in a hunting accident, but records indicate he actually died of illness.
- Rusday: Named for the Battle of Ruscellos, an early victory for the practitioners of The Way against the orthodox of the time. Modern historians believe that the battle actually took place on what would now be Marketsday. It is the traditional day for executions.
- Astrona: Drawn from the old calendar, believed to be associated with the stars. It is the traditional day chosen for weddings.
- Solina: Drawn from the old calendar, believed to be associated with the sun. It is considered good fortune for a child to be born on Solina.
- Clarasday: The origins of this name are lost to history. The most common theories include the Calendar maker’s wife, lover, the maker themselves, or a popular Hero-Saint of the time. It is considered a lucky day to begin a long journey or great venture.
- Marketsday: It was traditional in older times to hold a market in major towns and cities two days before Saintsday, so that merchants visiting towns could sell their wares until evening, stay the night, spend the next day traveling and be home by Saintsday. Modern times such markets will be open every day of the week (except Saintsday itself in some more religious communities), but it is still considered a good day to do business.
- Bothyna: Drawn from the old calendar, believed to be associated with shooting stars. It is a common day for festivals.
Months and Seasons
The Saint’s Calendar recons the change of the seasons by month. Because of the uneven distribution of weeks in each month, some seasons are officially longer than others, but they are all approximately accurate for weather cycles in the Gulf. Each month includes the designated season, and the number of weeks it contains after its name, as well as a description of its weather. In general, Gulf Springs are wet and mild, Summers are hot, dry, and occasionally stormy, Falls are temperamental, and Winters are cold, snowy, stormy and best spent indoors. A preliminary listing of Holidays celebrated throughout most of the Gulf is included with each month.
- Revelation (Spring 3 Weeks) Officially, “The Revelation of The Divine Way of the Saint-Heroes”, Revelation was the last month of the old calendar, but it was moved up to honor the (supposed) founding of The Way. Revelation also sees the winter snows give way to cold rain, and the thaw is well underway by the end of the month.
- New Years Day (not officially part of Revelation, except in the short year)
- 1st Saintsday: Day of the Revelation
- Highwater (Spring 3 Weeks) The winter snowmelt gets into full swing by late Revelation, and as it approaches Highwater, all but the peaks seem to begin to give up their snow. This month lives up to its name in both Asila and the Gulf, as seasonal rainfall combined with snow melt causes rivers and lakes to swell, and flooding is most common. The weather is considerably warmer by Highwater, and, depending on the crops, Farmers may begin planting in this month.
- 1st Solina: Vernal Equinox, falls on 1st Astrona in years before the short year
- 2nd Saintsday: Benediction of Spring
- Kingsmonth (Spring 5 Weeks) also called Laurus in some areas. Emperor Laurus was one of Gaius’ ancestors and considered the first Emperor of his line. The story goes that the Saint’s Calendar was being written, Emperor Gaius demanded the higher honor go to his ancestor (although, one may note that there are more Gaiusdays than there are days in Laurus). The Salvatian vernacular has dropped Laurus’ name from the month, but kept Gaius’ in the day, but other regions do differently. Either way, Kingsmonth is warm and wet, and most planting is done in this month.
- 3rd Bothyna: Firelight Festival
- Soliscuria (Summer 3 weeks) From the old calendar, Soliscuria marks the fist days of Summer. The weather continues to warm and the Kingsmonth showers begin to taper off, it is often regarded as one of the most pleasant months in the Gulf. The planting season typically wraps up during this month for all but mid-summer replants.
- 2nd Saintsday: Benediction of Summer
- 2nd Bothyna: Planter’s Festival
- Highsun (Summer 4 Weeks) The longest days of the year, Highsun continues the trends of reduced rain and warmer temperatures from Soliscuria. Highsun sees the least rain of any month in the gulf, and dry months leading up to Highsun or too quick of a snowmelt can mean a serious drought.
- 2nd Saintsday: Ascension Day
- 2nd Rusday: Summer Solstice
- Goldgrass (Summer 5 Weeks) The hottest month of the year, the first few weeks of Goldgrass can be as dry as Highsun, until storms set in around the end of the season. These storms can be quite dangerous bringing both high winds and lightning, but the rain they bring can be a welcome relief if the Gulf is in drought conditions.
- 3rd Bothyna: Riversday
- First Harvest (Autumn 4 Weeks) As summer ends the air in the Gulf begins to cool, and the plants prepare for the coming winter. First Harvest marks the beginning of the harvest season as much in the Gulf as it did when the Saint’s Calendar was written. First Harvest can be a temperamental Month in the Gulf, neither frost nor heatwave are unheard of, and it is a common month for storms, especially near the coast.
- 1st Saintsday: Benediction of Autumn
- 1st Astrona: Middle of the year.
- Noxregnum (Autumn 4 Weeks) from the old calendar, Noxregnum makes the time when the length of the night overtakes that of the day. Noxregnum commonly sees the first frost, and farmers are in a rush to bring in any unharvested crops before that happens. It is not unheard of to see late summer storms or early winter storms in Noxregnum, but most years it is a lull between the two. Most children are born during this month.
- 1st Saintsday: Autumnal equinox, falls on 1st Gaiusday during the short year.
- 3rd Marketsday: Grand Marketsday of the Gulf
- Last Harvest (Autumn 4 Weeks) The Harvest Season is pretty much done in the Gulf by the end of Noxregnum, but the name is still stuck to by tradition. In the Gulf, Last Harvest sees the days grow colder, and the rain commonly becomes increasingly mixed with snow as month progresses
- 3rd Bothyna: Unity Day
- 4th Bothyna: Winter’s Eve.
- Snowfall (Winter 3 Weeks) The exact time of the first Snow varies depending on the local climate and by era, but it was most commonly seen in this month in the time and place where the Saint’s Calendar was written. In the Gulf, the first snow is most often seen in Last Harvest, and by Snowfall there is fairly reliably a blanket of white covering the ground. Smart travelers take the arrival of Snowfall as a cue to find a warm place to wait out the weather until Highwater.
- 1st Saintsday: Benediction of Winter
- 2nd Bothyna: Oath of Kinship.
- Noxapicem (Winter 4 Weeks) From the old calendar, Noxapicem marks the longest nights of the year. Any snow that has begun in the previous months is unlikely to let up, and the rivers and lakes of the gulf have likely frozen over by this time. The full onset of winter leads to Noxapicem being a time of telling tales and playing games of chance. The weather probably also has something to do with Noxregnum’s high birthrate as well.
- 1st Marketsday: Winter Solstice, falls on 1st Bothyna during the short year and the year after.
- 3rd Bothyna: Midwinter
- Year’s End (Winter 5 Weeks) The last month of Winter, and the last month of the Saint’s Calendar is perhaps the most dangerous in the Gulf, those who were not properly prepared for winter will find their supplies running out, and the blankets of snow and ice show no sign of letting up. Heavy Snowfall and Icestorms are most common in this month, although, on good years, the warming may begin in the last two weeks.
- 5th Bothyna: Festival of Passing.
Humans and Halflings throughout Asila (and therefore settlers of Pericolosa) use the Saint’s Calendar. The older calendar it was based on seems to only exist as references in historical records and through the names that the Saint’s Calendar inherited. Elves and dwarves will use the Saint’s Calendar for conducting business with humans and halflings, but both races have their own method of tracking the ages.
Elves have their own calendar that relies on the motion of the stars, planets and moons that never needs special exception days as a result. The Elf Calendar is also incredibly complex and most other races don’t bother to learn it ((And I will likely never bother to write it)). The only thing most people understand is the procession of the heavens is long and that the Elves call this the “4th cycle”. Modern human records do not include anything from the previous cycles, but the elves and dwarves of course, both claim to have such records.
The Dwarves, preferring to spend most of their time underground do not measure time by the heavens, but rather by work cycles. The base unit of time for Dwarves is the work shift, of which, 10 human hours is about a quick and dirty approximation. A properly functioning Dwaven facility will be working non-stop with individual dwarves rotating in and out each shift (it is most common for each Dwarf to work 2 on, 1 off, but in highly labor intensive jobs the rotation may be 1 and 1). From there, increments of time are listed in multiple shifts, or fractions of a shift, generally done in multiples of 10 so metric prefixes are a good English equivalent. Dwarves number Kiloshifts (1000 shifts) in much the same way humans do years, although number of Kiloshifts lived is not significant in Dwarven culture as much as skills and experience.
This got way longer than I expected, and I still actually have a bit more! Next time, we’ll talk about the phases of the moons, and describe some of those holidays listed above. After that, we’ll see but hopefully it’ll be something more exciting than two long posts about calendars!