Friday, September 30, 2011

Calendar Creation for Fantasy Settings

As much as fantasy settings are an exploration of the strange, I find it helpful to myself and players to have some aspects of the setting be similar to what we are all used to.  Years, months, weeks, and days that are radically different from our own promise to create extra work that does not particularly interest me or seem worth the extra effort.  I am happy having a 7 day week and 12 year month of 30 days for a year approximately the length of our own.  Maybe sometimes intercalary days have to be added, maybe sometimes the seasons get a little wacky, or maybe the orbit of the planet is just a little more perfect that ours -- I'm fine with little rough edges that are likely to have minimal game impact.  In the setting that I was working on before I started thinking about settings that might mesh more nicely with older versions of the rules, I wanted to preserve some aspects of general D&D lore from Greyhawk (and a tad from Forgotten Realms) that players tended to have connections with, but put my own fresh spin on them so that they made up a mythos that seemed more coherent and more like real-world mythoi.  I was focusing on the history of the eastern continent of this world, which knew at least two ancient empires: Urrom (think a more fascist and militaristic version of Rome) and Miżraim (a fantasy Egypt analogue).  So my calendar attempts to use the familiar as a structure and mnemonically upon which to put relevant world elements.  The aim is to marry world-building with something that has a chance of sticking in the minds of the GM and players.  Below is an excerpt from my attempt.

Months of the Year

The calender common on the eastern continent of the world was established by the astronomers of ancient Miżraim, and was later adapted and spread by the Urromite empire.  The calender is thus an amalgam of  conditions and customs, as well as languages. 

Jinnuary - This month is named for the Jinn, who were honored in ancient Miżraim.

Phantomuary - This month was an important month for dealing with spirits and the undead, esp. purifying places from haunting and unwanted spiritual influences.

Maahes - The first month of the campaigning period was named for the Miżraimite god of war.  Sometimes connected with Hextor.

Alluvinth - The first month of the annual inundation of the Satet River, it is also appropriately the rainy month in many lands.

Maidenth - "Month of the Maiden," the "specific maiden" here varies by region and culture, though originally she was Anqet.  It is a general time of feminine coming-out, romance, engagement, and marriage.  Among the tolk, it is  dedicated to Kora.

Jondallanth - "Month of Yondalla" (from an archaic spelling*), a month honoring her and her domains.  High month of the tolk.

Jeironeonth - "Month of Heironeous" (from an archaic spelling*), a month honoring him and his domains.  The month of knightings and tournaments.

Archontic - named for the first Urromite ruler, high month of the imperial calendar.

Serpenfer - named for the festival of Usaht, which is honored in secret rites by her all-female worshippers.

Orcover - name commemorates the thwarting of the terrible threat of Orcus, when he sent orcs into the world a millennium ago, in this month.

Necrember - This month was dedicated to all elements of burial and the ancestor worship that are not covered by Phantomuary; most solemn month of ancient Miżraim.

Delighnth - The month of delights, the month of the winter festival.

* I have not quite decided whether these are archaisms, derivations,vulgarizations, or simply variant spellings.   But I think it is realistic, e.g., we got "Jehovah" from Yahweh, "Jesus" from Yeshua, and in Latin Jerusalem =  Hierosolyma.

NB.  I called the halfings, tolk, in honor of their originator.

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