Thursday, May 13, 2010

My Campaign Calendar

After writing the Referee book for the box set, I realized I had written a ton of great advice for running a quality game and I wasn't doing much of it myself. I've been running things really loose, which isn't such a good thing to me.

In an effort to get a handle on things, I've started taking small steps to get more organized. The first thing I had to tackle was the passage of time. Days often pass during adventures, and travel might be summed up with "The trip takes a couple weeks." The campaign has been running almost two years now, and nobody really knows how much time has passed for the characters. That's not so good.

So I whipped up this calendar. It's very simple, as you can see. Month and year go in the blank spot on top, and then there are the days with the phases of the moon (because people are always asking how much they can see at night). By shaving the month to 28 days, I could just use the same form year-round and keep the phases of the moon simple (Full moon is the 1st of every month). I use real-life month and day names, because I don't see the benefit in coming up with custom names. I can't even remember the names of my star NPCs (which, my players should know, is the reason I come up with outrageous names... it's a desperate attempt to be able to remember them without looking at my notes every single time their names are supposed to be mentioned), I often don't know what day it is in real life, and I'm going to memorize an entirely new calendar? No...

But just having it the calendar, and having the players cross of the days that pass, has had a profound effect in making the whole thing seem like it's happening in an actual world (for me at least). And at least we'll know, and not guess, when it's winter and how long the party has to stop that cult ceremony at the next new moon without being all handwavey about it. And it's dead-simple to make happen.


  1. Because I'm computer geek as well as an RPG geek, I made a spreadsheet with the Greyhawk calendar.
    Each day is a row, and there are columns for the month, day, the phase of each moon (Celene and Luna.) In theory each player character would have a column for their activities, but between me and my co-DM we are only able to make one entry listing the group for that session and their activities.

    Why? Cuz Gary said it was important! No, seriously. When players start wanting to go off and train war-boars or have custom items made, calendars are necessary for the game to have the trade-offs necessary for these choices. The free advantages are having reference points for weather, large scale campaign events like wars, and be able to answer the cleric of the moon goddess as to what phase the moon is.

  2. Reminds me of the Runequest calendar - you really need to keep an eye on the phase of the moon in Glorantha!

  3. Good point.
    I should do this again - I did it for a homebrew circa 2004 - then since have become complacent with little touches. I do keep track of days independently and month, but not the same.

  4. I like the simplicity of this approach, and I like that you can see the moon phase at a glance on your calendar. Thanks, I'll be using this.