“Time was born in Hell, where the shadows of chaos reigned and held the heart of the universe in greasy paws.” - The Gloranthan Calendar
Blogging breeds obsessive behavior. I have been so stuck on thinking about epic time in D&D as per yesterday's post that I not only find myself tinkering with some matching sub-systems and mini-games (hey, at least it has some utility for the Domain Game), but also pulling down all my various old school gamebooks to see what they have to say about the march of time.
Most of the rules--unsurprisingly perhaps--fall into line with the D&D paradigm. Curiously however, two games that began life as OD&D spin-offs, Runequest and Chivalry & Sorcery, reject the one-for-one slower pace of D&D campaign time.
Here's what the second edition RQ rulebook says:
A time scale of one real week per game week makes the game drag unless one is running a campaign by mail. The authors recommend a scale of one real day per one game week.
Sadly nothing is given about why one would use such a compressed amount of time (and I admit to being mystified about why slower time would be ok for a postal campaign). You can infer the why from the longer and more frequent training periods and deeper character obligations to such things as cults, but you'd think that multiplying time at seven times the rate would warrant an explanation. (Applied to my own tabletop campaign, for instance, you'd have almost Pendragon-like passages of anywhere from 14-28 weeks between sessions.)
More interestingly first-edition C&S, explicitly contracts campaign downtime in order to capture the larger-stage roleplaying in the ways we were discussing yesterday. Here's the passage from “The Time Frame” section:
...the one day = one game day concept has been dropped in favor of a more telescoped time period...If large-scale actions are going to be fought, anxious War Lords are going to be very frustrated by a real-time winter period in which no campaigning is possible. To permit a few good wars, time has to be compressed. Also, time was compressed to permit characters to live out a reasonable proportion of their lives, and perhaps even descendants to take up the struggle.
One wonders if this was the kernel of an idea that influenced Pendragon's own system.
I rather like how it continues on to lay out a “campaign season” as some of you were suggesting yesterday in comments. Keep in mind it is mostly suggesting a one real week to four game week baseline:
The year is seasonal in nature, and winter is always a quiet period because conditions are simply too bad for anyone to seriously attempt an adventure outside settled areas. Even the monsters get out of the snow storms. The four seasons therefore down as follows.
Spring: April and May: 2-3 real weeks
Summer: June to October: 8-10 real weeks
Fall: November and December: 2-3 real weeks
Winter: January to March: 1 real week
I dig the quirkiness of this system, especially how it lays out game session windows in real weeks. Better get your game on if you want to visit that dungeon in game-time January. (Though I have a strong feeling that I would simplify such matters down more to the Pendragon way of having the adventure be in one stretch and the downtime as punctuation.)
Now I am going back to touching all the door knobs and counting all the pens in my office.