The Forgotten Realms is a very complete and immersive setting, and I played in a great FR campaign under a most excellent GM. But the Forgotten Realms calendar has always frustrated me. If you’re not familiar with it, a week is ten days, the names of the months make no sense, and the holidays are irregularly spaced between some of the months. However, a year is 365.25 days, with another holiday held on the extra day.
I greatly prefer the calendar from Greyhawk. Weeks have seven days that sound remarkably similar to modern days of the week (Sunday, Moonday, etc). Months have easy-to-use names (when do you think Harvester falls?), and are 28 days long, as is the rotation of one of the moons. Holiday weeks happen every three months, similar to the equinoxes and solstices, making 364 days in a year.
Thinking about these, I realized why I prefer the Greyhawk calendar: It is more intuitive. I can tell someone to meet me three weeks from Waterday, and nobody has to remember that it’s in over a normal month. Every month starts on the same day of the week. Holidays are equally spaced. It’s not perfect, the holiday weeks tend to screw up counting months, but it’s definitely easier to use.
But the FR calendar is immersive. It’s alien. It forces you to remember that things happen differently in the game world.
This is not just about calendars. When I ran Greyhawk, I substituted cultures from Earth’s history for the various human cultures (Suel, Baklunish, etc). Simply put, they were easier for me to portray, easier for my players to understand, and we automatically had a common ground. But they were Earthly, and not Oerthly.
Which brings me to my questions:
- Do you prefer aspects of your fantasy worlds (whether sci-fi, fantasy, or whatever) to be original and immersive? Or do you prefer them to be mundane and familiar?
- The above question assumes a trade-off between immersion and familiarity. Is this an accurate assumption?
Do you find that your GMing style (light vs. heavy prep, homebrew vs. published, etc) is a factor? Does having a ‘real life’ impact your decision?
What does your group prefer? Do they keep referring to “Marpenoth” as “October or whatever”, and griping about the ten-day week? Or do they really get into the minutiae of the setting?
I’d really like to know how fluffy other GMs like their fluff, and if anyone has another approach that is both immersive and easy to handle. Sound off in the comments and let us know!