Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Calendar of Hyborean Greyhawk

Ever since I first picked up the World of Greyhawk Boxed Set (I’d guess some time in the late 80s—I only got the Folio version late last year), I was enamored with its weather generation system. At least I was enamored with the thought of it. In practice it’s a little wonky. That said, it’s a degree of canon in how the climates of the Flanaess work. So it’s something to keep in mind for Hyborean Greyhawk.

Now, Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea has a really unique calendar, with a 13-year cycle with months of darkness in the winter and months of daylight in the summer.

I’ve crunched them together to come up with the Hyborean Greyhawk calendar.

Part One: Under The Hood (Methodology and Musings about the system I came up with)

My method was as follows: First, I calculated the number of hours of daylight in each month in the WoG Glossography calendar. Then, I came up with a scaled modification to those numbers coming from the AS&SH 13-year calendar to generate just how many hours of daylight each month had. Finally, I adjusted the average temperature of each month based upon how many hours of daylight it had deviated from the norm. That gave me a 156-month, 13-year chart of hours of daylight and average temperature.

The 13-Year Calendar, Coded for Climate
The attached picture is a visual representation of this data, which helped me wrap my head around it.  The cooler colors (purple and blue) are the winter months, the purple being the colder end of the winter spectrum. Likewise, the warmer colors (yellow and orange) are the summer months. The black and red months are the long night and long day periods, respectively, where the sun either doesn’t come up for months on end.

My other thought is that since there are two cycles going on, there should be two suns. Down the road, I’ll figure out the astrophysics behind all of this, and be able to have a coherent “here’s where each sun is” answer. I’m pretty good friends with the local astronomer at the college (he’s a soccer buddy now that I’m done taking classes with him and got a real chuckle out of how I explained how GURPS Space was the reason I passed his classes without effort…) so I might enlist his aid.

The other thing I have to keep in mind is that this calendar has considerable implications for life on Hyborean Greyhawk. Looking at the calendar, there are a few critical moments in the 13-year cycle—there is a span of 22 months from the ninth month of Year 12 to the sixth month of the following Year 1 in which the average temperature is below freezing. And even then there is only a two month window of temperate weather (average temperature 33-59 degrees) immediately preceding it. There is nine months of winter before that window. It makes the Year 11 harvest that much more important.

Before I can really move too much further on that, I need to figure out how precipitation is going to work. The Glossography system is just a little too… I dunno… weird for me. In a one week span, I had a heavy snowstorm leading into a tropical storm. While strange weather happens, the frequency of strange weather in the WoG Boxed Set is a little too frequent for my taste.

So, there is still work to be done on the system, but I do have a basic springboard to work with, even if the details will come later.

Part Two: The Basics of the Hyborean Greyhawk Calendar

As much as the arrogance of the degenerate (and some would say demon-ridden and inbred) Overkings of Aerdy insist that this is the middle of the 576th Common Year of the Great Kingdom of Aerdy, the more astute denizens of the Flanaess consider this to be the 8th Month of the Genesis Year of the Bear of the 468th Pelorian Cycle of Hyborean Years. The twin sons of Hyborea, the sphere upon which the Flanaess is located, are known as Pelor and Pholtus. These bloated, red suns make their presence known in varying intervals. The brighter of the two, Pholtus, rotates around Hyborea constantly, although as Hyborea moves through the Pelorian Cycle, Pholtus’s position is higher in the summer years and lower in the winter years, to the point where it is everpresent during the Long Days and completely absent during the Long Nights. Pelor, the duller of the suns, rotates around Hyborea every thirteen years (hence the name Pelorian Cycle), hanging low in the sky in the summer and never to be seen in the winter.

The twelve months of the year do not have names. Again, the Overkings would say otherwise, but many Flannae (the term for denizens of the Flanaess) wonder why you would call a month Fireseek when its average temperature is over sixty degrees in the middle quarter of the Pelorian Cycle. For the most part, the months are simply numbered. The years within the cycle, however, are much more readily named.

Part Three: The Calendar

If I make a full-blown supplement for Hyborean Greyhawk, there will be more information contained.  My notes certainly have more detail, but for the purposes of the blog at this point in time, I am simply going to break down the years by name and a broad characterization of the months they contain.

Here are the definitions for the monthly characterizations:
Long Night: The period of time which neither Pelor nor Pholtus appear. Cold and dark for months on end, the only comfort provided is that it is dry, so snowfall is rare in these months.
Deep Winter: Pelor is nowhere to be seen during these frigid months. Pholtus will typically show his face low in the sky for at most two to three hours a day. A warm day during these months is 0 degrees (F).
Winter: The Flannae winters are notoriously wet. Temperatures are usually between 5 degrees and freezing.
Temperate: You’ll see that the traditional spring and autumn designations aren’t really applicable here. These seasons are typically wet (although less so than the winter) and temperatures range from freezing to about sixty degrees.
Summer: Summers in Hyborean Greyhawk are hot and dry, although short, violent storms will punctuate the season. Temperatures range from sixty to ninety degrees.
High Summer: The High Summer is quite arid, and the sun is the sky for all but a handful of hours. Temperatures exceed ninety degrees during these months.
Long Day: Both suns shine during these periods. Six or seven months of perpetual sunlight bakes the ground, lowers lakes, and dries up streams.

The years are named in the format of “The Whatever Year of the Blahblah,” where Whatever is the more esoteric name for the year used by Sages, Wizards, Bards, and other milk-drinking weaklings. Most people refer to the year by the Blahblah designator.

The Pelorian Cycle of Hyborean Years
Year 1: The Genesis Year of the Bear
Long Night (2 months), Deep Winter (1 month), Winter (3 months), Temperate (2 months), Winter (3 months), Deep Winter (1 month).
(From here on out, you’ll just see a number after the characterization. I think you can figure it out.)
Year 2: The Renaissance Year of the Fish
Deep Winter (1), Winter (3), Temperate (5), Winter (3)
Year 3: The Vernal Equinox Year of the Wolf
Winter (3), Temperate (3), Summer (2), Temperate (3), Winter (1)
Year 4: The Tempest Year of the Hare
Winter (2), Temperate (2), Summer (5), Temperate (3)
Year 5: The Deluge Year of the Elk
Temperate (3), Summer (3), High Summer (3), Summer (2), Temperate (1)
Year 6: The High Summer Waxing Year of the Tiger
Temperate (3), Long Day (6), Summer (2), Temperate (1)
Year 7: The High Summer Waning Year of the Crab
Temperate (2), Long Day (7), Summer (2), Temperate (1)
Year 8: The Drought Year of the Eagle
Temperate (3), Summer (3), High Summer (1), Summer (3), Temperate (2)
Year 9: The Tranquility Year of the Whale
Temperate (4), Summer (5), Temperate (2), Winter (1)
Year 10: The Autumnal Equinox Year of the Aurochs
Winter (3), Temperate (3), Summer (2), Temperate (2), Winter (2)
Year 11: The Twilight Year of the Mammoth
Winter (4), Temperate (5), Winter (2), Deep Winter (1)
Year 12: The Coda Year of the Fox
Deep Winter (3), Winter (4), Temperate (2), Winter (1), Long Night (3)
Year 13: The Nightfall Year of the Bat

Oh, actually, one thing, the climate notes are based on a 45 degree latitude, since I plan on starting the game in Ratik.

Part Four: Final Thoughts on the Calendar

Some years are better than others. I’d say that eight of them aren’t horrible, having more temperate months than extreme months, the five that don’t meet this criteria are the Long Day and Night years. Down the road, I’ll do some research to add some verisimilitude to daily life based on this, but for now, this is what I’m rolling with.

Next up: What I am doing with the cultures.

1 comment:

  1. This is pretty cool stuff! I'll be following your progress. :)