Campaign Setting Development - Time and Seasons As Narrative Tools

When writing a Dungeons and Dragons campaign setting based on Korean myths and folklore, it becomes quickly apparent that the calendar and all subsequent time-related items will be connected to the lunar cycle rather than the solar cycle. So the key is to review the way time, dates and seasons are treated while keeping it close enough to what players are used to so that the mechanics of the game don’t get in the way of the gameplay.

It is in that spirit that the Jeosung Lunar calendar is born:

Jeosung_Calendar_v2.jpg

In the Koryo Hall of Adventures, shamanism is a dominant force in people’s everyday life. Since the creation of the realms, the elements, the cardinal points and the phases of the moon are closely related. Early in the history of Jeosun, when Heavenly Men & Women ruled over the lands in peace, they lived in fortresses situated at all four cardinal points of the realms. Each fortress was in charge of keeping the balance of an element: Air in the North, Earth in the East, Fire in the South and Water in the West. Later, when the need for a common calendar arose, the creatures of the second age built it to match the lunar cycle, the natural order of elements and the cardinal points put in place by Heavenly people of the first age. Therefore, what you see here is a basic representation of what the final calendar will look like but it followis those basic concepts:

  • Each year is divided into four seasons -spring, summer, autumn and winter- each ruled by one of the element/cardinal point combination -North/air, East/earth, South/fire, West/water respectively-,
  • Each season is divided into three months. One month matches a lunar cycle,
  • Each month is divided into quarters that also match the moon cycles. So quarter one goes from new moon to first moon quarter, quarter two goes from first moon quarter to half moon and so on. Each quarter is ruled by the element/cardinal point combination in a similar fashion as the seasons,
  • Each quarter is divided into five days.

Based on these, we can see that there are 20 days in a month, that the element/cardinal point combinations have a strong influence on the calendar and that the alignment of quarters and seasons will play an important part in rituals and what players will be able to achieve at any given day.

Finally, I added the main festivals and rituals to the calendar as they are an inherent part of life in Jeosung. By adhering to the rituals, the players will be granted extras abilities through spirits and gods. Shamans especially will be required to attend or perform rituals to keep their standing with the spirits. This will have a big influence on shaman characters and the narratives of adventures inside this campaign setting.

Time is important in any game but it will be even more relevant in the Koryo Hall of Adventure campaign setting for the rituals and the connections between time, elements and the lunar cycles.