The Forgotten Realms is a setting built on a sense of history and the passage of time. Empires rise, make their marks, and fall in spectacular ways, only to return as ruins later on. The holy days of Faerun's many gods matter, as do the lineages of kings in the great cities. The campaign setting book (3.0) lays out the passage of days and does a lot to give the setting its own mood - but it doesn't offer a calendar, and for several years, WotC didn't offer one. My first campaign was set in the Realms and as it continued well beyond my initial hopes, my players started to ask about a way to keep track of dates that mattered to them. Taking notes was okay, but the notes got scattered and lost at times. And I thought a calendar would be not only an easy way to keep our notes together, but an excellent prop to make it feel like we were indeed in another world once a week.
So I went about the process of recreating the Calendar of Harptos as best I could, using the materials in the main book. There are clearly 365 days arranged in 12 months, just like the Gregorian calendar. Each month has its own name, a title, and is made up of three weeks. There are ten days in each week, and the book says that five extra days are set aside for seasonal festivals, and these days "fall between the months. " But that description didn't tell me if the extra days were added to the end of particular months or the beginning. For the purpose of my rendition of the Harptos calendar, I added those days at the end of Hammer, Tarsakh, Flamerule, Eleint, and Uktar. (The Forgotten Realms calendar later hosted at WotC appears to do the same thing.) I decided that the days would simply restart at the beginning of each new year, which differentiates my version from WotC's but keeps things simple.
Having a printed calendar on hand helped us to keep track of major events in our campaign. It aided the player who was so kind as to keep a campaign journal for us and kept me from wandering off track in my notes, as well. But the best part was when the players started adding dates to it. First, they decided on their characters' birthdays and they marked the day their original group was formed. Then, we looked for any holy days they would want to celebrate (since we had two paladins and a cleric, there were bound to be some). They went on to keep track of the birthdays of key NPCs, as well as wedding anniversaries and new births. We kept the calendar with the campaign journal, in a folder accessible to all, and I reprinted it on a semi-regular basis. It became as much a memento as anything else and added a sense of solidity to our game.
To see how this can work out in a campaign, have a look at Our Basic Campaign Calendar.
To peruse a calendar with Faerun's many holidays, check out My Forgotten Realms Calendar.
The folk of Faerun do not generally have clocks to keep time so they arrange meetings by the time of day (early morning, noon, dusk). They also do not have names for days of the week. Since each week is made up of ten days, they simply refer to the days by their numbers. Often people will talk about tendays in groups: "It'll take two tendays to get there." When writing records and correspondence the peoples of Faerun do not always give exact dates; instead, they use the month and the title of the year. Two noted seers, Alaundo and Augathra, wrote down short titles for thousands of years. These titles are supposed to represent major events for the year, so they are spread and used regularly.
The years of Faerun are divided up into categories like our B.C. and A.D.; the Dalereckoning marked the year of a truce between the elves of Cormanthyr and human settlers in the Dales. Thus, all the years after 1 DR are listed as being DR, or Dalereckoning years. There does not appear to be an equivalent to our B.C. term. In any case, not all cultures and nations use Dalereckoning years to record their history, and a DM should keep this in mind. A culture might begin the recording of their history from some other important date can be identified with on a local level like the end of a war, the beginning of a township, or the birth of a particular prestigious person.
A Shieldmeet year - or, as we know it, a leap year - occurs once every four years, adding an extra day that follows the Midsumer festival. Thus, the Shieldmeet years of the most recent century are as follows: 1300, 1304, 1308, 1312, 1316, 1320, 1324, 1328, 1332, 1336, 1340, 1344, 1348, 1352, 1356, 1360, 1364, 1368, 1372 (official opening year of the FR 3rd edition campaign book), 1376, 1380, 1384, 1388, 1392, 1396, and 1400.
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