Measuring Time in a Fantasy World

How do we measure time?

This was something that hadn’t occurred to me when I set out to build a world. It was from reading another blog on world building that I suddenly realised that time might be different here on my world.

With this there is quite a lot of room to be creative. You need to think about how time works on your world, how it is measured. We have hours, days, weeks, months, years, does your world have the same or is something completely different?

mountain-garden-661831_1920I personally wanted to keep them roughly the same time, but I wanted to rename them. In my world I want to make a point that most people are very religious, and religion dictates a lot of how people run their daily lives. So I used religion to measure time. I have named days and months after gods, and change lengths of weeks to fit around how many days are in a month. It’s the same idea that we had in this world.

If you have a large world, you might think about how different parts of the world measure time. If everyone has a different religion, then days of the week might be called something else. They might not even be named after gods, particularly if you have a monotheistic religion.

In my world, the northern countries like to be as different as possible to everyone else, so they are not likely to measure time the same way that an empire on the other side of the world will. That doesn’t mean the length of time of a month for example, is any different, it just means they call it something else.

Where I messed up

This is where it gets confusing. If you have two empires with different lengths for weeks because one has more gods, then how does that affect months, years and international communication?

Maybe you have to change the lengths of weeks to fit around the month and then the amount of months in a year.

I personally ended up with a mess where one country had about 100 extra days than the other…

I eventually decided that as time is not of any special significance in my story, I would simplify it as best as I could. I had not realised what a headache this could cause so I think it’s something worth bearing in mind.

For a story where time is a huge feature of the narrative, you might want to be a bit more creative with it.

Time and Space

If you wanted to change the length of months you might want to think about how your planet fits into the universe.

Is it a globe like ours? Does it orbit a moon? Is there a sun?

You can go as mad as you want with that, as long as it makes sense in the context of your world. If you want a huge moon, you will probably have to think about tides, if you want a small sun, you will have to think about daylight and how that affects everyone’s life on your planet.

I think that stuff would work better if you had a futuristic-style fantasy/science fiction story where the characters are aware of space and time and so on.

Have you experimented with time and space in your world? Did it cause you an equally large headache? If not, share your secrets with us!


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