Time

Zardnaar

Legend
One thing that D&D often does t handle well is the passage of time. I suspect this is because you can probably hit level 20 in 1 or 2 years of in game time.

On Midgard in using an optional rules that's along the lines of that for each day that passes IRL 2 days pass in game. I've been using the downtime rules and the PCs are hitting level 6 with close to 250 days if downtime.

This means the will pick up their first language or tool Proficiency soon if not in this week's session. We started playing in August.

In game various races also live a lot longer or are even immortal. Consider.

The older elves would remember the 14th century. They could have participated in the hundred years war or witnessed the fall if Constantinople.

Older Dragons could remember the Roman Empire. Some if the oldest may remember the Roman Republic.

On a magical Earth/D&D Earth

Undead could theoretically remember the dinosaurs, realistically though they could date from Sumeria, Ancient Egypt etc if they're wizards, maybe earlier if they picked up magic via sorcerery instead of learning to read a'la wizards.

Undead Elves or dark elves could predate the descent if the Drow.

Makes the mystery of the world a lot harder to work in if such beings grant interviews, write history books, or can be interacted with even if they're isolated from the general populace.
 

Jd Smith1

Explorer
Your theory assumes memory is the same for all races, which takes us back to the 'Human with cosmetic changes'. Such creatures' brains would have to have a cell death and regrowth process, which would mean that memories would be lost with the passage of time as the brain renews itself.

There's also the issue of involvement. Sure, an ancient creature could have been around in Roman times, but what was its life back then? If it was young, still living with its parents, it might have seen a Legion on the march or overheard its parents discussing current events, but that's it.

For example, I remember the Six Day War, but I had no idea who was fighting, where, or why; I just recall the name and the pictures in the paper.

This could explain why there are dusty tomes with terrible secrets written in them: because they long-lived creatures know their memories are fallible, and they keep notes against future need.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
Your theory assumes memory is the same for all races, which takes us back to the 'Human with cosmetic changes'. Such creatures' brains would have to have a cell death and regrowth process, which would mean that memories would be lost with the passage of time as the brain renews itself.

There's also the issue of involvement. Sure, an ancient creature could have been around in Roman times, but what was its life back then? If it was young, still living with its parents, it might have seen a Legion on the march or overheard its parents discussing current events, but that's it.

For example, I remember the Six Day War, but I had no idea who was fighting, where, or why; I just recall the name and the pictures in the paper.

This could explain why there are dusty tomes with terrible secrets written in them: because they long-lived creatures know their memories are fallible, and they keep notes against future need.
Very true.
I remember a lot more of my childhood than most.

We know a lot of ancient major events but not so much about day to day life.

Any such long lived being would still be limited by memory and experiences.
 
I'd imagine that what passes for a "major event" depends upon what one's memory is like. How long one lives (and how one lives it, I imagine) frames what is significant, and what is not.

The long-lived will more easily remember a sprawling century-long conflict better than a years-long regional one. And the long-lived are more likely to have experienced something truly earth-shattering in their time, so all but the biggest catastrophes might be mere kittentastrophes to them.

The humans might very well whisper for generations scary campfire stories about "the horrific times of flesh-eating scalp locusts". To the elves, on the other hand, it was just a bad hair day decade.

(edited to correct a necessary negative!)
 
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Jd Smith1

Explorer
Another factor would be information distribution. It's easy to forget in this day of instant world news that in a pre-industrial era news didn't travel as far or accurately. So a young dragon in the Baltic coast could have heard of the Roman Empire by rumor, but it wouldn't have much in the way of lore, assuming it recalled those rumors much later in life.
 

Coroc

Adventurer
Time tracking becomes really important if you run an "active" "living" campaign world which would include that things happen in a given order unless the PCs intervene somehow.
This results in the PCs being under time pressure almost constantly though.
 
Keeping track of time in an RPG has always been tough. I've done the whole in-game calendar, and that was too much work. Tracking all the time spent adventuring, travelling, and the time spent healing was a hassle.

These days I generally just sync the seasons to IRL. It's not perfect, but it's better than it just always being a generic comfortable spring/summer thing.
 

Jd Smith1

Explorer
Keeping track of time in an RPG has always been tough. I've done the whole in-game calendar, and that was too much work. Tracking all the time spent adventuring, travelling, and the time spent healing was a hassle.

These days I generally just sync the seasons to IRL. It's not perfect, but it's better than it just always being a generic comfortable spring/summer thing.
I keep an on-line log, just a brief one:

That way players can keep an eye on what is going on.
 

Jd Smith1

Explorer
I suppose I should've mentioned that the last time I kept an in-game calendar was 1991 or so...
Different strokes. I like to keep news and rumors floating around, and to work out the impact of the PCs separation from their families. I've been doing that since the 80s; before them I was like you, but as I kept adding roleplay aspects to my campaign, keeping track of things required more detail.

Plus PC investments require time accountability; retirement plans don't build themselves. ;)

YRMV.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Your theory assumes memory is the same for all races, which takes us back to the 'Human with cosmetic changes'. Such creatures' brains would have to have a cell death and regrowth process
What are these "cells" you speak of?

Oh, yeah, those are structures in real-world biology. Fantasy memory can be whatever we want it to be, because it isn't beholden to real-world biology.
 

Tonguez

Adventurer
I work on the assumption that a standard adventure is done over a ‘season’, so even if it takes a couple of days real time, the PCs will be doing a whole lot of other stuff in their downtime.
The season long downtime also makes it easier to track ’world events’ happening around the PCs
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
In game various races also live a lot longer or are even immortal. Consider.

The older elves would remember the 14th century. They could have participated in the hundred years war or witnessed the fall if Constantinople.

Older Dragons could remember the Roman Empire. Some if the oldest may remember the Roman Republic.
"Oh, yeah. There was some human empire thing going on there. You guys change it up so frequently. I wasn't really paying attention."

On a magical Earth/D&D Earth

Undead could theoretically remember the dinosaurs
Well, yes. But if you are talking about Earth... there's about 60 million years and more between the dinosaurs and the first hominids. So, if there's an undead that had been around in the time of the dinosaurs... it isn't a human undead.

Now, there's an interesting concept. Like, an undead Myconid that can remember... back to half a billion years or so...

"Oh, you vertebrates! So fancy with your... skeletons and closed circulatory systems! So new-fangled!"

Makes the mystery of the world a lot harder to work in if such beings grant interviews, write history books, or can be interacted with even if they're isolated from the general populace.
Well, that's figuring that they have active, relatable memory of those days. And, were actually cognizant of the things that the characters are interested in. And, that they don't have their own long-game agendas such that they don't feed you a pack of lies to manipulate you...

"Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons," goes tenfold when that dragon is animated by the eldritch powers of the negative material plane that are inimical to your very existence.
 

clearstream

Be just and fear not...
Your theory assumes memory is the same for all races, which takes us back to the 'Human with cosmetic changes'. Such creatures' brains would have to have a cell death and regrowth process, which would mean that memories would be lost with the passage of time as the brain renews itself.

There's also the issue of involvement. Sure, an ancient creature could have been around in Roman times, but what was its life back then? If it was young, still living with its parents, it might have seen a Legion on the march or overheard its parents discussing current events, but that's it.

For example, I remember the Six Day War, but I had no idea who was fighting, where, or why; I just recall the name and the pictures in the paper.

This could explain why there are dusty tomes with terrible secrets written in them: because they long-lived creatures know their memories are fallible, and they keep notes against future need.
Given a fantasy world, we don't necessarily need to take a scientific view of memory and cognition. Perhaps memory is found in the spirit. For some creatures it might remain clear, for others it could become cloudy. Or maybe some moments clear, some cloudy like a patchwork. Who knows.

I think your point is a fair one, but it seems to me there is plenty of scope to work with @Zardnaar's line of thought.
 

Eltab

Adventurer
The "time problem in D&D" that I ran into was when my group fought Arauthator (Rise of Tiamat), it took us almost 4 hours of IRL time ... and maybe a whole 45 seconds as experienced by the characters.
 

Jd Smith1

Explorer
What are these "cells" you speak of?

Oh, yeah, those are structures in real-world biology. Fantasy memory can be whatever we want it to be, because it isn't beholden to real-world biology.
'We?'

Sure, some GMs just shrug. "meh. Magic." when a setting issue comes up.
 

Galandris

Adventurer
Makes the mystery of the world a lot harder to work in if such beings grant interviews, write history books, or can be interacted with even if they're isolated from the general populace.
I was always dubious of game chronology talking of events happening millions of year before the game time -- eberron denizens remembers the revolt of the dragons 1,5M years ago and get detailed events and named persons from 10,000 years ago... but the realistic explanation is that such being are granting interviews of what they remember. The undying court has been established 26,000 years ago so technically you can speak to eyewitnesses of events that in real life are only deducted trhough scant archeological remains (domestication of cattle...)
 

ART!

Explorer
There's this great moment in the film Shadow of the Vampire where Willem Dafoe's vampire talks about forgetting how to set a table after 300 years with no guests.
 

ART!

Explorer
What are these "cells" you speak of?

Oh, yeah, those are structures in real-world biology. Fantasy memory can be whatever we want it to be, because it isn't beholden to real-world biology.
My thoughts exactly.
'We?'

Sure, some GMs just shrug. "meh. Magic." when a setting issue comes up.
This seems dismissive. I think by "we" they meant..."we". Memory in fantasy races can work just like it seems to work with real-world biology, or they could have racial memory, or their memories could be forged from raw Ore of the Ages, etc. It can be whatever we want it to be. It isn't beholden to real-world biology - unless you say it is, for this race or for your world, or whatever.
 

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