Developing a Workflow – Interlude: Calendar

While my plan was to go on to section V on the creation of a map for Yaccatrice, the process I intended to use was slow and didn’t give me the results I desired. Also, somewhere along the way I discovered in an inconvenient way that I actually have a life. William Shatner would be so proud! So much for a queue of future posts…

Instead I’ve decided to add a bit of cultural color to Yaccatrice. A weird little calendar.

First of all, in the early years of settlement on Yaccatrice, the population spread widely across Yaccatrice. Gathering of native flora and fauna was of limited nutritional efficacy and imported Earth foods and agricultural practices(actually foods and agricultural practices adapted to Baine’s World) were not very productive. This meant that the land could only support very low population densities. Over time, people isolated in various regions learned more effective agricultural practices including domesticating many of the most useful native organisms and Earth plants began to be adapted to conditions on this planet. Those cultures which were most successful in making such adaptations expanded, often at the expense of their neighbors, to the limits imposed by primitive communication, the difficulty of travel across the desert areas between the seas and competition from similarly successful neighbors. The most successful of these cultural groups eventually formed an empire of sorts which controlled nearly half the population of the Segonna Sea, or about 30% of the population of Yaccatrice. This is the culture that originated the calendar which we will describe. This same calendar has been borrowed by many neighboring cultures around the Segonna Sea and a few cultures around nearby seas also use it. Conceptually similar calendars are common enough to indicate that the idea originated soon after first settlement of the planet.

An almost universal concept on Yaccatrice is the notion of a “civil year.” This is an approximation of an Earth year of varying accuracy. Most cultures use the period of revolution of Sky Moon around Yaccatrice(the “true year”) as a “civil month.” In the case of the dominant culture of Segonna(let’s call that the Segonna Empire for now), the civil year is divided into 12 true years(named roughly for the months of the common Terrestrial calendar). Thus a specific time could be something like, “The third Bell of Fortitude Jun 3451 C.Y.” The bells and day names were described earlier:

In my calendar for Yaccatrice each day/month has a name. Since I found myself playing with a Tarot deck while thinking about astrological religious rituals, it seemed obvious to use the Major Arcana to name the day/months. The first day/month is named Magician, the second is Priestess, with the following day/months named, in order, Empress, Emperor, Hierophant, Lovers, Chariot, Fortitude, Hermit, Fortune, Justice, The Hanged Man, Mortality, Temperance, The Devil, The Tower, Stars’ Month, Moon’s Month, Sun’s Month, Judgement, World’s Month. Each such month or day is divided into 24 roughly equal local hours or bells of 73 minutes, 6.63 seconds. The conventional way of stating the date and time is to refer to the day name and an ordinal bell number, e.g. 3rd Bell of Fortune or 17th Bell of Priestess. Two out of every five years will have a leap day/month named The Fool.

“Jun,” is the name of the sixth true year in the civil year. These names are derived from the names of months in the Terran common calendar: Jannery, Febbery, Marsh, Prill, Mei, Jun and Juli for the first seven true years. These are also referred to as the female years as the names are commonly used for female children. Gus, Sember, Tober, Nomber and Deccam, the last five true years in the civil year are referred to as male years. These names are also often used for male children.

The number of the year is based on the year that the Yardley TC reached Yaccatrice. This was in 2518 C.E. The number of the common year is intended to be the 2518 plus the number of common years that passed since that planetfall. In actuality, due to inaccurate counting in early years of the colony the date is actually off by two years. The initial date would have been in 2520. Thus, “The third Bell of Fortitude Jun 3451 C.Y.,” would have been in 3319 by the actual Terran calendar. Assuming I did my math right.

The Segonna Imperial calendar’s civil year works out to about 312.9 Earth days long, or about 0.857 Earth years. For the purposes of people with only a fairly vague idea of the actual length of the Earth year, this was clearly sufficient.

Besides the difference in length between the Yaccatrene civil year and the Earth year and the slight mismatch between the initial date of the Yaccatrene calendar and the actual date of arrival, there is another minor complication. The Segonna Empire’s civil year is assumed to go from Empress Juli to World Jun rather than Jannery to Deccam.

Although some form of civil year approximating the original standard Earth year familiar to the colonists, in their isolation many Yaccatrene cultures developed very disparate civil years. One major and still independent culture of the Segonna Sea region (referred to, for the moment, as Segonna B) uses a civil year of 14 true years. This works out to 365.07 Earth days long, a very close approximation. Their years are not assumed to continue the original common era dates of Earth and are counted from the ascendance of a nearly mythological hero who had lived a mere 500 civil years before, about three centuries after humans first arrived on Yaccatrice.

Other cultures forego the use of Sky Moon’s orbital period altogether. One of the more advanced cultures on the shores of the Kanta Sea bases it’s civil year on a 300 day/month period. At about 365.55 Earth days length, this is another very close approximation of the Earth year. This culture, which I’ll call Kanta Prime for now, doesn’t have a universally used long count of years, but instead the various kingdoms, chiefdoms and tribes of the Kanta Prime culture number their civil years by the number of such years that the current king or chief has reigned or by the number of civil years since a particular dynasty came to power. In some of the kingdoms well educated bards or scribes can tell the number of years separating two dates in different dynasties of a given kingdom and sometimes translate between the dynastic notations of different political groups. The process of comparing dates in the Kanta Prime calendar can be quite arcane…

Even Sky Moon’s true years are handled differently by different cultures. The Segonna Empire separates true years at the putative date when Earth’s Sun is supposed to reach its highest point above the capital of their holy city. The Segonna B culture, on the other hand uses the date of Sky Moon’s periastron about Cintilla as it’s New Year(I figure Sky Moon has some very small eccentricity to its orbit, large enough to be detected by some of the more advanced, but small enough not to destabilize Yaccatrice’s orbit of Sky Moon). The Kanta Prime culture, as mentioned earlier, dispenses with all use of true years altogether. Monks up in hilltop monasteries simply mark off each morning until they get to three hundred, then they mark a new civil year. Many Kanta Prime societies even restart the count of days to a new year when one reign ends and another begins. Since Yaccatrice has no significant seasonal variations, there is little need to maintain synchrony between the timekeeping system and longer astronomical cycles. Unlike many other cultures on Yaccatrice, the Kanta Prime culture has no significant religious or superstitious beliefs of an astrological sort. Like many other cultures on Yaccatrice they do maintain a watch of the skies, looking for the miraculous time of Rescue. Hope dies but slowly, and sometimes gradually ossifies into tradition.

Unless I find time to really get down to mapping and blogging my process, next week I’ll put up a list of links I’ve found lately that should be of use or interest to worldbuilders. I think that will give me enough of a cushion to get some terrain building going. After that we’ll detail some of Yaccatrice’s cultures in their proper geographic relation. Then I’d like to put up a nice little article describing the world, its surrounding star system and its cultures in some approachable and decently organized detail. Finally I’ll wrap up the developing a workflow series with a review of the snags, pitfalls and successes I’ve had along the way concluding with some remarks as to how to keep the successes and avoid the pitfalls.

Hopefully this will be of some value.

Thank you,

The Astrographer.

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