Wastelanders Reckon Time By The Loglow

by mshrm

We skipped the regularly scheduled game this month, due to a random smattering of real-world demands and responsibilities. Rather than the usual synopsis, I thought I would share some thoughts about timekeeping in my world, After The End.

As previously mentioned, one of the conceits of this campaign world is that everyone lost track of time after The End. Everybody forgot to wind their watch and keep a calendar while civilization was falling apart, and so now, none of the survivors know the time of day or the date. Then, an off-the-cuff remark led me to realize there was an even more amusing way to handle it.

A couple of session ago, one of the players wondered about the phase of the moon. How does the moon look? Same as it always does… bright yellow, cracked, big chunk taken out of the side. Which I stand by: the moon took a beating some time between the time of the Ancients and the time of the wastelanders.

Then, I got to thinking about what the Ancients might have done to the moon before they broke the sky and boiled the oceans.

So:

In my Gamma Terra Meriga, when wastelanders talk about the phase of the moon, they don’t mean the different ways the face of the moon is lit. They mean the changes in the revolving pattern of logos that appear there.

The Ancients saw fit to draw on the moon with glowing lines of light, forming various sigils and pictures. Each image persists for its own set span of one night to several nights. Some images occur multiple times through the year, but the pattern remains the same from year to year. Each image has a name, so wastelanders might speak of the nights of “the golden arches” or “the apple” or “the ominous smile”.

The “loglow” means that if the moon is present at all, it sheds at least as much light as the Ancients’ full moon. The broken sky is always covered with thick weird clouds, sheets of lightning, and colorful auroras, so the stars are never visible, but the moon and the sun can be seen.

In game terms, what this all amounts to is a small set of possible vision modifiers due to outdoor illumination levels. If the sun’s up, no penalty. If the sun’s down and the moon’s up, no worse than -3, equivalent to candlelight, slightly better than a full moon. If there’s no moon, -8, since there’s always some kind of light show in the sky.