This post explains the background of Ellarion Standard Time, the time system in use in the larp. The summary should be known by everyone. The rest is for geeks who want to understand why an exoplanet colony still uses a time system originating from ancient Babylonia.
TL;DR – The short version
All dates and times are written in Ellarion Standard Time (EST). Pretty much no-one except historians and enthusiasts know about earlier time systems.
In-game time will be the same as Finnish local time. Therefore any clock you see will most likely show the correct in-game time. 24-hour system is used, but don’t make a fuss if someone says “5 o’clock” instead of “17-hundred hours”.
A day is 24 hours, a week is 7 days, and a year is 52 weeks (364 days). Years are counted starting from when humans first arrived in Ellarion. The current year is 542 EST.
Years are no longer divided into months. “Month” is now a word meaning “approximately four weeks”, but January, February, etc. have no meaning.
Dates are indicated by appending the year by the day of year. The game will start at “542-155 18:00 EST” – i.e. day 155 of the 542nd year at Ellarion.
In space there are no seasons. During the generations-long voyage through space, months as indicators of time-of-year slowly started losing meaning. Years were still relevant as part of human life – the concept of “18 years old” still mattered – whereas January and June were identical. Many technical applications simply counted days since launch.
When the colony started settling on Ellarion, the problem of fitting the time system to the planet’s rotation arose. The first senate decided to establish a new time system, called Ellarion Standard Time.
Because the rotation time of Ellarion was close to 24 hours, instead of having everyone learn a new time system, they decided to slightly change the length of a second so that it matched the planet’s rotation. Thus the time system remained the same for all practical purposes.
Dates were simplified to be indicated by just the year and day-of-year. The day of first orbit around Ellarion was chosen to be day 1-001 (year 1, day 1). The length of a year was reduced by one day to be exactly 52 weeks. The axial tilt of Ellarion was so small that the planet had no seasons, and therefore there was no need to match the year to the orbital period of the planet.
As people spread across Ellarion, time zones were added to match local daylight hours. However, the majority of the Ellarion population still lived in the EST time zone, and the moons Osiris and Caelena also followed that time. Therefore, Ellarion Standard Time was commonly used everywhere in the system.
The reason for using regular 24-hour time in the larp is purely practical: having participants learn a new time system and wonder whether “20 o’clock” was late or not would not have provided any additional gameplay. It would also have caused additional work for the systems team, as time systems would have had to been rewritten and wrong clock displays hidden.
Similarly, we wanted to keep the definition of a year approximately the same, so that “40 years old” would still mean the same thing. The word for “month” is still understood, so that players don’t need to try to avoid using it.
Within these practical constraints, we still wanted to provide some clear distinction in the time system and distance players from the current world. The colonization of Ellarion was a new beginning, and deserved a clear cut from the past.
Welcome to the year 542, Ellarion Standard Time.
Sampo, System development team
Blog is written by several members of the production team.