This post is outdated; the current year is closer to 476 – there was just too much to fit in such a small time frame. Post has been unaltered for posterity.
Finding the age of Caldera
It’s an interesting thing trying to create a world from scratch; there are just too many elements needed for just one mind to generate anything near verisimilitude. None-the-less, we try. One of the sticking points for me was, ‘What year is it?’. For me, this (like much of what I’m doing) has come back to ‘what feels right’. Very often when writing I have second-guessed my choices, and this invariably leads to a lot of frustration and unfinished work. That’s something I’m trying to avoid with this endeavour.
So, what ‘feels right’ for Caldera? Normally, as is the case in our world, every culture would have their own system for measuring time, and would find their own arbitrary point from which to begin. Calera has the benefit of the one big event that touched all peoples simultaneously; the Exodus, when all of the Gods left the mortals to their own devices. When the Gods walked the firmament time was more or less relative. Such was the power of those Creatures of Creation that different peoples experienced years, days and seasons in different ways. It was a time before (unified) time. I thought the best moment to establish year zero was when they left and all peoples were finally united under the one sun (the celestial clock). Some peoples simultaneously maintain a more personal measurement of time, and others may not measure time in years at all, however all will at least understand the commonly accepted year.
So, now that we have a start time how long has it been? When was the Exodus? Thousands of years ago? Yesterday? For me, the ramifications of the event still need to be present – one of the key themes I want to explore in some of these stories is self-actualisation; how does an individual forge their own path in a world where, previously, that path was out of their hands? For this reason the Exodus can’t be too far gone. The psychological scarring and political upheaval of the Exodus can still be present generations after, but perhaps not millennia after. That said, these aren’t necessarily stories about the turmoil immediately following the exile either; setting it too close to the event would mean that all other considerations and narrative hooks would be overshadowed by it. Societies need to have moved on to the point of general stability.
In my mind, four or so generations are sufficient for this. Kingdoms can rise and fall in a generation, peoples can mass-migrate and social movements can grow and be quashed. All of the mortal races with average lifespans (those comparable to us) would have no living connection to the events of the Exodus. And those who are longer lived would have only a few who can remember the ‘before times’. This keeps a connection to the event, but doesn’t tie us to it. The average lifespan in medieval England was a touch over 30 years. This is a little misleading as if you lived past the average you were likely to live into your 40’s and 50’s. Old people, even by our standard of old, were not unheard of; it’s just that death was very common for young people. So, in our fantasy world I’m going to bump the average life-expectancy up to 40, which gives us 160 years since the Exodus. In order to take the roundness off the number let’s make the year 167AE, or 167 years After the Exodus. That doesn’t seem like a long time but a lot can happen in that period, even in an agrarian society. Kingdoms have re-established themselves and people are finally settled enough to ask the question, “What now?”