The Personal ULTIMA

RAMBLE for the Week of November 03, 1997

Long-time fans of the Ultima series know a lot about the way time passes in Britannia. They know, for example, that the Britannian year has 12 months, January through December, and each month has exactly 30 days. They know that the incident with the Black Gate happens sometime around the year 0361, that being 361 years after *some* significant event in the Britannian universe, probably the establishment of Britannia itself right after Exodus was overthrown. But, did you know that the Serpent Isle has a calendar too?

The hint book "Balancing the Scales" is written in the form of a diary, recording the travels of the monk Thoxa. For each entry she obligingly records the calendar date, giving us something we can work with. Each week seems to be made up of exactly five days: Aonsday, Dasday, Triday, Ceithirday, and Cuigday. Thoxa also names exactly seven months: Montoriad, Fawnehdra, Moonehdra, Ospria (named after the Osprey, the ship the Sosarians came to the Serpent Isle in), Sosariad, Serpentia, and Xenkaria. There couldbe more, but Thoxa seems to imply that her tour lasted exactly a year. All the months are an even multiple of five days long, because the day names and numbers always match up. And in one instance, the month only has 20 days. For example, in the book, Aonsday, Ospria 1, is the day after Cuigday, Moonehdra 20. That doesn't mean that all the months have only 20 days, though none of the dates in the book are for days higher than 20.

Thoxa identifies the year in most of her entries as "452 New Freedom". Her first entry is for Aonsday, Montoriad 1, and in her summary she says she completed writing Balancing the Scales exactly one year after she began,which makes that date Aonsday, Montoriad 1, 453 New Freedom. Presumably the Avatar arrives on the Serpent Isle not much longer after this. If we assume that Montoriad 1 is the first day of the "new year", and that the Avatar does arrive in 453 NF, this gives us something to compare against Britannia.Presumably the Sosarians left Britannia very soon after the establishment ofthe new realm, within a year or so. The Avatar himself leaves Britannia around the year 0363 (a year and a half after the destruction of the Black Gate). So we have, very roughly, 450 Serpent Isle years = 360 Britannia years, or about a 5:4 ratio. On the other hand, the Serpent Isle year could have as few as seven months, with 20 days each; a 140 day year, as opposed to the 360 day year of Britannia. That would make the years MUCH shorter than we would expect. But there could be more months in there that we don't know about.

A couple of caveats: this could very well be the Monks' calendar, and not one used by the general populace. In the diary left by the pirate Silverpate he refers in one entry to "Day 7" of week 9. But according toThoxa's calendar, weeks only have five days. In another note found in the Mountains of Freedom, a man named Denyel writes that the day he became trapped was "2-29-0227". But again, according to the above, months only have 20 days. So either the early calendar used one scheme, and the later one used Thoxa's, or they are parallel. Or maybe everyone always used the normal 12-month, 30-day scheme, and only the monks recorded their histories in terms of their calendars. Either way, we should be able to arrive at a consistent conclusion that comes reasonably close to matching what was going on in Britannia. And even if we can't, we can always just cop out and say that time is variable between the dimensions, and leave it at that. But what fun is that? :-) Let me know what you think.

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