Persistent Time of Day

One of the more interesting settings in fiction is the world stuck in a constant time of day. One of my favorite examples is the movie Pitch Black, set on a world that is trapped in near-constant night. I love these changes to day/night patterns, but they tend to fade into the background in many RPGs. It’s just hard to constantly keep the players thinking about a world of constant day (or night). So how do we stop that from happening?
The best way of stopping the fade is to mix things up and add a new element. Add something to the constancy that forces it to the foreground, adding flavor or difficulty, but most importantly, putting the day/night back into the players’ focus. Here are a few ideas for doing just that!
  • Rare Change – As with the aforementioned Pitch Black, reversing the constancy for a short period of time can have profound impacts on a setting. If you only have daylight for 24 hours every 365 days, it’s probably a period of fear and pain for most surface dwellers. How would a period of night be received by those living in constant day? Maybe the reversal is even more intense – not just a day of daylight, but a day of scorching head and savage light that can’t be borne without aid? There are lots of great ideas that can be played with in this vein.
  • Unnatural Effects – Change the nature of day/night can help to reinforce the “other” of such a setting. Does the night completely block darksight powers such that they only work underground? Is the daylight somehow toxic, forcing civilized people to cover themselves before spending anytime outdoors? Is a world of constant twilight one where the undead are always awake, but always lethargic?
  • Societal Practices – Perhaps there are unusual societal practices or equipment that are necessitated because of the level of sunlight. For example, a society in constant sunlight might have practices around sleep that need specialized curtains (ala Kristoff’s Nevernight). How do these societies define sleep hours? What psychological changes occur in the population due to the persistence of day/night (lack of deep sleep can lead to dementia, while prolonged darkness often leads to depression)? All of these can be used to keep the day/night in focus and add even more depth to your setting.
Hrmm….looking through these, I think we’ll look at some specific settings using these ideas in our next post!

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