# How long can a period be?

The rules say

Note that you don’t specify exactly how long a Period is.

A little earlier it says

Your description can include how the new Period relates to the Periods around it. But even if you visualize your Period as coming right before or after another Period, someone else could add a Period in between them later on, so long as their description of their Period doesn’t contradict what was already said.

Which makes sense. But then it gives the following example.

There’s already a “the gods curse the world with endless winter” Period, and you make a new Period right before it...

Since this new period coming before doesn't contradict “the gods curse the world with endless winter” Period, it is ok. But what if we wanted to put a golden age after the winter? The endless winter example seems to contradict the specifying of how long the period is because, well, it's endless.

## A period can be any amount of time that makes sense in the context of your history

When the rules say you don’t specify the length of a Period, that doesn’t mean it has no beginning and no end - only that you don’t define it by those things in terms of time. The important thing about a Period is its description; from page 22:

1. Describe the Period: Give the other players a grand summary of what happens during this time or what things are like. Describe how it is different from other Periods around it, as appropriate.

In the example, “the Gods curse the world with endless winter” is a great “grand summary” of what happens in this Period. It also shows what’s different from the Periods around it: specifically, before this Period there was no endless winter.

That doesn’t mean this Period lasts forever, though the effects of what happens during it might. Later Periods might refer to major developments while the endless winter goes on, or perhaps a hero somehow ends the winter after it has lasted for generations. This Period is thus the time when the endless winter began, and the people of the world had to adapt to it.

A similar example might be “the gods sunder the spirit world from the world of mortals”. There can be many Periods after this, even though the spirit world may forever remain separated from the mortal realm. (Though they could also be reunited, if a later Period is defined that way.)

I think you are taking "endless" too literally here, as in "will never ever end".

If you instead look at it as "will not end during the Endless Winter period", then it works just fine. Normally Winter ends each year. If you have a period of several years where it does not, it is endless in that period. (Of course, the period must be long enough for that, a one-month Endless Winter would not make a lot of sense).

Since periods normally have other periods before and after them, they would need to be of a finite (if not exactly defined) time, they would not literally have no end. 1

1 The mythical granddaddy of enduring winter, Fimbulwinter in Norse myth, funnily enough occurs just before the end of times, heralding Ragnarök. I guess the last period before the world ends would be an exception, and have no period after, but it still would be finite.

• Instead of literally you could take the endless in relation to a human lifespan. E.g. making it 150+ years long so no human that experienced the beginning of the endless winter will be able to experience its end. Commented Apr 29 at 14:20
• I would probably interpret "endless" in that context as "until the gods' curse is lifted." Commented Apr 29 at 22:22

## The only endless period is a period that can't end.

There are limits to your game:

1. Because a period can only be created between two other periods, no period can come before the one you establish as the start of the game, or after the one you establish as the end of the game.
2. You have to respect the elements of the palette, positive ("What gods do is permanent, even for other gods") and negative ("there can be no new gods").

But aside from that, the space for contradiction is usually pretty small - the directive is mostly there to focus you away from trying to narrate out something that somebody else has done that you don't like. What they've done is always going to be a part of the timeline, and similarly, anything novel you narrate is also going to be a part of the timeline no matter what anybody else feels about it.

Contradiction should be interpreted to have these narrow limits because contradiction is commutative - it can go both backwards and forwards. Your endless winter can't stop somebody from setting a scene in the future where someone walks through a field of blooming flowers in full warm sun, any more than somebody setting a scene in the future where someone walks through a field of blooming flowers in full warm sun can stop you from putting a period of endless winter in the past.

### No one can see the future.

The game suggests this as an additional limit in the play advice on p.64, to avoid things that might create protagonists - people with access to time-travel technology or a handful of people who can't die, who timeline elements will follow from period to period. (A class of people who are rather hard to kill, like "the gods", can be done with care to leave open the possibility of adds and drops as the ages go on.)

People able to define other periods from inside their own, in other words.

So, the gods curse the world with endless winter. But afterwards, many other things could still happen.

• The gods relent, or turn against the curse-maker and exile them, or otherwise put a stop to the endless winter, because what the gods can do once they can do again.
• New gods arrive or arise and overthrow the old gods to stop the endless winter.
• Humans invade the home of the gods and liberate the seasons from servitude to them.
• Caging the seasons grows more and more difficult as ages pass and they break free on their own, perhaps killing some or all of the gods in the process.

Even if you write the curse of endless winter and put it down right before the end period of your game, which is the fact of the world frozen in endless winter, that still doesn't stop someone from placing a different period in between the two. After all, isn't it a common element of tragedies that just before everything breaks wrong forever there's one desperate moment of hope?