The next Rolemaster adventure my group will play, day and night cycle will be very important, how do I manage the day night cycle without making it unrealistic? A clock or a timer does not work.

For example, say I have a clock, and I tell the group every real hour is a day ingame, but I can't very well say "it's become night" while they're talking and describing things like "I try to shoot an arrow". The time for the roll is also like a pause.

In this time the real time passes and dosn't stop, but I can't hit stop on my phone because time goes on ingame while they take their bow and arrow, but much more slowly.

So my question is what is the best way to have a realistic time flow so the group will have a feeling of time and prepare their next actions on that knowledge?

I am open to use anything that can help, not necessarily Rolemaster specific solutions although it is the system I use.


The thirteenth warrior movie has a section where the thirteen warriors travel and one of them is learning the Norse language. While maybe not realistic⸮ it shows what can be done to show time passing: short burst of activity in utterly different circumstances.

Prepare a set of scenes that show different aspects at different times: evening dinner time is a perfect opportunity for role play. Travelling through tricky terrain is an opportunity to use those survival skills. An ambush (oh so cliche!) is a nice high adrenaline encounter although not necessarily a combat one. Weather changes are perfect to get those resist disease rolls and find shelter. I would continue but there's a superb question and answers on just that topic. Another scene would be to explore the ruins they just stumbled upon.

Now, between those high octane scenes, there are lots of tedious things happening. Those take as long as they take but take minimal time around the table.

Since you say that day/night cycles are important: I would have a slider with 24 numbers -- or better yet, whatever your game world crazy time system is. Things take time: you advance the slider based of how long the current scene took: They travel for X unit of time. That's easy and gets resolved in about five minutes of descriptions. The slider moves X slots. They fight a long and hard combat taking four hours in real time. But in game time, this took but a few minutes so the sliders does not move.

Note that "slider" is used loosely: it could be a set of pictures of an hour glass with sand. It could be a sun and/or a moon moving across a star-full night sky. It could be a sun dial with a string for the shadow. Use your imagination and make the "slider" fit within your game-lore.

Now, unless your players have a good sense of keeping the time (which is none-trivial in a medieval setting) they will not know exactly where they are on that slider. This allows you to say things like "You thought you had time to get to the next ridge. You were wrong. Night is falling and you have maybe a 15 minutes before it gets dark. What do you do?"

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  • \$\begingroup\$ The idea of the slider is perfect. Thanks a lot i got some good ideas now i just have to prepare everything. \$\endgroup\$ – Xxy Sep 15 '16 at 9:43

It is entirely up to you. If the game is going to be quite long, perhaps each session will equate to x amount of hours. Say, if there are 5 sessions, and each session is three hours, and each hour equates to x amount of hours in game. If this is relevant in my games, when I give a basic overview of an outdoor area, I will give players position of the sun, or detail what people around them are doing around them in relation to the "local" time. As an example, perhaps night is falling, and the people of the village are scared of the creatures that lurk the night. You could perhaps say "you see the villagers hastily close their doors and windows." This will perhaps prompt your players to explore (to knock on a door and ask why they have gone inside in such a hurry) or investigate the environment. You could also perhaps create a "physical" representation of time, such as an empty origami cube, where after a certain amount of time has passed, or after a certain amount of actions, you place a counter into the box, and when it is full, that represents x amount of hours. Hope this helps!

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  • \$\begingroup\$ It does thanks. I got some good ideas now. \$\endgroup\$ – Xxy Sep 15 '16 at 9:45

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