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D&D canon has demonstrated numerous times that the various campaign settings are in fact, connected to each other. Powerful beings from Greyhawk, Forgotten Realms, and even Athas have found ways into other campaign settings in the D&D stable of worlds. (Even Earth is included in the list of alternate Primes visited, interestingly enough.)

Irrespective of the means used to cross from one campaign setting world to the other, are there any solid timeline references, correlations, or overlaps (specific dates or even a range of dates) where it can be demonstrated what year (or range of years) a cross-setting traveler would end up in when moving from any given setting to any other given setting?

For example, it has been demonstrated that both Elminster and Mordenkainen have traveled to each other's home Prime, as well as to Earth (apparently during the 70's - 80's). This provides a basic frame of reference, however they both lived rather long lives, and thus only provides a common range of dates that overlap in Oerth and Abeir-Toril; namely the date range of the span of their lives, or at least after they both reached a certain level of power.

I am open to timelines from any edition of Dungeons and Dragons, and all official campaign settings in the D&D stable (Spelljammer, Maztica, Mystara, Al-Qadim, Ravenloft, Planescape, Greyhawk, Forgotten Realms, Birthright, Athas, Dragonlance, Red Steel, Odyssey, Lankhmar, Conan, and so forth). Also, as the presence of our modern Earth is explicitly included in D&D canon, using Earth-based cross-references to multiple campaign settings in order to establish a linkage is also acceptable. I would prefer to avoid time travel, unless said reference manages to establish a firm date link.

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    \$\begingroup\$ And why do you assume time in each of these passes at the same rate or even that continuity holds? \$\endgroup\$
    – Dale M
    Commented Nov 4, 2016 at 0:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ Because I am already aware of a few date linkages between the various Primes, rules-mechanically speaking the planar attributes for most of the Primes in question are set at "normal time" (ie: Earth standard, as Earth is explicitly one of the known Primes in game) which mutually syncs the passage of time, and what discrepancies of dates that exist could be explained by errors in historical accounts, transcribing, or (if you want a stretch) even by claiming time travel/multiple timelines in a given Prime. Basically, the authors have already established that there IS continuity. \$\endgroup\$
    – nijineko
    Commented Nov 4, 2016 at 16:35

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Master Chronology

Based on the link provided by Mark Horsfall, and the information Paul Westermeyer has compiled and compared in the linked article, the following information has been derived:

Sources

The three primary campaign settings for D&D are Greyhawk (GH), Forgotten Realms (FR), and Dragonlance (DL). These three have more material published than the other settings, and include the majority of the cross-time references. (Which other settings are: Spelljammer (SJ), Maztica (MZ, part of FR), Al-Qadim (AQ, Also part of FR), Mystara (MY), Ravenloft (RL), Planescape (PS), Birthright (BR), Athas (AT), Red Steel (RS), Odyssey (OD), Lankhmar (LM), Eberron (EB) and Conan (CO).) Despite the amount of material published for Athas, placing it in the running a a fourth possible primary campaign setting, having had at least 3 canonical incursions from other locations, no dates were able to be isolated.

There are four additional primary sources for chronological cross-time points: Spelljammer, Planescape, Ravenloft, and Dragon Magazine (DM) articles written by Ed Greenwood himself.

Please note that there are some contradictions in sources, so precedence is given to authors with more published works and to sources based on Spelljammer (as it is specifically designed to cross-bridge the settings) as well as the Big 3 (FR, GH, and DL).


FR/DL cross-time link

Based on comparative information from SJ, FR, DL, RL, and PS the best cross-time linkage is:

1361 DR <-> 358 AC

The RL data contradicts itself, weakening it as a source, and the PS data fails to trump the SJ data.


GR/FR cross-time link

Based on data from FR/RL/GH and DM sources the best cross-time linkage is:

1361 DR <-> 581 CY

Note that the DM articles were written by Ed Greenwood about the wizards Elminster, Mordenkainen, and Dalamar meeting in his home on Earth to discuss the magical affairs of Faerun, Oerth, and Ansalon with reference to various famous wars and other events; and as such provide a strong primary source for cross-time linkages. As such, the dates of these articles can be used to provide an Earth-time linkage as well, should such be desired.

Other cross-time links

Linkages to other settings frequently fall back on the publication date of the earliest release of said setting, combined with in-setting references, or lack thereof, to determine dates. For detailed reasonings, check the link if available - and I have saved a copy in case the link goes down.

Calendars

After all is compared, the following calendars can be synced, with confidence:

  • Forgotten Realms: Dale Reckoning (DR), Shou Lung (SL)
  • Greyhawk: Olven Calendar (OC), Common Year (CY)
  • Dragon Lance: Ansalonian Calendar "Alt Cataclius" (AC)
  • Spelljammer: Time of Unity (TU), Anno Vulkarus/Promo Novo (AV), Astromundi Chronos (AstroC)

5043 OC = 581 CY = 358 AC = 1361 DR = 2611 SL = 465 AV = 856 TU = 9/1299 AstroC

This corresponds roughly to the 1990's on our Earth, for those interested. Note also that due to canonical references which state that time runs at the same rate on all Primes (unless explicitly stated otherwise) if this cross-time linkage is accepted as accurate, then any other date can be calculated in all the calendars referenced.

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    \$\begingroup\$ The Mark Horsfall's link states a date for Vecna Lives, are we able to extrapolate a time for when Die Vecna Die (another cross setting adventure) occurs? It would actually give a solidified date for the end of 2nd edition. \$\endgroup\$
    – L.P.
    Commented Apr 4, 2019 at 13:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ @nijineko: You added "[Dark Sun has not been referenced due to the isolating effects it suffers.]", but your existing list references Athas, which is the world the Dark Sun setting takes place on. And Athas has definitely had at least three instances of contact with other world(s): 1) The ancient githyanki invasion of which the modern gith are corrupted remnants, 2) The modern githyanki invasion detailed in the Black Spine published module (possibly dateable), and 3) The (unspecified, but apparently common) use of the Planar Gate/Mirror artifact, by Dregoth, to explore the planes at will. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 28, 2023 at 13:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ The Black Spine incursion in particular, is explicitly dated to Free Year 6 in the Dark Sun chronology (six years after the defeat of Kalak and Tyr becoming a free city), so if any material dates (or limits the dates of) the incursion in any other setting (relating to Githyanki Queen Trinth or her city, Galnaki, the city being only a few decades old at the time of the incursion), Dark Sun gets linked into the master chronology pretty easily. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 28, 2023 at 13:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you for catching a possible error on my part. Do you happen to have a non-Athasian date to match any of those possible linkages? I am fully aware of all three of those events/ location, but not aware of any dates which would breech the effective temporal isolation of Athas. I could rephrase to be less confusing, suggestions are welcome. \$\endgroup\$
    – nijineko
    Commented Oct 29, 2023 at 15:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ @nijineko: Yeah, I've searched, and AFAICT, the characters referenced in Black Spine are not referenced elsewhere. That said, a lot of 2E material never made it online in searchable form, so it's possible there is something that might have mentioned the characters from Black Spine in a non-DS context. My only correction was that Athas==Dark Sun (so listing Athas, but then saying "no Dark Sun" is confusing), and that it's conceivable that it could have cross-linkages, even though we have no obvious ones to base it on, but then, we lack that for Mystara, Birthright, Eberron, etc. as well. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 30, 2023 at 0:10

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