Case Study

Time & Date System for Dungeons & Dragons

For a D&D homebrew campaign with friends, I created the fictional world of Laurel, a place of magic and wonder with 2 moons and many other details. The world is similar to our own, however, the world has some deviations thanks to the dozens of species and magic introduced to the world.

map of Laurel

The Problem

The world needed a time and date system in place, using our world time didn’t fit the level of immersion desired for gameplay. Custom months, days, weeks, years, eras, and so forth would be ideal.

My Role

As the creator of the world and Game Master (GM) for the game, I used my background as a designer to create these elements and their visual representation. I designed a year structure, with all sub-components, and designed elements to fit this new setup.

The Solution

A custom calendar, circular in design, with new names for new days of the week, and months. A 12 number base would make more sense to work with as well, so a new letter platform would be ideal. These designs should also reflect the magical setup for the world as well.

Annual Calendar

version 1 of circular calendar

Months and Seasons

symbols for the months

Design Approach

While creating the world, I thought it would make sense to have a similar structure to our world: 4 seasons, 12 months in the year, using 366 days in a year, only having 2 months with an odd number of days, this made it easier to understand the world, and players don’t have to learn an entire system to understand.

Symbols representing the 8 custom days of the week

A calendar to fit this structure

Once the names and dates were set up, I wanted a design that could be shared in the world in a simpler way than a traditional flip calendar. After research, a circular calendar much like the Mayan calendar seemed like the best thematic approach.

This also led to the design of the month symbols. The month names were all Latin for certain meanings (Solis for the month of sun, Glacies for the month of ice, etc.), so the symbols could be related to, or based on the meaning. I thought researching alchemical symbols related to the month’s subject would be an ideal base for symbol design.

Symbol Solution

The symbols were created for the months, which worked well for the outside of the calendar, byt the numbers seemed out of place. With much of the world being circular in design, a 12-number base system seemed more effective. But a new system of symbols should represent it, to continue the immersion.

Once again, it would be better to stick with the circular design, given everything else designed so far, and they should be able to overlap, and still be legible, as well as overlap with month symbols to be readable as dates. A 3-digit overlapping number system was designed, with the interaction of other symbols like the months in mind.

custom 12 base number sytem that overlaps up to 5 digits


With new symbols. the calendar could be updated. Symbols were created for the days of the week, but they didn’t fit the slots as well, so they stayed as text. A separate clock was designed that could also fit in the calendar, which honestly would be a pretty cool clock/calendar that could physically exist in the world.

Of course, another unique element of the world is the 2 moons, which are also indicated as the center icon in the calendar. Ideally in working versions of this, the moons could rotate with the days, as they have a 30 & 60 day rotation period.

The second rendition of the calendar, including the new number systemthe third and final rendition of the calendar, removing labels and adding the clock system

Three extra days

The only remaining issue with the final design was those 2 months mentioned earlier that have 33 days in a month instead of 30 like all the others. The month icons were once again readjusted so that the two months with 33 days (the first and seventh symbol) would have 4 points on their designs. This way, when the calendar reached the 30th day of those months, that month’s symbol could rotate 30 degrees 3 more times to indicate the number added to the 30 for the date.

Putting it all together

Aside from having a circular calendar to work with, the symbols are also made in a way to be able to overlap to show dates in one character (2 if you include the year).

For instance, the date for 9/15 would translate as Irae 13th, written as:

symbol that represents the date 9/15

Or the date 3/23/1277 would translate as Naturae 1B, 8A5. Which could be written as:

symbol combination that represents the date 3/23/1277


The creation of symbols and design systems in general really affect how we understand, and interact with our world. Having a different number base changes how things price in this world, how elements are designed, and even how new concepts are formed. For example, in this world, the infinity symbol (∞) is the symbol in the center of the calendar, since not only does it reflect the 2 small moons around the planet, it also is the flow of the calendar, which 2 symbols rotate at opposite ends of the calendar.

What I’d do differently

I would have created things in a different order. The creation of the base elements like the number system influenced and changed the calendar, which influence the time structure of the world. Having this knowledge beforehand, I would have gotten each system down before moving on to the next step.

See it in action

A rough mockup of the calendar, where you preview 10-number base dates on the calendar can be viewed here: Laurel Calendar

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