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Troglodytes and Troglobites (from Very Many Questions XXXII)

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by Mouthwash, Jan 18, 2018.

  1. Mouthwash

    Mouthwash Escaped Lunatic

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    How might an underground (dwarven, say) civilization isolated from the surface world organize their calendar/date system? I'm not talking about the means of keeping time, but how it is defined. Sick of seeing original settings like Menzoberranzan, against all logic, tracking the passage of time by days, months and years.

    Of course there is no real historical data point for this. But I only need a plausible suggestion, or even better, a few of them. How can one eliminate all measures derived from surface phenomena?
     
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  2. Timsup2nothin

    Timsup2nothin Another drone in the hive mind

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    By attributing them to cyclical subsurface phenomena. Trick is that those are likely to have the same period as surface phenomena. Tidal forces work exactly the same, whether you can see the sun and moon or not.
     
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  3. Mouthwash

    Mouthwash Escaped Lunatic

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    Nope, tidal forces wouldn't produce the same effect. I don't know of any cyclical subsurface phenomenon.
     
  4. GoodSarmatian

    GoodSarmatian A mad God's dying dream

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    Presumably they would still get tired and need to sleep.
    So, a day and a night may be defined by an agreed upon wake/sleep cycle, either based on the average or median wake/sleep cycle of the citizens, the ruling class or the ruler. Larger units could then be defined as a semi-arbitrary number of those "days". Maybe a "week" is five or ten days because of five/ten fingers, or a different number if we're talking a about a fantasy/alien species with a different anatomy. A "month" could then be five or ten "weeks", if they have a need to define "weeks" and "months".
    I'd assume that even an underground civilization experiences changing season as changes in temperature, so the time from it's-getting-warmer to it's-getting-colder to it's getting-warmer-again would be a year.
    Or your Dwarves are trading with the outside world and either adopt their calendar or keep it in mind to anticipate price changes of agricultural products.
     
  5. Mouthwash

    Mouthwash Escaped Lunatic

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    Why would you assume troglobites would need to have a circadian rhythm? Maybe they just nap whenever they feel like it.

    This defeats the point of the exercise, so let's just leave it that they're isolated.
     
  6. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    IMO they would probably adopt an existing calendar that was developed by somebody else.
     
  7. GoodSarmatian

    GoodSarmatian A mad God's dying dream

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    OK, but wouldn't it be beneficial for nap time be somewhat synchronized to make sure some services are always available ?
    Maybe some portion of the society (1/2, /3, 1/4..) always sleeps at roughy the same time and there are standardized/commonly socially acceptable nap times. Humans spend about one third of their lifes asleep.
    Let's say every nine hours the underground people take a three hour nap.
    At any given time one third of the society is sleeping, and when they get up another third goes to sleep.
    After everyone has had an equal amount of naps it's officially a new "day" because having three calendars would be impractical and confusing.
     
  8. Mouthwash

    Mouthwash Escaped Lunatic

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    What if they're the only sapient species on the planet and they don't even know the surface exists?

    I suppose that's a good reason. Are you sure there's no possible cycle to base it on underground? I dislike giving up and calling it arbitrary.

    Can anyone find any info whatsoever on the sleep patterns of totally isolated troglobites? I'm talking about something like the Movile Cave.
     
  9. Gori the Grey

    Gori the Grey Lord of Misrule

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    Drips of water off a stalactite?
     
  10. Arakhor

    Arakhor Dremora Courtier Moderator

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    All creatures sleep - if you're going to assume a non-standard sleeping arrangement, then perhaps it would be wise to define that first.
     
  11. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    How do they get their food? If they grow stuff, they would probably base their calendar on harvest cycles. That's why calendars were first invented IIRC, to help with farming and so on.
     
  12. Mouthwash

    Mouthwash Escaped Lunatic

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    Well, that's why I asked for info on real-life troglobites - I want it to have a semblance of realism.

    Why would they have harvest cycles? Farming wouldn't be based on seasons or weather. Anyone could just plant their own crops whenever.
     
  13. Arakhor

    Arakhor Dremora Courtier Moderator

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    The more alien you make it, the more groundwork you'll have to do just to approximate something relatable.
     
  14. Mouthwash

    Mouthwash Escaped Lunatic

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    What do you suppose a "relatable" non-solar-cycle-based calendar would look like?
     
  15. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    It would make sense for there to be cycles of some sort, as it would make their overall farming efforts far more efficient.

    If there are no cycles of any kind in their society though, maybe they wouldn't have a calendar. Or it would be based on some random religious ideas. But I suspect that the season cycles aboveground would affect life belowground in some way that a calendar might be based on.
     
  16. GoodSarmatian

    GoodSarmatian A mad God's dying dream

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    It's not really arbitrary, it's still based on a natural requirement to sleep half as long as you're awake. Common sleep times don't have to be arbitrary either. We yawn when hear/see others yawn. There may be a physiological cause for synchronized sleep patterns outside of a day/night cycle.
    The only other possible cycle I can think of is changing seasons, which brings us to:


    Temperatures underground may be more stable than on the surface, but summers will still be warmer than winters and crop yields will change depending on the temperature.
    That's only good for larger units of time like seasons or months, unless the weather/temperature changes of this world are extremely regular and predictable.


    Are you asking because you want to write a Fantasy/SF story about an underground civilization and need a convincing way to measure time ?
    Just introduce some periodic fantastic event. There's an earthquake every "week". The souls of the dead come to haunt us every "month". Due to some programming error Master Computer starts spouting some gibberish every "day" at "noon".
     
  17. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    Such a civilization might also have mating cycles.
     
  18. Mouthwash

    Mouthwash Escaped Lunatic

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    That's probably what I'll end up doing, yes.

    Now there's an idea.
     
  19. Gori the Grey

    Gori the Grey Lord of Misrule

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    Drips off a stalactite?

    It's like a natural hourglass.
     
  20. Arakhor

    Arakhor Dremora Courtier Moderator

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    If you're hypothesising about a culture that has no need for unified sleep patterns, a universal growing season and no external inputs whatsoever, it sounds like you're trying to cut away any possible parallels for no very good reason.
     

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