Gary Gygax famously declared strict time records to be vital for a meaningful campaign, but with the 5e DMG lacking any real helpful tips on how to manage time I tended to let it fall by the wayside.
But with a greater appreciation of the importance of structure in making characters’ decisions have an impact, a conscious effort was needed to note the passing of time and turns in our Barrowmaze campaign.
Most of the time it was simply a matter of cordoning off a section of my squared notebook page and filling in segments to mark the passing of ten-minute turns. Aesthetic value didn’t factor – I just needed to know when to roll for encounters, and whether the party had been dungeon delving long enough for me to bring out a different wandering monster table as day turned to night.
However, the Barrowmaze games operated under the assumption that every session would end with the party back in the safe hometown, so I didn’t put much effort into time records beyond hours underground and days overgound. For our Evils of Illmire campaign, though, I wanted something better suited to recording where a session left off, so I put together this sheet:
The ten-minute turns fill in as before, but now they are more easily distinguished as part of specific 6-hour overland turns, and the quartered circles help track the days by reminding me whether the characters are exploring in the morning, afternoon, evening or night. It prints as an A4 document, giving a decent bit of white space for jotting down notes.
While I had Affinity Publisher up, I also put together a calendar for a slightly more diagetic tracker of days passed (as opposed to Barrowmaze where we started at Day 1 and have been counting up ever since). I can’t remember where I saw the suggestion of naming months by their seasonal quarter, but I owe the simple naming convention to them:
Each month is 28 days long since it’s just simpler to track four whole weeks than weeks spread across different months and seasons. A fantasy world can afford the loss of the odd 30 days a year for the sake of a GM’s convenience.
I compiled them into a document and printed it out as a booklet – it tucks nicely into the Illmire notes and frees up the notebook for more of my illegible scrawls.