Historical Era Names
Age of Desolation
The First Dew
Flame of Purification
The Century of Grace
Crisis & Catastrophe
The Ninth Caldera
Age of Altruism
Dawn of the Exalted
Age of Advancement
Raising of the Catacombs
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Time Period Names
Why Name a Time Period?
Like most other things, society gives names to specific periods in time to help others identify, describe, organize, and build a connection. There is a power in naming. Not only due to the psychological feeling of ownership but because the action comes with a certain amount of responsibility. Whether creating names for your children, providing nicknames to family and friends, or designating a whole generation of people, there is generally a solid urge to “get it right.”
Historians often assign eras different names to help categorize and understand the chronology of the world. They divide existence using written records and archaeological evidence, creating relative terminology most can easily understand and identify. This practice provides context and can help individuals learn more efficiently about civilizations, technological advancements, important historical figures, and significant events.
Naming has existed since the beginning of our oral history and has transcended culture, religion, geography, and time. Humans have felt compelled to name all kinds of things long before developing a written alphabet. Ancient Egyptians believed names to be the divine privilege of the gods, Greeks and Romans chose personified monikers for the forces of nature, and even Hebrew and Christian scriptures spoke of the human desire to name the wonders around them.
We all like to name things. It is how we provide order and differentiate between everything we encounter. It helps others understand us as we communicate and gives objects emotional life. It creates connections to those around us and allows us to make sense of the surrounding world.
How do historical eras affect Dungeons & Dragons?
Like the real world, providing names that designate different eras helps players recognize, define, categorize, and build connections. It identifies successes and failures, winners and losers, hopes and despair, legacies and disasters, challenges and acceptance, battles and peace, and blessings and curses.
On a more fundamental level, naming an age provides a simple historical context for players and their player characters. It helps to identify their place in time without relying on a set of numbers or an understanding of a potential foreign calendar. A well-written, descriptive name could provide insight into why a city may be run-down, where a mysterious crater could have appeared from, or give significance to people and objects they encounter. A town may be desolate due to a great plague, an adventurer may deserve more respect for his past deeds, or entire races of people may emerge from a great war (like the githyanki or githzerai).
Providing a name not only describes an event but also gives emotional context to what happened. Game masters can use carefully crafted era names to help players understand the significance of a treasured art piece, the importance of a historical figure, or the turbulent past of a sprawling metropolis. Giving players clues about the past may help them avoid the same mistakes in the future or discover new ways to solve a current problem.
However, it is essential to remember that every story has multiple sides. When one person succeeds, others must often fail. While the defeat of the orcs may have been a golden era for the elves and dwarves, it is almost certain the orcs did not see things the same way. Giving this kind of insight to your players can help contextualize the long-standing prejudices of two groups or why wars may seem impossible to resolve.