What Year Is This?
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Basic Information

This speculative fiction trope is a form of expospeak wherein a time traveler asks the ignorant leveler the date or time - and then clarifies that what they really need to know is the year.

See also: Newspaper Dating



Game and Story Use

  • The GM of a Time Travel game might best be prepared with a few different NPC reactions to PCs who do this. Some folks will laugh it off, but not everyone. Stop for second and think what your response would be if some random guy on the street (especially one that's dressed funny) asked you what year it was. Most people would think he's crazy. The particularly genre savvy would figure out he's a bewildered time novice.
  • The veteran chrononaut probably skips this if at all possible, since it's likely to stand out. Ways to get around it:
    • Newspaper Dating is the most common alternative trope.
    • Check a computer, cellphone or calendar, provided you can casually find one you trust to list the right day.
      • This works best if you're very familiar with the location you're time traveling to, and traveling only a few decades at most.
      • The electronics you take with you won't be set to the right day.
    • Work out a code, like in the Continuum RPG.
  • Great fun can be had by running the PCs through this in the ignorant leveler role. Have some NPC come up and ask them the date, then the year. That should set off a few warning bells.
  • Potential "fun" can be had if someone uses a different dating system than the Common Era. Someone preparing to travel to the BCE era will probably be familiar with the calendar in use when they expect to arrive, but traveling unexpectedly (or not doing your homework) and getting a Year of Rome?1 That's a great way to disorient the time traveller further.
    • Outside the Roman AUC system and the Grecian Olympiads (good luck with that), Regnal years are to be expected - which leaves you wondering when, exactly, is the Fourth year of the reign of Howdyoupronouncehtat III?
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