Ringworld - Time on the Ringworld


While the immortals of the Etheral Realm exist in all times simultaneously, time for mortals is broken into segments known as Thumbs. A thumb is roughly equivalent to one hour. A thumb is a measure of the distance between the receding darkness of the night sky or the approaching morning.

Since The Nexus is a ring world, the sun is always straight up. Dark plates, with holes punched through them for stars, cover the sun at twelve-hour intervals to create night. The night can always be seen approaching or receding from the sun. If you take your arm and hold it out at arm’s length with your thumb covering the sun, you can count the number of thumbs it takes to reach either the receding or the encroaching nighttime.

Table 1: Time Conversions

Midnight – Midnight
1:00 am – Nighttime
2:00 am – Nighttime
3:00 am – Nighttime
4:00 am – Light Approaching
5:00 am – First Light
6:00am – Dawn
7:00 am – 1 Thumb After
8:00 am – 2 Thumbs After
9:00 am – 3 Thumbs After
10:00 am – 4 Thumbs After
11:00 am – 5 Thumbs After
Noon – Midday
1:00 pm – 1 Thumbs Before
2:00 pm – 2 Thumbs Before
3:00 pm – 3 Thumbs Before
4:00 pm – 4 Thumbs Before
5:00 pm – 5 Thumbs Before
6:00 pm – Dusk
7:00 pm – Last Light
8:00 pm – Nighttime
9:00 pm – Nighttime
10:00 pm – Nighttime
11:00 pm – Nighttime

Therefore, if a mortal asks you to meet her at two thumbs after first light, she means about two hours after the night passes from the sun. You can measure this time by holding your thumb up to the sun and counting the distance to the darkened plate. Obviously, since variations occur in the length of arms and the size of thumbs, this system is not very precise. Furthermore, since the shifting night sky makes navigation by the stars impossible, precise timing is not a priority on The Nexus. Esentially, people have the following measures of time.

Table 2: Measuring Time

A Year – 380 Days
A Month – Vries
A Week – Seven Days
A Day – One Day
A Thumb – One Hour
Half a Thumb – Thirty Minutes
A bit – One Minute
A Second – One Second

No precise measurements of time exist other than hourglasses or star charting. Nighttime is usually marked by the appearance of constellations. For example, a mortal may say, "I will meet you when Neomachus is over head.: This would indicate that the meeting is scheduled for a time when the constellation of Niomachus is directly in the night sky.


On The Nexus there are four seasons: Spring, Summer, Winter and Fall. The dates below coincide with the beginning of the four seasons. These dates are usually holy days for many religions and indicate when to plant or harvest new crops.

Spring – 6th of Land
Summer – 6th of Aven
Autumn – 6th of Copen
Winter – 6th of Telemar

The length of a day does vary with the seasons, the shortest day of the year being mid-winter and the longest day being mid-summer.

Again, these days are often recognized as holy events. Finally, note that summer is the longest season. Also realize, the climate of your culture affects the harshness of the season. In tropical climates winter bay be rainy, cool days and in more temperate regions snow is frequent.

The Passage of time is critically important to all residents on The Nexus. Everyone follows the Telemian calendar and recognizes its importance.

The Calendar

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Ringworld - Time on the Ringworld

The Chronicles of Malta Valjoen Valjoen