Birthdays and the Aging of Characters

With my birthday being this month, like most people I start to think about how old I actually am. Being a gaming, this also got me to think about the aging of characters. After all, if a character lasts long enough, shouldn't that character age??

That of course got me to wondering about a whole slew of things. The first of which is, if people actually choose a birth date for their character? Heck is there even a real calendar for the setting? Do people actually keep track of what exact day it is? My own experience in this area is that we generally don't. We may know the age of the character because we wrote it down but we rarely choose a birthday. And of course it usually complicated by the fact that most games don't really use a calendar. We may keep track of how long it takes to get there or say, it's certain time of year, but we really refer to the calendar date. Of course Genre and setting has a lot to do with calendars. If a setting or Genre using a calendar system that is not similar to what we normally use, the less likely it is that it will actually be used. So modern day games tend to have an edge here. Games like Traveller with simple 365 day calendar also have an edge. I've seen Fantasy games that have their own calendar but I don't think I've ever used them.

Even without an actual setting calendar, one could still age a character if you knew that it has roughly been a year. Like if you start a game and it's fall and you go through all the seasons and it's fall again. At that point, you could age your character one year. How many people do that? At least many of the games I've played in, we may know how long in days an adventure has lasted but we forget how many days a player has been adventuring in total. As a GM, I think unless I can have a calendar that's simple to use, I know I don't keep track very well. Which makes me wonder if I should just use the simple Traveller calendar sheet for all my games. After all it's just a simple 365 day counter. It should be page one in my GM notebook for that game.

So we have a calendar and we keep track of passage of time. I guess the last question is do people have the characters suffer the effects of aging? Of course this question only applies if you do keep track of time. Otherwise, your character is ageless. Of course this really depends on the game system in question. Some games like Traveller, have the aging built into the character generation. Other the effects of an age group seem to be in some hidden part of the rule book. I'd like to hear from people that have had aging affect their character.

I guess in the end, it all boils down to one thing. Is it important? If a game is going to be short lived, then I would say no. But if the in game time is going end up being years, then I say it could be. Send me your thoughts.

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