Those who live on the surface of the world tell time by the sun and moon.
Sun and Moon Mechanics
The sun orbits about the world once per day in a plane that rotates over the course of a 360-day great year. The 360-day rotation is along the north-south axis. This means that at times there is no sunlight (when the plane of the sun is parallel with the plane of the world disc and the sun is behind the rim mountains). At other times the sun is arcing high overhead. In all cases when the sun is visible, it rises and sets in the north and south. Specifically, for the first 180 days of the great year, the sun rises in the north and sets in the south. For the second 180 days of the great year, the sun rises in the south and sets in the north.
The moon also orbits the world disc but in a single plane that does not rotate. It rises in the east and sets in the west on a 30-day period. The moon of Mithlond is really more like a large star: it is not illuminated by the sun (that is, it does not have phases) and it is much smaller than the sun, about 0.25 degrees (half the size of the Earth full moon).
Units of Time
The basic units of measure are therefore:
|Great Year||360 days||Begins when the solar plane is parallel to the world disc (i.e., it starts on a day without sun)|
|North Year||180 days||first 180 days of the great year when the sun rises in the north|
|South Year||180 days||second 180 days of the great year when the sun rises in the south|
|Small Year||180 days||a 180 day year for those who count on 180 day year cycles|
|Month||30 days||day 1: moon is setting, day 16: moon is rising, day 23 moon is high above, day 30 it is setting again|
|Week||15 days||corresponds to a half-cycle of the moon. The first week of the month is called Kalends and the days are not named. The second week is called Ides and the days are usually simply numbered but the first, middle and last day of Ides are sometimes called Moondawn, Highmoon and Moonsleep, respectively.|
|North Year||South Year|
As can be seen, the month names repeat over the great year with the South Year months essentially equivalent to the North Year months ending in -by.
The Elves, the Algorand Empire and scholars use the Great Year and the full months without week designators. So, Alance 17, 4902 or Trossby 6, 5105. Less formal folk such as are found in the Dark Ages make much more use of weeks and often count only small years, even using only the North Year names for the months and omitting the second set of South Year names. Thus, it is not unusual to find a 40 year old human and a 20 year old elf who are actually the same age since the humans are counting small years and the elves great years.
In the Dark Ages, most folk keep only simple time during the day and worry about dawn, noon, sunset and midnight. They may speak of “a little before noon” or “shortly after dawn.”
In the time of the Algorand Empire, the day was divided into 24 hours with zero hour always the time the sun was at the north pole of the world. This meant that in the North Year, dawn was around 1:00 and sunset around 11:00 while in the South Year dawn was around 13:00 and sunset around 23:00. This time is called Imperial Time.
As most common folk found this very confusing, an informal common time was used. In common time, 0:00 is midnight which puts dawn and sunset around 6:00 and 18:00 (unless the sun is very low and hidden beyond mountains for much of the day). Both 24 hour and 12 hour AM/PM time keeping was used with common time. During the Algorand Empire, clocks were common and time was kept to the hour and minute (60 minutes to the hour).
Scholars and those puzzling out ancient artifacts tied to time in some manner should keep in mind that the great and short year counts, the optional use of weeks, Imperial Time and Common Time (both 12 and 24 hour) provide all sorts of opportunity for confusion and mistake.
The Dwaro used magic clocks to keep time and being mostly underground kept to a time system like the Imperial one. However, since the Cataclysm, magic clocks are unreliable and time keeping is more ad hoc. Some places may use a water clock or other mechanical clock. More portable methods of counting hours and days may use slow burning cords (essentially a very slow burning fuse made without magic.)
Mithlond Solar Calculator
For the campaign region, see the Ruined Forest Almanac for tables, graphs and pictures of sunrise, sunset, tides, and the path of the sun during the year. See the general almanac page for a more general discussion of sunrise, sunset, etc. across the world globe.
The Mithlond Solar Calculator provides a view of the sun at any time and location in the world as well as tables of sunrise, sunset and tides. For the very adventerous, it also provides a view of solar energy and temperature in the world for a full year or a given day.