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How do Dwarves tell time?

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Gotis, May 4, 2019.

  1. Gotis

    Gotis Scribe

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    I was thinking about how a subterranean race would note the passage of time without the skies. The idea of using music hit me a few days ago.
    I could imagine ancient Dwarves banging rocks together in rhythm to time out some task. "That's 50 clacks, turn those mole burgers over!" They could from there decide that a certain number of clacks equals a quack(or whatever) In my mind though, they upgraded to singing.
    Singing often helps set a pace for a task. I imagine folks singing while digging or harvesting mushrooms. "Four more verses and we'll take a break!" There might even be a Dwarf whose sole job it is to sing. Maybe he's disabled in some way, or he's a priest or whatnot.
    As villages grow, so would trade, and so would the need for more accurate time keeping. Timekeeper would be a paying job. Here's where someone would invent the hourglass. Of course different Dwarf groups would have differences in their verses and clacks, but through compromise(or bullying) a standard would arise.
    Basically, they'd end up in the same place as the above grounders, but would have gotten there in a different way.
    I'm curious what other ideas you folks have
     
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  2. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

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    This is a great idea, and it got me thinking.

    What if there's a way to get the song to resonate throughout the mountain. Then, one singer, or a choir, could sing for all the dwarves in the area. There might be a song for working, and a song for resting. Singers would take turns or work in rotating shifts or something, and it would be a great honor to be allowed to learn the songs of time.
     
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  3. Gotis

    Gotis Scribe

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    I love it! I could imagine the singers being a sort of priesthood.
     
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  4. pmmg

    pmmg Auror

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    I would think dwarves at least would know enough about gears to make a working clock. In one of the drzzt books i read the drow had a magic sphere which simulated a very dim type of daylight though i forget what they called it.

    dwarves may be able to know the passage of days by the ebb and flow of underground water or molten pools. As they too would be affected by the moons gravity.
     
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  5. Futhark

    Futhark Sage

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    People used to use marked candles to keep track of hours, but I really like the idea of the singers. It makes me think of druids or something, passing down precisely measured songs. They could have shift changes, introducing new voices before others stop. I think it’s called rounds, not quite sure.
     
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  6. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    I knew a guy who could just decide what time to wake up in the morning and will instantly just wake up at that time, no kind of alarm at all. The brain's internal clock isn't just an expression. It's a sense, like touch and sight (believe it or not we have more than a dozen senses, not five). Singing? Candles? Clocks? All of that is cool or interesting. But it's not necessary. Not remotely. Take away the timepiece, and if a society needs to know the time, they'll internalize it.
     
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  7. K.S. Crooks

    K.S. Crooks Inkling

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    I thought of tides. On Earth there are two high and two low tides every 24h and 50 min. An underground lake could be used as a clock if they adjust for the difference beyond 24 hours. In your own story you could make the tides totally consistent being every six hours peaking a high tide then six hours later peak of a low tide.
     
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  8. A. E. Lowan

    A. E. Lowan Staff Leadership

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    While most other fae don't tell time as we would recognize it, our dwarves have rivers flowing through their mountain kingdoms and thus then to use water clocks to determine time as they need it. They also use waterwheels and turbines to power their massive forges and to help provide electricity to their extensive kingdoms and mining operations.
     
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  9. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Myth Weaver

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    It was only fairly recently [the last 200 hundred years?] that time became standard and replicable for us normal humans. It was always a bit variable, so even if the hours were the same length, noon in London would be at a different time to noon in Bristol or Edinburgh [let alone across longer distances like the US or Europe].
    I could see that every Dwarf settlement would have a slightly different definition of what time is and when it is...
    Also if sound was used as a marker then echoes and the speed of sound could make small amounts of time very fuzzy.
    But there again, if you only have to be there in the first half of the day, before dark, or after X arrives, then how accurate does time need to be?
    I like the idea that there are X hours in a day or night and that they stretched and contracted during the year with the length of day and night [so a winter daylight hour would be a lot shorter than a midsummer's day hour].
    Okay not very applicable to Dwarves.
     
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  10. Yonathan Asefaw

    Yonathan Asefaw New Member

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    I like these ideas, keep em coming.
     
  11. AnnieO

    AnnieO Acolyte

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    I like your idea about the music! But what about the echoes? Assuming they have stone walls and ceilings, how do they control the echoing from all their singing and hammering? Would they get hearing damage from it?
     
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  12. Gotis

    Gotis Scribe

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    Hearing damage is something I hadn't considered. I do think of my Dwarves as being able to echo locate, so that would be devastating.
     
  13. Gotis

    Gotis Scribe

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    I did not think about tides. Thanks! That adds a new layer to my world.
     
  14. Vaporo

    Vaporo Sage

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    Nope, sorry but that won't work. Tides can only occur in oceans. Think about it. When the tide goes out, that water has to go somewhere. In the ocean, there's a vast, functionally empty expanse for the water to fill. In a lake, the water is bounded by the shores, so it can't significantly rise or fall.
     
  15. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    My question is not so much how do dwarves tell time, but when they do tell time, what do they tell it and how do they know if it's listening?
     
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  16. psychotick

    psychotick Auror

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    Hi Vaporo,

    Depends how big the lake is. Lake Taupo - not far from where I live and the largest Lake in NZ has discernible tides.

    But you don't actually need a lake. Take an underground river system with a chamber which is normally full. And when the tide is high the water flows over the top of the stone ceiling like a regular metronome (or a blocked toilet).

    Another option would be a geyser. I believe Old Faithful in Yellowstone was extremely regular.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
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  17. Vaporo

    Vaporo Sage

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    Hmmmmmm. I don't know about that. Lake Superior (largest lake in the world by surface area) only gets tides of a maximum of 5 centimeters (Do the Great Lakes have tides?). Lake Taupo is less a tenth of the east-west dimension of Superior, so I believe that would give it a tide of less than 5 millimeters. It would be imperceptible over the general sloshing and churning of the lake. Are you sure that the lake isn't just experiencing changes in level due to rainfall, or a seiche (What Is a seiche?)?

    You could just have an underground saltwater "lake" that's connected to the ocean through a tunnel. Then you would have tides.

    My main question for this thread is why do dwarves even need to tell time? They're underground. It doesn't matter to them whether the sun is up or the tide is in. They'll work until they're tired and rest until they're ready to work. Why do they need to be bound to the day/night cycle like us surface dwellers? Maybe they don't even keep 24 hour days? Maybe they stay up for 40 hours and then sleep for 20? I don't know why they would need any sort of clock other than "When everyone else gets up to work, I get up to work" if even that. What sort of technology level are these dwarves at? What is their economy like? Are they a largely agrarian society? Miners? craftsmen? Does their society rely so much on outside trade that they all must keep their clocks in perfectly in line with those on the surface? Although in that case, they would probably be close enough to the surface that they could just have someone stay outside and shout back into the tunnels whenever the sun rises or sets.
     
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  18. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    There's a whole range of telling time, only some of which has to do with the diurnal cycle. If we are to meet "later" for dinner, how long is that?

    I would go for bells or some other sound device, though light could work as well. The analog I have in mind is ship time. Two bells, four bells, the dog watch, that sort of thing. Dwarves--the wholly underground sort--would not need to divide up the day and night, but they'd want some way to mark intervals that were recognized by all. They could use bells or drums. They could use a secular form of the call to prayer, in which the monk-dwarf would keep the official time by means of a water clock or hourglass, then call out the "hour". Alternatively, they could use a system of lanterns to flash a particular light, perhaps expanded by use of mirrors.

    This sort of division would make no sense to humans or elves. "Dwarf time" could be a phrase that meant something odd or abstract, when used by non-dwarves.
     
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  19. Gotis

    Gotis Scribe

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    That's was my intent, to come up with a system that didn't rely on the sun moon or stars. I'd assume their would need to be some time keeping to organize any large scale society. If one is a traveling merchant, it would be an advantage to know is the town you're headed to is awake. I'd imagine larger governments would try to get their subjects on a schedule for efficiency's sake.
    My setting specifically I'd say they're at a roughly medieval tech level. There is farming and animal husbandry. There are quite a few large cities made mostly of stone and metal. Mining is a big industry both to clear new space for people to live and provide materials to build. The surface world was only discovered around 150 years ago and large scale trading is even more recent. They're certainly not in sync with the surface, though traders and some other new industries rely on the surface are going that direction. Part of my goal is to show how societies affect each other both for good and ill. Also I try to avoid medieval stasis and keep my world changing and growing.
     
  20. Futhark

    Futhark Sage

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    I imagine that would be true. Perhaps, if dwarves are inventive, they discovered the pendulum clock a few centuries before our history’s 1656 date.
    Pendulum clock - Wikipedia
     
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