This is not exactly about dates and calendars, but more about how to make time flow naturally in rpg’s, so I’m sharing my thoughts and experiences here.
I have noticed that my players (and me) tend to rush the PCs from one adventure to another. There’s always something to do and several leads to follow. That tends to make the time to crawl in-game and there’s always a feeling of rush and hurry. Several years of IRL game time might only cover few months in-game time, as the characters are always up to something and barely take time to rest and recover as they fear they will lose the leads.
Due to this, I plan to do some phasing in my next campaign: There’s an Adventure Phase and Downtime phase. During Adventure Phase the character run around adventuring as per normal game play and accumulate XP. The catch is that they are not allowed to spend the gained XP yet.
When the characters think they need some rest, enter the Downtime. During that the characters have ample time to heal, do shopping, repair ships and plan their next moves and spend their hard earned XP. The players may also tell small stories what their characters are up to during the down time, and maybe take some abstracted skill checks on how their private endeavors work out. The GM tells news and rumors from the world around the characters and moves the world events forwards by a significant amount.
I’m then dividing an in-game year in to a number of downtimes. Say, at the end of 5th downtime one year has passed in game. This way the in-game time flows naturally forward and there’s clear phasing for the campaign. It’s also easy for players to feel the passage of time.
This also ties into our current play style, where players often have an option to determine their next adventure: During the downtime, the GM asks the players if there is something the characters want to tackle next. If there is, the players then describe in broad strokes what it is that they want to accomplish and how they are about to do it. The GM then prepares the next adventure according to that. Downtime may also be used to do some abstracted rolls on how the preparations of the PC’s next adventure come out.
My players have enjoyed this structure in another game a lot and I’m waiting to get my next SW campaign going and trying this out.