Red World Seasons
Long is the winter of the world; long is the great discontent. Short is the springtime when mortals dance; short is the season when they die. My eyes see have seen longer winters and long hot burning summers too.
—attributed to Minu.
On the surface of the planet, there are actually seasons. That is, there appear to be differences in average daily temperature in a region over the course of a period of time in a predictable and understandable cycle. Generally, these localized seasons are thought to be caused by deflection from a perfect rotation which causes different “faces” of the planet to receive different amounts of sunlight over the course of the year. Thus, there are both brighter and darker periods over the course of a given period of time, and some estimates by Mourning’s inhabitants categorize the periods of these short cycles in the three to four gross (that is, 300-400 12 , or 432-576 10) day ranges. The accuracy of these measurements is hard to confirm.
Even beyond the solar year, however, the planet of [red-planet] exhibits a second sort of seasonal behavior, although only the longest-lived percentage (call it .1%, even) of mortals live long enough to give notice. This is the long-winter and long-summer seasonality. It keeps on track with a planet’s natural deflected solar year, but, due to the elliptical and precessionary forces at work on the planet. This cycle has been estimated to be 20000 12 (41472 10 ) solar years long.
Where you start in the measurement of a cycle determines the order of the seasons, but basically the planet experiences a long summer—much of the planet’s surface is overgrown with inhospitable and hot desert, a medium autumn—in which the desert gives way to a cooler but little wetter barren wasteland period, a long winter in which freezing to death on the snow-less surface is possible, and a medium spring—during which life flourishes temporarily as what water was frozen is quickly released back into the climate.
In the upper Caverns, the broad climateological effects of the surface are frequently overshadowed by deeper rumblings. But that isn’t to say that cavernous passages and forests aren’t seasonally different. On a reasonably consistent but not externally referenced cycle, all of the numerous great mushrooms of the Goblin forest enter their most spore-happy phase, when there is not a square yard of forest that isn’t a little bit damp with the free-floating spores. In this very season, a whole crop of other fungi spring to life on the forest’s floor. Feeding on decaying great mushroom spores, these fungi are themselves easy picking for even the smallest sentient, and so both Goblins and Dragonkin have their highest level of reproduction at this time.
In the Dwarven cities, the slight variations in the length and intensity of ground-light bias the agricultural seasons, during which there is greater and longer work for the community, to certain specific times. Thus, Dwarf society tends to organize its time along an agriculturalist calendar. Clan leaders are most frequently elevated or entertained during the months when fewer Dwarves tend fields by “day”.
On the Vulcan Rim, volcanic rather than solar forces are responsible for variations in activity and temperatures. Without a great regard to anything external, the Vulcan chambers of the rim ebb and swell accumulating temperature and mass. These periods tend to see more active days for animals. Troglodytes and their kin are prominently shaped by these variations in their daily conduct, but due to the unforeseeable nature of the changes in volcanic activity within the rim, Troglodytes are unlikely to keep anything close to a regular calendar.