Do you use “reliable” or measured stardates in your game? (And minor Prodigy discussion at the end).
I tend to use Memory Alpha as a reference, so I can let the players know, as much as I can, what is happening in the wider galaxy. If the actual Stardate isn’t available, I will try to reference at least a season/half season (e.g. "uts mid-season 5 DS9), although I don’t give them much more than that.
Last night, my players were tasked with infiltrating and recovering Sito Jaxa, who (in my game) wasn’t actually killed in the TNG episode Lower Decks - it was a double bluff. They remembered they were in season 4 or 5 of DS9, so spent a fair few minutes working out, OOC, whether they would know to use blood screening for changeling once they recovered her.
The actual timing was hammered home when they returned to their ship and there was a transmission on all emergency frequencies to evacuate the DMZ as a huge Dominion fleet had exited the wormhole, heading for Cardassian space.
Anyway, I had been listing the Stardates quite specifically, and it hadn’t been picked up on.
I quite like trying to work out the dates that episodes happen on, again for a bit of “real-world-ism”. Disco is in the 3180s, and they have been using 865xxx which (using an app!) works out well.
Now, Prodigy has just had a stardate listed; 607xxx - by the app calcs, this is the 2930s? I thought it was set shortly after Nemesis?
Memory Alpha also says this about that episode: " According to Star Trek: Prodigy producer Aaron Waltke, the stardate’s unusual number was the first hint in the episode that time was being distorted."
I hadn’t read that. Interesting
I mentioned this on another thread, but I use an online date converter. It’s maybe the second search result, it’s an older looking web page but it allows converting dates to stardates and vice versa.
I take the date that session is played, and switch that to the year my game is.
I update this as needed, again with the current date. So usually whenever there’s a new planet or adventure.
Like you, I also compare with episodes for anything significant. Either on a galactic scale, potential game ideas, or just notable for the PCs.
I’m definitely keeping an eye out for when First Contact is happening.
Some uses of stardates, especially in TOS, are notorious for being inconsistent. And the stardate calculator I managed to find online did not impress me.
I do have one thing to offer, though: I have Seasons 4 through 7 of Deep Space Nine on DVD and the boxes list the stardates mentioned in each episode where known. I’ll list them here:
Season 4 (Year 2372):
Episode 1 “The Way of the Warrior” Stardate 49011.4
Episode 3 “Hippocratic Oath” Stardate 49066.5
Episode 5 “Rejoined” Stardate 49195.5
Episode 6 “Starship Down” Stardate 49263.5
Episode 10 “Homefront” Stardate 49170.65 (Inconsistent!)
Episode 14 “Sons of Mogh” Stardate 49556.2
Episode 17 “Rules of Engagement” Stardate 49665.3
Episode 22 “To The Death” Stardate 49904.2
Episode 25 “Broken Link” Stardate 49962.4
Season 5 (Year 2373)
Episode 2 “The Ship” Stardate 50049.5
Episode 6 “Trials and Tribble-ations” (Year 2267; Stardate 4523.7)
Episode 11 “The Darkness and the Light” Stardate 50416.2
Episode 13 “For the Uniform” Stardate 50485.2
Episode 15 “By Inferno’s Light” Stardate 50564.2
Episode 19 “Ties of Blood and Water” Stardate 50712.5
Episode 22 “Children of Time” Stardate 50814.2
Season 6 (Year 2374)
Episode 4 “Behind the Lines” Stardate 51145.3
Episode 7 “You Are Cordially Invited” Stardate 51247.5
Episode 11 “Waltz” Stardate 51408.6
Episode 14 “One Little Ship” Stardate 51474.2
Episode 16 “Change of Heart” Stardate 51597.2
Episode 19 “In the Pale Moonlight” Stardate 51721.3 (My favorite Star Trek Episode ever!)
Episode 22 “Valiant” Stardate 51825.4
Episode 25 “The Sound of Her Voice” Stardate 51948.3
Season 7 (Year 2375)
Episode 2 “Shadows and Symbols” Stardate 52152.6
Episode 17 “Penumbra” Stardate 52576.2
Episode 23 “Extreme Measures” Stardate 52645.7
Episode 24 “The Dogs of War” Stardate 52861.3
Thank the gawds the stardates from TNG onwards were (mostly) consistent!
Also, theres a Star Trek timeline calendar jpeg file that shows all the canon movies and series events (including the Kelvin timeline) here. It includes the events from DISC Season 3 and Lower Decks and is current as of October 2020. It doesn’t have stardates but it does have the Gregorian calendar year for all those events.
There are quite a few different stardate calculators out there, but I use this one: TrekGuide.com =/\= Calculating Stardates and Calendar Dates
As @Sutehp pointed out though, they’re often not consistent in the show (even for TNG onwards, you sometimes find an episode with a stardate that’s earlier than the episode before). I tend to use the stardate calculator to work out roughly when in a given year an event took place and if the stardate is an anachronism then I’ll often base the approximate calendar date on stardates provided in the nearest episode either side of it. I don’t tend to give stardates to the players though. I’ll just say “early 2371” or “shortly after episode _____”. Any stardate calculations I do are more just so that I can correctly line up any background events.
I use an app (on Android, its just called “Stardate”) which seems to be pretty well accurate, even far into the future (the Disco stardates give the right year, for example).
So, for example, I wanted their mission to take place a week before the invasion of the Alpha Quadrant and Cardassia joining the Dominion. I got the stardate from the episode, and knocked a few tens off it, which, with a little adjustment, gave me a stardate in line with the show
Stardates are not only inconsistent, but also compiled differently along the eras.
In the old days of TOS they ware almost random numbers so people wouldn’t bother with relativistic effects of FTL-travel and all that real-life-physics-BS. It was sci-fi, after all, AND the 60ies.
Later, with TNG, they introduced a system that began with 4, continued with the season number (TNG Season 1 had always Stardates 41xxx.z) and was followed by three digits that are best interpreted to be a thousand of a year long (which is, off the top of my head, about six or seven hours or so), followed by a “day counter”, so it’s pretty much a BS-number as well.
You can read all the mind-boggling details on Memory Alpha.
I would argue to roughly go by the stardates found in canon episodes and ignore the rest, but then I think of players who want an accurate stardate for their mid-of-mission log. For TNG I’d say: every six or seven hours are (loosely) 1 unit of stardate, making 45min a (very) rough estimate for the digits in between.
I put some stardate notes in the PG and GMG for those curious. Echoes the comments above.
In my campaign I use the DITL.org stardate calculator to keep consistent stardates as my campaign started in 2390. I picked a date in January 2390, let the calculator do it’s thing, and pow I had a starting startdate for the campaign (Stardate 67022.9 (9 Jan 2390 0900 hours)). It does mean I have to keep track of player’s time during an episode but that’s okay. DITL.org also has a warp/time calculator; my helmswoman uses that so she can do the thing of answering the Captain how long it’ll take to get to X at warp Y. I don’t even know when how long it’ll take when I write my notes, just a distance/I eyeball it on the map. I note it down for later so I know how much total time was taken during the episode, then I decide how long it is from one episode to the next, put it in the calculator, and I know. We’re almost at the end of their first year and a lot has happened.
I was going to put a thing here about how stardates are 1,000 stardates per year but MisterX already pointed that out.
Timekeeping in the 24th century is a pain but it works