The 10,000 Year Clock

The clock will run for ten millennia — at least, that’s the plan. Jeff Bezos, founder of, is building a clock designed to run for 10,000 years. It’s a monumental undertaking, to be housed in a 500 hundred foot shaft drilled into a mountain ridge, incorporating massive metal gears and other elements of equal stature. The project is “a symbol of the power of long-term thinking. [Bezos’] hope is that building it will change the way humanity thinks about time, encouraging our distant descendants to take a longer view than we have.” You can read more about the clock at its own web site.

There are manifold ways to bring a massive clocks designed to run for 10,000 years in one’s role-playing game. The three that leap out at me are:

The Mountain of Song

In the cracked realm of Eerath, few remnants of a long-lost civilization survive into the ninth epoch after the fall. Most folk till the soil and scrape by as best they can, doing their best to avoid the taint of gleaming, magical artifacts from a time before history. Some mad, hardy souls seek them out, however.

On the edge of the desert lies a mountain. Every year, without fail, a haunting, unearthly melody drifts among the rocks and unregarded brush. As the projected date of the new song approaches, a follower of Euterpe seeks some of those mad, hardy fools to man an expedition into the mountain. For though it is reputedly infested with monstrous creatures and bizarre, devilish artifacts and more, the most haunting melodies issue from the mountain. The expedition leader is insistent he discover the source and is willing to pay handsomely for guards on the journey.

Shells of the Conservatorship

When the makers constructed their own memorial, they built to ensure it lasted through the aeons. The clock itself could withstand the passage of 10,000 years, but a journey through the reaches of time on a cosmic scale required something more.

To that end, the makers created a sapient mechanical race, designed for splitting their consciousness between the realm of the mainframe and their meatspace shells. Hardy, repairable and long-lived, the Conservators are driven not only to build and maintain the clock, but additionally tasked to ensure their own longevity, and thus that of the memorial. Over the aeons, the Conservators must not only contend with the dilemmas that face all species, but also “ordinary” catastrophe, visitors from other worlds and the ultimate impermanence of planets, stars and everything else.

The Spiraling Path

The depth of the clock’s shaft isn’t just to safeguard it against damage. The spiral ramp to be drilled around the shaft’s circumference is precisely calculated to allow access to a myriad of moments across the clock’s 10,000 year existence. As a stable location intended to span a grand span of years, the clock is well-suited as a crossroad of time.

Of course, no one group can hold the clock across the ages. The fellow travelers one meets on the way are often quite striking. Mostly though, they rush back and forth across the years, intent on their own business. There are tales of a brutal guardian who lurks unseen on the level just above or below one’s entry point on the spiral, but there’s never been any proof of such a thing. No proof left behind, anyway.

[via Hack a Day]

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