Updated with 2020 dates! The Daylight Saving Time switch is near, and nobody knows just what the time is in LOTRO anymore!
A recurring problem in LOTRO is to give a specific, widely understood start time for events in the game. The problem has many causes:
- LOTRO players are located in different time zones across the world.
- Time abbreviations like GMT, EST, BST etc. etc. are somewhat mysterious for most.
- Daylight Saving Time is not a universal practice and may be in effect at different dates in different time zones.
This uncertainty can wreak havoc on event planning in Lotro, with people showing up at wildly different times for the same event.
So how can you make sure that everyone understands just when to show up for your event? Here’s how!
Servertime is your friend
The most important thing to remember is this: All servers in LOTRO use the same time!
This is also true for the former EU servers that used to be run by Codemasters (like Laurelin), they all use the same servertime as the former US ones. And this makes it easier to state a universally understood time for LOTRO events.
Finding the servertime is easy when you are logged into the game. You just type the command “/servertime” in the chat window, and the current servertime will show. The time shown will be true for all servers.
Should you not be in the game, just remember that servertime is the same as the local time in Boston, US, where the LOTRO servers are located. Boston time is in the US Eastern Time Zone. So servertime is the same as the current US Eastern Time, shown when you click the previous link.
How do I convert from my own time zone to servertime?
Simple. Use one of the many time zone converters out there. Here is one at timeanddate.com.
In the fields of “Select time and place to convert from”, just add the desired date/time for your event in the upper field. Search for your home city in “Location”. Then head down to the “Select places to convert to” fields and search for Boston in “Location 1”. Press “Convert”.
The shown time for Boston in your search result is the servertime for your event.
Why do time related issues crop up anyway?
Even though it might sound simple to use servertime as “the LOTRO time”, there are still several challenges in making it universally understood for LOTRO players. Besides the fact that many players simply do not know about the concept of servertime, two sticky issues are:
- Many think that the time difference between their local time zone and servertime is fixed through the year. It is not necessarily so, because countries move to or off Daylight Saving Time at different dates.
- Some use GMT instead of servertime, thinking it is the same as current UK/London time all through the year. This is only true in the winter, once again due to Daylight Saving Time
Here is some information about the latter two bullet points.
The Daylight Saving Time issue
Many countries follow the practice of Daylight Saving Time (DST). This involves advancing clocks during summer months so that people can experience more daylight in the evenings. Typically, users of DST adjust clocks forward one hour near the start of spring and adjust them backward in the autumn.
However, the tricky part is that countries do not adjust their clocks at the same dates.
I’ll use the difference between servertime and UK/London Time as an example here, since most events on Laurelin are given in UK time. The difference between UK time and US Eastern Time (servertime) is usually five hours. 8PM UK is the same as 3PM servertime.
Then DST comes in and messes up things a bit.
The EU, and thus also the UK, adopts DST according to the following schedule:
- DST starts: Last Sunday in March, early morning
- DST ends: Last Sunday in October, early morning
The schedule for the states of the United States that adopt DST are:
- DST starts: Second Sunday in March, early morning
- DST ends: First Sunday of November, early morning
This means that for one week in the autumn and for 2-3 weeks in the spring, the time difference between UK/London time and servertime is just four hours. These weeks, 8PM UK is the same as 4PM servertime. Naturally, this leads to a few confuzzlements for event planning these weeks, so it is good to be aware of the issue.
The DST changes for 2020 are:
- Sunday March 8: US starts DST, clocks turn forward one hour, from 2AM to 3AM
- Sunday March 29: UK starts DST, clocks turn forward one hour, from 1AM to 2AM
- Sunday October 25: UK ends DST, clocks turn back one hour, from 2AM to 1AM
- Sunday November 1: US ends DST, clocks turn back one hour, from 2AM to 1AM
GMT is not necessarily UK time
Another misconception related to international time keeping is that UK time is the same as Greenwich Mean Time, GMT.
It isn’t! This is only true in the winter. When Daylight Saving Time is in effect, the UK follows GMT+1, British Summer Time.
Some time zones and acronyms
- GMT = Greenwich Mean Time. The time in the UK during the winter.
- BST = British Summer Time. The time in the UK during the summer, when Daylight Savings Time is in effect. GMT+1, one hour ahead of GMT
- EST = Eastern Standard Time. The time in the US Eastern zone during the winter. GMT-5, five hours behind GMT
- EDT = Eastern Daylight Time. The time in the US Eastern zone during the summer, when Daylight Savings Time is in effect. GMT-4, four hours behind GMT.