D&D measuring units: "Square" should equal about 4 ft x 4 ft

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"Square" should equal about 4 ft x 4 ft

It would make sense if D&D used the same measurement for both height and length. As is, height is measured in units of 4 feet (Medium 4+, Large 8+, Huge 16+, etc.), but length is measured in units of 5 feet ("squares" being 5 x 5).

Instead, "squares" should probably equal somewhere around 4 feet x 4 feet.

Thus

  • Tiny: A grig is "over a quarter-square tall".
  • Small: A halfling is "over a half-square tall".
  • Medium: A human is "over a square tall".
  • Large: A fire giant is "over two squares tall".
  • Huge: A storm giant is "over four squares tall".

And so on, smaller or larger, by multiples of 2.

Conveniently, for most bipedal creatures, the area that they occupy would be the same as the height that they exceed. A Medium human would "occupy a square" and be "over a square tall".

Its tricky. Ideally, everything would be measured in "squares", which would equal approximately a meter or yard. But, the 4-foot unit as the cutoffpoint between Medium human-size and Small, plus the multiples of two for relative sizes, seems very useful for the game, so its hard to let go of.


Compare body space

4-ft "squares" may work well with concepts in body space. In anonymous public space, people would tend to keep about 3 squares away from each other. In formal interaction more than a square away. In friendly interaction a square or less away.


Compare human height

Humans are very roughly about 5 foot 7 inches (1.7m). (Females tend about 3 inches less, males 3 inches more).

With 20% deviation from average:
Less than 4 foot 5 inches (1.3m) is considered exceptionally small.
More than 6 foot 8 inches (2m) is considered exceptionally large.

So a person that is less than a 4-ft "square" tall is definitely "small" compared to the average person, who in turn would be definitely small compared to a person who was over two squares.


Convenient phrases

By the way, for very rough approximations:

  • Smaller than Fine: "can fit inside the palm of your hand".
  • Fine: "palm-size", "thumb-size".
  • Diminutive: "hand-size", "hand span".
  • Tiny: "knee-high".
  • Small: "waist-high".

  • Medium: "human-size".

  • Large: "A human is about waist-high to the fire giant".
  • Huge: "A human is about knee-high to the storm giant".
  • Gargantuan: "A human is about the size of his hand".
  • Colossal: "A human is about the size of her thumb".
  • Larger than Colossal: "A human could sleep inside the thumb of his glove".
Capital idea. That would, of course, necessitate re-scaling all the miniatures... that's not really possible, so they'll just have to re-issue them all, since the 3.5 miniatures will no longer be compatible.

note: sarcasm
Capital idea. That would, of course, necessitate re-scaling all the miniatures... that's not really possible, so they'll just have to re-issue them all, since the 3.5 miniatures will no longer be compatible.

note: sarcasm

They wouldn't have to rescale anything; just change the numbers on the next edition of the cards. Going from a 10 ft. space to an 8 ft. space for an ogre wouldn't change anything.

The only thing I'd have to say for this is that it might be more simple to change the heights to 5's; everything should be 5's anyway. Have Medium be 5 to 10 ft. tall ... though I guess that doesn't really work since you want humans to be the middle of medium (6 is middle of 4 and 8).

Poe's Law is alive and well.

I'm okay with dwarves being small. There's room for them now, since we're not going to have gnomes.
They wouldn't have to rescale anything; just change the numbers on the next edition of the cards. Going from a 10 ft. space to an 8 ft. space for an ogre wouldn't change anything.

The only thing I'd have to say for this is that it might be more simple to change the heights to 5's; everything should be 5's anyway. Have Medium be 5 to 10 ft. tall ... though I guess that doesn't really work since you want humans to be the middle of medium (6 is middle of 4 and 8).

Well, since you chose to ignore the whole "sarcasm" point...

if they can justify upgrading dice to 4.0, when there is no game mechanic effect which changes based on what version of the dice you're using, they can certainly justify re-issuing miniatures if the figures are now too small relative to the battlemat: a figure which, in 3.5, is 5' tall, and therefore the same height as a square is across, will now need to be about 20% taller in order to be correctly scaled compared to the mat. Given the profit Hasbro has seen from selling miniatures, this would be an easy sell.
Did you note the teaser card for the Spined Devil?

Note the speed increase from 20 to 25. And the speed is in squares.

I think a square is now the inexact and soft size of a medium creatures stride.

That's my hunch anyway.
Hmmm.... I hope they remember to include a table to show many *squares* you can travel in a day! :P
You mean roman miles?
If a "square" is approximately 4 ft x 4 ft:

1320 squares = mile
820 squares = kilometer

So, a 1000 (or 1024?) squares is somewhere between the US and Euro measurements.
They wouldn't have to rescale anything; just change the numbers on the next edition of the cards. Going from a 10 ft. space to an 8 ft. space for an ogre wouldn't change anything.

The only thing I'd have to say for this is that it might be more simple to change the heights to 5's; everything should be 5's anyway. Have Medium be 5 to 10 ft. tall ... though I guess that doesn't really work since you want humans to be the middle of medium (6 is middle of 4 and 8).

If it makes you feel better, thay may be taking away statements of space in the new minis game anyways, and just stating how many squares they can move.
One of the other advantages...

Medium creatures are considered to have 8' vertical reach. With squares being a 4' cube instead of a 5' cube, it simplifies the process of figuring out whether a target is in reach. Furthermore, it could make it a lot more reasonable to make a decent pike (call it 12' (3 squares) reach where other reach weapons have 8' reach).

One issue, though, is it would require recalibration of movement speeds to be multiples of 4 rather than 5.
Yeah but that is easy

a medium sized creatures base movement is six squares as a move action
6*4= 24ft

a small creatures base movement is four squares as a move action
4*4= 16ft

a large creatures base movement is 10 squares as a move action
10*4= 40ft

Also when you actually measure out five foot squares on the ground (do it sometime make a 9 square box with 5 foot measurements and 4 foot measurements) a 4ft square is a lot more reasonable for threatened area and amount of space occupied and a four foot step without provoking an attack is the same. I actually think I'm gonna house rule this in my games.
and why would the miniatures be re-released, the hieght to # of squares occupied ratio remains the exact same, all you would need to do is release an errata saying that creature space/reach is now x/x
Huh... I think I might just houserule this now and try it out if my group doesn't mind. It's a good idea and I especially like how this would interact with weapons.

sarcasm

The last refuge of modest and chaste-souled people when the privacy of their soul is coarsely and intrusively invaded.
Frosty: Huh... I think I might just houserule this now and try it out if my group doesn't mind.

Cool. Me too.
Frosty Flake: It's a good idea and I especially like how this would interact with weapons.

Base biped speed according to size

[color=blue][b]Biped Size Sq/Rd[/color] Ft/Rd Compare 3x[/b]<br /> Fine [1 sq] = 4 ft <br /> Diminutive 2 sq = 8 ft <br /> Tiny 4 sq = 16 ft <br /> Small 6 sq = 24 ft ~ 20 ft<br /> [color=Blue][b]Medium 8 sq[/b][/color] = 32 ft ~ 30 ft<br /> Large 10 sq = 40 ft ~ 40 ft<br /> Huge 12 sq = 48 ft ~ 50 ft<br /> Gargantuan 14 sq = 56 ft<br /> Colossal 16 sq = 64 ft

Note: proportionally, smaller creatures move faster.

Note: Conveniently, a speed bonus of an additional square per round (feat, magic item, or so on) enables one to outrun a same-size creature. A +2 square-per-round bonus enables one to keep pace with a next-larger creature.
Thankfully, movements and distances appear to be in terms of spaces in 4E, so that's an improvement.

As far as what a square equals... could we switch to metric? The math's so much easier!
Meh. A square is a square. The word "foot" neednt showup in a D&D game.

"square" = approximately 4 feet
"square" = approximately 1.2 meters

"quarter-square" = approximately 1 foot
"quarter-square" = approximately 30 centimeters

The size of an average human serves as the basic unit of the "square" measurement system. Not really US or metric.
Base quadruped speed: equals the next-larger biped speed.

Example: A heavy horse is a Large quadruped, thus its base speed equals the next-larger biped, being 12 squares per round. However, a light horse is a Large quadruped with a racial speed bonus of +2 squares per round, thus its total base speed equals a Gargantuan biped, being 14 squares per round.

The following animals have a racial speed bonus of +2 square/round, in addition to their quadruped speed: Tiny house cat, Small dog, Medium cheetah, wolf, Large light horse.

The following animals have a "burly build", thus a racial speed penalty of -2 square/round, and equal the speed of a same-size biped (but like a dwarf have a racial bonus to continue at this speed even if encumbered?): Tiny rat, Medium donkey, Large bison, lion, tiger, Huge elephant.


Base snake speed: equals the next-smaller biped speed.

Note: 3x land speeds seem to have a flat speed for snakes regardless of size (equivalent to 6 squares per round). However, this seems to be based on real-life constrictor snakes, which have a "burly build", which could explain a speed penalty.


Base wing speed: ? Id want a rule of thumb for base wing speed per size, but in real life wing speeds are all over the place, with (Diminutive?) birds like the spine-tailed swift clocked at a max speed of about 100 mph, and (Medium?) birds like the condor clocked at a max speed of about 30 mph. Not to mention complications, like speeds while maneuvering versus speeds while soaring.
I don't want to have to do calculations in 4s. "5" has the virtue of being easy to calculate with in your head.
There are no "4s". There are only "squares".
Why would you increase the # of squares a creature can travel, just keep the same # of squares since really that's what the game designers had in mind and they just slapped the # of feats on to say in feet what they meant in squares. I know that characters would move less distance in feet depending on their size that can be a serious slow down, but really since the combat is done predominantly with squares in mind except for maybe old school players.
Yeah but that is easy

a medium sized creatures base movement is six squares as a move action
6*4= 24ft

a small creatures base movement is four squares as a move action
4*4= 16ft

a large creatures base movement is 10 squares as a move action
10*4= 40ft

The problem is that the movement speeds are supposed to be at least approximately in line with how fast a person can move, and that's arbitrarily slowing them down.

What could be done is to make a round 5 seconds instead of 6... this makes one part of the maths more complicated (12 rounds to a minute instead of an even 10) but it means that the amount of distance that can be travelled in a minute isn't that much slower than before (a difference of 12' rather than 60') keeping overland travel times a little closer to what they are now.
The US government uses "4 feet per second" as the official average human walking speed (Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices). In 4-ft "squares", this is exactly 6 squares per round.

The Canadian government corroborates this speed with a precise average of 4 feet 1 inch per second (namely 1.25 m/sec and a range of 1.1-1.4 m/sec) for "normal walking speeds".

But this human average varies somewhat according to individual height, fitness, and even local culture.

A recent study (Nick Carry, Portland University 2005) shows walkers in Portland, Oregon, to be faster than the human average when crossing a time-dependent walking signal, and distinguishes between adults under 65 (29 ft/round = 4.85 ft/sec) and elders over 65 (26 ft/round = 4.33 ft/sec). These numbers reflect normal but culturally "hurried" speeds.

Moreover, D&D adventurers tend to be more physically fit than the average human, and thus can be understood to be on the faster side of "normal" range: about 28 ft/sec (= 1.4 m/sec per Canada).

For the above reasons, the D&D game can consider all of the following approximations for walking speeds to be reasonable, depending on how one looks at it.

  • 24 ft/sec (human average)
  • 28 ft/sec (physically fit average)
  • 30 ft/sec (culturally hurried non-elderly average, actually 29.1 ft/sec)
  • 32 ft/sec (culturally hurried physically fit non-elderly average, actually 33.8 ft/sec at 85th percentile)


Weighing all of these considerations, I feel 6 squares per round (= 24 ft/sec), which is the true human average, is the best number to use in D&D.

  • The D&D biped speed doesnt just apply to human adventurers but to all humans generally, and compares with the average speeds of other creatures. So the true average is best.

  • During an encounter, characters dont just move, but move and do other stuff too. So the slower number is reasonable, even for adventurers.


So in D&D, using 4-ft squares, the best number for Medium bipedal speed is: 6 squares per round. Il adjust the above bipedal speed table to it.

That said, it should be easy for individual characters to acquire powers that increase their base speed by one or even two squares faster than the average, but anything beyond this is definitely extraordinary, and requires high level powers.
While I find the discussion interesting from a design standpoint, useful for justifying how big a square is, I think that a simplified game should just reference distance and speed in "squares".

In most combat situations, especially with varied terrain, the practical size of an actual square is likely to vary anyway.

And you save ink (albeit a minisule amount) by saying a "6 sq cone" instead of a "30 ft cone". ;)

I've been counting in squares for movement for about two years now. While 5, 10, 15, 20... is fairly easy to count, I'm sure we can agree that 1, 2, 3, 4... is even easier.
I find the discussion interesting from a design standpoint. A simplified game should just reference distance and speed in "squares".

I agree.

From a design standpoint, its good to know a "square" is about 4 ft x 4 ft. A 6-sq cone would be about 24 ft. But players just need to know its 6 squares long.
There are no "4s". There are only "squares".

That takes movement to the level of abstraction. Is it high fantasy or checkers? Some, I'm sure, may be happy having no real world picture in their heads of their combats, I prefer to think in real world terms.

Besides, not everyone uses a battlemat all the time. If I want to cast Charm Person on the comely barmaid with whom I was just chatting, I prefer to ask, "How far away is she?" and not get "4 squares" in reply.
(Next page)
I would like to see miles of 5000 feet, or use of kilometers in 4, as a blurb
The essential theme song- Get a little bit a fluff da' fluff, get a little bit a fluff da' fluff! (ooh yeah) Repeat Unless noted otherwise every thing I post is my opinion, and probably should be taken as tongue in cheek any way.
If a "square" is approximately 4 ft x 4 ft:

1320 squares = mile
820 squares = kilometer

So, a 1000 (or 1024?) squares is somewhere between the US and Euro measurements.

5 ft is a plain and easy number in metres (almost exactly 1.5). 4ft just causes hedaches. I don't like the 4ft idea.

Ceterum censeo capsum rubeum esse delendam

As another thread reminded me, AD&D used to measure everything in "inches" which is basically another word for "squares." I guess everything old is eventually new again.
Heres the revamped base speed chart. The real-life average human speed is 6 squares per round (24 feet per round, 4 feet per second, 2.7 mph, 1.2 m/sec, 4.4 km/h). The numbers of squares are the same ones players use now!

[b]Humanoid Base Speed[/b]<br /> <br /> [color=blue][b]Size Squares/Round[/color] Calculation Equivalent[/b]<br /> Fine 1 sq (1.898) 4 ft<br /> Diminutive 2 sq (2.253) 8 ft<br /> Tiny 3 sq (3.375) 12 ft<br /> Small 4 sq (4.500) 16 ft<br /> [color=Blue][b]Medium 6 sq[/b][/color] (6.000) 24 ft<br /> Large 8 sq (8.000) 32 ft<br /> Huge 10 sq (10.67) 40 ft<br /> Gargantuan 14 sq (14.22) 56 ft<br /> Colossal 18 sq (18.96) 72 ft

Note: During combat, these speeds represent fast walking. The actual average speed at a normal pace covers the same distance but expends both the move action and the standard action.

Note: Proportionally, smaller creatures move faster.

Calculation: The speed of each size equals about 3/4 of the speed of the next larger size. The speed of smaller than Fine is still about 1 square. The speed of larger than Colossal is about 25 squares.

Encumberance: An encumbered character moves at the speed of the next smaller size.

Quadruped: Typically, the base speed of a quadruped equals a humanoid one size larger.

Speed modifiers: A racial bonus may increase base speed as if one size catagory larger. A racial "sturdy build" may decrease base speed as if one size catagory smaller.
This distance of 1.2 meters (4 feet) isnt an arbitrary number. Its a remarkably anthropocentric unit that matches real-life human body space, real-life human relativity of sizes, real-life human speed, and real-life behavior of weapons and combat distances. Its a useful unit. It works just uncannily well for height ... and breadth ... and size ... and speed ... and reach. It simplifies all of these complexities into a friendly "square".
Besides, not everyone uses a battlemat all the time. If I want to cast Charm Person on the comely barmaid with whom I was just chatting, I prefer to ask, "How far away is she?" and not get "4 squares" in reply.

And the answer you will get is at my table is: "everyone in the bar is within close range. Or would you like to pace out the distance to the barmaid for more accuracy?" ;)
Heres the revamped base speed chart.

Hmm! That's clever. Spiffy work.
Haldrik, excellent!
As another thread reminded me, AD&D used to measure everything in "inches" which is basically another word for "squares." I guess everything old is eventually new again.

I am pretty sure ADnD didn´t use "inches"...

1 inch = 2.54 centimeters

i think you mean "yards"

1 yard = 0.9144 meters
Traverse: Hmm! That's clever. Spiffy work.

Yhokhi: Excellent!

This really is a great innovation. How do we make sure Mr. Mearls or someone gets a look at this?
Instead, "squares" should probably equal somewhere around 4 feet x 4 feet.

And assuming medium creatures threaten 4 feet, small creatures should threaten 2 feet.
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