Monday, February 23, 2009

Units of Distance & Time

Here's a comparison of customary units of distance with approximate times that might be appropriate for a game.


PACE (5', ~FATHOM) vs. "ROUND" (5-6 SECONDS)

FURLONG/STADIA (1/8 mile, 625 feet) vs. "TURN" (~7.5 minutes -- we can round to 10 to make it simple)

LEAGUE (3 miles) vs . HOUR

MARATHON (26 miles, ~8 leagues) vs. DAY

Note these are customary units. You'd use the scale most appropriate for the scene. So, tactical combat is probably measured in PACES and goes in 5-6 second periods of time. "Strategic" movement is going to be covered over days and measured in Marathons. Note that the Marathon isn't really a customary unit of measure, but it is about as far as you go in a full day's march (8 leagues).

Furlongs and Leagues fill in the middle. A furlong and 8-10 minute chunks of time would be most appropriate for, say, exploring a dungeon. A league is better for overland travel or exploring, say, an enchanted wood.


Note that certain circumstances could bend these scales.
- An athlete can cover about 3-6 paces every 5 seconds over short distances (the higher end of that being an olympian in a sprint).
- A race horse can cover a furlong in about 10-15 seconds (3 rounds).
- A good time for a 5K (about 3 miles) is around 20 minutes (hrm... 2-3 "turns").
- And a runner in a marathon finishes in... hrm... around 3 hours!

So, with significant effort, one can cover distances at an order of magnitude faster, combined with a x3 modifier.

Obviously circumstances might slow you down, too. One is reminded of the 1E rule for distances covered, where 1" was 10 feet inside but 10 yards outside (the rule of three strikes again!). So perhaps in a particularly difficult dungeon, one might only cover 1 furlong every 3 turns instead of 1 furlong every 1 turn. Likewise, if picking through a bog or swamp, one might cover a league every 3 hours instead of a league every hour.

This has some other implications for bending scales. Say we let a fighter dash a furlong in 3 rounds with some sort of successful check. Why couldn't a magic-user then cast a ritual which normally takes a whole turn in 3 rounds with a successful check then as well?


Here's a magic system thought. First, we've got our various scales:

Most tactical combat occurs at the PACE/ROUND scale. Perhaps most useful magical effects should reside at the FURLONG/TURN scale or higher. Basically many spells want to knock an individual out of the fight anyways (either by status effect or straight damage), or they seek to effect the target a furlong away (magic missile anyone?), or they effect larger than a few paces (fireball). Thus they are tasks that rightly belong at the "turn" cast time level.

To cast something useful in combat requires the accelerated check as described above, with perhaps 2-3 successes required. Mitigating this could be a small repertoire of "Signature Spells" or "Power Words" that the character knows that may be cast rapidly, as rapidly as one swings a sword or shoots an arrow; but using a signature spell might cost some sort of consumable resource.


Josef Mieszko said...

I'm reading back through here and just getting blown away over and over.
I do things like this too and am really amazed by your facility - seems near every post points out something I wouldn't have noticed...
eurika page!

Vedron said...

Glad you find it useful! Someday I may compile these thoughts into something more coherent, but for now, they're just musings.