The game exists at several scales of play. Each scale has "customary" units that are typically used for interactions at that level.
The first column is a measure of distance. This is the size of a hex on your map.
The second is a unit of time. This is the default unit in which chunks of time are marked off.
The third column is the standard amount of damage dealt with at this scale. For example, in tactical combat, you're concerned with knocking off hit dice. At higher levels, you're knocking off entire groups.
The fourth column is the type of currency. Any task at that level by default requires that type of coin. So, hiring a mercenary for a day would require some silver; hiring them by the week might require gold.
|PACE||ROUND (~6 seconds)||Hit Dice||PENCE/COPPER||TIER 1|
|FURLONG||TURN (~10 minutes)||Individuals||PENCE/COPPER||TIER 1|
|LEAGUE||HOUR||Squads (~10 individuals)||SHILLING/SILVER||TIER 2|
|MARATHON||DAY||Platoons (~40 individuals)||SHILLING/SILVER||TIER 2|
|COUNTY||WEEK||Companies (~150 individuals)||POUND/GOLD||TIER 3|
Note that when designing special abilities, the ability to move up in tier is definitely out there. For example, maybe the fighter wants to cut through multiple foes at once. Well, with 2 successes on some sort of check, or expenditure of a resource, let him act at the next level (his damage rolls indicate the number of individuals cut down, not the number of hits knocked off the total).
Magic should ALWAYS be "hard." I.E., the costs incurred are an order of magnitude greater than normal. This is because of its inherent flexibility and potential power. So, to generate effects at the Pace/Hit Dice level, you need a casting time measured in turn(s). If you want to do it faster (and you usually will) you need to spend mana or make risky skill checks of some sort. Or, you do something easy and low-powered (basically casting a cantrip, the magical equivalent to swinging a sword).
So, let's take it for a test drive. Say our mage knows "Conjure."
SUMMON [CREATURE TYPE] of [SIZE] that is [HOW FRIENDLY?]
- In tactical combat (i.e. ROUNDS are passing). The mage can opt to spend one round for a quick simple cast. The duration needs to be checked every second, so basically, this would be an instantaneous spell that lasts one round unless he gets a 7 or higher for Potency. The SIZE would be measured in Pips, so the critter would have a handful of HP at best (or be able to deal a handful of HP worth of damage). How Friendly would be unaffected, although if it needs a bribe to be friendly, it'd be copper.
- We're still in tactical combat but the mage wants something more potent. He attempts a Risky Casting. He begins to make some sort of skill check, once each round, and needs two successes to finish the spell (perhaps this is represented by rolling dice for a dice pool and needing a minimum potency of 2 before the spell kicks in). Now his spell is measured in ROUNDS and HIT DICE.
- We're out of combat now. The magic-user retreats to his tower for an extended casting. The mage needs a whole week, but when he finishes, he will conjure several platoons of critters to serve him.
- Use a skill check requiring 2+ successes to increase everything by one order of magnitude.
- Spend mana or some other consumable to increase one category by one order of magnitude.
BTW, I'm really exhausted at teh airport now, so I apologize for this not being even half threshed out. Think of this post as a gentle "push" for myself so I can remember the order of magnitude for mages idea I had.