Previously I've talked about using scales of 10 or something else. I kind of settled on these scales which are roughly factors of 7-10. However, I was thinking that scales of 3.333 might work even better. They have a few good points about them:
- The factor of 10 -- pointed out by readers as a handy, easy to use value -- is preserved. Look at this sequence: 1, 3.3, 10, 33, 100, 333, 1000, etc... Every other number increases by 10. So mental math is easy: all you ever have to multiply by is 3 or 10.
- A reasonable number of different powered elements can all be portrayed on one board. Say we want to do a mass battle with low level heroes. We can portray level 3 PCs as one figure. "Fireteams" of 3-5 zero levels can be portrayed as one figure. A giant of ~9 HD can be portrayed as a "superfigure;" it can appear in the same battle even though it is one scale higher, and is a reasonable challenge. A sea monster of 30 HD could also appear as an ultrafigure; if played largely as a solo figure it might be an extremely challenging threat that is barely within the realm of being handled, with luck and a lot of resources. Contrast this to the scales of 10: the next jump in scale up for a level 3 party would be 30 HD foes, which is not nearly as smooth a progression as a 9 HD giant.
- This has major implications for surviveability (the "no heroes in war" phenomenon). If a 1 HD PC is facing off against a unit comprised of 10 men-at-arms, no duh, he's very likely to die. However, if a 1 HD PC is facing off against a unit comprised of 3 or 4, he is much more likely to survive. This allows you to reap one of the largest advantages of a sane scaling system: condensing encounters down. For example, say you want to play out searching for a campsite. You go to the scale of 1-turn (movement in furlongs) to map out a manor-sized area. The entire party is likely represented by 1-2 tokens at this scale unless they are high level. If the PCs come across an encounter, you have a few options: play it out at the segment-by-segment level (mandatory if it is a significant threat), arbitrarily reduce the party's resources (boring), or play it out at the higher level of scale. With a 1:10 figure system, that is not very exciting because anything that is a challenge (multiple tokens) is likely to kill all the PCs. But with the 1:3 system it is more feasible. You could have three tokens representing 18 HD worth of PCs/retainers/pack animals and two tokens representing 12 HD of orcs and one uber-token representing 12 HD of giant and play out an interesting battle withou the PCs automatically dying. The entire battle could be played out on the furlong/turn scale without needing to "zoom in" on the action.
- 1 year (12 months)
- 1 season (3 months)
- 1 month: 48 leagues (consider rounding to 40, 45, or 50) -- ~850 x 1300 miles (empire or small continent)
- 10 days: 18 leagues
- 1 week: 12 leagues -- ~215 x 325 miles (kingdom)
- 3 days: 6 leagues
- 1 day: 2 leagues -- 36 x 54 miles (duchy?)
- Morning/Afternoon/Night (1/3 of a day): 1 league, with one part usually reserved for downtime
- 2 hour "chunks:" 2 miles (if you require 2 chunks/day for downtime)...or 0.5 leagues (if downtime is abstracted -- 12 x 18 miles or 9 x 13.5 miles (barony?)
- 1 mini-chunk (~40 mins): 1/2 mile
- 1 turn (~10 mins): 1 furlong (220 yards) -- 6/8 mile x 9/8 mile (manor)
- 1 partial-turn (~3 minutes): 3.3 chains (~70 yards)
- 1 minute (~60 seconds): 1 chain/4 rods (22 yards) -- ~130 x 200 yards (5 acres)
- 1 round (~20 seconds): 1 rod (5.5 yards)
- 1 segment (~6 seconds): 1 pace (~1.5 yards) -- 10 x 15 yards (perch, or 1/160th of an acre)
I think you could mitigate the excessive number of levels by clearly splitting the game into tiers; if you split the game into three broad tiers (tactical/operational/strategic for lack of better terms) then there would only be 5 or so scales in each tier, which is pretty much perfect for readily utilizing. For example, at the tactical level (think low level dungeon crawling), the entire party would be represented as ~3 tokens on a minute-by-minute scale much of the time while exploring a dungeon one chain at a time. For very difficult or important battles, you can zoom in to round-by-round (~9 friendly tokens on the map, representing each PC + their retainers/bodyguards, plus maybe a few extra tokens for important henchmen or the pack train) or even segment-by-segment action (~27 friendly tokens on the map -- representing every bodyguard, pack animal, and PC in explicit detail). For covering larger areas, you can zoom out to partial turns (where the party is represented as 1-2, honest, full strength tokens) or even turns (where the party is dramatically "undergunned" and represented as <1 full token).