D&D GeneralHere's What A 5' Square Actually Looks Like

Over on imgur, a user called DoofusDad created a real-life five-foot square to illustrate what it actually looks like.

R_Chance

Looks about right for the space a human-sized creature can control in close combat.

Really wish D&D would make the switch to metric. Especially cause you could make squares meters and then it would be 1-1. Maps would be a bit smaller, but I think that’s a worthwhile change.

Just go 1.5 meters to the square. It's about 5' (4.96' iirc). It's the scale used for the starship deck plan grids in Traveller. I like metric for my Traveller games, but find it a tad too... scientific for my FRPGs

And there are so many other measures that could be used. A "cloth yard" in medieval England was 37" which is fairly close to a meter and is the traditional length of a longbow arrow. I can't remember which English king fixed the cloth yard at that length... Then their is the "pace" and the "cubit"! A pace is about 30" so a 5' square is roughly 2 paces if you want whole numbers to your square. Cubits... well 18 to 21" iirc. Depending. Never been a huge fan of the cubit. I've always liked the pace. And the Roman mile of a 1,000 paces (even if some emperor fixed the Roman mile at about 5,000' later iirc).

I'm rambling about measurements... grading papers does that type of thing to me. Back to the grind of grading

TheCosmicKid

Hero
Until you are dividing into 1/3rds. The Imperial system was designed around fractional notation for a era when people didn't have calculators. Look up the Imperial system of liquid measures. It's seems really bizarre until you realize that barrels are designed to neatly divided into 1/8ths, 1/7ths, 1/6ths, 1/5ths, 1/4ths, 1/3rds or 1/2s as you like. Trying doing that with decimals.
Mother Nature issued us with a pretty inconvenient number of fingers for mathematics, truth be told. If the Revolutionary French had been smart, they would have created a dozenal system rather than a decimal one. (And also done a few other things differently, but that's clearly the most important issue.) A dozenal meter can handle sixths and thirds as easily as fourths and halves, and eighths aren't so bad. It still can't handle sevenths (seven is just a real ornery number), and it loses fifths, but overall it would be a tremendous improvement in usability.

Or if they were feeling ambitious, there's always the Babylonian base-60 system. Look at all the divisors on that bad boy!

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Mother Nature issued us with a pretty inconvenient number of fingers for mathematics, truth be told. If the Revolutionary French had been smart, they would have created a dozenal system rather than a decimal one. (And also done a few other things differently, but that's clearly the most important issue.) A dozenal meter can handle sixths and thirds as easily as fourths and halves, and eighths aren't so bad. It still can't handle sevenths (seven is just a real ornery number), and it loses fifths, but overall it would be a tremendous improvement in usability.

Or if they were feeling ambitious, there's always the Babylonian base-60 system. Look at all the divisors on that bad boy!
I think there’s more to why base 10 is so universally embraced by humans than just the number of fingers we have. If base 12 was really superior, we could just as easily count our knuckles.

TheCosmicKid

Hero
You say "universal", but a lot of cultures do count on their knuckles...

Kinematics

Hero
A dozenal meter can handle sixths and thirds as easily as fourths and halves, and eighths aren't so bad. It still can't handle sevenths (seven is just a real ornery number), and it loses fifths, but overall it would be a tremendous improvement in usability.
The seximal/senary system (base 6) works better, actually. It handles everything prior to 11ths cleanly. Both 5ths and 7ths are fine (though repeating). And it's easier to work on your hands.

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
You say "universal", but a lot of cultures do count on their knuckles...
Fair.

Horwath

Hero
We used 2×2 meters as a default "square" once.

It worked great. 2m is enough also as a vertical measure for most characters.

slow speed: 10m
normal speed: 12m
fast speed: 14m

Ravenbrook

Explorer
You can just fudge it so the squares are 2x2 meters, at which point the only conversion problem ends up being when there's a jump check across a very precise distance.
To my knowledge, the German translation of Pathfinder uses squares of 1.5 meters, which is pretty much the same as 5 feet.

Aaron L

Hero
I can't remember who did them, but I think I got these from Owen K.C. Stephens's social media. It's the same image flipped so you can see the space with two combatants, then photoshopped with sword and shield (though the swords look a bit large, like 2-handed swords being used one-handed).

No sir, that looks to be just the right size for a plain ol' longsword to me; if he stood up straight and put the point on the ground (which you really shouldn't do) the pommel would come about to just around his shoulder, which is just right for a longsword (they are called "long" swords for a reason. ) Remember, 5E adjusted the definition of "longsword" to match the real world definition, or what the game used to call a "bastard sword.") Of course, "greatsword" has no actual real world definition so in the game it could mean just any old big-ass sword, but actual Two-Handed Swords used in real life Renaissance warfare were huge ungainly things that were the full length of the wielder or a bit longer, and were used almost more like a polearm than they were other swords.

(This isn't aimed at you, but I think most D&D players [and designers] don't actually have a very good idea what medieval weapons are really like, as evidenced by how long the rules gave us 10 pound bastard swords and 15 pound two-handed swords[!!!] as well as the number of players who insist that the katana is some kind of superweapon that should do as much damage as a greatsword, have the finesse property like a scimitar, score critical hits on a 19, and cut through stone and steel like adamantite... )

S'mon

Legend
No sir, that looks to be just the right size for a plain ol' longsword to me; if he stood up straight and put the point on the ground (which you really shouldn't do) the pommel would come about to just around his shoulder, which is just right for a longsword (they are called "long" swords for a reason. ) Remember, 5E adjusted the definition of "longsword" to match the real world definition, or what the game used to call a "bastard sword.") Of course, "greatsword" has no actual real world definition so in the game it could mean just any old big-ass sword, but actual Two-Handed Swords used in real life Renaissance warfare were huge ungainly things that were the full length of the wielder or a bit longer, and were used almost more like a polearm than they were other swords.

I've seen terms equivalent to 'great sword' used for swords smaller than the late-medieval 6' Zweihanders, eg Claymore - Wikipedia - 47-55 inches according to wikipedia.

It is weird D&D now has no official 1-handed arming sword type weapon though! Unless that's covered by the shortsword - but a small bastard sword blade was about the same as a big arming sword blade.

A Claymore:

Coroc

Hero
Very meme-able:

Yea I since the photoshopping already started, I was waiting for the memes

Aaron L

Hero
I've seen terms equivalent to 'great sword' used for swords smaller than the late-medieval 6' Zweihanders, eg Claymore - Wikipedia - 47-55 inches according to wikipedia.

It is weird D&D now has no official 1-handed arming sword type weapon though! Unless that's covered by the shortsword - but a small bastard sword blade was about the same as a big arming sword blade.

Yeah, I guess the archetypal one-handed arming sword would be covered under short sword now, alongside your stereotypical gladius? I've wondered about that myself! I went ahead and added "Arming Sword" to the weapon table as just a longsword without the Versatile property. As you implied, there was a continuum of blade lengths without anything approaching standardization. If you were a really tall guy you'd get a longer sword, and vice versa. The only place I've ever seen any in-period person say anything about blade lengths was an awesome-sounding technical swordmaster talking about rapiers, and that was setting a max limit: Gérard Thibault d'Anvers. This guy sounds like the definition of the Battle Master Archetype and a rad person to base a character on!

And before I check, doesn't claymore actually just mean "great sword" in Scotch Gaelic? Or was that a false etymology... I can never keep that straight. checks link Yup, great sword!

Aaron L

Hero
Yea I since the photoshopping already started, I was waiting for the memes
That is a thing of beauty. Beauty, I tell you.

Ulfgeir

Hero
The sword looks about right imo. When I did HEMA, my sword which was a bit short to be proper longsword, was so if I stood straight and held it under the crossguard, with my arms straight down, with the tip of the blade held up, the tip would be about in the same height as my chin/eyes.

A Longsword is 2-handed and can be used 1-handed. An Armoring-sword (which is what you would use with a a shield) though is strictly 1-handed, and a greatsword is always 2-handed in my experience.

So yes, have no problem with that you can injure someone 1.5 meters away from your body, depending on how far you extend your arms. for example if you want to keep someone at bay and be all defence, have your arms more or less fully extended, and holding the sword so the tip of the blade points in the extension of your arms. Think that was called a Langeshort (My German is not very good).

The style I did in HEMA was based on Ringeck's manuals (both for armoured and unarmoured fighting), and then ring-am-scwert (wrestling with swords), as well as the 1:33-manual for sword-and-buckler. We also tried a little bit of fighting with Messers.

Last edited:

S'mon

Legend
I went ahead and added "Arming Sword" to the weapon table as just a longsword without the Versatile property.

Yeah, me too.

And for higher tech settings like most Pirate campaigns, I add a d8 slashing finesse cutlass and sabre to match the rapier. Finesse as a rapier property itself doesn't make a lot of sense and seems to be a vestige of "rapier = fencing foil/smallsword" type thinking, but whatever.

Aaron L

Hero
Yeah, me too.

And for higher tech settings like most Pirate campaigns, I add a d8 slashing finesse cutlass and sabre to match the rapier. Finesse as a rapier property itself doesn't make a lot of sense and seems to be a vestige of "rapier = fencing foil/smallsword" type thinking, but whatever.
Great minds, and all that... !

Aaron L

Hero
The sword looks about right imo. When I did HEMA, my sword which was a bit short to be proper longsword, was so if I stood straight and held it under the crossguard, with my arms straight down, with the tip of the blade held up, the tip would be about in the same height as my chin/eyes.

A Longsword is 2-handed and can be used 1-handed. An Armoring-sword (which is what you would use with a a shield) though is strictly 1-handed, and a greatsword is always 2-handed in my experience.

So yes, have no problem with that you can injure someone 1.5 meters away from your body, depending on how far you extend your arms. for example if you want to keep someone at bay and be all defence, have your arms more or less fully extended, and holding the sword so the top of the blade points in the extension of your arms.

The style I did in HEMA was based on Ringeck's manuals (both for armoured and unarmoured fighting), and then ring-am-scwert (wrestling with swords), as well as the 1:33-manual for sword-and-buckler. We also tried a little bit of fighting with Messers.

That is some rad stuff. I would love to do HEMA, if only I'd not already had the spine of a 90 year old man by the time I was 19 (according to how the doctor put it.) Now 24 years later and it's only gotten worse. (I would seriously like to find that 90 year old man and trade him back for my own spine!) Ba-dum-dum-bish

Ulfgeir

Hero
That is some rad stuff. I would love to do HEMA, if only I'd not already had the spine of a 90 year old man by the time I was 19 (according to how the doctor put it.) Now 24 years later and it's only gotten worse. (I would seriously like to find that 90 year old man and trade him back for my own spine!) Ba-dum-dum-bish

Had also done other martial arts for 15+ years before doing HEMA. Now I shoot a 72" Longbow with a draw-weight of 52 lbs at 28". I only draw 26" though so have about 48 lbs on my fingertips.

But yeah, having bad knees and a stamina of a person with a con well below 10 doesn't help when fighting, also blind without my contacts lenses.

Aaron L

Hero
Had also done other martial arts for 15+ years before doing HEMA. Now I shoot a 72" Longbow with a draw-weight of 52 lbs at 28". I only draw 26" though so have about 48 lbs on my fingertips.

But yeah, having bad knees and a stamina of a person with a con well below 10 doesn't help when fighting, also blind without my contacts lenses.
Excellent! That is super cool. All I could manage was some Tai Chi when I was younger, a friend of mine taught it. And I fully understand about the low Constitution score, I'd place myself at about a 7, and without my glasses everything beyond a foot becomes a colorful blur. No adventuring for me, I'm afraid, my swords are just for show.

Andamio

Villager
Funny, I’m American and I find meters easier. Decimalized systems are always superior.

Also, again with the ratio of squares to standard units of distance being 1:1.

Feet also make it super awkward when translating rule books, not only for square, but also sizes and weights of characters

Replies
23
Views
1K
Replies
8
Views
764
Replies
26
Views
715
G
Replies
12
Views
487
Guest 7034872
G
Replies
6
Views
602