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D&D General Here'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.

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

Screenshot 2019-09-12 at 23.18.00.png
 

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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 :D

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 :)
 

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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.
 


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.
 


Horwath

Legend
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... :unsure:)
 

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:
220px-Graveslab_of_Donald_MacGill%27easbuig%2C_National_Museum_of_Scotland.jpg
 

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