# Would you play a TTRPG that used Meters instead of Feet?

## Would you play a TTRPG that uses Meters instead of Feet for measurement and distance?

• ### Yes, and I am from the USA

Votes: 68 46.6%
• ### Yes, and I am from outside of the USA

Votes: 67 45.9%
• ### No, and I am from the USA

Votes: 8 5.5%
• ### No, and I am from outside of the USA

Votes: 3 2.1%

#### aramis erak

##### Legend
I have no idea what 181 cm is, I know Im 6 ft though which is something between 180 & 182?
just shy of 6 feet. 182.88 is 6'.

So, rounding to the cm, 183 cm is about 6', and 2 ½ cm is close enough to an inch from there.

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#### aramis erak

##### Legend
So... that's confusing. And where does this Wizard of oz. come into it anyway?
ETM and USTM are both derived from French Traditional Measures plus Greek traditional measures...

Both have two different weights called a pound, Pounds Troy for precious metals and sometimes gems. Pounds Avoirdupois for most other uses. At one point, the gold coin notionally valued at one pound was equal in value to one roman pound of silver... which is close enough to the Troy pound for most purposes. (and the symbol for their money is from the latin Libram and the French derivative Livre.)

Oh, and the pennyweight? 1/240 of a troy pound.
At one point, the roman penny was a piece of silver of one pennyweight, called the denarius... which is why the UK penny was (is?) denoted with a "d"... I don't know the post decimalization UK methods of noting prices...

#### aramis erak

##### Legend
That touches on one reason I suspect imperial mesaurements have stuck around in construction and a few other milieux: fractions (half, quarter, eighth, etc.) are easier to visualize/conceptualize than decimals in how they relate to each other. Not easier to count-add-subtract, perhaps, but to visualize.

I mean, if someone asks how much is left in a part-full milk bottle most (as in nearly all) people would answer "about half" or "about a third" rather than "about point 5" or "about point 3".
There's also the issue that, quite literally, buildings are one of the most durable elements in the environment... Japan went metric in teh 1800s... but still use the ken (6 shaku, 1.81818 m) because literally all the existing buildings needed replacement materials in ken-length, tatami mats are 3 shaku by 1 ken, and are woven to that for historical reasons (as many occupied buildings do predate decimalization), and the factories never switched over. Sure, if they wanted to, they could require new construction to use 2m instead, but then they'd wind up with the old and respected buildings wasting wood... and they'd need to convert the tatami factories and shoji...

So they keep building in ken. And furnishing in ken.

#### Tonguez

##### A suffusion of yellow
ETM and USTM are both derived from French Traditional Measures plus Greek traditional measures...

Both have two different weights called a pound, Pounds Troy for precious metals and sometimes gems. Pounds Avoirdupois for most other uses. At one point, the gold coin notionally valued at one pound was equal in value to one roman pound of silver... which is close enough to the Troy pound for most purposes. (and the symbol for their money is from the latin Libram and the French derivative Livre.)

Oh, and the pennyweight? 1/240 of a troy pound.
At one point, the roman penny was a piece of silver of one pennyweight, called the denarius... which is why the UK penny was (is?) denoted with a "d"... I don't know the post decimalization UK methods of noting prices...

Decimal penny uses p to differentiate from old penny d. So 50p = 50 pence

#### mamba

##### Hero
Kind of. More like it goes:

"How far is it to [place x]?"
"20 kay"
"20 kay what? Miles? Kilometers? Meters? Feet? [etc.]"
I guess you have never seen signs for a 5k, 10k, etc. race. No one ever wondered what that k refers to (and the fact that it is k and not km shows you that these signs are in the US )

#### Bedrockgames

##### Legend
Let's say a new TTRPG came out, and for its measurement of moving, ability/spell distance, falling, etc, they used Meters instead of Feet. Would you be fine with that, and would you play it?

Example: You move 10 meters (1 step is 3 feet aka 1 meter).
From pec to the tip of a dagger is 3 feet, aka 1 meter.
Falling 4 meters aka 12 feet (about 1 story in height) deals damage.
Characters occupy a 1 meter hex.

Meters are a standard over most of the world and would I feel be more recognizable.

This is for research, so please vote and discuss.

I can honestly say the measurements used by an RPG have never affected my decision to buy it. I might find some measures more tricky, but meters, yards, feet, centimeters, inches, kilometers, miles, etc I don't particularly care what they go with. I'd rather the designers use a measurement they are comfortable with so that the distances in the rules all make sense. I think that is more important to me than whether I am immediately familiar with the distances and weights. Also my expectation is usually that a book will reflect the measures from where it's made. If a designer or publisher comes from a country where kilometers are the standard, I won't be surprised or disappointed even if miles are what I am more accustomed to (just like I won't find it confusing or unexpected if they using spellings like colour rather than color).

#### Umbran

##### Mod Squad
Staff member
It is not a system built to human scale

That's just not true.
A meter is basically a yard.
A kilogram is the weight of basically a quart of water.
These are quite human scale measurements.

It an extremely useful system (and sometimes vastly superior) in an abstract academic context

You're typing on a computer, a very non-academic, common real-world physical item. The science behind it was uncovered using metric units. The design of the machine was done in metric units.

...but as applied to the real world, units based around what is customarily convenient based on the natural world, biomechanics, grouping objects for transport, or other concerns of commerce or life in general are often less cumbersome

Except, the above Reason was used to do just that. Again, the basic unit of mass was defined with respect to a volume of water that's pretty practical in day-to-day human life. The meter is also set at a length that's human-size scale.

For shipping - the metric ton is about 10% more than the imperial ton.

The temperature scale was set with respect to the freezing and boiling of water - very practical, human-life type stuff.

These things may seem inconvenient if you haven't lived with them, but any system you haven't lived with would seem inconvenient. Pretty much everyone else on the planet has no problem using them in everyday life. If you do, that's not a problem with the system.

#### dragoner

##### KosmicRPG.com
US and Imperial are so close... until you get to volumes of liquids and tonnages....
And both are based upon the French Avoirdupois measures, but only the pound and grain being kept exact...

the problem with humanocentric measures are that different populations have different median, mode, and mean sizes, and that the standards were usually set to the measures of the Royal. So the Shaku - the Japanese "foot" is 30.303... cm, while the US foot is 30.48 cm, the French traditional Pied 32.66cm....
Pretty much. It doesn't matter until it really matters, though I am also in a field where we use all sorts of measuring so it sits in the front of my mind. Average person no difference, and in the UK not only do they use both (or used to) they throw in others like "stone". Stone (unit) - Wikipedia

#### Willie the Duck

##### Hero
That touches on one reason I suspect imperial mesaurements have stuck around in construction and a few other milieux: fractions (half, quarter, eighth, etc.) are easier to visualize/conceptualize than decimals in how they relate to each other. Not easier to count-add-subtract, perhaps, but to visualize.

I mean, if someone asks how much is left in a part-full milk bottle most (as in nearly all) people would answer "about half" or "about a third" rather than "about point 5" or "about point 3".
I don't know that I agree. However, I do think that being evenly divisible by multiple factors is quite useful when the fractions are often part of the point*, when the addition is circumstantially innate**, and most importantly when a whole unit is a sufficiently large number that divisions within the unit occur more frequently than adding multiples of the unit. In the coinage example I bring up below, I think non-decimal coinage made all the sense in the world while a whole pound/peso/dollar was a huge amount of money, and it was more important that you could split one amongst you and 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 other people than how easily you could add multiple of them (and multiple partial ones) together. I don't see this as true for construction -- you aren't spending that much time dividing an inch three ways, but you are adding two multiple-plus-fractionals-on-each-side sections of things measured in inches together.
*example: you could empty a tun of ale into 8 barrels
**example: you have the coins in front of you, you can lump all your coins of types into piles and add all your farthings together and then combine sets of 4 with your pennies and that odd tanner you found until you got a shilling's-worth

At one point, the gold coin notionally valued at one pound was equal in value to one roman pound of silver... which is close enough to the Troy pound for most purposes. (and the symbol for their money is from the latin Libram and the French derivative Livre.)

Oh, and the pennyweight? 1/240 of a troy pound.
At one point, the roman penny was a piece of silver of one pennyweight, called the denarius... which is why the UK penny was (is?) denoted with a "d"... I don't know the post decimalization UK methods of noting prices...
Lindybeige has an interesting video about the evolution of UK coinage and relation to a pound of silver. Caution: he bungles some D&D-isms, and has as much self-congratulatory speech related to his own preferences as Benjamin Olson sees in Metric System aficionados. Still worth a look.
I can imagine that I might refuse to use a system based on the metric measurements, so I voted no. But it would have to be pretty obtrusive, and there would have to be very comparable games equally available.

Basically I think the metric system is a stupid system based on fetishizing ease of conversion between units at the expense of having units that actually organically make sense for things humans do. It came out of an Enlightenment era belief in eliminating doing things based on custom and tradition in favor of doing them based on Reason (which I'll capitalize, in the style of the time), and has never shed the basic arrogance wrapped up in that way of thinking. It is not a system built to human scale and can't describe anything without a cumbersome amount of syllables. It was imposed on the world by a condescending intelligentsia, and it's fundamental hubris is not challenged enough. It an extremely useful system (and sometimes vastly superior) in an abstract academic context, but as applied to the real world, units based around what is customarily convenient based on the natural world, biomechanics, grouping objects for transport, or other concerns of commerce or life in general are often less cumbersome than units which exist only because of a x10 relationship to some other unit. All systems of measurement are mostly stupid and arbitrary, where the metric system gets on my nerves is that because it's arbitrary units are derived from other arbitrary units based on Reason it's proponents think it's intrinisically less stupid when, in many contexts, it is actually slightly stupider. And that sort of arrogance I can't abide.

However if I were to reject an RPG based on usage of the metric system, it would probably not be because of my hostility to the system, but because it either used it extensively in a way that was aesthetically really obtrusive to the setting of the game, or just demanded too much visualization in metric from my not very metric accustomed brain. Still these would just be points against a game for me, not dealbreakers in their own right.
There is an interesting phenomenon I've noticed -- amongst everyone, but especially amongst nerd circles and anything on-the-internet (and to be clear, I am very very guilty of falling into this trap myself more often than I would like to admit) -- of worrying excessively that someone on the other side of an issue thinks too highly of themselves and/or is being arrogant. There certainly are people on the internet who are derisive towards... well, anything and everything; and people who try very hard to treat whatever side they aren't on as doing something inherently wrong/foolish/inferior. There are also quite a few faulty justifications for preferring metric over Imperial (and as we are discussing, many many contexts where the perceived benefits don't come into play). However, it seems odd to me to associate the metric system itself (outside some schmoe on the internet telling you you're inferior*) with arrogance -- it's literally one of the most mundane components of the day-to-day lives of billions of people (who are superior or inferior to anyone else for reasons completely separate from their use of the metric system). It would be like wearing pants or grinding flour or cars having key ignitions being arrogant in some way.
*which they can do just as well with your preference of on-foot team-athletics games, preference for dogs over cats, or the right way to hang the toilet paper roll (cue bidet sub-argument).

#### Aldarc

##### Legend
I can imagine that I might refuse to use a system based on the metric measurements, so I voted no. But it would have to be pretty obtrusive, and there would have to be very comparable games equally available.

Basically I think the metric system is a stupid system based on fetishizing ease of conversion between units at the expense of having units that actually organically make sense for things humans do. It came out of an Enlightenment era belief in eliminating doing things based on custom and tradition in favor of doing them based on Reason (which I'll capitalize, in the style of the time), and has never shed the basic arrogance wrapped up in that way of thinking. It is not a system built to human scale and can't describe anything without a cumbersome amount of syllables. It was imposed on the world by a condescending intelligentsia, and it's fundamental hubris is not challenged enough. It an extremely useful system (and sometimes vastly superior) in an abstract academic context, but as applied to the real world, units based around what is customarily convenient based on the natural world, biomechanics, grouping objects for transport, or other concerns of commerce or life in general are often less cumbersome than units which exist only because of a x10 relationship to some other unit. All systems of measurement are mostly stupid and arbitrary, where the metric system gets on my nerves is that because it's arbitrary units are derived from other arbitrary units based on Reason it's proponents think it's intrinisically less stupid when, in many contexts, it is actually slightly stupider. And that sort of arrogance I can't abide.

However if I were to reject an RPG based on usage of the metric system, it would probably not be because of my hostility to the system, but because it either used it extensively in a way that was aesthetically really obtrusive to the setting of the game, or just demanded too much visualization in metric from my not very metric accustomed brain. Still these would just be points against a game for me, not dealbreakers in their own right.
Nah.

These things may seem inconvenient if you haven't lived with them, but any system you haven't lived with would seem inconvenient. Pretty much everyone else on the planet has no problem using them in everyday life. If you do, that's not a problem with the system.
This is the bottom line.

#### Benjamin Olson

##### Hero
A meter is basically a yard.
And a yard is a basically disfavored unit of measurement in the systems that have it. Americans use it almost exclusively for dimensions related to athletics, and because it is a decent unit to measure distances run. Even when we use yardsticks we are actually concerned about using them to measure feet.

A meter being yardlike is actually evidence of its poor fit as a dominant unit of measurement given that people in a system with both something about the length of a yard and something about the length of a foot as the primary unit for relatively short lengths have fairly consistently chosen the latter.

You're typing on a computer, a very non-academic, common real-world physical item. The science behind it was uncovered using metric units. The design of the machine was done in metric units.
I don't follow the logic. So I owe it something? By responding to me in English, have you sworn some eternal fealty to the English language?

Or is the argument that computers are only made possible by the metric system? Pretty dubious.

However, it seems odd to me to associate the metric system itself (outside some schmoe on the internet telling you you're inferior*) with arrogance -- it's literally one of the most mundane components of the day-to-day lives of billions of people (who are superior or inferior to anyone else for reasons completely separate from their use of the metric system).
My accusations of arrogance were aimed at the Enlightenment era that birthed the metric system, so not really about the dynamics of internet arguments you've seen. I should have been clearer.

And it's not to say that I hate the Enlightenment, but it was powered to a fair extent by an arrogant belief that everything done before which could not be synchronized with Enlightenment ideas of what made things legitimate (a basis in what fancy thinkers felt was "Reason") was utterly worthless and should probably be abolished, regardless of whether it was working just fine for normal people. The intellectual vibe was very much "shut up peasants, the Intelligentsia knows what's best for you".

And of course this all reached it's apogee in 1793 when some Enlightenment nerds got enough sway over actual government in that phase of the French Revolution to attempt to institute decimal timekeeping, abolish religion, and impose many other radical redesigns of society from the ground up. The Metric system, which had been rolled out a several revolutionary phases earlier was a less extreme case of this same way of thinking.

Of course if anything the fact that metric measurements endured and decimal time was a disastrous experiment is evidence of the prior having some actual quality to justify its staying power. And I think it does. But the usefulness is that the world had reached a level of globalization where having many different countries have different weights and measures was no longer viable, so something had to become an international standard. Metric was new and exciting, and more importantly because of its aggressively anti-traditional Enlightenment theory, was the most non-culturally specific option, even in spite of its heavy French Revolutionary association (and ugly "classical" nomenclature). It was the option countries could adopt while accepting the smallest amount of foreign imperial associations.

And good for the metric system. Where I take issue is that people just seem to accept the arguments of its creators for it being a good system as being valid because it won, whereas it's victory probably had more to do with happenstance, and at its core it is actually less elegant and more cumbersome than it appears.

At the very least the names are a travesty. Our fancy 18th century intellectual metric boosters just had to go greco-roman, and just had to combine it all in a system prioritizing rigid consistency over ease of use, or whether the sounds flowed well. And so even common units get absurd strings of syllables. Try writing a song or poem with metric units sometime... it's not happening, they are awkward, inhuman, and (in an ironic pun) don't conform well to meters. Is the centimeter intrinsically worse than the inch, I think it is a little to small to be as convenient for as many things... but it's certainly debatable. What is not debatable is that it takes 4 times as many syllables to do the same thing as an inch just so that someone, after a lifetime of using it, never forgets that it is one hundredth of a meter.

#### Composer99

##### Hero
Aaaaaand this is how nerds get a reputation for being insufferable and argumentative.

As if there's something "inhumane" about a measurement system that literally works just fine as long as you can count and multiply by tens - aka use your fingers (if you have all of 'em).

#### mamba

##### Hero
And good for the metric system. Where I take issue is that people just seem to accept the arguments of its creators for it being a good system as being valid because it won, whereas it's victory probably had more to do with happenstance, and at its core it is actually less elegant and more cumbersome than it appears.
I don’t know how cumbersome it appears to you, but to me it is a lot easier than the alternative when it comes to conversions between units.

As long as you stay within one unit, you can measure anything in either just fine, but I’d hate doing Physics with the SI system

#### Dannyalcatraz

##### Schmoderator
Staff member
Count me as another person who has heard “klicks” as a major slang substitute for kilometers. Almost every time I see “k” in use, it’s for numbering something, like money or people.

Never heard it used in conversation as a substitute for kilometers, even though I have seen distance or speed signs using them (outside the USA, of course).

#### AbdulAlhazred

##### Legend
Classic Traveller, 1977, been metric from the start, lol.

#### Aldarc

##### Legend
Aaaaaand this is how nerds get a reputation for being insufferable and argumentative.

As if there's something "inhumane" about a measurement system that literally works just fine as long as you can count and multiply by tens - aka use your fingers (if you have all of 'em).
Agreed.

and at its core it is actually less elegant and more cumbersome than it appears.
The rest of the world gets along with it swimmingly. This may be your personal hang-up.

Much as @Umbran said earlier, it's really about what system of measurement that you are accustomed to thinking in more than anything else. I've seen many non-Americans come to the United States and get massively tripped up by our imperial units. They find talking about distance or their height in terms of feet and inches (5' 11") to be strange when compared to describing height in terms of meters and centimeters or even just centimeters: e.g., 1.82 meters or 182 centimeters. Noting feet (') and inches (") confuses a lot of people out there, and there are even many Americans and Brits who still get confused about notating them.* Sometimes non-Americans ask me what we Americans do when it comes to measurements that are smaller than an inch. I guess we do fractions of an inch, but sometimes a millimeter is an easier way to express a distance finer than an inch.

* See Stonehedge, where the demons dwell and the banshees wail.

When non-Americans talk about the metric system there is not necessarily any arrogance about it. It's just the system of measurement that they are used to. And honestly - and I say this as an American in Europe - once you get accustomed to it, thinking or talking in metric is no more awkward or intuitive than imperial units. It's really about what you are used to.

However, I will admit that I think many of us are so far removed from the basis of these imperial units that's almost silly to think about. Let's take miles. What everyday use does that come from? An English mile is based on eight furlongs. What the frell is a furlong? Almost no one uses furlongs today. People struggle enough telling you how many feet are in a mile. Asking them about furlongs is even more challenging. But a furlong was apparently the distance that a team of oxen could pull a plough without resting back in Anglo-Saxon days. Is that really the sort of common, lived experiences that people nowadays really have any grasp of when it comes to distance? How far I can go with my ox plough without a rest times eight? This is not to mention other now obscure imperial distances including rods and chains. And this naturally also impacts our sense of speed, which amounts to "I can drive 65 eight-oxen-ploughed-rests per hour on the interstate."

At the very least the names are a travesty. Our fancy 18th century intellectual metric boosters just had to go greco-roman, and just had to combine it all in a system prioritizing rigid consistency over ease of use, or whether the sounds flowed well. And so even common units get absurd strings of syllables. Try writing a song or poem with metric units sometime... it's not happening, they are awkward, inhuman, and (in an ironic pun) don't conform well to meters. Is the centimeter intrinsically worse than the inch, I think it is a little to small to be as convenient for as many things... but it's certainly debatable. What is not debatable is that it takes 4 times as many syllables to do the same thing as an inch just so that someone, after a lifetime of using it, never forgets that it is one hundredth of a meter.

Wu-Tang Clan:
Check the 150 millimeter, heater as it blows holes
Through your f***in' speaker
Makin you weaker creepin inches centimeters
Fifty caliber street sweeper
Shots from Shaolin that go to Masapeaqua

Busta Rhymes:
She 8 centimeters, my lil' man about to fall
Scuffing my Air Forces, running through the hospital hall
Deja Vu, like I been here before

The Mountain Goats:
Lit up your magnificent silhouette
How much better, how much better can my life get?
900 cubic centimeters of raw, whining power, no outstanding warrants for my arrest
Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, the pirate's life for me

Just promise me that you won't look up how many songs are out there singing about "9 millimeters."

But yeah, it's clearly not happening. Apart from all the songs and poems outside of the United States that incorporate metric units in their songs and poems...

#### John Dallman

##### Hero
And a yard is a basically disfavored unit of measurement in the systems that have it. Americans use it almost exclusively for dimensions related to athletics, and because it is a decent unit to measure distances run. Even when we use yardsticks we are actually concerned about using them to measure feet.

A meter being yardlike is actually evidence of its poor fit as a dominant unit of measurement given that people in a system with both something about the length of a yard and something about the length of a foot as the primary unit for relatively short lengths have fairly consistently chosen the latter.
Not in the UK. Yards and feet both get used a lot, although distances that need to be measured precisely are usually done in metric units.

#### Edgar Ironpelt

##### Explorer
I'll play using rule sets that use the metric system. That doesn't mean I won't prefer to keep feet and pounds in my D&D games.

The Fantasy Trip used metric, and so does my homebrew based on it. There are ways to handwave the use of metric in pseudo-medieval settings. For example: A Medievalized Metric System. Mostly though, I'd expect to see metric in games with science-fiction settings.

#### Campbell

##### Relaxed Intensity
I'm from the States, but I'm actually more comfortable using meters over feet for distances, probably because I spent 4 years as an active duty Soldier in the US Army. 10m automatically means something to me. Feet I always have to mentally translate back to meters or yards.

#### Aldarc

##### Legend
While not strictly metric by any means, I will point out that using base-ten math for fantasy gaming currencies - i.e., 100 coppers = 10 silver = 1 gold - is also pretty ahistorical. Maybe we should also rid ourselves of this sort of fetishing of base-ten math in favor of more historical currency arrays based on weights and fluctuating precious metal purity values and not simple conversion?

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