Tuesday, 1 December 2020

Scale & Sublimation

CW: swears

I'm writing this post because I need to and I'm not sure why. I have a feeling that once I reach the end I'll just put a full-stop (Americans: a "period") and leave it at that and press post and never look at it again.

There are still a few posts to be written up concerning the regular PARIAH Saturday sandbox, there's more to come from the guide to building a proto-neolithic psychedelic animist sandbox and I still need to do a follow-on post for my interpretation of Jones' Oracular Dungeon Generator. I'm not even going to mention the number of unpublished drafts (well, I just did) sat on my logger dashboard taunting me each time I come to check in on the spam-commenters.

Nonetheless, after this unnecessarily lengthy intro which none of you asked for, I present this:

Yep, squares and hexes again folks...



Behold, what you see before you is:
  • The blue dotted line represents a 1 foot by 1 foot. It is roughly the same size as a vinyl LP sleeve. What do you mean "idk"? Okay, it's about the length and breadth of your standard issue 30cm school ruler (Americans: "12 inch rule").
  • I said "about" meaning approximately yes yes 1 foot is equal to 30.48 cm. ROUGHLY.
  • The yellow circle represents a circle a one yard diameter circle. If you were 3 feet in height and proportioned in a similar way to the Vitruvian man, this would accurately represent your arm span.
  • It is unlikely that you have the same proportions as the vitruvian man if you are 3 feet in height.
  • The red dotted line is drawn to the same scale as the rest of the geometry. It represents one square metre (Americans: "one square meter"). Note how close the metre is to the yard... yet they are  not the same!

"Freedom Units" and "Imperial" are not the Same

This is an entirely British mistake.


This is an *almost* entirely ENGLISH mistake.

Miles, yards and feet are not exclusive to the "Imperial" measurement system. They are shared by the "Imperial" and American systems. There are important distinctions between the two (principally on measuring capacity... "Imperial" pints are bigger than American pints, for example).

Furthermore, we need to stop using words like Imperial for things like fucking measurements.. granted, it sounds sort of cool but think about what it represents: people dying building railways, enslavement, genocide, colonisation...

...plus, think about what it means in fiction! The fucking Imperial March or the Imperial Guard?

Darth Sidious or the fucking god Emperor of Mankind?

As for "freedom units"... ungh... let's just all agree to call them "irrational but somehow intuitive legacy units". 

It rolls off the tongue, right?

Why Not Metric?

What is this, Mothership? No. This may be a non-historically accurate elfgame simulation, but we have standards!

Metric epitomises the age of reason. Hard to squeeze magic into the age of reason.

(the surly crowd: CHALLENGE ACCEPTED).

BTW if you're playing a sci-fi game that's not in metric you're delusional.

(Sorry I appreciate that this is a very confrontational prose style today but I 

What about the hexes?

I'm glad you asked but I think you already know the answer, am I right?

Have a closer look at that blue square again...



That's right! One hex is one foot!

Which means...


...and we all know the significance of the five foot square, right?

(The creator of this image deleted his reddit account so there is zero point in accrediting this image. Reverse image search brings you to blogs — like this one — profiting from this bold soul's invention)

Normally these images are supposed to make you go LOOK ATTHE SIZE OF THE FIVE FOOT SQUARE IT'S RIDICULOUS!

It sort of looks reasonable though, doesn't it?

Previously I've been a proponent of the 3 foot/1 yard hex for tactical-toy soldier filed-off warhams but maybe I'm erring on the side of the 1" base...

Anyhow, that's not why we're here.

Dungeon Delving

What are you looking at? One of those tiny 10' by 10' cupboards. The circle in the centre is your character, sort-of-but-not-fully occupying a 5' square.

Thing is, 10' by 10' isn't that tiny, not really. My bedroom is about 3 x 3 metres, which is just a little smaller than 10'x10'. I suppose it's small by UK standards but I'm not complaining. My living room (Americans: "the den") is about the same, and were we not in a government-enforced lockdown during a global pandemic I'm sure it could accommodate multiple people.

What throws off 10' square maps are the doors. Fucking 5 foot door man. It's crazy. If I ever move to a house with five foot doors I hope my rooms are bigger than 10' x 10'.

The above is just to remind you that 10' by 10' is equal to 100 square feet.

That's 400 hundred 30 cm rulers (Americans: "12" rules") laid out as 100 squares.

Wait... you'd probably only need two per square, given the room's existing geometry. 200 rulers ("rules"). Then you probably only need one ruler for the final square, so 19 per column? 190 rulers... and the final column would only need laterals, 9 of 'em, which is 189 rulers.

Okay so just imagine 189 rulers and you're golden....

Here's the same scene as a sketchup model. The figure was downloaded through Trimble's 3D warehouse. Search for "warrior". I've scaled her down to be 5'7" tall, although four of those inches are her extra thick base (thicc base?). Note the outline of 5'/ 2.5" base on the ground. If I enlarge this model so she fits that base, she's nearly 8' in height, though I guess that's miniature scale these days?

Still not entirely sure why I'm doing this. I'm hoping it helps you visualise stuff.

Let's zoom out some more:

Now we can see our warrior in the centre of a 30' by 30' room, with a larfe door at the end.

The larger bounding box is 100' square, with castle Mistamere (Bargle's castle? No? Gygar built it apparently, and it's since fallen into the clutches of Bargle) for scale.

This is also a good lesson in lineweight, but I'm the last person to teach that. 

Why We're Really Here

Our warrior is the black dot in the centre. She's surrounded by a 100' box.

The outer box measures 300' x 300': that's 100 yards, the approximate length of Castle Mistamere's walls. Apparently Gygar was secretly into decimals, but don't tell the custodians of his memory that, they'll tell you it's a Marxist plot...

So how many yards in a mile? 1760. You can get 17.6 of these 300 foot squares in one mile:

The large hex is 1 mile across, or 1760 yards... or 5280 feet. I may need to put a more familiar reference point than the castle Mistamere...

Ah, there she is: the old "square mile" of the historic City of London... well, nearly. I cropped this screengrab so that the Tower of London would be at the centre (comfortably surrounding puny Castle Mistamere) an to show off a bit of Bermondsey and Borough to the south. The real "square mile" extends further north and west, too.

The point being that, though you can only see our warrior's 5 foot base if you zoom in (she's just shy of 5 pixels if you blow it up, meaning we're almost at 1 foot = 1 pixel!), you can still make out the boats clearly sat in St Katherine's dock just east of the Tower.

(Americans: I know many of you won't be familiar London, so for a point of reference that's closer to home I have completed the same exercise with one of your most immediately recognisable cities: 

That's right, world famous Beulah, North Dakota! By lucky happenstance I happened to pick a city that follows a fairly orthogonal organising grid... with each one roughly corresponding to our 100 yard square.

Now, I'm probably about to start stepping on Skerples' toes... and believe me, you don't want to do THAT. Did you know Skerples can single-handedly cancel the whole OSR with a single fingersnap? With that in mind, have a read of this excellent post over at Coins and Scrolls before passing "go".


Back already? How was medieval Siena? Great!

Let's zoom out to six miles!

Okay I think we can give this hex to Beulah. In hindsight, North Dakota was a poor choice. I have a weird feeling that I'm not the first person to say that...

So here's London... and to make up for my mild and gentle ribbing of the USA, may I just say how ugly it is at this scale. I love London — and in many ways it's my true home — but really it looks like a cancerous growth spreading across otherwise vibrant flesh.

Right then, that's me done.

Back to work.


  1. Fantastic work - super handy reference; goes on the stack with the other greats of the genre!

    1. Uh oh did I just accidentally make something useful?

      Speaking of greats of the genre (and you are far, far too kind to chuck me on that stack!) my all-time favourite is "In Praise of the 6 mile Hex" by Hydra's Grotto:


    2. (my all-time favourite post about hexes of a non-magical nature)