The root of our game is historically-based. "Besides providing you with an exciting and enjoyable battle game, we hope that these rules will interest the wargamer sufficiently to start him on the pursuit of the history of the Middle Ages. Such study will at least enrich the life of the new historian, and perhaps it will even contribute to the study of history itself." (

*Chainmail*, p. 8). It's eminently clear that the author of

*Chainmail*'s basic, historical mass-combat game paid attention to simulating realistic scales of men, distance, and time. Continuing in that tradition, let's think about what games are possible at different scales, if we apply the same precision to our research and foundations.

We can begin by taking certain real-world measurements as our limiting factors; the speed and size of men in an army, the time it takes to make one attack or bowshot, the size of the miniature figures we might use, etc. Then we can select a certain figure scale and deductively reason out what that implies for the scales of distance, time, movement, bowfire, etc. (Note that all of this can be based on real-world data, with the sole exception of areas of magical effects, which are not considered here).

Here are my starting assumptions: Men in a line take up approximately 3 linear feet; they advance in a

"quick march" gait at about 4 mph. A longbow effectively fires some

200-plus yards maximum outdoors (200 feet indoors), and it takes about

10 seconds on average to fire an arrow or make one potentially damaging melee attack. Finally, the standard miniature figure that we use is 28mm tall with a 20mm (3/4 inch) square base.

Evidence for each of these base assumptions is linked above, and we'll leave aside any further discussion on those for now. Certainly, each of these items will have some wiggle room and potentially individual debate on the specifics, but I don't think anyone can much argue for an order-of-magnitude change (double or half) of the figures given.

**1:1 Figure Scale**Let's consider the case where

**1 figure = 1 man** (i.e., man-to-man combat). Since the figure is representational, we should use an equivalent distance scale of

**1 inch = 5 feet** (6 ft man/ 28 mm fig * 25 mm/inch = 5 ft/inch). Since attacks should also be resolved on a one-for-one level (i.e., one damaging blow or arrow shot per attack) use a time scale of

**1 turn = 10 seconds** (see attack rate assumption above).

At this point we'll compute second-order quatities, such as movement and bowfire. An unencumbered man at the "quick march" speed will move

**12" per turn** (4 mph * 5280 ft/mi / 3600 sec per hr * 10 sec/turn / 5 ft per inch = 12 inches/turn). Assuming action indoors, then we'll have a maximum

**40" longbow shot** (200 feet/ 5 ft per inch = 40 inches).

Now, here's a side note considering the movement rate above. Conveniently, since at every scale level we'll multiply the distance and time each by the same number (or at least approximately so),

**movement rate will be the same in inches for all scale levels**. And it's doubly convenient because, of course, the 12" movement rate is in fact that specified as the base movement rate for men in classic D&D. In other words, it's accurate to use the D&D-specified movement rates (in inches) at

**any** scale whatsoever.

__Advantages of the 1:1 Scale:__ (1) Easiest to use with representational miniature figures (figure scale matches distance scale, so figures take up the appropriate amount of space in each dimension). (2) Every turn represents the opportunity for one single, simulated attack.

**1:2 Figure Scale**This scale may be unheard of, but bear with me for a second. If

**1 figure = 2 men**, then we can basically double the distance & time as specified above. Distance will be

**1 inch = 10 feet** and, for time,

**1 turn = 20 seconds**. Movement will be the same as for all scales (12" per turn), and indoors we'll have an approximately

**20" longbow shot** (200 feet/ 10 ft per inch = 20 inches). While notable disadvantages are the awkward figure scale and need to resolve two discrete attacks per turn (e.g., similar to AD&D's 2/turn rate of arrow fire), there would be some notable advantages:

__Advantages of 1:2 Scale:__ (1) Easiest to use mentally without representational figures (distance scale inches match the standard dungeon mapping at 1-square-per-10-feet). (2) Missile fire ranges in inches match those found in the D&D rulebooks.

**1:10 Figure Scale**

Let

**1 figure = 10 men**. Looking at the shape of our square-based figures, it doesn't make sense to assume that we have ten men in a single line; more reasonable is to have 2 ranks of 5 men each. Therefore, the distance scale here is most accurately set at

**1 inch = 20 feet**. (5 men/fig * 3 ft/man / 0.75 inch base per fig = 20 feet/inch). Since this is a multiplication of x4 over the root 1:1 scale, we should multiply time by the same amount; so you could say 1 turn = 40 seconds, but just to maintain a round number I prefer

**1 turn = 30 seconds** and call it "close enough".

Movement is again at the same fixed rate of

**12" per turn** (4 mph * 5280 ft/mi / 3600 sec per hr * 40 sec/turn / 20 ft per inch = 12 inches/turn). Assuming action is now outdoors, we'll have a

**30" longbow shot** (200 yds * 3 ft/yd / 20 ft per inch = 30 inches).

A side note here: From the observation that each figure represents two ranks, we can conclude that a missile-armed figure will make twice as many attacks as a melee figure in the same span of time (just as in

*Chainmail*). The reason isn't that the bows themselves fire more rapidly, but rather that as one rank of melee troops makes immediate contact with an enemy, twice as many ranks of missile troops may be casting arrows.

__Advantages of the 1:10 Scale:__ (1) Individual "special characters" of around 10 HD can potentially be represented as single figures. (2) Constructions such as castles & ships can be made to scale and still have space to physically contain the miniature figures we use. (3) There is a remarkable, elegant mechanic for mass-combat resolution at the scale of 1 turn = 3 rounds of D&D (which this margin is too narrow to contain, and so must wait for a future presentation).

**1:20 Figure Scale**

Assume that

**1 figure = 20 men**. Like the preceding, to make sense of our square figures we must assume multiple ranks of men, in this case say 3 ranks of about 7 men each. Therefore, the preferred distance scale here can calculated to be close to

**1 inch = 30 feet** (7 men/fig * 3 ft/man / 0.75 inch per fig = 28 feet/inch). Since this is a multiplication of x6 over the root scale, time should be similarly multiplied, i.e.,

**1 turn = 60 seconds**. (In other words, 1 inch = 10 yards and 1 turn = 1 minute.) Movement is the same as at any other scale, while bowfire will have a

**20" longbow shot** (200 yds * 3 ft/yd / 30 ft per inch = 20 inches).

You'll notice that all of these measurements precisely correlate with those found in the basic

*Chainmail* game(!). One thing that doesn't quite match up is the rate of missile fire; since we here assume that figures are 3 ranks deep, archery figures should have an attack rate 3 times that of melee troops. While

*Chainmail* only has a rate-of-fire of 2/turn, the later

*Swords & Spells* game did increase this number to 3/turn as we would desire here.

__Advantages of the 1:20 Scale:__ (1) Figure, distance, and time scales are exactly as specified in the original

*Chainmail* game. (2) Movement and missile fire ranges in inches are also exactly as specified in

*Chainmail* and classic D&D.

**Conclusions**

Any of these hypothetical game scales have significant good reasons for using them. It's interesting that with some reasonable base assumptions and arithmetic, what results for the top-level scale is absolutely identical to the

*Chainmail* system for figures, distance, time, movement, and ranges. The original system was clearly not a fantastic accident, but very carefully designed; and our other scales can be thought of as smooth interpolations of this same system. It's also interesting that if we use miniatures for man-to-man combat, 1" = 5 ft is preferred, but with imagined combat and no miniatures, then 1" = 10 ft seems more efficient to use mentally. Granted that the designers of original D&D fundamentally

stopped using miniatures, then it's no surprise that the latter scale came to be embedded in the core texts. The one thing that I continue to be highly critical of is the holdover of the 1 turn = 1 minute scale from

*Chainmail* into D&D man-to-man combat; if figure and distance scales change, then the time scale really should do so as well.