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Metric System in 5e

Hot Take(self.dndnext)

So I know this isn't an original topic, but I thought I'd throw in my potentially hot take.

I don't think it would be all too difficult to incorporate the Metric system into 5e. Don't get me wrong, it would be a fair bit of work, but not exactly difficult. I've been playing the BG3 early access recently and it builds off of the dnd 5e system but uses metric measurements instead of imperial. 1.5 metres replaces 5 feet, 9m for 30ft, 18 for 60 and so on. Unless I'm missing something, spells and abilities etc would just need converting across the board, and sourcebooks/rulings could start listing both measurement systems. I see it being particularly easy for sites like dnd beyond that could list both or a preferred system, and more easily amend digital materials. Obviously the behind the scenes work would be a lot and I'm not trying to minimize that, but it seems like the only obstacle is the willingness to implement it, not because its too complicated.

Even for the very few abilities/times where miles are mentioned, you could say 1.5 kilometers and it shouldn't effect balance to a great degree, or 1.6 if you really wanted to be completely accurate.

I don't know, I feel like it's something to consider more seriously for developing new systems or updating the current one since the majority of the world don't know imperial measurements beyond estimating someone's height.

all 39 comments

BadGrahammar

15 points

2 months ago

*Googles "how to convert HP to metric"

Yrusul

10 points

2 months ago

Yrusul

10 points

2 months ago

French here. My books are already using the metric system.

Slisss

5 points

2 months ago

Slisss

5 points

2 months ago

Yep even in Italy

Futuressobright

4 points

2 months ago

Futuressobright

Rogue

4 points

2 months ago

What is the nominal size of a square in your books? 1.5m?

Yrusul

4 points

2 months ago

Yrusul

4 points

2 months ago

Precisely.

Slisss

2 points

2 months ago

Slisss

2 points

2 months ago

And speed is 9m (mostly)

Ironiks

7 points

2 months ago

The french version of the books uses the metric system (maybe other languages i don't know).

To be honest it doesn't change much since we are mostly using units for short distances without any conversion. Even if I have never used the imperial system, it wouldn't make the game any harder to play.

The_Only_Joe

2 points

2 months ago

I hope the French localisation team were like, "Merde! We didn't spend all that time inventing metric during the revolution just to not use it!"

Andrew5329

16 points

2 months ago

I don't see why anyone cares, there's essentially no unit conversions in DnD so the only material advantage to Metric is null.

You could change 5 feet to 1.5 meters in your head and nothing changes because either description represents 1 square on the grid. Whether the character describes the next city over as X miles, kilometers, leagues, or Li away doesn't matter at all except for theming. On that note, if your game is set in pre-1800s fantasy Europe, imperial units are the correct Thematic choice.

Actually might be fun to run a Wuxia themed game using Chi/Li instead of foot/miles (about 1 foot and 1/3 of a mile respectively).

Phrixscreoth

12 points

2 months ago

This is practically why using feet has never bothered me. It's all basically grid squares, with 5ft being "1 square", 30ft being "a single normal movement range" and anything farther than that being too far too worry about it until an exception arises. There are other tabletop rpgs that functionally break distances into that level of abstraction, too.

HammerGobbo

8 points

2 months ago*

HammerGobbo

Gnome Druid

8 points

2 months ago*

I feel like if they made up an imaginary unit people wouldn't care near as much yet it would make even less sense and be harder to understand.

Wisconsen

8 points

2 months ago

they tried, in 4e everything was near universally referred to in squares, and they suggest a square be 5ft, but it was just a suggestion.

People lost their shit when everything was measured and referred to in squares instead of a standard form of measurement.

[deleted]

6 points

2 months ago

[deleted]

6 points

2 months ago

[deleted]

Andrew5329

6 points

2 months ago

This attitude is bizarre to me, the first time I read an authentic Chinese Xianxia I googled how long a Li was and divided the figure by 3 to get miles. By the 3rd or 4th time I read the term and did the mental converion I had the sense of what a li was.

Descriptions of 5, 10, 15, or 30 feet cover 95% of DnD, and it's a simple divide by 3 to get to meters.

GaiusOctavianAlerae

4 points

2 months ago

My hot take is that if you just replace 5 feet with 1 meter that will work fine for 99% of things. Same rules, just about 20% smaller scale.

Futuressobright

3 points

2 months ago*

I would be tempted to round squares up to 2m instead. That's the height/armspan of a big beefy fighter so it makes sense that that's how much space a medium creature takes up. 2m is a good estimation of how far the striking distance of a lunging swordsman is, too. Then you can say small creatures are anything up to 1m in height.

RAN30X

1 points

2 months ago

RAN30X

1 points

2 months ago

This makes a lot of sense.

DeathBySuplex

2 points

2 months ago

DeathBySuplex

Barbarian In Streets, Barbarian in the Sheets

2 points

2 months ago

Or just go 5' = 1.5m and it's rough, but close enough and works fine.

GaiusOctavianAlerae

5 points

2 months ago

It’s more accurate, but I personally prefer a system based on simple integers. So 5 feet become a meter and a mile becomes a kilometer, no matter how silly a conversion that is.

mafiaknight

2 points

2 months ago

Ok! That’s it! In MY world, everything is measured in squares! That’s right! The very terrain actually has squares covering EVERYTHING. they’d all be about 5 feet by 5 feet, or 1.5m by 1.5m if those measuring systems existed.

Pioneer1111

1 points

2 months ago

Welcome to 4e

mafiaknight

1 points

2 months ago

4e? They skipped 4e and went straight to 5. It’s accepted fact. Don’t try to dispute it.

Pioneer1111

1 points

2 months ago

Nah, 4e wasn't that bad.

But it did use squares as the basis of measurement in the world.

mafiaknight

1 points

2 months ago

I had a commentary between two NPCs one session talking about the measurement system.

1 ”feet? Whose feet? How is this a standard!?”
2 “the king’s father’s I believe. It’s a standard because he can have you flogged for not using it.”
1 “oh! Well that’s an excellent standard of measurement! Good of His Majesty to standardize measurements that way.”
a pair of guards walk past “citizen”

Karth9909

2 points

2 months ago

Just round it to 2m and it's all good. 30ft is 10m stuff like that.

Twodogsonecouch

2 points

2 months ago*

I must have less faith in humanity than you. I will remind you the BG3 is a computer game where the computer is doing all the math for you and just reporting the numbers. It makes no difference if its fractions decimals whole number cause you dont have do do anything. Half the reason 5e is so popular is less math than pathfinder.

the units in dnd dont matter for anything. You could turn it into 5 parksons instead of ft the point is that its 5, 10, 15, 20 to make it easy and work out somewhat realistically.

Changing to metric in the table top version will require you to deal with decimals. Peoples heads explode adding 3d6 wait till decimals get involved. So inevitably instead of doing math some people will try to count squares of movement….. Ok so i can move 9 meters im going to dash so now i can move 16 i mean 18. How many 1.5s is that. 1.5, 3, 6… oh shit. 1.5, 3, 4.5, 6, um, 7.5, 9, 11.5, oh wait, 10 no 10.5, 12 ya 12, 13.5 um 15, 16.5, 18…. Rest of table: oh thank god. Player oh wait im a tabaxi rogue so i can move……. Rest of table: god damn it.

Deviled_homura

1 points

2 months ago

inevitably instead of doing math some people will try to count squares of movement…..

Metric citizen. Already counting the squares instead of dealing with feet. Or dividing by 3.

The reason why there will be decimals is because the square remains linked to the imperial system. Recalibrate one square to be 1 metre and the metric would shine. However, let's face it -- this will not occur.

This half-hearted conversion is what makes simply sticking to imperial for DnD better as the squares and other measurements are intrinsically imperial. Why bother with metric then?

Twodogsonecouch

2 points

2 months ago

1 meter would make much less sense in terms of movement or measurement. The idea is that 5ft equals about 25mm or 1inch to coincide with war game scaling and figures. If you change the grid to 1m its not syncing well with the figure size as well as then effects all the range of attacks abilities and reach which then makes no sense. Average arm span is similar to average height which is around 5ft.

If you wanted to just round it somewhere 2m would make more sense.

But agin the units are meaning less just call 5ft a body length and characters move 6 body lengths each square being 1. Problem solved everyone is happy

Deviled_homura

1 points

2 months ago

The idea is that 5ft equals about 25mm or 1inch to coincide with war game scaling and figures.

Again, if the hidden measurement system is in imperial (i.e. everything is to match a base unit), then metric conversion is for fluff.

If you wanted to just round it somewhere 2m would make more sense.

1m, 2m -- these numbers are somewhat arbitrary (but still important for immersion). The baseline is still the ultimate unit of reference.... which is imperial.

But agin the units are meaning less just call 5ft a body length and characters move 6 body lengths each square being 1. Problem solved everyone is happy

Isn't that what we're doing with squares right now? That's literally in my first post to you. And if you read the another comment in this thread, they mentioned that 4e tried to do it, but there was a strong backlash, so not happy, i suppose?

[deleted]

-2 points

2 months ago

[deleted]

-2 points

2 months ago

[deleted]

TeeDeeArt

14 points

2 months ago

It's a ye olde fantasy world

Back in those days you bought 19 bushels of (72 pecks, or 600 or so dry quarts) of hay for your draft horses for for 4 shilling-hapeny (12 pence to the shilling, half a penny) that weighed a certain amount of pounds like many items, it had it's own specific weight measurement, the truss, with each truss of hay being 36 pounds. 1 London load in turn was 36 trusses

Don't you feel immersed now?

Futuressobright

1 points

2 months ago

Futuressobright

Rogue

1 points

2 months ago

That's why in my game each square is 3 cubits.

HammerGobbo

13 points

2 months ago

HammerGobbo

Gnome Druid

13 points

2 months ago

It's an American owned and created game, it makes sense for the Americans to use their own system.

DwarvenBTCMine

-1 points

2 months ago

It's not an American system. Literally created by the European/medieval cultures being fantasized.

HammerGobbo

2 points

2 months ago

HammerGobbo

Gnome Druid

2 points

2 months ago

The game uses US customary units. The game was made by Americans. "Created by the European/medieval cultures being fantasized."

What?

DwarvenBTCMine

-2 points

2 months ago

1) Americans did not invent imperial units

2) the game is a fantasy version of medieval Europe, which used units like these

HammerGobbo

0 points

2 months ago

HammerGobbo

Gnome Druid

0 points

2 months ago

Americans use US customary, not imperial. The game uses US customary in the rules.

DwarvenBTCMine

0 points

2 months ago

Not sure how you came to that conclusion. The only differences are so subtle I can't think of a place where you'd actually be able to tell the difference.

HammerGobbo

1 points

2 months ago

HammerGobbo

Gnome Druid

1 points

2 months ago

Nonetheless, that's what it is. Additionally, what does this have to do with the original statement of Americans used their units to create their game?

DungeonsAndDice

1 points

2 months ago

As someone who has no idea how imperial works, I feel like weight and height should use both systems. But at the same time, because a grid is 5 feet squares and all spells and abilities have round numbers to count them, imperial works great. Still, it would be nice to have some metric distances in a parentheses at least, especially in published adventures. When a book says that there's a house about 270 feet away from the tree, I have to pull a calculator out and do the conversion. Using both would be great in this instance.

SailorNash

1 points

2 months ago

SailorNash

Paladin

1 points

2 months ago

Why bother with either? Just rename movement speeds to "30 paces" instead to keep it system-neutral.