Sunday, July 10, 2011

Roleplaying Units outside the US

So, working on a post for tomorrow, I now have a question for my readers that run games outside the US. How do you handle units in your roleplaying?

Do you use whatever system is assumed by whatever game you are playing or do you switch over to metric units? Do you just handwave more record keeping and encumbrance than you would prefer? What do your players think about units in your games?

Come to think of it, didn't TSR have a UK branch? Did they publish D&D with metric units? What about WOTC today- are there versions of 3.x and 4e published with metric units, I wonder? I would imagine that that would be downright necessary for non-English-language versions, right?


  1. I just stick with the units of the game. If my players need a conversion, I calculate it on the fly.

    I know the d20 Star Wars game WotC put out used the metric system. They had 1.5 meter squares for the minis. The Japanese translation of the 3.5 PHB still used feet, though.

    WV: insultr: new internet slang? Nah, still too many letters.

  2. Holy shit. This is the post I've had in the back of my head for months now. Mostly I was thinking about the Canadian bloggers, many of whom are in their late 30s or older and I think went through the metrification process while semi-cognizant beings.

    And aside from the 3-meter pole I think I've heard of, I emailed James Mal about the pronunciation of 'grognard' in Canada, and he said he'd only heard it pronounced Grog-nard, and never Groan-yard, which would be the French. He suggested that maybe in Quebec the old school gamers might say it that way. (Granted, JMal is not a native Canadian, so who knows?)

  3. I'm English and I've never seen any metric D&D books (though I don't know if I've ever looked at any non-English language D&D books -- things may have been different in France, say). I don't know about WotC, but one thing I know for sure is that the German version of Labyrinth Lord, which I have, still uses feet & miles.

  4. I think it largely depends on the genre of the game, as much as anything. Fantasy types tend to use imperial measurements, sci fi types use metric; although there exceptions. A lot of people in the UK, certainly the older generations, still use imperial measurements; seems to me that the younger generation is more into metric than we oldies (that is, anyone in their 30s upwards).

  5. There are a few cases where I don't really convert exactly. For instance for "yard" I always read "meter" in spite of the difference.

    But for feet and pounds, yes, I have to convert everything.

    That's why I loved RuneQuest (1978), which was metric, like Original Traveller and most SF games (GURPS Traveller is annoyingly non-metric).

  6. I'm Dutch, raised metric and thinking metric, but I often use "inch" or "duim" which means inch in Dutch, or "foot" or "mile" for medieval feel.

    Not for the game - we hardly use battle mats ever.

  7. D&D I play in feet / inches / pounds, same with most old-school games. It is something that maintains the feeling of "old school" and "not real" that goes with these games.

    More modern games I play metric.

  8. Brit born and bred here and I'll use inches, feet and pounds until the day I die (much to the chagrin of my metric wife). I came to D&D out of wargames which - all the ones I played anyway - were Imperial. Can't think of any RPG books that stick out as using the metric system - I guess if they did I just ignored it and used 'olde worlde' measures anyway!

  9. For fantasy gaming, it's imperial measures.

    For science fiction, it's metric. I always think of planetary diameters in multiples of 1000 kilometres.

  10. I use what is presented in the game but I have no concept of Fahrenheit so i've thought of making converted tables for temperature.