A Plea: The Metric System is not compatible with High Fantasy


Pathfinder Online

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Liberty's Edge Goblin Squad Member

While the names will not break immersion, a system with 1-12-3 as multipliers at the different stages will be the worst option unless it is a already know system.

So unless the imperial system will be the one used, we will end with a base 10 system. So in practice a metric system without the names. I don't see the advantages of a arbitrary system.


Metric for me too please.

Please get with the time USA and actually use Metric like you're supposed to; As per your Metric Conversion Act that Congress signed into law in 1975.

Goblin Squad Member

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I'll give up my Imperial Units when you pry them from my cold, dead hands!

Or, when a base-16 system is developed and adopted :)


For what it is worth, Americans can generally think in metric units if we want to. We just don't want to. We prefer to think in feet and pounds. Five decades of trying to make metric units work in the United States has resulted in two liter soda bottles...and little else.


Nihimon wrote:

Most fantasy novels go out of their way to find archaic, usually British but any Northwestern European, words to set the mood and transport the reader away from the here-and-now.

The Metric System did not even exist in Medieval times, and it's entire raison d'etre is to proclaim the foolishness of the older, archaic systems, and as a paean to reason above all else.

I humbly submit that using Kilometers as the standard unit of long distance measure in PFO will be, for many, a perpetual immersion-breaker.

My plea is that GW will see the light regarding this, and regale us in distances of leagues and fathoms and even furlongs, but please don't tell us the distance from Camelot to Avalon is 1,817 kilometers.

I've lived in the US all of my life, so metric has only been used in science for me.

That said, I really feel that your fear is unfounded. I think it will be alright, no issue for anyone.

Kind of makes me smile, actually. You are going to be attacked by a dragon... and your friend is like RUN ITS ONLY ABOUT 100M FROM US!! and you're like... METERS? MAN... - you have signed out -

Goblin Squad Member

Here is my suggestion:

Medieval Weights and Measures

Goblin Squad Member

I was in the US Army for a while; all of our maps were metric, as were weapon ranges and firing data. We still marched with the traditional 30-inch step, though; I wonder how far Europeans step when they march.

Goblin Squad Member

For the record, this was a very early thread of mine - you can see the OP was in February of 2012, over two years ago. And, as I said elsewhere:

I think I'm one of the very few who feel "strongly" about it, and probably most of the others who feel strongly about it disagree with me. At any rate, I'll get along just fine if everything's in Metric.

Goblin Squad Member

This is really an area where I have to shake my head and ask if it really matters? Just so long as we don't go mixing units in the game, I don't really care if they are made up measurements just so long as they remain consistent.

Goblin Squad Member

I think the measurement we will use will tie to relevant things like hexes for distance and Encumbrance points (ep?) for loads.

Goblin Squad Member

Urman wrote:
I was in the US Army for a while; all of our maps were metric, as were weapon ranges and firing data. We still marched with the traditional 30-inch step, though; I wonder how far Europeans step when they march.

Only measurements of distance were metric, except for the PT testing (2 mile run). We actually used our ruck sacks as a unit of measure for digging an LP/OP for the width and depth. I recall using the E-Tool for the same as well.

I found that the military was like a buffet of ideas, we generally used what worked and it didn't matter where it came from.

Goblin Squad Member

I would be happy for PfO to use the metric system. It is simple and straight forward.

Any modern kind of measurement will feel immersion breaking to some degree. That is just how it is. Might as well be metric.

Goblin Squad Member

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Imperial measurements fit better into fantasy for me because they are more organic. Heck most of the units of distance are based on the human body. Call be an old grognard but a journey of a thousand miles sounds more romantic to me than a journey of a thousand kilometers.

Goblin Squad Member

Lord of Elder Days wrote:
Imperial measurements fit better into fantasy for me because they are more organic. Heck most of the units of distance are based on the human body. Call be an old grognard but a journey of a thousand miles sounds more romantic to me than a journey of a thousand kilometers.

I find it a little funny that hardly anyone uses "megameter".

Goblin Squad Member

Gigagrams...

Goblin Squad Member

If we're going to go all pre-industrial with our measurements, why not just let things go the way they used to...each polity assigns its own weights and measures, complete with fines and other punishments for being caught using someone's else's system inside the wrong territory?

Meaningful human interaction could begin with each merchant or crafter conversation settling how they were going to understand one another.

Goblin Squad Member

Imagine if every settlement had its own currency, weights and measures, etc... Now that would make global marketing very difficult!!

And who would be the first to adopt this coin as their currency?

PFO Currency

Goblin Squad Member

Thing is I fundamentally understand what a meter and by extension what a gigameter is. I fundamentally don't understand what a mile is. So not using the metric system would not only break immersion it would make the information provided by the user interface unusable.

Goblin Squad Member

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I would be happier if units of measurement had archaic names. It doesn't really matter what they represent as everything in the game is abstracted anyhow. Unless your character is a surveyor or mathematician, you're really not going to be bothered by in-depth calculations.

If I can carry 10xSTR in UNITS, then it doesn't matter mechanically if those UNITS are called pounds, kilograms or garglezillons. I know that 10 UNITS weigh more than 5, and that I'm going to struggle to carry 150 of them if I only have 12 STR.

Similarly, if I am told that City A is 100 UNITS from City B, and that I can travel 30 UNITS a day, then I know that I am looking at a three-day trip. If those UNITS are leagues, kilometres, miles or anything else, it doesn't change that fact that I need three days' travel. That's all I need to know, I'm not calculating a missile trajectory or laying out a railway.

Flavour-wise, I much prefer something with a pseudo-medieval feel. Kilometres and kilograms are far too modern for the feel of the game. I'm not expecting a complete medieval measurement system, just that the base units get more suitable names than modern metric.

Goblin Squad Member

Gorbacz wrote:
Bah, link fixed.

So this is quoted from a few years ago, but it increases my love for Gorbacz...

Thank you Gorbacz. I need for nothing else.

Goblin Squad Member

Sadurian wrote:
I would be happier if units of measurement had archaic names. It doesn't really matter what they represent as everything in the game is abstracted anyhow.

This. I wouldn't even mind if you simply renamed "meters" to "feet" or "yards" and "kilometers" to "miles" or "leagues". It wouldn't make the slightest difference to me that those distances didn't correspond to their real-world namesakes, and it doesn't matter to me in the slightest whether you decide to make a league equal to 1,000 feet, or a mile equal to 1,000 yards, or any other combination.

Goblin Squad Member

I have to agree with Nihimon here. Medieval Weights and Measures should be used.

Beer is ordered by the pint, not in milli liters. Arrows are bought by the score, cargo by the ton (tonne), etc....

Goblin Squad Member

Vic Wertz wrote:
Distances in the Pathfinder RPG and campaign setting are in feet and miles. The developers would have to make a very compelling case to us to allow that to change for Pathfinder Online.

This sounds reasonable and easy to remember. We already have a lot of new things to learn to play this game, why add more?

Please think of math-challenged players....

Goblin Squad Member

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To be honest, I don't even look at the distance measurement most of the time. I look at where I am, where I am going and say "This will be quick" or "I will be a while, go on without me" as that is the only real unit of measure. Time!!

Even in EVE, sure different ships travel at different speeds and all that, but some warps take longer than others and I can't tell you the AU between them, but I can tell you the time it takes....

I think it will be the same in PFO, regardless of the "terms" used. Most people will say "I am 5 mins out, hold on, I'm on my way." rather then "I am 4.2 km out."

Goblin Squad Member

"The Goodfellow" wrote:
...the only real unit of measure. Time!!

I've lived in cities my whole life, and I noticed in high school I was already doing that. I've never thought of things in terms of distance-from-me, but only as time-from-me.

Rush hour, road construction, a stop along the way...all those my brain just sort of deals with somehow, but as-the-crow-flies, or other distances? Not a clue.

Goblin Squad Member

"The Goodfellow" wrote:

To be honest, I don't even look at the distance measurement most of the time. I look at where I am, where I am going and say "This will be quick" or "I will be a while, go on without me" as that is the only real unit of measure. Time!!

Even in EVE, sure different ships travel at different speeds and all that, but some warps take longer than others and I can't tell you the AU between them, but I can tell you the time it takes....

I think it will be the same in PFO, regardless of the "terms" used. Most people will say "I am 5 mins out, hold on, I'm on my way." rather then "I am 4.2 km out."

I agree.... When my family and I travel, we never discuss how far the trip is, only how long it will take. When flying, how much will it cost?

Goblin Squad Member

From my point of view it sounds like we are mostly at a consensus.

A base-10 methodology can be used to remain compatible with the software, but using a new language set would be preferred, regardless of whether it is medieval or fantastical. Remember that this is a fantasy world, and it would be fine to call meters "feet" and kilometers "miles" even though there are 1000 PFO "feet" in a PFO "mile". It could have new fantastical names. The medieval world didn't actually have true measurement standards:

From good old Wikipedia:
"Historically the foot, which was used in Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, England, Scotland and many Continental European countries and which varied from country to country and in some cases from city to city, was part local systems of units. Its length was usually between 250 mm and 335 mm [length of a foot typically varied based upon cultural height] and was generally, but not always, subdivided into 12 inches or 16 digits."

"The palm (typically 200 mm to 280 mm) was used in many Mediterranean cities instead of the foot."

Nonetheless, people will learn how fast their PC travels and the ranges for their weapons regardless of the naming convention used.

Goblinworks Executive Founder

Nihimon wrote:
Sadurian wrote:
I would be happier if units of measurement had archaic names. It doesn't really matter what they represent as everything in the game is abstracted anyhow.
This. I wouldn't even mind if you simply renamed "meters" to "feet" or "yards" and "kilometers" to "miles" or "leagues". It wouldn't make the slightest difference to me that those distances didn't correspond to their real-world namesakes, and it doesn't matter to me in the slightest whether you decide to make a league equal to 1,000 feet, or a mile equal to 1,000 yards, or any other combination.

A 1000 foot mine would be a serious problem for me. A 2000 yard mile would be less so, as would a 5000 foot mile. Likewise a currency that had 10 shillings to the pound sterling would be a Very Bad Thing.

If you're going to use a set of units in order to be compatible with prior art, you need to use them consistently with the prior art.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

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I am being swayed to the point of view that everything should be in nautical miles. So the traditional 10-foot pole that every dungeoneer must have on their person at all times will now be a 0.00164578833554-nautical-mile pole. (Ask for it by name!)

Goblin Squad Member

Every merchant will need one of these

Scale for Measurement

Goblinworks Executive Founder

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Bluddwolf wrote:

Every merchant will need one of these

Scale for Measurement

That gets you a unit of mass, but what you need for length is the Smoot.

Volume is of course measured in olympic swimming pools, (1 olympic swimming pool=500 cubic Smoots) for larger volumes, Superdomes: 1 Superdome=900,000 cubic smoots.

Goblin Squad Member

DeciusBrutus wrote:
A 1000 foot mine would be a serious problem for me.

What if you played a dwarf?

;o)

Goblin Squad Member

Bluddwolf wrote:

I have to agree with Nihimon here. Medieval Weights and Measures should be used.

Beer is ordered by the pint, not in milli liters. Arrows are bought by the score, cargo by the ton (tonne), etc....

There is no need for the developer to leave the sanity of the metric system.

The players can introduce irrationality themselves.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Being wrote:
Bluddwolf wrote:

I have to agree with Nihimon here. Medieval Weights and Measures should be used.

Beer is ordered by the pint, not in milli liters. Arrows are bought by the score, cargo by the ton (tonne), etc....

There is no need for the developer to leave the sanity of the metric system.

The players can introduce irrationality themselves.

The metric system is only "sane" if you live outside the U.S.

Goblin Squad Member

The developer has enough to do. The players should be responsible for something, after all. Let them take charge of the irrational. Responsibility is the sire of liberty, after all.

I just know there is a joke in there, somewhere.

Goblin Squad Member

if i was a dev, building an entire world, and i could use whatever made up measurements and not have to worry about trying to create an accurate real world analogue, I would do so. It seems to me that building a world and making everything in it up from scratch on a game that is from scratch is better than doing the same from a small, select set of prereqs.

Goblin Squad Member

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LazarX wrote:
Being wrote:
Bluddwolf wrote:

I have to agree with Nihimon here. Medieval Weights and Measures should be used.

Beer is ordered by the pint, not in milli liters. Arrows are bought by the score, cargo by the ton (tonne), etc....

There is no need for the developer to leave the sanity of the metric system.

The players can introduce irrationality themselves.

The metric system is only "sane" if you live outside the U.S.

It seems more sane to this US citizen than our system.

Goblin Squad Member

http://cdn3.chartsbin.com/chartimages/l_d12_33fb9fc29a88e150b57640019918ebf 6

I think this map is worth leaving here.

Goblin Squad Member

I think it makes sense to use the metric system, since it is the one the vast majority of the world is familiar with. Even in America the metric system is getting more and more common as measurements and blue prints from other countries are handed left and right and we can't stop and change it all because America hasn't quite caught on yet.

It might befuddle some American players, but coming from a EU guild I can certainly say it would confuse a whole lot more people if they didn't use it.

Also on the note that they did not use the metric system in Medieval times, that is a rather irrelevant point to make. Pathfinder is not a historical retelling, it is not a revision of Medieval europe, it is a fantasy world with guns, golems and all manners of supernatural wonders. Its not what is being told on the page, but how it is told. And I would be amazed if they somehow managed to present the metric system to the point where it snapped me out of the story.

This is the metric system.

Goblin Squad Member

What is are the weights and measures used in Pathfinder RPG?

Goblin Squad Member

I don't think it's rocket science either way, and players are smart enough to comfortably use any reasonable systems the devs decide on. This is really low on the list of things that will affect most people's enjoyment of the game. That said, I'd prefer a modern system over an archaic one that people have no intuitive sense of whether it's feet/yards/miles or metric.

Silver Crusade

So do you find decimalised currency immersion breaking?

1pp = 10gp = 100 sp = 1000cp is nice for us to deal with but has no reflection on what medieval currency would have been like. We adopt decimalisation for convenience.

The same argument could be used for using metric units for distance / weights.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Let this thread die. Since the online game is modeled on Golarion which clearly does NOT use the metric system, it's probably not going to be used in game, especially since it's an American game that's going to be heavily pushed in an American market.

Goblin Squad Member

Dshagins wrote:

So do you find decimalised currency immersion breaking?

1pp = 10gp = 100 sp = 1000cp is nice for us to deal with but has no reflection on what medieval currency would have been like. We adopt decimalisation for convenience.

The same argument could be used for using metric units for distance / weights.

Just because the currency system uses units of ten, dies not make it the metric system.

10 pennies to a Dime; 10 dimes to a dollar; 10 dollars to a 10 dollar bill; 10 x Ten dollar bills to a Hundred Dollar bill, etc.. But that would not support the claim that the US currency uses the metric system. The currency also has Nickels, Quarters, Half-Dollars, Two Dollar Bills, Five Dollar Bills, etc....

Silver Crusade

Bluddwolf wrote:
Dshagins wrote:

So do you find decimalised currency immersion breaking?

1pp = 10gp = 100 sp = 1000cp is nice for us to deal with but has no reflection on what medieval currency would have been like. We adopt decimalisation for convenience.

The same argument could be used for using metric units for distance / weights.

Just because the currency system uses units of ten, dies not make it the metric system.

10 pennies to a Dime; 10 dimes to a dollar; 10 dollars to a 10 dollar bill; 10 x Ten dollar bills to a Hundred Dollar bill, etc.. But that would not support the claim that the US currency uses the metric system. The currency also has Nickels, Quarters, Half-Dollars, Two Dollar Bills, Five Dollar Bills, etc....

I never said it was metric, just that it has no bearing on what a medieval / fantasy currency was like. Pointing out that using a modern (decimalised) currency system is no more immersion breaking that using a modern measurement system (metric).

I do agree that as the US is using imperial / decimalised that is what pathfinder will use. I use metric on a daily basis and have no problem adjusting to using imperial when gaming.

Goblinworks Executive Founder

What player-facing UI elements need to display units?

Goblin Squad Member

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Wait, who is saying that PFO is mainly aimed at the American Market? Could we get a Dev on this?

Goblin Squad Member

MrSavarius wrote:
Wait, who is saying that PFO is mainly aimed at the American Market? Could we get a Dev on this?

Indeed. This is the first time I heard about it? Was there a poll I was not aware of? Because as a EU player I'd like to have a say in this.

Liberty's Edge Goblin Squad Member

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For the record, the map was developed using metric. They have talked about possibly having logic to convert that to imperial for players, but it also may just be a coordinate system with unspecified units (which would be my preference).

Other than distances I doubt metric vs imperial will come up much. The only other likely candidate I can think of would be weights for 'encumbrance'. Again, there my suggest would be to just use unspecified units... something weights '7' and the character can carry a total of '135'. At that point people are free to imagine pounds, kilograms, or some Golarion unit of weight NOT illogically transported from our world.

Any units assigned to these values will be 'wrong' and 'confusing' to some people... so just leave the units out entirely and stick to purely numeric values.

Goblin Squad Member

I agree with others that travelling distances will likely be thought of either in hexes or travel time, rather than km or miles. I myself really don't care one way or another what gets used as measures; if my character is declared to be able to carry exactly 901 potatoes' worth of weight, then it works for me as long as the rest of the system is consistent.

I'm not concerned with my immersion being broken; I myself am concerned with becoming too immersed. ;)

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