Monday, November 24, 2014

My Thoughts on The Trouble with Movement Rates

I just read "The Trouble With Movement Rates" over at ((nil) is (not(null))) Blog, and that was a thought provoking reminder of my own experiences with the problem of movement rates in my game. I think I'll chat a bit about it here.

A conundrum I've run into about movement in my World of Elthos was revealed not too long ago (after three decades) when the human Player Characters in my campaign got shrunk down to tiny size. At one point they were crossing their back yard when they encountered ... ants. They were at roughly the same size as the ants at that point. And this become a bone of contention for a brief period while I worked out how to handle movement.

My movement charts show that humans move 6 hexes a melee or about 36 feet every two seconds or so (at a sprint). Whether or not that's entirely accurate was not the problem ... it was that ants have a movement of 1. But when shrunk down, what is the relative movement of humans to ants. Of course I made something up, and that worked fine for the game. But it left me wondering about how to do this in a legitimate way going forward. Given the possibility of shrinking and growing, I contrived to think of movement (and also other requisite based issues which are other symptoms of the same problem of relative scales, such as strength) as relative to whatever the predominant race of my world is were the races set at the same size. Thus humans are 6 and that's the base. Ants are 8 actually because with so many legs they move faster than humans if they are the same size. Kobolds, which are already roughly the same size, or close enough, are 4, and correspond to hobbits who for whatever reason I also thought of as slower than humans on account of their smaller legs. Just kinda makes more sense to my mind. Hobbits as fast as elves would mean legs that move at hyperbolic speed. I can't take that. Anyway, Giants, relative to humans, are x times larger, but were they the same size they'd be 6. So therefore their speed is a factor of their increased size. Humans are on average in my world 5 feet tall. Thus a giant who is 30 feet tall is six times faster than a human, and therefore his movement will be 36 hexes per melee, or 216 feet every two seconds.

That said I have Dwarves as slower than humans, and Elves as faster. Goblins are as fast as humans, but Kobolds and Hobbits move at the same rate as Dwarves. Horses move twice as fast as humans (though in thinking about it they probably should move three or four times as fast). Wolves move twice as fast as humans as well, and about the same speed as horses (I don't know if that is real-world accurate or not, but that's what I've got). Ghouls are faster than zombies. Zombies are faster than skeletons. However, zombies are really hard to kill and don't get tired. Skeletons are even harder to kill and don't get tired either. They're also horribly single minded, and they usually are attached to some dreadful force that has animated them and will show up and do bad things as well. Slow as molasses though. So my thinking in terms of monsters is to more or less balance out movement with other factors. I also take into account these days that movement for different races is effected by terrain. And that's a big deal. Humans do not swim at the same speed they can sprint. So there is water movement and land movement. Birds don't swim as fast as they can fly. So there's water, air and land movement. And for some races they don't move nearly so fast on land, air or water as they do in molten lava. And so on. So I have a big table that maps movement on terrains by race. That's a pain to look at, frankly, and I'm pretty sure I didn't finish it. But I did get a start on it, and I do think it's basically the correct, albeit unwieldy solution.

Of course in the Elthos RPG each GM is called upon to create their own worlds, and so it will be perfectly normal for some worlds to have fast hobbits, and some worlds to have slow hobbits. I'm down with that. It's fine. We all have different visions in our heads as to what is what, after all, don't we? I think that should apply to movement as well. But the key to my innovation on this is that movement charts show the relative movement to the predominant race of a given terrain. That's because humans can't fly, so their movement in the air is zero. Making other race movement factors relative to humans would, mathematically speaking, but a bad idea. So I'll pick a bird, like the Eagle, for that. Lava? Salamanders, probably, or devils maybe. Not sure. But each terrain type will probably get its own Base Race against which movement will be determined. And so, if a human does happen to learn to fly, his speed will be relative to Eagles.

And of course when it comes to oddball monsters like lions with human heads and wings and stuff ... well... Lions move on the land at 6 times human speed, in the air at 8 times eagle speed,  and ... you get the idea.

Ok, that's all I got on that. Curious what you may think of this solution, and any advice or ideas you might have.

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