Thursday, 7 April 2022

F is for Fleet (of) Foot(ed)

It cannot be overstated that Movement in RPGs lays bare the wargaming heritage.

In war games, units move a number of hexes on the map equal to their movement points, or "movement factors," paying a cost for the type of terrain entering or moving through.

Narratively, a character in an RPG is rarely consulting his or her's base movement value. For a human this is 30 feet per round—six seconds—in D&D. It's 24 feet in a ten second round in WFRP. In combat, movement becomes important.

How far away is the threat? Can I get away from it without penalty, or must I engage in mortal combat, and if so, can I get there now and attack?

In AD&D and BECMI the movement of a character, and a party of characters, was a central conceit in the tracking of time as well as moving through a dungeon. One didn't just "walk to the end of the hall 90 feet away." That was about a minute and half of time. Nine six second "segments" moving ten feet. The abstraction involved an unspoken narrative taking place: physical exertion, the threat of an encounter, looking for traps, watching for secret doors, each slowing the characters as they approached the door.

Fleet (of) Foot(ed)

Enter those that were just a little bit faster than others. D&D's notion is Fleet of Foot. Such a character, typically a Wood Elf, could move an additional five feet more than the typical human. Fleet Footed in WFRP is a learned Talent in the character's background, even a Dwarf could be Fleet Footed!, and could move an additional two yards, or six feet.1

This could be a decisive amount on a tabletop with miniatures. A game where weapon reach mattered, most have a five feet reach, or it's the difference between a long range bow shot and one that is short range with bonuses.

It could also be the amount, that in a chase, prevents a threat from catching up.

  1. [1] WFRP and AD&D carries a lot of wargaming cruft to the tabletop. For example AD&D movement was measured in inches, and inches were equivilent to ten feet. A movement rate of six inches in a round was the same thing as 60 feet a minute, or six feet every ten seconds. The mental gymnastics were often learn by rote. WFRPs base movement was a number between 1-10 that converted to yards which followed a simple 2x multiplier. A Movement of 4 was 8 yards or 24 feet. Charging and running were further multiplied by x2 and x3, respectively.

Posted by caffeinated at 12:16 PM in d10


Comment: Scalydemon at Fri, 8 Apr 12:24 AM

Yes elves are sort of like Cavalry or Dragoons

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