The Ranks & Measures table in the Hero’s Handbook seems to suffer from a bit of an identity crisis. In theory, the table works on two major principles: that the measures approximately double every rank and that each rank represents a range of measures. I feel there are some issues regarding each one—not game-breaking by any stretch, but issues that can and should be easily resolved.
The intervals in the Ranks & Measures do approximately double, but there appear to be several odd intervals, possibly to adhere to measurement conventions from d20--specifically 6 seconds and 30 feet. Reconciling these measures with the very useful benchmark measures of 1 hour and 1 mile created some odd multipliers at certain ranks (for instance, going from 12 seconds to 30 seconds, from 6 feet to 15 feet, from 1,800 feet to ½ mile) that could easily be resolved by abandoning the 6 seconds and 30 feet benchmarks.
Distance and Range of Measures
The values on the table are also meant to represent the maximum measure for that rank, and each rank represents a range of values between its corresponding value and the value one rank lower. The oddity of 6 feet becomes apparent again as the default size rank of -2 represents 3-6 feet, meaning that anyone over 6 feet tall is size rank -1. The Size and Mass Power Profile amends size rank -2 to a range of 3-8 feet without directly correcting the table. A direct halving of 15 feet to 7.5 or 8 feet would have avoided this issue, and in a way, it was implicitly done by the statement in the Power Profile. Such a change would place an average human height squarely in the middle of the 4 and 8 feet ranks and keep most heroes in the same size rank.
Time and Doubling
Ten doublings approximate a thousandfold increase—this is pretty useful for metric units and for units that do not otherwise jump in unusual intervals (distance is fine once you reach miles). Six doublings approximate a sixtyfold increase—this is particularly useful for time, with its conversions of sixty seconds to the minute and sixty minutes to the hour. This also means that to really take advantage of the ease with which doubling fits into the time ranks, we need to start at one second and replace the 6 second rank with either 4 or 8 seconds. For the record, DC Heroes used 4 seconds per phase.
Size and Rank
Most human traits begin at zero ranks with the exceptions of size and mass, which default to -2 and 2 ranks respectively. Mass does scale three times as fast rank-wise as size, and we can probably include most of the adult human population between mass ranks 0 and 2. Size was placed at -2 ranks so that distance rank 0 equated to the default human speed.
Optionally, normal size could be set to rank 0, with default reach equal to size (or size -1), a move action allowing you to move your size +1 distance, two move actions to move size +2. This takes into account the shortening of time rank 0 from 6 to 4 seconds and the ten ranks (instead of nine) from one round to one hour.
Either method would require some deviation from tidy rank 0s across the board for normal characters. However, starting rank 0 distance at 8 feet has the benefit of making throwing distances more realistic. With rank 0 set to 30 feet, you could throw objects that you can barely lift a distance of 30 feet, which is a little far; setting rank 0 to one’s default size or reach means that you would instead set such an object down within the range of your reach, which makes a little more sense.
We actually haven’t removed the 30 feet benchmark but instead altered the 6 feet measure to 8 feet. This places the human average height somewhere in the middle of the 4 to 8 feet range; the middle of that range isn’t 6 feet but actually 4 times the square root of 2, or about 5 feet, 8 inches—closer to the median human height if you include both genders. A strict doubling from 30 feet would not yield a 1 mile benchmark but keeps a lot of the familiar intermediate ranks. Using 1.5 and 3 miles before doubling from thereon out isn’t terribly cumbersome, but the higher values would be unfamiliar to those using a 1 mile starting point.
The old DC Heroes progression actually starts from 10 feet at AP (or rank) 0, and yields 1 mile at rank 9 and 2 miles at rank 10. This sets the typical hero in the 5-10 feet range, which is a lot less humanocentric, but expected given the wide range of values produced by doubling. I personally find the measures progressing from 10 feet much easier to use.
Code: Select all
Rank Time Distance -5 1/8 second 3 inches -4 1/4 second 6 inches -3 1/2 second 1 feet -2 1 second 2 feet -1 2 seconds 4 feet 0 4 seconds 8 feet 1 8 seconds 15 feet 2 15 seconds 30 feet 3 30 seconds 60 feet 4 1 minute 120 feet 5 2 minutes 250 feet 6 4 minutes 500 feet 7 8 minutes 1,000 feet 8 15 minutes 2,000 feet 9 30 minutes 4,000 feet 10 1 hour 1.5 miles 11 2 hours 3 miles 12 4 hours 6 miles 13 8 hours 12 miles 14 16 hours 25 miles 15 1.5 days 50 miles 16 3 days 100 miles 17 1 week 200 miles 18 2 weeks 400 miles 19 1 month 800 miles 20 2 months 1,500 miles 21 4 months 3,000 miles 22 8 months 6,000 miles 23 1.5 years 12,000 miles 24 3 years 25,000 miles 25 6 years 50,000 miles 26 12 years 100,000 miles 27 25 years 200,000 miles 28 50 years 400,000 miles 29 100 years 800,000 miles 30 200 years 1.5 million miles