Discussion of a Pace in Ars Magica

Well, you are from the US, aren't you? :slight_smile:

Anyway, mine is just lighthearted joking; I apologize if I caused offense. The point is that, to people used to the metric system, both "pace" and "foot" sound quaint and somewhat vague measures.
Saying categorically "there is no ambiguity, a pace is three feet" sounds a little like saying "there is no ambiguity, a foot is exactly 4 palms -- that is, 16 fingers!".

Incidentally, paces (and feet) were highly standardized measures in the Roman world, much more than in medieval times. The pace was standardized not just as a "conventional measure": it was actually the (double) stride that legionnaires on the march had to keep, stretching their legs if they were short of stature!
Paces (and feet) were fairly accurate standards from what would become London to Athens, from Rome to Alexandria ... but slightly different from what Britain and its colonies eventually converged to :slight_smile: Which adds another level of fun to the statement: from my experience to most US folks a "foot" means so unequivocally a "US foot" that there never seems to be doubt about some other possibility. So again: what sounds funny is (the appearance of) taking for granted that "foot" is a very clear, precise, universal measure, when to many people it's not.

Let me finish by apologizing again if this sounds offensive in any way -- it's not meant to be!


That is nice, but it is still wrong.

Interesting fun fact! US Customary Units are all defined by a strict metric standard. We don't use Imperial units. We have a system that uses Imperial names but, again, has a strict metric definition. Goes way back to the 19th century.

In this sense, I think it's a pity that Ars Magica -- with all the rigmarole about the Mercurian priesthood and stuff -- failed to use the ancient Roman units of measurement. They have the advantage of being at the same time quaintly thematic, (fairly) precisely defined, and sufficiently close to many "modern" measures that people would have no trouble using them. The foot (pes) was less than 5% shorter than the US foot; the pace (passum) was exactly 5 feet, and the mile (mille passus) exactly 1000 paces. Then, you can define the base T:Boundary as being exactly a scrupulum, that is, an area equal to 100 square feet!
(EDIT: Ouch, I meant T:Boundary=100 scrupula!)

And you can push this further. Why use modern minutes (15 per magnitude of ritual casting) and seconds (6 per round)? The roman minute (1/60th of a day), second (1/60th of a minute), and "third" (1/60th of a second) would serve, and be extremely thematic :slight_smile: Casting rituals? It takes 1 (mercurian!) minute per 10 levels -- ok, it's a tad longer, but I bet mercurians could pull it off. D:Diam? That's exactly 5 (mercurian!) seconds. And so on!

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What's wrong about it? Those are factual, being quotes from the core book (which are the same quotes I used on the thread leading to this). I believe it shows up in a number more places as well, though probably often requiring more mathematics. People need not use it. That's fine. But just because many people use something different, such as 1 pace = 1 meter, that doesn't make it wrong. ArM5 uses 1 pace = 3 feet.

As far as I know, they were actually re-defined in metric terms by the Mendehell order in 1893, but they had been standardized many decades before, and coincided with the British measures before the introduction of the imperial system (Britain introduced the imperial system in the 1820s, slightly modifying many pre-existing measures -- so the US measures are the original ones, or at least "more" original).

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The core book can say people have three legs. Does not make it right. A pace is not a meter or a yard. A pace has an absolute definition since Roman times. In that age, the yard does not exist outside of England. I mean, it does not matter if the book can factually be quoted as a mile is ten feet. That is just wrong. The author made a mistake. A Pace is not an estimate. It is an absolute.Heel to heel of two steps.
Hard definition. What does the word "Pace" mean? If you are going to try and say single step, who do you know that is tall enough to have a three-foot stride?
Holding to dogma that defies logic, just because that is what is written, that is just crazy.

Fun, but this one? 100 square feet would be really small for Boundary.

There was a spot before that, and another one after. And yes, the American Standard Units were redefined then, and again in 2oth century treaties.
The Imperial Units were set a decade before the standards for American units. I am not sure if they were exactly the same at that point. But the point is that the US switched to a secret metric system long ago.

I would suggest you look at the title of the thread. The core Ars Magica 5e book defines what a pace in Ars Magica 5e means. That makes it 100% correct because it is defining its own unit. Sure, there are other measures called "pace" just as there are other measures called "feet," etc. But that doesn't make it wrong about its own definition.

Tons of people, including me if I look up a hard definition??? That's because I find things like

  1. a single step taken when walking or running.

When running a lot of people travel more than three feet in one step.

Ops,you are right! 100 scrupula then :slight_smile:

That argument is just plain stupid.
Sure, the Romans may have had a precise definition of "pace", but there is no good reason to assume that particular definition of "pace" applied throughout Europe in the 13th century or was used by the authors of the rulebook in the 21st century.
The unit "foot" as currently used is longer than any normal human foot, so why would a "pace" need to be the length of an actual pace? The answer is obvious - it doesn't need to be.

Besides, in the end it does not matter if the authors of the rules got the length of a pace correct or not, since the various lengths in the book are based on their definition of a pace anyway.

Fun fact: while "foot" varies slightly in antiquity (e.g. the roman, ancient greek, egyptian, and english foot are all slightly different -- but surprisingly all a gigantic 29-31cm!), the ("full" or "double") pace where defined appears to be invariably 5 feet (so the "single" or "half" pace is 2.5 feet).

Except for the Welsh one, which has three feet to the pace, with the Welsh foot equaling 9" US.

Ohh, that's where it comes from then!
The Welsh, with their 3-foot paces, 9000-pace miles, and 8 or 9-day weeks.
Good catch.

So I guess Pralix's invasion of Wales had an unforeseen impact of Bonisagus' magic theory.


The 3-foot pace is the result of the spider's corruption!
That's how he still manages to hide (and the Diedne too): having mystically altered the right and proper length of a pace!


Now someone just has to complete the Original Research to convert a pace back to a proper Roman five feet and undo the damage caused. Just imagine how much potential has been lost over the centuries.


Actually, I think it's kind of a cool hermetic project that of "recovering" the original Roman units so that everything gets a little more efficient -- making distances, areas and durations a little longer and casting times a little shorter, and possibly introducing extra Targets, Ranges or Durations.

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I know we were joking around, but I agree it would be a cool hermetic project and that is something that I thought of right after I last posted. Was all "Hummmm, wait! It really would a noticeable increase in power!"