how long is a pace?

Can anyone help me locate if the book [Am5] defines what a pace is equivalent to? One of our group it is adamant that it is 3 ft in length. However my cursory research indicates that a Roman pace is roughly 4.8 ft (58.1 inches). We are trying to adjudicate some spells and the differences in volume affected can add up when throwing in a few size modifiers.


I don't know if it's ever given explicitly, but you can figure it out from a couple of clues in the main book.

ArM5 172: "A single combat round ... takes about six seconds."
ArM5 112: "Ten paces per round (five feet per second)."

From these statements, I conclude that a pace is about three feet.

You are both right! So, I guess it is whatever you agree it is.

The roman "pace" is the distance covered in two steps --- the distance between the heel of a foot and the position of that foot's heel when it is next placed on the ground.

But a pace is defined in other contexts as the distance covered in one step (from the heel of one foot to the heel of the next), which varies between about 2.5 and 3 1/3 feet depending on which definition you read.

Whether the ArM5 sense is meant to be the (double) roman pace or a single pace is up to you. I suspect that the original authors meant it be 3 feet, as that is also the length of a yard. But if you decide it is 4.8 feet that would be fine, as long as your troupe is consistent. I always mentally convert paces to meters, when I'm visualising the distances in the ArM5 (which would be about 3 1/3 feet).


Thankyouthankyouthankyou for giving me those page references. I knew I'd read them in there but I've had a hell of a time finding them again. Into the notebook!



I always thought a pace was literally a pace. That is, if you have the Dwarf flaw, spells ranged by paces go less far.

Hmmm, I guess that implies a bit of "the Magic just knows" to me, and I'm not sure I like it as much. It could work, if magic is something purely created out of the will of the magus, and thereby bound in some respect by his essential nature... If it's a natural force shaped and guided by the magus into the desired effect, well, then modifying the pace by the caster seems less acceptable...but that's getting down to a pretty nuts-and-bolts-under-the-hood-metagame portion of the show.

Is there a reference that supports your interpretation someplace? (I wouldn't be surprised!)


hmm interesting notion Mr. Ferguson but I don't think a magic system would be based on something as subjective as the caster's physical limitations. To be a truly consistent system it would have to be standardized to a norm. Since those with the dwarf flaw are not the norm, but rather the exception, I don't see their stature has having any bearing on the range calculation of any given spell.

IMO, and this is purely conjecture, I consider a pace to have been understood in this period (and certainly by those within an Order dominated by Romanesque heritage) to be the true Roman pace. 1.5 meters or 5 feet makes for much more worthy spell ranges and area sizes as well.

serf's parma, but doesn't "voice" range have the limitations of the caster's voice? Therefore it follows that a pace could easily be what the caster's pace is. This is magic, a lifeforce, something organic, tied to one's essential nature. While it might be much more complicated in game terms to have a pace be different for every mage, and therefore not worth the effort, I can easily make the argument for it with my troup. Besides, I think it adds more flavor. The more flavor the better, in any game!

All that said, other places do refer to a 'pace' as three feet, such as the size of a base Individual of Aquam.

I tend to think of it as a 'hermetic pace' - basically, a measurement that turns out to be useful often in hermetic magic, and that happens to be close-ish to a 'pace'. The Order being so eager to adopt Roman things, they simply took that name for it.

1 pace is roughly 1 meter. 8)

Meters rule! :wink:

We also play that 1 pace is roughly 1 metre. In fact it would be more like 75cm (unless you are extremely long strided) but 1 pace = 1 metre is easy to apply for us and makes plenty of sense.

Thimothy's notion is very interesting and keeps in line with the ranges of sight and voice not being able to be used by blind and mute magi respectively. I like it, even if we have never applied it. nobody has ever played a dwarf, so no biggie here, but small framed magui might get a similar restriction as well (and gigantinc magi get a bonus there!)



My pace is 93 centimeters when I'm walking normally. I measured it when I was in an engineering class. :slight_smile:

I know they are the scientific standard, but when you talk about centemeters, I draw a blank. I cannot imagine the length large numers of centemeters or other metric units. Meters I can grasp because I just call it a Yard. I know a Yard is slightly shorter, but it is close enough for me :smiley:

Actually, the more I think about it, the more it makes sense that it should be tied to the nature of the magus.


If magic were just some natural force that those with the Gift could shape and work into various effects by their will, then it would just be a matter of teaching someone how to manipulate and craft that force. It wouldn't be dependent on some inherent aspect of the magic within them, it would be a skill you could teach anyone.

We know that's not the case-- as demonstrated by the False Gift.

If magic is an inherent part of the person, a Gift that springs from that person's Essential Nature, then it easily fits into all of the framework already established by the game-- that it cannot be learned, that it can be limited by the Essential Nature of the magus, that is not an external force, but rather one internal to each magus.

That would pretty solidly argue that the length of a pace should be limited by the pace of the magus casting. It does add a bit of complexity, but it keeps the consistency, and that's got as much importance as simple rules, in my opinion.


The operative phrase in that sentence is "those with the Gift". That is to say Magic IS a matter of teaching "those with the Gift" how to manipulate and craft that force. The determinant of the matter isnt that the essence of Magic is dependent upon the essence of the person (Gifted), but that the Gift is dependent upon and realized by the consistent and natural force of magic into which they all can be taught to tap because they posses the inherent ability to do so.

I wholly disagree that a pace or any other magical increment is so inconsistent as to be dependent upon the properties of those attempting to manipulate it. That some possess such limitations as to make that manipulation less than optimal does not detract from the standardized nature of magic, otherwise there would be no Hermetic system possible.

By way of example, just because humans do not possess the ability to fly does not detract from the commonality of those species which can in terms of necessary properties of aerodynamics. Again, just because people cannot breath underwater naturally does not detract from the necessary properties required for those aquatic species which can.

What I will agree with is that the Hermetic system might only scratch the surface of what magic is capable of achieving insofar as it is a standardized system that has opted for ease and efficiency of teaching and replication. To say that formulaic elements are to be redefined by the every caster's physical limitations is to essentially undo any notion of teachable replication and further, suggests that the spells of a blind/deaf/mute/dwarf/etc magus could never possibly be as powerful as those cast by their more able bodied sodales. To this I say rubbish.

As per the RAW a blind magus cannot cast Sight spells.

As per the RAW a mute magus cannot cast Voice spells.

I fail to see why a short legged magus cannot have a shorter pace range than those with normal sized bodies. And those with large or giant blood virtues cannot cast further pace-ranged spells. Not that those exist, but hey.

IN fact, touch spells are defined for the range that you can touch stuff. This range will be larger if you have long arms, and shorter if you have missfit short arms and legs.

Ben made a good defence of this position. The more that I think about it, the more I like thimothy's notion as well.



Not much is measured in paces anymore (as far as Magic is concerned). Case in point, Pillum of Fire used to beb a touch range spell that shot ot 25 paces. Now it is a voice ranged spell. The range in paces of your voice will not be affected by your legs, but by your lungs. Paces do come up when determining area-of-effect, and I can easilly imagine that a smaller magus whose body transmits a smaller amount of energy is going to have a smaller area of effect. The three paces for Circle of Encompassing Flame for Danny Dwarf of Merinita will be about half of the three pace circle greated by Andre the Giant Ex-Miscellanea.

Because the effective range for Voice spells is also given in paces, meaning that a short-legged magus could not speak as loud as a long-legged magus? :stuck_out_tongue:

Anyway, I take all those measurements as approximate. We don't care how big one pace is exactly. It's one pace. We're not playing with miniatures, nor measuring how far one can move in one round of combat.

Which is an exceptional shortcoming of the caster, not the Magic nor the Hermetic System (which based upon norms rather than exceptions as any replicatable system must be).

As above...

Because what you are then suggesting includes (but is not limited to) the following:

  1. No normal sized magus could ever truly teach usable Hermetic Magic to any person with physcial abnormalities since the student would be incapable of replicating the increments taught by their physically normal master;

  2. (as mentioned previously) No blind/mute/deaf/dwarf magus could ever be as (or more) powerful than their more able "normal" -bodied sodales.

That the less able bodied magus might require the assistance of reach extenders (staff, et al.) does not validate the suggestion that Hermetic increments are in themselves entirely subjective and inconcsistent. The "System" must be consistent as it is taught, else it is no system, merely whimsy.

All due respect to Ben and Timothy, but I see (and have imo adequately delineated) glaring philosophical weakness in their apparent attempt to justify exceptions as the rule for Hermetic Magic. To each their own.