This came out of a discussion on a different topic. it is sufficiently a tangent to not muddy up that post.
A pace is defined, just not directly. True, there is no explicit statement saying that a pace is three feet; however, there are several unambiguous statements to that effect:
On page 112, under the Duration of Sun/Ring, ArsM5 says: "A ring must actually be drawn while the spell is being cast....The magus may not move more quickly than ten paces per round (five feet per second) while doing this." To understand this you need to know the length of a round; page 172 says "A single combat round...takes about six seconds." Thus a pace must be 3 feet long.
On page 113, under Targets and Sizes, ArsM5 says: "A base Boundary is the same for all Forms, and is one hundred paces (three hundred feet) in diameter."
On page 121, under Aquam spells, ArsM5 says: "A base Individual for Aquam is a pool of water about five paces (fifteen feet) across"
I always made a pace equal to a yard, probably because that's the way GURPS does it. Never really thought about why I was thinking this way until you brought it up but it probably stems to my use of GURPS for years during my formative gaming years.
What happens if you cut off his legs, or Twilight shrinks him by two feet, changing his essential nature? Is a pace defined as one foot moving, or the point where you've returned to your original stance (ie. two steps, but one pace)?
I do like the idea that a magus has some impact on his magic, but having the quantity of stone you create defined by the length of your legs seems counter intuitive given the otherwise objective nature of Hermetic Magic. All the other parameters are defined by physical or astronomical phenomena, and a magus' power (ie. Arts scores and virtues). Voice and Sight determine your range and targetting, yes, but I whilst I wouldn't allow a gagged, bound and blindfolded magus to cast a Sight range spell, his silent spells at touch range should still produce an individual's worth of whatever he so desires. What happens if two Magi (one with dwarf blood, one with giant blood) use the same lab notes to learn a spell to create gold, the spell devised by a magus of average height but a limp? What if they use casting tablets he designed?
That said, I do think a Virtue could be made of this. Something which means that for your spells, you treat the individual as one size/magnitude larger where appropriate. It could make for a fun lineage.
Wow - thanks! I stand corrected! (At least I got the "tangent" part right!)
I knew of the first, working back from the speed one can outline the ring, but the phrase "about 6 seconds" never struck me as definitive. If 5 seconds is about 6, then a pace would be 2.5' - but otoh, if 7, then closer to 3.5'. And I thought that's how the editors wanted it kept.
I'm a little disappointed - not that I'm not familiar with Aquam or missed the last paragraph in the sidebar (tho' that too), but that it is defined as a hard value, if indirectly.
Being from a country using the metric system, I'm totally used to it. But have a grasp of 'that other system' (although I've never understood why a (land) mile isn't some whole, round number of yards!).
We've always said that a pace is a yard, or a metre. We don't really distinguish between the two, since we don't play with that much mathematical precision. I know the differences between the two becoem great when using large numers of paces, or cubic paces. But it still hasn't made any difference.
It's almost exactly 10% larger. (googles: 1.0936133)
A mile originally was metric, which is why it's called a "mile", from Latin "mil" - 1000. It was Roman, the distance of 1000 "standard paces" for a Roman legionaire, but a "pace" was a "left+right step", not just one step. (A pretty common modern "walking pace" today is just over 2.6 feet (or 80 cm) - Left + Right = 5.2+ feet (1.6 m), 1000 of those = 5,200+ or 1,600 meters, so 1000 paces still = 1 mile (1609.344 meters!) - which brings this thread round full circle.)
All over Roman England, there were (and still are!) mile markers along the old Roman roads, which were the main roads for over a millenium after the Romans left, and a "mile" was the commonly understood long-distance unit of measure (common because every traveler saw it every mile!)
The problem arose when the Anglo-Saxon system of feet and yards needed to be reconciled with these "miles" that everyone knew. And it turned out that about 5,280 "feet" made 1 mile, or 1,760 yards, numbers that most English/American children learn in the first years of school. 440 yards is a quarter mile, which is why one Olympic track distance is 400 meters - 437.5 yards. Another Olympic running distance is the "metric mile", 1500 meters, or (since a meter is 10% bigger than a yard) about 1650 yards - which is close-ish to 1,760 yards.
Yeah, in boy scouts we were taught that a left+right step was around 5 feet when we were being taught outdoor orienteering.
Americans have the metric system. It is just that it has not been generally accepted by common culture. I suppose it depends on what your field of work is. I am a chef, and we measure everything using the old English system (ounces/cups/pounds/inches/etceteras). However, we do use metrics for all scientific measurements (such as milligrams of ingredients in medicines). Mechanics and engineers use both systems.
So I know how to convert metrics and English back and forth (I just look up the formula ). But the issue for me is imagining a certain weight or distance. If you were to say "150 pounds" or "40 feet", I can easily envision these things. If you say "150 kilograms" or "40 meters", these sound like dry numbers to my brain and I have to do some conversion in my head before I can see the measure in my mind's eye.
I think they also use both systems in England still. I recall from the news there was a debate about beer bottles and the tradition of using "Pints". Also, a few years ago I met an English fellow at a bar, and we were drinking and trading stories. In the middle of one tale, he paused and felt he needed to explain what a "mile" was. I informed him we still use the old system here and he smiled. He also felt he had to explain what a "boot" and "bonnet" meant (the US uses the words "trunk" and "hood"). I told him I watched a lot of Doctor Who, and was familiar with the terms. He laughed and we talked about Daleks and the term "hiding behind the couch".
Interestingly, the units you lot use in cookery have the same names as ours, but they're almost all different. It's confusing as all hell when trying to use an American cookbook. As for the fact that your engineers use both (which I'm sure is more to do with manufacturers refusing to change their equipment than anything else), I seem to recall that very thing being implicated in a number of disasters.
Either way, we find pace/metre/yard are more or less interchangeable at the table. When we actually need to know a dimension (it has happened) then order of magnitude determines the Magnitude of the spell and Size modifier, and a Finesse roll takes care of the rest.