Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Holmes & Cook: Movement

I have been fiddling about with making a map for my own version of Averoigne. One decision that must be made at this point is scale — more specifically, what a single hex represents. In order to make things easier later on, I wanted to tie the size of each hex to movement rates. Herein I not only found a discrepancy between Holmes & Cook, but one between Holmes and his own set of rules.

Technically, Holmes stats for four different types of movement: Combat, Exploring/Mapping, Normal and Running. The latter three are directly related to each other, while Combat seems to be its own beast (more on that later). Holmes designates three different movement categories based on armor and encumbrance: unarmored & unencumbered; fully armored or carrying a heavy load; fully armored and heavily loaded. These categories have the following rates of feet per turn while exploring/mapping: 240, 120 and 60. Normal movement doubles this rate and running triples it (though running while being fully armored and carrying a heavy load is not allowed).

This is all rather straightforward, except that the movement rates of monsters are not comparable to those of the player characters. For example, a Riding Horse has the same movement rate as an unencumbered man exploring/mapping. This is ridiculous on its face.

Cook does not deal with either encumbrance or dungeon movement, other than to indicate that in a dungeon movement is measured in feet and outdoors in yards. He is primarily concerned, however, with how many miles per day a character can travel rather than yards per turn. He therefore provides a list of moves per turn in increments of 30, beginning with 30 and ending in 240, along with a conversion to miles per day.

Looking at Cook's monster list, it quickly becomes apparent that the faster movement rates are provided in order to calculate miles per day for parties who are mounted on horseback or similar creature (several of which are provided). Indeed, it appears that Cook intends for 120' per turn to be the max movement rate for humans (as suggested by the Devil Swine which has a move of 180 in its swine form but only 120 in its human form).

Looming behind all of these inconsistencies is Holme's combat movement rates — 20' per round for an unarmored man and 10' per round for an armored man. At first glance, this doesn't seem to be related to his other movement rates at all; however, noting that someone carrying a heavy load is not going to fight/fight well Holmes is probably assuming that it must be necessary to drop the heavy load in order to fight. Therefore, there are only two categories of encumbrance.

Since Holmes' max rate of 240 makes no sense when compared to monsters in his own edition as well as in Cook's, I shall err towards Cook for movement rates; however, I like how Holmes deals with different types of movement (exploring/mapping, normal and running) and combat as conceived by Holmes is very closely related to the movement rates of 10 and 20 feet, not 30+. I therefore want to figure out a way to make Cook's normal and outdoor movement rates jive with combat movement rates of Holmes.

If we equate Cook's 30' to Holmes' fully armored with a heavy load, a fully armored man would have a move of 60' while exploring/mapping. Since 120' seems to be the max move for a human, it is the base move for an unarmored, unencumbered man while exploring/mapping. This, however, leaves a gap at 90', and suggests that there ought to be a category of partially-armored.

Taking a look at Cook's stats for men, bandits, buccaneers, and nomads are all given a move of 120'. Their descriptions have a majority wearing leather armor. Merchants are the only man-type that has a move of 90'. Their description specifies that all of them wear chain mail. Thus we see the evidence of leather/unarmored = 120', chain mail = 90', and plate = 60'.

In order to make this all jive with the combat movement of Holmes, I am going to borrow an idea from Staples over at Grognardling, who has off and on tried to come up with a way to use the metric system in D&D. He uses the elegant idea of a Base Movement Rate of 1 to 4, which is then multiplied by various factors in order to get a movement rate in a particular situation. Here is my version of BMRs for use with Holmes & Cook:

  • 4 = Unarmored/Leather + Unencumbered
  • 3 = Chain mail + Unencumbered OR Unarmored/Leather Armor + Heavy Load
  • 2 = Plate + Unencumbered OR Chain mail + Heavy Load
  • 1 = Plate + Heavy Load
  • Anyone with a BMR of 1 cannot fight or run.

The BMR is multiplied by the following factors in order to arrive at movement rates for various situations:

  • 5 = Combat Movement
  • 30 = Exploration/Mapping
  • 60 = Normal Walking
  • 90 = Running
  • 6 = Miles per Day
  • 2 = Leagues per Day
Thus the movement rates of a  character wearing chain mail but no treasure would be:
  • Combat = 15' (BMR 3 x 5)
  • Exploring/Mapping = 90' (BMR 3 x 30)
  • Normal Walking = 180'  (BMR 3 x 60) 
  • Running = 270'  (BMR 3 x 90)
  • Miles per day = 18  (BMR 3 x 6)
  • Leagues per day = 6  (BMR 3 x 2)


Svafa said...

Looking at your final example, the BMR rates look realistic for foot travel. That may not be essential to everyone, but I appreciate a good amount of realism in my settings.

I've recently become much more aware of how far a person can walk realistically in a day as my brother is hiking the Appalachian Trail (2160 miles in total). Carrying approximately 40 pounds of supplies and food they make somewhere between 15 and 25 miles per day depending on how long they hike and the day's hazards (elevation changes, heat, water sources, storms, etc.).

The BMR seems to reflect this well. The only thing it doesn't reflect are these hazards (or possibly boons, 30 mile days aren't unheard of), though I expect those might better be implemented as adjustments.

FrDave said...

I am glad this seems to be reasonably realistic.

The only thing it doesn't reflect are these hazards (or possibly boons, 30 mile days aren't unheard of), though I expect those might better be implemented as adjustments.

Yes. Cook, in fact, has a list of various ways of adjusting the daily movement based on terrain.

Paul said...

Nice analysis. Your solution looks good. Did you choose a hex size?

The Jovial Priest said...

Once again you come up with the goods. Added to Links to Wisdom as I don't want this one lost.

I've been thinking about encumbrance but haven't blogged for awhile. Still reading however.

FrDave said...

Thanks. At the moment I am leaning towards 2 leagues per hex (though that might change).

Cool! Thanks!

Cameron Wood said...

Apologies in advance for piggybacking onto this post, but I've been obsessing about movement rates and Holmes for the last two weeks. I came up with two different fixes for Holmes:

1. This one maintains Holmes' snail-paced rates;

2. This homebrew begins with a base speed that is a realistic, easy hiking pace of 3.5 miles per hour and gets modified downward depending a short list of things.

Submitted for your general curiosity.

And, again, apologies for just buttin' in with some links here.

Zenopus Archives said...

In the first print of B2 (written for Holmes), Gygax has a small section on Movement in Combat. Here he lists the same rates as on page 20 of Holmes: 20 ft/rd unarmored and 10ft/rd armored; plus he adds 5 ft/rd armored plus encumbered. It also states how to calculate a monster's speed in combat: take 1/12 of the movement rate. This reveals where Holmes got his numbers on page 20: they are exactly 1/12 of the Exploring/Mapping rates. This also reveals that the monster movement rates in the Monster List are for Exploring/Mapping rather than Moving Normally.

Zenopus Archives said...

Holmes combat consists of 10 rounds per turn, so you would expect the combat movement rates per round to be 1/10 rather than 1/12, but I think this was changed for ease of play. Movement rates of 20/10/5 ft/rd are easier to calculate on a map of five or ten ft squares than rates of 24/12/6.

FrDave said...


Excellent stuff! I don't own the 1st ed of B2 so I was unaware of that particular explanation; however, it doesn't change the fact that an unencumbered man can walk/run as fast as a horse...

Zenopus Archives said...

Yes, I agree that is problematic. No monsters move faster than an unarmored/unencumbered man!

The roots of this lie, I believe, in the translation of movement rates from the OD&D set to Holmes for humans. In OD&D Vol 1, a fully armored man has a movement rate of 6" (60 ft or 60 yds), but in Vol 3 it is revealed that in one turn (10 min) you get two moves. It then explicitly states a rate of 120 feet/turn for a fully armored man, and mapping is allowed at this rate. So, this is what Holmes used in his movement table. The unarmored rate derives from light foot (12" = 240 feet/turn mapping rate). But when Holmes listed the monster rates in the Monster List, he just used the numbers that were listed in the table in Vol 2, without giving them their "two moves" per turn. So to preserve the proper relative movement rates, the Holmes monster movement rates should be doubled.
Alternately, the listed rate can be considered an "encumbered" rate, and "unencumbered" monster rates are double what is listed.

FrDave said...

Again, excellent! I will keep this in mind if I ever run a "pure" Holmes campaign.