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The D&D Fifth Edition Dungeon Master's Guide on p14 suggests using three map scales:

  • Province - 1 mile per hex, 5 miles per inch
  • Kingdom - 6 miles per hex, 30 miles per inch
  • Continent - 60 miles per hex, 600 miles per inch

The DMG suggests that these scales are useful in that a full page map:

  • at the province scale represents the area that can be reached from the center of the map in one day's travel, assuming clear terrain
  • at the kingdom scale shows a region about the size of Great Britain or about half the size of California, and suggests that such a size is plenty of room for adventuring
  • at the continent scale is useful for showing how multiple kingdom scale maps fit together

Other than these suggestions, there doesn't seem to be much that hooks these particular unit sizes and scales into the rest of the rules system.

Are these unit sizes and scales significant in that they tie into the rest of the rules system somehow?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Meta on this question: rpg.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/8308/… \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Aug 28 '18 at 0:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ I do not believe this question is opinion-based or designer-reasons. There's plenty of ways these scales could be reflected in or aligned with other parts of the ruleset. Feel free to answer based on this proof instead of your opinion or thoughts on designer RAI and it should be fine. If there is not an answer in that frame, then feel free not to answer, as usual for the site. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Aug 28 '18 at 0:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ I made a slight change to your question to remove the word "arbitrary" which some took to be asking about intent. Does the new phrasing still meet your needs? Please let us know if this change is fine. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Aug 28 '18 at 18:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Rubiksmoose - yeah, that's fine, thanks for checking. I'm still thinking about how to shake the rpg.se subject on mapping a bit harder -- I'd love to see the same level of insight on mapping that we've generated on table social issues -- But I'm not there yet. Still, I was very happy with Land's response, that was an actual insight that I hadn't considered. Very helpful. \$\endgroup\$ – Jack Aug 28 '18 at 22:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ I would highly recommend jumping into Role-playing Games Chat if you want to get some ideas for stackable topics, or even just talking about it in general. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Aug 29 '18 at 13:48
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They tie in slightly.

If you look on PHB page 182 (the section on travel pace) you'll find that 6 mile hexes (the Kingdom-scale hexes outlined on DMG 14) in particular divide neatly into the distance that can be traveled in a day. At a normal pace you go exactly 4 hexes, at a fast pace 5, at a slow pace 3. Other than that I know of no reason not to use different size hexes if it suits you.

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