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Context

I've started planning for my Christmas one shot, I had the idea of playing a toybox adventure (think toy-story or nutcracker) with custom races for each type of toy and using giant stats for humans. They PCs will be toy races with potential for human sized enemies. My issue is that a 5ft scale would be illogical for this world. I thought I had three options:

  • Ignore the logic and just pretend everything is scaled up.
  • Alter the scale of the world to fit with the setting
  • Keep everything the same and make the PCs size tiny or diminutive

I'll be running the one-shot with 5-7 players at level 3.

Question

Would reducing the scale from 5ft to 1ft (or other measurement) have any additional undesired effects?

I've already factored in scaling down range and everything else, basically just divide every measurement by 5 and I wanted a sanity check that this wouldn't cause any issue I hadn't considered.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Are you considering scaling magic? Just because the caster is 12 inches tall, maybe the fireball is still the same size. \$\endgroup\$ – Jack Oct 9 '18 at 11:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ I want to use giant stats for human, so I think not scaling magic would be OP. Otherwise I would just make a bunch of size Tiny or Diminutive races. But since the entire party will be that size I figured it would get annoying to track. \$\endgroup\$ – linksassin Oct 9 '18 at 13:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ Could you just clarify whether you want the PC toys to be small and the people to be normal sized, or the PCs normal sized (like big toys) and the people giants? \$\endgroup\$ – colmde Oct 15 '18 at 8:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ @colmde The PCs would be considered "normal sized" or medium. Everything else is scaling up to match. \$\endgroup\$ – linksassin Oct 15 '18 at 9:33
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Don't change the number, change the units

Instead of it being 5ft squares, call them 5 inch squares, continue with the rest of the game as normal safe in the knowledge that everything is exactly the same and there are no balance concerns not inherent in the system.

Or if inches aren't quite right invent some fantasy measurement which is around a fifth of a foot and then go on from there.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ As imperial system is not linear, wouldn't you have some problems with some measurements ? \$\endgroup\$ – Don Pablo Oct 9 '18 at 12:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ I was under the impression that almost everything mechanics wise is referred to in feet. Regardless the point is to use the original numbers and just to change the name of the units of measurement, you could use "fantasy" measurements if you really wanted to. \$\endgroup\$ – Josh Oct 9 '18 at 12:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ Ah no I haven't made myself clear, sorry! I meant keep all of the numbers the same, just replace the name of the units. So instead of it being a 20 ft square area, it's a 20 inch square area. \$\endgroup\$ – Josh Oct 9 '18 at 12:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ @linksassin You don't even need a new unit. Just say it's 5 foot, but measured with very small feet. \$\endgroup\$ – Cubic Oct 9 '18 at 20:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Cubic this is a great idea, and also suggests that "length of caster's foot" becomes a fundamental variable in all magical disciplines. A spell with a 20-foot range literally has a range of 20 times the length of the caster's foot. Given that this is a whimsical christmas one-shot, this kind of silliness would probably fit rather well. \$\endgroup\$ – ymbirtt Oct 10 '18 at 8:04
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Yes, your players are going to get confused

Honestly, this seems like a pretty bad idea. Instead of scaling the entire world, you should simply scale your enemies where needed, and describe the terrain as being larger. Keep everything else the same and explain it in fluff where needed.

Else expect these kinds of situations:

"Can I hit him? My spell is 120 feet."

"Just divide it by 5 and you'll know."

"Wait I forgot that last round, I don't think I hit all the enemies."

This seems like it'd be a constant discussion at your table when you're turning the session into a "everybody pull out your calculator", especially when there is no real reason. All you need to do is make your players FEEL like they're tiny, keep all the normal stats and just put them up against larger versions of normal enemies. That dog is now a giant dog, that normally tiny rat is now a medium sized rat, etc.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Honestly, I feel they will get more hung up on the humans of the world being 50ft tall than having to do a unit conversion. Since this is a one-shot we can just write out the modified spells ahead of time. \$\endgroup\$ – linksassin Oct 9 '18 at 12:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ Why do you need to describe the humans as being 50 feet tall? They are still however tall they were as they were before, you're just downscaling your opponents and the world around them. 5 feet is still 5 feet, but that square of 5x5 feet now has 4 tiny orcs instead of 1 medium sized orc. \$\endgroup\$ – Theik Oct 9 '18 at 13:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ I re-read the end of your answer and I think you misinterpreted the question. The PCs will be playing the tiny races not the humans \$\endgroup\$ – linksassin Oct 9 '18 at 13:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ I've switched around the answer to work the other way around, but the same answer still works. Just instead of using smaller enemies, use larger enemies. \$\endgroup\$ – Theik Oct 9 '18 at 13:16
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There shouldn't be any unintended consequences.

Just remember that if distances are divided by five, that means that areas are divided by 25 and that volumes & masses are divided by 125. For example, levitate's limit of 500lb should become 4lb.

If you were to shrink real creatures and structures, there could be some consequences related to the square-cube law. However, it sounds like your plan does not involve any shrinking, so those consequences do not apply to your scenario.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Good point on changing weight. I had thought of area but hadn't followed it through to mass. I don't think physics is going to get complicated enough to consider square-cube law, though as an engineer I appreciate it. If there was to be shrinking I think it would follow the Enlarge/Reduce person spell rules \$\endgroup\$ – linksassin Oct 9 '18 at 13:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think that areas in D&D 5e are usually given as a linear measure, e.g. squares given in terms of side length, spheres given in terms of radius, which should simplify that conversion in most cases. Weights are a good point though. \$\endgroup\$ – Kamil Drakari Oct 9 '18 at 20:17
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Falling Damage and Jumping

I suppose one difference in thinking should be how much damage a character takes when they fall. If a human jumping down from a wall his own height doesn't take any appreciable damage, then, a PC one fifth the size of a human should be able to jump down from a wall 5 times their height.

You mentioned in another answer you wouldn't be delving too much into the "square cube law" but one area where you might take it into account is with jumping. A character is now pushing a lot less weight when they jump, and the strength of their legs is not proportionally weaker, so they should be able to jump a good bit higher relative to their own size than a normal human would.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Falling damage rules are just 1d6 per 10ft after the initial 10ft. Under this system it would just be 1d6 per 2ft after the initial 2ft. I don't see the issue there. Falling damage does not consider creature size under RAW so I don't see why this would change. \$\endgroup\$ – linksassin Oct 9 '18 at 14:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ If it doesn't consider creature size and it shouldn't change, then it should surely still be 1d6 per 10ft after the initial 10ft. Why change it to 2ft? \$\endgroup\$ – colmde Oct 9 '18 at 14:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ That's the entire point of this question. I'm scaling down the world to make 1ft high creatures the standard medium sized creatures. If I don't scale it down to match, falling would be basically irrelevant. \$\endgroup\$ – linksassin Oct 9 '18 at 14:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ @linksassin - it wouldn't be irrelevant it would just mean that they'd be able to fall from higher relative to their own size. But my point is just that this is a feature of being a small creature. If you scale everything down, all you're doing is having normal people in a sort of Land of the Giants \$\endgroup\$ – colmde Oct 9 '18 at 15:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ @linksassin: Falling is less relevant for very small creatures, because air resistance is so strong relative to their weight. Scaling the fall distance down is an adjustment in the wrong direction. I'd leave the fall distance alone, and reduce the maximum fall damage to something like 2 or 3 dice. 2d6 fall damage could fatally wound a 1st-level character, and 3d6 could kill them instantly, but in both cases it probably won't. \$\endgroup\$ – Mark Wells Oct 12 '18 at 22:40
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I believe that it could work immensely well. As long as all the players know the impact on spells and abilities, it could go great. It would require extra work by you to make sure nothing gets messed up as they forget to change their ranges. If the players are experienced, it would work well, but if they can barely do anything without messing up, then chances are they would not remember at all.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE! Have you tried playing with different scales in this way? How has it worked in your own experience? \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Oct 13 '18 at 2:21

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