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I'm having trouble with scales when creating a kingdom map.

Quoting the Dungeon Master's Guide regarding province scale maps (p. 14):

For the most detailed areas of your world, use a province scale where each hex represents 1 mile. A full-page map at this scale represents an area that can be covered in one day's travel in any direction from the center of the map, assuming clear terrain.

Regarding combining scales, it adds:

At kingdom scale, 1 hex equals 6 province-scale hexes.

Looking at travel pace I get that, at a normal pace, travellers can walk about 24 miles per day (8h).

So, at a kingdom scale, a province should be around 4 hexes from the center to the borders. Here is what's causing me trouble:

If a kingdom has about 5-6 provinces (which I think it's the usual number of provinces for a kingdom), it would only take around 12 days to travel from the bottom of a kingdom to the top of it.

Wouldn't it actually take a few weeks to travel from the bottom of one kingdom/country to the top of it? That's just a feeling I get from some movies and books - that travelling across a kingdom would take more time - but maybe that's the assumption I'm getting wrong.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Where do you get the statement that travelling across a kingdom takes a few weeks? \$\endgroup\$ – Vylix Sep 10 at 7:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Vylix It's just a feeling from some movies-books that travelling across a kingdom would take more time, but maybe that's the assumption I'm getting wrong. \$\endgroup\$ – Martín Mas Sep 10 at 7:05
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TL;DR

  • Kingdoms in the real world varied in size a great deal.
  • The sizes you get following the guides in the DMG are perfectly reasonable
  • You can (and probably should for the sake of interest) vary them a lot
  • The suggestion in the DMG that their scale matches the size of Great Britain is dependent on switching context from distance to area.

A single sheet of hex paper with 5 hexes to the inch is ideal for most maps.

Since D&D is published by Americans, I'm going to assume they are talking about Letter sized paper.

  • Letter paper is 11" tall.
  • Therefore Letter paper is 55 hexes tall

(Province Scale) each hex represents 1 mile

  • Letter paper is 55 miles tall at Province Scale

(Province Scale) an area that can be covered in one day’s travel in any direction from the center of the map

So that assumes a party can cover 27.5 miles in a day.

normal travel speed is 3 miles per hour (source)

This maps onto real-world values:

most hikers will average about 2-3 miles per hour. (source)

So this assumes that a little under 10 hours per day will be spent walking. Given breaks for food and setting up camp, this is feasible given a day dedicated to travelling.

On a kingdom-scale map, each hex represents 6 miles

We can therefore just multiply everything by 6

  • Letter paper is 330 miles tall
  • 330 miles / 27.5 miles per day = 12 days

A map at [Kingdom] scale covers a large region, about the size of Great Britain

Now D&D is directly relating it to the real world. Great Britain is about 700 miles long and about half that wide.


If we want to detour via area (even though it is counter-intuitive as the context in the DMG is firmly geared towards distance).

Letter paper is 8.5" wide. So that is 255 miles.

That gives us an area of 84,150 square miles which is about the size of Great Britain (80,823).

The implication that Great Britain will fit on a sheet of Letter paper at Kingdom Scale is just wrong though. GB isn't the right shape (over double the length and not remotely rectangular).


That said: a 330×255 mile kingdom is perfectly reasonable:

So, you’re writing your story or building your campaign world. How many villages does that give us in a kingdom? Choose your kingdom size, and go with the above. A kingdom could be huge, but some were little more than a region the size of a small county. The defining factor isn’t the size, but the independence—a king does’t owe feudal allegiance to a higher secular authority. (source).

… it just isn't the size of Great Britain.

Since that source mentions "the size of a small county".

[Runtland's] greatest length north to south is only 18 miles (29 km) and its greatest breadth east to west is 17 miles (27 km). (source).

This is significantly smaller than 330×255!

And you can go larger if you like, it is (presumably) your campaign world that you are mapping and having uniformly sized kingdoms would look rather odd!


And as a fun aside:

Land's End to John o' Groats is the traversal of the whole length of the island of Great Britain between two extremities, in the southwest and northeast. The traditional distance by road is 874 miles (1,407 km) and takes most cyclists 10 to 14 days; the record for running the route is nine days. Off-road walkers typically walk about 1,200 miles (1,900 km) and take two or three months for the expedition. (source)

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    \$\begingroup\$ "The suggestion in the DMG that their scale matches the size of Great Britain is nonsense." I think that was the main false assumption I had. Thanks! \$\endgroup\$ – Martín Mas Sep 10 at 7:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ The assumption presented in the source that a king would always be a sovereign ruler is technically incorrect: the most prominent example is the Kingdom of Bohemia which was subject to the Holy Roman Empire, and the "client kings" of the Roman empire. Conversely there were sovereigns not styled as kings. I think it'd be more correct to say that what exactly constitutes a kingdom is some mixture of rank and tradition. \$\endgroup\$ – kviiri Sep 10 at 7:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Quentin I know, that's why I thought that "about half that wide" was a extremely bad aproximation. Mybe it's about half that wide at its widest point, but on average must be way less. \$\endgroup\$ – Rekesoft Sep 11 at 7:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Rekesoft — When the context is "Distance that will fit on the sheet of paper" and not "area" it's the best value to test. \$\endgroup\$ – Quentin Sep 11 at 7:30
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In a fantasy world, kingdoms can be any size. In fact, even the real world, they were of vastly different sizes.

For a comparison, before the 8th century the region of the UK known as East Anglia used to be its own little kingdom. This would probably have been no more than 80 or so miles across and so easily traversed in around 4-5 days.

On the other hand, China, even in ancient times, was easily over a 1000 miles across (probably much more).

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    \$\begingroup\$ In fact, for many ancient times and places, a kingdom was basically a large city and its surrounding countryside. An empire would be the king of one city conquering and claiming dominion over one or more neighboring cities. But the other cities would still have their own kings or governors, since you couldn't really send a messenger to the capital and back for every decision. And when the great king died or something else happened that made the empire look weak, often enough those local kings would decide to declare themselves independent again. \$\endgroup\$ – Ilmari Karonen Sep 11 at 8:57
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The book travel speed is a best case

From the PHB.

The travel speeds given in the Travel Pace table assume relatively simple terrain: roads, open plains, or clear dungeon corridors.

Where there are no roads, travel pace varies dramatically. You might move 3 miles in an hour then reach a river and spend an hour fording it, at an effective speed of a hundred yards an hour. You might get lost and have to backtrack or cast around for the trail. You might lose an axle on a wagon and have to spend a couple of hours replacing it.

Few travellers will have the resources to fly or teleport.

Pre-industrial kingdoms are small

In an age before telegraph and railways, a ruler might only be able to control the lands within a few days travel from her seat of power. She might only visit the far reaches of the land a few times a year.

There might be some emperor or overlord, but week-to-week and month-to-month the local ruler (king, queen, duke, baroness, rao, pasha, bey, sheik, whatever) is the only one most residents will deal with.

Low-level characters are small :-)

A 1st level character only needs to worry about stuff within a few days walk. They can't fly or teleport.

As a GM, start small and make the world bigger as the PC's powers get bigger.

You can certainly have an idea of what the wide world looks like, but until the PCs get to 2nd and 3rd tier you don't need much detail.

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One seldom travels straight as a crow flies.

There are high mountains and deep forests that you want to walk around (because going straight through is either impossible or will take more time than taking detour), there are rivers that you need to cross using a bridge, a ferry or a ford. Moreover you get only half described pace in difficult terrain and I would dare to say that apart of purpose built roads almost all terrain should be considered difficult. And the roads often do not flow straight where you want to go.

Then there is a weather - while players may not care about marching all day in burning sun, during cloudburst or in a blizzard - a real person would often skip a day and wait for better weather. Moreover rain or snow could easily make difficult terrain even from purpose built road.

So summing up you could double the straight line distance for detours, halve the pace for traversing difficult terrain, add a few stops and get to about 60 days from initial 12.

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