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In the AD&D 1st edition monster Manual, every monster's speed is represented in inches. Obviously, a big monster cannot just move 6 inches per turn, so what does the " mean?

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In AD&D 1st edition inches of movement represents three things.

6" = 60 feet per turn exploring a dungeon. This allows for the normal checks for surprise, mapping, detection of secret door, etc.

6" = 60 yards per round moving through passageways. Basically if the person or party is in a interior location that they know they move at this rate.

6" = 60 yards per round moving outdoors like in a city.

6" = 6 miles per half-day treking.

This is all found on page 102 of the AD&D players handbook.

And to be complete for range (both spells and missile weapons) there is the following.

1" of range = 10 feet indoors 1" of range = 10 yards outdoors

This represents the ability to lob missiles in an arc outside as opposed to a flat trajectory indoors.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Players Handbook page 39 "Distance" says instead that 1" = 10 feet inside, not 10 yards. Page 102 also says that 6" = 60' in dungeons and cities, and only equals x10 yards when outdoors and outside cities. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Feb 5 '13 at 18:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ Anecdotally, this comes out of the tabletop wargaming they built D&D off of. You'd measure 6 inches on your table diorama (or flat map) and move your dude that far. There was a standard map ratio assumed, which got spelled out in AD&D (I think Redbox too?). \$\endgroup\$ – Nanban Jim Jul 23 '16 at 14:39

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