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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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    \$\begingroup\$ In [adnd-2e] there is a rule along the lines of "In the dungeon (or anytime the character is using his dungeon movement rate), the character can automatically increase his movement to that of his normal walking pace" (i.e. 1″=10 yards) — which sounds very much like what the answer is saying above (i.e. I'm suggesting a reasonable source of confusion here).This question however is 1e, but even then there is this on p102: "if the party is following a known route or map [indoors], the movement rate is 5 times greater, so each move takes 1/5 of a turn (2 rounds)." \$\endgroup\$ – Erics Dec 13 '19 at 14:23

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