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I was wondering what the actual size was of a tiny creature. Could they fit under doors, through keyholes, or is that too small?

For example: could I use an imp familiar to scout an area, by making it go through a crack in the window, or maybe through a keyhole?

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The 'large' ones, probably not. The 'small' ones, maybe

Is the short answer. Long answer is below:


PHB page 191 lists the the size categories, in terms of area controlled in combat, given in feet:

Tiny - 2 1/2 by 2 1/2 ft
Small - 5 by 5 ft.
Medium - 5 by 5 ft.
Large - 10 by 10 ft.
Huge - 15 by 15 ft.
Gargantuan - 20 by 20 ft. or larger

With that in mind, it's unlikely that a tiny familiar could slip under doors or through cracks in window frames.


Specifically, many Medium creatures stand between about 4' and 6' tall. As Medium, they control 5' of space around them.
It seems safe to assume that this is pretty closely related to 'wingspan', which is usually about equal to the height of a humanoid. That is to say, the widest you can stretch your arms is about equivalent to your height.

2.5' wide is 30", or about 75cm for our metric friends. That's a pretty decent idea of how tall our tiny man stands. This will define the high end of the scale -- we may have smaller creatures that will fall significantly below this.

Based off of this image from NASA, we can get a rough idea of human proportions. Unfortunately this only uses generic 'units', but it's enough to go off of.


The main thing to note is that the ratio of height to chest depth is 805:236. Applying this to our 30" height, we get something around 9".

Honestly, however, the ratio in the image seems off. Measuring in GIMP gives something more like 162:29. Using that as our ratio gives us something more like 5.4", which seems closer.


Additionally, we can run a similar ratio to try and determine how broad-shouldered our tiny man is. Unfortunately, they change around units here -- we can't directly correlate height to broadness.
What we can do is estimate the length of the torso, based on height; then compare the torso height to the broadness.

Let's say that the torso length is about 1/3 the height of the humanoid, so about 10". At a ratio of 612:378 torso:breadth, we get a rough, but workable, 6".


In short, This means we can visualize our tiny man as a box, about 30" x 6" x 6", although it's technically more of a diamond shape. There are some limitations to this model - imps aren't tiny men, and some measurements may vary.


We have some wiggle room here.

These measurements are rough -- a tiny creature could contort or deform itself (much like spelunkers) to get through narrower gaps than this would suggest. We may also be off by an inch here or there.

Even more significant -- these are based off the measurements of a tiny man.
Imps likely aren't tiny men.
They will have different measurements.

However, these give us a good idea of what order of magnitude we're working with -- the imp may vary by something like 25% in any of these measurements.


However:

We're not deforming these too much. It seems clear that we're not squashing a tiny humanoid that's 30" tall through a 2" crack.


What about smaller things?

J.A. did mention that sprites are about 8" tall - this gives us new numbers. Let's round that to a friendly 10" tall because it it works nicely with numbers and keeps us from doing unnecessary math.
We can just divide the measurements from above by 3, giving us something like 10" x 2" x 2".

For creatures under a foot in size, it's plausible that they could slip beneath the gaps in rougher-hewn doorways.
Still probably not the windows, though.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Sep 12 '16 at 13:02
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Size of Tiny Familiars

I've always thought of Sprites are about 8" to 2' tall (I've seen similar numbers in homebrew Sprite PC Races) There is a diagram on page 248 of the DMG that shows the realative size. You can clearly see a winged tiny create (sprite or pixie) as being 2 feet tall from the tip of the toe to the tip of the wing. From the 3/4 view, looking to be between 6inches and 1 foot wide wings included. I'd think that is much to tall to fit through a crack in the window or lock upright. But you might be able to argue that head first they might be able to squeeze through -- we'll get to that.

Imps I've always thought of being between a parakeet and a cat in size. I don't know if I ever saw any reference to an actual height. I'd be hesitant to think it'd be able to fit.... but it does have shapechanger ability and could make itself a spider small enough to fit.

Squeeze

RAW, you can squeeze through the size of the next smaller creature at double the cost of the movement. There is nothing smaller than tiny, so what that means for them is up to the DM. Talk to them about what size they see these creatures being.

Another Option

If you have an Imp familiar, you're either a warlock, using the variant rules, or a homebrew. If you are a warlock, one of the spells on your spell list is Gaseous form, and it is a spell with a range of touch. You could cast it through your familiar on your familiar. Granted that takes two valuable resources -- a spell slot and concentration. But it is an option if the DM says the Imp doesn't fit.

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