Figures per Rank in a 10′ Hallway

In 1E AD&D you can fit 3 figures per 10′ hallway. But because of the 5′ square meme everyone I know says 2 figures per 10′ hallway. 3E D&D locked that in.

I was thinking the other day about using 1-meter squares like in Shadowrun. Your body actually takes up the square, not just your weapon reach requirements. One interesting side thought was that if you cared about weapon space requirements, then slashing, cleaving, and crushing weapons should require an empty square around you, stabbing weapons wouldn’t. This means in a 3-meter wide hall (about 10′) you could fit 3 spearmen or just one sword-swinger.

Failure to have enough swinging space means you include anyone that’s in that space in the missile-into-melee calculation in 1E DMG. That is, if there are 3 Medium dudes and one Small, you’d roll d8, assigning 1-2, 3-4, and 5-6 to the three Mediums and 7 to the Small (reroll 8).

You need that space, too, so having two guys against each wall wouldn’t work: the wall would count as a target in the three appropriate spaces.

So to pack in more dudes, use piercing weapons. Like spears. Like how virtually every culture has spears.

Now look at the dungeon adventure dynamic: you get one guy with a Two-Handed Sword who takes up the whole rank, or you can get three guys with Longsword or spear (if your Longswords can do Pierce damage, otherwise it’s Shortsword). You’ve got Orcs up in the hall too, facing you. You want as many guys in the front rank as possible, because they can attack in melee. Then you want 3 dudes in the second rank hitting over their heads with spears. That’s possibly 6 people who can melee at once. And if anyone in a front rank drops you have someone in a rear rank to seal the breach.

Imagine a room 30′ across, with two groups facing off in ranks. One side has swinging melee weapons, which mean only one man per two 3′ spaces (or, 10 spaces, but only 5 men, because they need empty squares around them). This is an open formation, skirmishers. The other side has spearmen (or shortsword-stabbers) shoulder to shoulder, one per space, or 10 men. That means any one man on the first side is facing two men from the other side. Their formation is dictated by their weapons, and their formation dictates how many men can fight at once.

So basically, we appropriated Roman infantry for dungeoneering.

You could also say that any Small weapons don’t need swing space. This gives some reason to pick up a Hand Axe instead of (or as backup for) a Longsword. Kinds throws something in to balance Small weapons against Medium ones. This solves another problem I had, and the reason I didn’t get any further on the Piercing=NoSpace rule, that you’d need something cool for all the other non-Pierce weapons to balance out this powerful NoSpace spear ability. If it’s just Small weapons, you’ve got it made. Maybe say that any Small weapons OR any Piercing weapons can do it. It’s possible the high-damage polearms and the two-handed sword don’t get Piercing (but I think they do). Hmm.

Side note: Samurai carried the short sword not only as a backup weapon in case the longsword broke or was lost, and not only as an offhand weapon. It was also used for fighting indoors, where there was not enough space to wield a longsword effectively. Also, he notes that bows and polearms are not good for taking prisoners. By that I assume he means you can’t hold the weapon to someone’s throat effectively. Source: Book of Five Rings (Musashi).

I think regardless it might just be too fiddly, unless you plan to build your weapon stat chart from the ground up to include these assumptions. In 1E/2E D&D anyone who could would use a Longsword and Shortbow. They were just the best. But if you include weapons length, weapon speed, critical hit possibilities, special bonuses against certain targets (like a pole weapon vs. charging opponent) it might make weapon selection more murky. No “best weapon choice” and more variety in weapons used by players based on strategy or personal preference, or specific application. That, I like.

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