Let’s take a minute and think about the good old 5 foot square. Since 3E came out we have used them to precisely calculate our movements in combat, used them to figure out how many goblins we hit with a fire ball or perhaps to decide if we get an attack of opportunity. But have we ever really thought about just how big or small our five foot squares are?
I first really started to think about this a few weeks back when I was cooking up a map for my Sunday night game. I had drawn a chamber that was 30 x 20 and realized that was a 600 square foot room. That is bigger than some of the apartments I have lived in.
I walked around the storage facility I work at this morning and snapped a few photos to put things in perspective. So let’s see how big a five foot square really is.
The above picture is a 5 x 5 storage unit. You can see that there is room for one person to stand, but not enough to fully extend both arms. Think about this the next time you are fighting cave bears in a corridor that is 5 x 30. That would be one heck of a tight fit, swinging a blade while archers try to shoot around you.
Here we see the view from ten feet back in a five foot wide corridor looking at a large doorway. There is not much to see here, just a slice of the next corridor. On the other hand in the next image you can see just how much of the corridor you can see from the door.
In this image you get an idea of how little space you have to work with when there is an obstruction in your path. That pipe would make it hard to run down the corridor, especially in heavy armor with swords and axes sticking out every which way. Now think about that being a party member and you realize how generous being able to move through a friendly creatures square is in combat.
Last we look at a realistic small room. This is 10 x 15 with a 12 foot ceiling. This is the sort of space in which we might see a dungeon crawl encounter take place. The space would fill up quickly with only a few Orks and the party.
There you have it, a visual guide to the 5 foot square and what it really looks like.