Early Scaling

As I was forced to dig deep into the Moldvay Basic D&D (1981) rules for the prior blog post, I was surprised to find this at the very end of the book (in Moldvay's 2-page "Dungeon Mastering as a Fine Art" section; literally the last thing in the book before the Credits):
PLAYING SURFACE: Combats are easy to keep track of when large sheets of graph paper, covered with plexiglass or transparent adhesive plastic (contact paper), are used to put the figures on. The best sheets for this use have 1" squares, and the scale of 1" = 5' should be used when moving the figures. [p. B61]
Is this the earliest use in any official D&D rules of the 1" = 5' scale? Both Holmes (earlier; p. 9) and even Mentzer (later; Player's Manual p. 57) still suggest using the 1" = 10 feet scale for miniature play.

I must say (having played by these rules quite a bit back in the day, but not having looked at them in many years) that I'm quite impressed by Moldvay's grasp of the math behind the game. If only he hadn't instituted race-as-class...


  1. If only he hadn't instituted race-as-class...

    To be fair to Moldvay, the conceptual groundwork for race-as-class had been laid by Holmes, when he gave elves and halflings 1d6 hit points per level. I suspect that Moldvay was simply following his lead and taking it to its logical conclusion.

  2. The problem with race-as-race is that I always end up with a table full of elves. My current game has 7 players and five of them are elves! Elves are one of my favorite races too, but making races so interchangeable just drains the uniqueness from the demihumans. Give me race-as-class any day.

  3. 1" = 10'? Only if they're 15 mm. But maybe that's what the old guard played with for starters.

  4. James -- Agreed: at one point I thought Holmes completely had race-as-class, until you actually corrected me in comments on your blog. :)

    Brendan -- I can see that, but I think a better fix is to address that more directly. Maybe the level-limits do the job, maybe give humans a benefit, etc. (e.g., for convention games I just start humans at +1 level).

    Roger -- Totally agreed! (see my sidebar, of course) But bizarrely the earliest texts actually suggest larger figures: 30mm or 40mm [Chainmail p. 28]. So I just think 1"=10' was flat-out not thought through.