Home > Game Mechanics > Size Comparisons

Size Comparisons

How many sprites fit in an ogre?

On occasion, you may need to determine the size equivalence of various creatures or character races in your campaign. Chimera assigns each creature one of eight size categories, each essentially twice as big as the one before it. While it doesn't provide exact measurements (because who has time for that?), it does give a decent sense of relative stature.

Creature Size

Size is an amalgamation of a creature's height, weight, length, bulk, and mass. Use these guidelines to determine a creature's size:

  • Diminutive (D): Giant insects, Fairies, Smurfs
  • Tiny (T): Sprite, Brownie, Imp, Tom Bosley Gnome
  • Small (S): Halfling, D&D Gnome, Dog, Wolf
  • Medium (M): Human, Orc, Dwarf, Elf
  • Large (L): Ogre, Horse, Centaur, Hill giant, Tiger
  • Giant (G): Frost giant, Hydra, Cyclops, Elephant
  • Huge (H): Dragon, Talos, Roc
  • Colossal (C): Godzilla, Charybdis, Cloverfield beast

You will want to make adjustments for certain creatures in your campaign, but the examples above should give you an idea of how the size scale works.

Size Comparisons

Relative size comparisons are shown below:

Size Diminutive Tiny Small Medium Large Giant Huge Colossal
Diminutive 1 1/2 1/4 1/8 1/16 1/32 1/64 1/128
Tiny 2 1 1/2 1/4 1/8 1/16 1/32 1/64
Small 4 2 1 1/2 1/4 1/8 1/16 1/32
Medium 8 4 2 1 1/2 1/4 1/8 1/16
Large 16 8 4 2 1 1/2 1/4 1/8
Giant 32 16 8 4 2 1 1/2 1/4
Huge 64 32 16 8 4 2 1 1/2
Colossal 128 64 32 16 8 4 2 1

So, an ogre (Size L) would be the size equivalent of 2 humans (Size M), 4 halfings (Size S), 8 imps (Size T), or 16 smurfs (Size D).

Why Is This Helpful?

You can use size comparisons for a variety of game situations. For example:

  • Mounts: let's say a horse can carry 1 Medium rider without penalty; that also means that it can carry 2 halflings without penalty, or 4 imps.
  • Powers: perhaps a spell effects 1 Medium target per level; now you know whether your 4th-level spell-caster can use it on a hill giant (yes, he can).
  • Weight Tolerance: that rickety rope bridge spanning the chasm can only support 3 Medium travellers at a time; so it's strong enough for an elf mounted on a horse, but not a centaur chasing two dwarfs.
  • Armour: if you find a Medium-sized mail shirt, it'll fit humans, dwarves, elves, and orcs. If you find a hill-giant sized mail shirt, you may have enough material to give an armourer so he can make 2 Medium-sized shirts.
  • Weapons: arms are usually assumed to fit Medium-sized wielders, so a two-handed sword could be wielded by a hill giant with one hand; similarly, a broad sword could be wielded by a goblin with 2 hands.
  • Potions: totally optional, but if a potion supplies a single dose to a Medium-sized drinker, that might be 2 doses for a halfling or a half-dose for an ogre.
  • Poisons: as with potions, above; in Chimera, you apply an Attribute check (i.e., saving throw) modifier based on size, so a Medium-sized victim might get +0, while Large could get +1, Giant +2, Huge +4, and Colossal +8 (similarly, Small gets -1, Tiny -2, and Diminutive -4).

Final Words

You'll get the most use of out this if you assign relative sizes to your campaign's fauna, but don't get caught up in the details of math and physics. If you want size to matter in your game, this approach is fast and more than adequate for most applications.

(Visited 12 times, 1 visits today)

Categories: Game Mechanics Tags:
  1. February 10th, 2010 at 21:48 | #1

    Hmm. I know it’s for Chimera, but feel that somehow it could be useful for my 4E too. Need to think it over.
    .-= Snarls-at-Fleas´s last blog ..GAMING WITH 3D TILES =-.

  2. February 10th, 2010 at 22:27 | #2

    @Snarls-at-Fleas : By all means. I was going to make a joke about “one size fits all,” but that would be too much…

  3. February 11th, 2010 at 10:09 | #3


    That’s quite interesting. I hadn’t thought of using a creature’s actual, physical size as a means of resistance or avoidance of targeting from spells, as you mention in this post. However, it’s quite intriguing to think of bigger creatures being able to more easily shrug off a spell of, say, Tripping Vines. In Chimera, would that same spell be able to capture an entire platoon of halfling soldiers, if it could stall the one hill giant?
    .-= Brenton Haerr´s last blog ..Game Review: Stratego =-.

  4. February 11th, 2010 at 10:53 | #4

    @Brenton Haerr : Yeah, I’d play the size equivalent for certain spells. For Tripping Vines (similar to entangle?), I’d rule that if it could stop a hill giant, it could also stop 2 humans, 4 halflings, 8 imps, or 16 giant centipedes. Again, armed with physics, one could probably dispute this, but it’s a fast formula for game play.

  5. February 11th, 2010 at 10:55 | #5

    UPDATE – 11 Feb 2010
    Added some other examples of applying size comparisons in a game.

  6. February 11th, 2010 at 11:25 | #6

    Probably identical to entangle ;-) I like making up names for spells when I’m typing on the interwebs, and I didn’t know what spell list Chimera uses.
    .-= Brenton Haerr´s last blog ..Game Review: Stratego =-.

  7. February 11th, 2010 at 12:01 | #7

    @Brenton Haerr : Ah, entangle would be the old D&D name. Now that you mention it, though, Chimera doesn’t have a precise equivalent; maybe a variant of paralyse would do. Must make a note to address that…

  8. deimos3428
    February 19th, 2010 at 16:31 | #8

    I like the idea, though I think the exponential curve fits much better on the low end than it does on the high. Perhaps it’s simply a matter of adding a few more sizes in there, or doubling some of them up.

    (I have met a few horses in my day, and they’re closer to four humans in size. Never met a dragon but I suspect they’re much larger than eight humans, as we can easily fit that many in a small conference room at work.)

  9. February 19th, 2010 at 21:30 | #9

    @deimos3428 : Noted. I think the easiest solution is to put certain creatures in a different category, as suits your campaign. I suppose I could add another size category, but there’s a part of me that thinks that 8 may be too many already. I’m working on a batch of creatures for fantasy – maybe some more practical examples will point the way…

  1. No trackbacks yet.