Units Of Measurement
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"Here, laddie," the dwarf says handing you a small cup, "Have a noggin of ale!"

Basic Information

Here is a list of some units of measurement and their equivalents in the US and Metric Systems.

Weights
Pennyweight: 1/20 ounce (1.555 g)
Dram: 60 grains (3.888 g)
Clove: 8 lbs. (3.628 kg)
Stone: 14 lbs. (6.35 kg) — human weight is sometimes given in stone.
Fardel: 32 lbs. — "Who would fardels bear?"
Firkin: 56 lbs.
Hundredweight: 112 lbs. (50.802 kg)

Linear Measurement
Barleycorn: 1/3 inch (0.8 cm) — an inch was at one time defined as the length of three grains of barley
Palm: 3 inches (7.62 cm)
Hand: 4 inches (10.16 cm) —the width of a hand; frequently used in measuring the height of horses.
Span: 9 inches (22.86 cm) — the width of a stretched out hand from pinky to thumb.
Cubit: about 18 inches (about 0.5 m) — the distance between the elbow and the tip of the finger; a common unit of measurement in the Bible
Ell: 45 inches (1.143 m) —Medieval unit used for measuring cloth
Fathom: 6 feet (1.8288 m) — Nautical measure of depth; the length of a man's outstretched arms.
Rod: 16.5 feet (5.029 m) — Surveying measure
Chain: 66 feet (20.12 m) — 4 rods. Surveying measure
Furlong: 660 feet (201.168 m) — 10 chains. Surveying measure
Cable (Imperial): 608 feet (185.318 m) — Nautical measure (there are different definitions of a cable: International cable is slightly shorter and US cable is considerably longer)
League: 3 miles (4.828 km)

Volume
Noggin: 1/4 pint
Firkin: 9 gallons
Barrel: 31.5 gallons
Hogshead: 63 gallons — 2 barrels
Butt, Pipe: 126 gallons —2 hogsheads

Sources

Game and Story Use

  • Using setting-appropriate units of measurement to describe things can help give flavor to a setting.
    • Just be sure to also give a more familiar conversion, so that the players know what you're talking about.
      • For example: The giant stands over six cubits high, at least nine feet tall.
      • The submarine surfaces a cable length from your ship; about 180 meters
      • The dwarf has a beard three ells long, and it trails over ten feet behind him.
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