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How to Create Fantasy Measurement Systems


METROLOGY
Metrology studies measurement, an often forgotten worldbuilding facet. Unusual global alterations provoke fascinating novel depth, while change throughout stories supplies conflict.

Use metrology for stories akin to the French Revolution, which brought forth many social reforms. One was the metric system. Used internationally, and during my guide, it became today’s main measurement method.

When considering scales, imagine how citizens use dimensions. If your planets animals are bulky buffalo or slinky shrew size, compare their mass to humans.

WEIGHT
Small-scale weight measures like grammes and ounces are useful in gastronomy. It’s good having large scales like tonnes or stones too. Use them for measuring big items, like construction stones.

Weight Formula & Comparison
In the U.K, we use imperial weight measurement more than metric. This differs from many countries and cultures.

METRIC
FORMULA
IMPERIAL
1 g
X0.035/
0.035 oz
1 kg
X2.204/
2.204 lb
1 t
X157.473/
157.473 St

LIQUID
When inventing liquid measurements, envisage scenarios when your citizens need water. Drinking, bathing or mapping seas. Choose your own scale.

Liquid Formula
This is a quick method for calculating litres and millilitres from pints and gallons.
·                           500 ml = 1 pint
·                           4 l = 1 Gallon

Liquid Comparison
If you want accuracy when measuring liquid, use the table below. You can times, or divide, by the middle formula, getting your desired size.

METRIC
FORMULA
IMPERIAL
1 ml
X0.035/
0.035 fl oz
1 l
X1.76/
1.76 pint
1 l
X0.213/
0.213 gallons


DISTANCE
When deciding distance measurement, think about scales. Small objects needing measuring may be coins, bugs or berries. On large scales, citizens can judge distance by building, tree, mountain or landmass size.

Consider town sizes too. You could also think about distances between neighbouring towns.

Speed Formula
When measuring distance, speed is identifiable by factoring time into the equation.

S = D/T or
D = ST &
T= D/S

Distance Comparison
There are other, rarer, measurements unmentioned, in the below diagram. You can research others used throughout history for inspiration.

METRIC
IMPERIAL
1 cm
0.39 in
1 m
3.28 ft
1 km
1.62 mi

TEMPERATURE
I recommend the Celsius scale. Most people find it logical. It uses waters boiling and freezing point for markers. Water is an essential life compound.

I estimate alien cultures would come to the same rational conclusion with similar scales. I am aware that Americans favour Fahrenheit and other places have their preferences.

Comfortable human temperatures fall in the positive range of Celsius with uncomfortable temperatures dropping to minus numbers. The average earth temperature is from -50 C to 50 C, dependant on location and date.

Temperature Formula
A quick conversion from Celsius to Fahrenheit is the following:-

F = Double Celsius plus thirty
C = Fahrenheit minus thirty halved

Though for accuracy use: -

F = C*1.8+32
C = (F-32)/1.8

Temperature Comparison
This table compares Celsius and Fahrenheit, they crossover at -40. Use it when you cannot find a calculator to use the formulas.

CELSIUS
FAHRENHEIT
-270
-454
-50
-58
-40
-40
-30
-22
-20
4
-10
14
0
32
5
41
10
50
15
59
20
68
25
77
30
86
35
95
40
104
45
113
50
122
60
140
70
158
80
176
90
194
100
212


Happy Creations!

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Jim M