One good side effect was that I ended up looking at parts of the rules that I’d previously paid little or no attention to. Whilst doing this I spotted this statement:
“Distances in [DBMM] are in paces … because the length of a man’s stride has remained constant throughout history ..”The use of paces, and a tabletop equivalent depending on figure scale, is a common device in wargames rules and a useful abstraction not least because standard units of measure have changed constantly throughout history. Previously, I’d assumed it was just rule writer’s shorthand but this time I noticed the absolute nature of the assertion and started wondering if the human stride really is constant; even on average. After all, DBMM covers all the regions of the known world for a period of 3,000 years. That’s an immense geographic and temporal span for things to remain constant.
I did a little research; not a lot, just enough. From the published information it’s perfectly clear that average human height, and by inference stride, currently varies significantly between populations and did vary throughout history. Average height depends on how well fed any population is and the levels of disease within that population. So it would appear that the “constant human stride” is yet another wargamer’s myth and a necessary, if untrue, approximation for wargames rule writers.