I keep searching for this post again, so I'm linking it here:
Brendan Lally on map scales.
Ok, currently one square holds one person, even if they stretch out
their hands, they don't occupy more than one square. This therefore
suggests that the squares are sides of at least 1 fathom (that being
the distance of someone between their outstretched hands. This is
consistent with a bed being 1 square. Given that one tick is about 1
second of game time (not real time), and that a player moves 1 square
a tick at speed 1, this gives a walking speed such that at speed of
1.0 a mile is covered in (1 mile is 8 furlongs, is 80 chains, is 880
fathoms) 880 seconds, or 14.7 minutes (which is about correct).
The indoor maps are smaller on the outdoor maps, it tends to be the
case, that 1 square outdoors correlates to 8-12 squares indoors.
If the indoor squares are 1 fathom across, then the outside ones are
about 10 fathoms across. Or almost 1 chain (11 fathoms). Since the
value of 11:1 is well within the range of values that are used, and
since it is a round number. It seems reasonable to consider each of
the world map squares to be 1 chain. All the more so since this is the
size used for buildings, and buildings have in the real world been set
out on a scale of 1 chain for a house.
“In the laying out of towns in Australia and New Zealand, most
building lots in the past were a quarter of an acre, measuring one
chain by two and a half chains, and other lots would be multiples or
fractions of a chain. As a consequence, the street frontages of many
houses in these countries are one chain wide — roads were almost
always one chain wide (20.117 m) in urban areas, sometimes one and a
half (30.175 m) or two chains (40.234 m).”
In game most roads are 1 or 2 squares wide, which also fits in nicely.
Furthermore, by adopting this standard, it means that 10 squares on
the world map is 1 furlong, which gives a nice way to measure
distances, because it is also about 1 screen (default is a map view of
11×11 IIRC). in the gtk2 client, it is about twice that, so you see
one furlong in all directions.
Ooh, and it also makes the distance from Scorn to Navar about 9 miles
(75 furlongs), which is a somewhat saner estimate than 1000's of
miles. 9 miles says 'you can walk this but probably don't want to do
so very often'.