When I’m grabbing a map from another game system (for example, Heroic Maps) how big should I draw zones?
Is a tavern 1, 2, 3, more zones?
The FFG Star Wars games have guidelines that short range (same zone) allows comfortable talking, medium range (next zone) requires loud talking, long range (2 zones) requires shouting. Is that a good guideline for this game?
I use intuitive describable regions, more than physical size, to divide zones. A tavern, for example, would have the area behind the bar, the main seating area in front of the bar, a side seating area where people sit for privacy, the stairs going up, etc.
I would also not divide zones by exact physical measures.
Zones are more by barriers divided parts (like two rooms in the tavern, divided by a door) or by the change of properties of the area or such things.
As rydiafan said I also divide battlefields into different areas that differ from each other (examples for the tavern given above by rydiafan). In a garden could be one zone the small grass before the house, the next zone the bushes (with obstacles and sight hindrance) and then divided by a fence or small wall the street next to the garden and so on.
I also don’t use measurements. Indoors then different rooms or noticeably different parts of a room make up zones. The Tavern example above is one I default to often. Outdoors I look at how the terrain should inform movement in battles. Even large open areas I’ll sometimes divide into two zones for movement/range penalties.
I find there’s no science to it but more looking at the map and the encounter you have planned and figuring out what zones would make things more dynamic.
It helps as well that I have players who lean into the narrative nature of zones. Like if I have a tavern map with the bar representing a barrier between the patron area and the barkeep area then even if by the map layout the players can simply move to the bar zone they’ll leap across the bar even if they have to make a roll because that’s cooler and more cinematic.