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    Canonfire :: View topic - Population Centers of the Dark Ages
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    Population Centers of the Dark Ages
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    Master Greytalker

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    Fri Feb 19, 2016 11:59 pm  
    Population Centers of the Dark Ages

    Greetings: My google searches have failed me...I have been attempting to get an idea of how spread out villages, towns and cities were in Europe during the Dark Ages. I'm attempting to further populate Greyhawk kingdoms/maps by adding my own communities and would be interested in having a smidgen of realism worked into it. I expect distance will vary quite a bit and generally follow the river system for this time period but I still would like to see if I can make some use of such maps.

    Does anybody have any maps they can provide that would show this type of information?
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    Eileen of Greyhawk, Prophet of Istus, Messenger of the Gods
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    Sat Feb 20, 2016 5:50 am  

    I don't have any maps but here are some links to some blog posts on the subject of population density in the middle ages. You also might want to look at Anna Myers Greyhawk map as she has added stuff from many resources.

    http://chgowiz-games.blogspot.com/2016/01/demographics-and-military-in-my-campaign-part-1.html

    http://hillcantons.blogspot.com/2012/09/the-howling-emptiness-of-world-of.html

    http://hillcantons.blogspot.com/2012/09/postscript-on-greyhawks-howling.html
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    Sat Feb 20, 2016 4:32 pm  
    Re: Population Centers of the Dark Ages

    EileenProphetofIstus wrote:
    I expect distance will vary quite a bit and generally follow the river system for this time period but I still would like to see if I can make some use of such maps.


    I think Dark Age population distributions would be a great source for fleshing out a map of the Flanaesses. I think regional/ethnic variation would also make it more interesting.

    Sheldomar Valley: Migration here was the converse of Dark Age Europe; instead of a nomadic barbarian population entering a developed, urbanized region, you have a developed, urbanized population (Suel) entering and dominating a less-developed region lacking a unified polity. The Suel, would have gravitated swiftly back towards an urbanized, trading, environment, and most of their population centers would be based along natural and man-made trade routes.

    Oeridian Regions: The Oeridians more resemble the Teutonic barbarians of history, and would have founded feudal petty-states that slowly joined together. Since the would have been in a state of near constant warfare, at least early on in the Flanaesses, there initial population centers would have been centered on defensible areas (high ground, water sources, self-sufficiency) and not so much on transportation routes and nodes. As time passed, and the Oeridian states became larger and reduced internal warfare (at least those that did), the population centers would shift more towards the Sheldomar Valley model, but their would still be legacy populations tied to the initial settlement pattern.
    Master Greytalker

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    Sat Feb 20, 2016 9:14 pm  
    Re: Population Centers of the Dark Ages

    I think Dark Age population distributions would be a great source for fleshing out a map of the Flanaesses. I think regional/ethnic variation would also make it more interesting.

    Sheldomar Valley: Migration here was the converse of Dark Age Europe; instead of a nomadic barbarian population entering a developed, urbanized region, you have a developed, urbanized population (Suel) entering and dominating a less-developed region lacking a unified polity. The Suel, would have gravitated swiftly back towards an urbanized, trading, environment, and most of their population centers would be based along natural and man-made trade routes.

    Oeridian Regions: The Oeridians more resemble the Teutonic barbarians of history, and would have founded feudal petty-states that slowly joined together. Since the would have been in a state of near constant warfare, at least early on in the Flanaesses, there initial population centers would have been centered on defensible areas (high ground, water sources, self-sufficiency) and not so much on transportation routes and nodes. As time passed, and the Oeridian states became larger and reduced internal warfare (at least those that did), the population centers would shift more towards the Sheldomar Valley model, but their would still be legacy populations tied to the initial settlement pattern.[/quote]

    Now this is a very interesting viewpoint on looking at how to lay out population centers throughout the Flanaess. I like this idea a lot, especially for the larger cities which would have started out small and grew in size over the decades.
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    Eileen of Greyhawk, Prophet of Istus, Messenger of the Gods
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    Sat Feb 20, 2016 9:17 pm  

    So how do most of you Greyhawkers lay out your worlds with other villages and cities? How close are they to one another? Do you follow the rivers which leave much of the plains empty?
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    Eileen of Greyhawk, Prophet of Istus, Messenger of the Gods
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    Sun Feb 21, 2016 3:39 am  

    Bear in mind, the population of Europe dropped by almost half in the late Roman period through about 600 AD, even with the slavic migrations, to an estimated 25 - 30 million souls. 20% due to lost knowledge of the roman "light" period, the rest to one plague after another brought by the western migrations. Economies devolved into barter economies, local strong men ruled what population centers remained with miles of untamed wilderness between. Across most of Europe, individual cardinals and bishops held enormous power over the populace as there was no communication from the mother church for hundreds of years.

    With the Wars and the utter collapse of the Great Kingdom, perhaps a dark ages is beginning in the Flanaess.

    It has been argued that the Irish preserved European civilization during this period and re-introduced it to the mainland. Perhaps the Yeomanry might fulfill a like purpose for the Flanaess?
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    Sun Feb 21, 2016 3:53 am  

    EileenProphetofIstus wrote:
    So how do most of you Greyhawkers lay out your worlds with other villages and cities? How close are they to one another? Do you follow the rivers which leave much of the plains empty?


    I tend to follow earlier comments--frontier areas, I use locations tied to keeps/castles/tactical positions on key terrain with populations clustered near or even in them (such as keep on the borderlands); interior areas are settlements that support sustainment--agricultural centers/towns, mining, trade, etc.

    I put ruins/old dungeons/cool spots on former important areas based on old, long forgotten boundaries or conflicts, or even the former 'interior settled' areas of old empires.

    When I am completely stymied for inspiration/references, especially on how to dot the region with towns/villages/"spots", I look to references like maps of the UP of Michigan, Dakotas, Wyoming/Montana, and Maine. I swipe a ton of names (directly or anagrams) from da UP (eh?). The Gazetteer map books (made by DeLorme) are fantastic, as are good ol engines like google/google earth.
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    Sun Feb 21, 2016 10:42 am  

    EileenProphetofIstus wrote:
    So how do most of you Greyhawkers lay out your worlds with other villages and cities? How close are they to one another? Do you follow the rivers which leave much of the plains empty?


    I do not think the plains are empty, but they are not as densely populated as the lands within a day's normal travel of the rivers. There has not been anything like the Viking invasions, where living near navigable waterways became unhealthy,except along the Crystal and Veng system. The Suel Barbarians mostly seem to have been coastal raiders, and I do not recall which, if any, rivers flowed into the Solnor. The Lordship of the Isles, Sea Princes, Sea Barons, and other oceanic raiders seemed to mostly favor raiding the coasts and not moving inland.

    The recent emergence of Iuz and the Horned Society as raiders on the great freshwater lakes will certainly change some settlement patterns, with those coasts more resembling feudal defensive regions than the unfortified "safe" realms they used to be.

    In the Sheldomar, I would see the population along the rivers denser in proportion compared to the Oeridian states; the Suel were settled and thriving far sooner, with more towns and cities along transportation routes, while the Oeridian states were still coalescing around feudal land claims scattered all over the place.

    As far as distances, towns and villages would probably be a half day to a day's walk apart along major roads, slowly growing up from camping spots along major routes.
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    Sun Feb 21, 2016 12:35 pm  

    When I first started playing D&D everyone created their own maps, generally using coloring pencils. When the WOG was published with the Darlene maps how did you proceed to add to the maps? Did you create your own enlargements or did you write on the Darlene Maps?

    For those of you who use Anna's Maps, how do you add your own features to them? I've tried to use CC3 over the years but I always seem to run into trouble and my maps disappear, the wrong file types etc. The forums have been almost useless to try and resolve the problems. I've pretty much given up on CC3. I looked at similar programs and had the same sort of difficulties. I've even looked at using Paint and Microsoft Word but these have other issues that make things difficult.

    Does anyone make their own maps either using programs or by hand? If so, what seems to work best for you? After trying digital maps for the last 15 years or so I have nothing to show for my efforts. Anyone have any trade secrets they want to pass on for Greyhawk map making?
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    Eileen of Greyhawk, Prophet of Istus, Messenger of the Gods
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    Sun Feb 21, 2016 2:02 pm  

    From The Time Traveler's Guide to Medieval England by Ian Mortimer:

    Quote:
    In 1377 the walls of Exeter encircle six or seven hundred houses where about twenty-six hundred citizens live. But that makes it the twenty-fourth largest community in the whole kingdom. Only the very largest—London, with more than forty thousand inhabitants—can properly be called a great city when compared to the largest Continental cities of Bruges, Ghent, Paris, Venice, Florence, and Rome, all of which have in excess of fifty thousand. However, do not be misled into thinking that towns like Exeter are small, quiet places. The inns add considerably to the total, albeit on a continuously shifting basis. Travelers of all sorts—clergymen, merchants, messengers, king's officers, judges, clerks, master masons, carpenters, painters, pilgrims, itinerant preachers, and musicians—are to be found in every town... it soon becomes clear how the daytime population of a city can be two or even three times as great as the number of people living within the walls. And on special occasions—during a fair, for example—it can be many times greater.

    The total of 100,000 taxpayers in the thirty largest communities indicates that about 170,000 people—about 6 or 7 percent of the population of the kingdom—live in towns. There are about two hundred other market towns in England with more than four hundred inhabitants. In total, about 12 percent of English people live in a town of some sort, even if it be a small town of just a hundred families. It follows that the majority live in rural areas, coming into their local town or city when necessary. The majority walk in, and walk home carrying whatever they have bought or driving whatever livestock they have to sell.


    Last edited by rasgon on Sun Feb 21, 2016 5:41 pm; edited 1 time in total
    Master Greytalker

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    Sun Feb 21, 2016 5:29 pm  

    Thank you Rasgon, that's very much the sort of information I was looking for in regards to demographics.
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    Sun Feb 21, 2016 5:32 pm  

    Osmium wrote:
    ... Economies devolved into barter economies, local strong men ruled what population centers remained with miles of untamed wilderness between. Across most of Europe, individual cardinals and bishops held enormous power over the populace as there was no communication from the mother church for hundreds of years.

    With the Wars and the utter collapse of the Great Kingdom, perhaps a dark ages is beginning in the Flanaess.

    It has been argued that the Irish preserved European civilization during this period and re-introduced it to the mainland. Perhaps the Yeomanry might fulfill a like purpose for the Flanaess?


    The Dark Ages (now generally referred to as Late Antiquity) were characterized as you ably described above. The collapse of central authority beyond a local level is most complete in the Great Kingdom, particularly in the Overking's lands around Rauxes. Its descent into warlordism is well-documented. However, while much of the rest of the Flanaess are in turmoil, and in border areas, highly localized authority is paramount, it does not appear to be the start of a new Dark Age, but rather a localized collapse in Aerdy... really bad for everyone who lives there, but not the blotting out of Flanaess, Oeridian, or even Aerdian culture. It would take something along the lines of the great migrations to affect a Dark Age (how I see their aftermath until the Carolingian Empire/Great Kingdom is founded).

    The Yeoman and Perrenlanders would, however, be in the best place to salvage "civilization", relatively isolated in their Valleys, and well defended, at least conventionally, though much like the Irish, they would likely put their own spin on the civilization they saved.
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    Wed Feb 24, 2016 5:45 pm  
    Dark Ages Population

    I've been reading a lot of books on the Middle Ages lately, and your question brought mind some of the points brought up in the books.

    When in the Dark/Middle Ages are you focusing on?

    After Rome fell, there was a definite population and economic decline. In 1000 AD, forest areas were huge, populated areas were few and far between, and the economy was overwhelmingly barter. Move forward to the mid 1200's and things were radically different: a money based economy, sophisticated trade networks, a booming population. Wild areas were smaller and fewer with much more land under cultivation. Life was much more secure than 200 years earlier. Then the Black Death hits in 1348, and with recurrences, depopulates a lot of areas.

    So it would matter what feel you want to have. The Flannaes seems to me to have a High Middle Ages/Early Renaissance feel in many places (Furyondy, Urnst states, most of the Great Kingdom, etc) with some wild areas full of savages (Pomarj, Iuz, Lost lands, etc) more appropriate to the Dark Ages concept.
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    Wed Feb 24, 2016 6:08 pm  
    Re: Dark Ages Population

    Gman75 wrote:
    When in the Dark/Middle Ages are you focusing on?

    After Rome fell, there was a definite population and economic decline. In 1000 AD, forest areas were huge, populated areas were few and far between, and the economy was overwhelmingly barter. Move forward to the mid 1200's and things were radically different: a money based economy, sophisticated trade networks, a booming population. Wild areas were smaller and fewer with much more land under cultivation. Life was much more secure than 200 years earlier. Then the Black Death hits in 1348, and with recurrences, depopulates a lot of areas.

    So it would matter what feel you want to have. The Flannaes seems to me to have a High Middle Ages/Early Renaissance feel in many places (Furyondy, Urnst states, most of the Great Kingdom, etc) with some wild areas full of savages (Pomarj, Iuz, Lost lands, etc) more appropriate to the Dark Ages concept.


    I would agree that the Flanaess seems to differ in what real world time period is most applicable to the world. My questions about population sizes and how frequent villages, town and cities are as well as how they are laid out, and how close together they are would typically apply to the more civilized areas such as Greyhawk, Furyondy and Nyrond.

    I've been reading in the 5th edition DMG and that indicated that approximately 8-12 smaller communities (villages, small towns and thorps) would be located around a larger city or the lord of a manor. I thought I would use this approach and then place these near rivers, mining areas or shorelines. This would give large gaps of land which is not fully civilized in between. Most of this land would be plains based on the way the WOG is laid out. The lands closest to these clusters of communities would be used for communal farming while the lands further out are simply void of any real civilized habitation, that is until you reach another cluster of communities.

    I was curious as to what type of arrangement was more historical based on the 10th-12th century Europe.
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    Eileen of Greyhawk, Prophet of Istus, Messenger of the Gods
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    Wed Feb 24, 2016 7:58 pm  

    Eileen---

    I rather like the Fief and Town books by Lisa J. Steele @ http://www222.pair.com/sjohn/fief.htm

    S John Ross also wrote a decent introduction to medieval demographics @ http://www222.pair.com/sjohn/blueroom/demog.htm Steele's work is better, and more interesting, but SJR's piece is still worth reading.

    I also rather like the _Life in a Medieval x_ series, mostly by Frances and Joseph Gies, although it's been awhile since I've read them. I don't recall offhand how much they speak to distances between villages, towns, cities, and castles, but I'd be surprised if they didn't address the topic at all.

    Allan.
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    Thu Feb 25, 2016 9:00 am  
    IRL town populations and demographics

    I really liked Rasgon's reply.
    I think information like that is the best place to start for mapping a population.
    Another thing that I like to keep in mind is a character's level as they adventure around. I look at the "starting town" for most PCs, which in my campaigns is usually a small town, or village. Then, I take into account information in the vein of what Rasgon posted and compare it to the levels of spells that PCs are likely to need. So, a village isn't going to have Treu Ressurection available, for example. ... But, about a day or two travel from their little village is a town, and they have Raise Dead. Then as they progress in level, several levels up, they'll move from a town to a large town ... and then later to a small city, then large city, and then ultimately to a metropolis like Greyhawk or Dyvers, or Chendl, or whathave you.
    That way, the in-game reasoning matches the real-world demographics spread.

    There might be one major city with several smaller cities, a dozen or so smaller towns, hundreds of villages, and a plethora of thorps or market towns. ... and those spread out along the lines of rivers, trade routes, etc. as outlined above, so that you won't really ever end up with two major cities right on top of each other, and will have inns and way-towns along a road within every day or two, and a major city is likely to be a week or so by cart.

    Just my two coppers.
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    Wed May 25, 2016 8:31 am  

    Checkout the Doomsday Book. It's basically a 1088 England census. You can read about it rather than have me just repeat a bunch of stuff! :)

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Domesday_Book

    However, there's a site online that you can use to check out all the places found in it. It's pretty unbelieveably useful. I mean, to find all this in one site is just beyond useful!

    http://opendomesday.org/

    Finally, there's a sight based on the Doomsday book that you can use to create your own places:

    https://www.rpglibrary.org/utils/meddemog/

    I hope all this helps!
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    Thu Jun 02, 2016 7:43 am  

    EileenProphetofIstus wrote:
    When I first started playing D&D everyone created their own maps, generally using coloring pencils. When the WOG was published with the Darlene maps how did you proceed to add to the maps? Did you create your own enlargements or did you write on the Darlene Maps?

    For those of you who use Anna's Maps, how do you add your own features to them? I've tried to use CC3 over the years but I always seem to run into trouble and my maps disappear, the wrong file types etc. The forums have been almost useless to try and resolve the problems. I've pretty much given up on CC3. I looked at similar programs and had the same sort of difficulties. I've even looked at using Paint and Microsoft Word but these have other issues that make things difficult.

    Does anyone make their own maps either using programs or by hand? If so, what seems to work best for you? After trying digital maps for the last 15 years or so I have nothing to show for my efforts. Anyone have any trade secrets they want to pass on for Greyhawk map making?


    I use Anna's maps and work with them in Photoshop, but you could use any graphics program that allows you to use layers. She created two sets, one unhexed with just terrain features, and another with hexes and roads, population centers, etc... I layer the hexed layer over the plain layer, then make a new layer, redrawing population centers, etc... using a library of art I've made for this purpose, then remove the hexed layer. From there I can change borders, add roads, population centers, etc... as I like.
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    Thu Jun 02, 2016 10:35 am  

    Since my original post, I have learned to download Anna's blank maps, change the file format and insert it into CC3. I then look at her original map and add the communities, dungeons and other landmarks. Working with a blank map makes it possible to change borders, remove things or do whatever I like with them. Very pleased with the outcome.
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    Fri Jun 03, 2016 8:32 am  

    The "Black Death" -- 1346 to 1353 -- is said to have killed off perhaps as much as 60% of Europe's population; 30% at a bare minimum.

    I'd imagine the people were spread pretty thin in 1377.
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