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    Dungeons and Demographics
    Posted on Sat, December 03, 2005 by Dongul
    samwise writes "
    One of the more heavily disputed elements of Greyhawk is the population. Many people point to the figures from the various books and say that the population density of Greyhawk is absurdly low. But is it? While direct comparisons to real world demographics and history are not always reasonable, what would they indicate if examined more closely?

    Dungeons and Demographics
    By: Samwise
    Posted with permission. DO not repost without obtaining prior permission from the author.

    For this comparison I use Keoland and the Sheldomar Valley, consisting of Bissel, Gran March, Geoff, Sterich, Yeomanry, Sea Princes, County, Duchy, and Principality of Ulek, and the Pomarj, as the Greyhawk sample. I compare them to west and central Europe - France, the Low Countries, Germany, Scandanavia, and England.

    I use the base population figures from the Living Greyhawk Gazetteer (LGG), and the population numbers from Josiah C. Russell "Population in Europe", in Carlo M Cipolla, ed., The Fontana Economic History of Europe, Vol I, The Middle Ages, (Glasgow : Collins/Fontana, 1972), 25-71, available here: .

    How Many People Are There? How Many People Should There Be?

    According to the LGG, there are are 1,800,000 people in Keoland. Seventy-five percent of them are human, 22% are various demi-humans, and 1% are "other". (Note: Yes, I am aware that only adds up to 98%. Those are the figures in the book.) This means there are 1,350,000 humans in Keoland, and 450,000 demi-humans and others. Keoland covers approximately 222 hexes, which is about 173,000 square miles. That translates to a population density of about 10.4 per square mile. By comparison, Europe in the 14th century had populations ranging from 40 to 100 per square mile. It appears Keoland is woefully underpopulated by a factor between 4 and 10.

    Why Aren’t There Any More People?

    Buried in all the numbers for population is a possible explanation. Although most people are interested in how fast population increases, the same numbers can also reveal what the population used to be. In the case of Europe we can see in Russell’s figures that the population of west and central Europe approximately doubled over an initial 350 year period, then tripled over a second 350 year period, before being reduced by a third due to plague. Using these numbers, and exempting any devastating plague, we can expect that the population of the Sheldomar to have increased between 8 and 27 fold from the time of the Twin Cataclysms in -422 CY and the present year of 591 CY, a period of 1,013 years. What would we get if we did this? The Sheldomar as a whole has a population of about 4,900,000, including demi-humans and the humanoids of the Pomarj. Divided by 8, that gives us 612,500. Divided by 27, it gives us about 181,500. If we just count humans, we have 3,280,000, and a -422 CY starting number of 121,500 to 410,000.

    Would this be reasonable for the Sheldomar just after the Twin Cataclysms?

    Having asked Gary Holian for the number of people with Slerotin, he replied between 50,000 and 100,000. He also suggested there were about 10,000 Suel already in the Sheldomar. Assuming about half of them stayed or were incorporated into Keoland gives us about 55,000 at the most. The Oeridians could not number more, and should likely number less, or about 50,000. The Flan would be even less, perhaps 25,000 at most. All together, this is 130,000, or just over the minimum we have above.

    Demi-humans are a bit more complicated, having a current population total of nearly 1,240,000, and a presumed lower growth rate. If they grew at the slower rate, doubling instead of tripling every 350 years, they would have had a population of around 155,000 back then, producing a very dramatic and contrasting comparison as the humans swiftly grew to outnumber them. However, they likely had a dramatic reduction in population during the Hateful Wars, so their numbers are subject to tweaking to produce whatever ratio is most pleasing.

    But Now We Have Too Few People

    If there were only about 25,000 Flan in the Sheldomar back then, even with 155,000 demi-humans, and some unspecified number of humanoids, we wind up with a most absurd population density of less than 1 person per square mile. Where are all the Flan? That isn’t even the population of people with herds of animals, and is barely above the nomadic hunter-gatherer level. The Flan had to have managed better than that, or they wouldn’t have built any nations, in Sulm or under Vecna, or anywhere else. There population should be at least 10 times what it was from those figures. So where did they all go?

    We know they were conquered, by the Suel and the Oeridians. The problem is, conquest doesn’t tend to kill everyone, especially not 90% of the population. The Suel would prefer them as slaves, and the Oeridians would be more likely to take them as tenants, free or serf, than just kill them. If they had run away to surrounding lands, they would have eventually been conquered later, and the same problem with racial proportions would remain.

    There are only two ways the Flan population could have been so low. First, a magical disaster like the Twin Cataclysms could have wiped out 90% of their population. Second, mundane diseases like those that reduced native populations in the Americas could have wiped out 90% of their population. There doesn’t seem to be much evidence of a cataclysm, and plague wiping out most of a population like that is very possible, so I’d favor the second for reducing the Flan populations to that level.

    To the Future

    As noted, Keoland looks to have an average population density of around 10 people per square mile. Given its location, it should support near the medieval maximum of 100 per square mile. If the population continues to triple every 350 years, it should get up there in another 700 years or so, well after Pluffet Smedger’s time. Of course, that might change depending on the level of medical technology developed, and industrial age era medical advances could change the growth rate dramatically. But that is for another essay.
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    Re: Dungeons and Demographics (Score: 1)
    by MerricB on Sat, December 03, 2005
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    Fascinating article, Sam. (I still think the real answer is because the monsters in the dungeons keep eating people... ;))

    Why is the Flan population so low? Using the ideas in your article, I can think of a couple of reasons for various areas:

    Sheldomar - wasn't it hit by a catastrophe named Vecna at some time?
    North-West - something bad out of Blackmoor?
    Great Kingdom area - wiped out by invading Oeridians and Suel.


    Re: Dungeons and Demographics (Score: 1)
    by Samwise ( on Sat, December 03, 2005
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    Most things tend to have reciprocal effects.

    Why is the population so low?
    Monsters in dungeons eat them.
    Why are there so many monsters in dungeons eating people?
    Because the population is too low to wipe them out.

    In our world it would be like asking why are there so many predatory animals around. Because people haven't wiped them out yet. When they do, the human population has an easier time expanding.

    So I'm sure the same effect is in place in the Flanaess, just more monstrous and all. :)


    Re: Dungeons and Demographics (Score: 1)
    by Crag on Sat, December 03, 2005
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    Very interesting piece Samwise...
    Well I can't argue with the mathematics of population, especially given your research. Broadly I have to wonder wha t effect the numerous intelligent competiting species has on GH population density?

    Even the "friendly" demi-humans all compete for room and resources, given their enviromental advantages, wouldn't this fact further hinder the growth potential of humans as they claim desirable land for themselves.

    Let us not forget the various humanoids, on the fringes of civilisation, this very fact would I hazard hinder all but the hardiest "pioneer", knowing humanoid lairs are out there, would make me reconsider.

    Another factor is the various "monsters", granted wild animals have always been a threat to people and especially pioneers but I think you will agree wolves and bears can't compare to dragons and giants in terms of either the devastation they can cause or the amount of territory they need to use to sustain themselves. 

    Just wondering how demi-humans, humanoid tribes and monsters would no doubt affect human attitudes, psychology, behavior towards exploration and settlement which should alter the historical population scenario.

    Any thoughts? 

    Re: Dungeons and Demographics (Score: 1)
    by Samwise ( on Sat, December 03, 2005
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    Basically, yes.
    The thing is the answer is excessively complex. Enough so that I figured nobody would read the entire essay if I included it.

    In general, yes, the other intelligent competing species will have an effect, but only on the numbers of specific groups. They are already accounted for, to some degree, in the overall population densities. What must be kept in mind is that we can not just assign all of the "missing" population density to such creaures. If we did, they would suddenly become the local dominant races, and everyone else would be in trouble.
    As an example, the population density of Keoland is around 10 per square mile. If we "fill up" the rest with 30 orcs per square mile, we suddenly have over 7 million orcs tromping about, and we need to find a way to explain why they aren't in charge of everything. Even adding monstrous predators at the same rate won't work, because the equivalent in manticores or whatever would still wind up eating the entire valley bare in short order.
    So while it is reasonable to assume that the biosphere not taken up by humanoid population is filled by something, it is most likely that the vast majority of it is occupied by non-sentient animals that are reasonably able to be displaced by humans of stone age technology and above, rather than sentient races, monsters, or non-sentient animals and monsters that can neither be as easily displaced, or, worse, would pose an active counter-challenge for the space.

    Demi-humans are, almost entirely, accounted for completely in the population densities I listed.

    Humanoid populations are less included, but as they are in the fringe areas it should be remembered that those fringe areas can sustain signficantly lower populations to begin with. The high mountains of the Crystalmist-Hullfurnaces range and the spurs it throws off towards the Javan, are going to support fewer than 10 people square mile to start with. That will plummet precipitously with giants added in to the mix. In a sense, that "explains" why they raid so much. They are starving up there. Someone would have to calculate exactly how many square miles the Jotens cover, but I suspect the Steading of the Hill Giant Chief consumes from one-fourth to one-half of the available resources available to non-agriculturalists. It would be worse if people don't think hill giants are omnivores.

    Finally, it should be noted that fantasy demographics in relation to subterranean creatures (the Underoerth/Underdark/whatever) absolutely require multiple "super" fungi and fungi feeders to function. I didn't get into that, and it would technically reduce the overall Sheldomar population density by at least 10%, as numbers of dwarves and gnomes and some halflings would be getting their food from down below, and thus not really count against surface population densities.

    So, those are "some" thoughts. There is really a ton more than can be said on the subject, but as you get into more detail you require more technical knowledge, and lose the interest of more people. That's why I stopped where I did. If people want to consider more, I'm certainly game.


    Re: Dungeons and Demographics (Score: 1)
    by Wolfsire on Mon, December 05, 2005
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    I, and I do not doubt many others, would be very interested if you addressed the more complicated issues.  For comparison, AncedMath has put together a spread sheet on filling in the missing populations for the Gran March project.  He came up with almost two million humanoids, about eight times the human/demi-human population.  That was way too high IMO, but I though the spreadsheet provided a good working model that could be adjusted.  He used an “eco-factor” to gauge the humanoids, I think based upon what they would consume.  Perhaps another factor, based upon their ability to extract resources (hunter-gatherer v. herder v. farmer) would also be useful, or the eco-factor could be adjusted to account for that.


    Re: Dungeons and Demographics (Score: 1)
    by Samwise ( on Mon, December 05, 2005
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    Basically, yes.

    The eco-factor is going to be huge, and must be a priority consideration.
    As I noted regarding the Jotens, you can support 100 people per square mile on prime farmland, with decent (medieval to renaissance) technology. That drops precipitously as you head into hills and forests, and plummets more when you hit swamps (and other wetlands) and mountains. Since humans control all those good lands, you are obviously going to have significantly smaller numbers of humanoids etc. Equally though, the population pressure on them is going to surge regularly, and you get them raiding in a manner that forms a staple of D&D plotlines.
    Likewise as you note, how they live is going to affect population density. Taking a resonable source, the Champions of Mystara section on world building (which is rather shockingly detailed):
    Nomadic Hunter-Gatherers 1/10 square miles
    Pastorlaists 1/square mile
    Horticulturalists (slash/burn types) 12/square mile*
    Agriculturalists (using crop rotation, irrigation, and the like) 25-100 square mile

    *The text reads "Horticulturalists or hunter-gatherers will settle". I think it means pastoralists here, referring to people keeping herds in set pastures.

    If Orcs and such are barely settled pastoralists or horticulturalists (which except for giving them herds their lair types would generally indicate), their population will at best equal the current population of human lands. If they are forced into the fringes, or are considered more nomadic, you get drops as shown above.

    All it takes is actually digging out the data on such and applying it.

    As a follow up note, it is often best to use a very simple approach when considering certain things. Take the two million humanoids you got "filling in" for the "missing" humans.
    The Gran March is a human nation, not under siege by swarms of humanoids. So right there we should be able to reasonably eliminate any conception that the "missing" population denisty of 30-90 humans per square mile is filled up with a raw body count of "others", whoever they may be.
    While that may seem like a minor conclusion, it is really quite significant. It means we are shifting from trying to force the population to immediately fill up all that space to simply developing the space we have. In the case of the Gran March, it means there is a really huge reason to have a Knighthood of watchers. With the population density that low you could run a small army through the area without anyone realizing it. That's a pretty strong case to have people with significant authority to keep an eye out for them. Look at rangers and marshalls in the American West of the frontier era.


    Re: Dungeons and Demographics (Score: 1)
    by Anced_Math ( on Mon, December 05, 2005
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    I have begun revising the spread sheet you mentioned.  I addressed the eco factor originally by using humans as the baseline, or a factor of one.  The (admittedly arbitrary) factors I used in comparing each race to human, were how much a) the creature would eat and b) how much they would destroy and or dominate the area around. I have since been reconsidering this, or modifying it.  I think it should also  include the intercine nature of the species. 

    Some creatures occupy a large niche in the world, but they are either not interested and the lands that humans have (lizard men), or they are more occupied with fighting each other (goblins).  There are exceptions to both of these, such as humans encroaching in the Rushmoors, or a dangerous goblin leader arising and enforcing discipline, but generally these are not the case.

    Also, be careful how Arable land is calculated.  Land occupied by a dragon could be arable, but it is not.  In Gran March, the amount of arable land was considerably less that I originally anticipated once I actually counted out the hexes.

    The last thing that I think should be considered is the affect of intercine warfare.  After the fall of Vecna, the Flan were left leaderless.  A severe decline in their population could have occured easily.  Particularly if there were events such as the Oerdians chopping thier way thorugh.  I am not sure that the population of the Sheldomar has increased dramatically so much as it ihas remained near constant.  In my assesment, the population has only begun increasing since the Tavishes. Or it could have gone up and down. 

    All that said, the spreadsheet indicated (at least to my satisfaction) that the population is equal to medieval levels.


    Re: Dungeons and Demographics (Score: 1)
    by CruelSummerLord on Sat, December 03, 2005
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    The numbers in the LGG seem quite believable to me.  Remember, there are still plenty of humans living in places like the Dreadwood and the Yatil Mountains, and so they aren't all counted among the human population states.  And we should also remember that people die all the time in the Flanaess.  Our real world has/had human criminals and bandits, disease, wild animal attacks, and all those other hazards.  The inhabitants of Greyhawk have all that and orcs, goblins, giants, dragons, and a hundred and one other monstrous hazards to boot!

    Also, does this article take into account Gary Holian's "Measuring Up the Oerth" calculations that used to be on []?  That article, IIRC, had the hexes widened to about 33.6 miles or so, which gives us a lot more legroom. 

    On a final and very personal note, I may have misinterpreted one of Samwise's responses, but did he state that Nosnra's Steading of the Hill Giant Chief is the only one in the Jotens?  I personally find that preposterous-there should be a hundred such hill giant lairs in the Jotens alone at the absolute bare minimum.  Add to that a couple dozen stone giant lairs, a hundred dwarf or gnome halls, about six hundred or so goblin lairs (which seems to be really low-balling it, but we'll just keep it like that for the sake of argument.) 

    I personally think it's impossible to "clear out" a mountain range or a forest-the monsters will always come back, sooner or later.  Nosnra's steading is infamous only because it played a part in Snurre and Eclavdra's conspiracy, IMO.  Otherwise, the reasoning seems to be that there are only fifty or so hill giants in the whole Jotens range, which to me seems preposterous.  And besides, once the Steading was cleared out, what else would there be for future adventurers to deal with? 

    Places like the Hellfurnaces and the Crystalmists have, for all intents and purposes, an unlimited supply of giants, ogres and orcs.  Only a truly oerth-shaking event like the Twin Cataclysms could ever put a lid on the number of monsters we have there. 

    The problem with fantasy demographics is two-fold: First, in order to have a viable population base, you need at least a few hundred members, I would think.  Fifty giants in one measly steading just won't cut it.  The other problem is the sheer number of monsters and races in the modern D&D game-they all have to go somewhere, and it seems that many of them are all doomed to be crammed into the various forests, mountains and marshes.  Those areas have to be pretty lush to sustain such a massive variety of life, in addition to all the life-forms we know in our real world. 

    Re: Dungeons and Demographics (Score: 1)
    by Samwise ( on Sat, December 03, 2005
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    I didn't say Nosnra's steading was the only one in the Jotens.
    I said it probably accounted for about 1/4 to 1/2 of the resources available to non-agriculturalists (the only people in) the Jotens. A bit excessive, as I note below, but that's why I said someone needs to go counting stuff up for me first.
    Conversely, a hundred such lairs there, along with all the others listed, is would be excessive, unless the dwarves, gnomes, and goblins all got their food from subterranean sources. There are, from a quick count, 46 hexes in the Jotens. A mountainous region should support about 1-5 people per square mile. At 780 square miles per hex, that is 3,900 people per hex at most, more likely just 780.
    A typical (MM 3.5) hill giant lair is 25 hill giants, 9 noncombatant types, 21 dire wolves, 3 ogres, 17 orcs. At 8 times the mass of a human for a hill giant, and 3 times for an ogre, that accounts for the equivalent of 265 people right there, not counting the dire wolves.
    A typical goblin lair is 220 goblins, 220 noncombatants, 13 leads, and a bunch of worgs and dire wolves. That is 453 people for each of those.
    Just one of each per hex and we are at the uppermost limit for hunter gatherers in a typical mountain area, and you want to double the number of hill giants, and multiple the number of goblins by twelve. And then add even more.
    Not a chance.
    As for Nosnra's steading, it is swarming.
    47 hill giants, 2 fire giants, 6 stone giants, 23 "noncombatants", 13 ogres, 53 bugbears, 269 orcs, and a bunch of animals and other monsters. That is, in general, the equivalent of 959 people, at least. The steading sucks all the resources from its entire hex, and part of a neighboring hex. That's pretty hefty.
    And it strongly suggests what I said, that the reason that raiding is so common is because the giants and others commonly and easily exceed the capacity of the local area. They raid or they starve.

    And no, it shouldn't be impossible to clear any area if someone is really determined to do it. The Alleghenies are pretty danged cleared here on earth. All it takes is determination and a few hundred years of hard work.
    Further, it would be pure hyperbole to suggest there is an unlimited number of anything around anywhere. It is poor design to suggest that just because the steading was cleared out that no adventure remained. At the worst, there are humans to fight for control of the land.
    The reason they aren't being cleared out is because humans haven't even filled up the Sheldomar. They have no need to compete with the giants for the mountains, or even a driving need to prevent their periodic incursions. When they do, expect the giants to die out. That's a very common fantasy trope.

    As for how manymembers it takes to sustain a viable human genetic pool, the number is typically given as something like 10,000 to 50,000. It can be a bit less if you don't have to worry about as many genetic defects, but that is pushing things. Whether that applies to other races is of course harder to say. I think all the evidence strongly suggests that giants and the like maintain a viable population base at about a tenth of that, although there numbers are certainly greater in most places.


    Re: Dungeons and Demographics (Score: 1)
    by Cebrion on Sun, December 04, 2005
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    The numbers in the LGG are not very believable.  

    The Greyhawk lands are veritable wastelands outside of the environs of the main cities.  Of course, it is normal to have a much smaller populaion density outside of city environs, but 10 per square mile is esceptionally low as a total average, especailly if most of the land is habitable.  keoland isn't Iceland.  Forget deserts, just travel the main byways of the average lands of Greyhawk to get that "I'm all alone in this great big world" feeling.  Considering the carnage of the Greyhawk Wars, there would be even fewer people around.  Forutnately, the LGG took some steps to correct the horrific population figures of the 83' boxed set, even considering the postwar population factors.  Even still, all things considered, the population figures are off by an estimated factor of between 4 and 10 as Sam mentioned.

    Yes, 4-10 is a monstrous variance, but much leeway must be taken as other factors such as war, famine, pestilence, cataclysms, etc. must be taken into account for the various lands.  Keoland survived the Greyhawk wars relatively unscathed, and actually increased its population significantly due to refugees from Sterich, Geoff, Bissel, and the Gran March.  The Scarlet Brotherhood troubles really were only a nuisance, and so Keoland actally prospered during the wars(both financially and population-wise) and so would be closer to getting that increase by a factor of 10.  Might we see some Keoish expansionism in the near future?  Methinks it is a very real possibility.  Other lands were not so fortunate.      

    For the record though I'd go with increaseses of between a factor of 4 and 7.  I like a bit of the wasteland feel here and there, but not too much population either-  just enough to kill off in a major campaign catastrophe(the horror!!! >) ) without crippling any land over much.  Habitable land is usually inhabited, but this is not well represented by the current population figures in even the LGG, and that is the main point.        

    Good summary Sam.  It touches on pretty much all of the oddities associated with the population numbers.


    Re: Dungeons and Demographics (Score: 1)
    by Samwise ( on Sun, December 04, 2005
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    One thing I want to stress again:

    Yes, the population numbers are low,
    But not for the point in time!

    Yes, Europe had population densities of 40-100 people per square mile at the cusp of the medieval to renaissance era. (And didn't massively grow to what we have today until the medical revolution of the post-industrial modern age.)
    But before then, the population density was much lower, down to that 10 people per square mile around the start of the Dark Ages. It took time for the population to rebound. And again after the Black Plague ran its course.
    But that didn't mean the empty areas in Europe were suddenly filled with millions of uncounted barbarians or the like. They are accounted for in those general summary numbers I was using, even if they aren't in the LGG. And while Greyhawk does have the monsters that the medieval mind created out of fear and fancy, the critical point is they should not be allowed to overwhelm the human population density, even if that means still leaving the land below what it could support at maximum levels.

    So while those numbers are low, they just represent a severely depleted initial group to build from, not some horrific monster horde swarming on everyone. Indeed, as I noted, the population is pretty much on the high end of the growth rates Europe had. Greyhawk hasn't had any Black Plague, or massive war, or anything similar causing the kind of "Malthusian Correction" Europe had gone through at the beginning, middle, and end of the Middle Ages period. Thye just had the Twin Cataclysms and the limited number of migrating Oeridians at the start. After that, they've been doing just fine, and even better than fine for the most part.


    Re: Dungeons and Demographics (Score: 1)
    by Armenfrast ( on Sun, December 04, 2005
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    You can always extend your demonstration with former theories mentioning that the population was only expressed in adult population or even male "active" population. This way the figures could be multiplied by 2 to 5 - Still not enough, but it is a beginning...

    Re: Dungeons and Demographics (Score: 1)
    by Samwise ( on Mon, December 05, 2005
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    In prior iterations that was the default. Just multiply to account for women and children.
    The 3E/3,5 population default is that it is all adults (which means teenagers and above), which means a 10%- 40% increase depending on race. But that is for settlements, and doesn't mention overall numbers. It would still fall far short of course.

    And the LGG repeats earlier notes about unaligned locations within and on the borders of all nations. But again, given all but one example, that shouldn't account for more than 1% increase in internal populations, and perhaps a 10% overall increase for external areas.

    So maybe, with some stretching, you could eke out increasing the population density by about 50%. That is a beginning, but I think we still need another 350-700 years, enough time for the current population to double or quadruple or more. That should be more than enough to hack all the fantasy critters before moving more heavily into post-renaissance imperial politicing and adventures. :)


    Re: Dungeons and Demographics (Score: 1)
    by Woesinger on Mon, December 05, 2005
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    Very interesting article, Sam!

    I particularly like the back calculation of the numbers of refugees there must have been to produce the current densities (and shall now be applying that to Aerdy to see how many Oerid horsemen actually made it to the Promised Land).

    The other striking finding is that the Flan really were devestated during the Great Migrations. Disease is the obvious and major cause (new pestilences brought out of the west with the invaders), followed by famine (caused by displacement from ancestral lands and hunting grounds) and war (though as you said, that'd be a relatively minor cause of death compared to the previous two).

    Of course, a plague among the Flannae would have gone relatively unreported in the annals of the Oerid and Suel invaders, hence the paucity of accounts of the disaster that befell the natives.


    Re: Dungeons and Demographics (Score: 1)
    by Samwise ( on Mon, December 05, 2005
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    Cool. Check those numbes, and let me know. I want to see if my theory holds across the Flanaess.

    Also, for us GGS groupies, you see I didn't identify the source of the Flan population implosion. Several significant issues need to be considered when choosing one, among them:
    1. Suel presence in the Sheldomar
    Suel colonists began showing up about 300 years before the Twin Cataclysms. Plagues from them should have been spreading from then, and most should have run their course by then. (I think.)
    2. The Bramblewood and Fals Gap don't look like a real barrier
    That is, they shouldn't have blocked a transfer of domesticated species. But it seems they did, and things like horses weren't in the Flanaess before the migrations. That is an obvious source of disease, but the blocking effect would need to be explained.

    And of course, there still exist a number of significant magical disasters, Sulm, the Isles of Woe, Keraptis and Tostenhca, and the City of Summer Stars to name a few. But again, that is for future consideration.


    Re: Dungeons and Demographics (Score: 1)
    by Woesinger on Mon, December 05, 2005
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    You make a good point there on the natural barrier (or lack thereof). The disease couldn't have an animal-carrier resevoir, but must (if it existed) spread from human to human (since there's no real evidence of mass human movements prior to the Migrations). Given the Suel and Oerids weren't decimated, the pestilence must have been endemic to those populations (and become so in the dim and distant past, since they were able to rebound to the point, in the case of the Suel, where they could build a 5,000 year old empire).

    To make a plague work it'd have to be sufficently virulent to the Flannae population (and only really to them) to practically wipe out the majority of those infected in such a way that they don't travel far enough to spread it to other groups.

    So - if the odd germ-bearing Oerid appeared in and around the Fals Gap, infected a tribe and then went back west - only that tribe would be affected. The big kill off was sustained because the Oerids and  Suel kept moving east, bringing their germs with them.

    It's a little implauasible alright. That said, a new varient of an existing disease might have played a part of a multiple whammey (disease, famine, war) hit on the Flan population, which may have already been affected by the collapse of their own civilisations.
    And perhaps Vecna's empire was overstated in its extent or population?

    All stuff to think about.


    Re: Dungeons and Demographics (Score: 1)
    by Woesinger on Thu, December 08, 2005
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    One possible complication with trying your regression on Aerdy is that, unlike the Keoish founders, the Aerdi, having conquered the Flamni Basin, then wnet back and added most of the rest of the Flanaess to the empire. That muddies the waters a little. I mean, what present day population do you regress from?

    Obviously you can't just go from the current population of Ahlissa. You should add the Solnor Compact and Medegia, but do you then add the North Kingdom (probably)? And the Iron League? The Bone March (the human pop there's taken a big hit anyway)? Ratik? Nyrond?

    I guess you can make certain assumptions - such as fiefs with a majority or a large Oerid component population (anything with a big O) that lie east of the marches of Nyrond, were probably settled by the Aerdi exclusively.
    You can also assume that in Nyrond and points west (or in eastern states with only small o pops) - the conquering Aerdi armies comprised such a small proportion of the population as to render them negligible in terms of the founder population.

    Must sit down and do this systematically, but if we assume a human population of roughly 5 million for the old Great Kingdom (Ahlissa, the North Kingdom and the Solnor Compact + Medegia), then regressing back you get  a founder pop of between 185,185 and 625,000 (or so). If we assume that the states of Ehlissa and the lands of the Tyrants of the Trask had significant Flannae populations (which may or may not have crashed after the conquest of those lands by the Aerdi), not to mention wandering Suel like the Zelrads, you'd be aiming for the upper end of that bracket as a realistic founder population.


    Re: Dungeons and Demographics (Score: 1)
    by Samwise ( on Thu, December 08, 2005
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    I'd divide it up into the regional blocks noted in the LGG, and just go from there.
    Remember, this isn't supposed to be an exact calculation, just a general theory. You don't need precise numbers, just ones that aren't thoroughly whacked. If you get a "starting" population of the Great Kingdom area, North Province through the Iron League, of around 200,000, that can break down to about 100,000 Oeridians, 60,000 Suloise, and 40,000 Flan. That seems pretty reasonable to me for a very large tribe (the Aerdi), absorbed enemies (the Suel), and surviving locals (the Flan).


    Re: Dungeons and Demographics (Score: 1)
    by GVDammerung on Mon, December 05, 2005
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    Good title.  Good article.  Long story short - the Flanaess is underpopulated.  What to do about it? 

    Practically, I simply ignore the "canon" numbers, imagining Pluffet Smedger was not good at math or easily distracted.  Everytime he'd get his count going, a dryad would wander by, he'd lose count and start over without considering the population he had already counted?

    "Canon-wise" one can either correct the number or explain it.  The LGG nabobs decided that the low population numbers were "holy writ" and left them substantially lower than they should be.  Unfortunately, to date, I have not heard a reasonable explaination for how the numbers remain so low and yet support a civilization to rival, and arguably surpass, the actual Middle Ages.  Of course, "magic" can explain most everything but then the Flanaess would more resemble realms perhaps best left forgotten.

    Of note, good old Pluffet remarked that "magic was dying" in his time.  Maybe technology rises to replace it, which would be in accord with the philosophizing in the Gord books.  With greater mechanization, crop yields could be increased to then support a greater population.    But as with the "magic" explaination, that might leave the Flanaess looking less like the Flanaess.

    Idea solution?  In the next general GH treatment, increase the population numbers. 

    Good article. :-D

    Re: Dungeons and Demographics (Score: 1)
    by Phoebus on Tue, December 06, 2005
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    I am not sure people per square mile is a very good indication of population density for a fantasy world.  It would be much more informative if we could compare metropolitan densities from European cities during the time with ones of the Flanaess.  The reasoning for this is twofold.

    First of all, Europe is an incredibly small land mass compared to the Flanaess.  What we see is a lot more migration than would be expected during European early history. Also cities can only support so many people before settlers move out and form new towns.

    So the question becomes, why are there so few cities and towns in the Flanaess?

    My thoughts would be because newly founded villages would be far more at risk in a fantasy world than medieval Europe.  Think Jamestown settlement in the 1600's on a much more prevalant scale because not only of natural hazards but supernatural and monsters.

    To reconcile this realistically is that for most large cities there should be several large towns within a days travel that would multiply the population considerably.  Going further out would only have been possible once the major threats in the area had been pacified and even then evil incursions would almost wipe out certain sized villages from time to time.

    I can understand why the developers never bothered with this though.  Creating new towns requires a lot of thought especially with the names. Imagine Gary Gygax coming up with 3X the number of town names than we already have. The horror!  How many anagrams can you possibly handle?

    Re: Dungeons and Demographics (Score: 1)
    by Samwise ( on Tue, December 06, 2005
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    Towns, other than capitals, generally didn't appear on the original maps, and very few have been added.
    My default assumption is that every clear terrain hex that doesn't contain some named city has a small or large town somewhere in it, except in certain areas like the lands of Iuz or the Bandit Kingdoms.
    So there may be fewer cities, but there are plenty of towns.

    I do agree with you as to why they aren't there. I don't want to imagine anyone coming up with that many names for towns!


    Re: Dungeons and Demographics (Score: 1)
    by Anced_Math ( on Mon, December 12, 2005
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    I think this is an excellent point.  If this is linked to the idea of other races/creatures controlling areas of the map, it makes perfect sense that the population density is comperable to European historics.  In the populated areas, it is sufficiently populated to keep order, run off monsters and maintain a state.  In the areas where it is not, it isnt and gnolls or goblins reign.  Or an ancient black dragon.


    Re: Dungeons and Demographics (Score: 1)
    by Anced_Math ( on Mon, December 12, 2005
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    I think this is an excellent point.  If this is linked to the idea of other races/creatures controlling areas of the map, it makes perfect sense that the population density is comperable to European historics.  In the populated areas, it is sufficiently populated to keep order, run off monsters and maintain a state.  In the areas where it is not, it isnt and gnolls or goblins reign.  Or an ancient black dragon.


    Re: Dungeons and Demographics (Score: 1)
    by Crag on Tue, December 06, 2005
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    As some previous posts mentioned the reasons cities in Greyhawk ware scarceoriginally was the amount of work required.

    Remember the original focus of GH was simply as a dungeon crawl and monster lairs, the "emptiness" was a positive as well as a design time saver. So DMs could put their creations or tribes somewhere "over there" without some rules PC quoting "canon scripture" about the area.

    Before players started asking for greater detail about the gameworld, demographics was hardly on the design radar, most official towns consisted of some shops to buy supplies, sell loot, heal and a tavern to hear the next rumor.

    Pc's weren't supposed to be concerned with the how or why of armies and population numbers, these were added "ad hoc" due to market demand and generally the authors chose the size and population figures with caution, no doubt having learned as DMs it is always easier to add more detail later then take anything away once it is part of the gameworld. 

    Re: Dungeons and Demographics (Score: 1)
    by mtg ( on Thu, December 08, 2005
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    I hope not to end the discussion but continue it in a better forum.  See the thread I started in the Readers Workshop.

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