World Population Question

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So I'm working on a D&D campaign world in my spare time and I'm trying to decide what kind of populations I want to use.

Dragonlance, Greyhawk, Even the Forgotten Realms seem to have nations that are fairly big, but only with populations in the 100s of thousands. In medieval Europe the nations had populations in the multi-millions.

With Real Gods, Magic and super powered heros, you would think that populations would at least equal Roman, or medieval levels.

So, I was curious what kind of populations are in your game worlds? Or, perhaps it never comes up?

I'm planning for the campaign to be about 1/3 urban, 1/3 wilderness and 1/3 dungeon.

You may know ALL the rules, but I KNOW the Spirit of the Game.

Mostly it hasnt come up.. I have a small but very important nation state with a population of 200,000  the world as a whole doesnt communicate well enough for characters to know ... but I had players from their who were Councilors and Justiciars so they knew about there own jurisdiction so to speak.
  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

Never comes up.  I might describe a city as being sprawling and crowded or a tiny village as being just a few shacks and a tavern, but I don't have much ned for exact figures, so I don't bother with them.
   I've found that coming up with fixed numbers and specific details about those fixed numbers only really helps to paint you into a corner.  Instead of saying, "this city has exactly 10,000 inhabitants", just go with "many thousands of inhabitants".  The players will be more interested in what they can find in the city, not the exact headcount.

   Also, instead of going on what it *should* be based on the setting, go with the general population numbers you want, and then justify them retroactively why from there. For example...

 If you want a world where people whole up in densely populated cities numbering in the millions and almost nobody lives outside city walls, you can justify it by claiming magic is most commonly found in cities.
 
  If you want a world where most of the population lives in the rural areas and only a few cities exist, you can say that the cities have no real monopoly over magic, so smaller communities can have higher than would be excpected standards of living.

  Maybe the population is low due to a catastrophe or massive war.

  Needs of the setting adapt to meet the needs of the adventure.
Even with all the heroes going around most of the pesants are not getting by any better then they were in the contempoary time periods on earth. All those advantages you list are normally beyound the pesants reach, other then to fight all the things that are trying to kill them. 

The thing is the population did not really start to grow until after the periods that D&D tends ot recreate. I mean the estimated world population in 1000 Ad is like 310 Million (or less). In Charlimane's time the population of europe is estimated as being between 25 and 30 million. 

Plus you need to factor in all the catastrophies that reduce the population, and if you look at a D&D world they tend ot face these more often then we did on earth, so the population growth should be even smaller, and part of the D&D population is non human races with longer life spans who contribute less to population growth.  
Really the population levels depend on how stable the world is and how long it has been stable. For example 4E realms is going to be lightly populated because the spell plague killed so many people and they are still recovering but the population stats are not that reliable as unles sI miss remember the book it only lists populations for specific cities, and not the kingdons as a whole, when most of the population should be in small town and farming villages, not the major cities. for an example I an looking at my 3.0 FRCS it lists Suzail (the capital of Cormyr) with a population less then 50,000, but says the country has 1.36 million inhabitants. I just flipped through my 3.0 FRCS and totaled up the population numbers, even if I made mistakes I sill got over 60 million, which is about on par with wth what europe would have had with a contempoary development level. 

The last campaign I ran involved a world still reeling, a few centuries later, from the collapse of a near globe-spanning empire (and the ensuing wars of succession, magical catastrophes, rampaging monsters, plagues, etc.), so any urban center with a population over a few thousand was regarded by all but one of the PCs (the drow exile being the exception) as something of a sprawling metropolis. Most people tended to live in homesteads and tiny villages within a few days' ride of the decrepit keep of some petty noble or small-time warlord, while decent-sized towns were uncommon and full-fledged cities genuinely rare. Over the course of the heroic tier - after which the campaign ended, sadly, due to a player moving away - the party visited a grand total of three cities with a population greater than 10,000, and all of them were described as intimidatingly vast in size.
Short answer: As many as it needs.

Longer answer: Most of the time I don't bother to count.  but just as a mental exercise I tried to estimate the population for each of the 4e campaign worlds I've devised (at least the areas established for adventuring... there could be continents on the other side of each world with millions of people)

Kishar: This world is based on early Babylonian empire.  The world is young and arid, and agriculture is crude.  It's a small area (about 500 miles across).  So I figure about 500,000 people.

Wondrous Wood: This campaign takes place almost entirely in a single uninhabited magical wood.  (Well inhabited by faeries), with ocassional jaunts to a small village by a river, the Faerie World, and other desolate destinations.  The explored world has abut 1000 inhabitants, the vast majority of which are fey.

Jahan: This is my Arabian Nights world.  The adventuring area is about 1,000 miles across.  Were in the medieval period, with large cities and trade.  I'd say the place has about 10 to 20 million people.

Alandalus: This takes place in a fantastical version of Andalusian Spain, with the Moors being human or dwarven, the Christians being elves and the Jews as eladrin.  The wilderness has goblins and ogres and giants.  It's pretty vast and unpopulated, except for heavily fortified cities.  I'll say about 3 million.

Patronage: This fictional "bubble world" has nine immortal patron races governing all the people's of the world.  It's about twice the size of Europe, making it my largest world by far.  I'll say about 150-200 million people in that world.
Never really comes up.  It'd be impossible to account for every single podunk village and random hermit on the planet, anyway.  Typically, I just worry about the size of individual cities, towns, villages, and so forth.

A typical major city in my game worlds have about 300,000 people in it.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
So I'm working on a D&D campaign world in my spare time and I'm trying to decide what kind of populations I want to use.

Dragonlance, Greyhawk, Even the Forgotten Realms seem to have nations that are fairly big, but only with populations in the 100s of thousands. In medieval Europe the nations had populations in the multi-millions.

With Real Gods, Magic and super powered heros, you would think that populations would at least equal Roman, or medieval levels.

So, I was curious what kind of populations are in your game worlds? Or, perhaps it never comes up?

I'm planning for the campaign to be about 1/3 urban, 1/3 wilderness and 1/3 dungeon.



In reallife, the entire population of all Premodern humans on the planet is relatively few.

During the Roman Empire, in the Classical Era, the total global population is roughly one billion.
Even by the Modern Era, the total population is only roughly three billion.

In the span of one lifetime, the global population explodes, changing from four billion to five billion, to six billion, and today its just about seven billion.



In reallife, most ancient “cities” are about the size of a football stadium. Its better to call them “towns”, referring to their townwalls. These towns are surrounded by open farmland and wildernesses. A group of nearby farm houses is called a “hamlet”. A village suggests there is some kind of manufacturing industry going on, almost always on a traderoute. All settled populations must be nearby a watersource.

Truly large, sprawling cities like Rome and Babylon and so on, are rare and famous for good reason. These cities are too big to sustain themselves and are necessarily predatory economies, that literally survive by seizing resources from militarily weaker populations, in the form of open warfare, tribute, and taxes.

Massive democracy never existed until the United States of America, and is a successful radical revolution in human ideology.

During the Roman Empire, in the Classical Era, the total global population is roughly one billion.
Even by the Modern Era, the total population is only roughly three billion.


 
  More like 200 million and 7 billion.

@mikemearls don't quite understand the difference

I don't make the rules, I just think them up and write them down. - Eric Cartman

Enough chitchat!  Time is candy! - Pinky Pie


During the Roman Empire, in the Classical Era, the total global population is roughly one billion.
Even by the Modern Era, the total population is only roughly three billion.


 
  More like 200 million and 7 billion.

The estimates vary, but the ones I have seen range from 150 million ot 330 million at 0 AD.

They also have the world population not reaching a billion until the 1800's

Not that it matters too much, since we aren't talking about the real world.  We're talking about D&D worlds.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
Well depending on the  world, you also have to account that in D&D humans aren't the dominant race. They share land with scores of intelligent races. Some of which prey on humans.
Not that it matters too much, since we aren't talking about the real world.  We're talking about D&D worlds.



Of course, D&D is a magical world. Just using reallife as a measure for a setting to decide what constitutes “crowded”. Heh. “Points of light” gets in right.



@FFSAA. We havent even reached seven billion yet!

©sjmcc. Estimates are disputable, especially for ancient populations. But “200 million” sounds radically minimalist. I would need to read the studies that argue for such numbers. In any case, the Human are few and far between.

The “knee of the curve” of the population explosion happened at roughly in the 2 billions roughly around 1950. Any numbers before then is really “Premodern”. By 1960 the population is 3 billion and describes the emergence of a “Modern” population.

The curve is such, it seems there is virtually no change to the sparse global population, until the Modern World. Then boom.

(Whence the term “babyboomers”.)
just think big city/small village the exact pop. doesnt really matter in my games. i worry mostly about the race/race ratio, but thats just me.
just think big city/small village the exact pop. doesnt really matter in my games. i worry mostly about the race/race ratio, but thats just me.



In terms of ratio, use the Golden Ratio. Any ethnicity over two-thirds (61.8%) defines the culture.

Note, a tenth of a population, if they are all on the same page, can revolutionize the culture. This percentage also applies to whatever elites are in power.
While 161.8% is the golden ratio, please don't call it two-thirds.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
What exactly makes 61.8% a golden ratio? Just curious, as it's such an odd number.
If a > b,

(a+b) / a  = a / b

It's a mathematical constant, something determined by the simplest axioms of mathematics.  It's like asking what makes 3.14159 pi - it just is.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
©sjmcc. Estimates are disputable, especially for ancient populations. But “200 million” sounds radically minimalist. I would need to read the studies that argue for such numbers. In any case, the Human are few and far between.


en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_population_e... 
It lists some estimates from several differnt groubs, and references. 



Thanks to everyone for the input. Thanks to Alex_, sjmcc13, and wrccan in particular for the excellent advice.

I think perhaps the "City/Town/Village" model, rather then having a numerical value will be best. Quicker, easier. I can always give an estimate if they ask, but if they don't then I have saved myself some work.

I like mapping and creating campaign maps, and like to rationalize to myself where I put the towns and cities, though usually no one really cares overly much.

You may know ALL the rules, but I KNOW the Spirit of the Game.

One thing that got me wondering was when I was paging though the Bible and found in Chronicles or Numbers, or somewhere, that King David sent out his generals to get a count of all able bodied men that could be a soldier. And they came back with some number like 1.5 million.

I know the Bible has some errors, but ancient Israel was not that big, and it is in an arid region, so then I was wondering why D&D worlds are so sparce in population.

Catastrophes and Monsters I guess could be a good reason. It would allow the PCs to shine in a smaller population and it would allow for lots of monsters for them to fight.

You may know ALL the rules, but I KNOW the Spirit of the Game.

In the Bible, large numbers are not meant to be taken literally.  they often had spiritual significance or just meant "a whole lot".
I know the Bible has some errors, but ancient Israel was not that big, and it is in an arid region, so then I was wondering why D&D worlds are so sparce in population.

It was also on a intersection of several major trade routs IIRC. Which would boost population levels. 

In the Bible, large numbers are not meant to be taken literally.  they often had spiritual significance or just meant "a whole lot".

You do realize that many religions claim that their holy text is divinly written, and as a result 100% accurate and truthful. 
They also have a tendency to make the same claim about translation errors. 




You do realize that many religions claim that their holy text is divinly written, and as a result 100% accurate and truthful. They also have a tendency to make the same claim about translation errors.


What I do realize is that discussion of real-world religions is going to get this thread locked, so let's agree to stop.
In the Bible, large numbers are not meant to be taken literally.  they often had spiritual significance or just meant "a whole lot".



I sometimes think they multiplied by ten.

Didn't the Persians have a tremendous standing army? Like half a million? Of course the Persians controlled a lot more land and had a lot more people inside their empire and collected a lot more resources.

The Greeks at the Battle of Thermopylae (Leonidus and the 300) supposedly faced a army that ancient records say numbered around one million, but which historians think was closer to 200,000. At the Battle of Plataea, which ended the Persian-Greek War, supposedly 110,000 Greeks showed up to fight. That is quite a lot.

If say the Orcs of the Black Skullmist Mountains were able to rangle up 100,000 soldiers that would be quite a war. Even large nations like Calimshan and Sembia in FR, would be hard pressed to round up 100,000 soldiers, and they are supposed to be two of the most civilized and populous regions in FR.

Bottom line, there were large numbers of people trained to fight in Ancient times, yet only small numbers of warriors in most D&D campaigns. I just find it curious.

You may know ALL the rules, but I KNOW the Spirit of the Game.

In the Bible, large numbers are not meant to be taken literally.  they often had spiritual significance or just meant "a whole lot".



I sometimes think they multiplied by ten.
 



heheheh....
human ages were multiplied by 4 and may have meant seasons not years...
ok no studies show that = I am just blowin smoke 
  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

It is an old school resource, but I really liked this one for general ideas and suggestions regarding world building.

l
Chelsea FC - winner of 2012 FA Cup and Champions League Champions of Europe! Three Lions Resident Footie
In the Bible, large numbers are not meant to be taken literally.  they often had spiritual significance or just meant "a whole lot".



I sometimes think they multiplied by ten.
 



heheheh....
human ages were multiplied by 4 and may have meant seasons not years...
ok no studies show that = I am just blowin smoke 


 
  Ohh, seasons, that would make the earth a more obviously ridiculous 1450 years old instead of the already amazingly ridiculous 5800 the bible claims.

  But how did Noah fit 3 million creatures on his boat?

@mikemearls don't quite understand the difference

I don't make the rules, I just think them up and write them down. - Eric Cartman

Enough chitchat!  Time is candy! - Pinky Pie

human ages were multiplied by 4 and may have meant seasons not years...
ok no studies show that = I am just blowin smoke

Actually, the ages of humans before Noah in the Bible, if one replaces a year by a lunar month, become reasonable, and this theory has been advanced that the word meaning "year" in Hebrew once meant "month".

Coming up with weird ideas to make everyone happy since 2008!

 

I have now started a blog as an appropriate place to put my crazy ideas.

Let's keep this historical and not get into real world religions, thanks.

ORC_Chaos
In the Bible, large numbers are not meant to be taken literally.  they often had spiritual significance or just meant "a whole lot".



I sometimes think they multiplied by ten.
 



heheheh....
human ages were multiplied by 4 and may have meant seasons not years...
ok no studies show that = I am just blowin smoke 



I think they multiplied by ten there too. Many of those Patriachs lived to 800+ years.

Maybe full moons?

Anyway, we should not discuss Real Life Religion.....Frown

Edit: Sorry Orc.... did not see your post before posting. Want to delete? Edit?

You may know ALL the rules, but I KNOW the Spirit of the Game.

It is an old school resource, but I really liked this one for general ideas and suggestions regarding world building.

l


That looks cool. I'll see if I can pick it up somewhere. Maybe ebay?

Is that Volo?

What's he got there??? Half-orc scribes?

You may know ALL the rules, but I KNOW the Spirit of the Game.

Dunno about Volo.  Probably?

Ironic, I did not realise the author until after I posted the image.
Chelsea FC - winner of 2012 FA Cup and Champions League Champions of Europe! Three Lions Resident Footie
It is an old school resource, but I really liked this one for general ideas and suggestions regarding world building.


 

I have not read that in years, got a copy second hand back in the day (aka pre 3.X), but iirc it was missing couple the inserts. 
That looks cool. I'll see if I can pick it up somewhere. Maybe ebay?

Is that Volo?

You can ebay almost any book, or other online stores, and lets not forget second hand books stores... amazon.com has several listed for $10 + shipping from its sellers. 
 I doubt it is Volvo because the book is setting neutral, and volvo was a FR personality.
It is an old school resource, but I really liked this one for general ideas and suggestions regarding world building.

 

I have not read that in years, got a copy second hand back in the day (aka pre 3.X), but iirc it was missing couple the inserts.



It had some cool, blank hex and world map sheets waiting to be copied and/or drawn upon. 

Chelsea FC - winner of 2012 FA Cup and Champions League Champions of Europe! Three Lions Resident Footie
 I doubt it is Volvo because the book is setting neutral, and volvo was a FR personality.


You are probably right. Volo had a rounded off beard and prefered browns and white.

You may know ALL the rules, but I KNOW the Spirit of the Game.

this theory has been advanced that the word meaning "year" in Hebrew once meant "month".

I believe I read that some of the smaller ancient Mediterranean cultures counted time by lunar months rather than years (given that the moon is far more easily observable than calculating, say, solstice to solstice), which can explain/account for some of the differences in ancient historical records (and lines up some mythological/legendary events with geological events far better). I plan on working that difference in calendar format into a game somehow, just haven't hit on a plot thread where it makes sense.

“If the computer or the game designer is having more fun than the player, you have made a terrible mistake.” -Sid Meier
If a > b,

(a+b) / a  = a / b

It's a mathematical constant, something determined by the simplest axioms of mathematics.  It's like asking what makes 3.14159 pi - it just is.


That explanation means nothing to anyone who's never heard of the Golden Ratio. In fact, it's somewhat condescending.

Luckily, wiki is very helpful! 
D&D worlds periodically undergo dragon flights, humanoid raids, monstrous invasions, magical blights, demonic incursions, etc.  I would suspect that could lead to lower populations than Earth's history.

With the application of magic and domesticated monsters, D&D worlds don't need the vast numbers of laborers that historical cultures needed for building projects.

As a handful of high level characters can destroy a small army, not as many soldiers are needed.
If a > b,

(a+b) / a  = a / b

It's a mathematical constant, something determined by the simplest axioms of mathematics.  It's like asking what makes 3.14159 pi - it just is.


That explanation means nothing to anyone who's never heard of the Golden Ratio. In fact, it's somewhat condescending.

Luckily, wiki is very helpful! 


Just watch Pi, it has a decent description, and is a good movie.  
Though for those not as mathmatically inclined, ni the formula a  equals the  square root of b squared + a multiplied by b.
a = (b^2 + a*b)^.5