Are the towns a little.... puny?

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From what I've heard the D&D world is a vast trackless wasteland, and town are "points of light" in the darkness. Something that I found kind of odd is that all the villages are still innocent farming towns. I would think they would need a much more Spartan lifestyle, or at least a big fence.

I mean, wouldn't the first level 5 monster to wander by just wipe out all the lvl1 farmers?
Well, some of the points of light are bigger then others.

To be fair, there really isn't a core D&D 4e setting, there is just a collection of things that are not really setting specific. You are free to color your world any way you want.
From what I've heard the D&D world is a vast trackless wasteland, and town are "points of light" in the darkness. Something that I found kind of odd is that all the villages are still innocent farming towns. I would think they would need a much more Spartan lifestyle, or at least a big fence.

I mean, wouldn't the first level 5 monster to wander by just wipe out all the lvl1 farmers?

No it wouldn't, because you're there. Duh! :D

Seriously though, this is intentional for the style of heroic fantasy. The idea is to make the PCs necessary and vital to the setting as saviors.
I have some ideas for some towns full of warriors. Like the town where just about every citizen is an arcane magician. Would make an interesting hometown for the wild mage sorcerer who was.... encouraged to go adventuring.
I would think they would need a much more Spartan lifestyle, or at least a big fence.

I'd imagine even the smallest of them do have a low wall and a 2nd or 3rd level Sheriff, along with some 1st level help. And everyone can serve as a minion in a pinch. But yeah you're hoping the adventurers show up and save the day before your village becomes some other adventurer's tragic backstory.
Well... At least we got custom avatars....
True true. I suppose a level 3 party couldn't really do much that a town of level 7 warriors couldn't do for themselves. You'll have to wait till paragon tier to save their butts.
Unintelligent Heroic-tier monsters don't raid these small villages because they just see a lot of people living there. They may just be peasants, but still a perceived threat. Paragon & Epic tier monsters, on the other hand...they eat such villages for breakfast. Thankfully, these creatures aren't exactly common.

Intelligent monsters usually don't raid these small villages because it's often more profitable to keep them around, take what the monsters want as they need it. Crazy intelligent monsters are the rare exception, as they may decide to wipe a village out just because.

At least, that's my understanding of it all. These villages tend to have meager defenses, but manage to get by. It's only when they try to expand or accidentally stick their noses into places they shouldn't be (cutting down trees under fey protection, mining in kobold territory, etc) that they call down the thunder, so to speak.

When I think of the 4e assumed world, I envision the feudal lands seen in Inu-Yasha. Little farming villages surrounded by dense wood, teeming with magical and often unsavory lifeforms that could totally annihilate the humans if they really tried.
4e D&D is not a "Tabletop MMO." It is not Massively Multiplayer, and is usually not played Online. Come up with better descriptions of your complaints, cuz this one means jack ****.
The DMG-standard populations are absurdly small all across the board. Europe at the peak of the Black Plague wasn't as sparsely populated as the 4E setting, and yet the world is crawling with monsters and hordes of "uncivilized" bad guy races. Suspending disbelief is nigh-impossible without taking every population limit and multiplying it by a factor of ten.

Hard to do epic fantasy when a multiplanar "metropolis" like Sigil has a smaller population than my home town.
I am running the KotS for my son right now. The city in there is walled. My back story has this town as just one of a loose alliance of towns in the region. The villagers told him that since the empire pulled out of the area about 100 years ago it isn't uncommon for small bands of kobolds, goblins, orcs, etc. to raid the area, but the local militias do a pretty good job stopping or deterring such bands.

Lately the humaniod incursions have been getting worse. About a year prior to the campaign starting an orc army party come into the area and was defeated by the combined militias of all the local towns and the towns are still recovering from it.

Now with the latest reports of goblins and wolves (I replaced the kobold with goblins and wolves) making themselves at home in the area (instead of raiding and moving on) the twons are getting very nervous and have hired my son's character to help rid the area of these vermin.

 Any Edition

Hard to do epic fantasy when a multiplanar "metropolis" like Sigil has a smaller population than my home town.

Manual of the Planes, page 25:

"Population: Approximately 250,000. Representatives of nearly every race and monstrous kind can be found somewhere in the city."

Dude...you have one seriously large home town. My own only has about 80,000 permanent residents (not counting the snowbirds that are only here for the winter...I live on the beach in Florida).
Dude...you have one seriously large home town. My own only has about 80,000 permanent residents (not counting the snowbirds that are only here for the winter...I live on the beach in Florida).

[Haughtiness]-If you think 250,000 residents is a lot, that's...well, it's not.[/Haughtiness]
Trolls in sheep's clothing have no redeeming qualities that are beneficial towards the health of the community. My Artwork/Photography/Literature
[Haughtiness]-If you think 250,000 residents is a lot, that's...well, it's not.[/Haughtiness]

It's not, if you compare it to a large city such as current-day NYC or LA. Of course, towns in real-world medieval times were NOT that large, as there would be little way to support such an immense population. That's the reasons there were large baronies that stretched over hundreds of miles to allow for farmlands and such. The residents could spread out so as to tend their own animals and crops. The security of a walled city came at a heavy cost for the residents, as others had to supply their food and supplies. The typical taxation for those residents was quite high when compared to open-land residents who could tend to themselves without relying on the city's government for living essentials.

By the way, Sigil was not the best example to use for this analogy. Sigil has literally multi-thousands of temporary residents who are simply passing through on their way elsewhere. The vast majority of PoL towns are small...almost village-like. Even when compared to Forgotten Realm cities like Baldur's Gate or Waterdeep, most modern large (real-world) cities surpass them hundreds of times over.
Dude...you have one seriously large home town. My own only has about 80,000 permanent residents (not counting the snowbirds that are only here for the winter...I live on the beach in Florida).

Mine's got ~30k. Maybe 35k.

Then again, I am only 30 minutes from the greatest City in the World, (if you can stand the politicians): Chicago!
Ahh, so THIS is where I can add a sig. Remember: Killing an ancient God inside of a pyramid IS a Special Occasion, and thus, ladies should be dipping into their Special Occasions underwear drawer.
I live in a city of 8 million. However, any modern major city has one thing D&D lacks - lots and lots of really high skyscrapers. No apartments in D&D. :P
If we're talking about D&D cities, we shouldn't really compare with modern cities.

From wikipedia:
Largest cities throughout history

There are a number of cities in the ancient world that tops 500,000 or even 1,000,000 but they tend to be major or capital cities in a relatively stable and prosperous empire.

Also:
Historical Urban Community Size
Guys the populations are a bit light, but not by much. 12th century London was one of the biggest cities in Europe at 20'000 citizens. It had half that in the 10th century, or around 10'000 citizens. Around that same time line the truly massive cities (top one or two) had around a million people, but the vast majority had far fewer.

So a relatively small town like Fellcrest, the center of Nentir Vale, having a population of 1350 isn't that far off the mark.

It really depends on what time you would place your campaign world relative to our own. In my campaign the time line is completely separate and and earth exists as it does today (though my campaign is set on an Astral Dominion.. so it really doesn't matter what the date of earth is.)

I would say an average population for a large city (DMG p153,) of 20'000 is probably spot on for a late-medieval timeline. A city of 20'000 would be one of the largest in the 12th century.

And you cant compare the size of cities in D&D to the size of a modern city or even a modern town. Just with going by real history our population is 100 times the size it was in the 12th century. I mean just form the 18th century to today the population has increased more then 6 fold, from under 1 billion worldwide in 1750 to over 6 billion, with some estimates putting it at 6.4 or so, today. So figure in the middle ages there were likely less then 200 million people world wide. So naturally cities would have been MUCH smaller.

In the end if your a DM and you think cities are to small, increase their size. Remember Rule Zero (see today's Confessions of a Full Time Wizard as an example hehe. Love those articles.) And your time line might be dramatically different, your populations dramatically different because your campaign is likely set in a wholly fantastic world.

So if you think the DMG pages on population sizes is to small, by all means increase it!
Of course, towns in real-world medieval times were NOT that large, as there would be little way to support such an immense population.

-Of course, Sigil is not a real-world medieval city. We are/were discussing hometowns, however.
Trolls in sheep's clothing have no redeeming qualities that are beneficial towards the health of the community. My Artwork/Photography/Literature
-Of course, Sigil is not a real-world medieval city.

It's not? Oh no...you mean I've been lied to all these years? There's no great donut-city in space? I'll get those lying bast---s...just you wait and see...no one makes a fool out of me more than six or seven times without paying for it...

We are/were discussing hometowns, however.

We are? Oh my god...where am I? For that matter, who am I?:D :P
It's not? Oh no...you mean I've been lied to all these years? There's no great donut-city in space? I'll get those lying bast---s...just you wait and see...no one makes a fool out of me more than six or seven times without paying for it...

-Have you ever wanted to own your own bridge?
Trolls in sheep's clothing have no redeeming qualities that are beneficial towards the health of the community. My Artwork/Photography/Literature
-Have you ever wanted to own your own bridge?

Know a few good ones for sale? I'm kinda strapped for cash right now, though...we might have to barter a bit for it.
the greatest City in the World, (if you can stand the politicians): Chicago!

But they're part of what makes it so great....
I like the idea that stupid monsters will be scared of cities and smart monsters will keep them around and just steal what they need.

The real dangerous ones are the roving bands of orc intent on destruction alone!

Know a few good ones for sale? I'm kinda strapped for cash right now, though...we might have to barter a bit for it.

The rail company was willing to sell the Quebec Bridge to the government for a symbolic dollar. They might still be interested :p

Needs some hefty maintnance though.

And my hometown has around 500 000 people in it. We are a provincial capital though and pretty stretched out.
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Manual of the Planes, page 25:

"Population: Approximately 250,000. Representatives of nearly every race and monstrous kind can be found somewhere in the city."

Dude...you have one seriously large home town. My own only has about 80,000 permanent residents (not counting the snowbirds that are only here for the winter...I live on the beach in Florida).

Not really. Mine is a bit north of 600,000 and really isn't all that big by modern standards. It's not really fair to compare it to a medieval city though. For one, it is FAR more spread out at around 460 square miles. That wouldn't be practical in a more medieval type setting considering it would take you a day or two just to get across town. We also have sewers and proper sanitation. A city of 600,000 in medieval times, aside from being one of the largest in the world, would likely be a filthy, nasty place. Sanitation wasn't usually real high on their agendas back then.
I mean, wouldn't the first level 5 monster to wander by just wipe out all the lvl1 farmers?

Yes, you're right. Points of light makes no sense. Movies (and not many actually use this really) can get away with it because the movie is 90 minutes long and the camera goes where the director tells it to. For a game where the characters run around, buy magic items from shops, have some freedom to explore and spend more than 90 minutes in the world it makes as much sense as an 8 inch bat dropping a 4 foot long magical long sword when it dies. 4E isn't about making sense. Points of light is about being able to walk 5 minutes out of town and get into the next combat to put those powers, feats and magic items, which take up 90% of the book's contents, to some use.

@mikemearls don't quite understand the difference

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I live in a city of 8 million. However, any modern major city has one thing D&D lacks - lots and lots of really high skyscrapers. No apartments in D&D. :P

Doesn't Eberron have stuff like that?
To have big town you need a peaceful environnement that make it easy to bring in the supply. We have seen this to be true even in the modern era in Afghanistan were towns were losing population because people were fleing them.

As for Sigil I agree that 250 000 is a little low. I would at least put a million.

As for the villages in the PoL world, most village would probably have at least a wooden wall. And don't forget that even if D&D lists NPC as being weaker then monster, from a pure story wise point, you could consider that a kobold, goblin and even orc is the equivalent at fighting than an NPC. For them, raiding a village would probably be a success, but the lost could be heavy. They have to balance out the cost and consequence of raiding a village. If too much warrior die, the survival of their tribe could be in danger.

What can happen, and can be a great plot hook for a PoL game, is that the balance is broken. Somehow the monster get some help, or the human lost too much people because of an accident. And then the poor village get obverwhelmed or must move to the closer wall city. If only some adventurer could help save them?

Think of it as a dynamic balance. For one or two generation the human live here, some **** happen and they must change their way or die. Same for the tribe, perhaps they were few, but suddendly an orc tribe is driving away the kobolds and kobolds migrate in mass in the human lands.
I personally say 250k is fine for Sigil. Thats simply permanent residents. However every day the number of folks in Sigil is probably at least double that as people come and go constantly.
I personally say 250k is fine for Sigil. Thats simply permanent residents. However every day the number of folks in Sigil is probably at least double that as people come and go constantly.

Precisely. Think about a place like New Orleans, Orlando, or any other attraction-type place. How many permanent residents are there as opposed to how many people visit there on a daily basis?
Guys the populations are a bit light, but not by much. 12th century London was one of the biggest cities in Europe at 20'000 citizens. It had half that in the 10th century, or around 10'000 citizens. Around that same time line the truly massive cities (top one or two) had around a million people, but the vast majority had far fewer.

As a side note, during the 1st century AD, the Roman Army had about 400,000 troops.
But they're part of what makes it so great....

No, they're why we have the HIGHEST sales tax in the US.
Ahh, so THIS is where I can add a sig. Remember: Killing an ancient God inside of a pyramid IS a Special Occasion, and thus, ladies should be dipping into their Special Occasions underwear drawer.
Points of light makes no sense.

If what you described is the world your DM forces you to play in, I can see why you have become so jaded. If that is the world you make your players play in, they have my condolences. If that is the world you think 4e is played in, you have my pity.
Here are the PHB essentia, in my opinion:
  • Three Basic Rules (p 11)
  • Power Types and Usage (p 54)
  • Skills (p178-179)
  • Feats (p 192)
  • Rest and Recovery (p 263)
  • All of Chapter 9 [Combat] (p 264-295)
A player needs to read the sections for building his or her character -- race, class, powers, feats, equipment, etc. But those are PC-specific. The above list is for everyone, regardless of the race or class or build or concept they are playing.
the village i was born and raised in is more or less 5000 people. we had a single school for grades K-12. my graduating class was 33 people and it was considered above average.

most small rural towns would probably be like the one i lived in, an amalgamation of small communities & families focused around a single hub. we have various parishes but the hub of the village is Wellington, which has the grocery store (the equivalent of a D&D marketplace) and the government offices (the equivalent of the mayor, sheriff & what little millitary).

these small communities are often spread over a LARGE quantity of land, mostly due to the space required for farming & animals, and the center of it would probably be the church & school house where the farmers could meet for local business issues.

people seem to think that a Village is nothing but a bunch of tatched roof cottages huddled together, but truth be told only the really big cities would be like that. small villages are most often a gathering of communities. the "Hub" might be walled in, but to gather all the small villages AND properly guard that expanse of land? no, they are out of luck.
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If what you described is the world your DM forces you to play in, I can see why you have become so jaded. If that is the world you make your players play in, they have my condolences. If that is the world you think 4e is played in, you have my pity.

This is almost poetry.
As a side note, during the 1st century AD, the Roman Army had about 400,000 troops.

They were also at the height of their imperial power with soldiers drawn from their entire empire.

I think a clear distinction should be made between cities that are more city states/PoL and cities that are clearly a part of some larger country/empire. Once pass a certain size, cities can no longer subsist on just the local food/resource and requires constant import from other areas. It's really not much of an exaggeration to say that large cities requires large countries for support.
The DMG guidelines are (and have been for years) drastically small. Someone mentioned multiplying by ten - that's a lot better. Medieval Europe was a significantly sparse area and time, but that's only by comparison to previously (and later) thriving metropolises.

Most medieval villages that did not have religious, political, or otherwise practical significance were unnamed. After the population rose over ~10,000, it could be significant enough to be named, otherwise it would be referenced as the equivalent of pit stop, or as the local baron / duke / lord who presided over it.

There were tons of unnamed villages of a few thousand people, some evolved and some didn't. They certainly wouldn't be the place you'd go to search for money, goods, jobs, academies, or a good place to stay. Anything smaller than 6,000 people wouldn't likely have the need to trade weapons or goods or support a labor camp, and thus have little practical use in an adventure fantasy setting.

Best way to play it is multiply the DMG settings by some number, and then sprinkle in a few "pit stop villages" populated by people who don't care what you call them or banner flies over some castle somewhere. If you wanted to stay true to Feudal Europe, these unnamed villages would vastly outnumber cities, would be grievously isolated, would likely not be found on a large-scale map, and would have little care for who wanders by as long as they don't get bothered.
Doesn't Eberron have stuff like that?

The city of Sharn does. It's in a "manifest zone" to the plane of air, which means among other things that it's practical to build very high - and in fact there's a district which actually flies, which has high property values.

They were also at the height of their imperial power with soldiers drawn from their entire empire.

I think a clear distinction should be made between cities that are more city states/PoL and cities that are clearly a part of some larger country/empire. Once pass a certain size, cities can no longer subsist on just the local food/resource and requires constant import from other areas. It's really not much of an exaggeration to say that large cities requires large countries for support.

Also, the Roman Army doesn't include the Imperial Navy, the Praetorians, and the Urban cohorts from Rome, which probably take the total close to 500,000 in a total imperial population of 20,000,000.

All the largest cities in the Roman empire, and most of China's before the 19th century, are places that had been the capital of one state or another. Administrative centres attract people from outside, and usually become the largest city in a state unless there's an older capital which retains that. Though Venice was probably Europe's largest city in the 14th Century, without exactly being an imperial capital in comparison to some others.

These, in the day when heaven was falling, The hour when earth's foundations fled, Followed their mercenary calling, And took their wages, and are dead. Playing: Legendof Five Rings, The One Ring, Fate Core. Planning: Lords in the Eastern Marches, Runequest in Glorantha. 

Also, the Roman Army doesn't include the Imperial Navy, the Praetorians, and the Urban cohorts from Rome, which probably take the total close to 500,000 in a total imperial population of 20,000,000.

All the largest cities in the Roman empire, and most of China's before the 19th century, are places that had been the capital of one state or another. Administrative centres attract people from outside, and usually become the largest city in a state unless there's an older capital which retains that.

And well Rome itself had a population of 1 000 000 and the empire was at the apex of it's power. There was virtually no ennemy that could pose a serious threat to the empire.

Though Venice was probably Europe's largest city in the 14th Century, without exactly being an imperial capital in comparison to some others.

Venice was the capital of the greatest trade network from the time. I think this could qualify as a capital.
[Haughtiness]-If you think 250,000 residents is a lot, that's...well, it's not.[/Haughtiness]

NYC cheats by stapling five towns together.
Sig to be rebuilt soon The Descendants-- the webserial that reads like a comic book! World of Ere-- A campaign setting that puts style to the fore.
[Haughtiness]-If you think 250,000 residents is a lot, that's...well, it's not.[/Haughtiness]

NYC cheats by stapling five towns together.
Sig to be rebuilt soon The Descendants-- the webserial that reads like a comic book! World of Ere-- A campaign setting that puts style to the fore.
I'd say that the point of light isn't Fallcrest or Winterhaven or the Harkenwold. The whole Nentir Vale is a point of light with some shadows. All the towns and villages and baronies in the area work together in some fashion to keep the true darkness out beyond the mountains that bound the area. This allows the small farming communities like Winterhaven to just worry about the shadows (kobold raids and the like) and not be crushed.

You'll also notice that all such points of light presented so far seem to have geographical features that make this task much easier than they would otherwise be. It seems civilization almost always exists in "[Insert Name of River Here] Vale."
A point regarding Sigil: unlike most RL cities that eclipse it in population, Sigil is forced to be built in a very limited space. There is no horizontal expansion in a torus, and vertical expansion has its practical limits in an inwardly curved space. Basically, Sigil is a space station without the ability to add some more cogs and tubes onto it, and 250K may well be a firm limit as imposed by physics. You can, of course, just make it bigger to give it more people.

In real life, most modern towns and cities that aren't in previously uninhabited areas form on points of geographical interest. You'll notice a trend that rivers are often right in the middle of many big cities, and it's for a good reason - before industry (or magitech), rivers are both wellsprings and transportation boons. Coasts, mountainsides, trade routes, and natural resources are the other big traits that will lock down a population. When the population is low, densities will tend to be sparse as there's no reason to let others crowd you in, unless a resource is so valuable you are forced to compromise lest you lose all access. Thus, the highest-quality resources will either demonstrate the atypically great clumping we're more used to seeing, or someone with sufficient wealth or power will claim it for himself. Some stuff to keep in mind. ^_^