Reply-To: The GREYtalk Discussion List
From: Lonny Eckert
Subject: Re: [GREYTALK] Greyhawk populations – Multipart Reply t
I believe that the Greytalk server has a limit of 50 messages per day so bear with the multi-part reply to your comments. This is a very long e-mail.
Hopefully a somewhat more integrated reply on my part will help frame the discussion better.
Thanks everyone for your good comments on this subject.
I had previously commented to part of Nikolaus's thoughts on the subject.
Nikolaus Athas wrote:
>Of course now that the Greyhawk wars have been unleashed (and
>finished) the population density would have made a further drop as war,
>famine and pestilence take their toll.
The Greyhawk Wars can't be used as a justification for the Flanaess's low populations prior to the advent of the wars takeing place. I see the fundamental question as being in the many years of peace what happened to the central and western nations.
>Besides, who wants to live in overcrowded conditions. A low density
>allows your players to carve out a barony within an established
Previously answered but multiplying by 5 or even 10 will not cause overcrowding in most of the nations
>Historically many kingdoms laid claim to territories outlined on maps
>but actually had little or no control of those regions, and infact made
>little effort to present a presence there.
This can still be true when multiplying by 5 or even 10.
>On a seemingly unrelated thread, Lonnie Eckert was trying to account
>for the small human population of Oerth (compared to Earth). I
>suggest that this is consistent with the post-apocalypse theme, so I
>would leave the populations right where they are. Besides, the fewer
>people there are, the fewer NPCs I have to make...
As noted above what happened to the populations in the many years of peace prior to the wars?
Why are you concerned about the NPCs you'll have to make? We're doing it for you (Hint: We'd welcome anyone's help). For the Suel Barbarian project, we are specing out all of the Jarls and Chieftains of the Ice, Frost, and Snow Barbarians, and Stonefist. We're working out their names right now, but the political structure, main regional map, and other stuff is on K. Mattewsons web site.
never bothered to detail out all of the Greater noble house's vassals
Has this lack of detail in the Marklands kept you from running adventures in Furyondy? If you've ever seen a Harn product, that is the standard that I would like for us to achieve.
I had previously replied to much of Nikolaus's e-mail here. I dredged up one of me old biology books.
>Agreed but if your base population drops too low then your overall
>growth rate can decline until it becomes -ve. (Damn I wish I had kept
>my Biology texts I could show you growth formulae which would back me
>up). Basically 25% of 10 million is noway as damaging to a population
>as say 10% of 100,000.
My biology book (“Biology”, Raven and Johnson) didn't discuss this. Were you referring to deleterious impacts due to an insufficiently diverse gene pool? I don't think the Flanaess's population was ever that low to have that come into play. Then again I'm not a biologist by trade.
Population growth was expressed as a differential equation:
dN/dt = rN
where N is the number of individuals in the population, dN/dt is the rate of change of its numbers over time, and r is the intrinsic rate of natural increase for that population – its innate capacity for growth.
No matter how rapidly populations may grow under such circumstances, however, they eventually reach some environmental limit imposed by shortages of an important factor such as space, light, waterm or nutrients. A population ultimately stabilizes at a certain size, calle dthe carrying capacity of the particular place where it lives. The carrying capacity is the number of individuals that can be supported at that place indefinitely, a measure that is dynamic rather than static as the characteristics of the place change. In practice, the number of individuals oscillates around a mean. The growth curve of a specific population, which is always limited by one or more factors in the environment, can be approximated by the following equation (pp 444-447):
dN/dt = rN[(K-N)/K]
In other words, the growth rate of the population under consideration (dN/dt) equals its rate of increase (r) multiplied by N, the number of individuals present at any one time, and then multiplied by an expression equal to K, the carrying capacity of the environment, minus N divided by K. As N increases (the population grows in size), the fraction by which r is multiplied becomes smaller and smaller, and the rate of increase of the population declines. In practical terms, this amounts to such factors as increasing competition among more and more individuals for a given set of resources present in a particular system, the buildup of waste, or an increased rate of predation.
Perhaps someone will crunch some numbers...
Phil O'Neill wrote:
>Ah, but the “explosion” in Earth's population hasn't been a smooth one
circa 900 AD. It was squelched by perpetual warring and plagues.
What do you think would have happened to Europe's population if from AD 800-1300 there were as few wars as there were in the Flanaess?
>I grant that this is still a lot more than medieval Europe, but if
>the other factors are taken into account, I think you'd find that the
>population figures are reasonable.
Warfare has not occurred on the same level and plagues would not likely have the same effect (until a similar population density was reached) as they did in medieval Europe.
>Besides [grin], it depends how many spell-capable priests are in your
>campaign. To my mind, most soldiers are 0-level,
>so to me most priests are 0-level teachers, celebrants and all-round
>wise guys [grin] who've never cast a spell in their lives. Otherwise,
>you end up with an unworkable medieval society...still interesting, but
>not the one I've always imagined in Greyhawk.
This is why I stopped using AD&D rules. AD&D rules (at least first ed rules anyway) encourages players to be mindless hack and slashers and greedy treasure grabbers. I see no reason why a small daily XP award could not be granted to the rural non-adventuring priest will. I see no good reason why priests could not gain levels 6-9 (~27,000 XP) in a human lifetime. For example, how could Canon Hazen have achieved his 20th and 21st levels as a priests considering that he has been the ruler of Veluna (Per WOG Level 19; Per FTA Level 21). I don't think he was out adventuring. If he was still adventuring, The Isle of the Ape and that little sidebar adventure with Fraaz Urb Luu would be somewhat moot.
We are getting off the population density thread here though...
Patrice Forno wrote:
>We know of a Powerful Force of Nature : the Druids.
>Maybe the Druids on Oerth do all their possible to restrain Human
>population from rocketting. Maybe they have understood the dangers of
>letting Humanity grow out of control, and are fighting this growth :
>Maybe they don't help peasants with spells that would give them better
>harvests, maybe they restrain themselves from healing the sick, maybe
>they help wild animals against Man (i.e. helping wolves eating
>peasants' cattle), maybe they do all what they can to keep the secrets
>of the Healing with plants stay secrets, etc...
We have some passages that the converse is true. Read about Crystara (priestess of Beory in Furyondy). Crystara actively helps folks. Even with multiplying by 5 we end up with plenty of room for everything (forests, monsters, whatever). Population densities would still be much lower than medieval Europe's.
>IMO, Priests are not very numerous over the Flanaess.
>Following the Demographics calculations from DM Option (page 22), I
>come with: 4 priest (all levels) per 100 habitants, and only 2-3
>priests (level 5+) per 1,000 habitants (assuming that 15% of the
figured a priests percentage of about 1.25% from Iuz the Evil.
>These figures means IMO that the priests only have a small effect on
>population health. Only 2-3 persons to heal the diseases of 1,000
>habitants, or to create food for them, is to low IMO to fight diseases,
>plagues, malnutrition, the way real Earth Humanity fought these.
Say a plague starts in the City of Willip. Aren't priests from all over Furyondy going to go there to help out or are they gonna remain at home with blinkered eyes? Yes, there will be casualties from a plague, but I don't they would have the same impact as those in medieval Europe.
>The Conclusion :
>However, according to FtA who only shows the number of “able bodied
>adults”, I agree that the populations numbers should be multiplied by
>5, even if that gives low population densities comparing to our Earth.
I'm happy with x5 Patrice. I don't want to use an area based modifying factor because it will change the intended power between nations.
>I would be curious to know the Gygax / Kuntz explanation for those low
I asked Rob this question a little while back. My question:
>>Another question: What do you think of the population thread? Was it
>>really intended for the Flanaess to be so underpopulated or had Gary
>>never sat down, grabbed a calculator, and figured what would be
>>reasonable population density figures?R. Kuntz's answer:
>I figure that the latter surmise is closer to the mark. Hell, themselves
>middle ages saw a crowding of cities and their surrounding
>countrysides but not as much density in rural areas. Same as today.
>Average spreads don't always get across the real population jams of
>cities. Note Rauxes in WG8, for instance. The place is packed and
>was due for a plague! But much of the Great Kingdom is thin in
>population. No new news there perhaps.
A very good post....
E.H. Brunson wrote:
>1. What is the Climate of the Flanaess? Temperate? Tropical? How
>long is the growing season?
Similar to Europe's/US's I believe. Dragon Magazine #68 had an article written I believe by a meteorologist? Real met data was used in the tables developed. This was officially adopted.
>2. Technical innovations?
>a. Do the peasents of the Flanaess use a heavy plow which could
>turn over the ground in a single pass, or a light plow which the
>peasent usually had to press his foot upon in order for the plow to go
>any depth into the ground and he also had to make two or three passes
Unknown. FYI: in the middle ages an acre was the area of land which could be plowed by a team of oxen in one day.
>b. What form of crop rotation is used, if any? Two-field or
[More text missing]
Unknown. I think we should look to medieval Europe for those answers. Namely 1/3 of fields are to be layed fallow. Crop rotation and benefits of clover and alfafa are unkown.
>c. Are water mills in use? How about windmills? These greatly
>reduced the time to grind the harvested grain. In addition, they could
>be used to drive saws, process cloth, press oil, brew beer, provide
>power for iron forges, and crush pulp for the manufacturing of paper.
We have the doomgrinder. So yes, i'd say we have windmills in the Flanaess. This is not unreasonable if we look at medieval Europe and note that we have technology such as field plate in the Flanaess.
>d. Here are other innovations. The padded horse collar, which
>didn't chock the horse to death while plowing a field. Before its
>development slow oxen were the primary farming animal.
Wasn't the padded horsecollar a later invention? Me gut feel tells me farmers still plow with oxen in the Flanaess.
>horseshoes, which protected the horses hooves allowing it to work
>longer hours and tandem harnessing, which allowed horses to pull behind
>each other. (By Beory, I hope this last one is used. Otherwise, my
>characters business of a carridge service between Dyver and Greyhawk is
We have the magical item horseshoes of a zephyr, so I'd have to say we've got our shoes horsed in the Flanaess...
>Do peasents on Oerth use wheelbarrows, a great labor saving
Check out the illustration on page 16 of the Marklands. There's a gent using a wheelbarrow.
>or the harrow, which was a tool drawn over the field after the
>plow to level the soil and mix the seed.
Unknown. When was it invented?
>Is iron widely used in farming? After all iron reinforced all sorts of
>farming tools, most critically, the heavy plow.
This would not be unreasonable using medieval Europe as a comparison.
>Has there been a conserted effort by the peasentry to clear the forest
>and open up new areas for agriculture.
There is no need to clear new fields. The Flanaess is pathetically underpopulated even when you stuff everyone into the grasslands.
Ken Barns wrote:
>I suppose it depends upon relatively how fertile you see each area of
[Yet more missing text]
>If Nyrond is only of average fertility, then it's population could b
>much smaller than France's. If the area around the Harp, Thelly (?)
>and Nesser rivers are immensely fertile, (more so than the Velverdyva
>and Sheldomar) then yes, the overwhelming demographic weight of the
>Aerdi kingdoms can be justified.
Furyondy and portions of the Nyrond were noted in the Marklands as being highly arable.
>>Nyrond and the splintered G. Kingdom have the area to accommodate
>>x5. Furyondy would be no punk nation with a population of 1.8
>>million as compared to Nyrond's 5+ million.... Keoland and Veluna
>>would also exceed 1,000,000.
>But a “no-punk” Furyondy still stands out as a military power, which it
>cannot do without a world-class economy (which in medieval times is
>mostly related to sheer population). Double its relative population
>with respect to Aerdi/Nyrond, and give it a very militaristic society,
>and then it starts to look believable.
>In summary, I think x5 is right in the ballpark for the Flanaess as a
>whole, but does not address the issue of the problematic ratio of
>Aerdi/Nyrond's population compared to the rest of the Flanaess. Giving
>those nations x2.5 (and making Nyrond/Aerdi contain many windswept
>plains used mainly for grazing) has been the quick and dirty method I
The Iron League (primarily Nyrond) has shielded the rest of the Flanaess from the Great Kingdom. The Great Kingdom was ever able to squelch Nyrond. That would have been necessary to get at the lost western sates of Furyondy, Veluna, etc.
R. Kuntz writes:
>Not to mention those monsters again. Monsters have their own way
>(however slight or pronounced) of stifling population growths amongst
>humans, demi-, and humanoids. It would seem to me in a world
>populated by monsters of the type, variety and numbers that the
>D&D/AD&D system denotes, that a better topic question would be:
>”Where are all of those men coming from?” My goodeness. Men die and
>are just reborn again! Let us not count the discrepencies here
>between their numbers and the other gender!
Yes, monsters abound, but they abound around the peripheries of the core nations. Were monsters predating frequently on Furyondy, Nyrond, Urnst, Veluna, etc.? If so where are they coming from? I won't bring up the Marklands...
Jay Simpson wrote:
>Well, when it came time to figure out a population for my girlfriends
>writeup on the Celestine Imperium, we ran into a block. So, out of
>curiosity, how much land does it take to feed one person? In other
>words, if for instance I have a city of 1 million people, how many
>“hexes” of land does that city need to survive?
Quick and dirty:
Assume 2 acres of good farmland is under cultivation for each individual (one big continuous blotch of farmland).