Demographics: Wilderlands vs ACKS

So, I’ve been looking at the Wilderlands, contemplating mashing it up with ACKS. I’ve noticed that they seem to have very different demographic assumptions. See for example

I’m not sure how compatible they are. Does acks assume a vastly different return from agriculture? Are we assuming no agriculture in the wilderness? There are hints that the villages have associated hamlets, so you could argue that they could match, but I’m not sure that do. Won’t acks assume a much larger number of people outside the village wall

No, they are not compatible.

Per Rob Conley’s post:
1 able bodied men = 4 to 5 people or 1 household.
1 sq mile will feed 320 able bodied men
1 sq mile needs 30 able bodied men to utilize at 100%

ACKS’s assumptions are as follows
1 able-bodied man = 5 people or 1 family
1 able bodied man can farm 30 acres*
1 sq mile = 640 acres
1 sq. mile = (640/30) 21 able-bodied men to utilize at 100%

It’s 21 versus 30.

*Technically an able-bodied man farms 20 acres with 10 acres fallow on a 2/1 rotation. If you assume 1 man per 20 acres with no fallow, then 1 sq. mile requires 32 men, almost exactly the same as Rob’s post. So Rob is not far distant from us; but we don’t assume all of the acreage is under cultivation year round.

This is where the sharp difference occurs.

Rob Conley’s post:
1 sq mile will feed 320 able bodied men

1 acre will yield 1 quarter of wheat
1 quarter of wheat = 4gp
1 man will farm 20 acres (10 fallow) = 80gp per man
1 sq mile, with 2/3 of its acres under cultivation, will yield 1,680gp
1 able bodied man needs 3gp per month of wheat for subsistence
1 acre will support (1,680 / (3*12) ) = 47 able-bodied men

So the productivity of farming in the Wilderlands is roughly 8 times as great as the productivity of farming in ACKS. That has huge implications.

ACKS does some additional work to factor in the production of the women and children, as well as their consumption; we assume each woman produces 80gp of goods per year, each child 10gp of goods per year, and that total consumption for the household is 45gp per year.

Therefore each household produces (80+80+10+10+10) 190gp of economic value, and consumes 45gp of economic value, netting 145gp of economic value.

Peasants live at subsistence level, so the economic value is extracted in rents, taxes, and fees to their landlord. Therefore each household produces 145/12 ~ 12gp per month of economic value for their landlord.

This is why ACKS peasant families generate 12gp per month on average for the realm ruler.

Awesome. Thanks for the quick and thorough reply, Alex!

I was wondering how to square the idea that food could be suppied by such a small contingent of farmers there, and that answers that very well.

The acks model, combined with the map would tend reduce the isolation of the various independent “villages” in the wilderness areas. With the high productivity they assume, a village of 100 able bodied men/families can feed itself from it’s local hex easily, but an acks “county” with that size village would correspond to a realm of 5000 families, covering 56 5 mile hexes (or half that if it’s borderlands.

My first concern is that I don’t quite get what that domain looks like on the ground… Is this probably a tiny bit of farmland close to each of the scattered hamlets, or Hunters cabins out in the woods, etc?

My second is that this kind of spread out existence seems very scary in lands occupied by dragons and owlbears, and the setting seems to assume it’s villages are full of people huddled together for protection. Would it make sense to make it largely a world of independent villages without the realms in most areas (say those that don’t call themselves “citystates”? A 100 family village in the wilderness would then cover about 11 5 mile hexes with its farmers, and they could be considered pretty isolated.

I agree that Wilderlands demographic is generous. Fortunately you can read Bob Bledsaw’s opinion on the matter from here.
He also give his sources

I typically use the figures from Harn for my Majestic Wilderlands. Harn prices everything in terms of a silver penny noted by d system. 10d = 10 silver pennies.

In Harnmanor the average crop mix yields on average 60d per acre. A single adult individual requires 300d worth of income per year to provide for themselves. They can work 24 days out of every 30 days. Each acres requires 6 days of labor. A single individual can plow, grow and harvest 48 acres yielding 2880d in crops roughly providing for 9 to 10 other farmhands.

In contrast a knight requires 5,700d to provide for himself and his warhorse, and his palfrey. Thus requiring 95 acres of farmland alone to support plus 570 man-days of labor.

Much of this is laid out in the excellent Harnmanor

Thanks for the reply, Robert :slight_smile: I looked at the journal article, but had trouble getting much hard info from it. I’ll look again, though.

It looks like the harn numbers are broadly consistent with ACKS, though ACKS doesn’t treat landholder upkeep the same way. The manors it seems to have as examples would correspond to the smallest “hamlets” in ACKS. Does it scale up to “villages” of about 1-2000 people, or is it most useful for that smaller scale? Do you take tech level into account in some way when looking at these things, or do you treat all of the settlements in the same way for demographic purposes?

Harn is very explicitly feudal, and from past discussions with Alex it seems that ACKS is very explicitly NOT feudal in terms of settlement patterns - to a first approximation, in Harn, every farmer in civilized lands lives on a manor, while in ACKS, most farmers in civilized lands live in a freestanding farmhouse.

In Harn, IIRC, the scale is so much smaller than ACKS; 2000 people / 400 families isn’t a village, it’s the capital of a small “kingdom”. The largest kingdoms on the island are maybe 30k families, and the largest towns maybe 3k? Which is barely enough for a borderlands ACKS campaign with no powerful states in the scope…

There’s a lot of discussion of Harn settlement patterns; links to several.

Thanks, Tom. I hadn’t thought about how “big” ACKS assumes things will be, though it’s interesting to notice how big the knock on effects of this economic stuff is, in terms of shaping the world. These “little” villages have huge footprints :slight_smile:

Given that acks won’t fit the density of villages that the wilderlands has without some tweaking, I’m considering this…

A) expand the map scale to 6 mile hexes.
B) Use tech level of a village as an “enhancement” to the population density of the area surrounding a village. A tech level 4 village in the wilderness can have 8 families per square mile in its vicinity, becoming a sort of isolated borderlands area. Tech level 2 can have 6/sq mile. Garrison costs can scale, I guess.
C) Each of these settled hexes has 1-2 hamlets of about 20 families, rather than these being additional domains.

Another thought, that might be applicable elsewhere…

Class IV+ markets “civilize” the area around them, for 2 days travel at 120. If I have class V markets civilize 24 miles/1 day travel, and have class VI markets civilize 1/2 day/12 miles, then reasonably sized domains could fit in a small area.