Hyperborean Demographics

I'm doing a little project this week - applying the demographic guidelines from ACKS Chapter 10 to the Hyperborean setting (the campaign world for AS&SH from North Wind Adventures). I'm using the world in my home campaign entitled "Astonishing ACKS", but have never delved into the wonkish details until now.

The first post went live today; it mostly discusses baseline assumptions and general implications:

I'll continue this series tomorrow with a post about Khromarium, the principal city of the Hyperborea.

Fascinating stuff.

One thing I've noticed repeatedly is that the population density in most fantasy settings is extremely low relative to the population density in history. 

Wonkism is best ism; I look forward to seeing all this - I'm a big fan of ASSH and the world it presents.

Axioms #2, with the rules for tribal warriors, and other demographic stuff coming out soon from the Patreon, I think, should provide quite a bit of new material to emulate nomadic & tribal cultures.

Someone way back had done some work on Greyhawk; it is apparently pretty sparse.

I've done a little here and there with some old 3.5 material; Red Hand of Doom in particular, and I kinda feel like parts of 3.5 was maybe assuming a lot of their "city population" was really surrounding rural farms (or fantasy suburban gardens...?) without defining what that meant. It took some finangling to fit things on the map.

A Song of Ice and Fire caught me with that. Based on information from GRRM's research assistant, the average population density works out to around 13 people per square mile. Medieval Europe varied from around 40 people per square mile (the British Isles) to 100 per square mile (France), so Westeros is 3 to 8 times less densely populated than Medieval Europe.

Okay; the second post is online now. This one focuses on the Khromarium, the principal city-state of Hyperborea:

Overall, I'm pleased with how this turned out; the urban populations ended up matching the Hyperborea Gazeteer quite closely. The key learning for me is that the Sages’ Guild of Khromarium didn’t do a good job enumerating the hamlets and rural population outside the city walls...

A third post today, this time Brigand's Bay. This is where I set my initial adventures for Astonishing ACKS, using a tweaked version of the Stone of Sakkara (including Türas Tem).

Once again I’ve had to bump up population numbers for the demographics to make sense. And even then the settlements are only Market Class V at best, which certainly limits the purchasing options of PCs in this region. But I think it still works as a starting realm for a Hyperborean campaign.

In my campaign I'm assuming that populations are highly urban and clustered around walled cities for protection. The majority of the continent is howling wilderness, and the realms of mankind do not make any grand territorial claims. Hence the overall population density is extremely low, except in isolated pockets.

I've often confronted this as well. Especially when looking for premade maps. What D&D mapmakers call a village is often ridiculously small - or - alternately, doesn't have nearly enough space to contain the number of people they say live in the area.


I've got another post up, this one covering the Gal Hills:

The Gal Hills are a closer match to medieval demographics than other Hyperborean realms, although still quite urbanized compared to historical examples. The AS&SH Referee’s manual actually discusses economic and trade considerations as well, which means that there’s information that can be used for Mercantile Ventures.

Once again, equipment selection is limited – even in Gal City (MC IV). I’m definitely thinking of reducing starting equipment (namely armour) in my home campaign. PCs will probably need to travel to Khromarium if they want to make big purchases…

Loving these posts. Thanks for sharing!

A shorter post today, discussing the Skandik realm of New Vinland:

(Note that they're called "Skandiks" instead of Vikings in my campaign.)

New Vinland is a fairly mundane realm. Much of the local production (berries, wheat, and livestock) is traded directly to Erikssgard and other Vikland centres, leaving the local economy very stunted (MC VI).

In my campaign, I’d probably use New Vinland as a homeland for Skandik PCs who resemble historical Norsemen, as opposed to clichéd Vikings. (I see the Skandiks of Vikland as playing a more ‘stereotypical’ Viking role – raiders and berserkers with giant axes and horned helmets, quaffing mead from a drinking horn.) In particular, New Vinland may contain pockets of Türas-worshipers and members of the Varangian custom class.

I’m going to need to figure out how to handle nomadic realms before posting more Hyperborean demographics. Has anyone here developed guidelines? I'm not sure if the beastmen info from Axioms #2 would apply.