Musings on Class Demographics

I’d like to come up with a generalized set of rules so that as a GM I can have a rough idea of how many paladins are in my country. Obviously, there’s a lot to think about here.

Known fact #1:

  1. From the core rulebook that the breakdown of classes is roughly 4:2:2:1

Known Fact #2:
2. Core rulebook also provides how many classed characters exist in any given urban settlement. In a small village, there’ll be 27 classed characters out of a population of ~87. That’s 31%, right? A city, meanwhile has 900 classed characters out of a population of 3750~. That’s actually only 24% oddly enough, but we’ll get back to that later.

Known Fact #3:
3. Core rulebook also provides how frequent classed characters are, and what proportion of a realm’s population lives both in that settlement and in the “urban” population in general. We can see that “Urban population” is consistently just 10% of the whole. We can also see that the largest settlement is just 1/5th the urban population.

Thus, by reversing these charts, we can say that the largest settlement holds 2% of the realm’s population.

ANALYSIS: Let’s go back to those numbers- 31% seems ridiculously high, right? It’s important to remember though that population is measured in families. If a family is ~5 people, then that gives us a little over 6% of the population as classed, which is consistent with Alex’s 1:20 numbers. It’s not unimaginable that a lot of the low-level characters would hang out on the fringes; they’re not powerful enough to win great glory, but their enhanced skills and fighting ability might help them protect their families. These are all our grizzled woodcutters.

Likewise, that’s 18750 people in the average city, with 900 heroes, so .048; just shy of the 5%. This is an important number, since it means that the proportion of heroes/nonheroes in the city is roughly the same as outside of it, so you can just multiply the numbers on the urban tables by 50 to get realmwide tables. Huh. This’ll be a lot easier than I thought.

So, since the base ratio is 4:2:2:1, we can describe each class as occupying so many 9ths of the class-based population, and so many 180ths of the total population. (Or so many 36ths of the population-in-families.) Thus, every 36 families will yield one mage, two clerics, two thieves, and four fighters.

Sidebar: Alex suggested here( that we could model conscripting wizards by assuming 10% of the populace was intelligent enough to go to wizard school, along with a 60% dropout rate at hogwarts, for a total of 4% of the population being capable of wizarding. Since the 1/180 model presents “naturally occurring” (IE: Someone else taught them) mages as appearing at a rate of %.55 of the population, this means that roughly 6/7 people with magical potential never receive any training and presumably just lead lives as bakers and engineers to whom very odd things happen sometimes. This doesn’t really relate to our goal; mostly I just wanted you to know that even in a world of magic and whimsy most people’s special skills go undiscovered. Feel sad now.

So now that we have 4/36, 2/36, and 1/36 as the foundation, we should tackle class bloat, since, after all, there are far more than four classes. Let’s assume that when we say there are four “Fighters” per 36 families, we actually mean four people with fighter-like aptitudes. This then mandates the division of all classes into four aptitudes- martial, agile, magical, and divine, and then based on your own realm’s demographics, you can decide what proportion of a realm’s martial characters are barbarians vs fighters vs explorers.

I think the easiest and most sensible way to divide them is based on primary stat, since even though a bard lives a relatively similar life to a Fighter (and has a castle-building endgame rather than a hideout-building endgame) his core skillset of acrobatics and charisma means he’ll come from the same pool of potential recruits as the thief. There are going to be a lot of judgement calls here, so feel free to adjust them for your own campaigns. Still, if anyone’s like me and is interested, here’s a rough list of each division:

Martial Classes:
Thrassian Gladiator

Agile Classes:

Divine Classes:

Arcane Classes:
Gnome Trickster

Now you just have to figure out what fraction of each aptitude should be each class, then multiply it by 1/36, and then multiply that number by your realm’s population in families, and you’ll know how many Paladins are in the kingdom!

Tomorrow I’ll see if I can hash out numbers for demihumans, since it’s been pointed out they don’t militarize or adventure at the same rate. I’ve included them in my aptitude divisions though, just on the assumption that a sufficiently large human city should always have at least a handful of dwarven berserkers hanging around in taverns.

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Interesting. Your categorization is arguable. Paladin, Anti-Paladin, and even Assassin have significant fighter attributes (2 fighter and 1 HD class points and the last thrown into thief, possibly with trade-offs).

Yea, I’d probably do it based on class value scores as well, just for the fact it moves towards a Grand Unified Table of ACKS.

Seeing it laid out makes me think very strongly about setting out what classes I would allow, and then, adding in “undefined” classes in each category so if something pops in interesting later as a campaign develops, I don’t have to retrofit anything.

This is super interesting, I look forward to the rest of it.

The simplest method is to do it by saving throw progression.

Saving throw progression is determined directly from class values with tiebreakers built in.

This does, however, result in some anamolies, most notably the elven spellsword, being more common than intended.

That being said, I think the specific categorization of which class goes into which category is largely irrelevant to the greater methodology here, which provides numbers for a Judge to split up the classes any way you like and for it to remain consistent, regardless of what actual split you think the classes you should have. It’s that algorithm that is really great here; quibbling about the specific slots assigned to each class isn’t that important, especially since having the ability to change things around is kind of the whole point.

Thanks for the positive feedback! I initially got really worried when I realized that the numbers kept coming back to the same 5% that Alex originally promised, as it implied that all my math had merely verified that ACKS was internally consistent rather than yielded anything interesting.

While it’s true that Paladin and Anti-Paladin definitely operate much like the fighter chassis with divine bits tacked on, I figured it made more sense to put them with the Cleric because of how they’d operate socially when not part of an adventuring party- Paladins probably hang out at churches, go on crusades, give alms to the poor, etc, while fighters are more likely to hang out at taverns, join non-religious wars, etc.

I realize upon writing this that I veered wildly between different mentalities throughout the process.

Well, only if you assigned spellswords to be a high proportion within that category. Picking numbers off the top of my head, for example, I’d say probably only 1/10th of the mercenary magical population are elves, with spellswords making up maybe a quarter of those, with enchanters another quarter and courtiers the rest.

It’s true that it’s entirely possible to fix by giving them a very low percentage of fighters (elven spellswords save as fighters). Just saying that if you give all classes within the category equal weight, spellswords (and ruinguards) would end up as not being all that uncommon.

I wouldn’t consider spellswords being (relatively) common to be anomalous in the least. While I can’t speak to Alex’s intent, my opinion is that they’re the basic elven fighter-type and, indeed, the basic elven type, period. Remember that in TSR B/X, every (leveled) elf was, in ACKS terms, a spellsword.

You could also argue that, regardless of race, the corebook classes are implicitly the most common, while those from Player’s Companion are relatively rare. By this argument, most elves should be either spellswords or nightblades and it’s the less-magical courtiers and non-magical rangers who are the anomalies, unlike humans where muggles are default and mages are anomalous. (Rangers are the elven equivalent of color-blind humans?)

In any case, I agree that grouping them by save progression seems the most natural approach.

That said, there’s no particular reason they can’t be common, and in my campaigns at least, magely elves will certainly be significantly more common than among humans; for me, I would expect the average elf to have an arcane value of 1 or higher, and unless I got around to actually making a new class for ‘average elf’ (which would probably look something like Fighting 2, HD 1, Elf 1), I’d likely have elven spellswords as fairly common.

A more complex way to do it would be using the class value scores, and requiring the character to have all the necessary aptitudes (so a Ruinguard would need both the 4/36 Fighting and the 1/36 Arcane, meaning only 4/1296 or 1/324 of the population could be a Ruinguard). Likewise, a Paladin or Anti-Paladin would need Fighting and Divine, so only 1/162 of the population would be cut out for either (similarly, the Fighting and Skilled Assassin would come in at 1/162).

Non-humans would be somewhat different due to their racial characteristics; I would exclude the race value from the calculation, so a Spellsword is just Fighting. However, to balance this I would make it so that the higher the race value, the less likely they are to leave their people, making the class rarer in non-elvish realms (perhaps a 20% decline in willingness to travel per race tier, so that a class with Elf 4 would only have 20% of its members adventure outside elven domains?).

You could also determine what percentage of your human settlement has an ethnic elven community, and make that a further limitation on liklihood of elven classes. Of course, ACKs as written seems to imply that it’s almost unheard of for elves, dwarves, and humans to do any form of co-habitation. Also if you did this, the numbers for the human part would have to be shrunk a corresponding percentage amount.

I think having to qualify for both is likely the best solution for making the hybrids rarer, but it may not be sufficient in all cases. What’s more common: a blade dancer, cleric, or priestess? all technically fall into the “divine” category (and really they’re closer to fighters than paladins are to divine). Is a barbarian likely to be ANY of the fighting types among an urban settlement?

I think a reasonable assumption to start with is that the “core” classes are more populous than anything else. That is, there are probably more mages than barbarians. If Mages are the least common of the “core” classes, than take the percent they would make up if you only counted fighters/thieves/clerics/mages, and make that the percentage of each category that can be made up of unique classes.

@The Dark: I’m not wholly confident that method will work for determining what fraction qualifies, because we only have numbers for what people end up doing. From Alex’s post, for example, we might say that 4% of the population are both smart enough and magical enough to become mages, but only 1/180 actually go on to pursue the Mage class. To my knowledge, there’s no numbers to show how many of the other 179 go on to become bards or venturers or other partially-magical classes and how many just become Wyrdbakers, masters of twisty-bread. Likewise, for all we know, being a thief is the easiest thing in the world, and 100% of 1st level NPCs could’ve qualified but chose to be mages and fighters. All we know is how many do wind up as thieves.

Thus, I think it’s better to simply treat hybrid classes as whichever archetype they most resemble, and then make them be a very small fraction of that class.

@No One, Mostly for my own benefit: I’ve simplified my numbers below:
A=Fraction of the population who will pursue this aptitude (So 4/36 for Fighters.)
C=Fraction of that aptitude that will be this class. Judges have to pick this for themselves, because culture factors in here. Note that whatever values of C you pick for each class will have to add up to 1 here, because 100% of people who are some kind of fighter will end up being some kind of fighter.
P=Population in families. Nice and easy.
T= Total number of given class in given population.

Okay, so, as promised, let’s try to work something out for Demihumans. This’ll be a stab in the dark with the first thing I grab, hopefully a fork, but also maybe a spoon so I can’t even make promises as to the quality of the stabbing.

Let’s try using this thread!

So, Alex says that in a village of 75 families, there will be 30 classed characters, (Oddly enough, the chart says 12+6+6+3, which yields 27. Where did those other three come from!? Oh well. I guess we can just assume rounding?) and 120 level 0 characters, 50% of whom are potential combatants, so our combat capable adults is 30+60=90.

Let’s assume that classed characters arise only from potential combatants. This makes our math really easy, because 30 is 1/3rd of 90. If we maintain the same ratio, then all we need is the combatant percentages for demihumans and we’ll have something to work with! Admittedly, since demihumans have higher combat-readiness rates than humans, this means that dwarven society as a whole will have many more classed characters than neighboring humans. I think this seems reasonable; it’s an old theme that the demihumans have way more cool people by density, but they’re being outbred by ‘inferior’ humans who only occasionally produce someone on their level. Plus they have longer lifespans, so it makes sense they’d have Veterans everywhere. I’m happy with these numbers for now.

So, since The Dark was already clever enough to use the Monster entries to create proportions:

Dwarves have 57.14%
Elves have 48.78%

Let’s quick doublecheck this using humans: Per the example, Humans have 24% (90/375=24%) mobilization rate. If we assume 1/3rd of those are classed, then we get 8% as our rate of classed vs unclassed. This is, once again, frustratingly only sorta close to the 6% that page 237 gives us. Rounding is now my archenemy.

Anyway, proceeding blindly forward despite the worryingly large gap between our formula’s results and the table, we can multiply by 1/3rd to get:

Dwarf Class Rate: 19.05%
Elf Class Rate: 16.26%

So using the combatants as a reference, we extrapolate a world where elves are twice as likely to have class levels as humans, and dwarves slightly more than that. I’m not sure whether that’s reasonable, or if we should find a better method by which to approximate.

Also wow I just now noticed that Alex’s "Demographics of says about 1 in 12 should reach first level, not 1 in 20. 8% is entirely consistent with his projections.

Of course, that still doesn’t explain why, as a settlement gets larger, the number of classed people shrinks. (Are they all out adventuring?)

I feel like I’ve seen that in other tables, and I can’t recall where or why.

I’m thinking there may be some relation to how large a realm the cities are attached to, and that the tables on pg 235 are involved.

And something about the total level of wealth available, I forgot to add.

I would have to double-check a very complex spreadsheet to give you a 100% reliable answer to this.

It may be that the math works out such that many of the classed characters are ruling domains of various levels rather than hanging out in town.

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I wonder if demographics vary by level. Fighters are more common and have greater survival odds than, say, mages at lower levels, but older mages are better able to protect themselves from exotic threats at higher levels and may be able to magically extend their lives. I’d think that more fighters would hit mid levels, but any mage that survives the high level could last a bit longer than fighters would (hence why you see more truly ancient mages and fighters who died heroically in battle when middle-aged).

I don’t know if it would be significant, but maybe.

What that might look like:

Here is some data I extracted from my 2012 spreadsheets:

% by Character Class at 1st level
1.85% Elven Nightblade
2.78% Elven Spellblade
4.63% Explorer
6.94% Bladedancer
9.72% Cleric
36.57% Fighter
11.57% Thief
9.72% Mage
6.94% Assassin
4.63% Bard
2.78% Dwarven Vaultguard
1.85% Dwarven Craftpriest

These percentages would have to be re-done to incorporate the Player’s Companion classes. I think to be genuinely accurate one would create a chart for each culture in the society and then also a total chart across all cultures. That would be very setting specific.

Also, by default these percentages do not stay true at the macroeconomic level over time. Initially a percentage of characters whose economic wealth would make them classed are assumed to be non-classed specialists. As specialists are limited in their maximum wealth and power, this number decreases over time. The excess bleeds into the number of mages, who eventually are about 20% of classed characters by 14th level.

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In general terms, what was the logic/methodology that you used to derive these percentages? Was it something similar to the approach proposed earlier in this thread based on the numbers of points the class spent in each category or did you come at it from a completely different angle?

Pardon the necromancy, but I was looking into my playaid sheets and was thinking of updating my class demographics calculations so I was wondering if Alex had an updated version of what he posted above available, ie. including the Player Companion classes? I'd be interested in hearing if there's a rough way to calculate and take into the specialist percentages as well. Even if all these are rough estimates that need to be tailored to specific locales, I do find it useful to take a quick look at some broad demographic numbers to get a sense of what the leveled folks might look like.