Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Medieval Demographics Made Easy

I'm going to be traveling for Christmas and New Years, so my blog posts may be a bit sporadic over the next couple weeks. Rest assured I will do what I can to get two posts in each week, but the timing may not be as consistent as normal. Sorry about that.
Between my halting endeavors at writing fantasy and my resurgent involvement in Dungeons and Dragons, I am always on the lookout for helpful resources when it comes to world-building. Today I want to highlight one such resource - an article entitled "Medieval Demographics Made Easy," written by one S. John Ross. In this article, Ross looks at real world examples of medieval demographics and then uses those examples to extrapolate what an pseudo-European fantasy setting might look like.

The articles examines several key factors for world-building:
  1. Population Density - in other words, how many people (on average) live within a square mile of the kingdom in question. 
  2. Population of the Cities, Towns, and Villages - in other words, given that population density, how many cities, towns, and villages would be expected, and what would the population of those settlements be.
  3. Merchants and Services - in other words, given the population of a particular settlement, what kinds of goods and services would be available there. After some general guidelines, the article looks in more details about agriculture, castles, law enforcement, institutions of higher learning, and livestock.
Not only does Ross provide all this information is a condensed yet easy-to-read format, but he even includes some dice rolls to bring some random numbers to these otherwise mundane calculations, making it feel all the more like something you'd find in a roleplaying rule book. He also includes a bibliography and some other resources for those who would like to delve deeper into the subject.

So next time you've got some questions about what medieval demographics might look like, you've got an easy resource at your fingertips!

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