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    Canonfire :: View topic - Low Population Numbers Make Sense?
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    Low Population Numbers Make Sense?
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    Adept Greytalker

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    Sat Jun 18, 2016 12:06 pm  
    Low Population Numbers Make Sense?

    I don't have the links immediately to hand, but I recall several blog posts criticizing the published demographics of the Flanaess by saying they were too low, and that there was a lot of vast, empty space in the areas between the cities.

    But here's the kicker-don't those demographics actually make sense, when one considers that all the other sentient races need places to live, too?

    There are the fairy-folk, various giant races, different kinds of humanoids, as well as independent human and demihuman tribes and enclaves. All of these beings need land to live on, and their own access to food and resources. Much of that "vast, empty space" that the critics decry is actively used by any number of creatures, even when they're just passing through.

    I can't help but wonder how many of the criticisms thrown at D&D fantasy worlds over the years fail to take into account that the humans of these worlds have to share them with all the other sentient races, with their own preferences and agendas,that are running around. Real humans have only ever had each other as competition for living space and resources. However, if there are all sorts of monsters out there, many of them sentient creatures like orcs and goblins, who are actively trying to kill and eat the humans a of a fantasy world, then it only makes sense that they win some battles and that the numbers of humans and demihumans are lower than they would be otherwise.

    After all, where do you think the treasures the monsters are hoarding in their dungeons and layers actually came from in the first place?
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    Sat Jun 18, 2016 3:36 pm  

    Eureka! Good call on this topic. And really if the human populations were raised, it's only fair that the demihuman and humanoids go up proportionately as well!
    GreySage

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    Sat Jun 18, 2016 8:12 pm  

    I have always thought this way, CSL. That is why I liked the Points of Light idea when I first heard it. It made lots of sense.

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    Black Hand of Oblivion

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    Sun Jun 19, 2016 4:55 pm  

    For an area as long established as the Flanaess is, the population numbers are very low. For them to be at the initially published levels, there would have to have been a plague every few hundred years which wiped out much of the population. Populations double about every 35 years. Work your way backwards and you will see that the numbers are waaay out of wack, even if one wants an overall low population density. As such, Incabulos and Nerull apparently should be a lot more prevalent in the every day thoughts of folks. Laughing
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    GreySage

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    Sun Jun 19, 2016 5:23 pm  

    Or, instead of such frequent plagues, the fantasy Flanaess has many, many dangerous humanoids, dragons, and other monsters that constantly make war upon humanity, keeping its numbers down. Wink

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    Journeyman Greytalker

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    Mon Jun 20, 2016 7:53 am  

    I examined the published population figures for the BK a while ago. I found that the LGG inflated them quite a lot, sometimes by 500%. I've spoken with Gary about this on greychat but I forget the rationale they had for the increases (probably thought the same that they were too low). IMC, the LGG figures are off because everyone is trying to convince their neighbors that they are more populated than they really are and, thus, have bigger armies and better defenses (especially as a result of the Greyhawk Wars).
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    Mon Jun 20, 2016 9:06 am  

    So, Aurdraco, does your post mean that you think the original 1983 are more accurate than the LGG? Or does the truth lie somewhere in between?
    Journeyman Greytalker

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    Mon Jun 20, 2016 9:34 am  

    Yes, I presume that the older, original sources are the correct ones for the game world described unless there are in-game reasons given for later changes.
    Grandmaster Greytalker

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    Mon Jun 20, 2016 11:24 am  

    CruelSummerLord wrote:
    ...There are the fairy-folk, various giant races, different kinds of humanoids, as well as independent human and demihuman tribes and enclaves. All of these beings need land to live on, and their own access to food and resources. Much of that "vast, empty space" that the critics decry is actively used by any number of creatures, even when they're just passing through...


    -Demi-humans are a minimal drain on resources because their numbers are a drop in the bucket compared to humanity. Monsters, even huge ones, like ancient dragons, ditto. The undead don't even need to eat (ghouls like to eat, but that's not the same thing Evil Grin ). Humanoids inhabit certain regions (Pomarj, Iuz, Horned Society, Bone March, certain mountainous or wooded regions), where they live in abject misery, but that only has an impact on the regions they live in and the immediate surroundings. None of the above would explain why most of the safe, settled, regions (e.g., the Urnst states, Keoland, the Ulek states pre-584, Veluna, or the Urnst states would have such low densities.

    mortellan wrote:
    ...And really if the human populations were raised, it's only fair that the demihuman and humanoids go up proportionately as well!


    -The four leter "F" has nothing to do with it. Laughing

    SirXaris wrote:
    Or, instead of such frequent plagues, the fantasy Flanaess has many, many dangerous humanoids, dragons, and other monsters that constantly make war upon humanity, keeping its numbers down. Wink


    ....but even if population went down to zero, it wouldn't take too long to refill an area once the danger passed. Pre-576, many places hadn't suffered a real population challenge in centuries.

    Also, magical and fantasy threats are more than counterbalanced by magical and fantasy aids, at least in good regions, e.g., a 5th level cleric can cast at least one Remove Disease spell every day, or 364 times per year, and any cleric could use a Remove Disease Wand. Even modern medicine can't match that. Cure Light Wounds spells are even more common.

    aurdraco wrote:
    Yes, I presume that the older, original sources are the correct ones for the game world described unless there are in-game reasons given for later changes.


    -The 1980 Folio and 1983 Boxed Set exist under the conceit that the population figures are the best that the Savant Sage could come up with with the data he could get. Obviously, these figures would be incomplete. Wink

    Now, what was the real reason that EG Gygax gave such ridiculously low population figures for the Flanaess? Probably the same reason for so many other oddities in our beloved Oerth: He pulled them out of his a$$ after doing minimal research because "time was short". Same reason that Cobb Darg was never given a race, a class, a level, or an alignment. We then spend the next four decades coming up with creaqtive rationales to explain the anomaly. Brilliant, actually. Laughing Evil Grin
    Black Hand of Oblivion

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    Mon Jun 20, 2016 8:46 pm  

    SirXaris wrote:
    Or, instead of such frequent plagues, the fantasy Flanaess has many, many dangerous humanoids, dragons, and other monsters that constantly make war upon humanity, keeping its numbers down. Wink

    SirXaris

    Such an attrition rate goes far beyond the odd family member getting killed by something here and there.

    aurdraco wrote:
    I've spoken with Gary about this on greychat but I forget the rationale they had for the increases (probably thought the same that they were too low).

    That was indeed their reasoning (i.e. they wanted higher population density more in tune with Medieval era numbers). Overall, the LGG is quite good due to the amount of thought put into it (and it is still only giving tidbits about most things). Even the portions of it I am not all that keen on were thoughtfully written. No doubt I will...once again... unleash the wrath on said portions at some later date, but thoughtfulness is ascendant at this time. Laughing
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    Tue Jun 21, 2016 7:29 am  

    jamesdglick wrote:

    SirXaris wrote:
    Or, instead of such frequent plagues, the fantasy Flanaess has many, many dangerous humanoids, dragons, and other monsters that constantly make war upon humanity, keeping its numbers down. Wink


    ....but even if population went down to zero, it wouldn't take too long to refill an area once the danger passed. Pre-576, many places hadn't suffered a real population challenge in centuries...


    -I went home and found the article that covers repopulation: Dragon #89, "Survival is a Group Effort", pp. 8-12.

    It explains why humans' and humanoids' populations recover from disasters fairly quickly (particularly if the losses are concentrated on adult males, as they would be in war or monster raids, and why the elves, dwarves, and gnomes don't. So, in violent circumstances, humans recover quickly, elves, gnomes, and dwarves don't.
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    Tue Jun 21, 2016 11:56 am  

    jamesdglick wrote:
    The 1980 Folio and 1983 Boxed Set exist under the conceit that the population figures are the best that the Savant Sage could come up with with the data he could get. Obviously, these figures would be incomplete. Wink


    I do not accept that as being obvious. As the narrator is providing data for a game, I accept the data at face value. Even if you accept that the data is inaccurate or incomplete, how off is it and where is that defined? 5%? 100%? 500%? What's obvious to me is that the census is not perfectly accurate (this is not a holodek program) but it's good enough for the game's needs. I don't care if EGG pulled the numbers out of his ****, they are the numbers that got published for the setting. Wink
    Adept Greytalker

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    Fri Jun 24, 2016 7:14 pm  

    jamesdglick wrote:

    -Demi-humans are a minimal drain on resources because their numbers are a drop in the bucket compared to humanity. Monsters, even huge ones, like ancient dragons, ditto. The undead don't even need to eat (ghouls like to eat, but that's not the same thing Evil Grin ). Humanoids inhabit certain regions (Pomarj, Iuz, Horned Society, Bone March, certain mountainous or wooded regions), where they live in abject misery, but that only has an impact on the regions they live in and the immediate surroundings. None of the above would explain why most of the safe, settled, regions (e.g., the Urnst states, Keoland, the Ulek states pre-584, Veluna, or the Urnst states would have such low densities.


    "Safe and settled" in a place like the Flanaess is, in my view, something of an exaggeration. Bandits and humanoids are less common in places like Urnst or Veluna, but they do exist and are threats, even if they're less common than in more dangerous areas.

    I have never liked the implication that there's some sort of frontier between human/demihuman and humanoid lands, the latter seeming to exist only in the forests and mountains. The latter areas are just where they're concentrated in the biggest numbers-the "civilized" lands still have them as a persistent threat, if less common than in some wilder areas like the borders of Geoff or Nyrond.

    I should also point out that while each of these other races may be smaller in number than humans, there are many, many races out there, and their combined numbers could easily match or even outstrip humanity's. And each of those races takes up a share of available land and resources.

    jamesdglick wrote:


    Also, magical and fantasy threats are more than counterbalanced by magical and fantasy aids, at least in good regions, e.g., a 5th level cleric can cast at least one Remove Disease spell every day, or 364 times per year, and any cleric could use a Remove Disease Wand. Even modern medicine can't match that. Cure Light Wounds spells are even more common.


    Depends on how high the power levels actually are. In the version of things I try to go for in my stories (I am not a gamer, and instead use D&D and Greyhawk as a basis for my fantasy stories), being 6th-7th level makes you pretty damn impressive already.

    In such a case, there simply may not be enough healing spells to go around-disease and starvation can be mitigated, but not eliminated. Hence people often have to make do with herbal remedies, tonics and poultices-and certain medical herbs that don't exist in our real world can be employed, although how common they are is a matter of conjecture...

    Cebrion wrote:
    For an area as long established as the Flanaess is, the population numbers are very low. For them to be at the initially published levels, there would have to have been a plague every few hundred years which wiped out much of the population. Populations double about every 35 years. Work your way backwards and you will see that the numbers are waaay out of wack, even if one wants an overall low population density. As such, Incabulos and Nerull apparently should be a lot more prevalent in the every day thoughts of folks. Laughing


    And this is even taking into account that the humans of the Flanaess have a lot more competition for living space and resources than we real life humans have?

    Humans in the Flanaess compete with each other for resources, just as we have in real life...but they also have all the orcs, elves, giants, and many other creatures. Humans are the most populous and powerful race in the world, and so the Flanaess remains "humanocentric". However, that hardly means the other races are in any danger of going extinct any time soon.
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    Fri Jul 01, 2016 3:06 am  

    I agree that the censuses only take into account some of the populations and that non-human estimations drastically increase overall population numbers.

    However, our assumptions are based on our own physiolgy. Raising the dead and curing the sick already has profound implications. Whether due to biology or the will of the gods, maybe Oerth humans are just not as fertile as Earth humans. Simple!
    Grandmaster Greytalker

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    Sat Jul 02, 2016 7:43 am  

    aurdraco wrote:


    ...I do not accept that as being obvious...


    -The "obvious" was with a wink...

    aurdraco wrote:
    ...As the narrator is providing data for a game, I accept the data at face value.


    ...but, for the 1983 boxed set, you'll notice that the "classified" stuff for the DM is in Pluffet Smedger's Glossography, which is what is actually meant to be "correct and factual" for play terms. The Guide is for the players, so shouldn't be expected to be complete or perfectly accurate.

    aurdraco wrote:
    ...Even if you accept that the data is inaccurate or incomplete, how off is it and where is that defined? 5%? 100%? 500%?


    -Delleb only knows. Wink

    aurdraco wrote:
    ...What's obvious to me is that the census is not perfectly accurate... but it's good enough for the game's needs...


    -Define "good enough". Wink

    aurdraco wrote:
    ...I don't care if EGG pulled the numbers out of his ****, they are the numbers that got published for the setting. Wink


    -EG Gygax wrote all sorts of stuff that that didn't make sense or (apparently) contradicted itself. Some of it he later fixed, the rest is for us. Endless decades of entertainment! Laughing

    CruelSummerLord wrote:


    ...each of those races takes up a share of available land and resources...


    -Still, even if you add up the humanoids and monsters, it's still a drop in the bucket compared to what would otherwise be paleolithic levels of population density.

    CruelSummerLord wrote:
    ...Depends on how high the power levels actually are. In the version of things I try to go for in my stories (I am not a gamer, and instead use D&D and Greyhawk as a basis for my fantasy stories), being 6th-7th level makes you pretty damn impressive already...


    -A man after my own heart. Wink

    In OD&D to AD&D1, 4th Level Fighters were "Heroes", and I think that's a good guide. Sometimes, I wonder who all these NPCs supposedly whacked to get all those NPCs did to get all those XPs. As mental exercise, I once added up Manfred von Richtofen's kills and calculated that by AD&D2 standards, he might have been as low as 2nd level when he was killed. That's right. History's most famous fighter pilot might have only been 2nd level when he got killed! OK, that doesn't include what he did while he was still a cavalryman, or an observer, and any XPs he might have picked up besides shooting people down (gp value for the aircraft?), but still... I'm also trying to figure out what level Nalbon Gellor would have been in 577 CY. Cebrion was giving me grief for not twinking him out enough (hmmm... I still have to order Sea of Death...). Wink Anyway, I'd say that 4th level makes you pretty damn impressive. I know a few guys IRL who might fit that description. I'm not one of them. Wink However, they do exist.

    The village of Hommlet (total population slightly over 200, men, women, and children) has one cleric and one druid who are both high enough to cast "Cure/Remove Disease" every single day for their respective flocks (This isn't the twinked out Forgotten Realms where every other (hot, bisexual) milkmaid is an 8th Level Favored Soul. This is EG Gygax, AD&D1 standard. That's a total of 2 "Remove Disease" spells every day, or 728 "Remove Disease" spells a year, or more than 3 "Remove Disease" spells per person per year. Even if you assume that each person has a 10% chance of getting some sort of disease or parasitic infection every month for 13 month equivalents (12 months, plus 4 festivals, which would be very high rate of illness by the AD&D1 DMG standard), that still works out to only 2.6 illnesses per person per year. At that rate, they could use spells to cure the sniffles in less than 24 hours. Since this is their flocks, the Cuthbertines won't be charging very much, if anything. The druid, with a "Death is Part of the Cycle of Life, So Suck It" philosophy, might be inclined to charge, but still not all that much. Note that "Remove Disease" would be even easier to get in Hommlet if Y'Dey wasn't hanging out in Nulb, playing Secret Agent Woman with some cross-dressing elf. Laughing

    Now, I'd grant that things might be different in evil areas, or even some non-good places, but for Keoland and its dependencies, Ulek, Furyondy, Veluna, Nyrond, Almor (before getting squashed) and the Iron League (ditto), the only people who'd have to worry about death or crippling from illness would be people who weren't hooked up with a decent community faith (like adventurers, who get to pay through the nose), and people in the boodocks (like adventurers).

    PaulN6 wrote:
    ... Whether due to biology or the will of the gods, maybe Oerth humans are just not as fertile as Earth humans. Simple!


    -Ouch! Shocked
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    Mon Jul 11, 2016 9:18 pm  

    PaulN6 wrote:
    However, our assumptions are based on our own physiolgy. Raising the dead and curing the sick already has profound implications. Whether due to biology or the will of the gods, maybe Oerth humans are just not as fertile as Earth humans. Simple!

    ... *this*!!! Absolutely this.
    The catch of the whole thing, for me, is that I'm not second-guessing what was published. Deciding that the books are wrong, or don't make sense, is difficult for me to wrap my brain around.
    I always try to approach it from the opposite end: the books are correct and accurate - it's my job to understand and make sense of why that is.
    The most apparent, to me, is that they don't necessarily have the same rate of population growth as we do in our world today, or in our history.
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    Tue Jul 12, 2016 12:19 pm  

    Icarus wrote:
    ...I always try to approach it from the opposite end: the books are correct and accurate - it's my job to understand and make sense of why that is...


    -I'd agree with this most of the time, particularly when you have Dueling Canon.

    Icarus wrote:
    ...The catch of the whole thing, for me, is that I'm not second-guessing what was published. Deciding that the books are wrong, or don't make sense, is difficult for me to wrap my brain around...


    -Well...

    Glossography, p. 2: "Smedger spent several decades... detailing facts and information overlooked by the Savant-Sage..."

    Maybe that includes incomplete population figures?

    Dragon #103, "Sorcerer's Scroll", p. 8: EG Gygax writes that the Guide is what the players should know and the Glossography is "the DM's section".
    [FWIW, I just happeed to find this article while reading along with this: http://www.therpgsite.com/showthread.php?13824-Let-s-read-Dragon-Magazine-From-the-beginning/page40&s=c370b8749295df862bfe7886e946c766
    ]

    You can argue that the above don't mean that the Guide has faulty info', but you just as easily say that they do. Considering that the ramifications of accepting the Guide "as is" now apparently includes infertility... Laughing), I'll go there. Wink
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    Tue Jul 12, 2016 10:35 pm  

    jamesdglick wrote:
    -Well...
    Glossography, p. 2: "Smedger spent several decades... detailing facts and information overlooked by the Savant-Sage..."

    Maybe that includes incomplete population figures?
    Fair enough.
    I tend to think of it as ... I don't know. ... not so much wrong or inaccurate, so much as less detailed. Like, in the way that taking Accounting 101 wouldn't be wrong, per se, as a CPA's exam, just less detailed.

    But, that doesn't diminish the fact that the quote is there. Which, by the way, thank you for including - I hadn't ever seen it before. I think that's likely an in-character thing to explain that things might change, or not always be spot-on. ... but, <shrug> learn something new every day.
    ...
    For me, personally IMC, it's still easier to approach from a standpoint of figuring out how the information could be right, rather than assuming it would be wrong.
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    Wed Jul 13, 2016 7:02 am  

    Icarus wrote:
    ...[ not so much wrong or inaccurate, so much as less detailed...

    -That's actually were I'm going. IRL, census records are often incomplete. That does make them "wrong", but not in the sense that they have ZERO value. Merely that they're the ground floor.

    Icarus wrote:
    jamesdglick wrote:
    -Well...
    Glossography, p. 2: "Smedger spent several decades... detailing facts and information overlooked by the Savant-Sage..."

    Maybe that includes incomplete population figures?
    Fair enough...


    ...well, if you're looking for contrary evidence, I happened to take a look at From the Ashes last night. The population figures on the FtA card uses the low figures, and I'd argue that, since it has data on the rulers' alignment and level, that was meant for DM use only. OTOH, you could then counter-argue that EG Gygax's statement in the "Sorcerer's Scroll" should take precedence, since he was still the Greyhawk Big Kahuna in 1985. Of course, you could counter-counter-argue that Gygax changed his mind about stuff as often as he changed his socks, so round and round we go! Laughing

    As always, it's up to the DM. I'd love to see everyone on the same sheet of music, but it might be too late for that. This is one of those cases where you just have to ask the DM which canon is in play.

    One last attempt to square the circle: How about, instead of LOW fertility, humans on Oerth had HIGH fertility? Maybe there was a demographic population boom before the Greyhawk Wars, and all those children began reaching maturity 585-590 (and thus adding to the adult population figures)? That, and for some counties, like Keoland, immigration may have made the difference? (I haven't run the figures, though)
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