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    Master Greytalker

    Joined: Jun 29, 2001
    Posts: 723
    From: Bronx, NY

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    Tue Mar 05, 2024 8:29 pm  
    Return to Dungeons and Demographics

    As the intro below says, this is a follow up to my old Canonfire article on the population of the Flanaess. That article is here:
    There is also a forum topic from that time with a bunch of interesting discussion:
    So to beat the (un)dead horse of population yet again, I present:


    Nineteen years ago I wrote “Dungeons and Demographics” to try to answer the perennial question regarding the low population of the Flanaess. In that, I looked at real world European growth and decline and concluded that depending on the starting population during the migrations the population could be too low or too high. Recent discussions on the matter have provoked more thoughts on the matter, including some rather obvious causes for depopulation.

    As a base, European population dropped by about one-third twice from Late Antiquity to the Early Middle Ages. A long period of limited growth followed until the Late Middle Ages. Then there another drop of one-third followed by growth from the Late Middle Ages into the Renaissance. This demonstrates the very significant effects that war and plague can have on population without having to worry about dragons keeping the population low, and likely overwhelming any protections or healing from magic. It should lead to the question as to whether there are any similar events in the history of the Flanaess. The answer to that is a very resounding “Yes!”

    The first is the beginning of the history given – the Twin Cataclysms, aggravated by the Migration Era that followed. The Baklunish likely lost 50% of their population, while the Suloise lost at least 75%. The Oeridians probably avoided such severe losses from those, though they would almost certainly have entered a period of sustained stagnation during the two centuries that followed as they migrated across the Flanaess because of losses fighting during that period. As for the Flannae, this makes it rather suspect that they sustained particularly high losses from the low numbers of Oeridian migrants and Suloise refugees. How then to explain their population collapsing? This requires a bit deeper examination, but the answer is there – the death of Ur-Flan tyrants and the destruction of their nations. Sulm was gone and Keraptis cursed Tostenhca before the Migrations, but Vecna fell shortly after the Twin Cataclysms, Nuria, most likely in Nyrond, disappeared as did Ehlissa’s realm and Acererak’s, and the Ur-Flan around the Trask River were conquered by the Aerdi. Between all that and any plagues brought in by the Oeridians and Suloise, a 50% drop in Flannae population is easy to project even without major losses from Oeridian or Suloise massacres.

    As an aside, looking at the Germanic migrations and the fall of the Roman Empire in the west, these Germanic peoples were usually only 10% of the local population. On Earth, they adopted Roman culture and language. On Oerth, the Flan adopted Oeridian culture and language. Why would there be such a different outcome? Even if we treat Pluffet Smedger as unreliable in his dismissal of the accomplishments of the Flannae, something incompatible with the might of the Ur-Flan, it is still likely they did not have much of anything to attract the Oeridians to adopt Flan culture. Further, the Oeridians no doubt brought significant knowledge about architecture and agriculture with them from their time with the Baklunish. With all these factors, it is likely the Oeridians built enough that their nations and culture attracted the Flan, whose own civilization had crumbled to want to assimilate into the new Oeridian culture. This is similar to how the Romans once spread their culture, as well as how Anglo-Saxon culture replaced Roman culture in England.

    This still leaves several hundred years when the population should triple or more. There is history I skipped over back then. First, there is the expansion of the Kingdom of Aerdy. It spent at least 250, possibly as much as 350 years, expanding across the Flanaess. In the process, it fought the Flan of Trask to conquer the North Province, Suloise refugees to conquer what later became the Iron League countries, the scattered humanoids and Flan tribesmen of the north to reach Blackmoor, conquered about half of Perrenland, and ended with fighting an appearance of the Hand of Vecna in the Blemu Hills and the bloody conquest of the Bone March. Likely equaling all of that was the campaign that ended with the Battle of a Fortnight’s Length where they defeated Nyrond and Tenh, and then conquered Urnst. While not as dramatic, Keoland was unifying during this period, subduing the remnants of Vecna’s Occluded Empire in Gran March, battled Asberdies in the Yeomanry and later the independent people of that land, defeated two appearance of the Hand of Vecna, and fought multiple battles against Toli.

    When all of that was finished, there was perhaps a century or so of actual before the Age of Great Sorrows began. From 250-350 CY the Great Kingdom lost two major civilized portions of its territory, along with a vast underpopulated area that it claimed. While the text describes the fighting between the Great Kingdom and the rebels as short, it is also notes it as bloody. Add in another appearance of the Hand of Vecna in Miro, along with an incursion of Rhizians in the Bone March that extended the destruction to the Rhizian kingdoms. There were significant conflicts in the west, starting with the incursion of the later Paynims, the ones who use ruling titles of Persian origin. As presented in the LGG, these Paynims effectively destroyed the Kingdom of Zeif, splitting off Tusmit and Ket. They also drove into what is now Bissel, setting up Keoland’s imperial phase that inflicted damage on Veluna, Ket, and Keoland. Their appearance also set in motion the Relentless Horde, which as far as the Griff Mountains before being defeated and retreating west of the Howling Hills, likely inflicting significant losses on the Flan of the north, Furyondy trying to stop them, and possibly Nyrond trying to stop them as well, along with contributing to the collapse of the Great Kingdom All of this likely caused a 25-50% drop in the population of the Flanaess.

    While the population has more than two centuries to recover after that until the present day, significant conflicts continued to erupt. The rise and disappearance of Iuz, the Horned Society, the Hateful Wars, the loss of the Bone March to humanoids, and the Turmoil Between Crowns would all contribute to hindering any great recovery or expansion of the population. Note, all of this is before the Greyhawk Wars and the devastation they certainly brought.

    Altogether, these can easily explain why the population of the Flanaess is not three to fifteen times higher than it is without any massive contortions or hand waving of uncounted populations. Those people are not there simply because they died in the wars that have wracked the Flanaess regularly for the past thousand years and continue to do so. The Universal Peace the first Overking declared lasted less than three centuries out of those ten. It was far from enough to produce a population much greater than is listed in the books.

    Thanks to Gary Holian and Mike Bridges for listening to me ramble and asking questions that made me think about all of this.
    Adept Greytalker

    Joined: Apr 11, 2009
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    From: Verbobonc

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    Fri Mar 08, 2024 2:20 pm  


    Interesting take on the migration period. I have been playing with the nature of the period myself, if only to provide some context when an ancient tomb is uncovered and what might be found within. Right now, I have focused the detailed development on the Velverdyva Valley to provide background for the ToEE campaign, but my take is a bit like yours.

    The latest dominant Flan civilization in the region was the pler Harran who came from the Isles of Woe. I modeled them largely on the Sea Peoples of the late Bronze Age, and they dominate the river network leading to and from the Nyr Dyv, though not the salt water. They collapse several centuries before the migrations, leaving rump states similar to the Myceneans at their old forts and trading posts, who dominate but are slowly merging with the Flan of the hinterland who are more Bronze Age European/Celtic. Technologically, I have the Flan as masters of working bronze, but the secret of iron eludes them, the Baklunish and Flan until the Twin Cataclysms, but one group does crack the code...

    The Oeridians master iron, stirrups, and horses, making them highly sought after mercenaries in the West, but they start a migration into the Flanaess. I model them more on Indo-Iranians like the Sarmations, but with stirrups. What this means is that when they collide with the Flan of the Velverdyva it is a slaughter (think Adrianople) as the Oeridians are using mounted archers and lancers against chariots and spearmen. The already weakened Flan civilization in the region collapses and is swiftly dominated by the Vol (the first wave of conquerers)...

    Obviously such a cataclysmic defeat would create doubts, especially as it would likely be replicable while the Oeridians maintained a near-monopoly on their technologies. This would support your idea of the Flan largely being absorbed into Oeridian culture, and also that a series of upheavals in the migration period would keep populations in check.

    By the current day, the Oeridians have evolved into more of the Western European fuedal system we are more familiar with, but I really liked the idea of their nature and that of the Flan changing, and it also makes it interesting when an ancient tomb or crypt is discovered, and the characters have to try to figure out an oeridian composite bow (not generally available in the temperate and well-watered central Flanaess), or bronze arms and armor from the pre-migration Flan.

    To make the Sheldomar more interesting, I am modeling the Keoghs on the Scythians, and the Suel on the Mesopotamians...
    Master Greytalker

    Joined: Jun 29, 2001
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    From: Bronx, NY

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    Fri Mar 08, 2024 9:04 pm  

    I ultimately decided that everyone went Iron Age. The reason the Flan fell so easily during the Migrations is that their own nations had collapsed for one reason or another.
    The Isles of Woe (Heraan) destroyed themselves.
    Tycheron, formerly subject to Heraan, was destroyed by Vecna.
    Veralos, also formerly subject to Heraan, destroyed themselves.
    Sulm destroyed itself.
    Keraptis destroyed Tostenhca.
    Trask ruined itself fighting the Olve of the City of Summer Stars leaving them vulnerable to the Naelax.
    Acererak quit.
    Ehlissa probably left as well and her kingdom declined.
    Nuria faded and probably lost heavily fighting the Maure before the Oeridians arrived.
    Vecna was "killed" by Kas.
    With all the Flan infighting, there was little remaining to stop the Oeridians, and little to resist Oeridian cultural domination.

    As for "feudalism", that is another can of worms I have to gather all my thoughts about. Short version on that is:
    I think too many people presume a VERY late medieval/Renaissance/Enlightment sort of government control and "feudalism" for the Flanaess, rather than a 10th-12th century/Crusades level, with significantly weaker feudal ties and royal power. They also project too much independence on the lower ranked states because they have their own entries and have a confused idea of what "palatinate" means. (It does NOT mean sovereign independence. Quite the opposite.)
    I will get that together some day.
    Adept Greytalker

    Joined: Apr 11, 2009
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    From: Verbobonc

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    Tue Mar 12, 2024 6:14 pm  

    I concur, especially on the setting "time frame". I keep mine societally and technologically where Carl Sergeant put it, just barely 13th century (plate armor recently exists, but not full or field plate), most of the Oeridian lands are feudal with serfdom the predominant status for most people. As far as the smaller states, I look at the independence as being relative; if they are far away and inacessible, they have more independence, but if they are near, they probably don't.

    The big powers, Keoland, Furyondy-Veluna, Nyrond, and Aerdy are the real players, and the smaller states have limited freedom of action. Bissel went from border march of Keoland to border march of Furyondy-Veluna. The Ulek states are independent of Keoland, unless Keoland decides otherwise. Perrenland, by contrast of being heavily armed and far away, has real autonomy.
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