Demographics of the Border Kingdoms

Posted: 28 April 2011 in Talomir Nights

As an experiment, I applied the rules from S John Ross’ Mediaeval Demographics Made Easy to the Border Kingdoms, my favourite bit of the WHAA world. This is what happened…


First, how big are they? Well… WHAA doesn’t have a scale on the map, nor does it need one; but several of the countries are based on France, which is about 500-600 miles across. It takes five strategic moves to cross a country, so each is about 100 miles. Crossing the entire map East to West would take 35 moves, so the map as a whole is 3,500 by 2,100 – call it 7.4 million square miles, about the same size as Canada and the USA combined.

There is a hexgrid version of the map online at the THW Yahoo! forum, which is 41 x 28 hexes, so I could call them 100 mile hexes and be close enough for my purposes. I was curious by this time, so asked on the forum – Ed Teixeira of THW confirmed that the hexes are in the region of 100 miles across (thanks Ed!). By my count, the Border Kingdoms have 63 hexes, and a hex is roughly 8,660 square miles, so the total area is about 546,000 square miles.

I figure a population density of about 40 per square mile – the same as mediaeval England – is about right. That’s at the lower end, but then there are goblins, orcs and dark elves half-surrounding it, so it’s not a happy place. The overall population is thus about 22 million – I’m working in big handfuls here because the error margin in my initial assumptions is about plus or minus 20%, so there is not much point in being tremendously accurate.


As this is an experiment, I’m using the average rolls for the dice Mr Ross recommends. Following his rulings, we find the city and town sizes to be as follows:

  • Acromerinth, the capital, has a population of 70,000 people, and covers nearly two square miles of ground. Wow, that is a lot more than I would have guessed. Roughly the size of Paris or Genoa in the mediaeval period.
  • The second biggest city, which I’ll label “B” for the moment, has 35,000 people. About the size of historical London.
  • “C” has 26,000
  • “D” has 19,700
  • “E” has 14,800
  • “F” has 11,000
  • “G” has 8,300.

The seven listed so far are the ones big enough to be called cities; from this point on we must call them towns, and decide whether we’re using the pre-Crusades model or the post-Crusades one. I’ll opt for pre-Crusades for this test.

  • Town “H” has a population of 6,200.
  • “I” has 4,700
  • “J” has 3,500
  • “K” has 2,600
  • “L” has 2,000
  • “M” has 1,500
  • “N” has 1,100

And below that, we tail off into villages and hamlets. So far, there are 14 towns and cities, with a total population of 171,400 – not quite 1% of the total; one urban concentration per 39,000 square miles.


Since a square mile of arable land at this technological level will support about 180 people, around 122,000 square miles of the Kingdoms are populated – about 22% of the total, or 14 hexes; so each populated hex has a town or city in it somewhere, surrounded by a network of villages, most probably every few miles along the roads between the towns. The remaining 78% of the Kingdoms (49 hexes) are wilderness. This is a dark and scary place to live.


To work this out, I need to know how long the Kingdoms have had a castle-building culture, and for no good reason I decide 500 years.

This and the total country population give me 98 ruined castles, and 440 currently in use. 75% of both categories are in the 14 town/city hexes, the rest are scattered all over the place.


I don’t need to work through Mr Ross’ entire list of shops and trades, but picking out some highlights:

  • There are 1,750 clergymen and 64 actual priests.
  • There are 350 noble families.
  • 200 healers of various stripes, of which 41 are “proper” doctors with some sort of recognised qualification.
  • 175 each of jewellers and taverns/restaurants.
  • 25 “magic shops” – places where you can buy ingredients, scroll paper etc.
  • 35 inns where the adventurers could stay

If I set the “SV” for wizards to an average value for unlisted businesses of 15,000, there are 4-5 wizards in town.


I’m not likely to use this method for many places, because I play fast and loose in all my campaigns. However, even with conservative estimates, the Border Kingdoms have many more towns and cities than I would have expected, and both the total and urban populations are higher than I thought.

A big, post-Crusades country like Capalan or Altengard is going to outnumber them dramatically. It looks like the big edge those two have over the earlier cultures like Seniira is not the arquebus, but sheer numbers of urban population.


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