Monday, November 5, 2018

Medieval Demographics Made Easy new host

In the mid 1990, S John Ross created an article about how to calculate the demographics of a medieval realms and the numbers and types of shops in a town.

The math behind the article was straight forward and didn't involve a lot of  table lookup. Although it didn't stop people like this one on the Donjon site, or this one on the d20SRD site from making automated tools using S. John Ross' math.

Medieval Demographics was hosted on S. John Ross' Blue Room for a long time. Recently he made changes to his website resulting in the original links becoming broken. As outlined in this blog post, he decided to run an experiment, to release the file to multiple hosts and let it wander on its own. He asked for volunteers and I was one of the people who stepped up.

So today I am pleased to announce that I am hosting a copy of Medieval Demographics for everybody to download. You can use the sidebar or this link.

To be clear this file is only free to download. It has not been made public domain nor has it been released under an open content license. The details are explained at the bottom of page 6 of the PDF

Fantasy Demographics
Several years ago, I dug into the data and math used by S John Ross and found the original source of the data he used to generate shops for his town portion of his article. From the that I generated my own take that fits better with the fantasy medieval setting used by various editions of DnD. You can download that file from the sidebar or from here. Note is only for the types and quantity in a town.

To see this in action look at my How to make Fantasy Sandbox articles starting at post XVIII

Keep in mind both Medieval Demographics and my own Fantasy Demographics are not meant to definitive treatments of historical circumstances. While neither sits on home plate, so to speak, instead they are meant to get you within the ballpark. Keep in mind the algorithm i.e. the process that S. John Ross uses is highly modifiable to fit your assumptions of medieval or fantasy life. For an example see my Fantasy Demographics article mentioned above.


Charles Saeger said...

Something that has been bugging me as of late is what in demographic terms is does a castle mean? Is there a village or something always nearby (as the castle has food needs)?

Robert Conley said...

Castles are fortifications that are typically the private residence of a noble circa 9th to 16th century. After which the focus shifts to building forts and country homes with no inherent defensive capability.

As for support like food that is accounted for the 1 in 50,000 figure. It takes that many people for there to be enough surplus to support something like a castle.

As for manpower I would count on there being a household of two dozen people with a permanent garrison of 20 to 40 men. The castle likely can hold more (both men and inhabitant) during a time of war when used as a refuge and levies are called up.

Jed said...

So a fortification far from your typical manorial estates, say a keep on a boarderland to prevent goblin bands from coming through a pass, would not have a village nearby- it would have a large storehouse of food inside its walls replenished by regular wagons? This sounds like a fundamentally different situation from a lord maintaining a castle in the middle of his fiefdom...

Rajaat99 said...

This is an extremely useful resource that I did not have the privilege of seeing before now. Thank you for hosting it and offering it for download.

Robert Conley said...

@Jed, it doesn't matter where the fortification is located (within reason) the assumption in Medieval Demographic that the realm can only support one castle per 50,000 population because it take that much to have enough surplus in labor, supply, and support to sustain it.

If you want to a define something has a half of a castle then you could halve the support. I would consider a minimum castle to be a motte and bailey type. so if you wanted a series of simple towers along a frontier you could consider that to be a half or quarter castle and adjust accordingly. If you go beyond a keep and a curtain wall with multiple towers (say 6 to 8 including the gates) then it may count as more than one castle.

James Mishler said...

Rob, I think that Jed is more concerned about the castle town, village, or hamlet... the "Burgdorf," so to speak. How big would that necessarily be?

I would say that it depends on the nature and location of the castle. If it is in the borderlands right on the frontier, then it would be minimal. If it is in the settled lands, say, decades or even centuries old, it could have an entire town built around it or near it.

It also depends on the kind of state or polity that rules the castle. Independent lords, such as in various Debatable Marches, likely do not have much if any castle town, but are supported by clan-based villages and hamlets nearby. An adventurer's new-built castle likely has a lively village, recruited from nearby lands with promises of land and protection and freedoms. A small castle on the border of orc lands will likely be lonely, with no nearby settlers, and has to be supported by wagon trains of supplies.

cj324 said...

It wants me to input a password after downloading and I do not have one. What should I do?

Jeff V. said...

I'm awfully glad you chose to do this -- this was a great article years ago, which I lost in one of the many transitions from computer to computer, and now, thanks to you, I have it again! (And thanks to John Ross too, of course! ;-) )