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How big are the biggest cities in your campaign world?


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In the Late Middle Ages, London was decent. There were dozens upon dozens of cities larger. When Rome dominated Europe, there were still many cities over 50k, though none matched Rome at its peak in the Bronze Age


Yeah, I know, but I prefer to run a more Dark Ages setting, with less central control, fluid borders, and so forth, which seems to suggest (to me) more limited population centers.
 

Recently I was rereading the 3.5 Dungeon Master's Guide and took note of the listings for various settlements by population (p. 137):
  • Thorp: 20-80 people.
  • Hamlet: 81-400 people.
  • Village: 401-900 people.
  • Small town: 901-2,000 people.
  • Large town: 2,001-5,000 people.
  • Small city: 5,001-12,000 people.
  • Large city: 12,001-25,000 people.
  • Metropolis: 25,001+ people.
What bothered me about this was that I knew that I'd seen a listing for a larger population center somewhere. After some checking around online, I was finally able to zero in on where. The Epic Level Handbook revised the population tables (from the 3.0 DMG; the revisions weren't kept in the 3.5 book, which is part of the reason I had such a hard time finding it initially), and in so doing added the following:
  • Planar metropolis: 100,000+ people.
Now, it's fairly intuitive that these population distributions are meant to reflect a pseudo-medieval world, where urban centers aren't nearly the size that they are today. Even so, I found it quite amusing to consider that a town with a hundred thousand people or more is so large that it constitutes being known across the multiverse for its size.

"Across the planes of existence, there are places where untold masses live, converging in groups so large as to boggle the imagination. Places with names such as Sigil, Dis, the City of Brass, and...Akron, Ohio."

So that got me wondering: how large are the largest population centers in your campaign world? Are they places with a few tens of thousands of people, like in the DMG? Or do you have them approaching more contemporary standards? How big are your world's "big cities"?

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I didnt look it up but I wonder if the 3.5 Cityscape supplement has modified/additional information.
 

Yeah, I know, but I prefer to run a more Dark Ages setting, with less central control, fluid borders, and so forth, which seems to suggest (to me) more limited population centers.
Sure, in the undeveloped parts of Europe cities were small as urbanisation had not yet taken place. In the east, and north Africa, there were still large cities that continued on as before.
 







Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
You're posting this in the General forum, not D&D specific....

The last two campaigns I ran weren't D&D. The most recent was space opera, so... entire world-cities with populations in the billions....
 

TwoSix

Unserious gamer
Supporter
Possibly, but my fantasy campaigns aren't set in Europe.
Hmm. Without looking at historical precedents, I guess the question becomes "What factors could be included in a Dark Ages style area that would allow for large cities if so desired?" The number one thing that jumps out to me is some sort of magical or fantastical feature that allows for agriculture or food supply to prosper but only in a tightly constrained geographic area. Make it so people have to group up in order to eat.
 

The first campaign I ran, I put a lot of careful thought into population distributions and city sizes and these kinds of things. And then I realised that this was a lot of work and ultimately had no meaningful impact on the game.

Now, the largest cities in my campaign have lots of people, whereas the villages have few people. That seems sufficient detail.
 




Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I'm going to repeat above because I think it's important. The Dark Ages weren't dark in modern China, India, Iraq, Iran, Turkmenistan, Egypt, North America, Central America, Africa
True, but not all of those places* had major population centres either - that we know of.

* - North America in particular.
 

Hmm. Without looking at historical precedents, I guess the question becomes "What factors could be included in a Dark Ages style area that would allow for large cities if so desired?" The number one thing that jumps out to me is some sort of magical or fantastical feature that allows for agriculture or food supply to prosper but only in a tightly constrained geographic area. Make it so people have to group up in order to eat.

The question becomes, 'Why would I want to change my setting'.

I like it the way it is, and one aspect that is deliberately built-in is low-power, no silly mass magic effects.
 


TwoSix

Unserious gamer
Supporter
The question becomes, 'Why would I want to change my setting'.

I like it the way it is, and one aspect that is deliberately built-in is low-power, no silly mass magic effects.
I'm sure you don't; the question is for those who want a Dark Ages feel but would also like large cities.
 

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