• COMING SOON! -- The Awfully Cheerful Engine on Kickstarter! An action comedy RPG inspired by cheerful tabletop games of the 80s! With a foreword by Sandy 'Ghostbusters' Petersen, and VTT support!
log in or register to remove this ad

 

The Size of Sharn, Physical and Population

Originally posted by iheartsharn:

Hey all. I feel like this has been discussed here before, but I could not find any topics about it.

I know the 3.5e maps of Sharn have no scale, I’m not sure about 4e but I think it’s the same. What are people’s thoughts on the physical size of the city? I have my own thoughts, but I am always looking to refine them, and other peoples input could help me.

This ties into the population question. I know there were a fair number of people who thought that the stated figure of around 211,000 is too small to make sense. A big issue with the stated figure is what it would do to the population density when combined with the physical size. 211,000 people in a large three-level city would likely have a density more like a small town, taking away from the big-city feel of Sharn. I have heard of a number of people suggesting the increase of the population in their own games, up to as much as 2.1 million. What do people think of this?

I do have some of my own thoughts on all of this, and have begun working on them again recently in my spare time. I’d like to chime in later, but first I’d like to hear what other people think.

Of course, I recall Hellcow himself saying something about the absolute numbers not mattering as much as making sure your imaginings of the city fit into a certain mold. That is the actual size does not matter as much as the fact that the city is large, and the actual population does not matter as much as the fact that the city is densely populated. I am curious though.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Originally posted by Ogiwan:

Yeah, Eberron has always had population problems. Anyways. Consider this: Of Sharn's residents, how many do you actually care about?

I'd be willing to bet that even if you ran an entire campaign in Sharn, you'll prolly top out at about 100 NPCs. So, why do you need to bother counting the additional X-hundred-thousand-million-whatever denizens?

I will say, though, that the population ratios in S:CoT and the ECS are great for coming up with random NPCs. I've gone so far as to come up with percentile tables to roll on.
 

Originally posted by iheartsharn:

I agree with you 100% Ogiwan.  The most important thing to remember is that the size of Sharn is big, and the population of Sharn is a lot.  We worry about the population enough to have enough NPC’s, and then a cast of unnamed extras running around in the background of our minds (as you say, a number in the low hundreds rather than the hundreds of thousands).  I treat the physical size the same way in game.  It is like a TV show.  I mentally construct sets for major locations like the characters’ residences, favorite bars, maybe some rooms at Morgrave or in the halls of power etc.  Then we also have adventure sites specific to the adventure.  In between is kind of blurry, and you don’t necessarily get a global view of the city

My more specific questions are out of curiosity.  I enjoy working stuff like this out, even though it is not strictly necessary.  And since everything that I come up with is just personal interpretation, I like to see what other interpretations are out there.  It’s more like a thought experiment than anything I feel I need to do to play the game.  Also, the getting a better idea of what I think of the physical size (my main interest right now) I feel will help me better picture the city and role play within it.


Originally posted by iheartsharn:

As far as physical size goes, I am also interested in the vertical size.  It has been stated a few times that the highest towers of the city top out at around a mile in height.  I round a bit and quote the height of Lyrander Tower (the tallest IMO) at 5300' base to apex.  That leads me to wonder where the bases of the various wards lie.  The Upper Wards are of particular interest to me.  If the base of the Upper Wards (that is, where the Upper Wards map is set in the book) is at around 4000' and the height of the towers tops out at 5300' and is more commonly around 4800' or so, then the surface of the city could be comprable to modern Manhattan in its skyline.  There is then 4000' to set the Lower and Middle Wards in.  I like to think that the Lower Wards occupy more vertical space than the Middle Wards, to include a zone of ruins at the very bottom of the towers.  On the other hand, if the Upper Wards are farther up, then the feel at the upper wards could be closer to that of an older historical city, and there will be more space in the other two sets of wards.  Of course, an increase in height of a few hundred feet will alter the viewshed from the streets of the Upper Wards as well.  There is also a question in how much space is good for the Lower and Middle Wards.  If the Upper Wards up as high as 4500' or even 5000', there might be a feeling of too much space below.


Originally posted by iheartsharn:

Okay, I’ll throw out a few of my numbers.
 
My biggest concern is the horizontal size. I will begin by admitting that these early estimates do not include Cliffside or Skyway. I do think that these are not huge omissions. Most of the waterfront is not residential, and will be populated by an itinerant population not included in the city numbers. Both Mud Caves and Skyway have small populations that hardly dent whatever estimate you use for Sharn, and unique living arrangements that don’t really fit in with the character of the city as a whole. Therefore, I have chosen to leave my calculations slightly incomplete, comprising only the 5 plateaus of the main city for now.

  The value that I have settled on is approximately 6 miles east to west, and 6.8 miles north to south. This yields about 16.5 square miles of occupiable city in the lower wards. Multiply that by 3 for all three city levels, you come up with a little over 49 sq mi, which is somewhat smaller than Brooklyn for the entire city. At this point, at a population of 211,000, the population density is around 4,200 people per square mile. This is a fairly suburban density, and not what I might have expected from a city with at least two levels of 2000’ buildings. Bring it up to the 2.1 million mark, and you have 42,000 people per square mile, which is on par with some of the most densely populated parts of the US, which makes more sense to me. Half of that would still be on par with parts of NYC, IIRC.
 
  I do think of this as an upper estimate. A smaller size would help improve the population densities, and would also help to include the two areas I left out. Still I wouldn’t shrink it much more. For instance, if you use Granite Halls as a proxy for the overlying Highest Towers District, then the capital District of Sharn is only .3 square miles, a mile across at its very widest, which I think is not too large for such a district. It also gets difficult to fit in any towers with a base of diameter of 2000’ as are mentioned in S:CoT. In fact, the Lyrander Tower attachment mentions that tower has a base of 2000’ and the book mentions it is in Highest Towers. That section of the city has a maximum North-South dimension of around 2400’ at the base according to the above figures, already making placement of that tower something of a challenge.

As far as height, I tend to think of the upper wards as having a ground level around 4500’-4800’ above ground level. Then, the effect of the upper ward buildings is one of tall buildings, but not quite as tall as a modern place like Manhattan to top out at 5000’. Lyrander Tower as I described it would be around 500’-800’ above the upper wards base, there would be a number of downtown towers at around 500’-200’, and many other towers in the 100’ range. I would definitely like to hear more ideas, though.

I am not sure about population. I like the 2.1 million figure, but I would prefer to not have to size up that much. Half that would be near the estimates of the size of classical Rome, which has a certain symmetry. As I see it, Sharn is a fantasy city meant to beggar the imagination in its scale. 211,000 people would less than a quarter of the population of Rome, and smaller than several other ancient cities. It would not even be an unrealistically large city in medieval Europe. As far as modern cities go, a population of 211,000 would mark a very moderately sized city, and certainly not what one would expect from a mile tall metropolis. 

That is what I have, I would really love to hear responses to that, and to hear other people’s ideas.
 

Originally posted by CorrinAvatan:

Yeah, Eberron has always had population problems. Anyways. Consider this: Of Sharn's residents, how many do you actually care about?

I'd be willing to bet that even if you ran an entire campaign in Sharn, you'll prolly top out at about 100 NPCs. So, why do you need to bother counting the additional X-hundred-thousand-million-whatever denizens?

I will say, though, that the population ratios in S:CoT and the ECS are great for coming up with random NPCs. I've gone so far as to come up with percentile tables to roll on.

From my understanding, while Sharn is two miles (or however) high, there are entire sections where there is no habitation; so, while it may be "two miles high", there may only be 3/4 of a mile altogether that is entirely inhabited.  If you do this, then you have portions of the city that are EXTREMELY dense, population-wise, but then you have areas that have so few people that you can actually still make "discoveries" 

But, I may be biased, as my campaigns always seem to involve some sort of crypt, tomb, or dungeon that isn't on one of the maps of Sharn.
 

Originally posted by iheartsharn:

I figure that large portions of the city, especially those starting around 500'-1000' above the base of a level, are filled with infrastructure (sewage, water elemental tanks, magical apparatus, structural things, etc) and are therefore generally uninhabited. Also, anything below the base of the Lower Wards is largely terra incognita outside of a few settlements and working areas in the Cogs.

So, assuming only 3/4 of a vertical mile is inhabited, that is an area some square miles larger than the borough of Manhattan covered largely by buildings in the neighborhood of somewhat more than twice the height of the Empire State Building. This city would still require a significant population to maintain an urban-feeling density.

I definitely agree with your inclusion of "crypts, tombs, and dungeons", that is the spirit of the setting.


Originally posted by iheartsharn:

I just noticed in going back over this thread that earlier I stated the land area of Sharn was somewhat less that that of Manhattan.  I meant it was somewhat less than that of Brooklyn, and I have fixed that.
 

Originally posted by Beoric:

I've seen mention elsewhere of a 6 mile diameter for Sharn, so I think other people have reached the same conclusion you have, and I think it is also implied in some of the transportation costs. 

That said, I find I prefer a smaller city, partially because I am interested in preserving the 200k population size, and partly because I feel that such a population in a city that physically massive in three dimensions would have no feeling of cohesion.  It would be more a number of isolated communities than a single city.  I also don't like the cannon figures for the base diameters; a mile-high building with a 2400' base looks too squat for me for a city that names many of its structures "spires".  I did a bit of modelling and found that I got the most appealing profile (to me) when the mile-high towers have a base of 900' and are 300' in diameter at the top.  I use those for the largest towers apparent on the maps, and scale down the towers proportionately for the others.  I then end up with a city with a diameter of a bit less than 2 miles, which is still pretty roomy but feels more viable to me as a city.

If anyone is still reading this thread, I am curious how you address another issue with the maps; the fact that the upper ward maps contain fewer and larger structures than the middle and lower ward maps, or the overview.  I am toying with the idea of making them platforms (which receive some mention in CoT), sometimes at the top of a single tower, and sometimes pierced by several.  Of course, that would make it really suck to be the downstairs neighbors, who would not get much sun. 
 

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top