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What proportion of the population are adventurers?

jgsugden

Explorer
I added a mechanic to my game called "God touched". Those that are God touched have the capacity to gain levels like adventurers at a reasonable pace, to follow the death save mechanics of 5E, and to stand out in the divine order.

If you're not God touched, you will not not advance in class levels quickly. A non-God touched person that studied magic their entire life might reach 5th level as a wizard.

The frequency of being God tocuhed differs amongst the races and species of the world, but it is extremel uncommon. Less than 1 in a few hundred humans are God-touched, and they are the humanoid race with the highest frequency of being God touched.

So, a family might save their money to sent their (non God-touched) child to wizardry school for several years so that the child could return to them as a first level wizard. Such a child, with cantrips and rituals such as mold earth, prestidigitation, mage hand, message, light, shape water, alarm, comprehend languages, find familiar, floating disk, unseen servant... might be able to run a medium sized farm or business by themself. They might further extend their studies for 20 more years and advance to third level to gain access to magics that could really change their lives.

However, you won't find fabricate or other 'economy ruining' spells in the hands of non-God touched. The God-touched tend to find themselves caught up in troubles that keep them from sitting around casting spells.
 

Hussar

Legend
This is the problem when you try to apply game elements (class, level) to world building. It just doesn't really work. I know that's a crappy answer, but, there it is. Given the massive increase in personal capability that comes with even a small handful of levels, plus the plethora of economy breaking spells, a world built from D&D rules would be nonsensical.

Of course, never minding the percentage of classed individuals, what's the percentage of monsters? Even relatively low level monsters like dopplegangers could very quickly overwhelm a country. Illithids? In any significant numbers would be virtually unstoppable. And that's ignoring how undead spawn. Vampires would decimate an entire continent in a matter of weeks.
 

77IM

The Grand Druid (level 22)
Of course, never minding the percentage of classed individuals, what's the percentage of monsters? Even relatively low level monsters like dopplegangers could very quickly overwhelm a country. Illithids? In any significant numbers would be virtually unstoppable. And that's ignoring how undead spawn. Vampires would decimate an entire continent in a matter of weeks.
The monster population maintains an equilibrium with the adventurer population.
 

Kurotowa

Explorer
It really depends on the kind of world you want to create, and the nature of that world. People will attempt dangerous things for wealth. I see adventurers much like people heading west as part of the gold rush.
And if you want to get really detailed with your world, consider actual historical forces having an impact instead of it being stuck in an eternal pseudo-medieval stasis for thousands of years. Like the gold rush and the wild west? That wasn't just a result of having an open frontier, it was because you had a massive number of unemployed war veterans looking for new prospects after the Civil War ended. All those cowboy gunfights were because everyone had wartime experience and many were on a hair trigger from the usual PTSD such wars inflict.

This all is one of the reasons I really like Eberron. It doesn't pretend that adventurers are a constant, but makes their numbers explicitly at an all time high due to so many veterans of the Last War being forced to find new lines of work for their skills.
 

Parmandur

Adventurer
If we consider that bail bondsman is a similar real-life occupation, Google tells us that there are about 15,500 of them in the US, for a population of less than 330 million. That would mean not a lot of adventurers running around, which is fine for my own standards.
Sounds like a good rule of thumb, so about 1 in 20,000. That would give a huge city like Waterdeep with 2 million people about 100 adventurers total. With the major factions headquartered there, like the Harper's and Force Grey, that sounds about right for traditional D&D Sword & Sorcery shenanigans.
 
I

Immortal Sun

Guest
Sounds like a good rule of thumb, so about 1 in 20,000. That would give a huge city like Waterdeep with 2 million people about 100 adventurers total. With the major factions headquartered there, like the Harper's and Force Grey, that sounds about right for traditional D&D Sword & Sorcery shenanigans.
I think there's some error in his math considering that a number of things we now call "jobs" are things that were, even IRL, part of the stuff "adventurers" did. I mean, think about locating ancient ruins of lost civilizations. We did that IRL. There were hired mercenaries yes, but there were also anthropologists, botanists, archaeologists, IRL professions that might translate into the "wizard" or "cleric" members of the fantasy party.

There's still a fairly sizable market for mercenaries in the modern world, especially outside stable Western nations as well.

Consider also the people who went off after the gold rush, or the oil rush, or the land rush.

A stable, industrious, modern society with plenty of bread and circuses is probably not a good comparison to a near-feudal society where there was a much lower ability to become educated, a much lower bar for safety, especially if you live in the fringes of a nation and a high chance of death from simple disease and malnutrition.

People who go home to the comfort of four walls, indoor plumbing and heating, a nice sofa in front of a TV or a comfy computer chair are not inclined to venture out on their own and risk life and limb to gain great wealth in some dank dungeon.
 

Hussar

Legend
Also, just as a point, Waterdeep's population isn't 2 million. It's about 200 000. I think the 2 million inflation number came out of some 3e book or other, but, in current canon, Waterdeep is nowhere near that large. Makes sense, after all. To support a city of 2 million with that level of technology, you need entire empires. The Sword Coast couldn't come even close to supporting that sort of population.
 

Parmandur

Adventurer
Also, just as a point, Waterdeep's population isn't 2 million. It's about 200 000. I think the 2 million inflation number came out of some 3e book or other, but, in current canon, Waterdeep is nowhere near that large. Makes sense, after all. To support a city of 2 million with that level of technology, you need entire empires. The Sword Coast couldn't come even close to supporting that sort of population.
At the risk of taking the topic entirely too seriously, from the WotC website:

"The City of Splendors is certainly the greatest of the Sword Coast cities and perhaps the greatest cities on the face of the world. It’s home to as many as two million people, though an accurate census is all but impossible since so many come and go, visiting the open city to trade and otherwise seek fame and fortune."

https://dnd.wizards.com/dungeons-and-dragons/what-is-dnd/locations/waterdeep

Feeding people in Waterdeep is done through magic: big, honking Druidic magic.
 
The greater territory of Waterdeep has around 2 million people. How many of them are adventurers?
Do you mean 'adventurers' or do you mean 'PC classed individuals'.

If you mean 'PC classed individuals', in my game, PC classed individuals are probably 20% or more of the total population.

If you mean 'people who professionally fight monsters and recover treasure', then that's probably like 1 in 5000 persons though the vast majority - indeed nearly all of them - would not identify as 'adventurers'. Instead, you'd be dealing with a combination of knights errant, templars, champions, questing priests, mercenaries, inquisitors, bounty hunters, professional hunters and exterminators of different sorts. You'd also have a variety of guides, professional treasure hunters and scholars who studied various esoteric dangerous things, or whose studies regularly brought them in contact with various dangerous things. Plus you'd have people who worked as guards for or assistants to all of the above.

Of course, you'd also have a lot of mercenaries and the like out there that didn't really fight monsters or uncanny things except by necessity. And technically, a 'rat catcher' is a monster fighter, but we don't really think of the rat catchers as adventurers (though in a fantasy world, they might be rather tough and competent individuals).

So, in 2 million persons you'd have like 400,000 leveled PC classed individuals, of which about 400 of them in some sense were competitors to the PC's. Of those, probably only a 10th of those would be a part of a long term multi-disciplinary mercenary company from diverse backgrounds that we think of as 'an adventuring party'. The vast majority would either work alone, or have specialties (like killing undead or lycanthropes), or be emergency task forces sponsored by various temples or perhaps in some cases governments.
 

Hussar

Legend
At the risk of taking the topic entirely too seriously, from the WotC website:

"The City of Splendors is certainly the greatest of the Sword Coast cities and perhaps the greatest cities on the face of the world. It’s home to as many as two million people, though an accurate census is all but impossible since so many come and go, visiting the open city to trade and otherwise seek fame and fortune."

https://dnd.wizards.com/dungeons-and-dragons/what-is-dnd/locations/waterdeep

Feeding people in Waterdeep is done through magic: big, honking Druidic magic.
Heh. It really depends on which sources you want to read. :D FRCS pegs it at about 150 000 ish. In any case, 2 million is a ludicrous number for a city that size. I mean, the inside of the walls are less than 5 miles by 2 miles. 2 hundred thousand people per square mile? That's a bit much. :D
 

Mirtek

Villager
At least about the logistics needed to Support so many people we're back to widespread use of economy breaking spells :)
 

Parmandur

Adventurer
Heh. It really depends on which sources you want to read. :D FRCS pegs it at about 150 000 ish. In any case, 2 million is a ludicrous number for a city that size. I mean, the inside of the walls are less than 5 miles by 2 miles. 2 hundred thousand people per square mile? That's a bit much. :D
Because Magic. Given the underground complexes beneath the city, you have to think cubic space for the population density, and don't forget a huge number of peoole are outside the walls.

The 3E FRCS lists a population of 1,347,840. A quick look in Dragon Heist didn't show any demographic statistics, but there was a sidebar stating that many versions of Waterdeep have been written, bit what really matters is the DM's personal version.
 

TwoSix

Lover of things you hate
Heh. It really depends on which sources you want to read. :D FRCS pegs it at about 150 000 ish. In any case, 2 million is a ludicrous number for a city that size. I mean, the inside of the walls are less than 5 miles by 2 miles. 2 hundred thousand people per square mile? That's a bit much. :D
I just tend to assume the huge farming area necessary to support the city is factored into the population number. Kind of like how New York's population is 8.4 million, but the New York metro area's population is slightly over 20 million.
 
The monster population maintains an equilibrium with the adventurer population.
And with itself. The Underdark has various powerful groups--illithids, drow, duergar, kuo-toa, etc--that keep each other in check. On the other hand, you could build an awesome campaign out of the premise that the illithid figure out a way to drastically increase their population and have designs on taking over the world.

Sounds like a good rule of thumb, so about 1 in 20,000. That would give a huge city like Waterdeep with 2 million people about 100 adventurers total. With the major factions headquartered there, like the Harper's and Force Grey, that sounds about right for traditional D&D Sword & Sorcery shenanigans.
Seems way too low to me. To each campaign their own, but you could probably fit 100 adventurers in the Yawning Portal alone. There are many other taverns that adventurers hang out in the city.

Because Magic. Given the underground complexes beneath the city, you have to think cubic space for the population density, and don't forget a huge number of peoole are outside the walls.

The 3E FRCS lists a population of 1,347,840. A quick look in Dragon Heist didn't show any demographic statistics, but there was a sidebar stating that many versions of Waterdeep have been written, bit what really matters is the DM's personal version.

That population is for the region or city-state. If you look at the population section it says the metropolis has 132,000.

I think it is safe to assume that the city itself--within the walls--has somewhere in the 130-200,000, while the surrounding region is about ten times that.
 
Here's a very cool map that gives a sense of the area around Waterdeep, giving a sense of a much larger population. And this is only part of the city-state - which extends for more miles.

Quote from the artist:

"It’s funny how ppl sometimes imagine fantasy cities without the grains and supplies to keep the city alive. Waterdeep has more than 1M inhabitants, but only 250k fit inside the walls. Most of the Waterdhavians live outside the walls, and that’s the main purpose of this map."
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Because Magic.
Let us be clear - Manhattan island has a population density of about 72,000 people per square mile. So, we are talking about Waterdeep thus having about 3 times the population density of the most densely populated urban area on Earth.

Given the underground complexes beneath the city, you have to think cubic space for the population density, and don't forget a huge number of people are outside the walls.
I'm sorry, but Waterdeep is not mostly populated by dwarves. It isn't like it is billed as the largest *underground* city in the world. The way this shapes up, the majority of the people would have to be living underground for that to make sense... and that's not how the city is described.

If we want to consider outside the walls - well, if we take *two thirds* of that population outside, we are down to the population density of Manhattan.

Or, we can just accept that population size is unreasonable, and go with that.
 
Or, we can just accept that population size is unreasonable, and go with that.
Or we can just accept that, as I pointed up just two posts before yours, the 1.3 to 2 million figure refers to the region/city-state, not the city itself.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Or we can just accept that, as I pointed up just two posts before yours, the 1.3 to 2 million figure refers to the region/city-state, not the city itself.
Well, consider - the population of England and Wales together, in 1500, was probably about 3 million. Is the city state/region of Waterdeep comparable to... half of Renaissance England? If yes, then fine. If not...
 

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