Hyperborean Demographics – Introduction

Hyperborean CityA very wonkish post today. I’ve been looking at the ACKS rules for “Constructing a Campaign Setting” and want to try applying them to Hyperborea.

I worked through a few examples of Hyperborean realms and will post these in the coming days, but first I’ll start with a summary of baseline assumptions and some implications for the campaign.

(And feel free to skip over these posts entirely if the thought of campaign demographics bores you.)

Hyperborea HR

Demographic Assumptions:

1) ACKS Chapter 10 is correct. The starting assumption for this whole project is that the demographic guidelines from ACKS are correct. The main implication for Hyperborea is that there are smaller villages and a large rural population associated with each listed community which aren’t discussed in the Hyperborean Gazetteer. These make sense given the amount of farmland and peasant labour needed to support the urban populations.

2) Hyperborean Map Settlements. Each “named” settlement shown on the master Hyperborea map (24-mile hexes) has a population of 1,250 or more (250+ families, Market Class V). (Unnamed marked settlements might be smaller) There are no (known) large settlements except as shown on the map.

This assumption lines up fairly well with the population numbers given in the Hyperborean Gazetteer. However, it contradicts details from some of the adventure modules. Dunwich (in the Gal Hills), for example, is said to have a population of 180 in the “Taken from Dunwich” module and Calencia Village (from Ghost Ship of the Desert Dunes) is given a population of 476.

I’m going to assume that the villages described in the modules are actually smaller communities on the outskirts of the “main” settlement. So Dunwich Village is a small mining community within a day’s walk from Dunwich proper and Calencia Village is instead called “Lith Fjord” and is affiliated with a larger town called Cape Calencia.

3) Points of Light. In most regions, human populations are centred in villages, towns, or cities (although nomadism is strong with traditional Kimmerians and likewise the Kimmeri-Kelts). Cities are where the bulk of humanity takes shelter from the horrors without. (And also from the cold winter years.)

For this reason, I’m treating most domains as “highly centralized”, moving 1-2 rows downward on the Largest Settlement column and “highly urban”, moving 1-2 rows downward on the Urban Population column.

Even assuming “highly urbanized” demographics for most cultures (50% of the population is urban), there are lots of peasant farmsteads and hamlets surrounding each community shown on the map.

This isn’t really a problem; it’s just a different vibe than what I got while reading the AS&SH campaign setting.

4) Low Population. Even given the above two assumptions, resulting populations are far lower than assumed as the baseline in ACKS. As the Hyperborea Gazetteer states:

Sages acknowledge that the surveys of the ancients do not accord with present-day examinations; indeed, pre-Green Death surveys would not qualify a settlement of fewer than 10,000 individuals as a city.

I’ve therefore changed the standard ACKS labels; a settlement of 450 urban families (around 2,250 inhabitants) is considered a “Small City” in Hyperborea, for example. This is just a naming change; all the rules are still tied to the number of families present.

Even great Khromarium – with 30,000 souls within the city walls – would only rate as a “Large City” with Market Class II given the ACKS demographic assumptions. (And it’s vassals are scattered up to 100 miles away.) This also has implications for purchasing equipment and for trade routes. (Although I won’t be doing anything with ACKS economic modeling.)

Over the next few days I’ll post some examples, starting with Khromarium.

Hyperborea HR


About K-Slacker

Gamer and referee for online gameblogs.
This entry was posted in Astonishing ACKS, Campaign Setting and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Hyperborean Demographics – Introduction

  1. SpankyTaz says:

    Looking forward to learning more.

    I don’t think the miss-match of Hyperborean/ACKS settlement sizes will be an issue – I have always assumed that just because a land calls ‘Galenoston’ its capital doesn’t mean that it should even come close to the size of any other land’s capital. If you need to ‘adjust’ things to make them fit, so be it. It’s all about telling the story after all.

  2. K-Slacker says:

    Agreed; I would, however, like to see what “realistic” demographic assumptions will do for Hyperborea. More of a creative world-building exercise than a strict reading of the rules-as-written.

  3. Pingback: Hyperborean Demographics – Khromarium | Mutants & Magic

  4. Pingback: Hyperborean Demographics – Brigand’s Bay | Mutants & Magic

  5. Pingback: Hyperborean Demographics – Gal Hills | Mutants & Magic

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