Today’s post on Hyperborean demographics focuses on the Gal Hills, homeland of the Keltic peoples. It is described by the AS&SH Hyperborean Gazetteer as follows:
These fertile hills and grasslands bloom with heather, sedge, and poppies. Many Keltic towns and villages are spread about the Gal Hills, though none number more than 1,800 inhabitants.
The people of the Gal Hills raise sheep for food and clothing. To this end they manufacture and export a large amount of clothing to other towns and cities, such as Khromarium.
The Druids are the spiritual leaders of the Gal Hills Kelts, but to many outsiders their religion is held in low esteem. Standing stones (menhirs), henges, and ancient barrows are spaced throughout the Gal Hills.
So this sounds like a pleasant, pastoral land (as long as you ignore the giant wolf spiders). Let’s look at it from an ACKSian demographics perspective…
Gal City is the largest settlement of the realm, although it holds no true authority over the other towns and villages (i.e., Gal City is not the capital of the Gal Hills). Its population is given as 5,000, and we’ll assume that this is strictly the urban population within the city walls. This translates to 1,000 families and makes it Market Class IV.
There are nine other Keltic settlements – including Dunwich – on the Hyperborea map. (A fairly dispersed settlement pattern, especially for Hyperborea.) Let’s assume these towns have between 160 and 360 urban families each and a total of 2,320 urban families.
That means there are 3,320 urban families in Gal City and the towns, plus probably another 3,320 urban families in smaller villages and towns (not shown on the map), for a total of 6,640 urban families in the realm.
I picture the Gal Hills to be more agrarian than other Hyperborean realms; nonetheless it is still more urbanized than historical examples. Let’s say that the overall urbanization rate is 25%. This puts the rural population of the Gal Hills at 19,920 families and makes the total realm population 26,560 families.
This makes the Gal Hills a “Duchy” in ACKS terms, with a total population comparable to Khromarium’s realm.
The Problem with Dunwich:
As I noted in my first demographics post, the Taken From Dunwich module gives a population of 180 for the community. This wouldn’t even rank as a Village in ACKS and is ridiculously low for a settlement shown on a continental map.
The Hyperborean Gazetteer says the following about Dunwich:
This small frontier village is perhaps the most remote settlement of the Gal Hills. In the foothills of the Spiral Mountain Array, the Kelts of Dunwich are an industrious people, herding sheep, hunting musk oxen, and mining the hills for precious metals and gems.
In my campaign I’m declaring that Dunwich has an urban population of around 800 individuals, translating to 160 urban families. The ACKS Core Rules would consider this a “Village”, but it ranks as a “Town” in underpopulated Hyperborea, and is the smallest of the ‘notable’ Gal Hills settlements.
Furthermore, I’m going to assume that “Dunwich Village” described in the module is actually a smaller community separate from the “main” settlement – a mining Hamlet within a day’s walk from Dunwich proper.
(Incidentally, the Keltic community of Bogrest from the Beneath the Comet module is said to have approximately 200 inhabitants (40 families). I’d treat this as a Hamlet too, but with Market Class VI due to the local iron industry.)
Mapping the Realm:
The Gal Hills are considered a “Duchy” in ACKS terms. Assuming a low population density, equivalent to Medieval England (40 people per square mile), the realm would encompass between 5 and 14 24-mile hexes. Let’s give one hex to each settlement shown on the regional map (10 total).
The usual ACKS guidelines state than any secured domain within two 24-mile hexes of a city will be “Civilized”, and will be borderlands for another hex out. But none of the Gal Hills settlements even ranks as an ACKS city. Let’s instead assume that each occupied hex is considered “Civilized” with the adjacent hexes being “Borderlands”.
I’d probably add another Borderlands hex between Gal City and the hills, since the Hyperborean Gazetteer states that the “industry goes through the Keltic city of Gal, though the roads betwixt the Gal Hills and Gal can be treacherous”, which implies that roads exist, but that they’re not completely safe.
Rural peasants are scattered across these civilized and borderlands domain as well, farming and raising sheep for food and clothing.
Authority Figures & Criminal Guilds:
The Hyperborean Gazetteer does not provide much information about the local lords of the Gal Hills, although it notes that Druids act as the spiritual leaders.
Given its size, Gal City should have a ruler of at least 9th level, a Keltic lord claiming (through dubious lineages) to be the rightful Over-King. There would be about 100 local Thieves, but rather than an organized guild I picture competing street gangs.
The Gal Hills domains would have lords of 8th level or higher. Taken From Dunwich references an 8th-lvl Druid named Malvek. Let’s assume he’s the true authority figure of this domain, although official rule is through councils of elders.
The towns of the Gal Hills would each only support around 16-42 Thieves. Again, I’m not envisioning organized guilds, but perhaps they would be local brigands, sheep rustlers, and horse thieves.
The Gal Hills are a closer match to medieval demographics than other Hyperborean realms, although still quite urbanized compared to historical examples. The AS&SH Referee’s manual actually discusses economic and trade considerations as well, which means that there’s information that can be used for Mercantile Ventures. (Perhaps a future post?)
Once again, equipment selection is limited – even in Gal City (MC IV). I’m definitely thinking of reducing starting equipment (namely armour) in my home campaign. PCs will probably need to travel to Khromarium if they want to make big purchases…
That’s all I have for now on Hyperborean demographics. I’ll need to look at some other realms before posting again.