Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Dominion Stats -- Upper & Lower Stoutfellow

I thought of combining numbers for both upper and lower levels, but on second thought, I decided it would be better to provide both separately, and then the combined data at the very end.  This will make for a rather long and dull series of stats.  A few comments should help flesh out these numbers.

Now, do hang on to your shields!

This is a nation of windswept mountain peaks, deserted glaciers, and deep, dark valleys.  With a population density of 3 people per square mile, few will be rubbing shoulders outside urban centers.  The vast majority of the population is concentrated in the river valleys in the realm's southern half. 

Considering how woefully spread out Upper Stoutfellow's army is, it remains vulnerable to any concentrated attack.  However, Upper Stoutfellow seems strikingly iceberg-like. . .  Alright, that was a bad pun, but the image is correct.  A look at what lies beneath the surface and how quickly it might emerge should help one reconsider that assessment.  On the other hand, Stoutfellow has no naval warfleet--not one teensy-weensy little raft.  The idea of taking to the sea invariably sinks like a rock among dwarves and gnomes.    Halfling pirates will have to look for opportunities elsewhere.

Business-wise, this is a prosperous nation.  Notice how little income derives from direct taxation.  More than half the upper realm's funding comes from trade.  Gnomes run major banking and gem-cutting operations, while halflings produce outstanding agricultural goods, including massive quantities of pipeweed and fine ale.  Dwarves hold much of the mining and military-related industry.

Let's now see what lies under the hood.


The first thing is that lowlanders outnumber highlanders two-to-one, and they are even wealthier.  Endless miles of moss farms and fungal forests, and a huge lake easily support a boisterous population 96% dwarven.  Despite this, a population density of 7 people per square mile isn't exactly "crowded" compared to places like Ambur or Stonewall.  Settlements center on the "green areas," while mountainous and stalagmite-filled areas remain essentially deserted.  The present area figure (which is comparable to the surface realm) includes the great lakes, but not the Great Swammholt and the Trench.  Although claimed by Stoutfellow, they haven't begun to settle it and thus do not control it, save for a tiny portion in the west and on top of the two cliffs overlooking the Trench.

Although not at war with other "recognized" states, Stoutfellow is in fact engaged in a long-term armed struggle.  The main enemies are trolls from the Trollmark and the enigmatic denizens of Shadow Deep.  As a result, Lower Stoutfellow has grown into a militocracy, with more than 5% of its citizens in the army.  Nothing less will suffice to properly defend the strongholds locking the various cave complexes, and the fortified gates leading to the surface.  The Dragon Express was deployed initially to move reinforcements and supplies very quickly to most parts of the realm.  Furthermore, mechanical elevators have been installed to lift troops to the surface either through the Denwarf-Hurgon city-pillar or the fortified gates.  An army of battle-scarred, grizzled dwarven veterans specialized in cave or mountain warfare is more than enough to stop an invader unwise enough to set foot upon this harsh land.

Life is more expensive down below, but then the standard of living is much higher.  As with Upper Stoutfellow, direct taxation of the population remains at a minimum.  Here, more than 60% of state revenues come from mining (generated by less than 9% of lowlanders.)  Agriculture is sufficient to support mining communities and urban centers, allowing excess farming goods grown on the surface to be exported, mainly by ship from Bral to Draco.

Just for kicks, I tallied all the data, combining Upper and Lower Stoutfellow, as follows:


With nearly three quarters of a million Stoutfellows, we're well past original 60,000 figure from DotE.  I've remained pretty faithful otherwise to the description of Denwarf-Hurgon.  Come to think of it, I was toying with the idea that the upper city's name should be just "Denwarf" (Rockborn) and the lower city, "Hurgon" (Cavern.)  As a whole, it is otherwise known as Denwarf-Hurgon, especially by outlanders.

I hope all these stats answered questions you had about this unusual realm, or perhaps it sparked even more.  Next stop: the stats for Denwarf-Hurgon, both ends of it, naturally!


  1. Hi,

    I have played a dwarven character for a really long time (maybe since -89 of -90) and at some point I managed to get on dominion for myself. We have tried to use your way of calculating the dominion population but in my opinion it has not worked too well for dwarves. For example it says somewhere in Gaz 6 that dwarves are excellent farmers and 10% of the farming population can feed 60% of the non-farming population so this should be an exeption the the 9/1 ration of farming vs. non-farming.

    Another problem we have had is that this system is clearly meant for populating the already populated parts of the Mystara. How about new colonies, how should you proceed? E.g. my character started a colony in an almost pristine mountain region so how should you calculate population there after colonists arrive. Before the dwarves arrived it was wilderness or borderlands and dwarves ignore the part of the rules that say mountains can be only wilderness or borderlands. Would you first calculate the amount of people, if any, in the pre-colonized area and then add the dwarven population?

    In any case it would nice to see these rules bent for colonizing the unknown parts of the Mystara.


    1. The system I devised in Dragon Magazine is best employed for run-of-the-mill human/agrarian medieval societies. Even then, from a D&D game point of view, it's pretty generous. The sort of calculations that it yields is best for larger territories. When dealing with very small economies (a single dominion or an isolated colony) use common sense.

      I understand what you mean about dwarves or halflings being "super-farmer" but this sort of logic leads to massive problems when it comes to maintaining a balanced game world. If you apply a 60/40 farming/urban ratio rather than a 90/10 in some areas but not others, and multiply the result times the size of a nation, you will sooner or later end up with a broken game world.

      For example: if you drastically increase the amount of sustainable population in mountains, and then amplify the effect with a 60/40 ratio, how many generations will it take to have more dwarves living there than neighboring races in fertile lowlands? Over time, the availability of food governs directly population numbers, which in turn affects economy, thus the military, and finally politics. At such a rate, it won't long before a dwarven superpower would "Finlandize" everything around it.

      You can get away with stuff like this on a very small scale. But when entire nations are involved, it is best to remain very conservative across the board. If you want to give demi-humans a farming edge, keep it within reason. Even then, an 85/15 ratio means that demi-human cities could be 50% larger than human cities for the same overall population. This just doesn't sound right to me.

      Do you really believe this is a desirable result? I'm guessing not.

      Possibly, one way to incorporate a 60/40 ratio (or some sort of altered ratio) would be to apply it only to favored lands, which in this case would include caverns and mountains ONLY, and not fertile lowlands, such as valleys or plains. It could pertain to forests for elves, hills for halflings, and so on. This might work since the basic population with these types of terrain is much lower than for fertile plains. The end result might actually remain demographically balanced with surrounding realms, and faithful to style and nature of demi-humans.

      Makes sense?

    2. In retrospect, I would slightly alter the basic amount of population allowable in mountains and caverns for dwarves, and not change at all the 90/10 farming/urban ratio.

    3. As regards colonization mechanics, the original system just won't work because it was designed mostly for established dominions. If you look at how tough things were during the real world 16th century colonization of North America, European settlers faced horrid living conditions, and some colonies actually failed altogether (settlers either starved to death, died of diseases, or were massacred).

  2. Ok, this makes sense. As a player not DM, I was thinking this from microeconomics rather than macroeconomics point of view. :)

    I think one thing that keeps the number of dwarven population from exploding is their lower rate of birth . Not sure though how it would be presented in these numbers but it would make sense when they have the food to sustain population growth but it will not grow anyway.

    Which reminds me of... How do you handle population growth? Do you change rural areas to suburban and borderlands to rural or how does it work in practice?

    1. Actually, the point about demi-human birth rates doesn't hold true either, simply because dwarves live far longer than humans. So in fact, the population issue would be much worse in this regards! Unless females have gestation periods lasting hundreds of years or for some bizarre biological reason an incredibly short portion of their lives during which they can bear children, the logic doesn't stand.

      I don't bother with growth (I tried). It is very difficult to come up with simple mechanics that won't produce a population explosion. Use common sense here, and keep population growth minimal. The real world's demographic explosion took place during the age of industrialization, alongside the development of modern agriculture, science, and medicine, and that would completely change the nature of Mystara.

  3. It is a tricky business with these demihuman races.

    When you add the resilience of the dwarves, they should be healthier than humans, which would worsen he situation even further. Maybe we just need to stick to the same rules as with human nations. Thanks for your thoughts!

    1. LOL! Very good point about dwarven hardiness. I didn't think about that one. :-)

      Just increase the basic hex population in mountains and caverns for those dwarves. That should do the trick, I think.