Lost a Day in the Five Towns

I started a sketch of a map on Friday during the weekly conference call. Then I doodled on it a bit while I was having lunch. It’s just an idea for a D&D campaign. A small bit of a larger map to get everyone started. I’m calling it Five Towns for obvious reasons. It’s a somewhat rural bit of a larger kingdom or country, a bit of forest, some hills, and some points of interest. I tried to have a bit of everything in there, just for the utility of the thing. This is what I started with…

Five Towns sketch

Friday, however, is not the day in question that was lost. That would be today. It started off like most other Sunday mornings–coffee, laundry, internet browsing. But the browsing turned into research about population density during the medieval times, then demographics, and then I started formalizing the map.

First, let me say that I am not playing D&D right now. I don’t know anyone that I could play D&D with at this point. I haven’t played in lots and lots of years at this point. And I don’t know if I even have time to play. Probably, I could find the time. Maybe. I think I could make time in my schedule. I really feel like I’m missing out, what with the incredible resurgence in popularity of D&D 5e. Like I missed the bus.

Anyway, where was I? Mapping. Firstly, figure out how many square miles are on the mapping template I created. 2,025 sq. mi. per page (37.5 miles east to west by 54 miles north to south). I’m making it a two page spread. So, 4,050 square miles or 3240 1-mile hexes. That sounds like a lot, but it’s not really that large of an area.

I’ve decided that the area has been populated for the last 300 years and has an ample population density of 60 people per sq mile. About a third of the land is arable and the rest is wilderness. So then I was trying to figure out the population distribution/arable land as it relates to the cities. This is what I started with. The yellow is the arable land and, yes, the numbers in the margins were where I was keeping track of the hex count. (1069 hexes of arable land.)

Five Towns – arable land, 1st attempt

The red-filled hexes are the five towns. The large, red hexes made from dashed lines are boundaries. Ten to fifteen miles is about the distance a villager will travel to get to a town, so that is the area around each town from which villagers will come. I made it 10 miles distant, because you can walk 10-miles, do your business, and walk 10-miles back in a day without overmuch inconvenience. I mean, I wouldn’t do it, but then, I have a car.

I think the holes between the towns are too big and the arable land along the roads is to generous, so I’m reworking that in the next version of the map. The northern and southern most red hexes at the center of the map are not towns, they’re the likely location of towns if everything were ideal. But I only want 5 towns, so they’re just markers.

I ran some numbers and this is what I came up with for the make-up of the area.

Total Population: 240,000
Isolated Population: 4,800
Population living in villages (475): 213,600
Population living in towns (5): 21,600

Towns: (5) Average distance between each is 28 miles
Northup (pop. 7,350) – This is the biggest town, the gateway to Five Towns, and the closest to the kingdom center.
Easton (pop. 5,880) – Second largest town and the one that benefits most from trade with the southern neighbors of the kingdom. Also, the most diverse population of the Five Towns. Suffers from frequent bouts of plague and disease due to proximity to the Reed Marsh.
Middlemost (pop. 3,675) – Geographic center of the region and the starting point of the campaign. Middlemost is about as typical a medieval town as you’re like to find.
Otter Cove (pop. 3,175) – Fishing and shipping center of the Five Towns region. Fortified against invasion or attack from the sea.
South Downs (pop.1,520) – Really not much more than a very large village. Population has fled over the last 50-years due to the proximity of the troubles occuring south of the Bristol Rock River.

I determined that the area of Five Towns has 213,600 people living in 475 villages scattered throughout, with a typical distance between each of 3-miles. The average population of one of these villages is 450 people. But I haven’t done much beyond that in defining the villages. I have some placed on the new map, but no names or particulars for most of them. What I did realize is that my original map did not have anywhere near enough villages.

There is a smaller population of 4,800 people who do not live in the towns or villages, but instead are in more isolated locations. I imagine these are hermits, woodfolk, islanders, marsh dwellers, and the like. Small family groups and lone individuals scattered outside the rest of the population.

I’m still working on this, but here’s what I have so far.

Five Towns – in progress

I’ll keep posting more details about this as I do more, but this is just the mock-up. Once I get this bit done I’ll work on making it pretty in WonderDraft. I debated about using the highlighter for the areable/populated areas, but ultimately decided that it was the easiest way to differentiate from the wildness areas and it’s the medium that is easiest to draw on top of. Lots more villages to put in place and still need to determine the extent of the civilized land. That’s how I got lost in the Five Towns for most of the day.

Lady Ronn and I also redid the interview portion of her video project. We both determined, independently, that the initial interview did not have the right balance of brevity and content. It was 01:14:00 long and I wandered around with everyone of my answers. This time I kept it brief and stayed on point. Maybe I’ll edit the long form interview and see if I can salvage anything for you. Maybe not. We’ll see. Thanks for reading. Later.