The most interesting thing about the first few pages of the City of Greyhawk comes from its demographics:
The city contains all sorts of people, and a few other sorts of individuals. About 80% of the city’s population are native Greyhawkers, with another 14% humans from about the Nyr Dyv, Rhennee, barbarians from the north or the wild coast, and those from farther afield . . . The largest group of nonhumans are the half-orcs, making up perhaps 2.5% of the population. Halflings count for 1.5%, dwarves for 1%, elves for perhaps 0.5%, and the remaining 0.5% is gnomes and other demihuman or humanoid types that are able to function as citizens . . .”Niles, 3
So if we combine the two groups of human populations we’re looking at a breakdown that follows:
- 94 % human
- 2.5% half-orc
- 1.5% halfling
- 1% dwarf
- 0.5% elf
- 0.5% gnome and other
This formalized breakdown of lineages finds the city-state reduced in diversity from its previous version found in the World of Greyhawk Boxed Set. In the previous version of the city-state nearly 20% of the population was considered either demi-human or humanoid. By contrast we now find only 6% of the overall population would qualify as non-human.
In the World of Greyhawk Boxed Set the city-state is said to hold around 133,000 persons in both the city proper, and the surrounding area, which should see a population of nearly 26,600 non-humans. So far the City of Greyhawk Boxed Set has not included a population for the city-state but if we use the same numbers for total persons we should see the following breakdown of non-humans:
- 3,325 half-orcs
- 1,995 halflings
- 1,330 dwarves
- 665 elves
- 665 gnomes and everyone else
- total of 7,980 non-humans
I am resolutely against such a stark reduction in the non-human population of the city-state and unless I am presented with a logical reason for the reduction I will be using the World of Greyhawk population density numbers instead. The numbers seem more reasonable for the style of game that I play and more exciting for my players as they tend to play a wide range of lineages.
What are your thoughts?
 On page 23 of A Guide to the World of Greyhawk: Volume III A catalogue of the land flanaess, being the eastern portion of the continent oerik, of oerth the Free City of Greyhawk is noted as having a population of “some” for both demi-humans and humanoids categories. “Some” in this context “. . . indicates numbers up to perhaps 10% of the human population; “few” generally means 5% or less in terms of overall numbers . . .” (Gygax,18). This indicates that the combined populations would range from 20% at the high end, to 12% of the overall all population at the low end. For my purposes I am choosing the high end estimate.
Niles, Douglas. Book1: Greyhawk: Gem of the Flanaess A gazetteer of the Free City of Greyhawk and the surrounding area. TSR, Inc. 1989. pg 3
Gygax, Gary. A Guide to the World of Greyhawk: Volume III A catalogue of the land flanaess, being the eastern portion of the continent oerik, of oerth. TSR, Inc. 1983. pg 18, 23
2 thoughts on “Let’s Read: City of Greyhawk, Part 1: Demographics”
This is an incredibly pedantic question, but, since the original boxed set didn’t give a more detailed breakdown of particular non-human types within that 20% (as far as I know), would you keep the breakdown of the nonhumans within that 20% proportionate with what the City boxed set has?
Obviously, converting 6% into 20% doesn’t give clean, even numbers, but by a rough guess, it would look something like:
1.66% gnome and other
So, taking the old box’s population number, and those percentages, it gives hard numbers along the lines of:
2,212 gnomes and others
Giving you your 26,600 non-human number.
Does that seem like a reasonable breakdown of the nonhuman population of Greyhawk as you’d imagine it?
(No, I don’t know why I’m doing math this early in the morning.)
What a good question!
I’m not entirely sure that I would keep the original breakdown as I tend to add more dwarves to my campaigns and I often feature a wide array of “other” lineages as well. My breakdown would look closer to this:
4% elf, gnome and other.
I tend to feature elves and gnomes less than most other lineages so they would be lumped in with the other group. That said I’m not married to this breakdown either.