Greyhawk, Greyhawk Wars, Greyhawk Wars Research, Let's Read, The City of Greyhawk Boxed Set

Let’s Read: City of Greyhawk, Part 1: Demographics

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[1]. 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?


[1] 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.

Works Cited

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”

  1. 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:

    8.33% half-orc
    5% halfling
    3.33% dwarf
    1.66% elf
    1.66% gnome and other

    So, taking the old box’s population number, and those percentages, it gives hard numbers along the lines of:

    106,400 Humans
    11,088 half-orcs
    6,655 halflings
    4,433 dwarves
    2,212 elves
    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.)


    1. 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:

      8% half-orc
      5% dwarf
      3% halfling
      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.


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