I was trying to come up with numbers and such for my campaign in terms of populations and city sizes. I ran across this link - its fascinating!
Figured I would pass it along as it directly relates to folks trying to create fanciful maps, and it might help to have a bit of perspective on populations, city sizes, number of cities, and amount of land devoted to farming to support each city.
PS - if this was shared previously, sorry for the repeat!
Incidentally, the author of that article is a sometime poster here. His user name is Ghalev. He hasn't posted since August, but he promised to come by from time to time to see what's going on.
So if you see his name in a post somewhere, hit him with your rep stick to thank him for that article!
Bryan Ray, visual effects artist
That's pretty well done. Now I find myself wanting to find a modern/sci-fi version.
Sci Fi may be a bit tough - as the variables could (potentially) have no limits.
For example, if you had a miracle protein plant that grew itself in a pot with little effort involved, it might seriously reduce any need for local farm land. Plus the advent of modern technology would mean food could theoretically come from anywhere, even off planet.
That said, current trends could probably be distilled into basic guidelines for modern games and the ratios of residences/businesses could closely match real world examples.
You could set limits on that super-plant based on energy requirements. Best-case scenario a 5000 calorie diet requires no less than 5000 calories of energy to produce. If that comes from solar energy, you could set a maximum yield per acre. At perfect efficiency with the amount of Solar energy impinging on the outer atmosphere one acre could produce 113.6 million kilocalories. Given a 2000 calorie(actually kcal) diet, that would feed 56,788 people more or less. A pretty extreme limit, but still a limit.
Astrographer - My blog.
-How to Fit a Map to a Globe
-Regina, Jewel of the Spinward Main(uvmapping to apply icosahedral projection worldmaps to 3d globes)
-Building a Ridge Heightmap in PS
-Faking Morphological Dilate and Contract with PS
-Editing Noise Into Terrain the Burpwallow Way
-Wilbur is Waldronate's. I'm just a fan.
I lumped modern and sci-fi together as sci-fi generally sticks close to modern considerations. Whether the food comes from Mars or Argentina, cities would likely develop in a similar manner to modern, but the support values for the various industries would be similar enough to modern that one could tweak the values to what ever degree they needed to come up with their level of development in sci-fi. I just know there are services and industries in existence today that weren't in the medieval world, such as groceries, fuel stations, and power plants. I wouldn't even know where to begin in considering a rough number of their support values. And, yes, I know that power-plants would likely increase in sci-fi, but having a modern base-line would be helpful to work with.
I think that's what makes the "fantasy" element a little easier to manage, because we have hard values about how much land it takes to grow x amount of calories, which can support x population. Given x population, we could support Y numbers of industries/businesses. Since there was no global economy, and local economies were pretty much limited to their own villages, each village was a microcosm and distinct.
Of course, in any fantasy setting we could propose almost any combination of support structures (magical/natural) that would invalidate "real world" demographics. However, I think its easier to work with those numbers than modern/sci fi equivalents.
I'd still be curious to see what would be determined as a baseline - however inaccurate it may be. It can always serve as a starting point to build on.
What funny is that rarely (for understandable reasons) do fiction writers dwell on these things. About the only show I know that dealt with real-world needs was Star Trek:Voyager, and that was simply due to the fact that not being able to return to a nearby starbase to resupply had a serious effect on the ship's stores. It was only dealt with superficially, but at least they acknowledged the fact that the food had to come from somewhere.