May 23, 2018

Demographics I: This Town Ain't Big Enough

This is a continuation of thoughts from here.

I don't have any special need to decide how many levelled persons live in any given place. However, I do need to know what sort of people my PCs will interact with in any given place. To do this, I need a probability table to decide both class and level.

This is pretty difficult to do in 5e, because pretty much every limiting boundary condition was removed. I have no opinion about whether this was a good or bad thing in se. But it does mean I have to make some stuff up, which goes against my core design philosophy (that things have to make sense). So this post is largely about getting my own thoughts out of my head for my own sanity.

First, classes.

The 5e classes are a mishmash of physical traits, occupations, and personal artifacts. My hypothesis is that some of these will be fairly random. However, some will be dependent on other numbers and statistics available from the system (this is related to my thoughts on racial distribution). The definitions of each class (as I see them) might be a helpful starting point. (3.5 already did this, but not to my satisfaction)

  • Barbarian. Would not occur very often in highly populated areas. The chance to meet a barbarian would be inversely proportional to the surrounding population density.
  • Bard. Being a bard is an occupation, but presumably some training is necessary. Some games require a bardic college, and I think this is a good idea. The original Celtic bards weren't itinerant minstrels, but highly trained professionals trained at an official institution or by an existing bard, who would be based in the house of a noble.
  • Cleric. Obviously an occupation, but tied closely to existing religious structures. I can tie a number to this using the trade system (specifically treating temples/etc as an industry).
  • Druid. Like the barbarian, I wouldn't expect to see this class in big cities. Or cities of any kind, really. Druids occupy an odd space because they technically should be clerics of Celtic-style polytheism, but end up being Radagast the Brown in many games. Nothing wrong with that.
  • Fighter. Almost certainly the most likely class. Violence is integral to the red-in-tooth-and-claw aspects of RPG civilization.
  • Monk. The distribution here will be similar to that of clerics. While D&D monks aren't strictly religious, I'd certainly require that they be members of a monastery of some kind. I actually might nix monks altogether, but for the sake of discussion I'll leave them here.
  • Paladin. Although religious, paladins seem to operate largely outside of institutional bounds. The paladin oath is intensely personal.
  • Ranger. Also population-bound. But I would expect many people from farming or animal husbandry lineages to end up as a ranger.
  • Rogue. Directly proportional to population density. When people pack together, it's a lot easier to cut a purse.
  • Sorceror. This is an innate ability, so it's probably going to be a static percentage across the board.
  • Warlock. I'd also consider this a static random chance.
  • Wizard. Not strictly an occupation. Similar to the monk, they are dependent on a wizarding college to attain their status.
So it appears there are 3 major categories of class:
  1. Bound to institution: bard, cleric, monk, and wizard
  2. Function of population density: barbarian, druid, ranger, rogue
  3. Totally random: paladin, sorcerer, warlock
  4. The rest of the probability table for leveled persons is filled out by fighters.
With this system developed, a table can be produced for each location that the players might visit, tailored to the specific circumstances of that place.

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