I am going to be writing some articles on what I am doing with the demographics of Khorvaire. I am working on this for my campaign and thought I would share my work and thought processes with everyone to see if anyone would get some use out of this material.
Almost 20 years ago S. John Ross put together a paper for fantasy world builders based on historical research of demographics for medieval Europe. This has been circulated widely and his final PDF version is included below in this article as I used this a great deal as a basis for my decisions.
His paper and research are based on merchantile economy representative of the later Middle Ages. I have heard Keith Baker reference Eberron in some ways as more early Victorian.
Decision #1: So I imagine my Khorvaire somewhere in line with a later Renaissance/early Victorian with hints of a magical industrial revolution underway. This primarily effects the urban populations of the Five Nations.
Space or People?
So the fundamental issue with the demographics of Khorvaire have been talked about for years. Likely since the launch of the Eberron Campaign Setting. The map presented for Khorvaire is HUGE while the population of Khorvaire grossly small. The 3.5E map was the largest, and the size of the map was scaled down by maybe a quarter or third, but it is still huge.
For example, in the 4E map Breland covers roughly 504,800 mi2. With a population given of 3,700,000 that comes out to about 7 people per mi2. For comparison, the British Isles where the least populated in Europe prior to the Renaissance at 40 people per mi2. This makes even less sense when you consider that Sharn has 204,800 people and Wroat has 80,870 by cannon sources. So two major cities in Breland have nearly 8% of the population of the country.
So the current system really does not make much sense. As such in your Eberron you need to decide if you are going to change the scale of the map, or change the scale of the people on the map. The third option of course is to handwave the problem and not even address it.
Decision #2: I like the idea of a huge Khorvaire. First of all it makes Eberron as a whole stay of a comparable size to Earth. Secondly, more space gives more options. Particularly to me more places for PC’s to carve out lands for themselves. It also leaves more spaces for Dhakaani ruins to lay hidden, and monsters to reside in a way that makes more plausible sense to the world.
Delving into the Nations
From here I will be writing articles for at least each of the four surviving of the Five Nations that details my thought processes and the decisions that I have made. The two decisions above however are fundamental to everything else that will follow.
Medieval Demographics Made Easy