City Creation: Buisness Demographics

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Okay, now we’ve got an idea of the kinds of business Meadowbrook might have, how many of each are likely to be there? S. John Ross has an article called Medieval Demographics Made Easy, which lists a number of medieval businesses. He gives each of them a “Support Value” — that is, the number of people it takes to support a single business of that type. I’ll be using that a guide line.

Even though 4000 people seems very small to us, it was a good-sized town in the Middle Ages, which means Meadowbrook would have many different types of businesses:

Millers –Surprisingly, this occupation isn’t listed in Ross’ article. But since even the smallest medieval towns had millers, I’m going to set this support value low. This means Meadowbrook could have as many as 20 millers. Most of them aren’t likely to be in town, though. Logically, I’d place them out closer to the grain fields; the millers could then bring flour into town for sale.

Beer-Makers (Brewers) — How prevalent these would be depends, really, on how safe the water is to drink. Given that magic can be used easily to purify water, people wouldn’t rely on beer as heavily as they did during history. Using Ross’ demographics information, we come up with 3 brewers, which seems about right to me.

Shoemakers — Using the statistics in Ross’ article, we come up with 27 shoemakers (rounded up). This seems excessive to me. Granted, shoes here are made by hand, so more shoemakers are needed than a modern town of 4000 would need. On the other hand, cantrip-level magic can be used to repair items, so shoes could last much longer than they did in reality. So let’s cut down that number to a more reasonable level — let’s say five.

Tailor/Clothiers — Technically, tailors created men’s clothes and dressmakers created women’s; I’m going to combine them and call them “clothiers”. Using the tailor’s SV value, we come up with 16 clothiers. That would seem about right, if Meadowbrook’s people were from the upper classes needing several types of clothing for many different events. But it’s a town of middle- to lower-class working folk and the comment above about magical shoe repair holds true for clothing as well, so let’s cut that number in half: 8.

Barbers — in Meadowbrook, temple healers would handle any doctoring required, so barbers are only required to cut hair. Ten barbers should be sufficient.

Tinkerers — In the real world, tinkerers were unskilled workers who mended things. Typically, they traveled around, rather than being settled in one place. With Mending and other such spells easily available, we can roll all repair-type jobs into “fix-its” who use minor magics to mend a variety of items. This profession would require some skill and study to learn, but still wouldn’t need the years of dedicated training most wizards require. They would be considered a respected tradesmen and, because of that, they’re much more likely to be established members of the community than their real-world counterparts would’ve been. Five of these professionals should should be a good number for a town of Meadowbrook’s size.

Metalsmiths (pot-makers, jewelers) — Blacksmiths work with iron, so metalsmiths would create all non-iron products, including jewelry, silversmithing and goldsmithing. They would be skilled artisans who create fine belt and harness buckles, jewelry, higher-quality eating utensils (everyday ones would be made from wood), serving dishes, etc.

Leatherworkers — These aren’t the tanners; they’re the ones who fashion items from the hides the tanners produce, including saddles, harnesses, ox yokes, straps, book hinges, etc. Some of more clothing-oriented leather goods, such as belts and belt-pouches are more likely to be produced by shoemakers.

Here’s the whole list of businesses for Meadowbrook and how many of each kind there are:

  • Millers: 20
  • Brewers: 3
  • Shoemakers: 5
  • Clothiers: 8
  • Barbers: 10
  • Fix-its (tinkerers): 5
  • Metalsmiths: 5
  • Butchers: 4 (probably specialized at least between poultry and other meat)
  • Weavers: 7
  • Masons and bricklayers: 6
  • Coopers (barrell-makers): 6
  • Tanners (preparing hides and curing them into usable leather): 1. (They would’ve been forced to live outside of town, due to the smell the tanning process makes).
  • Leather workers (saddle, harness, scabbard-makers, etc.): 11
  • Fishmongers: 4. Meadowbrook’s river doesn’t produce a lot of fish; most of the fishmongers’ goods would be imported from other areas of the country.
  • Blacksmiths: 3
  • Woodcarvers: 2
  • Rope-makers: 2
  • Dyers: 1 (would also live outside of the town, for the same reason as the tanners)
  • Farmer’s Markets: 2 actual market areas, one in Bigtun and the other in Littletun. Each market would have a 3d10 number of vendors any particular day. More about them in a later post.
  • Food Vendors: 10. These are vendors who “patrol” the most popular parts of town, selling prepared foods, much like street “food carts” and “hot dog stands”  you see in major cities today.
  • Pubs/Restaurants/Taverns: 10
  • Chandler (candlemakers): 6
  • Boat-handlers: 20
  • Dockworkers: 30-40
  • Hostlers (stables): 2. Hostlers are used primarily by visitors, rather than residents.
  • Livestock sellers (horses, cattle, sheep, etc.): 20
  • Banks/Moneychangers: 1
  • Inns: 2
  • Bath-Houses: 1
  • Beggars: Variable. 2d10 for the number encountered by the PCs on any given day
  • Brothels: 0. Streetwalkers: 1d20 for the number encountered by the PCs on any given night/day
  • Thieves Guild: 1 small branch office. Most residents don’t even know it exists, though there are rumors
  • Assassin’s Guild: 0. There’s just not enough business in a town like Meadowbrook
  • Magic Shop: 1. Also doubles as the city’s papermaker and curio shop.
  • Temples: At least 1 small one for each of the major deities, plus a “general use” shrine for gods who don’t have enough worshippers in Meadowbrook to have an actual temple

These numbers are beginning estimates and the list of business shouldn’t be considered exhaustive. GMs may find they more/fewer of each business than are listed here, just as they may need to add businesses I’ve overlooked. As always, YMMV.

Tomorrow: Guilds and guild politics

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