Tuesday, May 3, 2011

City of Greyhawk Changing Sizes

City of Greyhawk, Changing Sizes

I've been working on developing a version of the City of Greyhawk inline with the information from the Gord the Rogue novels as well as Gygax-era TSR sources. The only map I have found from such a source is that in the 'City of Hawks' novel but the scale is monstrous. If the map is 3 miles to the inch then the city is roughly 6 miles across and 9 miles top to bottom. 54 square miles within the walls and over 30 miles of walls, well over if the inner Old City wall, the Foreign Quarter wall, and the Bastion fortifications are included. And, for the most part, these are not a single set of walls, but a double set, so 60 miles of walls along the outer edges.

Even if guard towers were only 2 per mile that would be 120 guard towers. There are also 11 extrerior gates running through this double set of walls, each with an outerwall gatehouse, and an innerwall gate tower. I would say the minimum number of guards per gatehouse would be 30 and at least 30 more for the tower (which would leave only 10 men on duty at either end of the gateway at a given time). That would be 660 guards for the exterior gates.

Between the double walls there is a 100ft sward and these are broken by fortifications that run along the road between the inner and outer gates. From 1 to 2 companys of cavalry patrol these areas (again 30 to 60 men). If we take the minimum of 1 company, which is around 30 men, with only 10 on duty at any given time, then we add an additional 330 guards.

So, at bare minimum there are nearly 1,000 guards needed for the walls of the city, not counting the Bastion fortification, the Citadel, The inner wall or gates between the Old City and the New or the gate and wall to the Foreign Quarter. This is not a number dependent on the square miles of the city area or the perimeter of the outer wall.

Now, add 5 guards simply patroling every mile of wall, triple that to 15 for on and off duty, add some type of officer or non-com and double that for the double wall and it is another 40 guards per perimeter mile, or 1,200 additional guardsmen for the size of the city depicted in City of Hawks.

Add in the Citadel, Inner gates and walls, and the Bastion fortification and the minimum force of guardsman is passing several thousand.

The answer to this, I believe, is to scale back the size of the City from that shown in the 'City of Hawks' novel, but also to increase the population of the city from that of the 53,000 as shown in the Folio.

Maldin has scaled the city back considerably in his version (as well as used the City of Greyhawk boxed set as a model of the city walls, shape, surrounding area, and location of the various quarters within the city. All necessary when using the post-Gygax setting). His greyhawk is about 1 square mile (1/2 mile wide and about 2 miles long). A fairly dense city population. I believe the average for a medieval European walled city was between 20-30 thousand in a square mile. It is single walled, though with 2 interior walls that should stretch to over a mile combined What I like most about his version of the city is the organic nature of the city streets. They twist and turn and are not layed down with a ruler straight and at right angles. But it is far too small, to my mind, and you cannot apply the interconnection of streets and quarters of the city that Gygax provided in some of his stories. No, what I want is a scaled down version of the map of Greyhawk from City of Hawks.

Then there is greyhawkgrognard's map. This is an excellent rendition of the 'City of Hawks' map, but scaled down from 6 miles by 9 miles, to roughly 2 miles by 6 miles. 12 square miles of walled city, but with every gate and what appear to be guard towers at about 3 per mile (minus gate towers). I believe that is about the size of modern Haarlem, though it's medieval walls are now long torn down and the city expanded and its population as well. I do think that 53,000 residents would be spread a bit too thin in the City of Greyhawk as depicted. But the real problem I have with this map are the squared off blocks and straight roadways and streets.

What I want to do is combine both maps ( twisting streets of Maldin's but the structure of the greyhawkgrognard's) while using the scale of 1 mile by 3 miles for the city and an increase in population to nearly 80,000 including children. The City will have a large guard contingent, but also wall towers held responsible by the various guild's to man (as was mentioned in an excellent post which I have been unable to track down). The Citadel, The Bastion, the Gates and the cavalry force on the swards all manned by guardsmen. The city watch would be a seperate organization, and the city milita the responsibility of the guilds.

There is some source material I need to collect (waiting for Horsemen of the Apocalypse with the Gygax essay) and rereading the Gord novels as well as leafing through the Greyhawk references in Dragon. The old Gord's Greyhawk website is very helpful, though I would have loved page references from the books, but I am finding more parsels of information about the city in the novels themselves that needs to be distilled.


  1. Bravissimo!

    You inspire me to break out my Greyhawk City binders again and renew my own dream to work on such a project. Although, I am still mad enough to want to do the 3-mile per inch scale of the City of Hawks' map.

    I'll have to dig out my copy of Horsemen of the Apocalypse. I was going to post EGG's article as a part of my Gygax Legendarium, but I haven't gotten as far as 2000 yet. I'm still mulling through the 1990's Lejendary Adventures stuff.

    Keep going; I love these posts.

  2. Thank you very much!

    The City of Greyhawk is my big project for the summer. That 3 miles per inch is daunting. It is impossible to say now if it was a mistake or if Gygax meant for the City to be so monstrously vast. In a way I think he did, because the city is a place of legend for me, even though Gygax wrote of it as gritty and rough, ugly and filled with adventure. I know that any detailed map will disappoint since Greyhawk the city, and the campaign is a product of pure imagination, bequeathed to all DM's as their own. In that way the city has no bounds, no true scale, and I know that the best that I can scratch out is some rough sketch of my own ideas peppered with names and descriptions of Gygax's.

    I will keep pounding away at this but I sincerely hope you decide to take out your notebooks and start in on your project again. This is work that needs to be done. Promised so many years ago by TSR and Gygax, I think it has fallen into the hands of those he inspired to see some shadow of it come to life.

  3. You are very right. It is up to all of us to keep it alive!

    I will start getting my notebooks ready again...