I'm looking for a way to determine typical numbers of services that would be available for a medieval city/town/village based on population which I can then project into a fantasy setting. (System is pathfinder, but this is effectively system agnostic)

Previously I have used Rolemaster Companion I (Section 8.0 City Design p.76) which gives a general idea of the sort of population present (soldiers, underworld, theatres, scholars, churches, etc) but this although helpful it is a little basic.

So; is there a resource somewhere that I can use to determine what sort of shops/services/etc might be present in either a typical fantasy or medieval town of population size X?

Bonus points for modifications for cities with ports, trade links, etc.

Ideally this would be a web-resource of some kind; I've had a good google around but I've not found anything suitable yet.

  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ There's a book called A Magical Medieval Society - Western Europe, which ISTR should go some way toward answering the questions. Helpfully, there's a free download of the Cities chapter available from e23.sjgames.com/item.html?id=XRPFREE1 \$\endgroup\$
    – gothwalk
    Commented Jul 18, 2012 at 10:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ donjon.bin.sh has a "medieval demographics calculator" which might help \$\endgroup\$
    – Senmurv
    Commented Aug 18, 2020 at 20:25

2 Answers 2


Both Medieval Demographics Made Easy and The Domesday Book - Medieval Demographics Made Easy were found using this Google search. Both are from the same author (S. John Ross) but both have sources you could delve into.

The www.medieval-life.net site offers some information as to what life was like which should tell you what people did which will inform you on what people needed and wanted.

Finally, you may have more references if you re-phrase your question on history.se beta.

Note that any of these do not take into consideration any magic. Depending on the level of advisability of magic, historical data maybe useless. For example: street lighting does wondering for reducing crime.


As excellent as S. John Ross Medieval Demographics is the list seemed incomplete. So I traced back to the original source, Paris Tax Roll of 1292. The main issue is that S John Ross worked with a secondary source that didn't use the full list. So I went through the original data and compiled my own version. The full explanation can be read here on the Bat in the Attic Blog.

An excel spreadsheet that allow you to double check what I did and generate buildings can be downloaded from here.

A PDF writeup in booklet form can be downloaded from here. The PDF is designed to work with my price list found here.


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