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In Clark Ashton Smith's stories about Averoigne, can the approximate populations of the region's major settlements—Vyones, Ximes, and Périgon—be determined, whether by descriptions from the stories, each settlement's relationship to a real-life settlement, or some other method?

If populations can be determined but not exactly, most helpful will be ballpark estimates that put each settlement's population at below 400; from 401 to 900; from 901 to 2,000; from 2,001 to 5,000; from 5,001 to 12,000; from 12,001 to 25,000; or at 25,001 or more.


Note: I'm the DM for a Dungeons and Dragons role-playing game campaign that includes the 1983 adventure module Castle Amber but that doesn't use the D&D edition for which Castle Amber was designed. The edition I am using demands more precise demographic information so that the players know how much gold their characters can spend in that settlement on potions of cure light wounds and +1 Bohemian earspoons and stuff. The adventure module only describes Vyones, Ximes, and Périgon vaguely as cities of descending size. Also, it's difficult even finding Ashton Smith's Averoigne stories as many online listings for Smith's collected works lack a table of contents that can be viewed before purchasing.

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All of Smith's Averoigne writings may be found online at The Eldritch Dark. The completed works dealing with the setting are:

So far as I can recall, none of the stories contains any detailed information about the populations or demographics of various communities, except that Vyones is the largest city in the province. Ximes also seems to be reasonably large.

However, I can point out one glaring error that is made in "Castle Amber." The module incorrectly identifies as Périgon as a town or village, with a monastery as part of the community. In fact, Périgon refers to just the monastery, a fact which is evident from the very first sentence of "The Disinterment of Venus"; later in the story, it is revealed that the nearest lay community to Périgon is the village of Sainte Zenobie.

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  • I'm totally comfortable with numbers extrapolated from adjectives (repeated use of words like bustling or deserted, for instance). And while I won't correct the module so that it's even truer to the stories, I will mention the inaccuracy of Périgon to the players during the after-action rundown. Thanks for the help. Jan 22, 2018 at 4:15

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