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Vampiric Population Density

by: Mitch A Legacy Article from Sanguinus Curae

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There are about 6 billion living people on Earth. There are 57 million square miles of land on Earth. Therefore humans are all neatly spread out, each to their own 267,000 square feet, right? Of course not. And neither are vampires in the fictional World of Darkness spread evenly among mortals. This article briefly discusses vampiric population density and why a city can logically support more Kindred than the suggested number.

Kindred can exist anywhere. But they can't do it for long if their prey learns about them. They must maintain the Masquerade or be revealed. So how many Kindred can remain safely hidden in a city?

As a rule-of-thumb in the World of Darkness, the worldwide ratio of Kindred to kine is 1:100k. Using the rule-of-thumb though, it wouldn't be very interesting to play a chronicle in a city with fewer than 1.5 million inhabitants. How much intrigue can there be among 15 Kindred when 4 are already in a coterie?

Small cities don't have Kindred just because they have a population over 100k. Some areas have humans but no Kindred, like the Eskimos in the freezing Alaskan wilderness. Areas with many small towns can amount to a million people with no Kindred. The Midwest has millions of people in areas where there are no cities over 50k. There's no way a vampire could exist in such an area; rural people know their neighbors like family.

When applied to larger cities, it doesn't fit either. Chicago By Night, for example, has over 140 Kindred for about 7 million people in the Chicago metropolitan area. But almost 80% of the Chicago population lives in the suburbs, where Kindred rarely or never visit -- that's why they're called the Outlands.

So in truth, a smaller population of 1.5 million supports a Kindred population of 140, nowhere near 1:100k (closer to 1:10k actually). Why? Because vampires hide in areas of high population density, which are normally supported by large surrounding areas of suburbs.

Now, New Orleans and Charlotte have very similar populations, but New Orleans' population density is more than double Charlotte's. It would seem logical that New Orleans could sustain a much higher Kindred population. Based on the population densities of cities, here are some guidelines:

The practical maximum ratio for Kindred-to-kine is about 1:30k for a metropolitan area, including suburbs. A practical minimum is 1:250k, if we assume any city with a quarter of a million inhabitants could hide at least one Kindred.

Human Population: 5 million+
Kindred-kine ratios: 1:30k to 1:50k

Human Population: 3-5 million
Kindred-kine ratios: 1:30k to 1:60k

Human Population: 2-3 million
Kindred-kine ratios: 1:40k to 1:70k

Human Population: 1-2 million
Kindred-kine ratios: 1:40k to 1:80k

So for example, my fictional city of Gottwick has 1.8 million people and could support 25 to 45 Kindred. New York city, by comparison, with 18 million inhabitants could support 360 to 600 Kindred. Spread among the five boroughs (Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Bronx and Staten Island), that's not that many Kindred among so many mortals.

You can get population densities from demographics websites like www.demographia.com, but here are some top metropolitan areas.

Urbanized Population Density
Urbanized Area Square Miles  
Share of Metropolitan Population in Urbanized Core  
Urbanized Area Population (Core Area)  
Metro-politan Population  
Rank Metropolitan Area  
1 Norfolk-Hampton 1,396 1,323 94.8% 664 1,992
2 Phoenix 2,122 2,006 94.5% 741 2,707
3 San Diego 2,498 2,348 94.0% 690 3,403
4 New York 18,087 16,044 88.7% 2,967 5,407
5 San Antonio 1,302 1,129 86.7% 438 2,578
6 Washington 3,923 3,363 85.7% 945 3,559
7 Minneapolis-St. Paul 2,464 2,080 84.4% 1,063 1,957
8 Chicago 8,066 6,792 84.2% 1,585 4,285
9 New Orleans 1,239 1,040 83.9% 270 3,852
10 Orlando 1,073 887 82.7% 395 2,246
11 Tampa 2,068 1,709 82.6% 650 2,629
12 Dallas-Ft. Worth 3,885 3,198 82.3% 1,443 2,216
13 Denver 1,848 1,518 82.1% 459 3,307
14 Memphis 1,007 825 81.9% 341 2,419
15 Kansas City 1,566 1,275 81.4% 762 1,673
16 Buffalo 1,189 954 80.2% 286 3,336
17 St. Louis 2,444 1,947 79.7% 728 2,674
18 Baltimore 2,382 1,890 79.3% 593 3,187
19 Portland 1,478 1,172 79.3% 388 3,021
20 Detroit 4,665 3,697 79.2% 1,119 3,304
21 Los Angeles 14,532 11,402 78.5% 1,966 5,800
22 Houston 3,711 2,902 78.2% 1,177 2,466
23 Milwaukee 1,607 1,226 76.3% 512 2,395
24 Atlanta 2,834 2,157 76.1% 1,137 1,897
25 Pittsburgh 2,243 1,678 74.8% 778 2,157
26 Providence 1,142 846 74.1% 299 2,829
27 Sacramento 1,481 1,097 74.1% 334 3,284
28 Indianapolis 1,250 915 73.2% 469 1,951
29 Salt Lake City 1,072 769 71.7% 254 3,028
30 Philadelphia 5,899 4,222 71.6% 1,164 3,627
31 Cincinnati 1,744 1,212 69.5% 512 2,367
32 Columbus 1,377 945 68.6% 345 2,739
33 Seattle 2,559 1,744 68.2% 588 2,966
34 Boston 4,172 2,775 66.5% 891 3,114
35 Rochester 1,002 620 61.9% 220 2,818
36 Cleveland 2,760 1,677 60.8% 636 2,637
37 Miami-Ft. Lauderdale 3,193 1,915 60.0% 353 2,592
38 San Francisco 6,253 3,630 58.1% 874 4,153
39 Hartford 1,086 546 50.3% 247 2,211
40 Charlotte 1,162 455 39.2% 242 1,880
41 Greensboro 1,050 195 18.6% 93 2,097
Average 74.6% 2,897

Population in thousands
Calculated from 1990 US Census Bureau data.
Core urbanized area is the urbanized area of the metropolitan area's principal city.
(c) 2000 www.demographia.com
Permission granted to use with attribution.

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