Altaruk Size and Population

Is there something wrong with either the scale or population of Altaruk as presented in Forest Maker?

  • We have 100 kank stabled in a 20x60 space. That’s only 12 sq feet per kank (and I thought poultry farming was bad). I like the idea of a multi-story hive-like stable for kanks but unless the stable is higher than the city walls (15 feet) that gives us only one additional floor so 24 sq feet per kank (that’s without interior walls). Kanks grow up to 8 feet in length but only 4 feet in height so maybe we can fit three stories on our ‘stable hive’. That would give us 36 sq feet per kank --cozy but doable?

  • We have 1200 people residing on 7800 sq feet of land. There are 12 buildings against the west wall so that’s an average 100 people per building. If these are two story buildings and my math is right, that’s just 13 square feet per person.

  • The guards on the opposite side of fort in the barracks have spacious accommodations in comparison. Assuming two story barracks they’ll have more than twice the space the residents have (almost 28 square feet per guard). Even if it’s just one story and half the space is taken up by bunk beds then we’ve still got almost 21 square feet per person.


Figure kanks are like giant ants, perhaps there’s burrows?

Also Altaruk’s fortress does not include any outside ruins, stabling, etc… just assume that those are outside the walls proper.


I always looked at official adventure modules as guidelines, more than actual rules.


Scales and populations given for anywhere in Dark Sun have never made sense. Best just to ignore them and use whatever you think works.


What if instead of each square is 10x10 you use 20x20?


Ahahahaha hahahaha hahahaha



Don’t pay attention to anything to do with demographics in the Dark Sun setting when it comes to numbers, distances, or sizes.

Back on the wizards dot com forum, I wrote about how implausible the size of Hamanu’s Palace is, and compared it to the Forbidden Palace of China (Hamanu’s Palace makes the Forbidden Palace look pitiful by comparison). All this in a city of only 30,000. And don’t give me this line about people working the fields outside the city. It’s clear that the designers simply didn’t give adequate thought to how many people it would take to produce the kind of societies indicated in the fluff.

For Urik, I’d say there are 300,000 city dwellers, and an unspecified number of subjects outside the city walls, either working the fields or in client villages. Any less than that and the complex society described in the gaming material would simply be impossible.


Especially given Urik is said to have a standing army of 11,000. Not counting the forces various nobles and merchant houses have.


Yes, both the scale and population of Altaruk, as presented in Forest Maker, are wrong. Keep in mind, however, that this product was the first stand alone for the Dark Sun line, written and sold in 1994 (pre-1995 Revised Campaign Setting), and was authored by John J. Terra, who’s only contribution to Dark Sun was this product.

Prior to this supplement, the Trade Fortress of Altaruk had received only a few paragraphs in the original Dark Sun boxset (1991), and had, at best, been mentioned sporadically here and there, but this was its first spotlight.

Over the years I have seen nearly a dozen different interpretations and maps of Altaruk - myself having my own - and I’d have to agree with many other forum members in looking at anything “official” as nothing more than a guideline when developing your own version of Athas.