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Old 06-03-2019, 10:15 AM   #1
Anthony
 
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Default Recovery time from a demonic invasion

Let's say we have a low tech country invaded by a demonic army. Eventually the demon lord is driven off by a Small Band of Heroes, but in the meantime there is vast death (~50% of the population) and destruction (very few places untouched, many razed).

How long would it take to recover and rebuild? What would the recovery look like?
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Old 06-03-2019, 10:59 AM   #2
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Default Re: Recovery time from a demonic invasion

How low-tech? How big was it to start with? How were the neighbouring countries affected? How much bureaucratic infrastructure was there before? How much is left? Is the original government still extant in some form?
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Old 06-03-2019, 11:17 AM   #3
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Default Re: Recovery time from a demonic invasion

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Originally Posted by Anthony View Post
Let's say we have a low tech country invaded by a demonic army. Eventually the demon lord is driven off by a Small Band of Heroes, but in the meantime there is vast death (~50% of the population) and destruction (very few places untouched, many razed).

How long would it take to recover and rebuild? What would the recovery look like?
It depends on what the demonic army did, on the psychology of the populace, and whether any social order remains.

Fifty percent mortality is enormous. The closest thing I can think of to that in real life was the Black Death of the 14th Century, which probably killed at least 30% of Europe, and some estimates run close to 50%. It left deep psychological scars and transformed society permanently. Depending on what you consider to be the point of 'recovered', the Black Death recovery time was probably 50-100 years. For certain nit-picky definitions, the answer would be 'not yet as of 2019'.

Since it was a demonic army, much depends on whether they left any magical/other parting gifts. Is the soil still arable? The water supply reliable?

If it's still possible to grow food, then the issue is social order. Does the king (or whatever) still rule? Is there something recognizable as currency? Did the invasion disproportionately kill some groups over others?

If for some reason the demons murdered way more women then men, for ex, recovery will be enormously delayed because of low fertility. If they killed the young men disproportionately, which is likely in an armed invasion, fertility will recover quickly, but labor will be desperately short, which will screw up transportation and farming and everything else. OTOH, if there's enough social order for it to matter, wages will rise, benefiting some groups.

If there's enough social order to bring in a crop and transport it to market in that first year, recovery will begin and I'm guessing probably 50-150 years, depending on the details and what other countries do. If things are so broken down that that first crop fails/can't be delivered, starvation and plague follow, and the recovery doesn't start because the disaster isn't over.

There's a non-trivial chance the former social order collapses entirely, and what rises in its place is quite different. The realm may break apart and recover as separate states, it might be absorbed into neighboring realms. A monarchy might become a theocracy or a republic, or vice versa.

But I would guess the absolute minimum for recovery, depending on your definition of 'recovered', would be 50 years. It might take much less for society to start to function again, but populations would need time to recover and 'recovered' would take a while.
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Old 06-03-2019, 02:20 PM   #4
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Default Re: Recovery time from a demonic invasion

Which 50% is really important. Did they kill people throughout the region equally? or were 50% of all villages slaughtered? Were any populations hit especially hard, like those who couldn't flee or the young male population who were called on to fight?

Did the demons slaughter animals as well as people? did they torch buildings and fields? How much damage do they do to the local infrastructure? Its also worth asking if the 50% who survived did so by running or if they just got lucky and the demons never hit them. Its possible that the demons overran 100% of the country but half of everyone fled over a river. Modern wars often see far more people displaced than killed, and I suspect ancient ones may have had a similar effect.

Finally, its worth looking at how the countries's neighbors were effected by the invasion, and if the 50% can be replaced out of that population pool. Sons without an inheritance could gain a farm by traveling to the demon ravished lands, and that's a tempting offer. That could result in a quick recovery of population and wealth, but it may mean the the local culture never really recovers, and the country blends into a neighbor or neighbors.
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Old 06-03-2019, 02:34 PM   #5
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Default Re: Recovery time from a demonic invasion

Hm. Some interesting things I hadn't considered, though details are in flux anyway, I was mostly just thinking "sometime in living memory there was a demonic invasion with horrific damage and deaths, what is it like now?"

To simplify away the 'and the neighboring countries invade' possible outcome of such a situation, perhaps a large island, and sea travel limited (could just be generally difficult, could be leftover aquatic monsters).

I would assume deaths not evenly spread over the land, and disproportionately among fighting age men, though no area or group untouched. The effect of essentially wiping out a generation of males would certainly change society, though I'm not sure exactly how.
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Old 06-03-2019, 08:55 PM   #6
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Default Re: Recovery time from a demonic invasion

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Originally Posted by Johnny1A.2 View Post
Fifty percent mortality is enormous. The closest thing I can think of to that in real life was the Black Death of the 14th Century, which probably killed at least 30% of Europe, and some estimates run close to 50%. It left deep psychological scars and transformed society permanently.
Another close parallel might be the Thirty Years War, which saw death tolls similar to the Black Death in parts of Germany. It was over two centuries before a functioning, unified German state returned.
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I would assume deaths not evenly spread over the land, and disproportionately among fighting age men, though no area or group untouched. The effect of essentially wiping out a generation of males would certainly change society, though I'm not sure exactly how.
And that makes me think of France in the aftermath of World War I.
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Old 06-04-2019, 04:48 AM   #7
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Default Re: Recovery time from a demonic invasion

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How long would it take to recover and rebuild? What would the recovery look like?
I think your best historical model would be the Black Death across Eurasia in the 14th century. Death rates are argued over, but in some places they were definitely up to 50%. And there's a whole separate article on consequences. Broadly: labour was suddenly very much more relatively valuable than other things (land, cash).
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Old 06-04-2019, 05:46 AM   #8
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Default Re: Recovery time from a demonic invasion

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I would assume deaths not evenly spread over the land, and disproportionately among fighting age men, though no area or group untouched. The effect of essentially wiping out a generation of males would certainly change society, though I'm not sure exactly how.
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And that makes me think of France in the aftermath of World War I.
Or the post WW2 Soviet Union. What percentage of men born in the early to mid 20s survived the war?
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Old 06-04-2019, 11:07 AM   #9
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Default Re: Recovery time from a demonic invasion

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Broadly: labour was suddenly very much more relatively valuable than other things (land, cash).
Though plague is notable for killing people but mostly leaving infrastructure intact, warfare isn't so selective. The thirty years war seems like the most appropriate model (more modern examples have the problem of looking at consequences on an industrial society, which is more advanced than I want).
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Old 06-04-2019, 02:09 PM   #10
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Default Re: Recovery time from a demonic invasion

Assuming the Demons didn't destroy anything built by rare magics or technologies or any great constructions that were made across generations. Infrastructure would return within a few years. One of the benefits of being low tech is that resources to build roads and buildings aren't usually expensive or hard to obtain. If the demons raised forests or dried rivers, or had other massive ecological impacts that recovery would slow.

If the population drop was uniform then populations usually double each generation. If it was the oldest 50% the population would return in a few years. If it was the youngest 50% it could take dozens of years to recover. If the invasion wasn't fully resolved and people still lived in fear of demon attacks birth rates would be suppressed until confidence in the future resumed.

The recovery would be a deceptively dark time. It would create avenues for opportunists to take advantage of people. It would be a chance for those in power to re-write the rules to better suit their liking. It would be exhausting for those at the bottom who are being asked to rebuild their life and support the nation while grieving those they lost. With 50% of the population wiped out there would be masses of orphaned children in the best circumstances, all of them raised without the guidance of adults doing everything they needed to to survive. It would be hard to celebrate the heroism in a war that had 50% casualty rates, the culture would become one of loss, social groups for survivors and widows, plays and songs about loves lost in the war. The energy needed to rebuild a kingdom would strangle art and culture and innovation. Even with new roads and castles were being built and bustling commerce it would still feel like a Kingdom in mourning until those that survived passed on.
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