Looking at the Second Age map of Dragon Pass, I see city distances in the lowlands that correspond to city distances in the Esrolian lowlands. Quite a few near-urban centres like Aldachur and Clearwine don't show on those maps, either.
> Secondly applying Esrolia's population density to Dragon Pass leads to scary numbers. Currently Dragon Pass's (human) population is 650,000 in an area of 40,000 square miles.
You're discounting the Esrolian highlands in the Skyreach foothills and northeast of the Building Wall, which add lots of area without adding much to the population. Sure, in river valleys and fertile plains it will get crowded. In elf forests, dragonewt reserves etc. humans will be sparse.
Another factor you are missing is immigration to the centres of draconic lore and rule. Both pilgrims and sycophantic politicians will be drawn to the heartlands of the EWF.
> Now I could accept an assertion that Dragon Pass sustained a human population, say 20% greater than what it is now at the height of the EWF but that's still a long way from Esrolian (or even Heortland) population densities.
Heortland was a sparsely populated forest before the downfall of the EWF.
>> The Switch built on the experiences of introducing grain goddess support to agricultures formerly relying on sorcerous methods.
> I don't see why theistic worship of the grain goddess should be manifestly superior to sorcerous agricultural methods in terms of grain production.
The combination of the magics (which was impossible without the God Learner methods) was better than relying on just one system.
> In any event the God Learners were unlikely to adopt theistic worship throughout most of their empire. They actively sought understanding of the Gods (cf the Xeotam fragments for example) to increase their magical power but they still worked their magics through spells.
Much of their empire had lots of theist inhabitants, which were put to a good use rather than converted.
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