The History and Place of Slavery in Therafim
Throughout the history of Therafim, slavery has been a relatively common practice. The arthropod first rulers of Therafim were known to engage in the practice, as were the first dragon overlords. Thus, slavery on Therafim is not considered an unusual thing. In some places, in fact, it is rather common, and even considered a perfectly valid way of life with minimal to no social stigma in many locations. On the other hand, slavery also has a significant dark side, as might be expected from such a disproportionate arrangement of power.
Until humans arrived on Therafim, the various races thought little of their practices of taking and keeping slaves. Humans, however, objected to the practice at first, though their reasoning gradually wore away as they had it pointed out to them that the early warforged that they brought with them were essentially slaves themselves. Nevertheless, this did cause a rethinking of slavery, which has eventually resulted in it becoming somewhat less common than in previous ages of Therafim's history, and much more regulated in the more civilized regions of the planet.
It is theoretically possible for anybody on Therafim to become a slave at some point. It is also possible for any slave on Therafim to become free, though this may take more effort in some circumstances than others. The most common way that slaves are taken is through violence, be it from tribal raids or full-scale warfare. After this, it is quite common for people to be made slaves to settle some sort of obligation, usually financial in nature, but sometimes based on honor and custom. Finally, there are a very small number of professional slave-taking bands who actively hunt for those that are unprotected by the bounds of civilization's limits and rules.
Alignment-Based Attitudes Towards Slavery
In Lawful Good societies, slavery is sometimes allowed as a necessary evil. Generally, the only slaves allowed are those who enter slavery in order to pay off debts. This usually takes the form of indentured servitude rather than outright slavery, the difference being that indentured servants have more freedom of mobility, and often retain voting rights if such exist in the society. Contracts of indentured servitude generally require a certain number of years of service from a debtor in order to pay off a debt, after which the debtor is freed of all obligations. There are also often some religious observances in Lawful Good Societies that lead to the early freeing of indentured servants from their obligations.
Lawful Good individuals may take slaves to pay off a debt, be it one of finance, honor, or custom, but they generally try to avoid forcing others into this situation when reasonably possible.
Due to the codified order of Lawful Neutral societies, slavery, when present, is considered a part of the status quo. While slaves may be provided with certain legal protections that keep their lives from being needlessly endangered, either through abuse or excessive hardship, they are otherwise considered the property of their owners. Owners of slaves become liable for the actions of their slaves, just as they would for the actions of their children or their animals. Being sold as a slave tends to result in a permanent change in status, though most Lawful Neutral societies will allow slave owners the option of freeing their slaves at their discretion.
The Lawful Neutral may take slaves if it is profitable and legal to do so, but tend not to take advantage of questionable "grey areas," preferring to purchase their slaves through acceptable channels. They may or may not provide a means for their slaves to gain their freedom, depending on their needs and personal convictions.
For Lawful Evil societies, slavery is a normal way of life, and sometimes there may be more slaves than citizens. After all, when you live under a tyranny, everybody could technically be considered the property of the government. Slaves are considered tools to be used up and discarded as it most profitable, and they receive no legal rights. Individual owners might see the wisdom in keeping their slaves in proper working order, but that same individual whim might lead other owners to excessive cruelty. In such societies, it is also reasonably common for a subordinate spouse to be considered the property of the dominant spouse after marriage, occupying a state not dissimilar from slavery.
Lawful Evil individuals see nothing wrong with taking and keeping slaves, so long as their legal and social claim on these slaves is quite clear. Besides this appearance of civility, they could not care less about the morality of their actions - only its legality.
Slavery among Neutral Good societies is considered a necessary evil, when it is allowed at all. A good number of such societies ban the practice altogether. But among those that do allow slavery, it is expected that slaves will be decently treated. So long as slaves are ensured of a good life and basic rights, then the practice of slavery is not considered unreasonable by such societies.
Neutral Good individuals may take and keep slaves if they wish, though they always provide their slaves with excellent treatment. Most Neutral Good individuals prefer to avoid having slaves, though, and tend to release them as soon as it is reasonably possible.
Laissez-faire is the order of the day for Neutral societies. For the most part, these societies allow their members to pursue their goals as they desire, including the buying and selling of slaves at will. Generally, excessive abuses of slaves are frowned upon, but otherwise their treatment is at the discretion of the slaves' masters.
Neutral individuals are usually more interested in their personal goals to trouble themselves with the morality of keeping slaves. If having slaves makes it easier to attain these goals, then all the better. Slaves held by Neutral individuals can usually expect average treatment.
In Neutral Evil societies, slavery is not only common, but expected as part of a way of life. Those on top, the best manipulators and powermongers, feel that they deserve the servitude of those with less skill and position. In fact, this situation is generally desired in underlings, because it means that the slaves will have less opportunity to overthrow their masters. Slaves in these societies have no protections, and survive only on the merest whims of their owners, often ending sacrificed to one scheme or another.
Neutral Evil individuals enjoy having slaves because it provides them with additional tools that they can manipulate as they please.
As a general rule, Chaotic Good societies do not approve of or allow slavery at all. Many such societies will actively fight against societies that allow the practice of slavery. However, among many Chaotic Good societies there is often a system of favors in place that keeps things running smoothly (elves and fey being notable examples of this practice). One way of paying off favors, or acquiring favors for oneself, is by voluntarily becoming the slave of another. Almost all of these states of voluntary slavery have exit clauses of some sort, though these tend to be based upon additional favors and tasks.
Chaotic Good individuals do not generally take slaves, except in order to allow others to fulfill various obligations. Even in these instances, the Chaotic Good will work to allow their slaves as much freedom as possible, and give them full freedom as soon as possible.
Societies that are Chaotic Neutral in nature seldom have any specific rules about slavery. The practice of slavery is generally avoided, because it means that anybody in such a chaotic situation could be made into a slave, which can upset the delicate balance that is a part of barely-controlled anarchy and other loose social groups. However, it is not uncommon for those with strong personalities and powerful abilities to claim others as slaves for as long as they are able and willing to hold them.
Chaotic Neutral individuals often enjoy the sensation of power that comes from owning slaves, but they may also find it galling having that much responsibility for the welfare of other beings. Because of this, Chaotic Neutral individuals may take slaves at their whim, but they seldom keep them for very long, or maintain the discipline needed to keep slaves under decent control.
Wild, savage, and uncontrolled, Chaotic Evil societies are often tribes of raiders who make their living by taking what they need and want from others weaker than themselves whenever possible. This also includes slaves. Slaves in a Chaotic Evil society generally can expect short, harsh, brutal lives cut short either at the whims of their owners, or through being worked to death.
Chaotic Evil individuals see having slaves as a demonstration of their power over those weaker than them, and they often enjoy regularly demonstrating that power, much to the detriment of their slaves.
The Enterprise of Slavery on Therafim
Considering the money that can be made with slavery, why don't players do it more frequently? Aside from the moral reasons listed under the alignments above, there are also two other major reasons. The first and most obvious of these is that it takes a lot of resources to transport and sell slaves with any degree of efficiency and profitability. Second, slaving on Therafim is overseen by two major slaving organizations, and most of the business of slaving needs to go through them. Thus, while a party of less-scrupulous adventurers might make a small profit through the occasional selling of an exotic slave or two, provided they can find or know of an interested private buyer, the practice of slaving is generally more like a job and less like adventure for the tastes of most adventurers.
As mentioned, there are two primary slaving organizations on Therafim, and they operate worldwide. These organizations are the Shacklelock Guild, based from the Underdark country of Zenomael, which handles a large part of the Underdark slave trade, and the Brandbinders, based in Avalon City, which handles most of the surface traffic.
These two organizations help to set and maintain the slaving prices listed below. While those who capture slaves are not required to be members of one of these two organizations, the Shacklelocks or the Brandbinders, it can be exceedingly difficult to find a profitable slaving market without paying membership dues with one or the other.
The Brandbinders are a Lawful Neutral organization that is recognized all over Therafim for maintaining a high standard in its slaving practices. Indeed, the organization has enough staff worldwide to populate a small country. While it is possible to engage in a fair amount of dirty slavery by working with the Shacklelock Guild, decent people prefer the Brandbinders, who collect and maintain information on all the slaves sold through their organization.
Being registered as a slave with the Brandbinders marks one as a slave all over Therafim's surface until one is legally removed from their records. This removal is accomplished most simply by a slave's master paying a minimal registration fee (usually 5 sp) and filling out some basic paperwork. It can also be accomplished in a more complicated fashion by a slave officially buying him- or herself at full price straight from the Brandbinders themselves, and then filling out some much more complicated paperwork. After that, the slave fills out the simpler paperwork and pays the fee required of any master to free a slave, and is removed from the Brandbinder's records. In a world where literacy is at a premium, however, this can be problematic. Alternatively, if a slave can escape from all possible masters, and stay that way for three full years without being recaptured, then the Brandbinders will write the slave out of their books, rendering the slave free. This tends to be a highly difficult and often dangerous proposition, however, and so many slaves never attempt it.
More than just slavers, the Brandbinders act as a central management center for slaving operations all over Therafim. It is most common for them to buy slaves from properly-registered and dues-paying slavetakers who also properly register every slave they take, and then to sell these slaves to slavers in local markets. In this way, while there are a vast number of lesser slaving companies that operate locally, the Brandbinders keep Therafim's slaving community connected worldwide, and also assure that slaves bought and sold are not done so in too flagrant violation of local laws. Because of their power base in Avalon City, slavers are not allowed to attempt to ply their trade officially within the city or any of its environs. In other places, slavers are treated according to the ability and inclination of each government, though most provide some degree of protection from enslavement to their citizens.
The Shacklelock Guild
In the Underdark, most of the rules go out the window, and the neogi-operated Shacklelock Guild is more than happy to exploit this fact. Adventurers who stray into the wrong place at the wrong time, surface-dwellers abducted from their homes, and prisoners from the many conflicts that almost constantly rock the lower reaches of Therafim are all rich sources of slaves for the neogi, and the source of their immense wealth.
This slaving guild acts much like the Brandbinders on the surface, acting as a connecting point between various Underdark slaving groups, except they are far less formal (many would say "less legal") about their efforts. Any slave that is brought to them will be gladly accepted with few questions asked. Because of this, neogi Shacklelock Guild outposts are Therafim's hubs for the darker side of slaving practices. While this brings in greater profits, it also means that they are regularly assaulted by other nations and races, as well as adventurers.
The Shacklelock Guild's lack of respect for the laws of other nations leads to its members being given few legal protections in their slaving activities. They are able to continue operations only with the assistance of their private armies of mind-controlled slaves, and through alliances with various interested parties that make use of their services. Because of this, while the neogi and other operatives of the Shacklelock Guild are often quite well-off, they are also only a hair's breadth away from death at any given moment.
Keeping and Maintaining Slaves
Generally, if a character buys real estate, then it is assumed that, in the process of getting that real estate, the character has also accumulated enough capital to maintain a reasonably-sized staff of servants or slaves who can tend to the estate. This varies by accommodations, and the exact details should be worked out with the Ops. Generally, however, so long as a character has a permanent dwelling, once slaves have been acquired, they are considered a part of the normal cost of living that is filled by a character's offscreen efforts.
Adventurers who travel extensively need to feed any slaves that travel with them, and so will have to pay for rations as normal.
While it is possible to keep a variety of exotic races and classes as slaves, it is generally considered a bad idea, because most such slaves tend to be hard to control and prone to rebellious behaviors, up to and including the killing of the slave's master. Slaves that are significantly more powerful than their owners generally require some sort of sense of duty, financial obligation, magical compulsion, or some other motivation for remaining a slave, or else they may become unmanageable. All of this needs to be taken into account by adventurers who wish to keep slaves, or else they may find themselves in serious difficulties at the worst possible moment. Slaves are not just hirelings with fewer rights, but must be handled with greater care and attention.
In case the cost of keeping slaves is needed, the following prices apply:
Minimum Slave Upkeep: 2 coppers a day, or 7 gold and 3 silver a year for minimal maintenance. These are uncomfortable accommodations and (usually) just enough food for a slave to accomplish needed tasks. This sort of treatment is generally frowned upon by most decent people, but is fairly common among societies that accept mass ownership of slaves, though better accommodations might be provided for more skilled slave labor.
Average Slave Upkeep: 5 coppers a day, or 18 gold and 25 coppers a year for average slave maintenance. This is the normal overhead cost for owning slaves. The lifestyle of a slave under average conditions is not much different from that of a peasant in similarly average conditions, save for an additional lack of freedom.
Pleasant Slave Upkeep: 1 silver a day, or 36 gold and 5 silver a year to keep a slave in comfortable circumstances, similar to those of a servant. This is the expected standard in any good-aligned society that keeps slaves.
Slaves with greater than minimal accommodations often make arrangements with their owners to live under less pleasant conditions, with the difference of money being used to eventually buy their freedom and/or the freedom of others. At minimal slave upkeep, slaves are usually just trying to stay alive, and any money or property they might have comes from begging, borrowing, or stealing.
Being sentient creatures, slaves are a highly variable commodity, and the prices for slaves can vary accordingly. Because of this, slaving prices are based upon a series of general guidelines listed below. Though ancient slaving prices were based upon the sex of the slave, since there are no statistical differences between males and females in the D20 system, none will be recorded here.
Price of an average, healthy adult human slave: 30 gold
This slave will be a young adult of the Commoner class, and will start with 10 in all statistics. This is the base where all further slave price variations start.
Racial variations to slave prices
Beastfolk, docile: +15 gp
Beastfolk, savage: +10 gp
Dwarf: +20 gp
Elf: +30 gp
Exotic: +100 gp/+1 ECL
Gnome: +20 gp
Halfling: +15 gp
Orc: -5 gp
*These prices are calculated by starting at the 30 gp base price for a human, and then adjusting them accordingly. They are also the minimum prices for each racial group, though higher prices are not uncommon for especially rare specimens of a given race.
- All members of each race are considered to have 10 in each statistic, after which their racial modifiers are added and/or subtracted.
- Docile beastfolk are those that are recognized for having more submissive, obedient, or easily-cowed personalities. Most beastfolk that bear a resemblance to domesticated animals fall into this category.
- Savage beastfolk are those that live in far wilder conditions, and have a much stronger sense of freedom. Beastfolk based on typically wild, undomesticated animals fall into this category.
- Half-breeds of all races cost the same as pureblooded members of each race.
- Exotics include aasimar, avariel, changelings, drow, duergar, tieflings, warforged, and the various monstrous races. +0 ECL counts as half of +1 ECL for pricing purposes (50 gp).
Class variations to slave prices
Non-Spellcasting NPC Class: +10 gp
Spellcasting/Psionic NPC Class: +20 gp
Non-Spellcasting PC Class: +30 gp
Spellcasting/Psionic PC Class: +60 gp
Buying this variation will cause the purchased slave to have the first level of any non-commoner class.
Level variations to slave prices
Per additional level, levels 2-10: +10 gp
Per additional level, levels 11-20: +25 gp
Per additional level, levels 21+: +50 gp
- The listed cost is for each level that a slave has past the first. So a 1st level average human Commoner would cost 30 gp, while a 3rd level average human Commoner would cost 50 gp.
- Note that it is exceedingly rare to find slaves of especially high levels, and extreme costs above and beyond the listed purchase price are often incurred just locating such slaves.
Statistical variations to slave prices
For each +1 to any statistic, from 11-14: +5 gp per point of increase.
For each +1 to any statistic, from 15-18: +15 gp per point of increase.
For each +1 to any statistic, from 19+: +25 gp per point of increase.
- Prices for these statistical modifiers are calculated before racial modifiers are added in. Naturally, slaves with higher than 18 in a statistic before racial modifiers are exceedingly rare, and usually cost a great deal beyond the list price just to locate.
Miscellaneous variations to slave prices
- Note that all percentages are added up before being used to calculate the adjusted value of a slave.
- Slave is a child: -25% of normal price. Races can be bought as normal, except for those races that have no significant childhood form (such as warforged). Statistical variations can be bought as normal; these are what the adult version of a given slave are supposed to be at full maturity. However, the slave's statistics will be penalized appropriately according to present age until the slave reaches maturity. Class levels cannot be bought for children past the first level.
- Slave is older than adult age: -10% of price for each age level beyond the adult. For example, a Venerable age 1st level human Commoner would reduce -30% from 30 gp (-9 gp), for a total of 21 gp.
- Slave is especially attractive for a member of the slave's race: +10% to price. This is usually a statistically undefinable feature, though it may find expression in high Charisma and social skills.
- Slave is rebellious: -20% of price. While this slave is otherwise normal, the slave in question has a history of attempting to run away, starting riots, picking fights, disobeying direct orders, and similar problems. Most adventurers who are made into slaves are like this, leading most professional slavers to leave them alone.
- Slave is obedient: +20% of price. This slave is noted for being especially loyal and trustworthy. This slave requires minimal supervision.
Player Characters Who Are Slaves
Player Characters may become slaves, or may start the game as slaves. If a Player Character is owned by another Player Character, and there is an obvious way to tell this (as there normally should be), then it is common channel ettiquette to put the slave's name in lowercase, followed by the name of the master in brackets or parenthases.
Example: John has become Rachael's indentured slave, and wears her collar openly as a sign of his servitude. He would list his name, therefore, as john(Rachael) while playing.
Roleplaying as a slave or as a master/mistress can be fun at times. However, it should only be undertaken responsibly, and only with Out Of Character permission from both parties. If either player in this sort of a relationship no longer wants a character as a slave, or to play the role of a master/mistress, then an In Character reason must be designed and possibly played out whereby the slave gains freedom.