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Old 10-23-2018, 11:07 PM   #31
Pursuivant
 
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Default Re: Killing Slavers

Depending on how much the GM wants to emphasize it, and the players want to deal with it, slavery could be just a background feature or the focus of an entire campaign.

If the players are up for it, dealing with topics that modern Westernized folk find uncomfortable, but which aliens/historical people/whatever accept as a matter of course could be an interesting exercise in roleplaying.

For characters with disads like Code of Honor, Honesty, or Sense of Duty, attitudes towards slavery and the like will be heavily influenced by culture. For example, a 21st century Western European or North American transported to 1st century Imperial Rome is likely to be horrified by the pervasive slavery, sexism, cruelty, and social inequity. OTOH, a 1st century Roman transported to early 21st century America might be horrified by the absence of those things!

In societies where slavery is legal, a slaver who deals in legally purchased slaves, and who is generally peaceful and law-abiding, enjoys the same protections his society affords to other businessmen. Slaves who attempt to escape from a law-abiding slaver are likely to be in violation of the law, as might people who aid their escape. Slaves who fight to free themselves are guilty of assault or worse. Likewise, people who attack the slaver in order to free his slaves are potentially guilty of robbery.

That said, the line between slavers and kidnappers was often very thin. If a slaver attempts to kidnap a free person, especially someone who enjoys all the benefits of citizenship in that society, the slaver is guilty of a serious crime unless he can demonstrate a legal right to enslave his victim. In such cases, attacking slavers in self-defense, or the defense of others, might be justified under the law. But, just like any other use of violence for self-defense, the courts get the final say.
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Old 10-24-2018, 06:36 AM   #32
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Default Re: Killing Slavers

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Is that historically possible? I don't think freedmen were permitted to marry free born citizens until Justinian - and I'm not sure they could *ever* have obtained the right of connubium required to marry those of old Latin status, which would've been required to stand for the office of praetor, right?

Historically, probably not. In game, everyone got bane stormed to a new world, and the praetor ended up in charge. They eventually set up a new senate, but not before the PC made it clear that they weren't just going to be a continuation of Rome. We started with him just treating a slave/former slave like a woman of rank, and I'm sure that's nothing new in any culture.

We intentionally weakened some of the limits, but tried to keep the shape of society in place.

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That said, the line between slavers and kidnappers was often very thin. If a slaver attempts to kidnap a free person, especially someone who enjoys all the benefits of citizenship in that society, the slaver is guilty of a serious crime unless he can demonstrate a legal right to enslave his victim. In such cases, attacking slavers in self-defense, or the defense of others, might be justified under the law. But, just like any other use of violence for self-defense, the courts get the final say.
The custom of displaying slavers as folks who go out and kidnap people has always seemed strange to me. Historically, it seems that the most common sources of slaves are debtors, criminals, and war captives. I'm sure that folks who did go about kidnapping people for slavery were around (they're still around today) but I'm unsure where they fit into the system. Of course, they're going to claim that the victims are criminals or debtors or captives, but how do you prove/disprove/forge that? Does anyone have any insights on this?
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Old 10-24-2018, 06:56 AM   #33
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Default Re: Killing Slavers

When societies cared, branding was a traditional way of proving that someone was a legal slave, though bills of sale were also used. In most cases though, a slave was a slave because someone in the community claimed them as a slave and, if the prospective slave lacked standing or anyone to defend their rights, they found themselves in chains. Kidnapping was always a large source of slaves, the Barbary Pirates and the Vikings both took slaves during their raids and sold many of the excess captives to slavers, and no slaver cared about their origins. Slavers usually did not ask any questions about the source of slaves that they bought from people.

Honestly though, slavers were almost always considered scum in slave holding societies because the majority of societies knew that slavery was wrong but, as long as they benefitted from it, they did not care. Slaves were conveniences, providing labor and sex, and they were valuable assets that could be traded and sold. While the majority of people would buy and sell slaves through intermediaries, I doubt that many slavers found themselves invited to high society functions, as even their own people thought they were, at best, a necessary evil.
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Old 10-24-2018, 07:08 AM   #34
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Default Re: Killing Slavers

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Originally Posted by ericthered View Post
The custom of displaying slavers as folks who go out and kidnap people has always seemed strange to me. Historically, it seems that the most common sources of slaves are [...] war captives.
That's where it's from. You Raid an area for resource, those resources include war captive for slaves. The only real difference between Slaver an a Raider was they were prepared to take captives.
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Old 10-24-2018, 07:39 AM   #35
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Of course, they're going to claim that the victims are criminals or debtors or captives, but how do you prove/disprove/forge that? Does anyone have any insights on this?
In my above-referenced DF setting, slave contracts must be stamped with the seal of a judge/magistrate to be valid. To turn a kidnapping victim into a nominally-legal slave, you'd thus need to forge/steal such a seal, or trick/bribe a public official to stamp the contract for you. Kidnapped children are typically claimed to have been sold by their parents for a large sum, while kidnapped adults are typically claimed to have held extremely large debts. These lies are used because it results in the slave having a very large sum he or she would need to pay off to become free, yet without making him or her out to be a potentially-dangerous criminal, making the slave a good investment for a buyer. It also means any claims they have of being kidnapped are likely to fall on deaf ears - those sold as children are assumed to have made up a fiction to make their parents less villainous in their own minds, while a serious debtor would likely make up any lies he could to get out of his debts.
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Old 10-24-2018, 08:06 AM   #36
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In my current Pirates game I have done up the value of people being sold into slavery, and the crew has taken many captives as well as having captured a slave galley.

They freed the slaves from the galley, but to my shock they seriously considered selling the French merchants they captured into slavery rather than ransoming them. I actually pushed them towards ransom through an NPC.

Last edited by starslayer; 10-24-2018 at 08:49 AM.
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Old 10-24-2018, 08:46 AM   #37
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Originally Posted by AlexanderHowl View Post
Purchasing slaves is always morally reprehensible, though it is possible in some settings to acquire slaves in lieu of payment of a debt or to receive them as a gift from another.
I'm not sure if there's any function end difference between "this guy owes me $5000 he can't pay, so I'm going to enslave him" or "this guy owes me $5000 he can't pay, so I'm assuming ownership of his slave" and "I'm going to pay this guy $5000 for his slave", either way the person still ends up owning a slave.

In terms of character morality and traits which go along with them, there should probably be some way of representing slaveowners who have attitudes resembling "I'm feeding my slaves, that's like a wage, they're better off under my care, and would not be able to provide for themselves trying to work as free agents, and if I gave them money they would spend it irresponsibly" who were didn't work their slaves hard or hit them, and whose slaves in turn did no revolt because they were better compared to other potential owners. This is in a way, how parent/child attitudes sometimes work regarding unpaid labor.
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Old 10-24-2018, 09:43 AM   #38
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In terms of character morality and traits which go along with them, there should probably be some way of representing slaveowners who have attitudes resembling "I'm feeding my slaves, that's like a wage, they're better off under my care, and would not be able to provide for themselves trying to work as free agents, and if I gave them money they would spend it irresponsibly" who were didn't work their slaves hard or hit them, and whose slaves in turn did no revolt because they were better compared to other potential owners. This is in a way, how parent/child attitudes sometimes work regarding unpaid labor.
Honestly I suspect most slave owners are no worse than most employers. Maybe better - it's not like slaves can't take the starve option in the choice between work or starve too, they're just "lucky" enough to have somebody who thinks their labor is valuable enough to try to stop them.

The fact is that in a lot of societies the list of rights "free" wives have that slave concubines don't is pretty slim, and the only real alternative to slavery for male criminals or defeated enemies is death. Modern economies generate huge surpluses and allow amazing levels of labor mobility and yet poor women with no real skills or ex-convicts still often have to do things that are not a whole lot better than slavery.

I'm not sure slavery is objectively all that much worse a method of structuring social relationships than a lot of the systems we still use. Sure slavery with no controls on its worst abuses can be pretty horrible - but unregulated capitalism doesn't have a terrific record either, and domestic abuse is still a thing. We've just decided slavery is evil and so focus on those worst cases - it's maybe not so different from the demonization of capitalists/communists in that more recent split in economic models. A slave society probably doesn't *have* to be much more evil than a capitalist or communist one does.
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Old 10-24-2018, 09:44 AM   #39
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Default Re: Killing Slavers

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Originally Posted by evileeyore View Post
I disagree. I have great fun dealing with "no good solution" problems. On both sides of the screen.
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Originally Posted by whswhs View Post
I have to say we have profoundly different sensibilities here. I don't expect moral dilemmas to have "solutions" as a rule.
I used to think the same, but my overwhelming experience as a GM is that the folks I play with like a moral challenge where they can be the "good guys" much more than a moral dilemma where grey is the best anyone can do.

It is best if it looks like an unsolvable dilemma at first, so they can feel good about finding the morally satisfying 'third option,' but that is an illusion just as much as the combat being realistically dangerous is an illusion. It also works as a build up - working with someone who sticks you in morally ambiguous situations for a while is a great build up for a situation where the PCs turn on that person and win a victory for 'good.'

Not calling hurting wrong fun here or anything - play your games the way that works for you! Heck, that kind of game usually works for me (as a player, gm, or media consumer). But in my experience unresolvable moral ambiguity does not make my gaming group happy.
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Old 10-24-2018, 01:46 PM   #40
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Modern economies generate huge surpluses and allow amazing levels of labor mobility and yet poor women with no real skills or ex-convicts still often have to do things that are not a whole lot better than slavery.
The treatment of people who are presently incarcerated (or a woman unable to divorce in societies where they are treated like property of husband) also begs the question of the difference between being "property in name" v "property in function". Whether or not you are technically considered property, when your freedoms/movements are restricted (as is done to prisoners) deservedly or not, the line between free/slave can become blurry.

That prisoners/wives have "rights" wouldn't really be a dividing line, because societies like Rome also passed laws protecting slaves from certain things, effectively giving them rights. Claudius gave freedom to abandoned slaves, Nero gave them the right to file complaints against masters in court, Antoninus Pious made it criminal for masters to kill slaves without just cause, Constantine freed slaves whose masters mutilated them, and Constantius II made genitally mutilating slaves a capital offense. So it's more like the lack of specific rights which would define them, such as right to choose where to live, which prisoners clearly also lack
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