The Ethics of Slavery in RPGs


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The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

This is an off-shoot thread to the discussion about slaves and slavery in Pathfinder Society.

In AD&D, slavery was simply odious. The easy way to get the PCs to turn against any given NPC was to paint him as "a slaver". Like old-style orcs, biker gangs in Car Wars, Klingons in TOS, or Nazis in indiana Jones, slavers are always the bad guys.

Golarion is much more nuanced.

As I mentioned in that other thread, this is one of the aspects of the campaign setting that I don't particularly care for.

Owning slaves, or protecting a slave trade against Andoran outlaws, is really not the kind of fantasy role-playing I want to participate in.

Too, this is a powderkeg of negative publicity. (Remember: "the media will instinctively flock to the worst-socialized person in the orgnaization. Lacking that, they will flock to the most slovenly dressed.") There are lots of ways that people can get the wrong idea about Paizo, Pathfinder, and Golarion, from players pushing the envelope in this regard.

But we in North America have a slanted view of slavery, because American slavery, racist and inhumanly brutal as it was, was not the norm for medieval slave-holding cultures. The Norse had thralls, typically enemies captued in battle, who were integrated into the Norse social structure, and their children were freemen by law. The Roman Empire relied on slave labor, but the lifestyle of servants wasn't significantly worse than that of the freed citizens they worked alongside. Medieval European agriculture was supported by serfs, who were owned as parcel of the land they tended.

None of which matters, to my perspective. I am American, and my gut reaction against slavery is something I really don't care to make more nuanced. I'd prefer if trafic in human chattel weren't a routine part of my fantasy world, that the vizier's "slave" be the vizier's "servant" instead, and that slavers, like Nazis, be always the bad guys.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Lost Omens, Pawns, Rulebook Subscriber

I prefer that it be there no matter how people view it, as an option to be explored or ignored as each group is comfortable with. Treating it with kid gloves is wholly unsatisfying to me. If there weren't examples of accepted slavery in the setting, no group could ever have the option to roleplay a social campaign denouncing the evils of slavery and arguing the ethics of it with the slavers and slaves. We would be stuck with a shallow 'all slavers are evil and should be punished by the PCs' option because 'slavery is evil'. And while that is a perfectly fine option (because who doesn't like killing Nazis?), the game is not so intellectually limited as that.

Grand Lodge

I don't think Ethics is part of D&D.
That's what Alignment is for.

Ethics is far more dynamic than our game could ever be, thus, the Alignment system is a generalization.

In real life there is no CG of LE or whatever.

In D&D there is the generic Alignments and real ethical discourse, while really, really fun, can't really be mixed with the game.

------------------------------------------

For the record, though, slavery in D&D could be
CN,
LE,
NE or
CE, depending on the slave owner.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Pathfinder Accessories, Rulebook Subscriber
W E Ray wrote:

I don't think Ethics is part of D&D.

That's what Alignment is for.

Ethics is far more dynamic than our game could ever be, thus, the Alignment system is a generalization.

In real life there is no CG of LE or whatever.

In D&D there is the generic Alignments and real ethical discourse, while really, really fun, can't really be mixed with the game.

------------------------------------------

For the record, though, slavery in D&D could be
CN,
LE,
NE or
CE, depending on the slave owner.

It could also be LN in cases of thralls and if slavery is used as punishment.

Scarab Sages

On the opposite end, why couldn't a slave-owner be LG? It's definitely a Lawful act in a number of places on Golarion, and the slave-owner can still be a Good guy. He might not be a paragon of good because he owns slaves, but he could still treat them well, provide for them, and if they were really passionate about it maybe even set them free later on. But so long as the slaves were 'willing', they're more indentured servants than slaves, even though the owner is still, technically, a 'slave owner'.


Slavery
Indentured servants
life debts
prisoners
Caste systems
Nobility
Commoners
Followers
Lackeys

Slavers have been BBEGs for a long time
Press-gangs (abducting PCs and forcing them to crew ships)
Other adventure hooks.....

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

Chris Mortika wrote:
This is an off-shoot thread to the discussion about slaves and slavery in Pathfinder Society.

Paizo did open a can of worms when they added them to the Pathfinder Companion: Adventurer's Armory guide.

Chris Mortika wrote:

As I mentioned in that other thread, this is one of the aspects of the campaign setting that I don't particularly care for.

Owning slaves, or protecting a slave trade against Andoran outlaws, is really not the kind of fantasy role-playing I want to participate in.

Unfortunately, not all GM & players will feel the same as you do.

Remember, your character (unless Andoren) did not grow up in a world where Slavery was reviled.

So I think your question is, in Golarion does ...

  • Owning Slaves = Neural
    or
  • Owning Slaves = Evil?

    And, for the Pathfinder Society, you do need an official ruling, because Evil Player Characters are not currently permitted.

    Chris Mortika wrote:
    Too, this is a powderkeg of negative publicity. (Remember: "the media will instinctively flock to the worst-socialized person in the orgnaization. Lacking that, they will flock to the most slovenly dressed.") There are lots of ways that people can get the wrong idea about Paizo, Pathfinder, and Golarion, from players pushing the envelope in this regard.

    This is - unfortunately - true.

    No I have not given my opinion on this issue. And I am not going to.

  • Dark Archive

    I am guessing since you really didn't ask a question is you just wanted to know what other people think. I personally don't have a problem with it in games. IF it is done well. I mean slavery still exist today, typically in the sex trade markets but it still exists.

    Now my view of it for the game is. Slavery in and of it's self is not evil or good act. It is just what it is. I mean whats more evil throwing someone in a dark dank cell for years or letting them work off a debt, with reasonably living conditions and treated well? Ultimately to me what makes slaver evil is
    1) how are the slaves acquired
    2) how slaves are treated.

    Huh lot of posts was made while I was typing this.


    Dark_Mistress wrote:

    Now my view of it for the game is. Slavery in and of it's self is not evil or good act. It is just what it is. I mean whats more evil throwing someone in a dark dank cell for years or letting them work off a debt, with reasonably living conditions and treated well? Ultimately to me what makes slaver evil is

    1) how are the slaves acquired
    2) how slaves are treated.

    Huh lot of posts was made while I was typing this.

    Funnily enough, that definition actually implies that 'slavers' are bad guys, people who steal people and force them into slavery, but slave owners maybe not always.

    It's complex, and I like that there are grey areas and adult themes and problems in Golarion. Especially given the Inner Sea is based on a psuedo-Mediterrenean a la Roman era, it'd almost seem strange to me if there weren't slaves.

    Liberty's Edge

    There's a reason I've got the Andoran symbol next to my name ;)
    Slavery is reprehensible. The distinction to me is the difference between slavery and indentured servitude. Slavers are always bad. Indentured servitude can go either way, in my opinion, and offers more gray area to work in for a campaign.

    Grand Lodge

    just how is indentured servitude any better than slavery? The indentured servant probably will spend the rest of his life essentially as a slave to pay off his "debts" and even his children may be held in servitude to continue paying of his "debt". He can be sold, beaten, whipped and lord knows what with little to no consequences. Indentured servitude is slavery under a pretty name.

    As far as slavery in RP ethics goes, it doesn't matter to me. The game already encourages characters to kill, murder, and maim sentient creatures, even their children. Characters routinely steal, rob, grave rob and desecrate graves. Racism and religious intolerance are engrained within the game.

    Is slavery really any more vile than murder, theft, racism and religious crusades? I think it fits in quite nicely to the norm of the game.

    Its inclusion does in fact allow GMs to explore the ethics of slavery. Otherwise it is simply something to be glossed over or ignored. It can be a tool for social discussion should people want to go that route.

    I think that if slavery is so vile to you, perhaps you should consider changing your Society faction to Adoran for one. It is after all, the ONLY faction does not support slavery. Kind of weird reading someone's anti-slavery post and yet they play and support a faction that is slavers.


    Slavery is just a fact of life throughout most of history. If you don't like it, I suggest your characters do not partake.

    For me, however, with the realization that Paizo is attempting to create a believable world, I don't have any objections and my characters are likely to own slaves.

    Dark Archive

    vagrant-poet wrote:
    Dark_Mistress wrote:

    Now my view of it for the game is. Slavery in and of it's self is not evil or good act. It is just what it is. I mean whats more evil throwing someone in a dark dank cell for years or letting them work off a debt, with reasonably living conditions and treated well? Ultimately to me what makes slaver evil is

    1) how are the slaves acquired
    2) how slaves are treated.

    Huh lot of posts was made while I was typing this.

    Funnily enough, that definition actually implies that 'slavers' are bad guys, people who steal people and force them into slavery, but slave owners maybe not always.

    It's complex, and I like that there are grey areas and adult themes and problems in Golarion. Especially given the Inner Sea is based on a psuedo-Mediterrenean a la Roman era, it'd almost seem strange to me if there weren't slaves.

    Well yes and no. I mean slavers can buy them from the governments or buy them from other owners to sell else where. Slavers can acquire slaves in a non evil way. But yeah I get what you was saying and it could be true at times.

    The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

    meatrace wrote:

    Slavery is just a fact of life throughout most of history. If you don't like it, I suggest your characters do not partake.

    For me, however, with the realization that Paizo is attempting to create a believable world, I don't have any objections and my characters are likely to own slaves.

    meatrace, I'm not sure that the Paizo design team was trying to come up with a "believable" world.

    1) Dragons. Trolls. Demons.
    2) Even if you allow for magic, the economic system makes no sense.

    Rather, I understand the idea was to create a backdrop to all sorts of exciting adventures. Golarion has seriously addictive drugs, a chain of nations governed by devil-worship, necromancy, and human sacrifice. None of those is portrayed as a weal to society, or even as neutral. (Your character can be a Qat addict who animates the zombies of the enemies whose souls he offers to Asmodeus in exchange for world power, and this would make him naughty.)

    Each of those choices by the setting's authors helps define good and evil in the setting cosmology, and morally acceptable choices for a Golarion campaign PC.

    Jason and the Golarion design team chose to make animating the dead an Evil act, according to both the Pathfinder rules and the campaign setting. Why not enslavement? Trading in Qat is illegal in most kingdoms. Why isn't trading in human beings?

    There are many heroic-fantasy stories where slavery is judged as simply immoral. Greyhawk played into that trope. ("Against the Slavers"? That makes sense as a rallying cry only of slavery is perceived as an abomination.) Why doesn't Golarion?


    Slavery in the classical world is much different than slavery in the near-modern world.

    For instance, did you know that in Ancient Greece a slave could sue thier owner? A Freeman needed to bring the suit on their behalf, but it was not only possible, it HAPPENED.

    This is a far cry from slavery in a Feudal or American (as in all the Americas) sense. A society where debt foreclosure results in being sold into slavery, but even slaves are afforded rights and protections by the state, may simply not be evil. Certainly the Athenians would not have thought so. Nor the Romans. Nor the Persians (who treated their slaves very well compared to the Macedonians or Spartans).

    I dislike carte-blanche moral judgements, like raising the dead or slavery being always evil. Non-good, for certain, but evil? Objection!


    Chris Mortika wrote:


    There are many heroic-fantasy stories where slavery is judged as simply immoral. Greyhawk played into that trope. ("Against the Slavers"? That makes sense as a rallying cry only of slavery is perceived as an abomination.) Why doesn't Golarion?

    Sadly, this thread got moved to Gamer Life, probably because it was too generic and not specifically about Golarion, and thus we may never see a post by any of the official Paizo people here. I wonder, if at the risk of duplication, you should try the thread again with a Golarion-only viewpoint for the subject. Maybe then it will stay more visible and get something official as well as the opinions of all us players.


    Quote:

    meatrace, I'm not sure that the Paizo design team was trying to come up with a "believable" world.

    1) Dragons. Trolls. Demons.

    But also humans. As the norm and the focus of the game. And making believable human societies requires including their worst aspects.

    Anyway, there's nothing unbelievable about monsters, on the contrary, it's usually the basics of belief.
    Quote:
    2) Even if you allow for magic, the economic system makes no sense.

    It's more a limit imposed by the system than a design goal.

    Drugs and devil-dealing and human sacrifice and putting the dead to work have always been seen as something quite naughty in most civilzed societies. On the other hand, slavery has been widely accepted for the longest time. There's some reasons why. But that fact justify for me lack of moral involvement in that issue in golarion.


    Mirror, Mirror wrote:
    did you know that in Ancient Greece

    About that, there's some other issues in golarion that are overlooked by the morals of the setting, like the status of women.

    I think in standard DnD terms, the classical greek society, or the roman republic/empire, would be evil. Golarion seems to be introducing some moral relativity, and that's easily justified.

    On the other hand, having slavery as a neutral issue does not force you to play slave owners, or to play characters that do not recognize slavery as a moral issue. Chaotic good can be a good roleplaying choice too.


    Chris Mortika wrote:

    meatrace, I'm not sure that the Paizo design team was trying to come up with a "believable" world.

    1) Dragons. Trolls. Demons.
    2) Even if you allow for magic, the economic system makes no sense.

    1) The 'existence' of dragons, trolls, and demons in the context of a fantasy world does not preclude said world from being "believable".

    2) Still debatable, to this day (e.g. I've made it work, with almost no difficulties - but then again, I'm a professional accountant).


    In my world, taking slaves is ALWAYS an evil act, and I don't particularly care what Paizo's official stance is. Owning slaves is usually an evil act (a good NPC owning slaves may be trying to work within the system as best he can), and I don't care what Paizo's official stance is. Players in my games best learn that they're supposed to be playing Heroes, not Slavers.

    If a player came into my group and said his character owned slaves, I would boot the player Yes, the player, because his actions indicate a certain lack of moral character that I require of people who I spend time with. If I was a player, that character would likely die very quickly.


    I just think it's part of gameing. The society level of the game we play in had slavery as an institution, the game designers reflected that so as to make the game more inclusive and add a sense of realism.

    If you as a player object then talk to your DM or if your the DM make some cosmic changes.
    In MY Forgotten Realms I have made massive changes to the gods,cosmology and even put life on the moon. Don't let modern overly examined morality ruin a great gameing experiance.


    Steven Tindall wrote:


    In MY Forgotten Realms I have made massive changes to the gods,cosmology and even put life on the moon.

    Well, there was some there to begin with . . . ;)

    Dark Archive

    This is a game predicated upon advancement through murder and theft, generally accomplished through home invasion, where an 'ethical dilemna' is whether or not it is 'okay' to murder the unarmed and helpless wives and children of the people whose homes you just invaded. We play a game with rules for summoning and bargaining with soul-devouring demons, dominating people through magical coercion and animating corpses and sending them off to kill people, where there are compelling mechanical benefits to transforming your self into a monster, either temporarily through shapeshifting, or permanantly by gaining the lich template (and there's a hot potato, a game rule that provides a mechanical advantage for *killing yourself,* complete with some neat 1st edition Dragon magazine articles about exactly what sort of poisons and components you need to assemble to make the deadly suicide potion).

    If there was more curb-stomping and ho-slapping, D&D has pretty much always been Grand Theft Caravan.

    And yet, the countries that are 'okay' with slavery in Golarion include Cheliax, which seems consciously designed to evoke imagery of Nazi Germany, with the red and black 'not quite a swastika' flag and even gone a step further by having them explicitly be devil-worshippers, and the various 'Arabic / Middle Eastern' countries like Qadira and Katapesh and Osirion.

    The setting's dominannt white slavers are the Chelaxians, and they are cut-n-paste Nazis. I have no idea if that was deliberate, but all of the slavery imagery I've seen has been of either whites enslaving whites (in Cheliax) or 'arabs' enslaving 'arabs' (in Katapesh). (Or Gnolls enslaving humans or whatever, which doesn't as readily fit any real-world groups.)

    Even the River Kingdoms, a land of thugs and bandit warlords and 'might-makes-right,' are fiercely anti-slavery, giving them a dash of Han Solo to their 'hive of scum and villainy.'

    I'd hardly say that the Golarion setting is encouraging the showcasing of slavery, or comparisons to real-world events, any more than the existence of spells like Geas or Cacodaemon or Animate Dead, with us since the '70s, were meant to encourage real-world imagery of mental coercion, satanism or grave defilement.

    It is, perhaps, a bit optically cringeworthy that three out of five of the Pathfinder Society nations are slavery-friendly (Cheliax, Osirion and Qadira), and only one strongly opposed (Andoran), but I doubt that was intentional.

    Or perhaps it was. Perhaps making 'good' countries like Andoran somewhat rare and outnumbered serves to make them appear a bit more precious and special, as compared to other game settings, where the vast majority of countries might be 'good,' with only a few isolated 'bad guy' lands, safely bottled up on the edges of the map.

    Anywho, the short-short version;

    Pat Pulling was a nut. I could care what people like that are going to think when they find out that I play a game that includes elements that make them uncomfortable. Pandering to them is empowering them.


    *starts slow clap*

    Set wrote:

    This is a game predicated upon advancement through murder and theft, generally accomplished through home invasion, where an 'ethical dilemna' is whether or not it is 'okay' to murder the unarmed and helpless wives and children of the people whose homes you just invaded. We play a game with rules for summoning and bargaining with soul-devouring demons, dominating people through magical coercion and animating corpses and sending them off to kill people, where there are compelling mechanical benefits to transforming your self into a monster, either temporarily through shapeshifting, or permanantly by gaining the lich template (and there's a hot potato, a game rule that provides a mechanical advantage for *killing yourself,* complete with some neat 1st edition Dragon magazine articles about exactly what sort of poisons and components you need to assemble to make the deadly suicide potion).

    If there was more curb-stomping and ho-slapping, D&D has pretty much always been Grand Theft Caravan.

    And yet, the countries that are 'okay' with slavery in Golarion include Cheliax, which seems consciously designed to evoke imagery of Nazi Germany, with the red and black 'not quite a swastika' flag and even gone a step further by having them explicitly be devil-worshippers, and the various 'Arabic / Middle Eastern' countries like Qadira and Katapesh and Osirion.

    The setting's dominannt white slavers are the Chelaxians, and they are cut-n-paste Nazis. I have no idea if that was deliberate, but all of the slavery imagery I've seen has been of either whites enslaving whites (in Cheliax) or 'arabs' enslaving 'arabs' (in Katapesh). (Or Gnolls enslaving humans or whatever, which doesn't as readily fit any real-world groups.)

    Even the River Kingdoms, a land of thugs and bandit warlords and 'might-makes-right,' are fiercely anti-slavery, giving them a dash of Han Solo to their 'hive of scum and villainy.'

    I'd hardly say that the Golarion setting is encouraging the showcasing of slavery, or comparisons to real-world...


    (changing my alias this time, because last time I was unaware of the irony)

    A great fact about Golarion is that it isn't an inherently Good place. Most governments are evil. Most people are not Good. Heroes are the exception, and Good heroes are only a subset of that category. Player characters in this setting are not one face in a sea of do-gooders. They are the heroes. They set an example in a world that needs it.

    Opposing something Evil, like slavery, is more heroic and meaningful when you don't have all of civilization backing you up on it. Not only are you doing the right thing, you're doing the right thing when it might be easier not to.

    The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

    Toyrobots, I don't have a problem with there being a lot of bad stuff in the campaign world. I have a problem with slavery *not* being treated as bad stuff.


    TriOmegaZero wrote:
    If there weren't examples of accepted slavery in the setting, no group could ever have the option to roleplay a social campaign denouncing the evils of slavery and arguing the ethics of it with the slavers and slaves. We would be stuck with a shallow 'all slavers are evil and should be punished by the PCs' option because 'slavery is evil'.

    What would stop individual groups from developing their own setting details to explore these if there weren't official ones?


    Chris Mortika wrote:
    Toyrobots, I don't have a problem with there being a lot of bad stuff in the campaign world. I have a problem with slavery *not* being treated as bad stuff.

    So did abolitionists in our fair country. So they fought against it, despite societal norms.

    Please don't take the above remark as facetious. It took immense bravery, hardship, and physical danger to break through the complacence of those times. I think highly of the campaign setting for not reducing the problem to something cartoonish and simple.


    When you have an alignment system, you do have some absolutes. Slavery, as in owning another sentient being, is evil. That having been said, the greatest "evil" in the act is in the institution of the practice.

    In other words, once slavery is the norm in a civilization, its not an "active" evil. The only thing that would push a neutral character into the "evil" category would be to abuse the institution.

    A good character could possibly own a slave, but its unlikely they will do so without questioning the institution, and they probably won't do it unless there is some kind of societal pressure to do so (i.e. a character that inherits the family slaves, etc).

    A lawful good character, if they get in the right position, might try to change the laws, perhaps incrementally. They might free their slaves when they get the chance if the slaves will be able to support themselves or if they can do so without worrying they will become slaves again, but otherwise, they might very well keep slaves.

    A chaotic good person probably isn't even going to worry about societal niceties, and is probably the most easily identifiable character to be anti-slavery.

    With all of that in the mix, I think there are a few issues that are weaving in and out of this issue. One is that an evil act is not the defining characteristic of a character being evil. Its not easy to judge, but some acts are more evil than others, but some characters so a lot of good that negates or even outshines their bad traits.

    The other thing that I think permeates this issue is the fact that we use the term "slavery" for several different institutions. Yes, in our modern world, pretty much all of them are regressive and bad from any point of view. However, from a less advanced societal standpoint, there are clearly some degrees of "wrong."

    Andoran broke free from Chelaxian slavery. Much like how Americans, in the real world, have an image of slavery based on their history, Andoran's view of slavery is based on Chelaxian "I can do anything I want to you and you aren't really a person" slavery, pretty much the worst kind.

    I guess its a cop out, but the issue, especially in a much more pulp inspired setting, really has to be looked at on a case by case basis.

    Silver Crusade

    1 person marked this as a favorite.

    Honestly, I enjoy the moral complexity.

    I've really enjoyed throwing ValkyriePaine's concept of a slaving institution at the players in our Curse of the Crimson Throne game and the game has only been richer for it. Such a concept wouldn't be possible in a setting that treated it as an absolute black and white issue.

    Sovereign Court

    Set wrote:
    Or perhaps it was. Perhaps making 'good' countries like Andoran somewhat rare and outnumbered serves to make them appear a bit more precious and special, as compared to other game settings, where the vast majority of countries might be 'good,' with only a few isolated 'bad guy' lands, safely bottled up on the edges of the map

    I second this. I in fact pretty much like this idea.

    First, life in any medieval country was pretty dangerous, and your rights were not guaranteed at all anywhere, if ever. Heck, a lot of countries on Earth are still like this today IRL. So this is just staying true to the original inspiration source.

    Andoran would definitely be special in Golarion because :

    1 ) Democracy ??? In a world full of Empires and dictatorships ...
    2 ) Democracy where you REALLY have some rights ? Come on ...
    3 ) Anti-slavery ?

    Insert incredule stares from the illiterate masses of any neighboring country here : obviously it must be some kind of trap, the deal is too good.

    As opposed to a world where might makes right, Andoran is a living dream of justice. And that is good for it makes for a lot of great adventures potential.

    If everybody on Golarion was a lawful good paladin fighting non human monsters, it would be a really dull setting.

    After all, history has shown that the humans can be the worse monsters of the lot. Which makes individual or collective heroism even more valuable.

    The Exchange

    Stereofm wrote:
    Set wrote:
    Or perhaps it was. Perhaps making 'good' countries like Andoran somewhat rare and outnumbered serves to make them appear a bit more precious and special, as compared to other game settings, where the vast majority of countries might be 'good,' with only a few isolated 'bad guy' lands, safely bottled up on the edges of the map

    I second this. I in fact pretty much like this idea.

    First, life in any medieval country was pretty dangerous, and your rights were not guaranteed at all anywhere, if ever. Heck, a lot of countries on Earth are still like this today IRL. So this is just staying true to the original inspiration source.

    Andoran would definitely be special in Golarion because :

    1 ) Democracy ??? In a world full of Empires and dictatorships ...
    2 ) Democracy where you REALLY have some rights ? Come on ...
    3 ) Anti-slavery ?

    Insert incredule stares from the illiterate masses of any neighboring country here : obviously it must be some kind of trap, the deal is too good.

    As opposed to a world where might makes right, Andoran is a living dream of justice. And that is good for it makes for a lot of great adventures potential.

    If everybody on Golarion was a lawful good paladin fighting non human monsters, it would be a really dull setting.

    After all, history has shown that the humans can be the worse monsters of the lot. Which makes individual or collective heroism even more valuable.

    Like all minority interest government Democracy is evil because those who rule there have no intention of sharing with everyone else.

    You want scary D&D adventures: PAladin is instructed by god to throw down the Government and church (who has become intimately involved in gOVERNEMNT and establish A Commonwealth. THis Commonwealth will require every citizen to vote direct and regular on every act of government, Law, Constitution.

    PCs are hired to stop him because he threatens the Natural order of Monarch-Minor Lords-Merchants-Farmers-Peasants-slaves.

    So if that Commonwealth Government is the standard government for all Lawful Good, anything less is...?

    Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8

    Let us not forget that historically even slaves have had different levels.

    Many slaves were taken to assimilate the prisoners of war/survivors into the victor's society. Is that less evil than just killing them?

    A lawful good country could have slavery, heck it would be regulated and there'd likely be some standards, possibly codified down to the smallest detail ("You cannot strike your slave with anything other than a licensed and approved rattan cane.") Slaves that were assimilated as above would often be single generational, their children would be freemen.

    A slave could be the result of a contract between two willing parties. "I'll serve Bob for X years in exchange for..."

    I've had societies where slaves were owned by the major religions, and they 'rented' them to people. Need a workforce to build that house for you? Rent a band of craftsmen from 'slaves R us' the church would monitor for abuse, but you'd just pay the church the rental rate, and maybe an insurance premium.

    By making slavery "Generic Evil" does put a lot of things out of reach. Now I don't expect to see "Pathfinder Companion: Slaver's Service Manual." but I don't want it glossed over.

    Also, remember sometimes 'liberating the slaves' in a fantasy setting can do more harm than good. For example, if you free a multigenerational slave family from a kind and caring owner, you might find that you've 'rescued' people who don't want to go, who don't have any skills useful off the estate, and who really can't survive in the environment you've dumped them into. (Think taking someone from Cheliax to the river kingdoms who is an Expert 3, but just specialized in accounting. How will he survive?)

    Orcs are another good example. Humans get attacked by orcs, repulse the attack, go hunt down the orc village, putting their warriors to the sword. What do they do with the Orc babies? By enslaving them they teach them society and they grow up under human laws. Sure this might be horrid, but it beats 'leaving women and children to die by exposure' all hollow.

    The Exchange

    For what it's worth.

    In our current campaign, just starting Kingmaker, my wifes PC is a CG Elf Ranger who is also a slave owner. She treats her slaves with kindness and generaly her family is much beloved by their slaves. She doesn't like the concept of slavery, but where she comes from it is a very real practice. She goes to great pains to aquire attractive slaves that are of the 'pleasure slave' type. One of the other PCs is in fact her favorite and most loyal slave. Once her slaves have provided service for a number of years they are then freed, as under the laws of her homeland. Her beloved Mikli however will follow her mistress to hell and back.

    I guess what I'm trying to say is, there were many slave owning cultures, slavery wasn't considered evil in all of them. IFIC there were even cases were people would sell themselves or their children into slavery just to provide a better life.

    It's a fantasy world, and a lot of our real world morals just don't apply. You guys have to remember in our own world their was time that 13 year old girls were getting married and having kids, not saying it IS right, but only that it WASN'T wrong in the time it was practiced.

    I had posted this in the parent thread, but moved it here where it belongs.

    Dark Archive

    1 person marked this as a favorite.
    Matthew Morris wrote:
    I've had societies where slaves were owned by the major religions, and they 'rented' them to people. Need a workforce to build that house for you? Rent a band of craftsmen from 'slaves R us' the church would monitor for abuse, but you'd just pay the church the rental rate, and maybe an insurance premium.

    That's Egypt, right there. The clergy that tended to the soldiers in the field brought back many prisoners of war, which they then rented out as slaves. The temple owned the slaves. That temple, to a god that was otherwise not taken very seriously, being more of a soldiers god and less involved in politicking, became tremendously wealthy, and the more politically savvy temples, who never would have sullied their sandals by accompanying soldiers into the battlefields to minister to them, managed to get the laws changed so that any battlefield slaves taken in this manner would be distributed among *all* the temples, and not just the ones who worked for a living.

    The law very specifically mandated that no person could own a slave, only rent them from the temples, for a set period of time. Pharoah himself did not own a single slave, but was attended to by slaves 'gifted' to him by the various temples, with the temples fiercely competing for who could send him slaves and what duties those slaves would have, because each and every slave was a spy for the temple that sent them, keeping an eye on Pharaoh and his activities (as the temples were not above killing a Pharaoh who worked against their interests, as happened to Tutankhamen's father).

    We end up with a culture where the Pharaoh, considered to be a divine presence on earth and ruler of all Egypt, is surrounded in his own palace by spies working for his enemies, forced to communicate in subtle signals and hidden councils, living in fear of *his slaves,* who wash his clothes and prepare his food and bathe his skin, and who also are waiting, watching, for him to say anything that their true masters will find interesting...

    (And, obviously, this utterly flies in the face of modern conceptions of the Egyptian slaves as pyramid-builders, which is just modern embellishment, since the pyramid builders were contracted farmers, working during the off-season and being paid their own grain, that was taxed from them during the fertile seasons and stored by Pharaoh for this exact purpose, to prevent them from short-sightedly selling all of their grain, and then having mass riots when the inevitable, every year like clockwork, dry season led to famine. Because the peasant farmers were incapable of planning ahead, Pharaoh pretty much had to steal their grain every year and then dole it back to them as payment for made-up 'work projects,' to keep them from starving themselves to death in seek of shiny coin. Every village headman was required to keep a list of able-bodied workers, and send them off every year during the off-season to work on these projects in work-gangs, often with fancy names based on their home village, so that they couldn't stay home and stir up civil uprest. A whacky system!)

    You can do amazingly fun things in fantasy settings, but sometimes it's the real world that takes the cake.

    If I make a fantasy setting with a god-king, ruling over hundreds of thousands, and the most powerful kingdom of his time, lived in terror of his household slaves, it would seem implausible, maybe even silly.

    If I made a fantasy setting where the educated warrior-slaves ended up in charge of the government, in an essentially bloodless coup, as happened with the Mamlukes, it might stretch credibility, to have rulers and merchants and *slavers* subject to oversight, and even punishment, by the tattooed career slaves who run the bureaucracy and oversee (and enforce) the law with ruthless impartiality.

    If I made a fantasy setting where a bunch of well-meaning PCs rescued a group of slaves from a cruel master, and the slaves went back to that former master and begged for a chance to continue working his fields, it would seem preposterous, and yet that happened, too.

    Reality will always be stranger than fiction, because reality doesn't have to make sense. :)


    So how many of this country's (United States) founding fathers were evil? If you take the position that slavery is always an evil act and does not fall into a morale area to be defined by the individual. (ie. if Paizo just comes out and states it is "evil" to have slavery.)
    You are implying, that various cultures, individuals and institutions through out the history of our own world were/are evil.

    As in; If slavery is absolutely evil, the Thomas Jefferson was an evil man. An evil man who had much to do with the founding of the US.

    Yeah... black and white gets kinda interesting.

    If you want slavery to be evil in your game. Then say it is, simple as that. If Paizo doesn't just say it in print... I'm sure they have there reasons.


    Panguinslayer7 wrote:
    So how many of this country's (United States) founding fathers were evil?

    Well, they were politicians to a man, so I'm gonna say "all of them". ;)


    Evil Lincoln wrote:
    Panguinslayer7 wrote:
    So how many of this country's (United States) founding fathers were evil?
    Well, they were politicians to a man, so I'm gonna say "all of them". ;)

    :rimshot:


    Panguinslayer7 wrote:

    So how many of this country's (United States) founding fathers were evil? If you take the position that slavery is always an evil act and does not fall into a morale area to be defined by the individual. (ie. if Paizo just comes out and states it is "evil" to have slavery.)

    You are implying, that various cultures, individuals and institutions through out the history of our own world were/are evil.

    As in; If slavery is absolutely evil, the Thomas Jefferson was an evil man. An evil man who had much to do with the founding of the US.

    Yeah... black and white gets kinda interesting.

    If you want slavery to be evil in your game. Then say it is, simple as that. If Paizo doesn't just say it in print... I'm sure they have there reasons.

    Non-evil people can participate in evil deeds (this is how you can have neutral clerics of evil deities).

    A broken clock is right twice a day. Even evil beings might on occassion get "lucky" and lay down the foundation of something that will ultimately work out for the good of all.

    Grand Lodge

    Pathfinder Adventure, Lost Omens, Pawns, Rulebook Subscriber
    Set wrote:
    <Egyptian history lesson>

    I see your username is chosen for a reason. :)


    Evil Lincoln wrote:
    Panguinslayer7 wrote:
    So how many of this country's (United States) founding fathers were evil?
    Well, they were politicians to a man, so I'm gonna say "all of them". ;)

    Thread = won. Amusingly, by the OTHER person here with an exceptionally-appropriate alias.

    The Exchange

    Panguinslayer7 wrote:

    So how many of this country's (United States) founding fathers were evil? If you take the position that slavery is always an evil act and does not fall into a morale area to be defined by the individual. (ie. if Paizo just comes out and states it is "evil" to have slavery.)

    You are implying, that various cultures, individuals and institutions through out the history of our own world were/are evil.

    As in; If slavery is absolutely evil, the Thomas Jefferson was an evil man. An evil man who had much to do with the founding of the US.

    Yeah... black and white gets kinda interesting.

    If you want slavery to be evil in your game. Then say it is, simple as that. If Paizo doesn't just say it in print... I'm sure they have there reasons.

    Slavery is always evil...but then in Moores Utopia model it becomes a method of social intergration for enemies of the state. The Utopian model is one of Neutral Slavery - even benevolent authority of a state that regards its enemies as sadly wrong and in need of conversion to the State ideology - as one would care for a sick child - knowing it would never get better. Your children not being Slaves as you have been, rather becoming citizens.

    The Exchange Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 6

    It interests me that slavery often gets rationalized as okay (or at least not leaning towards evil) because decent folks owned slaves at one point. It's also true that it was once considered fine and dandy to rape the women of the people you had defeated, but I don't see anyone arguing that rape isn't an evil act.

    Ownership of another human being as property, where that person has no ability to leave your service, and often no ability to defend themselves against you, is a vile thing. I approve it being in the campaign world. I don't approve of slave ownership being encouraged among the players, and I perosnally find the roleplaying angle of "my slave loves me!" to be absolutely repugnant.

    Also, for whatever reason, non-US slavery often gets cleaned up in the retelling. I suspect this is in part to make our sins seem more exceptional, rather than banal. I noticed thralls got brought up here as a mild form of slavery. Note for example Viking could execute their thralls with no consequence, or those of others with the punishment being mere monetary compensation. And the offsprings of thrall women were in fact thralls themselves, not free.


    Russ Taylor wrote:


    Also, for whatever reason, non-US slavery often gets cleaned up in the retelling. I suspect this is in part to make our sins seem more exceptional, rather than banal. I noticed thralls got brought up here as a mild form of slavery. Note for example Viking could execute their thralls with no consequence, or those of others with the punishment being mere monetary compensation. And the offsprings of thrall women were in fact thralls themselves, not free.

    With all due respect, US-based slavery and most slavery since Portugal started navigating around Africa, has had the additional stink of racism melded with it. Slavery has always had much of an "us vs them" mentality to it whether based on tribe, nation, city-state, or even social class, but when it devolved down to race, I'd say a dubious institution got substantially worse.

    Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8

    Bill Dunn wrote:


    With all due respect, US-based slavery and most slavery since Portugal started navigating around Africa, has had the additional stink of racism melded with it. Slavery has always had much of an "us vs them" mentality to it whether based on tribe, nation, city-state, or even social class, but when it devolved down to race, I'd say a dubious institution got substantially worse.

    Um, so Arabian slavers enslaving Africans somehow didn't have a 'stink of racism?' Brown on Black isn't racisim, but lighten the skin from brown to white and suddenly it's a race issue?

    RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8

    Slavery exists in my homebrew campaign, but it's not portrayed as a good thing (although places where it is legal, people accept it as an institution and part of maintaining the social order, but acceptance does not abstractly mean it's good).

    I agree with the sentiment that one must walk a fine line when depicting slavery or any other similarly controversial institution in a game. It's one thing to reflect, "These fictional fantasy people think this is okay"; it's quite another to reflect, "WE think this is okay." I haven't read much of the Golarion setting stuff but one would hope they've been careful about that, and I expect that they have.

    As regards to slavery's place in PFRPG and ethics/morality as regards it, alignment guidelines are pretty clear:

    Quote:
    Good implies altruism, respect for life, and a concern for the dignity of sentient beings.

    A system where people are considered property--which is what slavery basically is--I do not think can be considered showing "respect for life" or "the dignity of sentient beings." I suppose we could argue semantics and interpretation of "respect" and "dignity" but I really have trouble seeing equating a person to a thing fall into any definition of dignity. Therefore, a slaver or supporter of a slaver is probably not aligned "good" (or has a borderline alignment at best). Whether the person SEES HIMSELF as good is an entirely different matter; most people consider themselves good people, but very few people are really and truly "good" by the definition of the alignment. It's not going to be the alignment on his character sheet, regardless of how he describes his own morals.

    Whether a slave system is neutral or evil may depend on certain factors--if slaves are actively and regularly mistreated, never given an opportunity to obtain citizen rights, etc. I would say that falls under the Evil Alignment's description of "hurting, oppressing, and killing others." If the system in question is a sort of indentured servitude, where someone is considered property (but still not good) but is giving someone a chance toward freedom who would otherwise not have it (frex, a criminal or prisoner of war), and the servant/slave is treated well and is protected by certain regulations, it might be arguably neutral.

    I'd say slavery is usually lawful, as the trade and ownership of slaves is usually part of a well-regulated society and is itself usually fairly strictly regulated; usually people who argue against abolition in a slave-owning society want to maintain the status quo and the social and economic security that the institution provides to some extent. Again, I'm sure there's other situations where this might be argued.


    Matthew Morris wrote:


    Um, so Arabian slavers enslaving Africans somehow didn't have a 'stink of racism?' Brown on Black isn't racisim, but lighten the skin from brown to white and suddenly it's a race issue?

    Was it because of their race or because they were the "other"? When you stop enslaving anybody different and start enslaving specific groups because they are racially inferior, then I think slavery has slid even farther into the mire and acquires the particular stink of racism. If it's equal-opportunity-slavery, such as when the Arabs were taking slaves from eastern Europe, Iberia, Italy, north Africa, and east Africa, then no, I don't think it has that particular pungent odor.

    The Exchange Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 6

    Now see, when I saw the racism comment, I immediately thought of Israel :) Slavery's had racial connotations for a long time.

    Interesting tidbit - one of the poems about Viking thralls describes the original race of thralls as swarthy, dark-haired, and dull-eyed.


    DeathQuaker wrote:
    ...STUFF...

    +1


    Bill Dunn wrote:
    Matthew Morris wrote:


    Um, so Arabian slavers enslaving Africans somehow didn't have a 'stink of racism?' Brown on Black isn't racisim, but lighten the skin from brown to white and suddenly it's a race issue?
    Was it because of their race or because they were the "other"? When you stop enslaving anybody different and start enslaving specific groups because they are racially inferior, then I think slavery has slid even farther into the mire and acquires the particular stink of racism. If it's equal-opportunity-slavery, such as when the Arabs were taking slaves from eastern Europe, Iberia, Italy, north Africa, and east Africa, then no, I don't think it has that particular pungent odor.

    They enslaved anyone whom they could militarily defeat. The Western nations eventually became too powerful for them to continue attacking. They still used the justification of "otherness" just as Europeans and Americans did.

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