How does an adventurer keep a slave from escaping?


Lost Omens Campaign Setting General Discussion


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Hypothetical scenario. PCs are in Cheliax, and one decides he just has to have a Halfling to make camp, mend tools and clothes, and such. So he buys one. Now what? While adventuring, how do you keep a slave obedient and prevent escape? What do you do with the slave in combat? Where in the Inner Sea do you need to stay away from?

Dark Archive

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I just let them think they are fellow party members.


For the former it's fairly easy to look to real history. It requires one to be indescribably evil and constantly reinforcing the slave's mental status quo are being less than the owner. Anything less will result in constant escape attempts, and even then they likely will try to run away.

In combat a slave will never be effective unless their position is fairly static like a shield wall, or there is constant threat of physical violence from the master like a Soviet commissar with a machine gun.

You should probably stay away from anywhere with any sort of good aligned beings as even in places that tolerate slavery there will be abolitionists unless slavery is ingrained into every aspect of day to day life. Your DM should also really have every paladin that encounters you attempt to free the slave, and if you resist kill you. As owning a slave is an actively evil act, so a paladin not interfering is essentially the same as letting someone get away with murder in front of them. Your PC will also obviously have to be evil and thus have all the other penalties that come with that.

Liberty's Edge

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Better tell your 'friend' to watch his back, for the rest of his miserable life.

Nowhere is safe for those who consider us chattel.


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Yeah halflings are much better for use as small sized ghoul scouts.

Another piece of food for thought, you character is pretty much objectively more evil than the necromancer that just creates mindless undead.


Depends. Is this slavery as practiced in the American South, as practiced by the Roman Republic/Empire, is the opinion of the owner influential over the treatment of the slave and in what way, is the slave willing or unwilling, or what? Depending on the type of slavery and slave, options range from the mundane to the highly magical (e.g. a geas or similar magical restraint). In short, more detail is needed.


If you treat the slave well, depending on his pre-slave status, the might not want to leave. Basically convince him that he is better off with you than not being with you.


Just level with him, explain to him that you will treat him decent and keep him safe. so many dangers out there in the wild after all


Lay down a head of a giant you've slain in front of him and stare wide-eyed right into him. He'll get the picture.

Grand Lodge

Best stay away from Andoran (where your slave will go free and you'll be, if you're lucky, jailed until they deport you) and the River Kingdoms (where locals of any allegiance will just lynch you).


Alleran wrote:
Depends. Is this slavery as practiced in the American South, as practiced by the Roman Republic/Empire, is the opinion of the owner influential over the treatment of the slave and in what way, is the slave willing or unwilling, or what? Depending on the type of slavery and slave, options range from the mundane to the highly magical (e.g. a geas or similar magical restraint). In short, more detail is needed.

He said Cheliax so pretty much Roman. The owner (Dominar) can kill slaves at anytime and slaves are taken from poorer client culture to the main in power culture. They don't have any high demand expensive slaves like the Romans did with the Greeks though so it's unlikely that anyone ever willingly sells themselves into slavery and as it is almost entirely race based escaped slaves are easy to identify much like with the various Germanic slaves that couldn't speak Latin. Unless you were trying to imply a fairytale "happy Roman slavery" that didn't really exist, in which case I should specify that it's fascist slavery.

To get the American South's slavery you'd need some sort of capitalist nation that also allows slavery, or at the very least a nation that grants a lot of autonomous power to its minor nobility. So maybe Geb for capitalist chattel slavery? Though I'd assume in a lot of Geb they treat the living more like slaves were treated in the Carribean, Brazil, and Colonial Africa which is to say essentially concentration work camp inmates, as replacing slaves was more cost efficient that allowing them to slow down work enough to survive.


Induce Stockholm Syndrome.


Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

He was pretty clear this is Cheliax/halfling type of slavery... Here's the thing. Most slaves - from earlier times to even modern sex slaves - stay where they're told to. Why?

1. You try to escape and you might get beat/something cut off/mauled by dogs/etc. Is it worth the risk?

2. You're going to escape to where? This isn't traveling in Andoran, this is in Cheliax. A random halfling wandering into town will get arrested and beaten into telling where the master he escaped from is. He's going to be wearing slave clothing, jewelry, haircut, etc. Depending on where you travel, you may have to keep a sharper eye; obviously you can't go places where slavery's outlawed without risk (there's many other threads with that list of countries in it). But heck, what does a slave know? How does he know that this mythical place you're traveling in that he's never even heard of before would just as soon turn him on or boil his eyeballs as liberate him? "Andorens, yeah, boy they really love to torture halflings to death, stay close lad..." If you're out in the middle of Varisia in Shoanti territory, you're going to run off to be dragged to death behind the horse of the first brave to find you?

3. Once you escape, even if not rounded up or die from direct hazard - yay, now you're penniless? Starving to death etc. is a real thing. You're going to get a job where? You're going to find some land you're allowed to live on where? From American slavery to the modern day fall of the USSR, the "suddenly free" often end up somewhat regretting it when the hard times come.

People get used to things. Slaves get used to their station, and settle into "well, I'm getting fed and clothed and protected... I'm actually doing better than most of these dirt farmers we're riding by..." In Rome a master could kill a slave immediately, but some slaves were still very esteemed and highly placed due to their education etc...

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber

... with manacles?


Alex Smith 908 wrote:

Yeah halflings are much better for use as small sized ghoul scouts.

Another piece of food for thought, you character is pretty much objectively more evil than the necromancer that just creates mindless undead.

"Objectively evil", like there is such a thing.


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RMcD wrote:
"Objectively evil", like there is such a thing.

Moral relativism is really the worst philosophy. It is almost universally used as an excuse do disregard the well being of others for the sake of personal gain.

To actually answer the question though yes there is such a thing. Any conversation about morality must have some baseline of common right and wrong or else the conversation is meaningless. If you don't want to participate that's fine, but going "well it's okay for people to practice slavery because your morality doesn't apply to me man" is completely unproductive. It's just perpetuating societal abuse and exploitative status quos because you want to be edgy.


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RMcD wrote:
Alex Smith 908 wrote:

Yeah halflings are much better for use as small sized ghoul scouts.

Another piece of food for thought, you character is pretty much objectively more evil than the necromancer that just creates mindless undead.

"Objectively evil", like there is such a thing.

Whatever the philosophical debate on the nature of evil in the real world, in Pathfinder there is very definitely such a thing.

There are even devices to detect it. We call them "paladins".


- Buy manacles
- weld them shut with the slave attached so they can not be opened again. Ever.
- Chain the manacles to your military saddle

During travel the slave has to follow your mount. If he stumbles, he dies. During the night the slave will be too weak to run off with the heavy saddle. A normal military saddle weighs 30lbs, an exotic one 40lbs. Combined with the manacles and chain it's a lot to carry during an escape attempt.

If you have more than one slave have them stand in a row and tell them: If one of you misbehaves I'll punish the one who is now standing to your right. So if you want to keep your fingers, tongue and such keep the one to your left from misbehaving.

Or what wraithstrike said.

Liberty's Edge

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"How do halflings know where these safe havens are?"

Oh, they know, all right. They know. We make sure of that.

Bellflower Road

(to the tune of 'The Ghost of Tom Joad')

Men bein’ whipped along a beaten track
Road map carved in the scars on their backs
Foreman and his thugs watchin’ from the ridge
Cold gruel for a banquet under the bridge
New meat brought from over the border
“Welcome to the Hellknight Order”
Families missin' their kin, from East to West
For them, there is no peace, no rest

The highway is alive tonight
With tales and songs, from the ones we’re taking home.
I'm writin’ this song by the wayfinder light
Ridin' on the Bellflower Road

Garik tells me he came from Andoran
“I did honest work with these two hands.
I built the alms houses for the old folk in need.
The Thrunes made me build temples to their greed.”
“I was a nurse to their squalling brat.
Wiped their arses, when they were too fat.”
“I cooked for a man, of unnatural lust,
I left him a eunuch, in the dust.”

The highway is alive tonight
With people returnin’ to the places they need to go.
I’m sittin’ here in my covered hide,
Guardin' along the Bellflower Road

Now, before you call anyone ‘slip’, Mister, you best think.
Could I have ‘slipped’ a little somethin’ in your drink?
When you’re shaved, could a razor ‘slip’ from ear to ear?
Before you beat a child, better check if I’m near.
You can spend your life, in fear, lookin’ over your back,
Chained to your sins, on your own rack,
Or you can accept people’s right to be free,
Do the right thing… before you see me.

The horizon is a welcome sight
As we wave our new-found friends to their lands and homes.
I watch them a while in the pale moonlight,
Then set off back down Bellflower Road.

Shadow Lodge

Remove his feet.


Make it obvious that he depends on them for protection. Depending on where they are, there might be nowhere he could go if he escapes.

Or just treat him well. Maybe even start paying him a measly amount, though he wouldn't be a slave. Though by higher levels, paying someone an unskilled laborer's wage is a drop in the bucket.

Places that don't need to be avoided would probably consist of:

Absalom
Cheliax
Irrisen
Jalmeray
Katapesh
Molthune
Osirion
Qadira
Rahadoum
Sargava
Shackles
Kaer Maga

So that's a pretty sizable list. No reason you couldn't keep this adventure in Cheliax.

Also not if the player wants to have the slave participate in combat in any meaningful way, they will need to invest in them to keep them effective.


The Shackles are iffy. There are halfling pirates that work to free slaves.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Kelsey MacAilbert wrote:
Hypothetical scenario. PCs are in Cheliax, and one decides he just has to have a Halfling to make camp, mend tools and clothes, and such. So he buys one. Now what? While adventuring, how do you keep a slave obedient and prevent escape? What do you do with the slave in combat? Where in the Inner Sea do you need to stay away from?

1.There are basically only two ways.

A. Make them fear your brutality so much that you cow their spirit so they don't even THINK of trying to run. This tends to be more feasible in a settled down scenario where the slave has to break out of not only your home but a whole country full of people just eager to collect a bounty on a runaway slave.

B. Convince them that they are better off serving you than trying to make it on their own. This pretty much requires that the slave in question have little to no useful skills beyond being your domestic.

2. Adventure only in areas so dangerous that the slave is convinced that they would be killed the instant they leave in your protection. This does not work if the slave is convinced that death would be preferable to your service. As far as combat goes it's a problem, the more you equip a slave to defend themselves, the more you give them an option on your back.

3. Just about everywhere that that a person can get themselves lost in a crowd. Also the rather obvious anti-slavery regions, i.e. Andoran, Kyonin, (if your slave is a full elf), and any of those places that say that slaves are free on entering their borders.

What you have to do is to buy an abject slave whose spirit has been broken and body abused from the worst most abusive master that you can find. And convince him that service under you is preferable to being a fugitive that may wind up being dragged back to his old master. Convince him that you are a nicer guy... even if you have to lie about it. And live with the fact that as long as you insist on keeping a slave in places and circumstances where you don't have guards to enforce your will, your neck may rely on keeping him cowed.


Respect and love your halfling more than your dog, give it a little freedom to pursue its artistic aptitude and remember give it a praise, when it tries to impress you. That makes it happy and it will love you back and follow you everywhere by its own will.

Shadow Lodge

STart by removing one foot. Tell the slave that every time.you catch him attempting to escape, you will remove another appendage.

Name him Hoppy Half-Man.


RMcD wrote:
Alex Smith 908 wrote:

Yeah halflings are much better for use as small sized ghoul scouts.

Another piece of food for thought, you character is pretty much objectively more evil than the necromancer that just creates mindless undead.

"Objectively evil", like there is such a thing.

Well, in my opinion, slavery is an always evil act. There are varying degrees of severity, in that enslaving prisoners of war is not on the same level as chattel slavery, but it is a bad thing to do. I have no illusions that I'm suggesting a non-evil deed in this thread. I'm just curious as to the logistics of how such a thing would work.


Shadowborn wrote:
The Shackles are iffy. There are halfling pirates that work to free slaves.

Depends on where you are or go in the Shackles, and the halfling pirates might not be entirely on the "up and up" these days.

Spoiler:
"Ugly muttering in taverns across the Shackles alleges that Raffles' [Jolis Raffles, halfling pirate captain leading the free-the-slaves movement] attitude towards slavery has shifted considerably. His fleet still plagues the shipping lanes of Chelish slavers up north, but those liberated individuals who decline the offer to join his enterprise in the Shackles are said to be sold back into bondage, with Raffles himself pocketing a tidy profit from the exchange. The normally affable halfling flies into frightening rages when such rumours reach him, and thus no one has yet dared to directly question his furtive actions." ~Isles of the Shackles, page 7.

"While slavery is tolerated in the Shackles, and even enthusiastically supported in some ports, the rambunctious docks and streets of Port Peril carry a mood of tension when the black ships with yellow sails come to port. Though it's a rare occurrence, at least once each decade the denizens of Leng come calling and put in to Port Peril to trade in choice slaves." ~From Hell's Heart, page 57.


Kerdak Bonefist has his first mate (Tsadok Goldtooth), a freed slave, but at the same time has a special deal with the denizens of Leng regarding slaves.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Kelsey Arwen MacAilbert wrote:


"Objectively evil", like there is such a thing.

In the context of the game, there is. And that's where we are in a game context, not philosophical or real life.


If it is a halfling you want to keep, a dungeon ring/prisoner ring pair is a pretty cheap solution.

Scarab Sages

Kelsey Arwen MacAilbert wrote:
Well, in my opinion, slavery is an always evil act. There are varying degrees of severity, in that enslaving prisoners of war is not on the same level as chattel slavery, but it is a bad thing to do. I have no illusions that I'm suggesting a non-evil deed in this thread. I'm just curious as to the logistics of how such a thing would work.

Just in case this thread goes down an alignment-debate rabbit-hole, and gets locked, I want to say I have no problem with any player wanting to try out an occasional evil PC, as long as, like you, they are in no denial that that's what they're doing, and if they can do so in a way that doesn't disrupt the game or make it miserable for the other players.

When I post under an alias, it's almost always in-character, so while my abolitionist agitator above would happily poke out your slaver PC's eyes with a rusty spoon, I'd have no problem with you, personally.

And I'd let you play that PC alongside any of mine, as long as we had a player-to-player agreement, that neither of us would get butthurt by any in-character rivalry. It can be fun to play a team of misfits, who loathe each other, but have to work against the bigger threat.

"So, Cardinal Fang...the Dark Lord is no more."
"Indeed. And I no longer have to suffer a maggot like you, now you are surplus to requirements."
"It is a good thing that healing I gave you was only temporary. Should be wearing off any second. You got cut a few more times after, didn't you?"
"Gah! Curse your sudden, but inevitable betrayal!"

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