Depictions of Slavery in Golarion


Lost Omens Campaign Setting General Discussion

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Feels like the thing about Katapesh should be that you can rent people for whatever purpose, but you can't retain their services indefinitely for a fixed price.


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Wei Ji the Learner wrote:


I've found any 'fun' had in general terms with very FEW outliers as previously noted 'dealing' with slavery of any sort, including 'Company Store' concepts has been weighed heavily against by the 'not-fun' of how such a horrible thing exists, and loosely parallels my workplace environment.

Sure, you can go find a new job! BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

I entirely sympathise with you finding that not-fun. At the same time, I myself am more than a little drawn to empowerment fantasy about bringing the equivalent of the employer for whom I worked 90+ hour weeks for very unreliable remuneration to some sort of account, and it would not work so well for me were the unpleasantness not convincing in the first place. (There is a scene in the last chapter of Hell's Rebels that would work well for that shape of catharsis for me, frex.)


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keftiu wrote:


My personal fix? Make Katapesh /weirder/.

It’s run by aliens. You can buy anything there. Don’t play it as just “endless bazaars full of drug dens and slavers, all run by nefarious foreign-types,” but lean into it being a place where those from other worlds and other planes rub shoulders with the wealthy and desperate alike. Want to hire a Shobhad mercenary? Want to try ‘food’ from Aucturn that gives nightmarish visions? Share tea with a psychopomp?

Which gives me visions of the Pactmasters' place as "interplanetary master traders" bringing them into conflict with the denizens of Leng we canonically know from Legacy of Fire trade in Katapesh betimes. (Or possibly mercane, but I'm not aware of any setting lore giving mercane any characterisation beyond "plot device for players to buy and sell stuff when they are in desolate wilderness" so there is less to connect to.)


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keftiu wrote:


I personally roll my eyes at Andoran, but my solution is to not care about it, the same way I do for almost every part of Avistan. Outside of Sarkoris and Numeria, there’s just not a lot for me on the continent.

Part of why I’m liking 2e’s focus elsewhere so much.

That's how I see it too...

My love of Andoran aside, I am very pleased to see the setting changes that lead to Vidrian, a new democracy with it's own unique history and challenges. Props to Paizo for giving GMs some varied democracies that need preserving/safe guarding options to pick from :)

Now if they can just make the Kelishite equivalent of King Arthur in one of the Satraps of the Empire, I'll be even happier


the nerve-eater of Zur-en-Aarh wrote:
Veradux21 wrote:


I'm not saying that they should have gaps all over, nor that the goals of the APs should not be clear and at least somewhat well guided, but that the DM should be able to bridge those gaps to a reasonable degree. This includes adding slavery if an especially edgy DM just must have slavery in their setting.
There seems to me to be a difference in scale between "we expect DMs to make tactical-scale changes to an AP according to the needs and preferences of their table" and "we have been detailing a major negative social force in our entire campaign world and that is about to vanish."

If that's the argument, I'd say anyone asserting that needs to believe in themselves more as an effective DM. we all have the potential to improve, but making a change to a setting (even a significant one) when you have some prep time is not impossible.

We suspend our disbelief in an incredible degree to actually play, so why not try for the removal of something as abhorrent as slavery?

Have that conversation with your players if they're concerned with the sudden lack of peoples being sold. Or just leave it in, it's your table.

Just look at this thread though, between a few folks we've already brainstormed an easy solution for Katapesh eliminating it's slave trade in a relatively reasonable and easily implementable way.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
the nerve-eater of Zur-en-Aarh wrote:
Veradux21 wrote:


I'm not saying that they should have gaps all over, nor that the goals of the APs should not be clear and at least somewhat well guided, but that the DM should be able to bridge those gaps to a reasonable degree. This includes adding slavery if an especially edgy DM just must have slavery in their setting.
There seems to me to be a difference in scale between "we expect DMs to make tactical-scale changes to an AP according to the needs and preferences of their table" and "we have been detailing a major negative social force in our entire campaign world and that is about to vanish."

It's not "about to vanish" it's just not going to be focused on. It will be like any number of things that just don't get focused on in Adventures and campaign setting books. Just because we don't have any focus on Kyonin doesn't mean it doesn't exist in the world.


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Veradux21 wrote:
the nerve-eater of Zur-en-Aarh wrote:


There seems to me to be a difference in scale between "we expect DMs to make tactical-scale changes to an AP according to the needs and preferences of their table" and "we have been detailing a major negative social force in our entire campaign world and that is about to vanish."

If that's the argument, I'd say anyone asserting that needs to believe in themselves more as an effective DM. we all have the potential to improve, but making a change to a setting (even a significant one) when you have some prep time is not impossible.

I am reasonably confident in myself as an effective DM, thank you. One part of how I care about being that is having high (possibly excessively so) standards for consistency and coherency in the fantastic worlds I present, and it is pleasing to be able to deliver that for players who feel likewise.


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the nerve-eater of Zur-en-Aarh wrote:
Kobold Catgirl wrote:
I literally always thought Katapesh's thing was "pure free markets, pure capitalism", and never even heard that it had a notable enslavement problem until these debates started.
There does seem to me to be a verisimilitude issue with a "pure capitalism uber alles" society not having a slave trade, in a setting where there are potential customers for slaves among the unquestionably evil (and Evil).

I should probably add, I personally would cheer loudly if Golarion lore were to go in a direction of reclassifying "pure free market capitalism" as Evil, but that does not seem a plausible development to me from here.


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the nerve-eater of Zur-en-Aarh wrote:
Veradux21 wrote:
the nerve-eater of Zur-en-Aarh wrote:


There seems to me to be a difference in scale between "we expect DMs to make tactical-scale changes to an AP according to the needs and preferences of their table" and "we have been detailing a major negative social force in our entire campaign world and that is about to vanish."

If that's the argument, I'd say anyone asserting that needs to believe in themselves more as an effective DM. we all have the potential to improve, but making a change to a setting (even a significant one) when you have some prep time is not impossible.

I am reasonably confident in myself as an effective DM, thank you. One part of how I care about being that is having high (possibly excessively so) standards for consistency and coherency in the fantastic worlds I present, and it is pleasing to be able to deliver that for players who feel likewise.

Then I'd refer you back to my "suspend your disbelief" point. Continuity is what Erik specifically called out in his response. Customer preference changes, acceptable content changes.

Racism was okay back in the day, today it's not. That's not a bad thing, that's progress, that's society changing to things that we are recognizing as flawed.

Just because we aren't releasing Song of the South 2 doesn't mean that we should be upset that Hollywood isn't being consistent.


Cori Marie wrote:
It's not "about to vanish" it's just not going to be focused on. It will be like any number of things that just don't get focused on in Adventures and campaign setting books. Just because we don't have any focus on Kyonin doesn't mean it doesn't exist in the world.

Kyonin as one limited and notably isolationist region, being taken out of focus seems to me a different thing from doing the same to a formerly widespread component across a large number of cultures and locations, in a way that leaves a number of unambiguously heroic organisations dedicated to opposing that particular evil without focus. The latter has much broader impact.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
the nerve-eater of Zur-en-Aarh wrote:
Cori Marie wrote:
It's not "about to vanish" it's just not going to be focused on. It will be like any number of things that just don't get focused on in Adventures and campaign setting books. Just because we don't have any focus on Kyonin doesn't mean it doesn't exist in the world.
Kyonin as one limited and notably isolationist region, being taken out of focus seems to me a different thing from doing the same to a formerly widespread component across a large number of cultures and locations, in a way that leaves a number of unambiguously heroic organisations dedicated to opposing that particular evil without focus. The latter has much broader impact.

Kyonin was a singular example. There are a number of things that the company doesn't have time to focus on, or that were the pet projects of people that aren't with the company anymore and have since fallen by the wayside. Just because the threads aren't getting picked up doesn't mean they suddenly don't exist. It just means that if it's something you want to address in your home game? It's on you to do. Erik Mona isn't going to kick down your front door and take away your books. They just aren't going to be putting out a specific adventure to support you with it. But that's the joy of GMing, it's your table, your world. Do what you want.


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I just want to say, Zur-en-Aarh, I appreciate you taking the time to acknowledge your own limited experiences (which I share) and the validity of those who want to avoid the subject. Not everybody who's criticized Erik Mona's post has seemed willing to do that.

I don't entirely agree or disagree with your points, as someone who personally enjoys empowerment narratives but regularly needs to respect the boundaries of those who don't. I do think that large-scale PFS events are a fairly clear point for "maybe not here though", and I think it's worth considering that after trying and failing so many times--and making slavery such a common "cheap backdrop" in Golarion for so long--it might be best to simply give it a rest for a while.

(I also think, as long as we're talking about what the company is obligated to do/what's "their place, it's good to remember that Paizo is a business and appealing to a wider common denominator is always going to be the bottom line goal. If slavery in the setting is driving some players away, it makes good business sense to deemphasize it as a plot point.)

(As somebody who kind of misses the days of ample Pathfinder fanservice, I too know the frustration of seeing "mainstream appeal" come at the expense of a problematic-but-nuanced element of the product. But in this case, I think it's a bit more understandable.)


Kobold Catgirl wrote:

I just want to say, Zur-en-Aarh, I appreciate you taking the time to acknowledge your own limited experiences (which I share) and the validity of those who want to avoid the subject.

Thank you. I do feel there are points here worth making, that I care about, and that would be awfully easy to conflate with some obnoxious things I do not endorse or wish to appear to endorse at all, and I am glad I seem to be doing reasonably well at maintaining the distinction.

(I also continue to be extremely glad that Golarion has nothing resembling a fantasy Ireland in it, because that would be right in the middle of my life experience, and fantasy takes on Ireland (except those written by one specific Northern Irish writer, Ian McDonald) are in my experience uniformly terrible, in all sorts of ways.)

Quote:

I do think that large-scale PFS events are a fairly clear point for "maybe not here though",

Agreed entirely.


nerve-eater wrote:
and fantasy takes on Ireland are in my experience uniformly terrible, in all sorts of ways.

oh I think you posted an angry story on one of my stories once


I don't think it's the same as calling for individual GMs to do it, considering Pathfinder Infinite carries published content.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
Cori Marie wrote:
It's not "about to vanish" it's just not going to be focused on. It will be like any number of things that just don't get focused on in Adventures and campaign setting books. Just because we don't have any focus on Kyonin doesn't mean it doesn't exist in the world.

Could we get one of the developers to clarify this? Is slavery going to stop existing as an institution in Golarion, or is it just something that's not going to be talked about? If the latter, then that's a change that's a lot easier to work with. If the former, I've got a follow-up question.

For people who try to keep their own campaigns synchronous with official Golarion (giving that impression of a living, breathing world that changes around you as you adventure, without your direct involvement), how would you recommend we do this? With slavery the way it is in the Inner Sea, it seems like nothing short of a pretty major event is going to end that practice. When GMs are tasked with deciding what that event should be, they're going to be writing a lot of important history that is not in Golarion's official history. Because of that, it will likely be inevitable that an individual canon will diverge from official canon in a pretty significant way, beyond what will generally be expected from regular campaigns. This has the effect of making it pretty hard to balance making a cohesive history in the Inner Sea while also keeping it as close to canon as possible.

So I guess my question is...do you have any advice for how we should go about doing this? What plot elements do you plan to repurpose for other stories, and what threads are safe for us to use how we like? What do you think would be necessary for slavery in the Inner Sea to end, and do you have any basic scenarios you can describe that we can follow that would have a minimal risk of creating drastic changes between our own Golarion and yours?

Thanks for your time.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Opsylum wrote:

Could we get one of the developers to clarify this? Is slavery going to stop existing as an institution in Golarion, or is it just something that's not going to be talked about? If the latter, then that's a change that's a lot easier to work with. If the former, I've got a follow-up question.

It's the latter. We've got no shortage of other plots to explore going forward, and won't be using slavery as elements of those stories. This is a good thing, and it's something I'm glad we're doing, and am grateful for the change.


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
James Jacobs wrote:
Opsylum wrote:

Could we get one of the developers to clarify this? Is slavery going to stop existing as an institution in Golarion, or is it just something that's not going to be talked about? If the latter, then that's a change that's a lot easier to work with. If the former, I've got a follow-up question.

It's the latter. We've got no shortage of other plots to explore going forward, and won't be using slavery as elements of those stories. This is a good thing, and it's something I'm glad we're doing, and am grateful for the change.

Thanks James, that's great to hear. Super excited to see where ya'll take this. Adventures ahead!


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James Jacobs wrote:
Opsylum wrote:

Could we get one of the developers to clarify this? Is slavery going to stop existing as an institution in Golarion, or is it just something that's not going to be talked about? If the latter, then that's a change that's a lot easier to work with. If the former, I've got a follow-up question.

It's the latter. We've got no shortage of other plots to explore going forward, and won't be using slavery as elements of those stories. This is a good thing, and it's something I'm glad we're doing, and am grateful for the change.

I'm hoping this opens the Golden Road up to some fresh themes and plotlines, as the whole region is pretty mired in being rife with it.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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keftiu wrote:
I'm hoping this opens the Golden Road up to some fresh themes and plotlines, as the whole region is pretty mired in being rife with it.

No plans to do much with the Golden Road anytime soon, but there are absolutely a lot of compelling stories to tell there for sure.


James Jacobs wrote:
keftiu wrote:
I'm hoping this opens the Golden Road up to some fresh themes and plotlines, as the whole region is pretty mired in being rife with it.
No plans to do much with the Golden Road anytime soon, but there are absolutely a lot of compelling stories to tell there for sure.

Perfectly happy to wait until it can be done right! I think it needs some revision almost as dearly as the Mwangi did, but it's gotta be tough to build up the right creative roster for such a thing.

Looking forward to whatever is coming soon!


James Jacobs wrote:
Opsylum wrote:

Could we get one of the developers to clarify this? Is slavery going to stop existing as an institution in Golarion, or is it just something that's not going to be talked about? If the latter, then that's a change that's a lot easier to work with. If the former, I've got a follow-up question.

It's the latter. We've got no shortage of other plots to explore going forward, and won't be using slavery as elements of those stories. This is a good thing, and it's something I'm glad we're doing, and am grateful for the change.

James, thank you very much for your input and hopefully it'll help put this to bed.

Looking forward to more of your folks' work.


*P.S. Thank you for the info James. As always good to know some of the thought that goes behind the books.

Keep up the great work.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Kobold Catgirl wrote:
I very seldom play in long-term gaming groups with "random GMs". Generally, I think I try to maintain a certain degree of trust with the people I spend time with--trust that is easier to form with an individual I see regularly than a distant company, even one like Paizo that I usually hold in very high regard.

I 100% agree with this sentiment. Playing RPGs is a great way to meet new friends, but I'm SO much more comfortable playing RPGs with people I already know to be friends.


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I like conventions a lot (and miss them like crazy), but honestly, they've always been a mixed bag. It can be pretty stressful to realize you're playing with someone who you would probably rather avoid the rest of the year. But at least that's just a one-time thing. I can't imagine playing in a long-term game with a GM I didn't trust to care about my feelings.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

My take on it at this point is this.

Paizo has written a lot of lore and adventures involving slavery. Many of them have been troubling and problematic to the audiences that Paizo is trying to include. Aspects of the Transatlantic slave trade got brought into the setting in incredibly thoughtless and light hearted ways that has really upset some people.

Trying to correct that has led to more problems than it has solved.

Meanwhile, focusing on making the setting richer and deeper beyond the ways it can serve as fodder for colonial exploration fetishes has gone over really well and created a much more positive experience for everyone, including those who were harmed by the original depiction. Let's encourage doing more of that, and letting the world of Golarion grow richer and more vibrant without trying to center narratives of slavery told from the perspective of those profiteering off its existence.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Kobold Catgirl wrote:
I like conventions a lot (and miss them like crazy), but honestly, they've always been a mixed bag. It can be pretty stressful to realize you're playing with someone who you would probably rather avoid the rest of the year.

My experience with conventions is about 99.3% as someone who has to work at them, and as such, I've never really had the luxury to enjoy them as a hobby and jump into games without feeling like it's work, so I'm kinda jealous of you there. But not TOO jealous, since crowds terrified me even before covid showed up.

That said, the chances I got to run Pathifnder, Call of Cthulhu, and Unspeakable Futures for folks at Paizocon were my favorite times at any convention anywhere, and I do miss that. I hope some day that element of Paizocon comes back, since it's really really really really nice to be able to "unplug" from work and remember that we make games meant to be played at a convention.

Silver Crusade

the nerve-eater of Zur-en-Aarh wrote:

fantasy takes on Ireland (except those written by one specific Northern Irish writer, Ian McDonald) are in my experience uniformly terrible, in all sorts of ways.)

This is definitely off topic for this thread, so if you DO reply perhaps you could make another thread? (It seemed a bit off for me to make a thread with just a question).

I'm curious why you say this. There are quite a few fantasy takes on Ireland (both fiction and RPGs) that seem to me to be fairly true to the Irish myths that inspired them (especially the Ulster Cycle)

Grand Lodge

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James Jacobs wrote:
That said, the chances I got to run Pathifnder, Call of Cthulhu, and Unspeakable Futures for folks at Paizocon were my favorite times at any convention anywhere, and I do miss that. I hope some day that element of Paizocon comes back, since it's really really really really nice to be able to "unplug" from work and remember that we make games meant to be played at a convention.

Some of the best games I've ever had.

Silver Crusade

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Temperans wrote:
Let's be honest, a random GM trying to add slavery will 100% have a higher chance of triggering someone that Paizo doing their due diligence to show it properly.

I vehemently disagree, assuming the random GM is writing a campaign for players that he knows. Which is what the vast majority of us random GMs do, we create campaigns with actual known players in mind, players that we generally know at least a fair bit about.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Funny enough I tend to find it easier to add things that I want (or alter things) then outright take something away from published material. That may just be a quirk of how I approach aventure paths and material though.


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James Jacobs wrote:
Kobold Catgirl wrote:
I like conventions a lot (and miss them like crazy), but honestly, they've always been a mixed bag. It can be pretty stressful to realize you're playing with someone who you would probably rather avoid the rest of the year.

My experience with conventions is about 99.3% as someone who has to work at them, and as such, I've never really had the luxury to enjoy them as a hobby and jump into games without feeling like it's work, so I'm kinda jealous of you there. But not TOO jealous, since crowds terrified me even before covid showed up.

That said, the chances I got to run Pathifnder, Call of Cthulhu, and Unspeakable Futures for folks at Paizocon were my favorite times at any convention anywhere, and I do miss that. I hope some day that element of Paizocon comes back, since it's really really really really nice to be able to "unplug" from work and remember that we make games meant to be played at a convention.

Monetizing your hobbies can suck sometimes. The work becomes fun, which is nice, but the fun becomes work. Which is less. :(

For me, conventions were this incredibly magical thing. I'd never really been able to play in-person before then, and I got some really good games the first year, and PaizoCon was still small enough that I was running into faces I knew like The Eldritch Mr. Shiny and Erik Mona--it was really something new for me. A lot of years since haven't quite recaptured that feeling, but I think my last really joyful year was when PFO was still in full swing, and I ended up hanging out with a bunch of the PFO crowd and getting lunch with them.

That probably means I should be more proactive about arranging hangout time and stuff, huh.


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I've never seen a thing where people where essentially mandating that the paizo creative team HAS to write about a thing that they don't want to write about.


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pixierose wrote:
Funny enough I tend to find it easier to add things that I want (or alter things) then outright take something away from published material. That may just be a quirk of how I approach aventure paths and material though.

Same. When something is integral to the setting it's really awkward to try to strip away and keep things cohesive, whereas I don't find it too hard to tack an idea on.

Scarab Sages

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Dancing Wind wrote:
Temperans wrote:
It would solve so many issues.
Not publishing problematic content in the first place solves a lot more.

All content is problematic to someone. Not every adventure is right for every group, hence the need for session zeroes.

The consensus that slavery shouldn't be featured ever seems brand new to me. Did anyone here ever post criticism of Age of Ashes or Lost Omens Legends before this week? Or are there just a lot of recent converts?

Liberty's Edge

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NECR0G1ANT wrote:
The consensus that slavery shouldn't be featured ever seems brand new to me. Did anyone here ever post criticism of Age of Ashes or Lost Omens Legends before this week? Or are there just a lot of recent converts?

/shrug

As long as I've been around I haven't actually seen ANY real public criticism of it on these forums other than one or two instances where it was questioned why it was by RAW allowed for PFS (after which time it was eliminated) so I imagine if they have been getting feedback about it making people uncomfortable I have to imagine nearly all of it came in the form of direct emails, consultation they paid for by sensitivity readers, organized play leadership communications, and direct feedback they received from their freelancers who were tasked with writing content pertaining to the subject.

Maybe I've just not been looking in the right places, at the right times to notice it, or it has just been a personal blindspot.

Honestly, I think that's a big reason why so many people have been taken aback by the move as it seems to be rather sudden for the far-reaching implications it has for the setting, adventures, and lore that they are invested in producing here-forward.


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I'm not part of that consensus. I just think it's a reasonable choice for Paizo to make. I have the humility to recognize that my experiences are limited and listen to those who are more affected by the issue.

Remember that you're the agitating force right now. You're the ones saying Paizo is obligated to print more slavery content. All we're saying, fundamentally, is, "Eh, we're good."

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