Slavery in the Known World
From the Mystara Mailing List posted 09 December 1999.
What is a slave?
A slave is a person who is another persons property. There may be laws protecting slaves, but usually the fate of a slave is in the hands of his master. In most cultures there are ways for a slave to gain freedom, either for himself or for his children.
Slaves in the Real World
Slavery has at one point or another existed in most Real World cultures. Slavery in Mystara should be similar to what once existed in R/W Greece, The Roman Empire or Scandinavia(Norway, Denmark and Sweden). Slavery in the southern American States before the Civil War were of a very different nature than in earlier cultures because:
1) Capitalist economy. This meant that slaves were much more of an economic resource than ever before. The economic aspect prevented slave owners of freeing slaves since it would mean an economic burden to them.
2) Industrialisation. This is linked to the above. Because of industrialisation, there was a great demand of raw materials. This meant that the need for cheap labour was great and huge numbers of slaves meant a greater distance between slave and master and thus more room for cruelty.
3) Racism. In earlier cultures race had little to do with who could be considered a slave. This made it easier for a slave to gain freedom and a slave could much easier fit into society. Also, there was always a risk of slaves rebelling and turning their former masters into slaves.
Slave Nations in the Known World.
(The below is mostly a summary of various posts on the list)
Slaves are common. They are usually servants performing various tasks for their masters. A large numbers of slaves is a symbol of status. No more than 15 slaves are recommended, but many break this limit. It is considered a virtue to be kind to your slave. On the other hand, having disobedient slaves could mean a loss of face. Slaves are taken from colonies, especially in Northern Davania. Slaves are often freed to gain invaluable allies. A slave that you have freed owes you his freedom and usually won't stab you in the back.
The Northern Reaches.
Thralls are found in Ostland and Soderfjord. They are usually personal servants or farm workers. Slaves are taken in raids on other nations. Slaves are often freed if they show loyalty and hard work.
Slavery is not illegal, but rare. Ethengars never use other Ethengars as slaves.
Darokin has no slaves, but rather indentured servants. All slaves imported to Darokin are given a contract of a certain amount of years that they have to work before gaining their freedom.
Slavery is legal, but extremely rare.
Several Principalities allow slavery.
Elves do not understand the concept. Freedom is taken for granted.
Humans are often used as slaves as are any other creature.
Dwarves from upon slavery. Work is the privilege of the free! Criminals are forced into farming.
Slavery is rare, but does occur.
Any takes on Minrothad and Ierendi?
Farmers are serfs. Not much different from slaves. Some eccentric knights keep slaves which they have imported from Hattias.
Slavery is legal, but not very common.
Slavery is illegal. Any slave imported is considered a freeman. Slavery exists within the Black Eagle Barony and many freemen of Karameikos are kidnapped and sold into slavery. Slaves are one of the biggest exports of the Black Eagle Barony.
Slavery is not a common institution in Sind.