Author Topic: Zalanthan Slavery is not the same as historical slavery  (Read 3085 times)

Anonymous

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Zalanthan Slavery is not the same as historical slavery
« on: December 16, 2002, 04:11:20 PM »
One of my earliest characters with any meaning in life ended up having four or five slaves.

In retrospect while I worked hard to keep them entertained, I still ran the same old
overbearing taskmaster of a slave owner who's slaves couldn't fart without permission.

Honestly, I think I was wrong to do that and I think that people who play that way are
ruining the slave role.  I know most seem to play it out that way.  Granted, there are
exclusions, but I've observed that to be the norm.

If the slave role was redefined, I think it would make for *great* fun for all involved.

First, look at all the slaves wandering around Zalanthas.  Sure they have to wear dahrad
pants and carry stuff around, but they are fed and safe.  What commoner would want
more?

With very few exceptions I'd think runaway slaves just wouldn't happen.  Under extreme
circumstances, absolutely.  But especially races/people who have been slaves their
whole life, you become conditioned to a certain way of life which actually becomes
a comfort to you.  Like prison life.  Some just can't function without it after becoming
institutionalized and eventually they come to fear life without it.

Getting back to my earlier point, a slave<->master relationship that was more Zalanthian
and less south of the dixon line would make for great play I think.

Mainly because of the trust that should be automatic.  The slave needs their owners to
survive.  Their owners need the slaves to do different work for them.  So imagine the
slave with buff-ass assassin skills whose devotion is not in question to his master.

Well, first that slave wouldn't be locked in a chamber with nothing to do but sweep the
floor.  Instead he'd be given full priveleges their masters chambers and estates/homes,
and often tasked with different jobs that only the slave could be trusted with.

On the flip side the slave would not have a clear idea of self.  Moreover, they would have
instant RP at their fingertips as the feelings of self would be replaced by devotion to a
master.  Released from the worry and responsibility of their own being they would be
able to attempt things that would make others flinch with fear, all because of their
conditioned loyalty to their master.

I'm not saying something like this has never happened, but it doesn't happen enough.  A
slave should be viewed as an extension of the master, not someone who is a flight risk.

For this to happen two things need to take place:

#1 - Slave owners need to trust their slaves implicitly at the beginning of the relationship
and not only give them regular tasks, but also freedom.  Freedom to come and go as
they please with the understanding that what would please most slaves is what pleases
their master.

#2 - Lifelong slaves need to dedicate themselves to the role and not jet at the first
opportunity as most slaves wouldn't have any inclination and, in fact, would most likely
be terrified of freedom having never had to care for themselves.

#3 - Templars should not stop every slave and ask for papers.  They are wearing the
collar, they are in the damn city, what more is needed?

I'll never play a typical slave role as I forced others to play and have seen others endure.

But slavery would be much more common amongst the playerbase if masters were more
lenient and slaves were more loyal.

witchman

  • Posts: 206
Slavery
« Reply #1 on: December 16, 2002, 05:41:14 PM »
Christopher,
I think your comments are excellent reading and certainly one way to approach the topic of slavery in Zalanthas.

However, I think that we are best served with a diversity of types of masters and slaves.  If slavery were as rosy as you picture it, what free man wouldn't yearn to be a slave?  What advantage does a free man have over a slave?

I think you've come up with an interesting idea, but miss some key points.
Not having a sense of self is not part of being a slave.  What makes one yearn for freedom - is the sense of self denied.

Any slave RP (I'm talking stricty human here - other races heap issues on top of this) really needs to include some idea of loss - of self, of freedom, of destiny denied.  No matter how the character deails with it - either through acceptance, denial, or rebellion that stess really makes a slave a slave and makes them different from the free man.
 
From a master's viewpoint, slaves should include the idea that unskilled laborers are cheap and replaceable.  While you might treat your mul gladiator with care because of the expense, the human field hand or gofer should not afford so much effort.  Doublely so in your scenerio when freemen would be clamoring to become slaves.  :-)
 
Denial of basic human desires and self-direction (not exactly the word I'm looking for there) is part of what a Master should offer a slave, using those drives as rewards.
"You've been a good slave this month, you may sleep in the female slave quarters tonight."  That kind of thing.
 
Further, slaves need to be continually reminded they are NOT free and are DIFFERENT than free people, lesser even.  They don't have the right to judge, give opinions, or even look freemen in the eyes - unless allowed to do so by their master.
 
Anyway, that's my opinion.  I certainly don't advocate for RP that resembles the race-based slavery of the early south, but more of a brutalized version of slavery as it existed in the Roman Empire.
 
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Rindan

  • Posts: 2825
Zalanthan Slavery is not the same as historical slavery
« Reply #2 on: December 16, 2002, 06:24:59 PM »
I always toyed with the idea of being a fanatical slave.  All throughout Zalanthas history there is mentioning of fanatical slaves that are willing to throw down there lives for their master/organization.  I have even seen a few examples of this.  I personally think that these would be the more interesting type of slave to play.  A common laborer slave that you throw into the obsidian mines probably is a flight risk.  I donít think that they are really worth talking about, as this is not a role for a PC.  What is interesting to talk about are valuable slaves.  Artisan slaves, bard slaves, guard slaves, military slaves, and personal assistant slaves.  These are slaves that live the high life.  They are not beaten any more then any other employee is.  They are specialized, well trained, and generally well trusted.  The devotion they have to their organization I imagine would not be much different then any other life time member to an organization.  I can envision how such a slave would deal with its parent organization.  

What I am having a hard time wrapping my mind around is how such a slave would deal with people outside of there organization.  Letís say that you are a fanatical Borsail slave that serves as a solder within the house.  You are completely loyal to Borsail and the idea that your life is Borsail has been ground into your head.  You have been treated in terms of luxuries as any other soldier, meaning you get your food, water, bed, and training.  You donít have a lot, but you donít go hungry ever.  What would such a slave do in there off time?  When they are not patrolling the house grounds, training, or doing some sort of chore, what do they do?  Can you wander into the Gaj and share in conversation with the local common rabble?  In my mind, the real question is now what you do when you are within the organization.  The real question is what do you do when you have nothing else to do?  Do you make friends with commoners?  Can you be chatty with commoners?  Where are the lines?  I think as far as slave RP goes, this is where I get hung up and confused.  Anyone have any thoughts?

EvilRoeSlade

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Zalanthan Slavery is not the same as historical slavery
« Reply #3 on: December 16, 2002, 08:00:55 PM »
I think that its possible to have a free slave.  In fact, in the mul role-play documentation it specifically advocates an escaped mulish slave as a valid character concept.

Some reasons why a slave would try to escape:

1)  The slaves master is especially cruel and tyrannical, perhaps even punishing the slave in question, in order to set an example to the rest of the slaves.

2)  As an aspect of his personality, the slave is naturally free-spirited, agressive, un-reignable, or a combination of both.  This would probably result in the slave being punished on a regular basis, and the slave would naturally desire to escape just because "it's in his blood."

3)  Perhaps due to a misunderstanding, the slave is sentenced to execution or believes he will be.  Because the slave values his life, he tries to escape.

4)  The slave was once free, but was either captured by slavers in the wastes, or was sentenced to slavery by the templarate.  Therefore the slave desires to regain the freedom he once possessed.

5)  The slave is a labor slave, sentenced to be worked to death in the obsidian mines or a similar locale.  There is no reward for the slave but death, therefore he tries to escape.
Back from a long retirement

the halfling

  • Posts: 90
Zalanthan Slavery is not the same as historical slavery
« Reply #4 on: December 17, 2002, 03:50:20 AM »
In Darksun, now I do realize that Arm is completly diffirent then darksun in some major points, but it is still an idea of a possiblity of how it can be.

In darksun, A slaves life really wasn't that bad depending on what kind of slave you are.

There were bard slaves and artistian slaves.  And some of these slaves were breed in captivity.  And were taught things that a normal commoner would never know.  In darksun it actually was a possiblity for important slaves to know how to read and write(it was still illegal for them to know it though, but just like in Arm, darksun nobles can break some of the rules)  But there were alot of slaves that were given a much better life then a commoner would ever dream of having.

Of course there were ones that were tossed in obsidian mines.  But most of these were templar made slaves.  Mostly criminals and such, why kill you? When we can make your hands turn to a bloody mess, and gain a profit from it.

I do agree that there are some slaves that would be content in their lives.  But they would be ones that were born into slavery.  Slaves that were forced into slavery and were once free.  Those would be the ones that would try to escape constantly and such.
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mog

  • Posts: 74
Has this been done?
« Reply #5 on: December 17, 2002, 09:02:34 AM »
The recent update to the slavery documentation located at:

http://www.armageddon.org/general/slavery.html

goes some way toward addressing the issue of 'happy' slaves in zalanthas.  Comments would be welcome and intersting I'm sure.
 Manic depressive puss-wuss

Katsumata

  • Posts: 18
Zalanthan Slavery is not the same as historical slavery
« Reply #6 on: December 17, 2002, 10:45:21 AM »
I don't have anything really enlightening to say but I wanted to bring up two points.

Historical slavery across the world was not always like the sort of slavery you might find in the history of the United States. In Ancient times people became slaves so they could pay off debts, personal and family ones. This means slaves might have all sorts of professions, but their only problem was they are deeply in debt. Being a slave was a social class certainly, but the relationship between servant and master was similar between slave and master. If they ran off, they did not discharge the debts they accrued. Also children of slaves did not automatically become slaves themselves.

My second point is this idea of freedom from slavery. Its a modern one that has its roots in our historical slavery and the civil rights movement. I do not dispute that horrific conditions would make someone yearn for freedom, if that is your character's situation, then feel free to RP it out. But by and large in ancient times yearning for freedom as a slave is similar to yearning for freedom as an employee today.

I think the biggest problem with roleplaying a society that is different from western civilization is we have no real life experience in these different cultures, so we do the best we can from books we read and the upbringing we had. And our upbringing makes slavery seem a horrific thing, so we RP it out that is it horrific. I think a similar bias from our upbringing makes it hard for some folks to swallow insults and high-handed treatment from nobles and templars. Speaking for the US, most feel equality is a birthright and get upset with people who do not treat them as equals.

I don't see a problem with a slave wanting to esape if the master is cruel. But slaves are not just property, they can be a payment that a family has accrued. There should be in game consequences. Maybe his family is arrested. Maybe this time they take your sister to pay off that debt, as a pleasure slave. Actions like escape should have more RP consequences than just being hunted.

Hoodwink

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Slaves
« Reply #7 on: December 17, 2002, 11:18:47 AM »
I think by and large the majority of true slaves would actually be malnourished, poorly treated humans who receive severely harsh working conditions and are subject to a short life expectancy.  I also think the majority of slave NPCs helps to represent this fact.

In my short time reading the GDB, whenever I see a slave post come up it seems to me most everyone shares the same consensus that slaves don't have to be mistreated worthless beings.  I doubt many players have ever actually played such a role similar to the slave NPCs you might see, the ones who have horrible whip-scars and maybe have been crippled as a form of punishment.  I can certainly understand why!  :wink:

But I, personally, believe that high-status slaves (such as scribes) would actually be quite rare.  These are probably the only ones PCs will choose to play, but never the less, they are the minority in the world of slaves, especially if most of the civilised population consists of slaves, the foremost of which are laborers.

I'm not saying I think it's bad in any way to play the role of a high-status slave, on the contrary, but I do not believe these sorts of slaves would be the majority.  I believe they would be a rare individual deserving respect, so much so, that you might not even call them a slave at all, since they are so well off.

sophmore newbie

  • Posts: 9
need for more understanding of the culture
« Reply #8 on: December 17, 2002, 12:38:56 PM »
Ok, so i really dont have any major points.  But as someone who enjoys studying slavery (not what your thinking...  :wink:  I like socialogy) as well as plays an enslaved char i just wanted to put my two sids in.

Historical slavery across the world was not always like the sort of slavery you might find in the history of the United States. In Ancient times people became slaves so they could pay off debts, personal and family ones. This means slaves might have all sorts of professions, but their only problem was they are deeply in debt. Being a slave was a social class certainly, but the relationship between servant and master was similar between slave and master. If they ran off, they did not discharge the debts they accrued. Also children of slaves did not automatically become slaves themselves.

I think this is a good point.  So often whenever slavery is mentioned (esp in USA) we simply think of a whole enslaved race.  However it needs to be stressed this type of slavery was new and not usually how slavery worked.  

Even going back to biblical times God "himself" condoned slavery.  People would be in dept for a max of seven years.  Many times people would become slaves as a result of war or as a punishment.  At the time slavery (that is working for another) made more economic sense than say... confining them to jail for years at a time)  People who may feel uneasy about slavery in Zen. simply need to remember that we are not to judge other societies... just as historians.

And some slaves did make it big (again look to the bible and Joseph)  many times Romans would have Greek slaves as teachers, scribes, and such.  I think the key thing to remember is up until American slavery it was *individuals* who were enslaved, not whole races.  

As far as freedom goes... I would say the right way to role play a slave would be to simply keep in mind the slave would struggle with the concept of being safe and greatful at the same time as loosing their freedom.  Humans and other races may be a bit harder to train and may try to push their masters more than say a mul would.  I dont know... personally i think it would be helpful if people continue this dialog about how to RP a slave and master. If nothing else this would help us build a more detailed culture than what is listed on the help page... allowing everyone to RP slave/master situations better.

Swordsman

  • Posts: 174
There are slaves, and then there are slaves
« Reply #9 on: December 31, 2002, 08:03:26 AM »
There were some well thought-out posts there, particularly Katsumata's. There're a couple of traps I think a lot of people fall into when thinking about slaves in this game. For one, a lot of people seem to think that there is one 'right' way to play a slave. I disagree. You'll have as many ways to play slaves appropriately as there are types of slave, just like an elf and a half-giant might both be of the warrior guild, but yet they're radically different. For another, a lot of people seem to be hung up with the manual labour slave. Sure, it'd be by far the most common type of slave around, but that's not to say everyone could or should be playing that type of slave if they want to play a slave. I see nothing wrong with people playing the exceptions as long as they don't start getting misinterpreted OOCly ("I know three slave PCs and they're all warrior-slaves, therefore most slaves ICly must be warrior-slaves"). Take a typical clan's PCs: there'll be some leaders and some underlings, but the ratio between the leader PCs and the underling PCs probably is nowhere near what it ICly is (lots and LOTS of underlings for each leader, relatively, heh). Just two thoughts.

Swordsman

Anonymous

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Re: There are slaves, and then there are slaves
« Reply #10 on: January 01, 2003, 09:15:21 PM »
Quote from: "Swordsman"
There're a couple of traps I think a lot of people fall into when thinking about slaves in this game. For one, a lot of people seem to think that there is one 'right' way to play a slave. I disagree.
Swordsman


Its a good point.

Throughout this thread, people have referred to the condition of slaves they see on the Allanaki streets as a rebuttal to my view of what the potential of a slave/master relationship could be.

Here's what I see:

1. They are alone.
2. They are worked hard.
3. They are not starving.
4. They are poorly dressed.
5. Some look beaten.

And really, when it comes down to it, my biggest point is number one.  Too many times I've heard stories of slaves being shut in a room and told to sweep.  That's pathetic and cruel.  I never did it to slave players when I was playing.

And that's my biggest problem.  Slaves should, on the whole, be moving freely among the populace within reason.

Its relatively easy for PCs to make a living.  Its important to say that IMHO PCs are the cream of the crop.  All PCs are skilled, period.  This sets them far above the thousands of VNPC counterparts.

The average slave would not believe that life on their own would be easy, which is a mentality some people have due to what I just wrote.  This is not to say s/he wouldn't perhaps dream of freedom, especially those not born into captivity.  But leaving the master would be leaving security with nothing to go on.  YOU the player might know that you can forage for balloon dogs in the clown forest and sell them for a hundred bananas a pop, but your slave PC most likely doesn't, depending on his chore set.  So running would, for most slaves, be an absolute last resort.

Again, there are free spirits, especially with elves, but for a great many slaves the prospect of employment is a foolish whim.  Continuing to stay enslaved is a means of survival.

A fleeing slave is taking a larger risk than recapture 99% of the time.  They face starvation.

So, right or wrong this is a summary of what I feel would be an improvement to the master <-> slave roles.

Slaves - You safest bet is with your master.  Why run?
Masters - Your slaves would be fools to run, why lock them in a room.

There are always exceptions, of course, but I'd *really* like to see masters err on the side of playability.  This doesn't mean don't beat them, but it does mean don't lock them in a room for IC days on end.

Angela Christine

  • Posts: 6595
I agree
« Reply #11 on: January 01, 2003, 11:14:36 PM »
I'm sure that being a slave isn't a laugh riot or paradise, and at some times is downright unpleasant.  That doesn't mean every slave (or even a big minority of them) is actively planning escape.  They probably fantasize about a better life, but who doesn't?  They might fantasize about being free, but they might also fantasize about being promoted to a foreman position or having it discovered that they are actually Lord Inbreed's long lost son.

Many people are afraid to risk losing what they have on the chance to get something better.  Do you think all the people working at McDonalds and 7-11 are living their dream?  Of course not.  How many people really wanted to be an artist, a writer, a musician, etc., but have never even made an honest attempt at making a living this way?  I don't know, but I bet it's plenty.  Plenty of people choose a safe but dreary existance over a journey into the unknown.  Sometimes it's a distinctly unpleasant existance, with soul-grinding, exhausting work that slowly crushes their spirit until they can not even contemplate escape.  

As long as people have something to lose, they will try to hold onto it.    People with nothing to lose aren't afraid of anything, not even death, so they are highly unreliable.  So a smart owner will make sure his slaves have something to cling to, something they are afraid of losing.  You let your slaves form relationships, own private possessions, retain a bit of dignity, stay in contact with their children and other relations, and so on.  The risk that your children could be taken away and sold is a reason to work hard to keep your boss happy so that he will be willing to let you have perks like keeping your children safe, actually having your children sold to the mines is a reason to revolt or run away.  I recall some discussion that combat trained muls are often raised with a non-combat slave as a mate or friend, someone they are allowed to care about, to make them easier to control.

A slave will have things and people he cares about, and he will want to keep them.  The riskiest time for a slave trying to escape will be when he is first enslaved if he wasn't born a slave, and when he is sold, his owner dies, he is transfered to a different area of service, or for some other reason his situation changes radically.  The problem with PCs is that you aren't really attatched to your character's virtual friends, virtual bed, and other virtual posessions.  Most of the intangible bonds that would control a slave are not there, so the "owner" PC is prone to over-compensate by keeping you locked up and bored.

It doesn't help that there aren't many "good" rolemodels for slaves or owners.  We've got Roots and American Civil War era models of race-based slavery.  Slavery was only a big thing in American for, what, a couple hundred years?  That isn't enough time to develop civilized slavery.  For slaves to be reliable you want most of them to be born as slaves, as long as you are injecting large numbers of born-free slaves your slave population is going to be unstable.  My impression is that house slaves and foreman slaves were pretty loyal, it was the unskilled labour slaves that did most of the running away -- they were not valuable so they were treated baddly, they were treated baddly so they ran away.

The other insidious rolemodel is likely to be the S&M "slave".  People who enjoy mixing dominance games, sex, and a certain amount of violence pain, violence or threat of violence.  While I'm sure that some slave owners happen to be saddists, I doubt that most of them are.  In a culture where whips and chain are everyday items, most people would find them no sexier than most of us find electrical cords or gasoline pumps.  

Oh yeah, baby, pump that gasoline, pump it baby, pump it hard.  Ahem.

AC
Treat the other man's faith gently; it is all he has to believe with."     Henry S. Haskins

Carnage

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  • Posts: 1766
Slaves
« Reply #12 on: January 02, 2003, 06:23:40 AM »
Some slaves are treated better than commoners because they do a better job than commoners. If I were looking to bulk out a list of underlings, I'd take slaves. They're obedient, loyal, and used to being told what to do. As for leaders, I'd start picking out from the commoner positions.
Carnage
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aeshyw

  • Posts: 197
Zalanthan Slavery is not the same as historical slavery
« Reply #13 on: January 02, 2003, 07:00:01 AM »
The staff of at least one shop somewhere in Allanak consists of obviously well-fed, well-dressed slave NPCs.  Trade-slaves, kitchen-slaves, pleasure-slaves, guard-slaves, scribe-slaves, etc... There are lots of slaves in the city that have very nice lives compared to your average 'naki.  You just have to look.

Guest

  • Guest
two observations
« Reply #14 on: January 02, 2003, 09:46:50 AM »
Ok my first observation is the idea of natural born slaves.  Once again we are simply looking at slavery in Americas as our main, if not only, example of slavery.  The fact is very few slave practicing cultures used natural born slaves.  (Outside of the hebrews and africans/indians) Most slavery was an individual or group, not race (the main reasion for natural born slaves).  Going back to its earliest roots slavery (usually) was used not as economic factors (like hebrews and africans/indians) to keep others from having to labor, but in place of jails/prisons/depts.  

Now this would mean there is a big difference between Mul cultrure (those born into slavery for the idea of doing work) and other slaves (prob. used to pay off depts or as punishments.  Anyhow, just an observation.

My second observation has more to do with Arm itself.  Granted, no PC or PC char. should be subjected to too harsh of conditions than other PCs, but I think sometimes -because- they are PCs these slave chars get treated almost like common people.  Again, Im not saying everyone should abuse their slaves or other PC chars shouldnt interact at all with slave chars (as might be thought because people dont normally associate with slaves).  What I am saying however is any PC that "agrees" to become a slave should do so with the understanding that IC... they are going to be treated differently.    What I observe are slaves who serve a master that tries to come across harshly, but then never actually does anything to the misbehaving slave.  I would think ICly then the slave should be acting then on the notion that he/she can get away with anything.    It just seems to me there are a great many PCs who wish to become slaves because OOC they see more benifits (being taken care of, being fed, etc) and know that they, for the most part, are going to be treated like everyday common citizens.

mog

  • Posts: 74
Re: two observations
« Reply #15 on: January 04, 2003, 09:19:48 AM »
Quote from: "Guest"
Ok my first observation is the idea of natural born slaves.  Once again we are simply looking at slavery in Americas as our main, if not only, example of slavery.  The fact is very few slave practicing cultures used natural born slaves.  


To quote from the docs: Birth (born slaves): Three quarters of all slaves were born as such, or sold into slavery at such a young age that they remember nothing else.

Therefore Zalanthas possesses a culture that uses natural born slaves (regardless of how common it is in the real world).  One way to look at it may be as a corrolary [sp?] of the Hindu caste system.  Where the 'untouchables' are slaves as opposed to 'non-people'.  The other castes being commoners, merchants, nobility and priests (templars).

Quote from: "Guest"
My second observation has more to do with Arm itself.  Granted, no PC or PC char. should be subjected to too harsh of conditions than other PCs, but I think sometimes -because- they are PCs these slave chars get treated almost like common people.  Again, Im not saying everyone should abuse their slaves or other PC chars shouldnt interact at all with slave chars (as might be thought because people dont normally associate with slaves)... snip for brevity


Firstly I feel you have an overly harsh view of slavery in Zalanthas.  There ar mistreated and abused slaves.  There are slaves who are locked in a room and have terrible lives but these are not the roles taken up by PC slaves (they are not suitable for roleplaying as they are very boring).  PCs tend to take up the roles of the more trusted slaves.  The ones who run the household, buy the goods for the kitchen, sell the merchandise or guard the masters.  These are trusted and well treated slaves who rarely have a reason to leave their master.

If that PC flagrantly breaks the rules the master should be prepared to follow through on the punishment.  From an OOC perspective owning a slave is a position of trust and it may be that the slave owner will want to confer with an immortal before meeting out punishment.  Therefore the punishment may not occur immediately but will come at a later date.
 Manic depressive puss-wuss