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Slavery on the Outer Planes.

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Zimrazim's picture
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Factol
Joined: 2007-01-14
Slavery on the Outer Planes.

Any canonical material on where slavery is/is not legal/generally practiced on the Planes? I'm guessing that, in general, slavery is illegal in Upper Planes/upper planar gate-towns, and legal in Lower Planes/lower planar gate-towns. Is it legal to buy or sell slaves in Sigil, though?

__________________

BoGr Guide to Missile Combat:
1) Equip a bow or crossbow.
2) Roll a natural 1 on d20.
3) ?????
4) Profit!

Jem
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Factor
Joined: 2006-05-10
Slavery on the Outer Planes.

'Zimrazim' wrote:
Any canonical material on where slavery is/is not legal/generally practiced on the Planes? I'm guessing that, in general, slavery is illegal in Upper Planes/upper planar gate-towns, and legal in Lower Planes/lower planar gate-towns.

You might be surprised.

First off, where does one draw the line between slavery and beasts of burden? When the worker can talk? Then what about constructs or bound elementals? Perhaps if we restrict slaves to living mortals? Then what about enslaved celestials or fiends? And what about if you ask this question of one of those races? It's fine to insist that slavery is wrong, but in a fantasy world where sentience is a muddy and varied thing the question becomes more complex.

(For what it's worth, my criterion is "if the being in question has the abstract intelligence to form the concept of slavery, then when bound it's enslaved." However, other criteria could well exist, and sometimes come in to conflict. And some might choose to "play it safe" by insisting on complete animal rights as well!)

Second, in a medieval-style fantasy world based on historical cultures, there arises the point that slavery was in many times and places not considered an evil. The Greek pantheon resides in Arborea; Greeks kept quite a few slaves in the classical period. Some of them were well-educated and became quite rich or famous themselves: Aesop was a slave. Various holy books from the period have laws regarding the treatment and status of slaves.

A slave was often a branded criminal, or a captive of war; societies of the day don't have the resources to imprison a large fraction of their population, so enslavement takes the place of a prison farm. The children of a slave might be slaves as well, or born freemen. A devil in Baator regards a damned soul as his personal property to dispose of as he chooses (granted, most likely rendering for energy), and the damnation of that soul would itself be considered justice by gods that passed that sentence.

Modern civilized people regard slavery as an evil, and fortunately we've nearly eradicated it from our world (though not entirely, and in certain segments of the economy it is stubborn). It's comfortable for gamers to project this attitude onto their good and chaotic PCs, and numerous groups such as githzerai or the Indeps would be particularly active against it. Perhaps in the Planescape setting pantheons such as the Greeks view slavery as an institutional evil in the societies they sponsor, working to remove it as quickly as can be accomplished without losing their worshiper base to a backlash.

It could be very interesting to challenge the players' assumptions with related setting elements: an intelligent slave who has no particular problem with the institution of his bondage, or a slaveholder (petitioner, or ageless worshiper born centuries ago) who is a decent person by the standards of his society and now native to an Upper Plane. A formal abolitionist movement would doubtless be a cross-planar activity that could be a fine allegiance for PCs (and could certainly contain unsavory elements for the PCs to discover, such as Revolutionary League slave-rebellion cells -- a previous factol of the Doomguard inspired one of those, and died in it -- or demons simply working to chafe away some stability from a society, since slaveholding societies tend to be particularly hidebound and caste-oriented).

Quote:
Is it legal to buy or sell slaves in Sigil, though?

The slave trade itself is referred to as part of the cross-trade in "In the Cage," so apparently slaves cannot be legally bought, sold, or gambled in the city. However, slaves who escape and are caught can be punished by the Mercykillers with hanging, so slaves brought in to the city must remain their owners' property.

Jem
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Factor
Joined: 2006-05-10
Slavery on the Outer Planes.

Addenda:

Planes of Chaos explicitly has slavery legal in towns under the Greek and Elven pantheons on Arborea. It also happens on Ysgard as a matter of war, and is mentioned on Limbo.

Planes of Law mentions slavery not at all under any non-evil plane that I can see, while it seems to be most extensively practiced, with Mercykiller (and, only the barest of rumor has it, Harmonium) involvement on Acheron.

Planes of Conflict doesn't mention it much in the text-searchable sections. Tradegate is dead-set against the notion as a principle, and one can assume Bytopia follows this generally.

The dao of the Plane of Earth are, of course, the notorious slavers of the Inner Planes. The efreet also employ slaves.

In all of this I neglect the Lower Planes, on all of which slavery is of course rampant.

To sum, it largely appears slavery is eschewed from Mechanus to the Beastlands, historically of a mostly realistic sort on the Outlands, Ysgard and Arborea, and as fantastically hideous as one might expect from Acheron to Limbo. Interesting that its Upper Planar presence is limited to the chaotic extreme of the Great Ring; perhaps the moral is that societies ruled by laws rather than strength are inherently antagonistic to enslavement.

Anime Fan's picture
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Joined: 2007-06-13
Slavery under Greeks/Romans versus "Christian" slavery

There was quite a difference between the way slaves were treated under the rules of ancient Greece and Rome and how they were later treated by so-called "Christian" masters... Under the Greek/Roman system, a slave was not neccesarily stuck as a slave forever, and could even hold high office, own property, etc... none of which was the case under the supposedly more benign reign of the "Christian" slaveholder, who considered his slaves property and nothing more (with rare exception). REAL Christians objected to this state of affairs, and were called "Godless" for their trouble...

Zimrazim's picture
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Factol
Joined: 2007-01-14
Slavery on the Outer Planes.

'Anime Fan' wrote:
There was quite a difference between the way slaves were treated under the rules of ancient Greece and Rome and how they were later treated by so-called "Christian" masters... Under the Greek/Roman system, a slave was not neccesarily stuck as a slave forever, and could even hold high office, own property, etc... none of which was the case under the supposedly more benign reign of the "Christian" slaveholder, who considered his slaves property and nothing more (with rare exception). REAL Christians objected to this state of affairs, and were called "Godless" for their trouble...

While the institution of slavery in ancient Rome was different from, say, the American South, in that it wasn't exclusively race-based (natives of Rome and Italy could become slaves), it was still quite an unpleasant institution. The lot of a typical Roman slave was miserable (or at least unpleasant) and entirely dependent on the whims of individual slaveholders. The majority of Roman slaves were foreigners captured in war or their children (though there were some Roman debtors, victims of kidnapping by slavers/pirates, etc. who were enslaved).

Basically, a Roman slave was a commodity (to be used and eventually discarded). A Roman slaveholder might manumit a slave that had served him faithfully for a long time, but might arrange to have a slave manumitted after the slaveholder himself had died. Many also simply abandoned slaves who had become too old and sick to work (giving them little defense against simply starving to death, for ancient Rome didn't have much of a concept of institutionalized charity).

It was possible, if you had a rare skill (a highly educated Greek slave perhaps, attached to a powerful patrician), that you might know some prestige and real power, but this was uncommon. Enough slaves obtained their freedom over time that a class of "freedmen" existed, but throughout their lives, they had fewer rights in Roman society than free persons.

Very few laws existed to protect slaves in any way until well into the Imperial period. For example, a slaveholder could kill a slave for any reason or no reason, sell him as a gladiator or to a brothel, have him beaten, etc.

Just clarifying here that the ancient Roman institution of slavery was really unpleasant. The ancient Romans weren't more 'enlightened' than modern Westerners. They were bastards, just in a different way.

I actually originally created this thread because I wondered which planar areas were most likely to openly practice slavery or have slave markets. It looks like some of the recent Gate-Town threads are providing some help in that area.

__________________

BoGr Guide to Missile Combat:
1) Equip a bow or crossbow.
2) Roll a natural 1 on d20.
3) ?????
4) Profit!

Zeniel's picture
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Joined: 2007-03-27
Slavery on the Outer Planes.

You could speculate that on the upper planes that if a person was caught guilty of a heinous crime, they could be sent into bount servitude to whomever they did wrong too. I would reckon that the law would require three years of servitude. As this applys to the rule of three. (In reference to the bible, in the old testament such a sentence was not frowned upon although the sentence was seven years in accordance with gods creation of the world.)

Anime Fan's picture
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old vs. new slavery

Fair enough, I didn't mean that any kind of slavery was benign or acceptable, I just meant that the non-pagan version was NOT an improvement over the pagan version... (again, however, a Jewish slave held by a Jewish master DID get released in seven years; but NOT if said slave was a non-Jew!)

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