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Slaves, serfs, unfree, indents

 
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CombatMedic
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 24, 2015 7:11 pm    Post subject: Slaves, serfs, unfree, indents Reply with quote

Which realms or regions have forms of slavery? What about serfdom? Indentured servitude? Debt peonage?
Other forms of bondage and/or unfree status?

As usual, I don't care much about a strictly canonical answer (especially because for most places there probably isn't one ;) . I just want to know how you guys see it, how you do it in your games, and what you have drawn from published GH materials of whatever degree of canonical status.
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SirXaris
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 25, 2015 2:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Since the Flanaess is largely based upon Medieval Europe, I think most regions have some form of servitude to a greater or lesser degree. It might be easiest to list the places where the peasants have the most freedom.

To that end, I suggest the following:

Free City of Greyhawk
I'm not certain of what canon has said, but it seems to me that a city based upon free trade would not allow much in the way of slavery within its domain. There may be laws allowing a foreigner to maintain ownership of slaves while visiting the city, but any permanent resident would be barred from owning slaves. The sale and import of slaves would also be illegal.

The Yeomanry is obviously a freehold full of commoners owning their own property with voting rights.

Perrenland would have many free people as well, but may have some areas where the peasants work land owned by noble landowners.

The Thillonrian peninsula would be quite similar, I think. Most people would be free to live as they like, but land surrounding the lord's center of power would belong to him and anyone living on it would work at his behest.

Most of the central lands would be almost fully feudal - all land is owned by nobles or the church(es). Anyone not of noble rank would be serfs working the land. Exceptions would include merchants and craftsmen of many types, though few free farmers could exist, since there wouldn't be much, if any, free land. A Points-of-Light scenario, however, could allow for some freeholders out in areas not controlled by any civilized power. These nations would include Veluna, Furyondy, Bissel, the Gran March, Keoland, Nyurond, the Pale, Tenh, Almor, and the Great Kingdom.

I see Geoff and Sterich as more akin to Perrenland and the barbarian nations in this regard. I think the noble landowners wouldn't control the entire countryside, so there would be room for many freeholders to work their own land within those nations.

Ket has many petty nobles claiming its length and breadth and they hold varying degrees of control over their peasants.

Tusmit, Ekbir, and Zeif are heavily feudal as well, with few opportunities (outside that for merchants and craftsmen) for anyone to live free of oaths of fealty to a higher lord.

I see all of the nomadic nations as very tribal. Most men are free within their loyalty to the tribe's headman. The tribe, through its headman (chief), claims certain areas of land where the tribe travels, but no single person claims any parcel for himself. That is, outside the few cities within those nomadic nations boundaries.

I see Ull much like the Bandit Kingdoms. Somebody's always going to come along and take what you've got unless you have the protection of somebody else powerful enough to stop them. Thus, every peasant trying to work a piece of land is beholden to some more powerful lord/tyrant. Certainly, there are many 'free' people moving around such areas, but they don't live on a parcel of land they can call their own.

Dwarven realms would be highly feudal, while elven nations would probably have far more freeholders.

Other free cities would be like Greyhawk in that they would have large percentages of free merchants and craftsmen. They may have very different degrees of tolerance for slavery, though.

The Scarlet Brotherhood claims all the land on its peninsula and parcels it out as it sees fit. If you take the view presented in the SB sourcebook, wherein the SB has recently moved from the central plateau to openly controlling the entire peninsula, you could say that they have sent representatives to all the plantations (think the southern USA pre-Civil War) explaining that the owners would now be answering to the Brotherhood's leadership. So, the plantations owners may still think of themselves as free landowners, but they are controlled by the SB now.

Ratik probably has a large percentage of free landowners. It is made up of free-spirited people who probably wouldn't tolerate leaders who pressed them down too far into serfdom. There probably is a small degree of feudalism in Ratik, but it is much more limited than found in the other central nations.

Areas controlled by humanoids (Bone March, Pomarj, etc.) are full of slavery and the only individuals of any race able to own land free of control by another are those powerful enough to prevent it being taken from them.

Blackmoor probably has a large percentage of freeholders scattered across its landscape simply because there aren't many lords interested in going to the trouble of extending their control far from their base.

Iuz and the Horned Society would hold everyone in slavery except those strong enough to prevent their own enslavement.

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rasgon
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 25, 2015 3:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Slavery is rampant in the Great kingdom, according to Ivid the undying.
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CombatMedic
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 25, 2015 5:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting stuff, guys!

I am still developing my notes. I start with the Free City of Greyhawk.


Free City of Greyhawk:Slavery is legal, but no one is born a slave in the city or its outlying lands. Slaves must be imported. Owners must pay a fee and register any slaves, acquiring papers that show ownership.
The guilds take a dim view of anybody using slave labor to undercut the earnings of guildsmen or get around guild privileges. As in they will hire thieves to make problems for the owners. And apprentice boys have been known to beat up slave 'scabs' as well as play destructive pranks on their owners.
But only oddballs like those rabble rousing Trithereon cultists and a few others care a fig that a man imports personal slave concubines or something like that. Foreigners can keep their customs as long as Greyhawkers can get some money out of it.


I will probably rule that all of the Suel- descended/ influenced cultures practice slavery, as a general rule. Yeomanry is an exception, see below.

Rhizia

Scarlet Brotherhood: slaves are state property.

Lordship of the Isles

Sea Barons

Lendore Isles

Urnst States


In the Sheldomar Valley--

Keoland's laws do not recognize a distinction between slaves and villeins. The former enjoy the ( limited) protections of the latter. No legal domestic trade in bondsmen.

Yeomanry is quite unusual in flat out prohibiting slavery. But it does have penal servitude for temporary durations. A man who cannot pay recompense ordered by the assembly may be compelled to work off his debt to the person he owes the debt.

The Hold: lots of slaves, treatment varies widely, no racial basis although many are savages bought from the jungle tribes of the southern lands. Also debtors, criminals, etc.

I imagine that the Baklunish generally practice some form of slavery. Istus spins the threads of fate , and for some men she decrees service to a master.

Ekbir arguably has the most humane and well regulated form of slavery in the known world.
Slaves are protected from cruel and unusual punishments. They can be freed by the courts if their masters abuse them. Masters. A not deny them access to religious functions of the state cults without good cause, Etc, etc.

Ull, in contrast, is a pretty bad place to be a slave. Hardly any laws at all, just arbitrary force. The good news is that the chaotic nature of the place prevents any orderly system of patrol and recapture. If a man can escape to the next tribe or village, he will either be re-enslaved there or be offered a chance to join the leader's warband. How strong do you think you are? How badly do you want freedom? Pick up the sword.
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CombatMedic
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 25, 2015 6:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Slavery in Nyrond seems to come up sometimes. Is this from one of the AD&D 2E books?
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CombatMedic
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 25, 2015 7:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

rasgon wrote:
Slavery is rampant in the Great kingdom, according to Ivid the undying.


I should re read that one
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tarelton
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 25, 2015 5:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My baseline understanding of the Flanaess social/economic structure comes from The Marklands and Ivid the Undying; most of the other sources do not really discuss it in broad strokes. My understanding is thus:

The majority of the Oeridian-dominated Flanaess practice what we would recognize as Western European Feudalism. The vast majority of the population are serfs who are tied to the land (explicitly stated as such in both sources), though with varying de facto and de jure legal rights. Life is hard for all them, though those in the Great Kingdom have it worst (think immediate post-Norman conquest England) while those elsewhere have it better by degrees. However, the Grand March always struck me as an amalgam of the Teutonic Knights and 18th-century Prussia, so serfdom there is likely pretty harsh as well.

Throughout the Oeridian regions, tenant farmers exist as well, though they vary in numbers. Post-war there is a chance that they could increase in number dramatically, as landlords would face a labor shortage, and historically this is what enabled many serfs to become freemen as they negotiated their way to a higher social station, and payed the landlord in cash vs, in kind.

Actual freedman I find unlikely in most areas, though there may be petty nobility or even a sort of squirearchy that approaches this. After all, it is a dangerous world, and having a lord also means having protection. The exception to this, of course, are those living in un-policed areas (hillmen, foresters).

Debt-peonage is possible, though my Flanaess are not that economically sophisticated. Most peasants are happy to have a few dozen silver coins salted away. I divide all published treasures by at least ten, and keep prices as they are (I am anti-inflationary). Most people are running a barter economy, so that kind of accounting is unlikely.

Indentured labor is of course present everywhere in the form of the apprentice system; typically the apprentice labors for a set number of years, and then his master provides him tools on his graduation. Skipping out of an apprenticeship is a great background for a character, and can also explain tradesmen skills/proficiency.

Slaves are likely owned by the state, sentenced to the galleys or hard labor, but not officially available for sale. Their status is not legally heritable.

I consider the Urnst States and Tenh, despite being Suel and Flan respectively, to largely follow this model.

The Suel Barbarians I largely model on Vikings(tm). They have slaves(thralls) and serfs, but also freeholders who in turn support their jarl, who in turn supports the king.

Iuz does not have an economy; everyone is a slave.

The Baklunish states I considerto the Al-Qadim/classical Middle Eastern model, where slavery need not be permanent nor heritable, again with local variations. There is a large class of serfs, and few tenants/freeholders, though my grasp of classical Middle-Eastern social/economic structure is loose.

The Sheldomar Valley has a basically late-Roman (Suel) culture on top of a Germanic (Oeridian) culture on top of a Celtic (Flan) culture. I go with the people of Keoland and the Ulek states being largely tenant farmers with some freeholders on marginal land, though the big landlords remain the nobles. They long ago began to prefer tenants vs serfs, as they want cash rents and are more economically sophisticated than the Oeridians (Niola Dra existed before the Aerdi even settled).

The states of the Crystalmists (Sterich, Yeomanry, and Geoff) have a similar structure, but lean more towards freeholders and a weaker nobility; ties of tradition and family grant authority vs. a title, though they usually run in parallel; a lord is often a clan-patriarch as well... a veneer of the other states overlaying the local traditions. Of course, this may lead to tensions like those which occurred when the Scottish Clan Lords ere ennobled, and realized that to live like English gentlemen, they would need money, and clansmen were less profitable than sheep; and promptly kicked their relatives off of the land.

The Sea Princes obviously practice slavery on their plantations. I assume that the native peasantry are tenants and freeholders, thus creating tensions between them and the slaves; if they were serfs as well, they might make common cause; think indentured servants and slaves in the West Indies.

I consider Perrenland a surrogate Switzerland; mostly tenants and freeholders. Slaves might be captured barbarians near the border area, but rare inside the country.

The Wild Coast would likely have just about every labor form imaginable, as it was near anarchic.

The Free Cities are of course largely free inside their walls, but outside the social structure is consistent with the local culture; thus, there are plenty of serfs in the Domain of Greyhawk.

Nomads would keep slaves, particularly war captives, who are either worked to death or may eventually be adopted into the tribe or traded away; all others are considered freemen.
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CombatMedic
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 25, 2015 6:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Seems legit.

Though " feudalism" is problematic in historiography, it is well suited for use a a game term.
IMO and YMMV

Tangent alert:
Tarleton, have you increased populations?
Or are the settled hexes just pretty dense?
I'm thinking mainly of the WoG folio/ box numbers, which are low.
(Though independent communities, bandits, garrisons, and a number of other groups are left out). Room for the gazillion monsters, no doubt.

Are we talking about 0 level serfs huddled under the protection of fighters and other class/level types?
You could go clear you own land and be a freeholder, sure. Plenty of wild country out there. And then an owlbear eats you.
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 25, 2015 8:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

CombatMedic wrote:


Tangent alert:
Tarleton, have you increased populations?
Or are the settled hexes just pretty dense?
I'm thinking mainly of the WoG folio/ box numbers, which are low.
(Though independent communities, bandits, garrisons, and a number of other groups are left out). Room for the gazillion monsters, no doubt.

Are we talking about 0 level serfs huddled under the protection of fighters and other class/level types?
You could go clear you own land and be a freeholder, sure. Plenty of wild country out there. And then an owlbear eats you.


Doc,

I always thought the population numbers were too low in the source material. I have not done any math (people per square mile stuff), but my line of reasoning is thus:

The borders on the map basically represent the allegiances of various barons/lords/dukes to a sovereign. This does not mean the king's justice reaches every serf and freeholder, but that the local potentate pays his taxes and says the right things to the royal officials. He in turn mulcts his serfs/liege-men to pay these taxes. In return, he provides security to the largely classless populace. Nothing original here, until I combine it with Sir Robert Thompson's theory of establishing authority during the Malaysian Emergency, also known as the Ink Blot strategy (yeah, I'm weird).

These fiefs do not necessarily create a continuous security presence, combing the region constantly. Rather, they effectively control an area within a half-day's ride or walk of the lord's stronghold. Within this territory, a noble can respond to any threats to the populace and provide immediate physical security. So, a castle with a reasonably number of mounted troops could control an area of 300 square miles. This does not mean a soldier in every mile, but the possibility of being somewhere in that space when a monster shows up, and the ability to respond quickly to a threat. Overtime, monsters would go elsewhere, as they are either hunted down (the dumb ones) or realize the risk is not worth the reward (the smarter ones) and move elsewhere.

It is reasonable to assume that land has been settled in order of desirability. Thus, nobles will have established themselves on the most bountiful territories. There likely exists large amounts of land within the large nation that does not have a feudal overlord, largely because the population has not risen to the level of needing to expand into it. However, the proximity of settled and controlled areas nearby makes these territories unappealing to intelligent monsters, as any serious incursion will provoke an overwhelming response. Less intelligent creatures may inhabit it, but the truly dangerous ones that might seek prey in the settled areas are quickly hunted down and exterminated, leaving only short-range dangers in the area. Thus, the average serf/peasant is about as safe from monsters as a peasant in 12th century England. The unsettled, arable areas are not controlled by the settled areas, but are influenced by them.

Thus, my vision of Greyhawk has the populace generally being quite safe from monsters (though not bandits and their own overlords) in the interior of a state. On the borders, or near wild lands such as hills, forests, mountains, and swamps, where 0-level soldiers and the like are less effective, it is more dangerous. It is not necessary to fill each hex with more people, but it is the ink blot effect of enough security provided nearby that would make the interior of the nations states much safer and stable enough that the national governments are not running around responding to random orc warband encounters. The threats that do emerge within the country are usually within the capabilities of the civil authorities to manage; when they are not, adventurers are called in to resolve the situation.

As for the peasantry, yup 0-level farmers are what I see. How huddled they are is more an atmosphere thing to me, but the local lord would likely have some class, at least a low-level fighter, as the social contract would require it. His troops might be 0-level as well, but a little training and armor go a long way to making them effective against most threats. In mathematical terms, it is more effective to have multiple 0-level soldiers than a few 2nd-level soldiers (Lanchester equations). If I had the time, we could build a simple model to test this; I would wager that two or three 0-level soldiers would more often than not defeat a second-level fighter, all equipment being equal.
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Last edited by tarelton on Wed Nov 25, 2015 9:15 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 25, 2015 8:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

CombatMedic wrote:
Slavery in Nyrond seems to come up sometimes. Is this from one of the AD&D 2E books?


Doc,

Not sure as to this; Marklands makes reference to a breakdown of central authority in Nyrond post-war, with the less scrupulous nobles desperately trying to retain labor (think post-Black Death) and some slaving going on between them and the Great Kingdom, but I do not recall which way the traffic was flowing. I am pretty sure it was illegal in Nyrond however.
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 26, 2015 1:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

All of that makes sense to me.


In my next game, I will likely add dozens of petty states, protectorates, vassal states, and so on to the Flanaess. There's certainly plenty of room for them on the Darlene map. I'll just place them in the border regions.
Think of Verbobonc as an example.


....



I am thinking of maybe running something set in either the Hool Marshes or maybe the borders of Sunndi and the Vast Swamp.

If I go with the west, then the Hold of the Sea Princes slavery stuff might come into play. Maybe the PCs can collect bounties by tracking down runaways in the wetlands?
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 26, 2019 11:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Returning to this topic after a long time running other games and other settings, I have some different thoughts.
I'm going to use the alignment map as a guide along with published hints.

Greyhawk: Slavery (meaning to hold a person as a chattel) and procurement of slaves are minor crimes, just as described in the CoG boxed set. Why?
The good-aligned temples are generally hostile to slavery (except enslavement of evil-doers as punishment for crimes), but the ban would have never happened without the support of most of the city's guilds and unions. Free workers and apprentices rioted when faced with rising competition from slaves. Too much trouble, too much expense. The Oligarchy stepped in. The ban has got as much to do with economics as with morality.

Alternative: Zagig Yragerne outlawed it in a fit of whimsy, and later, the one serious attempt to overturn the law was defeated after guild riots of the sort described above.


Hold of the Sea Princes:
Neutral and CN , with Ehlonna's NG cult showing up in a back-country region--maybe just one village, in a module


The Chaotic Neutral factions/sects dislike slavery yet take no effective action against it; they're too disorganized and individualistic. Their songs and rallying cries hearken back to romanticized time of 'pirate freedom' when every man swaggered about with his own cutlass, spoils were distributed in the dockside taverns by gambling/tossing lots, and crews chose their own captains. They believe in luck, too, and being a slave is seen as ill fortune, perhaps a transient state of affairs for a man.


These barbaric Suelites do not practice any sort of organized slavery. They associate slavery with laziness, taxes, and excess of government and don't wish to grow soft and weak like the southern lordlings who can't chop their own firewood , row their own ships, and haul in their own nets. But for those foreigners weak or cowardly enough to accept slavery, the barbarians show contempt more than pity. Some raiders capture people and trade them to evil tyrants and humanoids, seeing no moral contradiction in this and their love of manly liberty.

Note : This version of the Frost/Ice/Snow Barbarians is not going to be all that much like historical Norsemen, despite some Nordic elements in the mix.
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