The societies of Essos stand on different foundations from those of Westeros. To them, Westerosi serfdom and feudalism is utterly barbaric. Democracy may be rare in Westeros, but across the Narrow Sea, it thrives. None of which, however, is to say that the people of Essos lack their own demons. This is the land of the Valyrian Freehold, of the Great Cities of the Ghiscari, of Qarth and Volantis. This is the land where men live free and build great cities, but only at a greater cost. This is the land of slavery.
Our plan is to model slavery using two separate, parallel systems – one to track individual characters trained and sold as domestic slaves, and another to track the large slave populations that serve as the working class of Essos’s great cities. This developer diary will concentrate on the first system.
First and foremost, there is now a new crown law – called, appropriately, slavery. This law determines the legality and technicalities of slavery in your nation. For most kingdoms, by default, slavery is simply strictly Legal or Illegal, but the Ironborn use a special form of slavery that allows only for the enslavement of prisoners of war, while minor restrictions on the slave trade can be forced on other nations through war. For nations where slavery is simply Illegal, owning a slave yourself is right out – you’d be caught almost immediately. Selling prisoners into slavery is still possible, but comes at the risk of being discovered – and punished – by your liege.
Fresh slaves can come from a few sources. First, under Chattel Slavery, the children of slaves are born slaves, and slave traders may take steps to ensure that there is a healthy supply of such children. Second, prisoners can be either enslaved by their hosts, or sold directly to slavers. Third, there is a new Slave Raid casus belli available under Chattel Slavery and Thralldom. Slave Raids target a single province – either one that borders the raider, or a coastal province if the raider has access to ships – and, if successful, sack that province and randomly generate five new slaves of its culture and religion for the raider. On the other hand, if a slave raid is completely defeated, the defender can liberate any slaves of their culture or dynasty the raiders may have in captivity.
The newly enslaved are, understandably, rather upset about it, and will almost always despise their masters. Both this problem, and the distribution of slaves throughout the world in general, are handled by slave traders. Any patrician operating under Chattel Slavery may become a slave trader, but it tends to be most common in the great cities of Slaver’s Bay.
A slave trader has the unique distinction of being in the business of buying and selling slaves, in a system which ties into the trade mechanics. Slave traders benefit from controlling trade posts by gaining the right of first refusal in every slave transaction made in that province. If the lord of that province wants to sell a slave, he’ll have to hear the local slave trader’s offer first, before anyone else’s. If he wants to buy a new one, the selection at the local trade post will be the first he sees. Either way, the slaver benefits.
When actually buying and selling slaves, the trader has the ability to set the price. Slaves can be sold for one of three prices – low, medium, and high. It is the goal of the trader to pick a price they believe is fair – or, more likely, the best price they think they can get away with. Once the trader has set the price, the buyer or seller has the option to either accept it, or walk away and try to find a new slave trader. The result is a sort of mini-bidding-game – how low can you buy, and how high can you sell?
Once a slave is actually in your custody, you have many options for dealing with them. If they’re uncooperative, you may have them lashed in an attempt to break their spirit. Repeated lashings can turn even the most rebellious slave into a meek, obsequious servant – or into a bloody corpse. Be warned! Slavery is a grim, soul-destroying practice, for both the slave and the slaver. It is a rare man who can trade in human suffering each day and not come out empty ad hollow on the inside. Or, in less poetic terms, if you become a slave trader, expect to wind up with very little piety and lots of lots of negative personality traits.
Next time (in this sequence, not necessarily the next Dev Diary) we’ll look at slavery on a larger scale – all about the vast, faceless masses, without whom the cities of Essos would crumble into dust.
You can talk about this Dev diary here (and he pic are in greater definition there too)