The Institution of Slavery in Scandshar

Slavery has long been a way of life in Scandshar, likely since the first noble houses arrived and built the place from whatever mud and thatch village it was originally.

Slavery may be enforced as a punishment to a debtor or petty criminal. Although no large wars are brewing these days, soldiers on the losing side of a conflict may also be used as slave labor. Additionally, slave traders bring captured peoples from throughout the world to come work in Scandshar. There is a long-standing rumor that many of the slave traders deal with goblins, orcs, and far worse things to get their slaves, but the veracity of these claims is unclear.

Slaves in Scandshar may be privately owned, or may “collectively” be owned by the Illustrious Menagerie of Peacocks, Scandshar’s leading organized crime syndicate. Syndicate slaves are rarely set free, and are frequently marked with peacock tattoos to remind them of this fact. Menagerie slaves are sometimes set free to work for the organization, or for other outstanding purposes, but these tend to be very specific cases.

A crime committed by a slave reflects poorly on the master; a master may be charged with any crime a slave commits. The slave legal code, such as it is, is covered under Section 35 of the Scandshar Legal Code — slaves technically do not benefit from full “personhood,” instead being defined as “sapient property.” When punitive measures are taken, slaves typically receive the harshest possible punishment for a crime, while masters receive a lighter sentence. Particularly heinous crimes may merit stiffer sentences, however.

Slaves in Scandshar tend to fall into four broad categories:

  • House slaves. House slaves are an exceptionally diverse lot, as some might be former gladiators performing bodyguard jobs, while others might be cooks or waitstaff. Some masters make use of house slave accountants or house slave tutors. Some use their slaves for personal entertainment, frequently overlapping with…
  • Entertainer slaves. Some establishments or individuals own slaves for public entertainment, training their slaves in song, dance, and the like. Some even craft art for their patrons or for public consumption. Bardic slaves tend to be a little dangerous, as a heady mixture of literacy and potent oratory tends to make for rebellious slaves, but canny masters known how to balance the carrot and the stick. Entertaining slaves are occasionally called upon to fulfill appetites beyond the purely artistic, overlapping with…
  • Sex slaves. Although house slaves are sometimes used for recreational sexual intercourse, when the average citizen thinks “sex slave,” he or she likely considers the enslaved sex workers of Scandshar. Several brothels are staffed entirely by slaves, although many have both free workers and slaves on the staff. Some “house slaves” in the public sector — restaurant waitstaff, cabaret performers, and suchlike — may also be used as whores by unscrupulous masters. Some unlicensed pimps may use slave labor for their prostitutes, although this tends to be rare as any crime performed by a slave would also reflect on the master, as well.
  • Gladiators. Although there are certainly some free gladiators, slave gladiators make up the bulk of the ranks. Gladiators are likely the smallest subsection of the population, but the high turnover rate ensures that a near-constant supply of fresh meat is needed. Gladiators will frequently overlap with the other three types, as they may be called upon to perform menial tasks, entertain guests, or perform sexual favors for nobles willing to pay. There is a pretty long-standing rumor that some ladies among the nobility quietly seek impregnation by gladiators to avoid excessive inbreeding.

If a slave is fortunate enough to be freed, there is no particular stigma associated with freemen.

The Institution of Slavery in Scandshar

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