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Dealing with Slavery within the Game
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CRMcNeill
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 11, 2018 7:34 pm    Post subject: Dealing with Slavery within the Game Reply with quote

I just watched Django Unchained; it really was a different time just a couple hundred years ago when slavery was the norm, and the idea of abolition was in its infancy. There are parts of the SWU (Hutt territories and the like) where slavery is the norm. While we, as inhabitants of a free and modern society, have a natural disgust for the concept of one person owning another, the fact remains that, within the game, it is likely that PCs will encounter situations where slavery is the norm.

I'm curious how you, as GMs, deal with this (assuming its a subject you've broached at all). How do characters, who usually have a job to do that can't be sidetracked by going on an anti-slavery campaign, deal with societies where slavery is normal and acceptable? Do you incorporate any sort of nuance to slavery, such as societies where slavery is only acceptable as punishment for a crime, rather than simply taking slaves from wherever is convenient?

The Django character of Dr. King Schulz is an interesting example, IMO, in that, while he finds slavery distasteful, he isn't opposed to using it to his advantage, purchasing Django from his previous owners at the very beginning of the film, then making a deal with Django for his freedom in trade for information needed on a bounty. So Schultz is a sympathetic character in the film, even though he does engage in slavery.

Thoughts?
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Whill
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 11, 2018 8:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I remember one adventure when I ran the Minos Cluster campaign that specifically dealt with morality of slavery and putting the PCs in the position to make some choices. But as far as slavery just existing, it has appeared in my adventures here and there and I don't remember too many times PCs went out of their way to free slaves unless they were of a slave species themselves and they were freeing their brethren. It was often done to piss off enemies who owned slaves or make a deal with a slave to get something in exchange for their freedom (kinda like the movie you mentioned). So they do the right thing but sometimes there was still an ulterior motive.

I had a PC who was captured and made into a slave in the spice mines of Kessel, and he orchestrated a huge slave revolt of biologicals (and droids) that played out similar in some ways to the one in Solo (but mine had a huge repulsor mine cart sequence a la the Temple of Doom). But the PC didn't go there to free slaves and his primary motivation for the slave revolt was really just to manufacture his own escape.

I've had a couple PCs of slave species, a Wookiee and a Mon Calamari, who on paper were slaves "owned" by another PC, but they of course were not treated like slaves by the other PCs, at least not in private. The purpose of the official slavery was to explain their "freedom" out in the galaxy, so they wouldn't just be captured and claimed as slaves (although of course that happened sometimes anyway). The PCs who owned the slaves could produce Imperial documentation of their ownership if questioned (although it may have been forged).
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garhkal
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 12, 2018 12:11 am    Post subject: Re: Dealing with Slavery within the Game Reply with quote

CRMcNeill wrote:

I'm curious how you, as GMs, deal with this (assuming its a subject you've broached at all). How do characters, who usually have a job to do that can't be sidetracked by going on an anti-slavery campaign, deal with societies where slavery is normal and acceptable? Do you incorporate any sort of nuance to slavery, such as societies where slavery is only acceptable as punishment for a crime, rather than simply taking slaves from wherever is convenient?


Either i gloss over it, put it in the back round, OR push it to the fore front, as their mission (defeat X slaver band)..
Though sometimes, especially with Loordians, it is a pain to deal with.
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 12, 2018 1:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've never encountered issues about slavery in any SWU campaign I was involved with, but for additional information on using slavery in a fantasy RPG setting, I think the 1st Edition Exalted supplement Manacle and Coin has some very relevant information that could be adapted to the SWU with a little bit of work.

Needless to say, slavery is a theme that has to handled with a great deal of care and maturity in an RPG. The more heavily involved the slavery theme is in your game, the greater the responsibility and the greater the effort to handle it responsibly as a result.

In particular, I want to quote Geoffrey C. Grabowski's (the original game developer for the Exalted RPG by White Wolf/Onyx Path) Introduction from Manacle & Coin because it strikes me as very relevant for anyone who wants to use slavery themes in their campaign, be it SWU or any other RPG.

Quote:
I don’t normally speak directly to the readers, but just this once, I’d like to talk directly to the people reading this book. Manacle and Coin is a special book for me, one that I’ve intended to do since I was first developing the main Exalted rulebook.

The goals for this book are threefold. First and foremost, I wanted to explain the business practice, macroeconomics and international vice trade of the Age of Sorrows. While none of these matters directly affect a game of kung-fu asskicking, Exalted achieves much of its heroic effect from the extreme contrast of the game’s over-the-top action with the grim realism of the Second Age. This book, then, is a key to establishing that grim realism. Like Savage Seas, there are doubtless some fans who will find the material in this book not to their tastes. It is a serious treatment of business, particularly dirty and unpleasant business, as transacted in the Second Age of Man. There is precious little graphic sex and even less graphic violence in it, and neither is especially glorified when it does appear. However, the book covers material that, until now, was only available to the developer and a few core writers. I think it is fascinating and fun, and my primary goal for this book is that much of the material find its way into your game.

Second, it was always my intention that this book illustrate the depths to which the human individual can sink. Most of the practices illustrated in this book are modeled on realworld material: the Arabic and transatlantic slave trade, the partition of China and the subjection of its people to opium, the perversion of entire nations to serve the ends of the single individual who rules and effectively owns them. I hope that when a reader finishes Manacle and Coin, he will thoroughly understand that there is nothing that some person will not do to another in the quest for wealth and power. Let this book stand as a lesson to those who would say that “nobody” would “ever” do something. There is always someone willing to perform any particular wicked deed if it profits him or allows him to gain a position where others are in his power.

Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, this book exists to remind the inhabitants of our own age that the denizens of the Age of Sorrows are wrong. Most of the evils this book talks about are largely, blessedly extinct in our own world, so much so that I needed to publish a book specifically about them so that players and Storytellers could learn enough of these historical terrors to include them in their games.

These practices are not extinct because they are inefficient or unprofitable. Most such inhuman endeavors netted quite tidy sums. If they hadn’t been profitable, their evil would not have been such a pestilence upon mankind. Now, they are extinct, not because of any natural or historical process, but because people of all nations and all creeds together turned their faces against these forms of wickedness and decried them as wrong and unjust. After many centuries of toil and strife, wherein men and women of character railed against these institutions despite the efforts of vested interests and apologists, good triumphed.

Today, there are no slaves, except for a few “students” in the Sudan. Today, there is no opium concession. Today, we abhor authoritarian governments without elections or the equality of law as the horrifying machines of systematic exploitation that they are. In the course of these reforms, there were many deaths and much property damage. Many slavers and opium peddlers were forced into tragic unemployment, and doubtless, the cost of some goods rose, but reform happened anyway, and apparently, they weren’t such “necessary” evils after all.

We will always live surrounded by those who claim that the evils of the day are inevitable or ineradicable or an unfortunate necessity of the era. Perhaps they are right, and perhaps they are apologists or puppets of their time’s vested interests. Certainly, I know where my opinion on the matter generally lies — that most people who speak of an odious practice as a terrible and unfortunate necessity wish to convince someone else that it is so.

I hope that this book fulfills these three goals.


This essay could apply just as well to the theme of "droid rights" in the SWU as well as organic slavery, if a GM should choose to go that route. The Solo film might have played that up for laughs with L3-37, but some people after watching Solo have commented on the darker side of what could very well be called "droid slavery" in the SWU. Considering that there seems to be a spectrum of droid sentience, ranging from unintelligent binary droids to fully self-aware droids like R2-D2 and C-3PO (hell, C-3PO even feels pain!), the ethics of droid sentience and droid rights gets even murkier. Can a non-self-aware/nonsentient binary droid assert its rights in the same manner that an artifical person like C-3PO could, if C-3PO so chose? If not, does that make the binary droid someone's property while C-3PO could be liberated and granted equal rights with biological sentients?

These are questions worth pondering. [url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Measure_of_a_Man_(Star_Trek:_The_Next_Generation)]At what point does an artificial entity stop being property and start becoming a person?[/url]

EDIT: And why is this link not working?
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CRMcNeill
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 12, 2018 10:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I’m not interested in conflating droid rights with organic rights. While there are certainly some droids who want freedom, they will be the rare exception and not the rule. In fact, said droids may even be viewed as malfunctioning or defective by other droids. Droids are built for a purpose, classified by that purpose rather than a particular species, and it would be a particularly short-sighted corporation that designed a droid to want freedom. In fact, the opposite is far more likely; a corporation would program its droids to desire subservience to an organic master as its natural state.

My focus here is on organics enslaving other organics, and how GMs deal with that “peculiar institution” in their games.
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Whill
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 12, 2018 11:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sutehp, thanks for sharing the resources on slavery.

Sutehp wrote:
[url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Measure_of_a_Man_(Star_Trek:_The_Next_Generation)]At what point does an artificial entity stop being property and start becoming a person?[/url]

EDIT: And why is this link not working?

Sorry, it is a known issue that URLs with parentheses do not work with the php URL coding here. The closest you can come is this URL which has that Star Trek episode in a list: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Measure_of_a_Man

CRMcNeill wrote:
I’m not interested in conflating droid rights with organic rights. While there are certainly some droids who want freedom, they will be the rare exception and not the rule. In fact, said droids may even be viewed as malfunctioning or defective by other droids. Droids are built for a purpose, classified by that purpose rather than a particular species, and it would be a particularly short-sighted corporation that designed a droid to want freedom. In fact, the opposite is far more likely; a corporation would program its droids to desire subservience to an organic master as its natural state.

My focus here is on organics enslaving other organics, and how GMs deal with that “peculiar institution” in their games.

Yes, the whole droid sentience/slavery issue has been debated ad nauseam in other threads. Let's keep that discussion in the Characters, Droids forum. I agree that this thread here should be about biological slavery.
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ReverendKeaton
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 12, 2018 1:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

We actually years ago had a great debate, in character, years ago on an old mailing list. Everyone took the position either for or against it and basically set the arguments in the senate for pro slavery versus anti slavery. It was actually pretty interesting to see some of the arguments on the positions. If I can find the hard copies of the emails somewhere I will post them up.

As far as my games I have only really dealt with slavery from the mission point of view. Here are the slavers, beat the hell out of them. I am not sure if I will actually ever address slavery in the republic as an actual game issue. May depend on what planet I have them on.
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Dredwulf60
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 13, 2018 8:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

For me it depends on the feel of the campaign.

My Mandalorians game was pretty dark and gritty, based directly on the Sons of Anarchy TV show model where the mando clans were basically outlaw motorcycle clubs.

As such, they were always waist-deep in all the seedier aspects of the galaxy, slavery and drug...er...spice running included.

While the player's clan had a fairly altruistic streak, they were primarily mercenaries and credit was king. They profited several times from slavery; usually by raiding hardcore slavers, stealing their stock and then 'freeing' them.

I use the quotation marks there, because they typically dropped them off at the first world they stopped at to fend for themselves. Which when you really think about it is often a death-sentence or at least a high likelihood to be re-captured. But at least they were free, right?

The other option was to give the recently freed slaves employment in the brothels that the players protected (in that organized crime use of the word 'protection' )
Which is another form of servitude in many ways, even though the players made sure that all employees of the brothels they associated with were nominally free, and paid a percentage of their income to the house, and the option to 'buy out' their contract after a time. More 'sentient trafficking' than slavery.

Again, it's shades of altruism in a dark world. There is always a more moral way to handle things...but when your characters aren't paragons of morality, little things have to count; like making sure a slave master treats his slaves well is a good thing compared to turning a blind eye.
It may even be more moral than 'freeing' them to die in the wilderness.


And all my players were adults and vested in a gritty crime-ridden morally ambiguous setting. Which does not describe every game I run.
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Pel
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 13, 2018 8:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dredwulf60 wrote:

And all my players were adults and vested in a gritty crime-ridden morally ambiguous setting. Which does not describe every game I run.


It's cool. All consenting adults and whatnot. If you play a crime campaign your going to get your hands dirty.

We never have tackled slavery, other than the big-picture 'slavery BAD' opinion and occasionally freeing some enslaved beings from crime lords and Imperials. During our "bad guy" phase we engaged in many flavors of villainy, but never swerved into slaving. I don't recall consciously avoiding it, we just never incorporated that subject into our campaigns.
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KageRyu
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 23, 2018 11:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In the long years I ran campaigns Slavery has cropped up in games time and again. It has ranged from background elements to demonstrate the seediness of certain crime worlds or areas of syndicate power, to purpose of mission to free particular slaves or put an end to such practices in a given system or sector, to a direct threat to players captured or defeated in game (thus requiring others to try to rescue them or abandon them to their fate), to foreground elements to test players moral fiber and try to throw potential monkey wrenches into ta plot or well crafted plan.

While it can be a tricky subject, depending on the makeup of your game group (and I speak more on maturity and political views rather than obvious physical demographics) I have had the good fortune of having it usually taken in stride. I would say it has always been fortunate that in the setting and scope of the SW universe, with so varied species, culture, and technology, I have never had any player get particular upset or derail a game with political and/or moral rhetoric one way or the other. I have never really had players ask for more or less of it in a game either. I think a big key is not to have it ever-present, or pop up too often. It is unfortunate business and can quickly cast a very dark and dirty shadow over a game setting - and I personally feel SW should be more about hope.

In my experiences, players have been content to deal with it in the context it was in the game. There was one instance where the players did declare their intent to put an end to a group that practiced slavery even after the mission ended, but I cannot blame them as this was an incident where 2 players characters had been captured in a small planetary scuffle by local forces and handed over to the syndicates for slavery in return for debts that the planetary officials owed... which really just gave me fodder for more adventures dealing with that syndicate and then that local system government...long story short...they did topple the local government, and the empire clamped down with an iron fist on the sector - leaving the players to ask if they did more harm than good.
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