I wrote a post long ago about this topic. And with Tyrants coming out I had to go over the subject again. I have recently been reading books of ancient history - most recently Plutarch's Fall of the Roman Republic which details the life of six very influential men. Marius, Sulla, Crassus, Pompey, Caesar, and Cicero. Very interesting read.
One of the elements that pop up frequently is that of slavery. Many of whom become elevated to freemen. One of them is an Egyptian general for Ptolemy XII.
Which if you have been looking into the ToS setting you know is a major concept. "Freedom is a lie" is one of the taglines. So this made me to think. In Tyrants of Saggakar, the First Ones care little about others. So they enslave everyone and force them to obey through whatever mean required. Make sure the slaves would keep their evil order.
Naturally no one wants to be a slave. We all want to control our own destinies. So how to make that playable?
The House Slave vs Field Slave distinction is one that is important. House slaves worked in or near the house while the field slaves worked the fields. House slaves with their attachment to the master's house do not make for good adventurers. And field slaves are kept under the watchful eye of brutal overseers. Neither of which have great adventuring potential.
So I need another type of slave: the envoy-slave. The envoy slave represents the master and travels throughout the land. Thus, they would be sent to work as envoys to their masters. This gives the players some measure of freedom, yet keep them in the system.
What kind of system would make people find slavery easier than freedom? After some thought, only one answer was possible: make freedom hard. Make it so one is freer under a yoke, that the benefit/ penalty is not in favor of freedom. But at the same time, it must not be impossible to overcome. This sounds just like the First Ones: this theme I have of evil usurping good, of freedom under an iron fist. It is really inspiring because it bakes in a lot of conflict to the campaign. And conflict create stories. And stories create adventures. And adventures creates campaigns.
So I did some research about cultures and slavery through Google. BAD MISTAKE. The internet is filled with stuff you cannot unsee. While I'm fine with consenting adults doing what they want... I am still a naive and innocent Canadian boy.
So how to use this knowledge into a game? No you pervs, not the sexual stuff. Sheesh really? I'm talking about running an RPG. Not porn.
Lowers head in shame, knowing what most readers are thinking of right now.
Next, how to give the PCs freedom in servitude? My idea of the envoy-slave really got traction here.
Simple: my boss is not over my shoulder all the time, micromanaging what I am doing. She tells me what to do then goes off to do other things. That's it. The First Ones would do that. Having multiple slaves, they would not be able or interested in micromanaging everyone of their slaves. Instead they would give commands which, in an organized play campaign is pretty much the "go here, do this" part. Where you are ordered to go somewhere for them. Thus allowing me to place the PCs in a location where "mysteriously" adventure happens.
This gives me the chance to include the masters in the campaign, at which time they would be more directly involved in what is happening. Much the same way patrons were in NeoExodus: they would be distant most of the time, but occasionally be major actors in what was going on.
So slavery is alive and well in Saggakar. After all, Service is Eternal and Freedom is a lie!