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  • Buying slaves

    I'd like to hear what kind of issues you see in going about buying significant numbers of slaves.


    So let's say a solar decides he needs soldiers. He has the tiger training charm, but lacks people. Being filthy rich and having bottomless pockets he goes about buying as many slaves he can get his hand on.


    Let's say he is in the dreaming seas region a good distance away from the nearest superpowers and only local/regional powers are bordering his location.


    Who are the sellers of slaves?
    How do they respond when he wants to buy 1000 slaves and is eager to buy several thousand more?
    What kind of response are the nearby power brokers likely to have when they hear about this slave buyer?
    Who can actually supply these number of slaves? Is it only the guild?
    What happens to the normal price of slaves during this buying spree?
    Other issues you foresee with buying thousands of slaves?

  • #2
    Have you read George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire, by any chance?

    (The reason I ask is there's a bit there in which the returning queen Daenarys tries to buy thousands of warrior-slaves to serve as her army. Mind, she's drastically more strapped for cash than your Solar, but the parallels are pretty notable.)
    Last edited by TheCountAlucard; 03-15-2017, 09:35 AM.

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    • #3
      In terms of slavers, you'll have local mom and pop outfits, and the Guild. Which of these is dominant probably depends on how far out of the way you are, but it's probably going to be a Guild franchise.

      I imagine the slavers will be pretty pleased, unless they suspect you're going to free the slaves and set up some slave-free zone. Which clearly won't be the case because...

      With demand for slaves skyrocketing, slavers will go nuts, entire villages will be emptied and brought to market for the Solar's special order on top of normal demand. If competition between slaving companies is high enough, this could get even bloodier than that, though reasonable/sensible slavers will realize that a rising tide raises all boats. Boats full of oar slaves. Because this Solar is a dick.

      The normal price goes up. Supply falls off dramatically. The Solar still probably gets a discount for buying in bulk.

      As for other people's reactions? In addition to the local Satrap being pissed that his jade mines aren't making quota de to human resources issues, a nearby Freehold is probably wondering why it can't get a good meal.

      That, and the slaves themselves are likely to turn on you at the first opportunity since you ripped them away from their lives and are likely at least partially responsible for the deaths/enslavement of their loved ones. Oh, and training doesn't make the soldiers loyal or give them positive intimacies, it just makes them badasses. So that could end poorly.
      Last edited by Abakus; 03-15-2017, 11:09 AM.

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      • #4
        This is a good and exciting way to start plunging the whole region into war.

        Sellers of slaves will range from the large guild caravans which supply Prasad to small gangs of bandits who realize that they can make some extra money by selling the people they rob. The solar has a decision to make: Try to set up a large-scale deal with the guild to import large numbers, saving money on wholesale but taking more time putting your eggs in one basket, or simply buy from anyone who is selling, paying extra money to get slaves as fast as possible.

        Either way, that's a massive number of slaves all going to the solar, the price of slaves is going to go up, and this will be noticed. Prasadi nobles will have to pay through the nose for what was cheap last year, and the smaller bandits who would sell a slave or two on the side suddenly realize that slaves are worth their weight in gold. This is going to lead to an increase in local slaving, even if the guild is importing all of theirs from other regions, and you can quickly see whole villages being kidnapped in a way that can cause major disruption for all the regional powers. Even nations that don't care much for the suffering of their peasants will be upset at the loss of productivity and revenue, and will eventually start taking steps to protect their population... or at least control who is being sold and take a piece of the revenue.

        And this is all before the powers start realizing that you're building an army next door, which they probably won't react well to.

        Other issues I forsee? Well, most slaves don't want to be press-ganged into an army, and giving slaves weapons and training means that you need to be finding a way to build heavy loyalty, or watch the whole thing explode. Not to mention every local Exalt who has ever held abolition as a cause is going to see you as public enemy number one, providing no end to the would-be PCs who would want to stop your dastardly schemes.

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        • #5
          First up the answer *really* depends on the kind of slave you're talking about. For simplicity I'm going to assume chattel slavery.
          Originally posted by Volivat View Post
          So let's say a solar decides he needs soldiers. He has the tiger training charm, but lacks people. Being filthy rich and having bottomless pockets he goes about buying as many slaves he can get his hand on.
          In general, armed slaves are a really really bad idea. Well trained and armed slaves are arguably worse. They have nothing to gain by fighting FOR you. They're well armed, making it easy for them to turn on their overseers. You can try and pull something creative, like holding their families/children as hostages but there's a high probability they'll simply decide killing you and rescuing their children is the better tactic.

          Now if you're talking about buying the slaves and freeing them and offering them a job in your army killing things for you... well, that's a bit different. Some very rough conversion guidelines and let's say a slave is about 20k in modern US money, and let's say an even half want to stay and join your army... after all, they're not warriors, they may just want to get back to the family they lost, get revenge for being enslaved and all that goodness, so half seems reasonably generous. so buying out two thousand slaves at 20k/per is about 40 million in today's money. So you're talking about the kind of bill that should make even a very rich person think twice.
          Originally posted by Volivat View Post
          Who are the sellers of slaves?
          How do they respond when he wants to buy 1000 slaves and is eager to buy several thousand more?
          What kind of response are the nearby power brokers likely to have when they hear about this slave buyer?
          Who can actually supply these number of slaves? Is it only the guild?
          What happens to the normal price of slaves during this buying spree?
          Other issues you foresee with buying thousands of slaves?
          Well, on the price front, demand rises, so will the asking price, and so will the costs. Depending on the size of the region, I wouldn't be shocked to see prices jump to 10 times what they were. Quality is also likely to drop in that time... less healthy adults more disease ridden and crippled, more children, more women with infants... in short more people that don't make for the greatest of warriors.

          There's not likely any one slave market in a city that has a thousand slaves ready to go at one time. They'll likely have to arrange things.

          Arranging things will likely mean that any isolated villages will become depopulated in short order to meet your increased demand for slaves.

          When it becomes known that you're building an army, you'll likely get people turning up looking to join.

          You're likely to develop some horrible rumours about your character... after all, they're assembling an army and want to fill it with slaves... nobody arms slaves, so you must be planning on using them as raw meat-buffers for your main forces.


          Odd_Canuck is not a topical medication or food product and is not to be taken internally or seriously.

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          • #6
            Time for some napkin socioeconomics!

            Originally posted by Volivat View Post
            Let's say he is in the dreaming seas region a good distance away from the nearest superpowers and only local/regional powers are bordering his location.
            I'm going to assume that you're not within range of big states like Ysyr or Volivat as I write this.

            Originally posted by Volivat View Post
            Who are the sellers of slaves?
            In the absence of larger markets in places like Ysyr or Volivat, the people who sell slaves are probably local slavers who normally would be supplying the larger markets. These are bandits who kidnap the people they rob, folks who conduct border raids, debt-collectors taking indentured servants, and buyers of unwanted children.

            Originally posted by Volivat View Post
            How do they respond when he wants to buy 1000 slaves and is eager to buy several thousand more?
            1000 is a big order for local slavers. They'd probably need a fair amount of time to get that many people together, and if you have stringent requirements for your slaves (e.g. must be healthy adults, males, specifically war-prisoners, etc.), then it could be years before they can fill it. Then again....

            Originally posted by Volivat View Post
            What kind of response are the nearby power brokers likely to have when they hear about this slave buyer?
            ...If you're really offering fat wads of cash, power brokers who already have them might just try to sell you slaves themselves. Alternately, if they feel threatened by your slave-army, they may react defensively - raising forces of their own, interfering with your slave supply-chain, or even pre-emptively attacking you.

            Originally posted by Volivat View Post
            Who can actually supply these number of slaves? Is it only the guild?
            No, anyone could supply them, given enough time and sufficiently large population to poach from. Having no scruples also helps.

            Originally posted by Volivat View Post
            What happens to the normal price of slaves during this buying spree?
            If you're offering much more than is typical for the cost of slaves, it'll skyrocket. Your solar army-builder's asking price will become the base bid for anyone who wants to buy the same kinds of slaves that you want. Then, once you've consumed most of the supply, the laws of supply and demand will raise the price even further. And once you've bought all the slaves you want, the "slave bubble" will burst and the market may just crash.

            Originally posted by Volivat View Post
            Other issues you foresee with buying thousands of slaves?
            You have to find ways to feed them, house them, train them, equip them... all the normal challenges of raising an army, except that when you levy peasants or enlist volunteers you're usually getting people who have some of their own resources to start with. The slaves will have nothing, which means that you can't pass any of the logistical expenses on to your new soldiers - e.g., you can't make them buy their own armor.

            Oh, and there's the loyalty/obedience thing. Can't forget that, when managing slaves.
            Last edited by semicasual; 03-15-2017, 10:08 AM.


            On the frontier of the Wild South, there's only one woman with the grit to take on its most dangerous outlaws and bring them Back Alive, or Maybe Dead.

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            • #7
              This is probably tangential to your questions, but lacking soldiers is about the last problem you want to solve with slavery. There's a reason few cultures throughout the history used slave soldiers, and those that did started training them at a very young age. Given the established parameters (has money and capacity to train troops, lacks people), the Solar would be better off recruiting volunteers than buying slaves in bulk. Unless there's a specialized facility that trains janissaries in the vicinity, that is. Which there might as well be, especially in regions that see a lot of strife regularly. But buying just any slaves and trying to make an army out of them is likely to be more trouble than it's worth.

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              • #8
                Thanks for all the great answers! Several things that were mentioned hadn't crossed my mind. Especially the incentive to kidnap just about anyone and the slave bubble.

                The slave/loyalty issue I see being handled in proclaiming the slaves freedom and offering them work in the army. That freedom should create major/defining ties to exploit with a great and epic speech about their new possible role as legionnaires of the sun. The rest can take up other jobs that are needed unless they want to leave, they will be free to do so, but won't receive any help on getting anywhere though.

                If you just wanted to buy up existing slaves without fueling the biggest slaving spree in centuries, how would you go about doing that?

                Also, yeah getting the slaves would be the last piece in a massive logistics undertaking.

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                • #9
                  To only buy up existing slaves, you'd probably want to only buy slaves from people who already own them Eschew the common market entirely, and you may avoid some of the consequences of a sudden, huge demand for slaves. There will probably still be a slave boom once the people you bought slaves start looking for replacements, but you can mitigate that by only buying slaves a few at a time over an extended period of time.


                  On the frontier of the Wild South, there's only one woman with the grit to take on its most dangerous outlaws and bring them Back Alive, or Maybe Dead.

                  Avatar by K.S. Brenowitz

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                  • #10
                    Can'twrite much at the moment, but I'll remind people of the existence of the Janissaries.


                    I have approximate knowledge of many things.
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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Volivat View Post
                      Thanks for all the great answers! Several things that were mentioned hadn't crossed my mind. Especially the incentive to kidnap just about anyone and the slave bubble.

                      The slave/loyalty issue I see being handled in proclaiming the slaves freedom and offering them work in the army. That freedom should create major/defining ties to exploit with a great and epic speech about their new possible role as legionnaires of the sun. The rest can take up other jobs that are needed unless they want to leave, they will be free to do so, but won't receive any help on getting anywhere though.

                      If you just wanted to buy up existing slaves without fueling the biggest slaving spree in centuries, how would you go about doing that?

                      Also, yeah getting the slaves would be the last piece in a massive logistics undertaking.
                      Most of the slaves you free probably won't want to jump right into a life of military servitude. Something like The Unsullied in Game of Thrones works because of their particular culture/upbringing. Imagine if someone had freed all the Ironborn's slaves then tried to recruit them to fight in a war of Westeros. The overwhelming response would be, "look, thanks man, but I just want to go home and find my family."

                      Buying only existing slaves will still create a big market bubble, affecting industry and Raksha. The slaves you get would probably just be less personally disloyal.

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                      • #12
                        Unless you have a Supplier like the Guild your best bet is to conquer a group of people or offer to fund someones conquest in exchange for Slaves... and maybe sodomy.


                        It is a time for great deeds!

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                        • #13
                          If *I* was running a character that had reason to obtain a large number of slaves, and I didn't want to get them from the open market but rather from people that already had them... I'd focus on finding ways to buy out the industries/people that had those slaves and otherwise obtain legal title to them. Assassination, forged wills, employing some legbreakers to apply pressure to the businesses to buy them for a song... of course then you're dealing with the fact that those businesses and plantations and ranches are *closing* because you're talking the work force away to fight, so that's going to have a cascade reaction in the local economy.



                          Odd_Canuck is not a topical medication or food product and is not to be taken internally or seriously.

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                          • #14
                            What is the planned method of keeping the slave army in line by the way? Are these Mamluk blokes going to hella hate you, or is this Slavery system going to provide a reasonable standard of living and brotherhood at the cost of agency.


                            It is a time for great deeds!

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                            • #15
                              Hmm what are the prospects of the general area? How few morals are you willing to employ, how large is your force already, and how easy would it be for someone to forage they're own way without you?

                              In the "Lightbringer" series one of the villains, Omnichrome, handled a massive recruitment from a city by forcing the city to release all of it's slaves. The slaves were then given the offer of joining and being provided the stuff they needed to you know keep living, but they'd have to join Omnichrome's forces since those resources were meant to keep his army going and all. Of course what he didn't mention was they'd already basically stripped the surrounding area bare of the same resources. Which meant that the freed slaves would either need to be amazing at foraging, move into raiding, starve, or join up with Omnichrome as part of his army. The first was unlikely, the raiders would either attack his own forces and die, or turn on the other freed slaves so even if you were good at foraging you might go join up with Omnichrome for protection from other slaves. Starving isn't a pleasant way to go, and the raiders wouldn't help much, so eventually the majority of the freed slaves joined up with Omnichrome.

                              Now granted the forcing a city to release all of it's slaves might not be in your prospects, but the pressure of join or die from outside circumstances is helpful.

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