Slavery on Zalanthas
- Introduction
- Slave Roles
- Slave Races
- Captivity and Freedom
- Where Slaves Come From
- Slave Training
- Social Positions of Slaves
- Role-playing a Free Citizen around Slaves
- Role-playing a Slave's Owner
- Role-playing a Slave
- Conclusion
- Prices

- Back to the General Information
- Back to the Main Index


Slavery, the legal ownership of one being by another, is a fact of life on Zalanthas. Most inhabitants of the world accept this as the way things work; very few would see any injustice in it. Wherever slavery is allowed in the Known World of Zalanthas, slaves make a vital contribution to the economy. The main reason slavery exists on Zalanthas is to provide society with a large and cheap labor force.

In Allanak, slaves are everywhere. The Houses (whether noble or merchant) make use of slaves in many everyday operations, whether as domestic help, crafters, messengers, guards, or even scribes (where allowed by Highlord Tektolnes). Of particular note is House Borsail, which specializes in breeding muls for the Arena. Apart from slaves owned by private organizations, the city-state has a veritable army of slaves in its own right, and uses them mainly as laborers to maintain the roads and erect buildings. The city-state also maintains a large workforce of slaves in its obsidian mines, west of the city proper. Allanaki law dictates that all slaves in Allanak must openly wear a slaves' collar to identify them as such, just as magickers must wear a certain type of gem to identify them. Most commonly-encountered Allanaki slaves are humans and dwarves. Muls and a wide variety of captured slaves form the gladiators of the Arena.

In Tuluk, before its fall in Year 64 of the 19th King's Age, slaves were also a common part of society. A large proportion of the Sun King's army consisted of human or half-giant slave soldiers. While a large proportion of slaves were used for labor or domestic duties, as in Allanak, a significant proportion were slave artisans. Such slaves were kept for their creative abilities, and many held places of respect in the art-loving northern community. After the destruction of Tuluk by magickal forces, the use of slaves decreased dramatically, due to the lack of effective policing and the general lack of resources. In many ways, the Northlands became a 'freer' place with the destruction of the city. When Allanaki forces invaded in Year 13 of the 20th King's Age, however, they re-established the use of slaves in northern society.

Elsewhere in the world, such as in Red Storm Village, the use of slaves is tolerated, but the practice of enslaving people is prohibited. There are very, very few places in the world that have a 'total' ban on slavery. Since the three major merchant Houses make use of slaves, this is not surprising, for intolerance of slavery would lead to trade difficulties. Bands of slavers operate throughout the world, enslaving those who are too weak to defend themselves, or too stupid to avoid being captured.

Slave Roles

Slaves fill a wide variety of positions. Most are laborers or domestic servants, but there are also many who work as crafters, guards, soldiers (notably in old Tuluk), gladiators, and even a few scribes. It is a mistake to assume that all slaves are the same, or that they are all to be treated the same way. Some slaves are trusted more than others, and can even rise to positions of significant authority within an organization, even though they remain slaves. Some slave occupations are described below, with more common roles listed first.

Laborers are perhaps the most common slave occupation in existence. Such slaves are worked hard, and for long hours, and usually have only passable amounts of food and water. These types of slaves tend to be made up of slaves who are not good for anything else. In a sense, they are the lowest common denominator, since anyone can perform manual labor. In general, their lifespans tend to be shorter than average, due to being made to work physically very hard. Older labor slaves are usually put to work tending gardens or crops, or overseeing sections of work, since they have usually picked up some planning skills by that stage in life. Labor slaves are the single category of slave that experiences the widest range of treatment. Some owners treat their labor slaves well, while most are cruel, seeing them as little more than beasts. Labor slaves have generally been pressed into slavery, either through being captured (including criminals forced to be slaves as punishment) or being forced into slavery to pay off debts. Such slaves usually have low loyalty to their owners, and usually seek to escape or earn their freedom as quickly as possible.

Domestic slaves are responsible for maintaining households in good order. There is sometimes a little overlap with labor slaves (e.g., gardeners), but usually domestic slaves are treated somewhat better than labor slaves, if only for the fact that they move around in the owner's house and so need to be kept clean and well-mannered. Cleaning, cooking, and repairing things are all tasks that domestic slaves may be given the responsibility for. In some households, food- and wine-tasting are specialized roles where trusted slaves have the responsibility for sampling food and drink for poisons before they reach the owners' lips. Another specialized role sometimes seen in wealthy households is that of pleasure slave, where a slave is kept for the sexual pleasure of his/her owner. (Important note: please be aware of the consent rule for role-playing of extreme violent or sexual scenes that we have here on Armageddon MUD.) Domestic slaves undergo training in their designated job, and are usually highly skilled. They also undergo comprehensive etiquette training as they are in direct and frequent contact with those of higher social status. Domestic slaves are normally loyal to their owners, but may sometimes be traded or sold to other organizations.

Guard slaves are trusted with keeping a household or person safe. Slaves in this role normally come from a long line of slaves with distinguished service to the organization, and it is seen as an honor for such a slave to be allowed to continue to defend the owning family and its property. Dwarven slaves, with their quasi-spiritual foci, are sometimes found in this kind of role. Guard slaves are usually raised within the organization they serve, and go through comprehensive combat and etiquette training so that they are not only competent with arms, but suitable to accompany the owners to almost any kind of social function. Guard slaves normally stay with the same organization for life, and are almost never traded or sold.

In old Tuluk, the Sun King Muk Utep's army consisted largely of human and half-giant soldier slaves. Apart from good food, drink, and training, Muk Utep's war-like nature and powerful character seemed to engender an unspoken loyalty amongst his citizens; the poor would compete with each other to be accepted into the ranks of his legions. Some have speculated that some form of magick or mindbending may have been used to keep the Sun King's soldier slaves in order, but this aside, the simple facts are that a soldier's life was far preferable to that of a beggar or scavenger. In contrast, all of the Highlord Tektolnes's army are free citizens of Allanak. This is a strange state of affairs, given that the Sun King has generally been seen as more benevolent than the Highlord, who rules his southern city-state with an iron fist. Looking deeper into the situation, one can see that even though the northern soldiers were slaves in name, they were actually treated better than the 'free' soldiers of the south; another illustration that the practical difference between slave and free citizen can depend upon where one is in the world.

Gladiators are, far and away, the most glamorous type of slave in the Known World. Violence is a real part of everyday life, and who better to raise into positions of veneration than those who do it professionally? There are generally two types of gladiators: those bred for the role, and those forced into the role. Of the former, most are muls, dwarves, or humans. Of the latter, there is a very wide variety of races. Born-and-bred gladiators almost universally take immense pride in their status, and are treated as heroes and heroines by the public (within the city-states, at least). They are well known for their incredible skill at arms and physical condition, carefully developed over years of hard training. Forced gladiators tend to be either captured peoples (particularly halflings and mantises) or else condemned criminals who are given a nominal amount of training before being thrown onto the arena floor to be carved up by the professionals. The life of a gladiator is usually short, and characterized by extreme viciousness while at work and extreme pleasure while not at work (the rewards from wealthy owners pleased at their gladiators' successes). Very few gladiators survive to old age, and fewer still ever earn their freedom. Those who do survive for long are usually retired and kept as trainers for the next generation.

Apart from these common slave occupations, some very specialized roles do exist. It is rumored that some organizations, under license from the authorities, have scribe and account slaves who keep track of inventories and are able to read and write. Some organizations keep slaves specifically as trainers (either of other slaves or of free citizens who are members) for a variety of roles. In a few rare cases, slaves are specifically tutored in strategy and planning to act as advisors for an organization's leaders. Suffice it to say that the concept of 'slave' encompasses far more than just laborers and menial servants.

Slave Races

Most slaves in Zalanthas are humans (around three quarters of all slaves), followed by dwarves (around a fifth of all slaves), and then half-giants, muls, and miscellaneous other races. Of the commonly-known races, muls are the only race purpose-bred as slaves, and elves are the single race best known for making poor slaves.

Humans are the most populous race in the Known World, and most of them cluster in and around the two city-states, so it is no surprise that they form the majority of slaves. Humans also form the nobility, and it is said that to be able to have a slave of the same race as oneself is truly a mark of superiority. (There are also those who see this as flawed logic, though they tend to remain silent on such issues.) In general, humans tend to be the most flexible slave race, as they are socially acceptable almost anywhere. Humans are characterized by a remarkable degree of variety with respect to physical condition, loyalty, and intelligence, and so are found in a variety of roles.

Dwarves have a very long history of being slaves. Many Ages ago, during the Empire of Man, it is rumored that dwarves as a race were effectively totally enslaved by humans. Today, most dwarves are free citizens, and an accepted part of society, but there are still many who are born, live, and die as slaves. Born dwarven slaves are normally incredibly loyal, due to their powerful foci being dedicated to the service of their owners. As the owners prosper, so the dwarves serving them prosper. Captured dwarven slaves are another matter entirely, for their foci are usually not directed in a positive way towards their owners.

Muls are the only race born and bred as slaves. While it is certain that muls can be produced through a willing relationship between dwarves and humans, there is no record of such happening, due to the extreme cultural differences between the two races. Muls bred under license from the sorcerer-kings are the result of forced relationships between dwarves and humans, usually slaves bred as mul-producing stock in their own right. The details surrounding mul breeding are carefully shrouded in secrecy, for muls are naturally some of the most physically dangerous beings in the Known World. Muls are only ever bred as gladiators, for the expense involved in actually producing and raising one is prohibitive for any other purpose. Those muls not suitable as gladiators find their way into other occupations that make use of their physical strength, while remaining under heavy guard.

As muls are the main PC slave race played, it is perhaps worth noting some more background information on them here. For all practical intents and purposes, all muls are bred in captivity, and are bred as gladiators. Muls have very dense musculature for their size, and so require large amounts of food and drink to keep in top condition. They also, as a general rule, have extremely violent and vindictive natures, and so must be kept under heavy guard. Of all muls bred, over 95% of them end up as gladiators in the Arena. The remaining 5% either 'drop out' as gladiators (and end up as hard laborers, and usually die attempting to escape) or else are bought by organizations for special purposes. Muls are sold to either very large or very wealthy organizations (such as noble Houses). They are rarely sold to individual owners or small groups; while such people might be able to afford a mul, the cost of ownership (food, security, and training) puts such purchases out of reach for all but the wealthiest.

Half-giant slaves may occasionally be found owned by individuals or small groups, but otherwise are almost all owned by the city-states. They are usually set to work as laborers or guards. Like muls, half-giants are very expensive to maintain as slaves. They do not require security as muls do, but they consume tremendous amounts of food and water.

Elves make very poor slaves, and it is extremely rare to find an elven slave. Most elves simply run away or contrive to escape at the earliest opportunity. If they do not escape, they are usually too frail to survive harsh discipline, and normally wither into uselessness in captivity.

Other races are generally used only as gladiator slaves. The general rule here is: the more bizarre, the better. Nobles are known to sponsor hunting expeditions where the main purpose of the journey is to capture exotic creatures for use as arena beasts or gladiators.

Captivity and Freedom

Around three quarters of Zalanthan slaves were born slaves. The remaining quarter were either captured (usually as children, especially orphaned children) by slave traders or else enslaved as punishment for committing a crime. House Borsail, amongst a few other organizations, regularly sends bands of slavers through the Known World to capture potential slaves or slave-breeding stock. Such bands also serve to hunt down and recapture any escaped slaves. If enslaved as punishment for a crime, the term of slavery will depend on the templar sentencing the criminal, but it is usually not a life sentence.

Life for slaves on Zalanthas varies greatly depending on the slave's role, the owner or owning organization, and several other factors. For most slaves, life is characterized by hard work, but also predictability, safety, and the satisfaction of basic needs such as food and water. Kind owners are rare, and cruel owners are somewhat common, but most owners are neutral. If the slave does well, then the slave is rewarded; if the slave does poorly, then the slave is punished.

While some slaves may wish to escape bondage, many will not. The life of a slave is, in many ways, actually better than that of a starving beggar or scavenger. Slaves are effectively guaranteed food, water, and lodgings in return for loyalty, obedience, and hard work. The only main difference between a slave and a free citizen, in many cases, is that the slave does not have personal freedom to do as he/she wishes; he/she is subject to the will of the owner.

In some organizations, it is possible for a slave to eventually win his/her freedom, but this is very rare. Normally, a slave is a slave for life, irrevocably bound to the organization or individual that owns him or her. It is standard practice for slaves to wear a slaves' collar so that they can readily be identified as such. To not wear such a collar either means that he/she has somehow earned great respect within his/her organization, or else that he/she is escaped. Usually, it is the latter case. In many organizations, it is common practice for slaves to bear a permanent marking (e.g., a tattoo upon the forehead, shoulder, or back of the hand) as well as the slaves' collar, so that the slave is identified as such even without the collar.

Where Slaves Come From

Birth (born slaves): Three quarters of all slaves were born as such, or sold into slavery at such a young age that they remember nothing else. Born slaves are raised in the noble compound or upon noble owned estates by at least one of their birth parents and are trained from a young age. The training of a born slave generally takes one of two forms:

  • The parent teaches the child to perform their role. This is especially common when the parent is a crafter or possesses some other marketable skill. As most warrior slaves are forbidden from having children it is unusual for a warrior slave to be trained by a parent.
  • Alternatively, the slave can be trained by someone other than the parent, although it is still common for them to live with that parent. This is commonly used for the creation of warrior slaves.

Sale (sold slaves): It is a fact of Zalanthan existence that life is hard. The denizens of the wastes, outlying villages or the bustling metropolises struggle to survive in the face of starvation, violence and a harsh criminal code. Often when a family on the borderline of starvation has a child they will sell it for the few sids required to get by. Many of these families rationalise the choice with the belief that the child will have a better life as a slave. Sold children, especially the exceedingly young, are typically given to slave females that have recently given birth. These "adopted" children are typically raised as born slaves although they are more likely to be trained outside the family group, often as warriors.

Capture (caught slaves): One quarter of slaves were captured or sold into slavery at such an advanced age that they retain memories of freedom. These slaves are typically regarded as a greater risk than either born or caught slaves and as such are far less likely to be given privileges or become elevated in rank. The most common role for the caught slave is that of the warrior although caught slaves have been used in a variety of roles.

Slave Training

Slaves are trained from a young age. Initially accompanying and observing their parent and later being assigned or apprenticed to a skilled worker (who may be the parent). The professions provided to slaves cover the entire spectrum of roles and needs within Zalanthan society, some examples are provided below:

  • Construction Labourer: The labourer slave is trained in construction techniques. Typically the young slave in training is unable to fully participate in heavy lifting and carrying and so spends their early days learning such skills as joinery, stonelaying and basic engineering. If they show particular talent in a given area they may be apprenticed and allowed to specialise (becoming a carpenter, stonemason or interior designer for example). Alternatively they will take their place among the hod carriers and general labourers. An unspecialised labourer will rarely achieve great rank amongst their masters but can expect to be fed and housed well and allowed to mate (assuming pregnancy won't diminish their use). Accumulation of privileges is usually based upon length of service.
    Specialised labourer slaves have a relatively high chance of achieving rank and high privileges from their master. A skilled designer or engineer is worth a great deal and these slaves can expect to be given command of others and even control of non-slave specialists
  • Farm Labourer: The farm labourer slave works in order to provide food for sale or for the masters household. This can involve a plethora of tasks, such as ploughing, animal husbandry, ditch digging, fence building and more. The young slaves typically accompany their parents into the fields and assist from an early age. It is common for House farms to be staffed by farm labourer slaves with a small cadre of warriors to protect them. In especially harsh environments the labourers will have received rudimentary combat training as well.
    Farm labourer slaves have little chance for improvement, although exceptional service may bring them the position of overseer to a work-team or even a farm. These positions will allow the slave overseer control upwards of a thousand farm labourers at any given time.
  • House Servant: The nobility and their senior advisors rarely enjoy such menial tasks as cooking, water carrying, table laying, getting dressed and toilet cleaning. These are the types of role for which the house servant is required. The young house slave will typically be assigned to an older trusted slave and taught the skills required to maintain the household and service the masters needs.
    House servants are typically allowed to mate and accumulate privileges by necessity and length of service. For example, a slave with responsibility for keeping the kitchens stocked will have access to money and be given freedom to travel within the locale. If the slave proves trustworthy and adept they may also inherit responsibility for carrying messages, or purchasing wine. With time and long service this slave may even be allowed an entertaining allowance (to amuse potential new suppliers to the estate) or authority over other house staff (slave and non-slave alike).
  • Warrior: warrior slave encompasses a multitude of disciplines ranging from the house bodyguard through to the arena gladiator. The young slave will serve a harsh apprenticeship under the tutelage of the elder house warriors. They can expect to be taught the use of multiple weapons and tactics as well as indoctrinated into extreme loyalty toward the house masters. As time passes the young warriors will be joined by many caught slaves. These caught slaves rarely exhibit the same level of house loyalty but do bring knowledge of combat and the outside world that is of great interest and use.
    A warrior slave is generally awarded privileges based upon rank or function. A warrior slave displaying ability to lead may be given command of a squad of slaves or even a large body of warriors. It is not out of the question for a slave with great and loyal service to general an army in his or her master's service.
  • Sexual: Members of the nobility are known to raise slaves solely for use as concubines or catamites. This widely accepted practice varies widely in its nature between the noble houses. The best treated sexual slaves can attain great freedom and luxurious trappings. Conversely the lowest of this class may suffer terrible deprivations at the hands of their noble masters.

Slaves and Social Position

In the city of Allanak, the largest slave holder in the known world, and its surrounding farms it is estimated that half of the population are held as slaves. In other cities the numbers vary but in each one the institution of slavery permeates through every level of society. A slave's individual status is often advertised by the clothing and equipment that have been granted to them. A lowly labourer slave may be dressed in sturdy, unadorned linens whilst a slave in charge of a major trading venture would be well attired. Commoners would do well to pay attention to the slave's dress for whilst they might get away with taunting or jostling the labourer they might suffer heavily if a master heard of them treating the merchant in the same way.

Regardless of individual status there are some advantages that the institution of slavery bestows upon its members:

Firstly, in the eyes of the law the slave is an object owned by his or her master. Should a commoner insult the slave or even damage him then the commoner is liable in an identical fashion to if they had insulted or damaged a vase or some other trapping of the master's household.

Secondly, a slave is a valuable commodity. It is a foolish master that allows a slave to starve or suffer needlessly from exposure to the elements. Providing he or she serves willingly a slave can expect to be well fed and provided with shelter for the duration of his or her life.

Thirdly, it is cheaper to breed a slave than to buy one. Providing the practice doesn't impair the slave's work it is common for them to be allowed to breed and to have any children that emerge from his union cared for and raised by the house. The death rate for the children of slaves is significantly lower than that seen amidst the poorer areas of most cities.

Role-playing a Free Citizen around Slaves

Slaves are property, and should be treated as such. Just as you would not try to ride someone else's kank, so you would not give orders to a slave that is not yours to order. It is normal practice to ignore slaves unless they directly speak to you (in which case it is very likely that the slave has been given permission to do so, otherwise he/she would risk punishment from his/her owner). If you find yourself specifically needing to talk to a slave, you would normally address them as "slave" unless it becomes apparent that they have some other title (e.g., "guard").

If a slave appears to be doing something very out of place or illegal, this should be brought to the immediate attention of the law. You should remember, however, that slaves can and do fill a wide variety of roles (some are described above), so it may be a good idea to watch the slave for a while before deciding that he/she is acting inappropriately.

Normally, a slave's allegiance will be very clear. You have but to look at their dress or markings (brand or tattoo) upon the body. It is not normal practice to go around questioning slaves about their ownership if it is already clearly visible just by looking at them. Some slaves are not allowed to talk to free citizens at all, so if a slave ignores you, this is likely the case.

A templar or noble attempting to issue orders to the slave of another organization (assuming there are no exceptional circumstances) would be like said templar or noble attempting to steal a kank--very socially inappropriate for the supposedly higher status person. Whether a slave would obey or not would depend on the orders given by his/her owner.

Please remember that if the need for OOC communication arises, you will be talking to the slave's player (a real person), not the character. As such, you need to conduct such communications politely.

Role-playing a Slave's Owner

If you have the opportunity to play such a role, you may choose to play a kind owner, or a cruel one, or something in between. It is a good idea to work out OOCly how the owner-slave relationship will be played out with the player of the PC slave beforehand, so as to avoid OOCly offending anyone. It is also a good idea to sort out some ground rules with your clan immortal before taking on a PC slave. For example, it may not even be appropriate for your character to have a slave, even if you find a player who wishes to play such a role.

As the player of the owner of a PC slave, you have a certain responsibility to help the slave keep occupied, as you effectively wield authority over what they can and cannot do. Sorting out an IC schedule of activities to fall back on (if no other PCs are around) is a good idea. Another idea is to give the PC slave permission to do certain things (e.g., leave the estate to buy food from the markets), whether you are logged in or not.

Please remember that if the need for OOC communication arises, you will be talking to the slave's player (a real person), not the character. As such, you need to conduct such communications politely.

Role-playing a Slave

Please talk to your clan immortal about this, since your character's orders will depend greatly on the specific arrangement he/she is in. Remember, however, that you must always be clearly identifiable as a slave within that organization, or else you will be assumed to be attempting to escape. As a slave, your character's owner (or owning organization) has the power of life and death over your character, so bear that in mind when playing your character. Slaves who are insulting or flippant towards their owners are taught a lesson quickly.

As a slave, you will find that you need to be a patient player. There may be times when you have 'nothing' to do because your character's owner is not logged in. It may be a good idea to sort out some IC schedule so that your character will have some activity to occupy him/herself with if no one else is around.

You should also note that, regardless of your character's role in the game, you as a player (the real person at the keyboard) have the right to be communicated with politely in OOC communications, should the need ever arise for such.


Slavery is a very real part of Zalanthas, and is certainly in keeping with the game's harsh and unforgiving theme. Playing a slave is an exceptional challenge, as you will need to be patient and to role-play well to truly enjoy the role. People who cannot separate themselves from their characters should not play slaves, as this will likely lead to OOC offense being taken where none is intended. This kind of role is not for everyone, but it can be a rewarding role-playing experience if done well.

Remember that most people on Zalanthas have no objection to slavery, and that most slaves do not openly wish to be freed. While there are certainly some characters whose backgrounds dictate that they take a strong anti-slavery stance, they are the exception rather than the rule.

Slave Pricing Guidelines

Category Price
unskilled labor slave 500 ~ 3000 obsidian (depends on physical traits: age, strength, race, etc.)
non-mul, humanoid gladiator ~5000 obsidian
untrained mul ~7000 obsidian
trained mul gladiator ~10000 obsidian

Non-humanoid races are priced depending on rarity and usefulness (usually as a gladiator). A fit, trained mul gladiator will almost always draw the highest prices, from 10k upwards, depending on actual history in the arena. Unfit, sickly, unskilled humans & half-elves will draw the poorest price, going for as little as a few hundred sids. Fit children may draw a little more than other unskilled slaves, as they can often be more readily controlled & taught.

Submitted by
Krrx and Savak
Last updated October 18, 2002.
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