Did players purchase and own slaves? Did they want to free all the slaves and get frustrated when they realized how impossible that would working against a whole culture? Or maybe that became the point of the campaign?Slavery has been pretty common in my campaigns since I got out of college, as I’ve drifted towards a more Ancient World feel. As Migellito points out, slavery in the ancient world is often not what modern folks expect:
Slaves in Rome could own property and save up money to buy their own freedom, and many entered into it as a method of absolving debt.
That’s all a bit more advanced than my players will typically encounter in my current Doom & Tea Parties campaign. Outside of captives of the humanoid monsters, the most likely slaves for the PCs to encounter will be debtor and criminal slaves. On at least two occasions, such slaves have been purchased by the PCs to serve as henchmen on adventures. Their loyalty is commanded by magic (but it does have its limits) and generally if all you want is someone to hold a torch or spear, these folks are your best bet. A few successful adventures, however, will generally allow most to buy their freedom, assuming they’re allowed even a modest share of the treasure (the fines they are working to pay off rarely amount to more than a handful hundred pieces of gold).
Most of my players have been happy to take such cultural quirks in stride, assuming that their characters are from the same, or similar, backgrounds. On occasion, I’ve had players decide that their characters hated slavery (usually because they’d experienced it in the past, either personally or through a family member) and would work to subvert the system. But they always recognized that this was something that wouldn’t be accomplished overnight, and considered the task a long-term guerilla campaign, something akin to Joel Rosenberg’s “The Guardians of the Flame” series.
Art by Christian Meyer Ross and Georg Moritz Ebers.