Slave (5e Background)

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Slave

Iron+Ring+Slaves.jpg
A master leading his slave.
Iron Ring Slaves by Jason Engle

For some significant portion of your life, you have been someone else's property. This part of your life happened either by abduction, as punishment for a crime, sworn to a debt of life, or you were born into it. How did you become a slave? Are you a slave or a freeman? Who was your master and where are they? What were the conditions of your slavery? What did you do as a slave? Were you treated well, or were you abused? How much privilege or freedom did you experience, and was this granted to you, or taken by you? How would you treat your master after your servitude? Can you ever really leave your background behind you? Do you really even need to escape, or will you remain a slave for the rest of your journey? Do you have the willpower to create slavery-free actions, or has your background tainted your history and the actions that you can take later in your career? What would you do with your slaves?

Skill Proficiencies: Performance, or Survival

Tool Proficiencies: You have proficiency with any one tool entry with a value no greater than 15gp.

Languages: None

Equipment: One tool you are proficient with, or one simple melee weapon, a set of clothes appropriate to your master's status and your slave purpose, and a small pouch containing 1gp.

Purpose

A slave is set to a task by their master for a reason– their purpose for even being alive.

d8 Purpose
1 I existed to do hard labor, such as mining or construction.
2 I existed for someone else's amusement, entertainment, or recreation.
3 I existed to serve some dedicated menial task, such as cooking or cleaning.
4 I existed as the personal servant of a given person, family, or group.
5 I existed to fulfill the tasks of some professional assistant, such as a furnace operator for a smithy.
6 I existed to serve the function of an inanimate object, such as a signpost or furniture, or to operate such things, like opening and closing a specific door all day long.
7 I existed to fight and die in the place of someone else, as a soldier or bodyguard.
8 I existed to serve all, as an untouchable– a slave to even other slaves.

Feature: The Hard Road

Slaves face great difficulty everywhere they go. Escaped slaves are often on the run if not from their former owners, then certainly from the law. Few are educated or have any practical experience to make a way for themselves. Most have limited social skills which give away their social status. Slavers may notice freemen as "unclaimed property" and try to "claim" them as slaves. People sense a sort of "inferiority" about slaves and freemen, and they will likely either ignore you or boss you around. Many freemen turn to crime to make ends meet and so anyone who doesn't assume you a slave immediately, will likely assume that you are a criminal. If you can ever really leave the slavery mindset knowing what it's like to be a slave, then you can pose as a slave with little difficulty and without raising much suspicion. People seem to do things in front of you that they would normally only do when they are alone.

Suggested Characteristics

Slaves belong to their masters and cannot openly make the decisions that they want to, their destiny is defined by the wills of their masters. You may be a "star" slave and actually make a statement to your master, or your life may be nothing more than serving a pointless end. If you are an unlucky slave, then your life will be for nothing more than fighting a lost campaign or treating a person with no power as an exemplar. If you are a lucky slave then maybe you can see escape without slaughter, or even talk to your clients and perform some subterfuge. Escaped slaves exist in an awkward situation where they are lost/stolen property which they are guilty of stealing/kidnapping themselves. Life as an escaped slave is extremely difficult, and hiding your past may require intuitively practicing skills you would normally never have learned as a slave.

A freeman is a person who was a slave but has been freed by legitimate means. Most freemen are actually convicts who were put to slave labor in a work prison as their punishment. Alternatively, some slaves escape via criminal means and become legitimate exiles in another land, where their former status of slave is meaningless. Many freemen rise from old servile rebellions, or from counter-slavery laws passed by gentler rulers. A rare few are granted their freedom willingly by their masters. This is so extremely uncommon, most people don't even imagine it as an option. Freemen face almost as many challenges as escaped slaves, but have no reason to hide their past, aside from personal shame.

Being a slave actually makes things harder for you. It is an impediment to be overcome.

d8 Personality Trait
1 No matter how bad things get, I never complain– I've seen worse.
2 I do not say anything unless someone says something to me.
3 I call everyone "Master" and "Lord" without thinking about it.
4 I try to hide as much of my body as possible.
5 I tend to disappear in a crowded room, becoming part of the backdrop with ease.
6 I am terrified of ropes, chains, and whips.
7 I do all kinds of basic chores and errands for those around me out of habit.
8 I am haunted by confusing memories and dreams about my life before slavery.
d6 Ideal
1 Equality. We all bleed red, we all suffer together. (Good)
2 Apathy. I only think about what is within my power. Anything else is just circumstance. (Neutral)
3 Spite. Those who would own others shall belong to me. (Evil)
4 Status Quo. Status is defined by clear rules which are the foundation of civilization. (Lawful)
5 Indifference. People are just people– who they are matters more than what they are. (Neutral)
6 Freedom Fighter. All slaves must be freed- by law, by coin, by shadow, or by blade. (Chaotic)
d6 Bond
1 I dream of returning to my homeland or family.
2 All I have left of my former life is this trinket.
3 My identity as a slave is marked on my body permanently as scars or tattoos.
4 I am in love with someone who is not a slave, possibly in my master's house.
5 I know many secrets thanks to my innocuous presence in intimate social environments.
6 I heard a story about some grand place, and deeply want to go there.
d8 Flaw
1 I secretly liked being a slave.
2 My former master, or the law, will stop at nothing to have me executed.
3 I do not share my things with friends, and I will fight to keep personal belongings within my full control.
4 As a defense mechanism, I lie and misdirect everyone around me, and steal and hide anything I can.
5 I always say the truth when asked, even by an enemy.
6 When I am told to do something by an enemy, I might do it.
7 I cannot stop myself from reveling in material pleasures.
8 I am a coward.



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