D&D 5E Slaves - what they cost and why it matters

Status
Not open for further replies.

clearstream

(He, Him)
For my OOTA campaign I needed to get a handle on the value of slaves. It's a repugnant subject, but not one I believe we should avoid. Here is where I landed -

Slavery
Slavery is common in the Underdark, being most practiced by drow, duergar and fomorians. About 1/5 such creatures own on average 5 slaves, while 1/50 own on average 50. About 1/10 slaves are skilled, of whom 1/10 have tier 1 character-class equivalence. Old slaves are rare: most are young or adult. Adult slaves in good health are priced on the basis of 2 years earnings from their labour, and are expected to last 10 years in service. A seller could be forced down to half the starting price through circumstance or hard bargaining. Prices are sometimes paid in trade goods or promises of goods such as shares in future harvests.

Menzoberranzan (pop 20,000 free)
Type...........Slaves.......Usual Price

Unskilled......40,000.........150gp (3d4*20)based on 2sp earnings/day
Skilled...........4,000.........1500gp (3d4*200)based on 2gp earnings/day
Tier 1...............400.........3000gp (3d4*400) based on 4gp earnings/day
Tier 2.................40.........6000gp (3d4*800) based on 8gp earnings/day
Tier 3..................4.........priceless
Tier 4...............0-1.........priceless
Epic+..................0.........priceless


My assumptions are 1) based on large-scale slavery in the real world (US and UK) slaves are priced based on anticipated profits from their labour, 2) most slaves will remain in captivity for 5-10 years before dying or escaping, 2) owning a slave comes with costs and risks that more than halve their earnings for the purpose of calculating anticipated profits (hence they're valued on less than half their expected lifetime earnings). I based costs and earnings on PHB 157-159. I believe some readers are going to feel here that my values are too high so I'd like to explain why I believe it is important that they should be high. I based the slave population numbers on real world figures, bringing down the top end to reflect less efficient mythic-medieval logistics. Slaves are in addition to the free population, i.e. in 1479DR Menzoberranzan contains perhaps 60,000 sentient beings, 2/3rds of whom are slaves. I used my "order of magnitude fewer per tier" rule of thumb for slave skill levels. We know that there are at least some tier 1 or above slaves in Menzoberranzan :devil: Are there tier 3 or 4 slaves? As always that is up to each DM, but I feel we should raise the possibility: that could lead to interesting scenarios.

Why this matters is that the price we put on slaves establishes a value for each sentient life. We're also dialling in our level of motivation for slave-taking. For the sake of argument, let's say we put a fixed price on slaves of 100gp. We're creating an economic puzzle because (again using the earnings from the core rules) taking skilled slaves becomes wildly profitable. So long as you hold on to them. Thus, no slave markets because how common could it be to sell slaves that are hugely more profitable to keep? Part of our economic puzzle is then also understanding why no one joins the dots and offers more than 100gp for a skilled slave? Ratcheting up the prices. Or let's say we suspend disbelief and say there are slave markets anyway? In that case we are hinting toward a brutal campaign world because it's so cheap to acquire a new slave relative to the profits they'll produce. We'll happily get rid of slaves that are under-performing. And we're very unlikely to raise a slave from the dead because it's much cheaper to go to the market and buy a replacement.

Reverting now to the prices I propose, what kinds of actions might drow take if they TPK my party? Well, a Raise Dead is justified because the cost of the diamond (500gp) will be recovered by getting the slaves to market. That is a bigger statement than it appears because it reveals that the value of a sentient life informs how well you treat that life. At my prices, it makes sense to maintain skilled slaves in comfort and treat them reasonably well (drow predilections aside). Killing one imposes a loss that matters. That's not to say enslavement becomes a barrel of laughs, but at least your owners have a reason to feed and shelter you properly, and hold back from crippling punishments.

Could I suggest that before deciding on low prices for slaves in your campaign, there might be value in thinking about what you want those prices to motivate.

[Edited to reduce Tier 1 and Tier 2 prices to reflect 4gp and 8gp per day earning assumption, rather than 10gp and 50gp which now seems too high.]
[Edited to add suggested dice rolls for prices (when random distribution is wanted).]
 
Last edited:

log in or register to remove this ad

CapnZapp

Legend
As you say, there is already an established price on "a value for each sentient life" - the 500 gp of Raise Dead.

---

Back on topic:

I am certainly no expert, but I would have thought prices were much lower.

Argument #1 You're talking some kind of "fair price" where you're willing to pay upfront for what it'll take 5-10 years to recoup. I would guess nobody's looking farther away than, say, three years.
Argument #2 Look at the slaver. Look him in the eyes. Doesn't he look desperate to you. Let's give him an outrageous offer, yet one that allows him to make a small profit and return next year. Say 1/20th of what would be "fair".

Of course, in areas where slavery is dangerous or illegal, that could bring prices up. But then we're talking especially ...heinous... slave tasks. Nobody would pay through the nose for general household work - that calculation only really works where slavery is tolerated. In areas where slavery is banned, better hire a regular maid for that sort of work.

Of course D&D is a highly stratified world. It's called levels. Just because the price on a raggedy commoner slave is outrageously bad doesn't mean the price on exotic, skilled or just beautiful slaves could be much higher. Like tens of thousands times higher. After all, unless you completely reject the default "money pyramid" of D&D, high level personalities (whether NPC or PC) can afford to pay hundreds of thousands of gold on stuff they really really want. Talking djinni princes now. Depraved demon lords. Semi-retired epic adventurers.

But in general, a slave is a mundane good, and mundane goods in D&D have trivial prices.

Whatever a slave costs, it will not be comparable to magical adventuring gear. It will be comparable to whatever a goat, camel or warhorse costs.

So a wretched, old, injured, or unskilled slaves could cost as little as 1 gp (the goat level) when supply outstrips demand (I'll take all twenty, including the one with no teeth, for twenty gold and a cask of ale!")
A more attractive slave (whether through strength, education, or "personality") could go for 50 gp (the camel level) or, of course, some multiple of it if there's a bidding war.
A spectacular slave (maybe a trained gladiator, a slave Princess, or an otherwise exotic specimen) could have a starting bidding price of 400 gp (the warhorse level).

Then a captured angel, or archmage, could go for much, much more. But then we're really not talking commodity slaves anylonger.

Whatever you end up with, make sure prices aren't fair or equal. Especially in a D&D world.
 

Shadowdweller00

Adventurer
Looking up estimated prices in the Roman empire; calculating about 1 gp per day average income vs $30,000 USD average per capita income, I came up with a figure of around 80 gp average up to several hundred for a particularly skilled or attractive (for drow markets only) slave. Slaves in pre-civil war US were evidently much less expensive, but then that's getting into the industrial era, so...

Which seems about right. If that seems on par with the more expensive livestock, you have to figure that the potential extra work and utility of humanoid slaves might be counterbalanced by greater tendencies toward and problems with rebelliousness.

ETA: I could easily be off by a significant margin. Average earnings between disparate cultures are all kinds of wonky.
 
Last edited:

I can't help with the numbers side of things, but Roman-era slavery did support some of your thoughts. Slaves were valuable, and killing them was viewed as wasteful; but so too was letting them run away, with facial tattoos used to identify those inclined to flight, saying something like, "Property of Lucius Vorenius, return if found for reward". On the other hand, Cato the Elder, who wrote a book on agriculture, noted that slaves who got old should be 'discarded, like other useless broken tools'. Such useless slaves would be made free, and then left to starve to death by themselves - no longer the problem of the master, and too old to make a living any more by themselves. More cheerfully, Slaves in Rome could have their own property, and save up to buy their freedom; many of the more valuable slaves (tutors, doctors, artisans, that sort of thing) would be given wages of that kind, presumably calculated so that they could buy their freedom after 20 years of service, which helped incline them to stick around, rather than attempt to flee.

On the justice side of things, it was, I think, illegal to kill a slave at Rome - they were still considered 'people' - but working one to death didn't count. And one has to wonder how likely someone was to be taken to court for killing a slave - there was no police to seek out crimes, after all. However, things got even worse for slaves in other ways. If one slave in a household killed the master, then all of the slaves in the household would be put to death; as a way of trying to deter slaves from killing their masters while they slept. In addition, if a slave-owner was accused of a crime, then his slaves would be called to give witness - but their testimony could only be presented if they were first tortured; the rationale is that the master had power of near life and death over the slaves, so the court had to break the fear of him through harsh measures.

Slave economies also have real consequences on the workforce - the Roman rural working class was decimated by the introduction of slave-operated plantations, in a manner not dissimilar to the agricultural revolution in Britain. The slave farms were so much cheaper to run, they forced the freeborn farmers out of business, and those farmers were driven into Rome itself to become the famous urban poor, the mob who required bread handouts. All as a result of the very rich using slaves to run mega-farms. Menzoberranzan already has that though - the farmers seem to be just slaves - but it's an interesting thread to pull on for the unrest in Gracklestugh.
 

clearstream

(He, Him)
Looking up estimated prices in the Roman empire; calculating about 1 gp per day average income vs $30,000 USD average per capita income, I came up with a figure of around 80 gp average up to several hundred for a particularly skilled or attractive (for drow markets only) slave. Slaves in pre-civil war US were evidently much less expensive, but then that's getting into the industrial era, so...

Which seems about right. If that seems on par with the more expensive livestock, you have to figure that the potential extra work and utility of humanoid slaves might be counterbalanced by greater tendencies toward and problems with rebelliousness.

ETA: I could easily be off by a significant margin. Average earnings between disparate cultures are all kinds of wonky.
I took the Roman figures into account, drawing on multiple sources. One concise reply on Quora summarises well -

Modern estimate puts the roman GDP (in the first century AD) at 20 billion Sestercii or 44 billion USD/annum in price of 2010. ~800 USD/annum per capita.

So one sesterti is ~2.2 USD. The gold equivalent of the currency of one sesterti was 0.125g or 2.2USD at 17500 USD /kg. So the numbers are sensible.

The price of a slave cited elsewhere are between 2000 sestertii (4400 USD) for an unskilled male worker and 25000 sestertii (55000 USD) for a pretty girl.

For comparison, an unskilled laborer earned ~1000 sestertii /annum (that's even cited int the New Testament where the daily wage of a laborer is given as one denari equals 4 sestertii) and a Centurion of average rank 20000 sestertii /annum.
An unskilled laborer per PHB 159 earns 2sp/day. So working from 1 year's income, 730sp or 73gp = about 1000 sestertii. So taking my 2 years earnings figure, we see that our unskilled slave costs 146gp (close enough to my 150gp). Buying the equivalent of a Centurion - a lightly armored, skilled fighting man - would cost 2920gp (close enough to my figure of 1500gp). A pretty girl would cost 73*25 = 1,825gp by the above figures. Someone more valuable than that in terms of earnings potential - a Tier 1 PC - would cost more. I suggest 7500gp. The cheapest a tier 1 PC can be is 1/4tr that - say 2000gp - IMO.

Another source offers

1st Century Rome

1 Denari = 4 Sestertii = 16 As

Job Denari / month
Secretary 15
Lecturer 12
Messenger 9
Haruspex (fortune teller) 10
Legionary Soldier (Private) 20
Praetorian (guard in Rome) 60
Legionary Soldier (Centurion) ~300
Taking a messenger as unskilled and a secretary on up as skilled, we can guess about 10*12*4 = 480 sestertii per year for an unskilled laborer in the 1st century. In that same century in Pompeii that source lists a few different prices that to me suggest that 1 sestertii might be worth 1.6sp. Which sustains the estimates made further above. As you can see, my figures were chosen mindful of Roman prices.

Slaves in pre-civil war US were possibly more expensive. One source offers

The $400 average slave price in 1850 can also be thought of as a signaling device of status in a period where the annual per capita income was about $110. relative earnings can be viewed as the ability to purchase expensive goods. Today, the middle and upper-middle classes aspire to goods and services such as a second home, servants, and an expensive car as a way of showing others that they have "arrived"-- that they have achieved some status in the economy. The average slave price in 1850 was roughly equal to the average price of a house, so the purchase of even one slave would have given the purchaser some status. Comparisons based on relative earnings are measured by the relative ratio of GDP per capita. Consequently $400 in those days corresponds to nearly $195,000 in relative earnings today.
$195k/$30k = 6.5 years earnings. I took that into consideration, and working from both modern and ancient figures decided two years income at book rates (PHB 159) produced a good fit.
 
Last edited:

clearstream

(He, Him)
As you say, there is already an established price on "a value for each sentient life" - the 500 gp of Raise Dead.
Could I suggest that in order to be worth casting that Raise Dead, the slave needs to be able to return more than the cost of the Raise Dead. If we're hard-nosed about it, at least double.

Argument #1 You're talking some kind of "fair price" where you're willing to pay upfront for what it'll take 5-10 years to recoup. I would guess nobody's looking farther away than, say, three years.
Argument #2 Look at the slaver. Look him in the eyes. Doesn't he look desperate to you. Let's give him an outrageous offer, yet one that allows him to make a small profit and return next year. Say 1/20th of what would be "fair".
In Menzoberranzan where there are plenty of willing buyers, he will sneer at your offer and revert to his 2-years earnings estimate :p


But in general, a slave is a mundane good, and mundane goods in D&D have trivial prices.
Yet we have substantial modules where enslavement of PCs is assumed.

Whatever a slave costs, it will not be comparable to magical adventuring gear. It will be comparable to whatever a goat, camel or warhorse costs.
Hang on, tell me why my spell-casting Sorcerer isn't comparable to magical adventuring gear? I'll tell you what - you take a party of camels into Tomb of Annihilation and I'll give it a go with some PCs.

So a wretched, old, injured, or unskilled slaves could cost as little as 1 gp (the goat level) when supply outstrips demand (I'll take all twenty, including the one with no teeth, for twenty gold and a cask of ale!")
A more attractive slave (whether through strength, education, or "personality") could go for 50 gp (the camel level) or, of course, some multiple of it if there's a bidding war.
A spectacular slave (maybe a trained gladiator, a slave Princess, or an otherwise exotic specimen) could have a starting bidding price of 400 gp (the warhorse level).

Then a captured angel, or archmage, could go for much, much more. But then we're really not talking commodity slaves any longer.
There is no "but" there. We expressly are talking about slaves at all levels, from those that are as you agree cheaper than a warhorse. To those that are worth much more. As a matter of genuine curiousity, why is it important to you that slaves are cheap? What at heart makes you resist a tier-1 PC being worth several thousand gold at market? Why is it important to deny that a skilled laborer - capable of pulling in a few gp per day - is not worth at least a thousand gp? That's something I honestly don't understand. Why do people want to push down on the prices of slaves?
 

Eltab

Lord of the Hidden Layer
It might help if we expanded the database on slaves, beyond early-era USA.

Anybody have documentation from Spanish Empire-era Latin America, or the Caribbean islands? Brazil?
Or other cultures / times where slavery was 'normal'? (Maybe something in the Code of Hammurabi?)
 

CapnZapp

Legend
Yet we have substantial modules where enslavement of PCs is assumed.
Heh. But no, that argument doesn't fly.

Why don't everybody then loot dungeons and make fortunes that would make a king blush. You can't bring in player characters into your figures.

I mean, not unless you want to. But you can't do it to argue anything regarding regular commodities (ie. commoners)

I've already agreed fantastical creatures can fetch fantastical prices. A PC certainly qualifies - in fact, it's possible to argue a PC is the most fantastical creature of them all!
 

CapnZapp

Legend
Hang on, tell me why my spell-casting Sorcerer isn't comparable to magical adventuring gear? I'll tell you what - you take a party of camels into Tomb of Annihilation and I'll give it a go with some PCs.
Why the butt-hurt answer, Klaude?

I wasn't talking about Sorcerer slaves. I was talking about regular slaves. Nothing magical about them, and so they get mundane prices.
 


CapnZapp

Legend
There is no "but" there. We expressly are talking about slaves at all levels, from those that are as you agree cheaper than a warhorse. To those that are worth much more. As a matter of genuine curiousity, why is it important to you that slaves are cheap? What at heart makes you resist a tier-1 PC being worth several thousand gold at market? Why is it important to deny that a skilled laborer - capable of pulling in a few gp per day - is not worth at least a thousand gp? That's something I honestly don't understand. Why do people want to push down on the prices of slaves?
First off, if you are somehow personally offended the price of a slave isn't high (whatever that means), perhaps you should cool off? I have no stake in this.

Again, I'm not talking about "tier-1 PCs". A player character is off-the-charts, and I was clear about that (or at least, I thought I was).

When I'm talking goats and camels I'm talking about the utterly average.

If you have a skilled craftsman that can pull in gold per day, of course that slave is worth much more.

But a regular laborer doesn't even come close to that. I am fully assuming most people live a currency-light life, and that any services they render is only worth the printed monetary value in goods and services.

Also, D&D economies are notoriously fracked up and essentially useless.

So what do I know. Just don't make slaves so valuable that actually makes slaving a tempting alternative to more "honest" occupations. And yes, that includes plain old robbery :)

---

In short, Drows enslave because that's what they do. No reason to even attempt to provide an economical justification for it.

High slave prices easily make for an absurd economy where people rather enslave each other than tend the crops.

It simply isn't the D&D way. Much better to keep prices so low they don't catch the attention of adventurers!

TLDR:

You asked for opinions. I gave you mine. If you don't like it you don't have to argue about it - you just don't use it. That is all.
 

Ristamar

Adventurer
There is no "but" there. We expressly are talking about slaves at all levels, from those that are as you agree cheaper than a warhorse. To those that are worth much more. As a matter of genuine curiousity, why is it important to you that slaves are cheap? What at heart makes you resist a tier-1 PC being worth several thousand gold at market? Why is it important to deny that a skilled laborer - capable of pulling in a few gp per day - is not worth at least a thousand gp? That's something I honestly don't understand. Why do people want to push down on the prices of slaves?

A PC/adventurer slave carries a lot of risk with ownership. Unskilled commoners and most skilled labor pose very little threat and are easily subdued, but a small group of "elite" slaves are always a flight risk and have the potential to cause huge financial losses when they do attempt to escape. Additionally, it's far more likely that powerful outside interests will disrupt operations with attempts to locate and rescue their enslaved allies.

Most slavers dealing in high volume would likely prefer to offload what they'd consider hazardous goods as quickly as possible. I'd probably treat the market for a dangerous or expensive slave similar to the suggested market for magic items in the DMG (pg. 130). Finding a buyer willing to pay large sums for upper-tier slaves would likely be time consuming, and there's generally an impetus to be rid of any slaves that may cause or attract trouble as quickly as possible. If a suitable buyer can't be found in short order, the best lowball offer may suffice because it's not worth the risk to hold out for more money.

An exotic locale with a large, multifaceted slave market like Menzoberranzan may provide ample opportunity to sell upper-tier slaves at premium prices, but it's probably more of an exception than the norm. In that respect, I think Zapp's statement has some merit.
 
Last edited:

CapnZapp

Legend
It might help if we expanded the database on slaves, beyond early-era USA.

Anybody have documentation from Spanish Empire-era Latin America, or the Caribbean islands? Brazil?
Or other cultures / times where slavery was 'normal'? (Maybe something in the Code of Hammurabi?)

Actually my honest opinion is that it almost never helps to conflate realism with D&D... ;)
 

clearstream

(He, Him)
It might help if we expanded the database on slaves, beyond early-era USA.

Anybody have documentation from Spanish Empire-era Latin America, or the Caribbean islands? Brazil?
Or other cultures / times where slavery was 'normal'? (Maybe something in the Code of Hammurabi?)
The Conquistadors unfortunately wiped out the greater part of all inhabitants in what was to become Latin America. Populations plunged from perhaps a million to a few thousand. Ian Heath discusses it in his armies of the 16th Century. Possibly there weren't many slaves there until a few centuries later. In the English colonies the National Archive offers that

The price of slaves to plantation owners was high. A slave could cost anything from £5 to £80, depending on age, gender, state of health and skills - and also on the period. Since they were treated as commodities, their 'value' went up and down with the market.

By chance I worked on a book set in that period. A pound then is worth between $200 and $3000 today. So we have a range of $1000 to $240,000. A slave is a capital purchase so the higher figure will be more accurate in terms of how it would have felt to people at the time. It was a time of great inequality (that said, we're due to beat by mid-century) so few people could afford to buy one. If we say that an ordinary skilled income now is $30k as @Shadowdweller00 suggested then the full range is about a fortnight's to about 8 year's income. From PHB 159 an ordinary skilled income is 730gp. So we would estimate in the range 28gp to 5840gp. Those match quite well the range I propose, once we take into account that the lower figure is likely inappropriate for a capital purchase.

I assumed a state-change in the dynamic somewhere above tier-2. As @CapnZapp notes (and my table reflects as "priceless") at some point slaves will no longer be sold on a commodity basis. A captured noble isn't enslaved, but held for ransom, for example. I guessed that would be tier-3. Does it need to be pulled back to tier-2?

[Edited to add link to National Archives here, because it's a great source for this http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/pathways/blackhistory/africa_caribbean/caribbean_trade.htm ]
 
Last edited:


clearstream

(He, Him)
Actually my honest opinion is that it almost never helps to conflate realism with D&D... ;)
Without the aid of magic or wings, if I step of a cliff in the Spine of the World (far north of Faerun), do I fall?

Also, Capn, are you evading my previous question? Hmm?
 
Last edited:

Sadras

Legend
Whatever its worth, the aging knight Ser Jorah Mormont was sold for 20 Gold Honors.
The ex-slaver had the misfortune to become a slave
 

clearstream

(He, Him)
A PC/adventurer slave carries a lot of risk with ownership. Unskilled commoners and most skilled labor pose very little threat and are easily subdued, but a small group of "elite" slaves are always a flight risk and have the potential to cause huge financial losses when they do attempt to escape. Additionally, it's far more likely that powerful outside interests will disrupt operations with attempts to locate and rescue their enslaved allies.
Absolutely, that's why I feel working on the basis of 2-years earnings is a safe assumption. In part it represents a discount for risks. Also, I believe it is correct to assume that at some tier, NPCs and PCs are typically not enslaved in a commodity sense.

Most slavers dealing in high volume would likely prefer to offload what they'd consider hazardous goods as quickly as possible. I'd probably treat the market for a dangerous or expensive slave similar to the suggested market for magic items in the DMG (pg. 130). Finding a buyer willing to pay large sums for upper-tier slaves would likely be time consuming, and there's generally an impetus to be rid of any slaves that may cause or attract trouble as quickly as possible. If a suitable buyer can't be found in short order, the best lowball offer may suffice because it's not worth the risk to hold out for more money.
As noted I agree that upper-tier creatures are unlikely to be enslaved in the commodity sense and my table reflects that with "priceless". Is the wording too ambiguous?

An exotic locale with a large, multifaceted slave market like Menzoberranzan may provide ample opportunity to sell upper-tier slaves at premium prices, but it's probably more of an exception than the norm. In that respect, I think Zapp's statement has some merit.
Looking at prices now from Rome, Colonial England, and Antebellum America, we see sources converge on higher pricing for slaves than many DMs appear to choose. For this type of estimate where we want simplicity and consistency, working on the basis 2-years income at PHB 159 levels matches the real world surprisingly well. @CapnZapp's assertion fails for me because it fails to represent what we see everywhere in history: slaves commanding prices in the range of years worth of income. I currently lack understanding of why some DMs appear resolved against this? What do you fear might happen if slaves command the sort of prices they did historically in the real world?

Or say we ignore realism completely and are simply picking numbers. What do we fear might happen if slaves command higher, rather than lower, prices? I ask because I can see benefits. Good-aligned PCs hoping to free slaves by simply buying them all up will hit a wall - how will they afford it? Ilvara, Priestess of Lolth in command of Velkynvelve, has good reason to Raise the PCs she likely wipes the floor with if the drow pursuit catches them earlier than 6th level. We can guess at the sort of ransom a powerful Noble might command, captured in some war between polities.
 

Sadras

Legend
So what do I know. Just don't make slaves so valuable that actually makes slaving a tempting alternative to more "honest" occupations. And yes, that includes plain old robbery :)

Hmmm, speaking of Jorah Mormont - he was tempted into the dishonest occupation.

It simply isn't the D&D way. Much better to keep prices so low they don't catch the attention of adventurers!

There is the other side of it though, it could be cheaper for adventurers to buy slaves than pay for hirelings. And if branding is allowed, well then... :]
 

Okay, putting aside the price of unskilled slaves... why are skilled slaves 10x the price? Why not just buy five slaves for half the price?

And why are level 1-3 PCs 50x the price?! They can't do fifty times the work. They're not fifty times as effective.
Plus, keeping slaves of levels 5+ (Tier 2) just seems foolish. Really, unless you're a race that can mind control - like Mind Flayers - taking PCs as slaves seems like a needless risk.

Why this matters is that the price we put on slaves establishes a value for each sentient life.
Not... really. I don't see how that works. It just means they'd see people as property and wouldn't value them very much.

We're also dialling in our level of motivation for slave-taking. For the sake of argument, let's say we put a fixed price on slaves of 100gp. We're creating an economic puzzle because (again using the earnings from the core rules) taking skilled slaves becomes wildly profitable. So long as you hold on to them. Thus, no slave markets because how common could it be to sell slaves that are hugely more profitable to keep? Part of our economic puzzle is then also understanding why no one joins the dots and offers more than 100gp for a skilled slave? Ratcheting up the prices.
But we don't need the exact prices of slaves for that discussion. Really, getting into the exact value of slaves distracts away from every other aspect of the discussion, because we're going to debate the price up and down.

Or let's say we suspend disbelief and say there are slave markets anyway? In that case we are hinting toward a brutal campaign world because it's so cheap to acquire a new slave relative to the profits they'll produce. We'll happily get rid of slaves that are under-performing.
Well, the point of slave markets is that slavers acquire more slaves than they need or could use. Just keeping a valuable slave because they're valuable is pointless, because you can't eat potential value. They might keep a good slave just for themselves at the start, but after they have a nice staff of slaves everyone else goes on the market.

And we're very unlikely to raise a slave from the dead because it's much cheaper to go to the market and buy a replacement.
Reverting now to the prices I propose, what kinds of actions might drow take if they TPK my party? Well, a Raise Dead is justified because the cost of the diamond (500gp) will be recovered by getting the slaves to market.
I don't think resurrecting slaves is ever going to realistically be a thing. Especially since the spirit has to be willing to return...
 

Status
Not open for further replies.

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top