1. Meteor

    Meteor Active Member

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    Experiencing exceptionally brutal treatment in slavery

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Meteor, Jul 13, 2020.

    Hello and thank you for taking the time to read this post.

    I’m working on developing my main character more and how he might act after getting out of slavery. I have a few minor rules set up about the slavery system in the story but, these will be different for him.

    During his captivity he won’t be able to speak the native language. I plan to use this as a way to make his treatment significantly worse than others. Broken bones, crushed hands on occasion, to the point his hands almost won’t work post slavery, and just generally abhorrent treatment by his captors.

    Now as for the rules of slavery one of them is that you can’t beat, damage or otherwise harm a slave to the point they cannot work for more than a day post punishment. The idea is that, while slaves have virtually no rights, they do have the right to semi-humane treatment, meaning food, water, shelter and non-excessive punishments. We’re heading for the tail end of slavery when the story takes place, with it being close to being abolished. Slaves are also only able to be owned by Lords at this point and they a lawfully required to keep them. Slaves can report excessively abusive masters to their Lords.

    Now my poor main character, as I said before can’t speak the native language and it won’t be until much later that he can. So how might it mental effect him to learn his treatment was actually avoidable if he could have just spoken the language? He’s already going to be in a sorry state by this point with some other less than happy things I’ll be throwing him through.
     
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  2. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    The poor guy! But how this pans out will be up to you, the writer. I presume he'll have a reasonably developed character by this point. So how do you see him reacting? Was there anything in particular that he did to attract the punishments he received? Was he rebellious? Or maybe tried hard to please, but failed? As you say, slaveowners didn't really care about their slaves, but mistreating them to the point where they couldn't work, or even died, made no economic sense. If the slave pool was large, though, the owners would probably be slightly less concerned—although killing or damaging slaves would still hit them in the pocketbook. And of course they would severely punish escape attempts.

    So think your way through this. What kind of character is this guy? That is likely to determine his reaction to finding out that he might have been released earlier, if he had only been able to speak the language.

    It's not really a question that other people can answer for you, because then it would be our story instead of yours. The decision you make will likely drive your story, but it needs to be based on the character you've created. Presumably he has a personality and outlook. So what might it be?

    I don't need to know the answer, but you do. Have the confidence to think it through and make a choice. Then go with that choice, and let your plot unfold. I think it's got lots of possibilities.
     
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  3. Thorn Cylenchar

    Thorn Cylenchar Senior Member

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    I would expect him to have nightmares and trouble sleeping.
    Certain scenarios will probably trigger a fight or flight reflex in him(depending on his personality).
    I would suspect him to be very distrustful of people in positions of power and even if not outright hostile towards them, he would go out of his way to avoid anyone in a position of authority.

    I would probably spend a bit of time researching PTSD and all the ways that could present.
     
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  4. Meteor

    Meteor Active Member

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    Well, after a lot of thinking I’ve been trying to refine the circumstances and what exactly causes his punishments. He isn’t particularly rebellious or even overly concerned with pleasing or, at the start, escaping. He’s a typical 21st century American kid with well to do parents, friends and working on a college education. He will be nineteen when the story begins. He is neither meek nor overly aggressive and could be considered mild mannered for the most part. My goal is ultimately to obliterate that part of him though, then replace it will a ball of lava the spits out streams of “fuck off and die” regularly. I want to make an angry, hateful character that I can gradually “fix” as the story progresses. I figured slavery, coupled with fairly bad treatment would be a fitting way to do that much. I think I may have decided to just make his “masters” rather foul. Two guards down on their luck, taking it out on a slave who can’t report them or speak out about his treatment. I’ve even considered having him used as an experiment body for an unsavory wizard, who just likes to see people hurt while he explores the anatomy for his learning purposes.

    This is the classic “character x gets sent to world y” type of story. I actually have those details worked out fairly well, using a vacation to see Stonehenge during a solstice event as a catalyst for how he gets from earth to said world, with backstory to explain how villain number one got to earth explained later.

    So anyways, I want the slavery to be a sort of abrupt and immediate thing that happens to him, very shortly after he moves from x to y. I always intended it to be a very profound part of his personal development.
     
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  5. Meteor

    Meteor Active Member

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    Well, after a lot of thinking I’ve been trying to refine the circumstances and what exactly causes his punishments. He isn’t particularly rebellious or even overly concerned with pleasing or, at the start, escaping. He’s a typical 21st century American kid with well to do parents, friends and working on a college education. He will be nineteen when the story begins. He is neither meek nor overly aggressive and could be considered mild mannered for the most part.

    This is the classic “character x gets sent to world y” type of story. I actually have those details worked out fairly well, using a vacation to see Stonehenge during a solstice event as a catalyst for how he gets from earth to said world, with backstory to explain how villain number one got to earth explained later.

    So anyways, I want the slavery to be a sort of abrupt and immediate thing that happens to him, very shortly after he moves from x to y.
     
  6. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Are we going to see him in the story BEFORE he gets forced into slavery? Or are we going to meet him AS a slave? In other words, are we going to know what he was like before this happened?
     
  7. Meteor

    Meteor Active Member

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    There will be some story prior to him getting stuffed into slavery.
     
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  8. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    That's good, because then we can see what he was like before, and follow what slavery did to his personality.
     
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  9. DK3654

    DK3654 Almost a Productive Member of Society Contributor

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    Why do you wanna know, huh?
    I would be careful with slavery. It's not something you should include in your story lightly, and I don't mean 'not seriously', I mean 'without thorough consideration of the rationale, context and consequences for your story'.
    Slavery is not just human suffering to provide a backdrop of problems for a world, it's a deep historical well of some of the worst ideas of humanity that, through slavery and other means, have left a profound impact on people and culture today. You don't want to treat it the same as just any tragedy or injustice of society. It demands a certain amount of respect as an issue.
    I would spend a good deal of time looking into how slavery worked, in various cultures and time periods that it appeared in. Consider what slaves lives were actually like and how they might have felt about things, and whether or not you are giving your slave characters the right amount of agency in the story. Consider whether you are censoring history by downplaying some aspect of it. Or if you are on the other hand overplaying the brutality in a way to a more comical extent that obscures the normalisation and cruel practicality of historical slavery. Consider how the different groups involved are portrayed and how they compare to the situations of historical slavery. Consider how slavery is justified by the slaver civilisations in your story, how that compares to historical justifications used, and whether your story serves to (intentionally or not) actually reinforce that narrative in any way. Consider your major characters' perspectives on it, avoiding white saviour equivalents or falling back on characters (good or bad) simply being a 'man (or woman) of their time'.
    And look to other people who know more about this than me.
     
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  10. Oscar Leigh

    Oscar Leigh Contributor Contributor

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    Are the rules of slavery "minor"? The rule you mention seems very significant? And if the main character was a slave and this was a significant part of their storyline, that rule is clearly fairly major.
    I would consider the economic ramifications of slavery on former slaves. Systems of slavery don't necessarily end the subjugation of the slave after freedom, as they are quite likely to be economically disadvantaged. This is especially true while the system is still in place because people might well look at someone and say "they should be back in chains".
    Does the slave system have any ethnic component or racial biases? If it does, that particularly makes it likely that the former slave will not be treated equally to a normal worker and will still be a third-class citizen. On the other hand, some systems may provide particularly pathways to success, in more dramatic examples like the Ottoman system powerful Visiers and Jannissaries came from forced recruitment (mainly from the territories in South-East Europe which actually worked as a positive concession to these largely Orthodox-Christian members of the empire). This dimension of the system is crucial. If the system has no particular ethnic basis or racial bias, then it must have some other element to why and how it occurs, and the absence of the racial also means the specific inclusion therefore of other dimensions as prominent.
    Also, if the character suffers major injuries and other mistreatment, do they suffer any impairment, handicap or disability? How would you handle that issue, because that's a whole 'nother can of worms?
    In terms of specific character reaction to the violation of rules, at a general guess, it would invoke more anger at the mistreaters to know they weren't even following the rules, and it might engender cynicism of a system that failed to protect him. But that's at a guess, I don't know your MC at all.
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2020
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  11. Whitecrow

    Whitecrow Member

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    My country has been conquered by other countries for much of its history, and the local population has been slaves for most of its history.

    Irregular working hours, beatings were normal.
    But the most terrible punishment that was done for disobedience or expression of disagreement with the owner (Pan) was the loss of a person's sight and exile from the city.
    The rest of the residents are prohibited from communicating with the punished person.
    It was expected that a person would either be eaten by animals, or he would die of hunger.

    Sometimes one of the inhabitants sent one of his young children to wander with the blind man in order to save him from imminent death. Together they begin to travel as beggars.
    The owner was told that the child died of illness or some other reason.

    A significant part of the songs and poems that are the cultural heritage of our people were written by such blind beggars.
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2020
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  12. Whitecrow

    Whitecrow Member

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    Young masters, if you only knew
    How people weep there all life through,
    You’d not compose your rhapsodies,
    And God for nothing you’d not praise,
    Nor mock our tears by twisting truth.
    That tranquil cottage in the grove
    You call a paradise - I know.
    In such a cottage once I dwelt,
    It was there my first hot tears were spilt,
    My early tears! I know no vice,
    No wrong or ill, however rare,
    That’s not found in that cottage fair....
    And yet they call it paradise!
    I do not call that little house
    In a small village, by a copse,
    A very paradise on earth.

    It was there my mother gave me birth
    And, singing as her child she nursed,
    She passed her pain to me.... It was there,
    In that wee house, that Eden fair,
    That I saw hell.... There people slave
    Without a let-up night and day,
    Not even having time to pray.
    In that same village to her grave
    My gentle mother, young in years,
    Was laid by toil and want and cares.
    There father weeping with his brood
    (We were but tiny, tattered tots),
    Could not withstand his bitter lot
    And died at work in servitude!...

    And we - we scattered where we could
    Like little field mice. I to school -
    To carry water for the class.
    My brothers slaved on the estate
    And then, conscripted, marched away!
    And you. my sisters! Fortune has
    Reserved for you the cruellest fate!
    What is the purpose of your life?
    Your youth in service slipped away,
    Your locks in servitude turn grey,
    In service, sisters, you will die!
    My blood runs cold when I recall
    That cottage in the village fair!
    Such deeds, O God, do we do there
    Where piety rules over all
    And all in paradise should dwell!
    Of heaven we have made a hell,
    Yet for another heaven call.
    We with our brothers live in peace,
    We with our brothers plough the fields,
    And water them with brother’s tears.
    And also, maybe.... Nay, I fear,
    But so it seems.... perhaps. O God
    (Because without Thy will divine
    we’d not in nakedness repine
    In paradise), perhaps You mock
    Us also, Father, from the sky
    And with the masters You conspire
    On how to rule us here below.
    For look: there smiles a verdant grove,
    And from behind the grove a pool
    Peeps shyly out, behind it stands
    A row of willows washing hands,
    Their branches, in the waters cool....
    Is this not truly paradise?
    Look once again until your eyes
    See what has made this heaven cruel!

    Will you see gladness, hear but praise
    Of God for all that He has done,
    For all the marvels He has made?
    No, not a bit! There’s praise for none!
    Just blasphemy and blood and wails -
    All things are curst, all is blasphemed!
    There’s nothing sacred left on earth. ..
    And even Thee, it seems to me,
    The people have already cursed!
     
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  13. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum

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    What country is that, if you don't mind answering? I believe you're from somewhere in the vicinity of Russia? I know the Slavic people were slaves, it's what the name means.

    If you don't want to say, that's fine, just curious.
     
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  14. Meteor

    Meteor Active Member

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    I’ll have to think on some of the other things more but, slavery in the particular region of the world I’m writing on, is not racially biased for the most part. The only exception is that Elves cannot be slaves. Most are criminals put to use while others are financially indebted to their owner. There are a few who end up slaves by sheer bad luck. It usually involves a slaver(who are rare since business is exclusive to the nobility)a bit of spiked alcohol, some clubs and a Lord willing to overlook the illegality of the acquisition, which is most of them. Naturally there are Lords who will internationally place debt on citizens under the guise of small loans to force servitude. Just takes a bit of ink and anyone illiterate.

    The reason behind the slavery is primarily to free up soldier’s time for other tasks, leaving the regular mundane work to the slaves. Necromancy is rampant the world over and attacks can happen out of the blue so soldiers, guards etc. spend most of their time drilling and training while the slaves handle anything else. Caring for the animals, building fortifications, starting fires and setting up camps if they’re on the move, things of that nature. They generally serve the war fighters and are sometimes used as fodder. Since magic is a thing they’re also sometimes used for experimentation, which is usually reserved as a more severe punishment, since you’ll probably die.

    Generally “bad” slaves are just beaten with varying degrees of severity so long as it isn’t so severe they can’t work the following day. Repeat escape attempts are the things that usually get you sent to be used as a lab rat. In my character’s case, he can’t speak up and claim he’s being inhumanely abused for no reason, so he’s entirely at the mercy of whoever is overseeing him that day, with no recourse whatsoever.

    EDIT: MC is going to have a very difficult choice later on and I want his absolute disdain for the world he’s in to override his moral compass.
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2020
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  15. Whitecrow

    Whitecrow Member

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    Ukraine.
    We had serfdom, legally these are different things, but in practice, when implemented in the Slavic countries, it turned out to be the same. On paper, you had rights, but in practice, everyone did not care what was written.
    https://umnik.net/uploads/questions/5b83/f492/a3ba/88cc/ca25/be11/d84a/c370_poster.jpg
    https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQQAXEeG5zYWcSsqYkHFbrqrLfFscx2tv0SgQ&usqp=CAU
    https://russian7.ru/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/1-63.jpg
    https://fakeoff.org/image/resize/400/250/5e/aa/5eaabe3f4351cd54a936588d.jpg

    The country was constantly under the control of one of the militant countries that changed control over the country. On the last side of conflict were the Tatars, who regularly raided the country,but did not establish their control.
    The part of the country that was closer to the Tatars turned into a lifeless desert.
    Escaped slaves who called themselves Kozaki (Cossacks - mean free people) fled there. There they fortified and gradually gaining strength and people, then began to be able to repel the attacks of the Tatars and became a serious military force in the form of mercenaries.

    "I know the Slavic people were slaves, it's what the name means." -Here you are wrong. "Slav" - means glory (wide popularity, popularity, also high reputation; in a figurative sense - praise ("giving glory").).They used names and titles with fragments of the given word, as they believed that it brought glory and good fortune. Svyatoslav, Miroslav, Vyacheslav, Vseslav, etc. Because this word was in almost every name and title, they were called that way.Since they believed that this word brings happiness, fame, luck and prosperity, they were all only for it.
    The word slave is -"Rab" (Just a slave), "Krepostnoy"(Slave in the serf system), "Kripak"(Slave in the serf system), "Holop"(Offensive name used by the master. The same as Nigger in America.).
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2020
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  16. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum

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    Thank you. I don't remember where I heard that Slav meant slave—now that you say that it makes sense—why would it mean the same thing in English that it means in... a Slavic language?

    Here's an article about it: Myths of Russian History: Does the word 'Slav' derive from 'slave'?

    They say the idea that Slav derives from Glory is also a myth: "In fact, the most popular version sees “Slavs” as deriving from slovo, “word,” (meaning “people who can speak our way”)."

    But I noticed, the way the article is written, it also seems to dance around the fact that the Slavic people actually were slaves. They never outright deny it, but it's never stated. Seems suspicious, like it might be apologia. In fact, they make a point of saying that Slavs would take other people as slaves.

    I suspect this is the kind of subject it's hard to find information on that isn't slanted strongly one way or the other. Most online articles on such subjects are usually associated with a group that's pushing an agenda.
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2020
  17. Whitecrow

    Whitecrow Member

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    Apparently it was written by someone who is not a native speaker and has not studied the history of the country and people.

    1) The Slavs have nothing to do with the Greeks, but are a mixture of Vikings and a mixture of local tribes. What the old Slavic texts indicate.
    2) The Slavs were very far from Greece and had only a few successful raids on the Greeks. There were nations that attacked much more often and much more successfully ... Why not call the Hunni as Slavs?
    3) Why did all the other nations give themselves a name themselves, but this one took the offensive name that others gave it, and even bore it with joy and pride.
    People feel the attitude of other people when they talk. If they try to offend you, or they tell you something with a desire to offend or humiliate you, you will feel the insult even if you are not told anything bad.
    Nobody would take this word if it was an insult. Ancient people also knew how to understand several languages, and if it was a joke or an insult, everyone would have understood it long ago.
    4) The names that people gave in those days had a decryption. They often consisted of two words.
    Miroslav -(Miro+slav)-World and glory - He who praises the world...
    Svyatoslav -(Svyato+slav) -Holy and glory. - One who glorifies the saints.
    Rostislav -(Rosti+slav) -Growing fame.
    Vladislav - (Vladi+slav ) - Possessing fame.
    Mstislav- (Msti+slav) - Famed avenger.
    Vyacheslav - (Vyache+slav) -Best glory.

    No parent would call their child a slave or a word. But in those days people believed that give a name to a person, such a fate will wait for him. Therefore, they were given such names. Some of these names are still popular.

    The article seems to be more an attempt to say through the similarity of this word that we are the part of the Europeans. This kind of rewriting of history and pulling the blanket over oneself usually leads to the emergence of various fanatical nationalist groups.
     
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  18. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum

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    I agree. Like I said, it sounds like they have an agenda. I was just searching for information and realized it's going to be hard to find anything online that doesn't come from one agenda or another. That's probably just as true for books too.
     

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