Hello all, Welcome to the 5/5 edition of “Freestyle Friday.” Although Mexico celebrates a major national holiday today, this installment is not about that. In America, Labor Day is the first Monday in September, but in much of the world, there’s an international socialist holiday scheduled around now. Since Labor Day in the United States always falls on a Monday, thus making it out of the realm of Freestyle Friday, I thought today would be a good time to talk about workers, particularly uprisings.
If you want to play a large-scale campaign that puts characters into battle, a worker/slave uprising is a good way to do it. First you have to decide the scale. Roll a d8 or consult the following list to decide how big it is.
- Isolated-local: The uprising has few followers and the uprising is only occurring in a small area.
- isolated-nonlocalized: The rebellion has few followers, but it is breaking out in pockets in several places.
- minor: localized: A small, yet significant area is caught up in a rebellion with a small but dangerous number of followers.
- minor-nonlocalized: small but dangerous numbers of rebels are popping up in various places amounting to several small areas.
- major-localized: a very large area is caught up in a rebellion of workers amounting to a serious threat.
- major: non-localized: There is a large-scale uprising throughout most of the area without a major leader.
- total-localized: the entire region is embroiled in a rebellion in which almost all the workers are taking part, presenting a threat to the society as a whole and having a definite leader or leaders.
- total-noncentralized: the entire area is embroiled in a revolt in which almost all the workers take part but have no definite leader. This should be large enough to threaten the society as a whole.
At some point, you’re going to have to decide the servile system in place too, and there are a lot of different kinds. Roll on the d10 table or select the one you think is best.
- Convict slavery: criminals are put to a time of enslavement to pay for their crimes.
- serfdom: workers are tied to the land and are transferred to the care of the lord if the land’s ownership is transferred. They are not slaves but must work some for their lords.
- racial slavery: A particular race or subrace is slotted to a position of “natural enslavement.” This may accompany a caste system, or it may not.
- debt peonage (non-corrupt.): Those who fall into severe debt are enslaved until they do enough work to pay off their debts.
- deb peonage (corrupt.): People are enslaved for falling into debt to pay off their debts, the system is meant to keep them in debt indefinitely however to render their theoretically-temporary enslavement permanent.
- caste system: Blood determines work and each person is put into some caste of work or leisure based on ancestry.
- apprentice system: people go into virtual servitude to professional classes in order to learn a trade but are required to do menial tasks until their studies are complete.
- Gendered servitude: The genders in the society are vastly unequal in rights and privileges, making one gender largely the servants of the other.
- gerontocracy: Age is a measure of status and thus the young are inherently in a servile position.
- indentured-favor system: for some favor from one with money, a person puts oneself into servitude for a set time.
Then you have to come up with a reason for the revolt. Roll on the d10 table below or choose the one that you like best.
- freedom: They simply want to end the servile system.
- better conditions: they want an insupportable condition of their existence removed.
- upholding current government against outside threat.
- upholding government from inside threat.
- jockeying position with another class (not going for freedom, just to put themselves above them)
- turn society on its head (want to be the masters and reduce their old masters to servitude.)
7 redistribution of wealth.
- following a hero.
- following a villain such as a false prophet, tyrant, evil spellcaster, or bandit chief.
- non-social reason, such as insanity, plague, psychic control, sudden epidemic of lycanthropy, or other problems that do not directly stem from the servile system.
Hope if you are not American, you like this nod to socialism, and if you are American, hope you can put these tables to use. Well…. Hoping everyone can use these tables.
About the author.
Zachary Ruffing is one of the DMs from “Companions of the Perception check” and is running the “children of Gith” campaign in the “Points of Light” setting. He enjoys the company of his rat and 2 dogs and loves classic lit and bad sci-fi and horror flicks. He is primarily indebted for this article to his comparative history of slavery class he took in college and also Orlando Patterson’s book: “Slavery and Social Death,” one of the most comprehensive and highest-quality books on slavery ever written.