Posts Tagged ‘slaves’

I’ve made a few passing references to the caste system of Bragonay in the past, but I’ve got a more fleshed out version to share. I’m pretty pumped about this. As I was writing it made me want to run a campaign with an entire party of Bragonian dwarves, which is a good sign to me. When it comes to gaming write what excites!

The Caste System

Know your role!

In Bragonay there is little hope of climbing the ladder of social status. Most dwarves are born into the caste system in the same position as their parents and they cannot hope to advance beyond their station. Dwarves live, marry, and have children within their own caste. Persons of higher castes have better quality of life, more money, more power, and their word is worth more than that of any with a lower station. Within the same caste the word of women is always worth more than men’s. The levels of the Bragonian caste system are, in order from most powerful to least, empress, warlords, nobles, soldiers, artisans, peasants, and slaves. In Bragonay only warforged can be slaves. The empress and warlords are all female, which means they can marry below their station, but only from the noble caste. Sons born from such a union are nobles, daughters are warlords. All members of Bragonian society must follow the rules of the caste, including the empress. If she breaks the caste, the warlord may vote to overrule and execute her. The only member of a caste who moves up due to a death is a warlord who becomes the empress when the previous empress has died. This warlord is the next of kin of the previous empress. All stations of Bragonay’s caste are assigned a clothing color. At all times a majority of the clothing they wear must be this color for easy identification.

  • Empress – Black
  • Warlords – Yellow
  • Nobles – Purple
  • Soldiers – Red
  • Artisans – Blue
  • Peasants – Green
  • Slaves – Orange

Warlords serve as councilors and enforcers for the empress. Nobles serve on councils which are in charge of various settlements and soldiers serve as their enforcers and lieutenants. Artisans could be any merchant or seller of wares or services. They are well-trained in their respective skills and valued by nobles for the money they bring into the region (which is of course, heavily taxed). Peasants could be many different things, farmers, street cleaners, messengers, etc. Yet the most popular job for peasants is easily miner, since metal working is the backbone of the Bragonian economy. The use of slaves is on the decline since the warforged uprising and Bragonay has ceased production of the humanoids (even though some warforged have figured out a way to build new members of their kind). Still many nobles and warlords have loyal slaves who work as servants and bodyguards. Laboring is mostly handled by the peasant class, but occasionally a warforged slave might be brought into a mine or field to fill a very dangerous, low-level position. Some of these slaves are well-treated and have no desire for freedom, but there are those who abhor their bonds and plot their escapes. Since the uprising crack team of dwarf artisans assembled by the empress herself has been working on a new breed of living construct to replace the warforged as slaves. What may happen to the remaining warforged slaves once these new constructs are complete is anyone’s guess.

The Caste Rules

There are two rules which are the hope of all those in the lower stations, except for slaves who can never leave their station. These rules apply to even the empress herself.

  1. A Bragonian within a higher caste may initiate a status trade with a Bragonian of a lower station.
  2. A Bragonian of higher caste may force a status trade upon two individuals of a lower station.

The Caste Game

As a result of the rules above, The citizens of Bragonay are often engaged in a dangerous and deceitful game involving blackmail and manipulation. The lower castes use methods of blackmail to manipulate their way up the ladder of the caste. Threats of violence are usually no good, since a dead dwarf cannot trade castes. As a result of this blackmail, dwarves within higher castes are usually either very secret about any illicit dealings or lifestyle choices in which they engage, or they are extremely open about these goings on. Still, there is always a caste to which one may advance for there must be someone trying to keep an affair quiet, covering up a murder, having gambling debts, or stealing from their boss. In some cases, desperate dwarves will turn to kidnapping a loved one, though most dwarves cannot be manipulated in this way. A higher caste is more difficult to replace than a child or spouse. Sometimes manipulation of a manner more subtle than blackmail is required. Faked romances and seduction are a favorite ploy of young Bragonians, as well as servants trying to form close friendships with their masters in hopes that they will receive a boost up the ladder. As a result the higher castes look to the lower castes for only labor and services. There is very little mingling otherwise. These games are not for the faint of heart. Murder, blackmail, kidnapping, lust, betrayal, and more play into the dangerous caste game of Bragonay.

The Caste Gods

The goddesses gave this lady magic pink fingers.

The religion of the Bragonian dwarves takes its cues from the caste system. This religion is referred to as Hierotheism. The polytheistic religion recognizes its goddesses organized into their own caste system. Each caste has its own priests lead prayer to their corresponding goddess. One may not pray to a goddess above his or her station and if caught doing so the penalty is death. Prayers to the goddesses below an individual’s station are acceptable, though not common. The empress is a special case. She has a goddess assigned to her caste of one and therefore is her own priestess. However, at the request of the empress only, a priest of the warlord caste may pray with the empress to her goddess. A ladder with seven rungs is the symbol used to represent Hierotheism. Each rung is a different color which corresponds with the clothes worn by a particular station. Here are the goddesses and their corresponding stations.

  • Caramey The goddess of the empress is usually depicted as a female dwarf standing next to a throne of adamantine, wearing a mithral crown. She wears a huge great sword, Order-Keeper, strapped across her back. Legends say the just goddess has never had need to draw her sword, for all the caste goddesses know their place in the hierarchy and do not stray out of line.
  • Meralla The warlord goddess is wise in the counsel she gives to Caramey. She suffers no foolishness and takes the lives of every Bragonian citizen as her personal responsibility. She wields a huge scythe, Head-Remover, which is used to bring swift justice to those who try to operate outside their castes.
  • Zelti The beautiful goddess of the noble caste is often depicted holding a bag of coin in one hand and a dirk, Secrets Released, in the other. She protects the personal property of nobles and grants them strength to make secrets public so they may save themselves from blackmail and corruption. Zelti also carries a scroll tube on her belt, which is where she writes down the sins of dwarf nobles. Her priests encourage dwarves make these sins public, again to help avoid blackmail.
  • Swarvune The goddess of soldiers and war is often depicted as the happiest of dwarves, smiling and reveling in battle. Her axe and shield, Judgement and Law, are always sharpened and polished, ready to defend the Bragonian people. She commands loyalty and respect from her worshippers as a commander would and asks that they lay down their lives in defense of the Bragonian way of life. It is said she dies for her people every night in a grand divine battle and is rewarded with new life for her sacrifice every day at dawn.
  • Shalleal The artisan goddess is said to have taught the shardminds to create the dwarves at Caramey’s order. She works at a forge using her great maul, Dragonbane. Her worshippers say she speaks little, for her work is of the utmost importance. Craft and labor are the be all, end all for Shalleal and she expects the same of her worshippers.
  • Berga The hearty goddess of peasants is depicted as a soot-covered miner wielding the pick axe, Servitor. Happily she supports the other goddesses, serving as a laborer and messenger. Likewise the other goddesses are grateful for Berga, for without her support they could not do their very important work.
  • Almahad The only male god in the Hierotheistic pantheon, and so low on the totem pole that the dwarves refer to all seven as simply, the goddesses. Still, like the others in the pantheon, Almahad serves his role well. He has always been depicted as a dwarf, for Bragonay used dwarf slaves before the warforged came along. He carries a club, Worthy Example, as his weapon, which is allowed to him by the other goddesses for his loyalty.

It is rumored that the weapons of the goddesses have equivalents on the material plane that were given to heroes fighting against the chromatic dragons. The rumors say these items were lost long ago, but if they are true, the items are still on Canus somewhere waiting to be discovered.

Adventurers and the Caste System

Bragonay’s caste system is a wonderful rabbit-hole down which adventurers may travel. They could receive word from an old dwarf friend because he or she is being blackmailed. They could be hired to dig up dirt on another dwarf’s rival. They could get caught in a dangerous game of deceit and have to determine who is a real ally and who is false. If one or more PCs is a Bragonian dwarf, the possibilities are truly endless. If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcast on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends about the blog, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

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All creatures are free. All masters must die.

This is the motto of Lifeforged, a group of bandit terrorists living in Bragonay’s deserts. Many who cross paths with these ruffian warforged believe they are no more than deranged highwaymen. But those with a deeper understanding of Bragonay’s history know the truth. Lifeforged have much more than gold on their minds.

The Creation of the Lifeforged

Like a big metal Batman. With an axe.

Not so long ago Bragonians created the warforged to be the lowest rung on the ladder of their strict caste system. For years these beings did everything they were told without complaint. They were the perfect slaves, serving in all capacities from butler to soldier.

However, years after their creation warforged began to do the unexpected, thinking and feeling for themselves. At first the Bragonians dwarves were happy about these surprises, for it meant the warforged could be proactive in their duties and take initiative without being told to do a task.

Things turned bad for the dwarves when some warforged tried blackmailing their masters for a position higher up in the caste system. The dwarves were shocked by these actions, their creations were unruly. These warforged who tried to do such things were considered rejects and dismantled.

When other warforged heard of this they began to take action. More tried blackmail to earn a higher caste position while others turned to outright violence or attempted to flee Bragonay. Marrial’s Masters of None became involved, secretly helping some slaves escape. The problem became so great that the Bragonian Empress at the time made a law stating no warforged could advance beyond the slave level of the caste system. This enraged the warforged and a nation-wide revolt began.

During this revolt, many warforged fled from Bragonay and were accepted as members of other societies. Others stayed loyal to their dwarf masters and a large group formed an army. Those soldiers found themselves in Bragonay’s deserts. This was the perfect place for warforged as the hot sun does not burn them or make them thirst as it would any fleshy foes. The living constructs in this army called themselves Lifeforged.

Out in the desert Lifeforged was safe. This was their terrain and they held all the advantages. The Lifeforged army grew too bold and moved from mounting surgical strikes and guerrilla attacks to a full scale march on Bragonay’s capital, Kerdabi. The Lifeforged believed their hour was at hand since most of the Bragonian armed forces were abroad at the time, trying to invade other countries as part of The Fourth Great War. The Bragonians got word of the attack and secretly pulled their armies back. It cost Bragonay the war, but allowed them to keep their country.

In the Battle of Kerdabi the dwarves decimated the Lifeforged ranks, taking no prisoners. Any warforged who had revolted were considered faulty machinery and destroyed. Some Lifeforged managed to escape. A sizable force of Lifeforged still roams the Bragonian deserts, planning attacks, growing their ranks, and seeking support where they can.

All of this violence is based on one fundamental disconnect – warforged see themselves as living beings, and many Bragonians see them as machines. That is true of some Bragonians to this day.

Goals of Lifeforged

Today Lifeforged operates as desert bandits, attacking caravans and stealing the goods for resale, but they are hoping to grow into something much greater than they ever were. Here is the Lifeforged plan:

  1. Gain Coin. The warforged do this by hijacking desert caravans as described above. If the caravans are Bragonian, and most of them are in The Wastes, Lifeforged will ransom any wealthy merchants back to their families, kill any dwarf soldiers, and liberate any warforged. Any foreign caravans that have their goods hijacked and are left with enough food and water to survive a journey back through The Wastes.
  2. Increase Ranks. Lifeforged lost many of its soldiers in the Battle of Kerdabi. However, it has been slowly and steadily regrowing. By recruiting warforged from raided caravans, using surgical strikes to liberate the enslaved, and blackmailing Bragonians into freeing their slaves, Lifeforged’s numbers are approaching full-blown army status once again. Of course, these freed warforge are always given a choice, join Lifeforged or spend their newfound liberty in any other way they like. The only answer which is unacceptable to Lifeforged soldiers is a return to slavery. Surprisingly though, this is the choice of some recently freed warforged who find themselves on the wrong end of a Lifeforged sword.
  3. Gain Allies. Free Aeranore has been known to run weapons to Lifeforged in exchange for coin. The Tiefling Spires in a rare public address welcoming Bragonay and Parian to Verda, condemned slavery. But the most direct support to Lifeforged comes from Masters of None. The Marrial-based organization sends all the aid they can, including soldiers who can be spared to help free any warforged. Lifeforged regularly sends appeals to other organizations and governments asking for aid and help, but because of their illegal bandit activity many refuse to help them.
  4. Free All Warforged. This is Lifeforged’s penultimate goal. They would see an end to slavery of their brethren by any means necessary. Right now that means resuming a full-scale war with Bragonay’s empire once they have the soldiers and coin. Until that time they will be killing what slavers they can, intimidating and blackmailing others who own slaves into giving up the practice, and slaying those warforged who hurt the cause by choosing to remain slaves.
  5. Free All Slaves. Once Lifeforged has freed Bragonay’s warforged, their next target is Parian. Parian practices slavery of all races, not just warforged, and their reign must also be stopped, by any means necessary.

You don’t own me!

Rumors

  • Several Bragonian inventors and smiths are working with Lifeforged. All of the dwarves’ superior weaponry is being assembled with secret weak spots that are known to Lifeforged and will be exploited in major battles.
  • Many warforged have migrated to Verda to begin a new life, but perhaps they have a more nefarious purpose. Some believe they are working with the tieflings to recover The Reckoning Spell and use it against the Bragonians.
  • Lifeforged is not at all what it seems. They are a group of warforged supremacists who believe constructs are superior to flesh humanoids. After they take Bragonay for themselves, the rest of Canus will follow.
  • The Empire of Bragonay is actually in league with Lifeforged. After The Fourth Great War Bargonay’s economy is suffering. Through Lifeforged, the empire is able to ease that pain and take what they need from merchants and get free handouts from Masters of None.

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcast on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends about the blog, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!