Legends of Belariath



Relationships on Belariath are fundamentally different from those on Earth, though there are also similarities to be found. In a society where it is the norm to take what you want (and what you are strong enough to take), others will often be considered either prey or property and this is especially so in the case of females who are unable to protect themselves. As prey they may be taken for a period which lasts no longer than the time it takes to subdue and make use of the weaker character before leaving them discarded. But should one seem especially tempting, it is also not unusual that a more permanent form of ownership is employed.

So it is most common that an individual will either be free or owned by another, though in rare cases there is a coming together of individuals in a form of equality similar to marriage. However, many inhabitants tend to look upon this type of relationship as an aberration or even a sign of weakness. The Empire does not lay down too many rules on how individuals interact but it does recognise the value of humans as property in all the various permutations.

Here then are the recognised forms of relationship, leaving out the basic state of being free and uncommitted: Note that a character can only hold one status at a time - free, bonded, concubine or slave.


Bonding is a sacred ritual between two characters who wish to establish a significant relationship blessed by their deity. Each religion sets its own specific guidelines on how this is achieved, the limitations and how such a bond may be broken. Normally a character will only be bonded to a single mate at any one time as this is considered a very significant relationship.

The Empire's recognition of bonding is based upon the following:

- The bond must be created in a place sacred to a recognised major or minor religion by a priest(ess) or high priest(ess) of that religion

- At least one of those being bonded must be a follower of that religion

- In cases where the precepts of a religion allow a character to bond with more than one other at the same time, only the first of those bondings will be recognised by the empire

- No new bond will be recognised until any existing one(s) are broken under the requirements of the same religion which created that bond.

On those terms and providing the bonding ceremony is recorded in the annals (on the message board) then the Empire will recognise a significant relationship between two of its subjects. Whilst this bond does not carry much in the way of benefits and restrictions in Imperial terms, the existence of it is such that a character whose bonded mate is abducted may apply to the Imperial Guards for their assistance in gaining that mate's return. This help is not automatic and it is not free. The IG Commander will consider a plea on its merits and, if justified, set a fee for the IG's help. Any help will be refused if it is believed that the bonded character left of their own free will.


A concubine is less than a bonded mate or a free person and shares several common attributes with a slave. Unlike a slave, a concubine is not captured, she gives up her freedom, willingly in some cases, maybe for the security of being owned or perhaps even for love. In other cases, she gives up that freedom less willingly, because of having been manipulated into a situation where she has little option. But she still gives it up by choice. However, once taken as a concubine, there is not the same ability to remove herself from that state. She can only become free again by being released.

This consensual act of allowing someone to take possession of the girl (or guy) means that there is a lot of variation in the exact relationship between concubine and her owner. Some will treat their concubines as minor wives but given the nature of life on Belariath, most will consider them sexual playthings, pets, or somewhat less restricted slaves. Those lesser restrictions do not guarantee a concubine being pampered or given an easy life by their owner however. He can treat her as softly or as harshly as he wishes and she will have no one to appeal to if she doesn't like it. She has become his property to use as he sees fit.

Aside from the personal choice of the owner in how he treats his property, any idea of reduced restrictions has more relevance to how the concubine is allowed to behave in public compared to a slave. There is no particular social convention that she defers to free people, though as she is marked a concubine, she may not be shown as much respect except in relation to times when she represents her owner, or when the status of her job inspires it. There is also not the same limitations on work, spells and weaponry.

There is no required religious ceremony to take a concubine, it is a purely temporal relationship like slavery but unlike slavery, there is no oversight on her behavior by the ISA if she attacks a free person. Of course she will still answer to her owner, as well as to the Imperial Guards if she comes under their scrutiny. Also unlike slaves, a concubine cannot be sold and has to be either kept or freed.

Registration of a concubine is handled by the ISA and only concubines registered via the ISA are recognised by the empire. Once registered, the owner is able to appeal to the ISA for assistance (such assistance being given by an ISA call to the IG) if his concubine is abducted. However, the ISA will not intervene if a concubine runs away. Formalities are much the same as for slave registrations. Both owner and concubine must post OOC consent on the board and both must be present for the registration IC. Equipment slots, waiting times and freeing concubines are the same as for slaves, except that the registration fee is 50% that of slaves. Both female and male concubines are allowed.

Typically the owner of a concubine will want to mark his property in some way and will use the same tag ID as for his slaves. The method of marking a concubine is not so regulated as for a slave though and may take a form such as a pin or other jewelry, a tattoo or almost anything else. The only requirement is that the marking identifies the owner and also identifies the girl as concubine rather than slave. Naturally as concubines are property, they cannot own either slaves or other concubines themselves, though they can retain ownership of such things as land and property.

In public, a concubine can act much as a free person would. They can carry and use weapons or offensive spells and they can work at any level of employment, providing they commit their loyalty whilst working to the empire or the shop employing them. A concubine is also not expected to show deference to others, except at the demand of their owner. Though whether they are considered equals by those who are actually free is far from guaranteed.

So in summary, a concubine chooses to enter a condition of being owned, for whatever purpose, whilst retaining many of the benefits of a free person. Within that relationship she may be treated well or badly at the whim of her owner but that is a chance she takes when she seeks the security of his tag.


The traditional way of life on Belariath would tell you that someone is either free or a slave. Though depending on their abilities, a free person may often be thought of as a slave waiting to be captured by someone stronger than they are. And whilst slaves may be either male or female, it is a fact of life that female slaves are usually more prevalent and more highly valued. Their capture and training tends to form a staple entertainment in a society without a lot of so-called modern conveniences and slave ownership imparts an aura of status to those who possess them.

Slaves may be captured by raids on other villages or simply by seeing a desirable object in a lonely place and forcing her into a collar - though the empire will certainly take action against anyone who attempts to steal a valuable slave belonging to someone else. For the purpose of gaining that Imperial protection, it is highly recommended to have slaves registered by the ISA. Also, although most slave owners take pride in handling all aspects of capturing and training their property, the ISA maintains registers of slavers and slave trainers who are able to provide services for those who need them.

Unlike a concubine, everything a slave owns and everything she earns from working becomes the property of her owner. If she retains property, she does so by his leave. If she carries and spends money, she does so with permission. A slave does not even own her own collar and she certainly does not own her own body. A possession cannot own other possessions after all and people would think you very strange if you told them the saddle you use belongs to the horse you ride.

In private, the relationship between slave and owner is their own concern. A weak slave owner may end up being dominated whilst a sadistic one may abuse his property considerably. Though it will take a lot of mistreatment before the ISA will take a slave away for protection, and in any case, some girls come to enjoy that harsh lifestyle. If freed, they will actively seek a new owner who emulates it. In public, however, a slave is more restricted than either a free person or a concubine. After all, they are simply property in the same way as you may own a table or a horse. Few people would expect to be unchallenged if they allowed their goat to wander into the Inn and start eating the curtains and neither would it be expected that a slave was able to act out of their status without some retribution. But just as the owner of the goat would be held responsible for controlling his property, so too is the slave owner expected to be able to train and control his possessions.

Restrictions tend to fall into two categories: social and official. Typically the ISA will only take action against a slave and her owner in the event of a serious infraction such as that slave attacking a free person. The social expectations of how a slave will behave in public are much wider. Considered to be below the status of a free person, a slave is expected to show this by deferring to those who are free. As such, a slave who is demanding, raucous, pushy or generally objectionable is likely to find herself getting at least a slap from any nearby free person she offends. At worst she may find herself fastened to the slave poles until her owner can teach her not to embarrass him in public.

Since only slaves face this degree of both social and imperial expectation about their behavior, a concubine cannot aspire towards recognition as a Tu`turadil. That status is something only awarded to slaves who are seen to act as role models for other slaves. Also, whilst concubines can be used as a source of income or a cheap form of labor by their owners, in a wider commercial sense the real economic benefits come from owning slaves. A concubine can be used to keep her owner's home clean, maintain his land or even go out to work and bring money into the household. But a business such as a shop or the Inn can own slaves who provide a cheap form of labor for no more than the cost of keeping them fed, housed and, in some cases, clothed. So it is slavery that really underpins the economy of the empire as well as providing an individual owner with the satisfaction of seeing how his training has created a girl who is a credit to him in public.

In summary, a slave is captured, whether willingly or unwillingly, by an individual or a commercial enterprise and so becomes owned. Once owned, she may be kept or sold. In private she may be used entirely as the owner sees fit but in public she can expect retribution if she goes against either the expectations of society or the laws of the empire.