During one period of the Byzantine Empire, it was legally permissible to enslave shipwreck victims when they washed up on one’s shores. If that same group of people made it safely to the pier on an intact vessel, they were entitled to the full legal protection. Nor could slavers cause the ship to founder. But if it did, they were permitted, upon rescuing the survivors, to clap them in irons and sell them. By a wrinkle of fate, their prior status was erased, and they became human commodities.
Or so says Edward Gibbon in his The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Later scholars have debunked many of the claims made in his then-impeccably sourced, pioneering historical work. For its current purposes as a roleplaying adventure seed, let’s call this particular fact too good to check.
SYSTEM: fantasy (dark historical)
AUTHOR: Robin D. Laws designed the GUMSHOE investigative roleplaying system, including such games as The Esoterrorists and Ashen Stars. Among his other acclaimed RPG credits are Feng Shui and HeroQuest. Upcoming projects include Hillfolk, the first game using the DramaSystem RPG rules for personal interaction, and his eight novel, Blood of the City, available August 2012 from Paizo’s Pathfinder Tales line. There Goes My Dream Job, the second volume of his comic strip, The Birds, is now available from Pelgrane Press.