Slavery on Babylon 5

Greg Smith

In 'Born to the Purple' Adira is a slave. Would slavery really be tolerated on the station?

I ran a session last night in which a Centauri slave was won at a game of cards by a human. Would this be legal? Would the card player be legally able to sell the slave? Would another human be able to buy the slave?

The card game was intended to be just an incidental encounter, but now it has turned to a moral dilema.


Staff member
Yes - she was a slave by the laws of the Centauri themselves. While distasteful to the crew of B5, this would (in 2258) be perfectly legal. It is the place of B5 to maintain the peace, remember, not enforce Earth morality across the entire galaxy.

Now, when the ISA gets set up, things will be very different. . .


And don´t forgett, every race on the station is under the judgement of their own race, only when there is problem between different races is the Babylon 5 Juristical code in use.


Greg Smith said:
In 'Born to the Purple' Adira is a slave. Would slavery really be tolerated on the station?
Depends on who's doing the slaving. It's illegal under EA laws, but legal under centauri laws, and while B5 is under EA jurisdiction, they do have a twisted treaty about that law stuff... basically, they don't interfere with other races laws as long as they keep it within their "territory" and don't endanger the station (so a Centauri Can bringt slaves on B5, but not weapons, even though both might be legal under Centauri laws and illeagl under EA laws - the EA probably had to make the slave concession to get the Centauri and other races to agree to the weapons concession...).

An interesting point would be slavetrading on the station - it IS EA territory, and while they can't interfere on other races property, they can reglement what goes on on their ground.
Of course, it'll still be a case of "out of sight, out of mind"; if a slavetrade goes on behind closed doors, the overworked station security will never hear of it; and in any case, most of the time the most they could do is kick the offending parties off tha station (as any crime involving aliens will be surrounded by diplomatic entanglements... and depending on the whim of the ambassador involved, can be come depressingly complicated - so even should they do hear of it, Garibaldi will probably not make a big fuss about something he can't easily change anyway and which would only get him, Sinclair and possibly the whole station into troubles... though he might have a little informal chat with the slavetraders ambassador - threat of action can be much more effective then action, because their side will probably want an scene as little as your side - there are enough races who would react badly to such things being done, races the ambassador in question will want to sign treaties with his people...).

But if someone were to publicly advertise slaves for sale, B5 security will probably shut him down fast and put him and his merchandise on a slow boat back to his homeworld (and most slaveowners will be smart enough not to do that anyway - see above; even though the slave-allowing governements will defend their rights, they won't look kindly to someone who weakens their negotiationg position by, say, rubbing the Minbari's noses into the fact that Centauri still allow slaves...)

I ran a session last night in which a Centauri slave was won at a game of cards by a human. Would this be legal? Would the card player be legally able to sell the slave? Would another human be able to buy the slave?
It'd be illegal under EA laws, legal under some other races laws.
The centauri would be well within his rights to bet a deed to a slave, but the human could not legally accept it - he'd get in trouble if some EA official heard of it... and he couldn't legally sell the slave to another EA citizen. Actually I'd guess if the PC was a completely honest character he'd have to report the incident to the next EA official, and set the slave free or something... maybe even bring charges against himself for accepting the slave in the first place...
But he could easily find a Cantauri or Golian buyer, and sell his slave before the EA officially became aware of this problem... Hell, I'm sure even some humans would buy slaves... (sure, it's illegal, but so is selling dust or weapons...) - and it'd establish a reputatiuon for the character on the less lawful side of B5 society ("Yeah, I know this guy from last year, don't worry, he's certainly not working for security, he can't be, undercover jerks aren't allowed to do slavetrading, which he certainly did back then...")
But this might leave himself open to possible blackmail later - as slavetrading is certainly a crime under EA laws... better destroy any paper trail of the transaction throughly, Mr.PC! But as we all know it'd give the GM a really nice lever for later... when N'grath or Deuce needs a favor, and will trade the "last" copy of the transaction records for it... :wink: :twisted:

Question is - as always - what does the character want? Let him make his choice and have fun finding out the consequences...
And if the PC wants to be really nice, there's always the slave to consider... slaves aren't furniture after all, if asked they might have some ideas themselves... and if set free, they (or their relatives) might react in unexpected ways, now or later... all brain-food for the GM to make things more interesting for the PC! (and more work of course - now M-GM needs to make a background for the slave, think about how this status came to be, imagine if he wants relatives who might be looking for, or be grateful about the release of this slave - or come seeking revenge against anyone who owned their relative - endless possiblities)

Note - never let your NPC's bet slaves at cards when you GM, it just makes your job more interesting (as in the chinese curse...).


Yeah you would hope the PC would be decent enough to set the slave free, well at any rate the game sounds good if the moral quandries are already coming up.