“Oh dear gods, they have a Comfy Chair...NOT THE COMFY CHAIR!”
- 1 Prisoners
- 2 Slavery
Under the regime of ARCHIE-3 and Hagan, the Shemarrians only took prisoners in extreme cases, when A3 wanted information. Once that information was obtained, most commonly under duress, the prisoners were simply disposed of. Worst case scenario, a prisoner might end up being brought in for ‘more advanced interrogation’, which amounted to medical experimentation/surgical torture.
Under the rule of the rebel Shemarrians of the Reformed Shemarrian Nation, the Shemarrians are still reluctant to take prisoners, but when cause prompts them to, generally any such prisoners can expect better treatment...relatively.
Of course, there are shades of distinction between being a prisoner of the Shemarrians and a bondsman of them. Many prisoners, though only those who gain the favor or respect of the Shemarrians, may be ‘oathsworn’ to particular Shemarrians and mentored in the ways of the Tribe(s), allowed limited freedom, and allowed (even encouraged) to participate in the routines of Shemarrian life, in return for expected work at the direction of their oath-holder. Bondsmen may be released after a suitable period and earning their probation, and allowed to return to their previous lives (as long as they take no further action against the Tribes) or inducted as a full NeShemar into the Tribes.
The following are general guidelines for what one can expect if taken prisoner by the Tribes:
One can expect fair to good treatment from the Hawkmoons, with attention to an individual’s personal dignity and honor. On the minus side, Hawkmoon holding facilities tend to be almost impossible to escape from unless one is a natural flyer or extreme acrobat. More than one Hawkmoon ex-prisoner has come down with acute acrophobia as a result of their confinement.
DarkWaters are expedient jailmasters, efficient if not particularly accommodating or sympathetic. Due to their most likely operating environs, DarkWaters’ holding facilities tend to be exercises in sensory deprivation (heavy on the dank and dark) and especially hard to escape from (deep underwater or isolated in deep space/hard vaccum).
Prisoners of the Blood Riders can expect fair treatment but often run the gauntlet of taunting from Tribe members. Worse yet is that the Blood Riders will often involve POWs in physical activities which might be considered torture. Prisoners may also be challenged to various contests, their performance and attitude often determining their future treatment.
Ghost Riders display a particular machine-like lack of empathy towards prisoners. The majority see prisoners as systems to hack to get at desired information or alter programming/behavior. A prisoner’s personal dignity means nothing to these machine-ladies who regard a recalcitrant prisoner as a problem to be resolved efficiently and effectively, even if it involves wiring the prisoner's nervous system to a biometric scanner and questioning the prisoner with sleep deprivation, selective stimuli, and electromagnetic probing . This is, after all, the Tribe that developed the Domimatrix as an Elite caste.
Skullcrushers seem indifferent jailers, with the sort of dank, dark, and gloomy accommodations and attitude one might expect. Skullcrushers are not above using their reputations to lean heavily on prisoners, with the implied threat of serious pain for failure to cooperate.
The Horrorwoods take good care of their POWs and the chow is good, but prisoners can expect to be confined (and terrorized) by a menagerie of animated animal and plant guards.
Similar to the Horrorwoods. Prisoners can expect to be imprisoned in a ‘wolf pit’. Wolf’s Path tend to be brusque and to-the-point, and their methods of questioning tend to be based around wolf-pack tactics, with multiple interrogators repeatedly questioning a prisoner until confusion and sleep deprivation break them down.
Silvermoons are perhaps the most honorable and ‘by the book’ when it comes to taking and treating prisoners...which is probably why they so rarely take them. Typically the Silvermoons will seek to repatriate POWs as quickly as possible, or parole them out. Those who violate the terms of parole will face the full weight of consequences of their actions. A Silvermoon can be expected to keep her word even to a prisoner, though that should be taken as warning if the Silvermoon ever states ‘I will break both your legs if you lie to me again’.
Generally regarded as the masters of mind####ery when dealing with prisoners, Sapphire Cobras are renowned for their methods in subtle torture. Mixing pleasure and pain with heavy doses of chemical incentives and bizarre behavior seems to be the recipe for getting prisoners to open up. That having been said, the Sapphire Cobras have the highest rate of prisoners ‘turning’ and changing allegience to the Tribes.
Wayfinders tend to polite and hospitable with regards to prisoners. Many actually know what a ‘Geneva Convention’ is, and try to at least go through the motions of adhering to what parts are still relevant on Rifts Earth. On the minus side they’re not above using magic and psionics to squeeze prisoners for information, and woe be to prisoners if they serve the Coalition States.
The Lost Eclipse has undoubtedly the worst reputation for treatment of prisoners...they rarely take them, and those they do are subject to mental manipulation and psychological torture of the extreme stripe. Psionic and chemical manipulation of prisoners’ psyches is almost mandatory, with an eye towards producing long-term effects. Screaming nightmares tends to be a hallmark of the Lost Eclipse experience for former prisoners of the Tribe.
“No, I don’t like being made to work breaking stone and hauling scrap for the damn Shar, and being docked rations if I refuse to work, being told where and when to sleep, and where to do my business, but, as I am so eloquently reminded from time to time, the alternative is the damn Shar turn me over to the bloody Tolkeenites. Those mages have a death sentence on every member of my old battalion they can get their hands on...”
“Nice silver collar; beautiful workmanship there. Almost looks like a real snake.”
“I sometimes swear it IS. It MOVES occasionally. Mistress has hinted that if I wish, I can join her Serpent Dancers and get one of the bigger snakes. It would be nice to have something more...covering...on me.”
While the (E)Shemarrians despise the Splugorth and the Horune, and slavers in general, the Shemarrians themselves are, perhaps hypocritically, not adverse to certain forms of slavery. In fact, it can be argued that the early recruitment of NeShemar (mindwiped, cyborged, sentients, mainly humans, drafted into the EShemar ranks to give them extra auxiliary troops and labor) could be construed as a form of slavery.
The degree to which Shemarrians may practice enslavement varies from Tribe to Tribe, both by circumstance and philosophy. The Hawkmoons and Dark Waters for instance, have little use for indentured servants, as their areas and modes of operation (air and spacecraft) make having extra mouths to feed and potentially disgruntled captives near at hand a difficult proposition. Other Tribes, such as the Lost Eclipse or Blood Riders, take and hold prisoners as part of the deserved spoils of war.
In general, those Tribes that do take slaves take them as fallout from combat; prisoners of war, the dependents of bandits taken in combat, secondhand loot such as slavers’ stock, and captured criminals taken in Shemarrian territory. Shemarrians do not go out of their way to conquer people to enslave them, which arguably is a thin line separating them from true slavers.
Such slaves as are taken are usually treated quite well and seldom abused (this doesn’t change the fact, however, that they are effectively prisoners working for their captors). Some end up the equivalent of pampered pets, entertaining their Shemarrian masters. Extensive Tribal laws and traditions protect slaves from mistreatment, and severely penalize those Shemarrians who abuse their charges. The exceptions are hardened criminals and miscreants convicted (by Shemarrian authority) of crimes against fellow sapients, and who have not been summarily executed (rapists and pedophiles in particular). Such criminals may expect to be worked hard, often in the service of those they have wronged.
More often than not, such slaves as may be taken quickly graduate to NeShemar status, effectively earning ‘citizenship’ and status in the Tribes. Again, the exception is hardened criminals, who may see the rest of their lives under the control of the Shemarrians, or may be turned over to outside authorities (after a suitable period of time in service to the Shemarrians and some possible brainwipe to conceal Shemarrian secrets) to face whatever law may be awaiting them for their crimes.
Slaves may receive cybernetic and bionic implants, but rarely beyond the basic medical necessities. The exception may be specialized implants needed to contain and control particularly powerful or useful prisoners (such as the infamous Hoyt Sparks), with the more extreme conversions of this sort incidentally leading to the development of such cyborg and Elite types as the VatFather and Yashi-Tree.
Most Tribes do conduct the practice of bondsmanship; prisoners of war/combat who are regarded as being worthy, respectful, or honorable enough to be granted the special privilege of providing both service, and receiving training from, the Shemarrians. The goal of bondsmanship is typically to turn a former and esteemed enemy into a potential ally, by exposing them to Shemarrian culture, and inculcating them with the greater Shemarrian values. After a period of probation, the bondsman is allowed greater leeway and access to Shemarrian facilities and training. However, a bondsman who violates the terms of their parole, betrays both oath and bond, is considered an embarrassment to their sponsor and a traitor to their word, and may be very severely punished, depending on the degree of their transgression. A bondsman who has completed their sentence with the approval of their oath-holder may then be completely freed and allowed to return to their homeland, though often marked by the Tribe and under oath not to take up arms against the Shemarrians ever again, or may be foresworn as part of their parole to do some task or service for the Tribe in the future when called upon. An exemplary bondsman may be offered a place in the Tribe or be gifted with some other boon, such as a weapon, armor, vehicle, or other prize. Bondsmen (and ex-slaves in general) are given marked with a Blood Mark from the Tribe they did service with.
As the liberty-loving Tribe, Hawkmoons do NOT take slaves, and they rarely take bondsmen.
The exigencies of DarkWater life mean that this Tribe also does not use slave labor, except in the rarest circumstances. They rarely take bondsmen.
Blood Riders DO take slaves as spoils of war, and often induct bondsmen.
Ghost Riders do not normally take slaves, but are perfectly willing to fob off prisoners to Tribes that do. They rarely take bondsmen, and such cases are special; a particularly adroit hacker may be captured and taken into the service of the Tribe if they are considered of great enough interest. However, it's been rumored that some of the Ghost Riders have been experimenting with using headjacks and neural implants to allow them to tap into prisoners' untapped mental capacity and use them as organic processors for data-mining massive amounts of input data, especially when the prisoners are asleep or otherwise unconscious (incidentally leading to some VERY strange dreams for the participants).
The Skullcrushers rarely take bondsmen, but do use slaves, particularly if the captives are considered particularly dishonorable or unworthy of warriors’ parole. Under such circumstances, criminals may expect hard labor and life in service to the Tribe.
The Horrorwoods take both slaves and bondsmen, but more often than not both groups typically become proper members of the Tribe in time.
Mobility is key to Wolf’s Path success, so they rarely take large numbers of slaves, though they do take bondsmen.
Rarely take slaves but are more inclined to take bondsmen.
Sapphire Cobras take both slaves and bondsmen, with a high rate of converting them to full-on members of the Sapphire Cobra cult.
Never take slaves, but may take the occasional bondsman. The exceptions may be individual Wayfinders with a grudge against the Coalition, but these tend to be incidental, rather than Tribal policy.
More inclined to take slaves; bondsmen are virtually unknown among the Nightmares.