The practice of being bound to service is falling by the wayside but still exists. There are 3 types of bondsmen. Hereditary bondsmen are born into servitude. Several orders of priesthood are opposed to the practice and it exists mainly in older more established lands. The frontiers of society being a great equalizer of humankind.
Bondmen are protected against abuse by law and custom and there are many ways to achieve free status.
The first type of bondmen are hereditary. They are born to a life of servitude to whomever owns the land they work.
The second type is criminal bound. The criminal bound have committed some minor crime and have been bound as a punishment to repay society. The criminal bound are fairly rare and it is usually for a set time.
The third type is debt bondage. Debt bondage is more common than crime bondage but still uncommon. Debt bondage occurs when a person is substantially in debt and is reduced to bondage to pay the debts. Ordinarily a persons family will pay the debts to avoid the dishonor of having bondmen as kin but occasionally a person has no family in a position to help. Children are sometimes sold to bondage for repayment of their parents debts.
Characters from a bondman background are assumed to have been freed before the beginning of play, technically being freedmen; however, if a player wishes they can roleplay a runaway bondman. All bondmen characters receive skills from the farmer skill set. All bondmen characters are penalized 50% of their starting money by character class.
Roll to determine the type of bond background.
Hereditary bondmen can roll to determine to whom they were bound.
1-6: Temple bound
7-9 Royal bound
10 Noble bound
It is a great irony that most folk are bound to temples despite many orders being opposed to the practice; clearly not all are. Older, more conservative temples are much more likely to keep bondmen, as they are opposed to the breaking of the orders of men laid down in ancient times. Those born to bondman status in a royal domain are also fairly common. Royal bondmen are usually quite well treated, but find it harder to become free simply because ultimately they are only freed by royal decree, and it can be difficult to attract the notice of royal officials. Those born bound to the nobility are quite rare and their treatment varies as much as the attitudes of their masters, though generally within the bounds of the law and accepted custom. Bondmen are known by several distinguishing features shorn hair being most common, followed by cropped ears and/or iron collars in more conservative regions.