Slavery is, obviously, a horrific crime against humanity, and for this reason, many games that have a slavery-related setting or will either leave it out of the game or abstract it into something that’s less ‘on the nose’, but not Vic 3.
As we all know, slavery was rampant during the Victorian era, and, as the Victoria games are set in this period, it is something the developers have to tackle.
Slavery was an important political issue of the day and was a major catalyst for several significant conflicts, most notably the American Civil War which would be bizarrely contextless if slavery did not play a significant role in the game. The other, and most important reason is that, with the Pop system, Paradox are trying to represent every individual human on the planet from 1836, so what statement would they be making if they simply wrote all enslaved individuals out of history, or reduced them into an abstract set of modifiers?
The aim is to try and represent the institution, systems, and causes of slavery, as well as the people who lived under and fought against it, as close to history as it can get. Paradox believe this to be the most respectful way for them to handle this topic, as well as the way that’s most true to the game Victoria 3 aspires to be. With that said, let’s get into the actual mechanics of how slavery and slave pops function in Victoria 3.
As was mentioned in the Employment and Qualifications dev diary, slaves are what Victoria 2 would have called a ‘Pop Type‘ and Victoria 3 calls a ‘Profession‘, but function in a significantly different way from other Pops. For one, slaves do not get hired with the enticement of a wage and do not have the freedom to choose the place they work. Slaves also aren’t just able to stop being slaves by switching their Profession to one that does offer a wage and freedom of movement.
Buildings that ‘employ’ slaves also do so in a way that differs from the way they employ other Professions. The gist of how this works is that in a state that has slaves, certain buildings (for example plantations) that employ laborers or peasants can fill each available position for those Professions with either a laborer/peasant or a slave.
Instead of paying wages to said slaves, each building decides a standard of living based on factors such as laws and profitability and purchases the ‘necessary’ goods for that target standard of living. This target SoL may not always be at the level of outright starvation but is never going to be anything but a very basic existence.
Given that slavery is founded entirely on human misery, slaves are naturally not going to be content with their lot in life, and will attempt to resist by whatever means are available to them. Mechanically this translates into a steady stream of radicalized slaves and the threat of turmoil and slave uprisings.