How much does a slave cost?

How much does an average adult male human slave cost in Gracklstugh? Either a specific price or a price range would be helpful. My character is a halfling.

• This question is not too broad, though a legitimate answer is "there are no published slave prices for Gracklstugh, Forgotten Realms in general, or generic canonical D&D equipment lists." Guessing is too broad, but that's not the question's fault. Feb 27, 2017 at 2:15
• Related meta discussion: rpg.meta.stackexchange.com/q/7294/11402 Jul 6, 2017 at 21:48

The cost might be ~1000 gp

Unfortunately, there is no official 5e sources for slave prices. Some prices might be mentioned in the "Secrets of the Lamp" (a book by Wolfgang Baur published by TSR), but they are relevant to the City of Brass slave market.

I would say a male human slave in Gracklstugh costs from 500 to 1500 gp, though the upper limit is mostly an estimation based on historical trends:

In ancient Rome a male slave could cost ~500 denarii, which is about two years of work of a professional soldier. Comparing to the "skilled hireling" from the PHB, it would be 2*2*365=1460gp.

On the other hand, if slaves are trivial goods and can be treat like expensive animals, we can choose a warhorse for comparison, which costs 400gp. So, I would say the lower price limit is about 500gp.

However, human slaves are rare in Gracklstugh:

\begin{array} {|l|r|} \hline Slaves: \\ \hline Goblin &39\% \\ \hline Shield dwarf &29\% \\ \hline Orc &19\% \\ \hline Svirfneblin &9\% \\ \hline Human &4\% \\ \hline \end{array}

That probably means a human slave might cost more than a goblin/dwarf one. With a price range of 500-1500 that would be closer to the upper limit, hence, 1000-1500 gp.

• Why are people downvoting this answer? He gave a price range with a solid line of thought. Feb 27, 2017 at 2:36
• @Manner Because it's speculation. There's no reason to believe that the supply and demand for slaves during one particular period in ancient Rome's very long history is at all comparable to the current-year market conditions in Gracklstugh, making it a dubious baseline to start with. This kind of detail is why stuff that sounds good on paper, but is still speculation, tends to make for poor answers that get downvoted. Feb 27, 2017 at 4:51

50-100 gp

There are published slave prices in Green Ronin's Plot & Poison: A Guidebook to Drow that cites 50 gp as an adult human male price; that's pretty relevant as you're looking at an Underdark city to compare.

Also, Sean K. Reynolds has been quoted (claimed, but unsourced here) that in the Realms 50 gp is about the right price for a human male slave with sub elite array stats in places that normally have slaves, like Thay.

The Forgotten Realms Helps wiki cites "A strong, healthy slave costs between 50 and 100 gold pieces in lands where slavery is common." This information is unsourced.

Lords of Madness for 3.5e states the following for slave prices: Basic formula: (CR X CR) X 100 gp. (If CR lower than 1, round up), add multipliers for unusual skills/abilities. So that's 100 gp base.

The Pathfinder Adventurer's Armory quoted 75 gp for a common slave and 100 gp for a "hard labor" slave (higher than basic stats).

So while there's no canonical direct answer to your question, I think it's entirely fair to say that's a good set of decent close compares from various sources that consistently peg the price at 50-100 gp, probably 50 for average stats and 100 for anything more notable.

But but what about types of slavery and regional variation and...

D&D doesn't do that. The price of a longsword should vary too, but in general D&D goes for the simplified assumption of a base price that's usually applicable everywhere except in special circumstances. There's no reason to alter that approach in this one point case.

Furthermore, prices of basic goods are about the same across D&D versions (including Pathfinder) so it's a reasonable compare to take pricing from other versions.

There are no 5th Edition sources which quote the prices of slaves, but TSR 2126 Arabian Adventures quotes the prices of slaves in Zakhara (which is in Abeir-Toril) during 2nd Edition. Considering that prices for most items which are in both the 5e PHB and in TSR 2126 are about the same, one could make a ruling that their prices for slaves are also representative of other Torilian cultures where slavery is legal and common.

In page 92, the prices of slaves are given:

\begin{array}{lr} \text{Bearer} & 20 \text{ gp} \\ \text{Courtesan (male or female)} & 60 \text{ gp} \\ \text{Entertainer} & 60 \text{ gp} \\ \text{Eunuch} & 40 \text{ gp} \\ \text{House servant} & 40 \text{ gp} \\ \text{Laborer} & 20 \text{ gp} \\ \text{Specialist**} & 600 \text{ gp} \\ \text{Warrior/guard} & 60 \text{ gp} \\ \end{array}

The ** mark after "specialist" refers to the following observation:

** Comprises individuals with marketable skills, including proficiencies such as sailing, weaving, or tailoring. "Adventurer-types" may be sold at this price per level of ability, but are often marked down and sold as other types of slaves because of their tendency to escape and/or lead rebellions.

All in all, it's roughly within the same order of magnitude as the other answers to this question, considering a slave without class levels.