The Trading City that I am asking is major powerhouse of mother river.

The setting is a pre-industrial post-apocalypse world where there is no magic. This trading city is ruled by Srbiyan soldiers who colonized this city 100 years after the doom when the Srbiyan government decided to conquest more land but those soldiers took land for themselves. They have interbred with the natives after they arrived and settled down.

The labours and workforce of this town, and other towns nearby, are Palmajeese immigrants that migrated from Moonshine. They worship the God of Moon and are nomadic after the doom destroyed their country. But Bratibor (the city name) relies on the Palmajeese slaves for everything; they have become decadent but at least they can shoot slaves, and the reason that Palmajeese never rebelled was because they have nowhere to go as all surrounding towns are also slaver cities. They also have strong a cultural loyalty towards their masters and even worship their masters because they think that they are saviors.

Meanwhile, on the opposite side of the river there is a long pipeline that has been abandoned after the doom was gone and now the oil is leaking. The Pipeline and area around it are "Lou badland". That area was the most rural area of confederate of Lou (old colony of Valoria that is kinda like America) and is now settled by various Lou tribes that considered themselves the "blood of Lou". The reason that Valorian colonized this land was because they have oil, not because they are Lou (the Valorian ancestral tribe).

The Badlanders (these tribes) have some guns from the pre-apocalypse era and some handmade guns from northern Lorian. They used to live at riverland but the Lankrin took riverland away so they migrated to southern land.

I am trying to come up with an answer for why the Bratibor (the steampunk city) do not invade the badlanders, considering they have oil and workforce and they are weaker and less organized than Bratibor armies.

  • $\begingroup$ Does the absence of magic also mean that there is not crystal-based technologies? $\endgroup$ Aug 6, 2016 at 17:20
  • $\begingroup$ no,they use slaves. $\endgroup$ Aug 6, 2016 at 17:30
  • $\begingroup$ Reminder to close-voters... $\endgroup$
    – Frostfyre
    Aug 7, 2016 at 15:15
  • $\begingroup$ am i off topic? $\endgroup$ Aug 7, 2016 at 15:22

3 Answers 3


This sounds a lot like Rome in its later days or like the Umayyad caliphate near its end--the elites are wholly dependent on slaves and are incapable/unwilling to get their hands dirty. In both the above cases, it ended up with slaves being drafted for the military, at first under officers from among the ruling class, later under the command of other slaves under the overall command of the ruler. After all, why would the free people take the risk of getting killed or endure the discomfort of a campaign, when there were slaves to do the dirty work. Plus, a few slaves getting killed wasn't going to have the public up in arms, but a victory is a victory and would improve public morale.

So why wouldn't these people use slaves as a military force?
One, a shortage of slaves: There is only a certain number of slaves available, and all of them are engaged in some form of economic activity. Removing slaves from their work would result in unacceptable inconvenience to their masters, who would, firstly, refuse to release their slaves for the government's little excursion, and secondly, would work to overthrow the government if it tried using force.
Two, these people have learnt from history. An armed, trained slave is a slave who knows exactly what to do when he decides to rebel. Either the ruling class have to keep up their own military training to put down potential rebels, like the Spartans or Romans, which they've given up, as discussed above; or the rebel slaves overthrow the government and establish their own dynasty, as did several groups throughout history. Even if the rebellion were eventually crushed, the city would be sufficiently weakened that the Badlanders could successfully raid the city.
Three, following from two, suppose they do invade and conquer the Badlands, then what? They either have to chase out the inhabitants or enslave them. Either way, they'll need a garrison there, to stop raids by desperate armed badlanders, who have nothing to lose and engage in guerilla tactics and opportunistic strikes; or to ensure the enslaved badlanders don't rebel or sabotage the oil flow. The second option has two major problems: firstly, it changes the ratio of slaves to masters and second, it introduces formerly free people to the existing slave population. Once of the reasons these slaves are happy with their lot is that they cannot conceive of masters becoming slaves, or the corollary of slaves becoming masters. The other reason is that they don't have a leader who can inspire them to believe freedom is achievable. This risks introducing both.
Fourthly, the slaves are content because they believe the rulers protect them. Putting them in harm's way, e.g., military service, destroys this belief, and, in the process, gives them weapons to express their displeasure.

Simply put, the ruling classes have done a cost/benefit analysis, and decided the military options isn't worth it, if they can get the oil through trade anyway. Now, if those upstart savages decide to do some hanky-panky, like limit supply or raise prices, well, that'll have to be dealt with, won't it? Though, a few well-trained, loyal assassins would probably get the job done, cleaner and cheaper than an army.

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    $\begingroup$ this city is like carthage,Ruling class are not native and that used slaves as farmer because the ruling class(srbiyan soldier descdent,half srbiyan)are rare and they would like to manipulating badlander than actually invade them because their armies would be quickly overhelmed by nationalist lourian tribe who considered pipelander to be their brother and would kill everyone who oppress their "brothers" and even if they won there will be a lot less farmers and that mean there will be a famine and that would weakened bratibor and even trigger slave rebels which will destroy bratibor. $\endgroup$ Aug 7, 2016 at 9:43
  • $\begingroup$ ...okay, there you go then. $\endgroup$
    – nzaman
    Aug 7, 2016 at 10:40

Perhaps the soldiers of Bratibor are already at war with one or more of the other slaver cities in the area, so their military might is directed elsewhere. Fearful of engaging in a war on two fronts, which never ends well, they have chosen to trade with the BadLanders rather than take the oil by force.

Additionally, the Badlanders may be the only ones who know how to refine the oil into the specific products needed by the current technologies, and that knowledge might be closely guarded. Conquering the Badlanders might gain Bratibor possession of the currently refined supply, but loose for everyone the knowledge of how to make more.

Trade is really just a courteous style of warfare.

  • $\begingroup$ Well you inspired me,The Bratibor influnced badlander politic and shoot everytime they rebel so they will have trusty ally and can loot everytime rebel rise.Basically make badlander tributarie of bratibor. $\endgroup$ Aug 6, 2016 at 17:35
  • $\begingroup$ Happy to help! ...and welcome to WorldBuilders! $\endgroup$ Aug 6, 2016 at 17:42
  • $\begingroup$ Great answer! I never would have thought about this $\endgroup$
    – krypticbit
    Aug 6, 2016 at 20:10

The difficulty here is keeping the technology in a trading city away from the general populace, and the traders, and therefore the neighbouring cities.

The nature of a trading city is such that large numbers of people and goods are coming and going, and therefore knowledge, information and technology will come and go, even just the statement that something has been seen to be possible will cause other people to try it. There's also the matter of the traders knowing what has been bought and sold in the city which gives a good clue as to what is required to build these machines.

You'll need to take precautions like; have a trading enclave (outside the city walls) where people can come and go but aren't allowed into the city proper, only allow the upper classes "access to technology", have a separate class of technopriests also with high status to maintain and operate the machines.

The downside of this is that the machines developed will be largely immobile for the sake of improving quality of life for the wealthy rather than mobile and military. While there may be some heavy military grade kit in there, moving it out of the city will be nigh-on impossible, so while the city can perfectly adequately defend itself, they're not able to use that technological advantage prosecuting distant wars.

  • $\begingroup$ that it what im doing,Bratibor trading port are heavily fortified and behind fort there is a farm that feed the whole city. suburban and town are surrounded by farm and forts and only technology that require steam in their city is steam-powered ship which badlander confused as big sea-sneak(they mistaken almost every modern tech with magic)and they use it to only importing oil and tried to keep it secret form power-hungry lankrin empire(imagine ming but with electronic mage as emperor)and they rarely go to war as they have more than enough supply. $\endgroup$ Aug 9, 2016 at 9:59
  • $\begingroup$ @political_worldbuilder, we had a question a while back about mistaking technology for magic and the result was that while the legend of it exists, there are no recorded incidents of a primitive group identifying technology as magic. Sometimes as religion, but never magic. $\endgroup$
    – Separatrix
    Aug 9, 2016 at 10:34
  • $\begingroup$ they are like japaneese black ship. $\endgroup$ Aug 9, 2016 at 12:29

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