A Workship is a penal vessel used to "transfer" prisoners to Lystrata, where they are commonly sold to slave-owners. The practice is a highly controversial loophole by which many of the non-slave-owning nations could "reduce the burden" of the destitute poor or unwanted criminal element. The practice continues in the USK and Ganzabar, but was also practiced by Great Brazak. Some of the Valya Free States use them, but others are strongly opposed. Azrune notably have never used workships. Brazak West abolished them on declaring independence from Ganzabar.
Historically, workships were poorly maintained and provisioned, leading to terrible living conditions for prisoners. Many were rife with disease. In one particularly bad patch of the USK's privately-run prison fleet record, the mortality rate on prisoners was as high as forty percent. More recently, workships are subject to stricter standards and conditions on them are not what they once were. Nevertheless, their notorious reputation persists.
Although dubious, workships are government-run and technically legal. Not to be confused with Snatchers, which are piratic raiders that take civilians directly to the Lystratan slave market; though both are regarded with dread.
The workship is technically a transfer, sending prisoners to Lystratan prisons. However, due to the fact Lystrata commonly re-assigns prisoners to Aquisitories, the majority end up as slaves. The main exceptions are generally the old and infirm, who tend to linger indefinitely in the Lystratan penal system. Either way, a workship is commonly seen as a one-way trip.