A Baron was a land owner in the Deathlands, or the ruler of a section of territory, often called a Barony, or a ville. The title could be earned by one of two methods, first by inheritance, and second by murdering the current Baron, and assuming his title.
The Barons of the Deathlands were known for their cruelty, double-crossing, lack of morals, and suspicious nature. Often they would dispose of a potential rivals violently, and quickly, lest they ferment any dissension. They often ruled by force, and employed ruthless Sec Men to keep the local populace, and neighboring villes under control. Often the local populace were kept in a semi-feudal state, or as outright slaves, with few or no rights.
The name Baron may also refer to Robber Baron, which were ruthless capitalist in the late 19th, and early 20th centuries.
In social criticism and economic literature, robber baron became a derogatory term applied to wealthy and powerful 19th-century American businessmen that appeared in North American periodical literature as early as the August 1870 issue of The Atlantic Monthly magazine. By the late 1800's, the term was typically applied to businessmen who used what were considered to be exploitative practices to amass their wealth.
These practices included exerting control over national resources, accruing high levels of government influence, paying extremely low wages, squashing competition by acquiring competitors in order to create monopolies and eventually raise prices, and schemes to sell stock at inflated prices to unsuspecting investors in a manner which would eventually destroy the company for which the stock was issued and impoverish investors. The term combines the sense of criminal ("robber") and illegitimate aristocracy (a baron is an illegitimate role in a republic).