"This gold piece that I hold before you is what has built our thriving society. Wealth and commercial trade are the building blocks of the world, the lifeblood of our state, and our greatest friend and treasure. And yet the gold coin is but a partial symbol. Not everyone has a vast fortune of gold coins, but they possess the equivalent with their own skills and talents. Each of us has our own inner wealth, given to us by Zilchus, that we may invest and exploit in commercial trade to further enrich both ourselves and the society as a whole."
-Stakaster Villaine, Patriarch of Zilchus, delivering a sermon at the temple of Zilchus in Greyhawk, 588 CY.
Prestige, Money, Business, Influence
Home Plane: Nirvana
Alignment of Clergy: Any lawful or ethically
Alignment of Worshippers: Any. While Zilchus is
primarily worshipped by humans, he is also revered by many demihuman
merchants whose own racial pantheons lack gods of trade or commerce.
History and Relationships: While he was never known for
his fighting skills, Zilchus nonetheless played an essential role in
the battle against the Dark Lord during the Age of Night. A consummate
negotiator and a master deal-maker, Zilchus is said by his clergy to
have done much to foster the alliance between the gods that eventually
led to the defeat and imprisoning of Dread Tharizdun. Through Zilchus’s
silver tongue, enemies were made into allies as they fought the horrors
wrought by the Dark Lord and his nightmarish minions.
Cunningly, Zilchus did not seek
the same boon that many of the creator gods demanded from the Oerth
Mother in the aftermath of the Imprisoning War. Rather than creating his
own race, he instead used the influence and credibility he had gained
with many of his fellow deities so that he could be revered by the races
they were creating. At the same time, Zilchus continued to foster
negotiations and deals between the gods as their spheres of influence
were sorted out. Many gods came to him for advice, which gained him ever
more power and status among his peers, although he was careful never to
seem overwhelmingly powerful or dominating, lest respect turn to
resentment and he would lose everything he had fought to gain.
Zilchus had a hand in teaching
trade and commerce to many of the mortal races that flourished upon the
Oerth, so that this his prestige spread around the world and across the
races. From there, his influence has only blossomed, although he
continues to wield it judiciously. Today, he continues to enjoy a highly
respected status among the gods.
Zilchus’s allies include almost
all lawful gods, from Rao to Asmodeus, from Moradin to Hextor, from
Yondalla to Ulaa, all of whom agree to one degree or another with his
concepts of a society adhered to by strict laws where trade can
flourish. He is closely allied with Rao, who often persuades quarreling
gods to let Zilchus mediate between them, although their relationship is
at times strained by Zilchus’s support of the slave trade and his
alliances with evil beings such as Hextor and Asmodeus. His greatest
love, however, is his wife Sotillion. The goddess’s exuberant nature and
joyful attitude towards life offer Zilchus a respite from his duties
and also incidentally allow him to spend some of his vast riches in
pampering her, something which the otherwise frugal god secretly enjoys.
Zilchus’s enemies include rival
merchant gods such as Osprem, gods of thievery and theft such as Rudd,
and chaotic gods who seek destruction, such as Incabulos and Nerull.
Zilchus takes the same dim view of his fellow merchant gods as many of
his human worshippers do of their competitors, and the gods of theft
often seek to steal what Zilchus and his worshippers view as their
rightfully earned wealth. Gods of death, misery and destruction are
disliked by Zilchus because the chaos and horror they spread are, as one
might expect, hardly conducive to a thriving trade or economy.
Teachings: Zilchus’s faith teaches that
the best society is an open one dominated by trade and commerce,
governed by a rule of law that punishes lawbreakers and enforces the
rule of contracts. Trade and wealth are viewed by Zilchans as the
lifeblood of society, upon which everything is built and everything may
flourish. It is trade that allows the blacksmith to obtain food for his
efforts, and trade that allows the farmer to purchase the tools he needs
for his work. The wealth generated by the flow of trade strengthens
society as a whole, and those who work the hardest may obtain the most
power, prestige and influence in return.
individual, Zilchans teach, has their own particular set of talents.
These gifts should be used to participate in society at large,
contributing in one’s own special way to generate wealth both for
themselves and others, thereby improving one’s lot in life. Such wealth
generation is by no means limited to commercial trade-a musician or an
artist can produce artwork that other people will pay for, a sage can
research information for paying clients, and so forth. The sale of
physical goods, while very important to Zilchus, is hardly the only type
of trade that flourishes in society. The purchase and sale of knowledge
and talents, where every person maximizes their own abilities, is as
much a part of the Zilchan philosophy as is the sale of trade goods.
say, not everyone will be able to attain the same level of success in
society. To that end, Zilchans teach that the greatest and most skilled
individuals will gain the most power and influence. Wealth, whether in
physical riches or in the esteem with which others hold a person, is a
sure means to power, and the pursuit of both is a high ideal to
Zilchans. Just as some people will rise to become leaders, others will
become followers, and people can shift between the roles over the course
of their lives. Such changes come naturally to the faith of Zilchus.
The use of
one’s wealth and influence is just as important. Creature comforts and
luxuries are certainly not a sin if they are a reward for hard work, but
anyone who indulges in these must be careful not to lose their edge.
Enjoying luxury if a person remains vigilant and hardworking, but
becoming indolent and lazy is a grievous sin in the eyes of Zilchus.
Similarity, money and influence can be spent freely if they are done
with a profitable end in mind, but the foolish spending of wealth and
the squandering of influence are just as bad, if not worse, than sloth
brought on by excessive pampering.
The virtues of the Zilchan
faith include cunning, ambition, initiative, the judicious use of
resources, the ability to predict coming social or market changes, the
ability to win friends and influence people, the pursuit of fairly
earned wealth, and increased social prestige.
The sins of
the Zilchan faith include sloth, laziness, stupidity, the waste of
resources (whether money or social credibility), and being exploited as a
fool. Note that spending one’s wealth on personal luxuries and
pampering is not necessarily viewed as a sin, provided that one does not
become indolent from their creature comforts.
with Outsiders: The church of Zilchus is extremely active at all
levels of society, and is intimately involved with merchants and
governments in much of the Flanaess. Its clerics can be constantly heard
haranguing politicians and bureaucrats for lower tariffs and taxes, or
for money to be spent on infrastructure. As one of the wealthiest
priesthoods in the Flanaess, many Zilchans actively spend their
churches’ wealth lobbying for their preferred policy changes. As noted,
the expenditure of wealth and prestige is entirely commendable if it
brings about a desired end.
Of course, the
faith of Zilchus also engages in more traditional clerical duties for
its members. Marriages, blessings, exorcisms, healings, and
purifications are performed on a routine basis. However, most Zilchans
are notoriously uncaring towards those not of their faith, and typically
do not heal or otherwise help them unless they can gain through
donations, conversions or prestige and influence.
faith of Zilchus is highly influential and involved in many different
countries, most ordinary folk do not typically interact with it. The
faith is otherwise uninterested in farmers or laborers, and generally
only contracts with adventurers when it wishes to hire them to perform
some specific service.
Due to the
prevalence of merchants across the Flanaess, the faith of Zilchus is
among the most widespread churches as well. Despite its activism, few
rulers distrust it, as the faith is very careful to restrict its
commentary to commercial matters. It is welcome just about everywhere
except Iuz and the Theocracy of the Pale, where it is officially banned.
In the lands of the Ice, Frost and Snow Barbarians, the Rovers of the
Barrens, Blackmoor, and the Tiger and Wolf Nomads, the faith is simply
unknown, as too few merchants travel to those distant lands to ply their
prominent temples are in Greyhawk, Kalstrand, Nulbish, Zelradton,
Thornward, Dyvers, Chendl, Willip, Hookhill, Irongate, Niole Dra,
Gradsul, Rel Mord, Oldred, Scant, Schwartzenbruin, Istivin, Radigast
City, Veluna City, and Verbobonc.
debate exists within the church on the acceptable limits of trade and
its proper role in society. Many followers of Zilchus have no problem at
all in selling weapons and supplies to humanoids, participating in the
slave trade, or engaging in any other trade that could be seen of
dubious morality. Many good-aligned followers of Zilchus lament this
tendency among their fellow clergy and lay worshippers. The good-aligned
clergy feel that such types of trade both undermine the status of
merchants and provide an excuse for meddling do-gooders to interfere
with trade and commerce, to say nothing of the humanitarian reasons
behind such interference.
such Zilchans fear that such action could fatally undermine both the
prestige of the merchants who engage in it, and ultimately come back to
harm the economy as a whole. People who are sold into slavery can hardly
be expected to be involved in buying or selling trade goods, while
trafficking with humanoids could easily backfire if those humanoids use
the weapons you sell them to destroy your homeland! Similarly, many of
these Zilchans fear that such actions only harm the prestige and
influence of the commercial classes among governments and the population
as a whole, making them less trusted by rulers and commoners alike.
Short-term gain may prove disastrous in the long-term, as the profits
made at the present time might cost merchants as a whole dearly in the
however, deride these claims as sentimental nonsense, and claim that
what matters above all else is the free flow of trade and wealth,
regardless of the means to attain it. They point to the fact that many
humanoids and monsters take wealth out of the economy through their
raids and murders. When these monsters use their treasure to pay for
commercial goods, the merchants are in fact bringing that wealth back
into the legitimate economy, where it can be circulated for the greater
gain of all. As for the trafficking of drugs, slaves or other goods of
dubious morality, many of these merchants reply that many rulers of the
Flanaess do not in fact seem to care about these trades, as the merchant
classes remain as influential as ever. They also claim that anyone who
is foolish enough to become addicted to narcotics, or to be taken into
slavery, could not have been expected to thrive in any event. It is
hardly the Zilchans’ fault, after all, if someone fails to make the best
use of their talents and ends up condemned to addiction or servitude!
the issue of charity is also hotly debated among Zilchans. Some
Zilchans, whether out of compassion, pragmatism or both, believe that if
merchants donate some of their wealth to the poor and less fortunate,
they will gain in prestige and influence in society. Pointing to the
Zilchan doctrine that spending large sums of money is perfectly
acceptable if it profits the spender in some way, these Zilchans claim
that merchants who donate wealth benefit in the long term from their
generosity. Better yet, they claim, those on the lower rungs of society
may have a better chance of exercising their own talents to the fullest,
and better participating in the economy.
condemn what they view as a foolish waste of money. They claim that,
rather than feeling grateful to their benefactors, the recipients of
charity will instead become indolent and dependent on it rather than
working to maximize their own abilities. Wealth used in this way is
drained out of the economy and wasted on foolish projects when it could
be directed more profitably, replying with the Zilchan doctrine that
foolish wastes of money and influence are a grievous sin.
Adventuring Clergy: The church of Zilchus does
not have many adventuring clergy, as most adventurers do not have the
inclination to work as merchants while also slaying monsters and
embarking on quests. More typically, the church will contract
adventurers to carry out quests on its behalf, or they will take gems,
jewelry, vases, tapestries and other non-monetary treasures off
adventurers’ hands in exchange for hard coin.
few enterprising social climbers who are followers of Zilchus may follow
the adventuring life either to gain seed money for their own mercantile
ventures, or the prestige and influence many famous adventurers can
gain through their bold deeds. Such clerics are required to tithe only
twenty percent of their wealth to the church, which otherwise believes a
hard worker should keep as much of his wealth as possible. However,
they are typically not allowed to wear armor heavier than chain mail, or
edged weapons larger than daggers, as large weapons and heavy armor
have been known to make many of a merchant’s potential customers
nervous. Appropriate presentation is just as important to a Zilchan as
actual deeds. However, Zilchan clerics may associate with whatever races
they wish, as well as travel wherever they please, as the clergy does
not trouble itself with such petty details.