Zilchus is the Oerdian god of guilds, trade, and wealth. He is a popular Oerdian deity who watches over money, business and more specifically trade. He protects honest merchants and fights hard against theft and illegal trade. Zilchus advocates success on merit and condemns idleness and all forms of deception. He is very interested in how people get rich and gain prestige, and how they manage their wealth, maintain their power and exert their influence.
Some may mistakenly believe that Zilchus is a mere merchant deity. In truth, Zilchus subtly dominates the Oerdian pantheon. Only his brother, the impetuous Procan, is powerful enough to oppose him openly. In the most ancient myths, Zilchus worked greatly for the expansion of the Oeridian people. He instructed his children, Celestian and Fharlanghn, to guide the Oeridians on unknown roads, leading their steps to distant lands. And, in the event that the right to settle on these lands could not be obtained by negotiation, he charged his other children, Heironeous and Hextor, to settle the question with honor in battle.
Zilchus is a master in the art of negotiation. It is said that its language is silver and that it is capable of transforming enemies into allies. Thus, although he is not renowned for his fighting skills, Zilchus nevertheless played an essential role in the battle against Tharizdun during the Dark Age, contributing largely to the alliance of the gods which led to the defeat and imprisonment of the dreadful Dark Lord.
Since then, using his influence and his credibility with the other deities, Zilchus encourages and negotiates agreements between the gods. Many of them come to consult him for advice, which has the effect of strengthening his power and status. However, with great caution, Zilchus takes care not to be all-powerful and domineering, for fear of provoking resentment the other gods, losing their respect and thus spoiling the fruits of his efforts.
Zilchus is revered primarily by those who are fair, honest, and scrupulous in their dealings; shady merchants are more likely to look to his brother Kurell instead. In any place where trade is active (primarily in urban areas, as rural areas are too poor to offer interesting market prospects), most buyers who seek the guarantees of an honest transaction turn to the clergy of Zilchus.
Besides merchants, Zilchus is revered by a few nobles and wealthy people. Its cult is essentially urban, his priests are less active in rural communities (often too poor to offer interesting market prospects.
ClergyMost of the priests of Zilchus are merchants, nobles or people belonging to circles of power or influence. They are accomplished mediators and diplomats. They are ruthless in business and are often perceived as being devoid of emotion, but of irreproachably honest.
Clerics might work for powerful merchants, trade and crafts guilds, politicians, or nations, making transactions for their employers and accumulating prestige and currency for both their employers and themselves. Many are themselves merchants, nobles, or in some position of power.
The priests of Zilchus are listened to by most of the Leaders often rely on the advice of the priests of Zilchus because of their undeniable diplomatic talents and their reputation for great honesty.
Priests of Zilchus always expect you to haggle with them. To not haggle is insulting to them, although they are appeased when they get a discount. The greatest curse a Priest of Zilchus can say is "Zilchus be poor!".
VestmentsPriests must put on their finest attire during ceremonies. Most often, they wear white silk underwear, a gray dress decorated with silver with puffed sleeves, quality boots and various useful items hanging from the end of ribbons. They can also put on a tunic, pants, white gloves, tights or a tabard, but such clothes should always be cut from rich textiles. The set can be covered with a red cape covered with embroidery and weighed down by numerous precious metal additions. The high priests must also wear a golden mitre (a pope's hat), set with precious stones.
When in town, priests often dress like wealthy merchants and do not hesitate to adapt their attire to local customs.
HierarchyEach temple is relatively independent but the patriarch Stakaster Villaine, member of the oligarchy of the Free City of Greyhawk, is the recognized head of the church and each chapter must respect his word and his directives.
TemplesZilchus has few temples but many shrines in offices and guild halls.
RitualsReligious services involve the burning of incense, small offerings of goods, sermons and homilies.
The most famous ceremony is the Mark of the Merchant , which rewards priests and the faithful who have had great success in their endeavors (and who have enriched the church of Zilchus at the same time). The chosen one leaves with a huge gold coin struck with the effigy of Zilchus, sewn on a scarf.
FestivalsNo precise date is indicated in the canon of the church. However, each temple should strive to associate a religious holiday with each of the major festivals and trade fairs taking place in the surrounding area.
OrdersNo combatant order is affiliated with the church of Zilchus. The clergy, however, support competent adventurers, on condition that they agreed to pay 20% of their earnings to the temple on which they depended. The Church also call on mercenaries and adventurers to guard its ships and caravans.
"The best society is open, dominated by commerce and business, governed by a law that punishes criminals and recognized contracts and agreements. Trade and wealth are the pillars of society, on which everything is built and flourishes. It is trade that allows the blacksmith to obtain his food as a reward for his efforts, and the farmer to buy the tools he needs for his labor. The wealth produced by trade strengthens society as a whole, and those who work the hardest gain more prestige, power and influence."
Each individual has certain talents. These gifts must be used the best way possible, in order to contribute, each in his own way, to the enrichment of everyone. Obviously, not everyone will be able to achieve the same level of success in society. It is the most talented and skillful individuals, if they know how to exploit their abilities, who will gain the most prestige and influence.
Being wealthy and inspiring are sure ways to gain power, and the pursuit of these two goals is a high ideal.
The proper use of one's wealth and influence is also important. You can appreciate comfort and luxury if you remain vigilant and diligent in your work, but it is a serious sin to sink into carelessness and laziness. One can spend one's money abusing one's influence for profitable ends, but wasting one's money and tarnishing one's reputation by spending it on things unworthy of oneself is one of the worst sins there is.
The virtues of the faith are the ambition, the spirit of initiative, the judicious use of its resources (monetary or social), the capacity to foresee the evolution of the society and the changes of the market, the ability to make friends and influence people, and the constant desire to increase one's wealth and prestige.
Zilchus is depicted as a well-dressed Oeridian man of plain appearance but great wealth. He is middle-aged, with brown hair and eyes, tanned skin, and a dignified demeanor, and depicted as smiling. His clothing is expensive without being ostentatious. He carries a gold purse and a flail with which to chastise the dishonest.
Zilchus is the brother of Kurell, and the husband of Sotillion (and thus related by marriage to Procan, Merikka, and the Velaeri).
Zilchus' allies include almost all lawful gods, whether good, neutral or bad, these adhering to varying degrees with the idea of a society governed by strict laws in which commerce can flourish. Zilchus is closely allied with Rao, for Rao tries to calm the quarrels between the gods and to convince them to establish an agreement under the mediation of Zilchus. Their relationship is however sometimes tense, Rao hardly forgiving Zilchus for supporting the slave trade and associating with evil powers such as Hextor.
Zilchus became estranged from Kurell when the thief-god spurned Atroa in order to pursue Zilchus' own love, Sotillion. Kurell now lives alone with his jealousies, although it is said that the others would forgive him if only he would ask.
Xerbo is said to sulk whenever Zilchus encroaches on his followers, but they are not said to be enemies.