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    Canonfire :: View topic - Church of Zilchus
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    Church of Zilchus
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    Grandmaster Greytalker

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    Thu Mar 11, 2010 9:07 am  
    Church of Zilchus

    I'm reading the first book of Dorothy Dunnet's "House of Niccolo" series, which centers around late-medieval European economics, so it got me to thinking. I had always assumed the Church of Zilchus would be heavily involved in banking in the Flanaess, since that's a natural outgrowth of widespread trade, and they have been strongly favored by the state at one time or another. So do people think they would be free-marketeers or monopolists? They don't seem to be controlling things like the Moquollad, but I can see the advantage of them being for monopolism in some areas that they do control. Or might they be ethically opposed to it.
    GreySage

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    Thu Mar 11, 2010 9:49 am  

    I think they'd be in favor of any individual seeking wealth and influence by any lawful means that they can. A situation with multiple groups competing for wealth and power would be equally as blessed in the eyes of Zilchus as a situation where a group stifles competition for its own advancement - for example, a guild exerting monopoly power over a city (which happens all the time in the Flanaess and in medieval Europe). If someone acquires the resources and gumption to (legally) break a monopoly, Zilchus would be all for that, but if they decide to (legally) take over and exploit a monopoly instead, Zilchus would be all for that as well. Zilchus helps those who help themselves, and I don't think the god would want to see the lawfully gained benefits of a monopoly upset just for the sake of some abstract belief in the benefits of a free market. Working within a monopoly to gain influence seems as much a Zilchus thing as competing to make your business better than its rivals.

    The idea that monopolies are something that one might be ethically opposed to seems anachronistic. If some idealistic Teddy Roosevelt-style "trust-buster" came into power and started breaking guilds up, the church of Zilchus would probably be opposed to the sudden break in tradition, and the government interfering with lawfully gained wealth and influence. I think most Zilchusians would be deeply conservative in that respect, though "conservative" means many things, and respect for monarchial power is one of them; the church of Zilchus might be seen as radicals if they questioned the power of an absolute monarch to seize wealth at will. Some would, and some wouldn't, I think, depending on their individual loyalties and sources of income. The church of Zilchus in the United Kingdom of Ahlissa is tied closely enough to Xavener that they'd probably support his ability to do whatever he wanted, while in the City of Greyhawk they'd probably support the power of the guilds over the whims of the lord mayor.
    Master Greytalker

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    Thu Mar 11, 2010 2:18 pm  

    Also remember unlike the pan-regional (bakluni) Moquollad Consortium the merchant houses and guilds of the Flanaess seem much more local. The various church also seem at most national and several are local as their is no "Zilchas Pontiff of the Flanaess" to organize a pan-flanaess templar style financial system.

    Granted some collaboration could and probably is essential to maintain as well as stimulate profitable trade but the player that wants to pop in to his local "Bank of Zilchus" to withdraw his funds should be disappointed.
    Grandmaster Greytalker

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    Thu Mar 11, 2010 3:23 pm  

    A well thought-out answer from Rasgon, as always. The one point I might disagree with is ethical opposition to monopolies being anachronistic. There are legal precedents in the real world Middle Ages opposed to monopolies. I don't know how much I'd say ethics played a part in them, although it does seem to be an element in some. Of course dealing with a world where gods are real and make their presence known, ethics will enter more strongly into things. Given that I don't see ethical opposition to monopolies being nonexistent, although I do agree with you that Zilchus and his church probably wouldn't oppose them on those grounds. I could see priests of Trithereon as being ethically opposed to them, viewing them as just another tool used by tyrants to oppress the rights of individuals. Not that I'm seeing Trithereon as some raging free-marketeer either. I could also see priests of Pelor being in opposition too, seeing monopoly as something that would be harmful to the poor, at least among the followers of Tephos.

    While we're on the subject of Zilchus, where do people think he might have come from? By that I mean he is Oeridian in origin, but I'm not seeing a need for a god of business among the ancient Oeridians. My ideas on it are that he probably had some other role, overseeing some other aspect of society, before becoming a god of money and business. He most likely always represented wealth and the accumulation of power, but I've also toyed with the idea of he and Kurell originally being chthonic gods of wealth, like Pluto and Dis Pater, with possibly some associations with death. Zichus could have lost those associations over time as death came to be associated with Nerull in Oeridian/Aerdian culture as it evolved, and also as he became more associated with wealth and commerce. Kurell retains some of those attributes inasmuch as he represents death through vengeance, epitomized by the assassins of the College of Endings and Beginnings.
    Grandmaster Greytalker

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    Thu Mar 11, 2010 3:50 pm  

    Crag wrote:
    Also remember unlike the pan-regional (bakluni) Moquollad Consortium the merchant houses and guilds of the Flanaess seem much more local. The various church also seem at most national and several are local as their is no "Zilchas Pontiff of the Flanaess" to organize a pan-flanaess templar style financial system.

    Granted some collaboration could and probably is essential to maintain as well as stimulate profitable trade but the player that wants to pop in to his local "Bank of Zilchus" to withdraw his funds should be disappointed.


    Ah, but there was a Zilchus Pontiff of the Flanaess, at least 1/2 (Okay 1/3rd) of the Flanaess for a couple hundred years, when the Zilchans held the Holy Censoriate from 252 to at least the ascension of the Naelex line. They were probably in that position longer, at least through the first couple of Ivids, considering those Overkings lacked substantial centralized power. By controlling the Holy Censoriate the church of Zilchus provided the chief cleric to the Overking as well as controlling the courts of the realm. And even with Furyondy having broken with the GK Dyvers retained Zilchus as their chief god. That's a good deal of widespread power. Though they lost the Censoriate to the Hextorans they still held enough power to become the state cult of Ahlissa after the GK split apart. Given their bent toward law I can easily see them having a widespread network of banks operating under a centralized authority.
    GreySage

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    Thu Mar 11, 2010 5:19 pm  

    I see Zilchus as a god of prosperity and plenty in the vein of the Dagda of Celtic myth (who he resembles a Medievalized version of, with his mace replacing the Dagda's club and his money pouch replacing the Dagda's cauldron). As such he's a father figure (probably mainly to legendary mortal heroes in a literal sense) and, in some eras, considered the head of the pantheon.

    If the Oeridian gods are seen as paralleling the structure of the Aerdi court, Zilchus is the Emperor (or the King, if this is a chess board), Boccob is the court magus, Heironeous and Hextor are the champions of the realm, Pholtus is the chief inquisitor and high priest, and Kurell is the would-be usurper.

    This changes, of course, depending on which faiths and royal houses are in power. During eras when priests of Zilchus hold the Holy Censoriate, I think Zilchus as Divine Emperor would be the canonical view throughout the Great Kingdom. When the Pholtans held it, Pholtus was the Divine Emperor; when the Hextorians held it, the office belonged to Hextor, with perceptions of the mortal emperor varying accordingly.

    The myth of Zilchus and Kurell (which I've been meaning to write down formally for some time), as I see it, parallels the story of Jacob and Esau. Kurell is Esau, the older brother who ends up losing his inheritance under circumstances that he views as unfair. Desires for jealousy and vengeance are the probably inevitable result. Probably the priesthoods of Zilchus and Kurell disagree as to who was actually the elder son; the Kurellites maintain that Kurell was cheated out of his inheritance, while the Zilchusites insist that Zilchus was the proper heir all along and Kurell's jealous delusions inspired him to lie about it.

    The father of Zilchus and Kurell I usually have as a primal earth deity of some sort, the former ruler of the universe in view of an ancient Oeridian tribe (not the Aerdi, since the Aerdi worshiped only sky-gods, but another tribe that intermarried with the Aerdi and disappeared, their gods intermarrying with the Aerdi pantheon as well as exemplified by the marriage of Zilchus and Sotillion). I usually call this deity Earth Bull and envision him as horned, unanthropomorphized because of his great antiquity. However, if you subscribe to the idea that the gods of various pantheons are all the same set of gods under different names (as some in the Flanaess probably do), there's an obvious parallel with the dwarven pantheon, with Zilchus standing in for Dumathoin, god of underground treasures, and Kurell standing in for Abbathor, god of greed. In dwarven myth, Abbathor feels jealous and slighted by Dumathoin, who was made patron of the mountain dwarves instead of his brother Abbathor. This estranged Abbathor from his father Moradin and the dwarven pantheon as a whole. Many theologians will see the parallels and draw the conclusion that the two sets of gods are somehow the same (although Zilchus is more like Vergadain, dwarven god of wealth). Possibly the Oeridians borrowed the myth from the dwarves, even if their gods are different.

    The motif of a slighted sibling is found in a variety of myths and cultures. Among the giants, it's Stronmaus and wicked Memnor. Among the elves, it's Solonor Thelandira and the bitter, self-exiled Fenmarel Mestarine. Among the Suel it's Jascar and wandering Fortubo. The dragons have Bahamut and Tiamat. The Flan have Pelor and Nerull (or, less dramatically, Ehlonna and the resentful Obad-hai). The gnomes have Garl and Gelf. And the Oeridians also have Hextor and Heironeous. The Olmans have Quetzalcoatl and Tezcatlipoca. The gods are beings of ultimate mystery, and it's not always clear where one leaves off and the other begins.

    Somehow Earth Bull died, or retired; it isn't important how, really. Sometimes gods die of regular old age. Maybe he was once Sky Bull, and he became ruler of the Underworld in order to pursue his dead lover. He might also have died in battle against some great primordial beast (and the 4th edition concept of the Dawn War between the gods and primordials works really well with the Oeridian pantheon, I think; with most of Greyhawk's pantheons, really, but that's a subject for another post). Before he passed he gathered his sons before him and gave his crown and scepter (or merely his blessing) to the eldest. Whether Zilchus's mother helped disguise Zilchus as Kurell, or Kurell attempted and failed to disguise himself as Zilchus, it was Zilchus who received the crown.

    Of course, those who view another god as supreme, such as Pholtus or Heironeous or Hextor or Boccob, may say that Earth Bull merely passed on his blessing, or his greatest treasures, or a secret of great importance.
    Grandmaster Greytalker

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    Thu Mar 11, 2010 5:53 pm  

    Ah, man. Rasgon, I was hoping I could get you yapping about mythology. The Dagda interpretation is interesting. As far as Kurell and Zilchus' parentage I was assuming Oerth (Beory) as their mother with possibly Nerull, Erythnul, or Procan as father, depending on which way I go with the death aspect. Funny you should mention the Sky Bull, as I've been assuming the pre-Migrations Procan was more sky and storm-oriented, only becoming god of the sea later. In that I was styling him more of a primal god, after Storm Bull from Runequest. I'm also seeing Erythnul as his brother.

    Coincidentally I was in the middle of reading Mort's origins of GH WOG strip when I saw you had replied. I had just finished your reply when I saw the panel with Uhas Neheli saying that only you could keep track of all the gods. I almost spit beer all over my keyboard laughing.
    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Thu Mar 11, 2010 10:01 pm  

    Hmmm. I would hardly call having a concern about monopolies anachronistic. Monopolies actually stifle the marketplace and costs go up for consumers as does quality. Society is beggered as a result. It does occur to me that Zilchus would be in favor of a market-based economy as there are more economic actors and more wealth being generated.

    It also occurred to me that the church of Zilchus would definitely promote something like the East Indian Company, like what happened during the British Empire. Seeking out new markets and whatnot. Establishing a trading outpost for the sole purpose of exploiting new markets (like the Portugese did in Goa in the 16th century) is something LNs could do. What would be crucial would be their methodology. Shoot, the stuff Vasco da Gama did in 1497 in Goa is quite shocking, even by the standards of the day. In other words, totally LE. Buuut, i'm sure there are followers of Zilchus who would go for the kind of stuff.

    A campaign set in Ryujin based upon the Opium Wars, I think, would be real good. A classic fight for freedom and for whats right.

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    Thu Mar 11, 2010 11:02 pm  

    Zilchus, Trithereon, and the Enclosure Acts:

    http://www.canonfire.com/cf/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=221
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    GreySage

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    Fri Mar 12, 2010 12:39 am  

    GreyMouser wrote:
    Monopolies actually stifle the marketplace and costs go up for consumers as does quality. Society is beggered as a result.


    So what? If only a few people have wealth, that just makes those people who have it more prestigious in comparison - is the priesthood of the god of prestige and influence really going to step in and tell monopolists they have to be more ordinary? Zilchus is a neutral deity - he isn't about what's best for everyone. Zilchus's dogma is all about gaining wealth and power at the expense of your rivals, not creating a rising tide that lifts all boats. Most priests of Zilchus would be perfectly content with an economy where 99% of the population is a serf laboring for the benefit of an elite class of lords, as long as they got to be part of that elite class.
    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Fri Mar 12, 2010 3:44 pm  

    Quote:
    If only a few people have wealth, that just makes those people who have it more prestigious in comparison - is the priesthood of the god of prestige and influence really going to step in and tell monopolists they have to be more ordinary? Zilchus is a neutral deity - he isn't about what's best for everyone. Zilchus's dogma is all about gaining wealth and power at the expense of your rivals, not creating a rising tide that lifts all boats.

    A priesthood with that kind of mentality would certainly be outside of LN, it is clearly LE. Rule of the strong by stacking the economic deck against the weak. A lawful neutral mentality, which I have always thought of as believing in the institutions of society and the laws that govern that society, occurs to me as allying with the existing ruling class of that society and abiding by the laws of that society regardless of ther moral nature. In other words, legal positivism, obeying the law whether the law is good or bad, but because it is the law.

    Of course, if the nature of the government, and where it derives it's powers, is the standard monarchical system seen in most societies, I agree, it is likely to be monopolistic or even mercantilist. However, in a more democratic government (or even beneificent monarchies), it occurs to me that the will of the powerful is the betterment of society as a whole, something any lawful organization would be sensitive too, and most likely free market.

    Another way I look at the priesthood of Zilchus is this: you have a deity who represents financial integrity. So, cheating tax collectors, bankers, and other agents of finance, would be held to a high level of honesty by that priesthood, and likely would be priests or lay persons closley associated with the priesthood.

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    GreySage

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    Fri Mar 12, 2010 5:20 pm  

    Personally, I don't try to apply modern day economic principles to my WoG. Monopolies are as old as dirt, as is the practice of the rich stepping on the poor. Sad

    I like to think of the priesthood of the Church of Zilchus as WoG's Knights Templar. I can easily see them as a banking consortium. But, again, that's just the way I see it. Evil Grin
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    Sun Mar 14, 2010 11:56 pm  
    Re: Church of Zilchus

    smillan_31 wrote:
    ...They don't seem to be controlling things like the Moquollad...

    Moquo what?
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    Mon Mar 15, 2010 8:52 am  

    Someone mentioned something about there not being a patriarch for Zilchus. However I came across a reference for one in either the Medegia article in OJ or in the Kingdom of Alhissa in the LGG. I am trying to find the reference now . I don't see why various churches wouldn't have a patriarch who guides the faith across national boundaries like the Roman Catholic church in our world did. I think it just adds another layer of intrigue to the game.
    Grandmaster Greytalker

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    Mon Mar 15, 2010 7:26 pm  
    Re: Church of Zilchus

    MToscan wrote:
    smillan_31 wrote:
    ...They don't seem to be controlling things like the Moquollad...

    Moquo what?


    I spelled it wrong. It's Mouqollad. It's a consortium of Baklunish merchants that controls trade in the Baklunish nations, and even Baklunish trade outside those nations.
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    Wed Mar 17, 2010 11:43 pm  

    GreyMouser wrote:
    It also occurred to me that the church of Zilchus would definitely promote something like the East Indian Company, like what happened during the British Empire.


    I've considered that, and also the idea that they sponsor smaller endeavors as well: in some places IMC, an adventuring group could do far worse than to approach the local temple of Zilchus with, effectively, a business plan to sack a dungeon: if the proposal seemed sound, the temple might be willing to sponsor the expedition, at the least with a loan and at the most with actual assistance, particularly in the "procurement of rare items" department.
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