Masks Of The Market

Masks of the Market
Eyes of Greed; Voices of Vengeance

Symbol: A mask with many eyes and many mouths
Home Plane: The Nine Hells
Alignment: Lawful Evil
Cleric Alignments: Lawful Neutral, Lawful Evil, Neutral Evil
Portfolio: Commerce, wealth, oaths, contracts, legal codes
Worshipers: Lawyers, merchants, bounty hunters, police forces, traders
Domains: Community, Law (Slavery), Luck (Curse), Madness (Nightmare), Retribution, Rune (Wards), Travel (Trade)
Favored Weapon: Falchion

Physical Description:
The Masks of the Market are unsettling in appearance, even when one is expecting them. They are theoretically a single entity which has many faces and voices, different aspects of this singular being finding expression through each face. When the Masks of the Market appear, it is as a host of strange and fully-animated masks, each from one of the many cultures that practice the principles of making money through honest business, ranging from the crude masks of island tribes that practice basic trade in goods, to the more elaborate masks from vast metropolises. Each of these masks speaks with its own voice and sees with its own eyes, and when they start to speak, it can quickly become a terrifying cacophony, especially when the masks speak about different things. When the Masks of the Market want to be understood, they usually will select a few masks to act as speakers. However, when they are in a full, vengeful fury, they all speak at once, whirling around the one who has aroused their ire, in an effect that can be literally madenning.

Description of Nature, Personality, and Dogma:
Greed, but honest greed, is the guiding principle of the Masks of the Market. They are enamored of the glitter of gold, the sparkle of gems, the rustle of fine silks. Of course, the Masks appreciate these things because of their value rather than because of any artistic interest. The Masks of the Market are notoriously lacking in taste, just as they are noted for lacking tact, but they have an immense love for money and all its trappings.

Equal only to their love of money, however, is their love of legally-acquired money. How one gets one's money is unimportant to the Masks of the Market, as long as it is at least marginally legal in the society in which it is earned. The social contracts of business, and the spoken and sworn oaths of business partners, are the meat and drink of the Masks of the Market. They take great delight in such social and literal commerce, and thrive in the efforts of their worshipers to make money and engage in good business practices. When these contracts are broken, however, the Masks of the Market shudder at the violation of the social contracts that allow capitalism to function, and they quickly grow furious. Their worshipers are expected to do everything in their power to identify and hunt down those who violate their contracts and oaths, and swindlers, con artists, and criminals are objects of deep despisal in the dogma of the Masks of the Market.

Clergy, Places of Worship, Important Rituals, and Servitor Races:
The clergy of the Masks of the Market are required to have some sort of business enterprise, or to be part of a profession that enforces fair business practices in some fashion. Traders, crafters, merchants, lawyers, constables, bounty hunters, and executioners are all equally likely to be able to call on the Masks of the Market for divine power. The actual clergy of the Masks of the Market are chosen by their dedication to the principles of capitalism and by the need of an area for their presence. Clerics of the Masks of the Market are chosen by the Masks as they appear in a vivid hallucination before the potential cleric, and form a contract to which the cleric must agree. Anyone who wishes to become a cleric of the Masks of the Market must make a mask, however crude, to offer to the Masks of the Market. If the Masks accept this offering, and the aspiring cleric accepts the terms of the contract the Masks of the Market lay out, then the aspirant will become a full-fledged cleric.

Temples devoted to the Masks of the Market tend to be lavish, opulent, and painfully tacky. After all, the Masks do not really understand aesthetics terribly well, though they are very easily able to understand the cost of decorations, and tend to make their judgements on that basis instead. Since there are a great many who eagerly seek after the favor of the Masks of the Market in their commercial enterprises, and the Masks of the Market are most easily swayed by large cash donations, their temples tend to have a great deal of costly decoration, and are often quite large.

The opening of each market day is a ritual performed at dawn by the head cleric of a given temple. Each temple of the Masks of the Market must overlook a major marketplace, unless the temples happen to be major marketplaces, which many of them are. Legal offices are often found inside these temples as well, and some of the highest-ranked clerics of the Masks are indeed themselves lawyers. The exchange of money in legitimate business enterprises is itself a holy act to the Masks of the Market, and they expect at least a silent thought of gratitude every time an honest profit is made.

Numerous devils are available for service to the Masks of the Market and their worshipers, especially those intelligent enough to understand and value personal wealth and its importance to mortals. They are also strongly venerated by the greedy-fingered duergar.

History and Relations:
The Masks of the Market are the offspring of the very first marriage oath, between Bahamut and Tiamat, as it was overseen by Talus, which was at once a union between these two elder deities and a division of reality itself. Formed from the oath of dragons, the Masks of the Market are primarily concerned with that most essential of draconic endeavors: acquiring wealth. However, the Masks of the Market are also concerned with the proper rules for going about the acquisition of wealth, so that the playing field, so to speak, is somewhat even, giving fair opportunities for everyone to make a profit based on their personal skills and hard work, and not simply on the whims of those who already have power doing whatever it takes to ensure that they keep it.

Embodiments of commerce and the contracts and oaths that make commerce possible, the Masks of the Market are respected by all lawful deities, even if their amoral stance on how one gains wealth (so long as one abides by the law and by legal contracts, they do not care) distresses the good-aligned ones. Slum regards the Masks of the Market as an amusing challenge, while the Masks of the Market hate the Rat King bitterly and would annihilate him if they could. Talus is the deity from which the Masks of the Market draw their initial divine spark, and they regard him with reverence, though Talus only regards them with tolerance in return, admiring their love of the letter of laws, but despairing at times at their rigidity, much as a parent might despair over the actions of a successful but erring child.

Favored Offerings and Justifications for Direct Intervention:
Money is the favored offering of the Masks of the Market. Anything worth a lot of money is also acceptable. The worth of an offering, however, is relative to the person giving it. Generally, in order to draw the attention of the Masks of the Market, outside of a legally-binding contract of course, one must make an offering that is roughly 10% of a full year's income, or else roughly 10% of one's net worth, depending on the stability of a person's employment.

The Masks of the Market are largely uninterested in the daily lives of mortals. Their chief - indeed, their sole focus - is on matters of money. Offerings can be made to them to gain their favor in business deals and market speculation and trade ventures, but they are generally interested in matters of capitalism and laissez-faire business practices, and like to keep such practices open everywhere possible. What angers them, and immediately draws their ire, are improper business practices and, especially, breaches of contracts and oaths.

When the anger of the Masks of the Market has been gained, the severity of their interest varies significantly, though they do always act whenever a contract or oath is broken, no matter what. The first factor they consider is the amount of money (or other tangible wealth) that is involved in the betrayal. Next, they consider a betrayal's future impact on the one betrayed's ability to make money in the future. third, they consider how complete a betrayal might be, ranging from minor indiscretions and delays in payment to full-blown breach of contract. Finally, the Masks of the Market consider how expected a betrayal was; a normally honest merchant who cheats a business associate will draw much more attention than a known criminal or swindler who bilks a stupid rube.

For the least severe breaches of contract, or the most expected, the Masks of the Market often simply visit a few bad dreams and some heavy indigestion on the offender and end the matter there. For middle-range breaches, the Masks of the Market may continue this sort of punishment on the object of their attentions for a good week to a month, as well as inducing a sense of impending doom on the offender and making it far easier for legal action to be taken against the person in question by deliberately drawing the attention of those with power and authority to do so. Finally, for truly egregious offenders, the Masks of the Market continue their actions as before, except for a longer duration that can last years, and also may visit the person with full-blown hallucinations as they actively torment the offender's mind and soul with sadistic glee. The Masks of the Market cease their retribution the moment a contract or oath is properly kept. In cases where this becomes impossible, such as betrayals that also involve murder, their retribution may never end. It should be noted that the Masks of the Market are only interested in legitimate oaths and contracts. Those made by criminals among their own kind do not interest them.