Sham's Superior The Enemy Within
Handrich (also known as Haendryk) is a minor god popular with traders, merchants, burghers, and others involved in making a profit through business dealings. Although most peasants consider all business folk to be swindlers, cultists of Handrich are more concerned with prosperity for all through commerce; what benefits the merchant, they claim, often benefits those around them as well. Outside of Marienburg, where the cult is based and is the strongest, many people confuse Handrich with an aspect of Ranald known as “The Dealer.” For those in the know, however, the distinction is clear: Handrich is the god of legitimate business, while thieves, smugglers, and conmen worship Ranald, though there are many examples on both sides of this not necessarily being true. The two cults have created a healthy sense of competition between them, and, so far, it has not erupted into violence, though theft, backroom dealings, and other dirty tricks are considered fair game between the two.
Cult & Religion
The Cult of Handrich organises itself into fraternal groups and secret societies, composed of merchants and wealthy burghers. These groups’ goals include fostering a spirit of competition, forcing competitors to capitulate in business, and the spiritual enlightenment that comes from communing with both comrades and the deity. These groups are extremely hierarchical, with many initiations that must be passed before moving closer to the inner circle. Many members believe they are simply joining some form of guild, oblivious to the machinations occurring behind the scenes. The inner circle, however, works to set prices, lower taxes, and raise more money for the building of temples, and expanding the word and influence of Handrich. It is rumoured that high-level members dabble in ritual magic to increase their fortunes.
The primary symbol of Handrich is a gold disc, commonly interpreted as a coin. Cultists often carry a blank coin in their pocket or worn about their neck to show their devotion to their god. Another symbol of Handrich is a hand with its fingers crossed, the same symbol commonly associated with Ranald. This has proven a serious bone of contention between cultists of Handrich and those of Ranald the Dealer, for each lay claim to the symbol. In Marienburg, cultists of Handrich show this secret symbol to fellow cultists by using their right hand, while cultists of Ranald use their left. Confusion abounds, however, and more than a few altercations have occurred when opposing cultists use this sign, assuming the other person belongs to their particular cult, only to be mistaken.
Areas of Worship
Handrich is found primarily in the city-state of Marienburg, where he has proven wildly popular, sometimes eclipsing Manann’s stature there. No self-respecting merchant in that city would pass up the chance to give offerings to the God of Trade. Outside of Marienburg, Handrich is primarily found within the largest cities of the Empire. There is a small temple in Altdorf, although plans exist to expand on the building or create a new, larger structure in the future. In other cities, shrines to Handrich are found around public markets and within the homes of merchants. Devout cultists of Handrich are happy to spread his word while they go about their daily business of buying and selling for profit. Handrich is also popular in Estalia, Tilea, and some of the city-states of the Border Princes, and this popularity is increasing steadily. Those towns and cities that distrust or persecute members of Ranald’s cult are far more likely to allow cultists of Handrich into their gates. For this reason, cultists of Ranald sometimes steal the pendants from Handrich worshippers, in an effort to pass themselves off as “legitimate.”
Devout worshippers of Handrich are almost invariably merchants or involved in some form of profit-making business. As a result, many of their strictures would not sound out of place in a merchants’ guild, although cultists take their duties much more seriously.
- Make a profit every day.
- If you form a partnership in trade with a person, an oath must be sworn.
- Give charitably, but within reason.
- Never use violence for gain.
- Do not get caught in a lie until you have left town.
Handrich is depicted as a contented and jovial figure who delights in both the acquisition of wealth and the spending of it. He is the consummate seller – charismatic, smooth, and likable – and seems to view his cultists not so much as mere worshippers, but as business partners. Handrich is shrewd in his dealings and expects his cultists to be smarter and faster than the people they deal with. Cultists believe Handrich watches every transaction and business dealing. Building charitable works is also highly encouraged, though often with some secondary purpose, such as a tax shelter or means of avoiding inspection of goods.
On the negative side, Handrich is both greedy and manipulative, exhorting the belief that the ends justify the means. In Handrich’s eyes, if you make a profit from someone else’s stupidity or ignorance, then that’s coin better spent on better ventures. Cultists are encouraged to put up this double standard of presenting a respectable face to the public, while fleecing them with fixed prices and false shortages.