Each Thursday this year, I focus on a different aspect of the world I’ve created and played D&D in for over 20 years, in the hopes of cementing enough in place to settle the world in my own mind. This week, I take a peek into the cosmology of the setting and the gods themselvesContinue reading
When it comes to writing about D&D, one of the things that complicates my portion of the tale is that I am the DM. Being behind the screen and knowing that at any time one of my Players could read the article means I have to be worried about contradicting, exposing, or even creating information that is new to the world. However, I think that the effort of writing about the time behind the screen, its troubles and trials, is worth the potential risks, at least right now, and I’ve resolved to write more frequently on the adventure that I am currently running.
D&D is one of my favorite past times, and one I have played for many years. As I’ve mentioned, however, I’ve had difficulty writing about it in a manner that I enjoy. Either I get to nitty-gritty, and it seems I loose what it is to be D&D, or I get the birds eye view, and miss some of the more fun and interesting die rolls, and I think both of them will overshadow any good sort of storytelling of he adventure that I do.
But, I’m going to try a bit anyway.
The Devil is in the Details
I’ve often been chided for building worlds for RPGs that have way too much background. However, one of the things I like best about creating the lands and peoples of the worlds I create is knowing that they function well enough, under a little bit of scrutiny, to make sense. When I want my players to believe that their characters are in the middle of a world with Elves, Dragons, Dwarves and Magic Weapons, I have to have a point of reference that makes sense so they don’t have to focus on those.
Over the last 18 years, I’ve DM’d nearly exclusively in a world of my own creation. It’s a fairly cold place, with short cool summers and brutal, cold winters but life has managed to grab hold, and civilization is nothing if not persistent. I’ve generally focused on the relatively medieval nation of Tyrndall and its fall from powerful nation to a despotic Tyranny, and I think it’s time for a change of pace. Tyrndall’s main rival and sufferer of equal misfortune is the late republican Roman based Killbar. Though the adventurers had heard about what had happened and even visited the land once or twice, the perils of its peoples and the darkness that has fallen on the land hasn’t really been showcased.
Retren is a god close to my heart. where there are many gods of suffering, pain and other related maladies are represented as purely evil, there is also an aspect of pain that can be beneficial. There is pain in many natural things, as well as what each person puts themselves through. There is pain in testing your limits, there is suffering through adversity and coming out the other side better, and then their is the pain of physical improvement. There is suffering in knowledge, in learning, and in life itself. I want him to be a complex god that is neither god nor evil, but what you make of him.
Retren, God of Pain
Other Titles: The Scourge, Barbed Lord, Proctor of Trials, Breaker of Wills
Weapon: Scourge (Peeler)
Major Domains: Suffering, Pain, Endurance, Wisdom
Minor Domains: Grit, Toughness, Spite, Birth, Trials
Totem Animal: Wasp
Holy Symbol: A blackened and gnarled hand wrapped in brambles with long, red claws.
Favored Appearances: While Retren rarely walks the earth itself, when he does he takes very little care to disguise himself. His two favorite forms are that of a wild, unkempt male elf, with Hair untamed in all direction. He wears no armor, covering his body with torn and ripped clothing stained in all sorts of blood, enough so that it simply looks brown. His teeth are filed and constantly cut his tongue when he speaks. His eyes are bloodshot and extremely intense. His female form is that of a pain woman heavily pregnant, with long disheveled hair and the most threadbare of wrappings for her feet and body. her blue eyes are extremely lucid, however, and she speaks from the wisdom of a woman who has suffered much and learned much as well.
Warform: One of the few gods of three elements, Retrens WarForm is also of three elements. A Gigantic wasp of stone and iron, held aloft by wings made of Thunderheads. It eyes, mandibles and stinger are made of ice and frozen lightning. Retren does not enjoy leading men and battle itself, but he is at home there, and with three elements, he is afield more than most.
Personality: Retren is a striking dual personality. His is at once unforgiving and compassionate, and both a stern teacher and an uncompromising taskmaster. His greatest derision is for lessons learned without suffering, but also for those who have innate knowledge and ability. He is the champion of those who have had to break their backs to learn, achieve and succeed. He tests those under him, and those who would seek to learn from him, but only as much as he feels that they can take. His leadership on the battlefield is of the same mannor, though it gives some of the other gods pause.
Teachings: Retren teaches that pain is the basis of all knowledge, and that pain is the only way that one knows that you are learning. Pain without reason is torture, and that is the realm of Telaxus. Seek out painful revelations, grueling tasks and singular moments of enlightenment through pain, and you will be one with the greatest knowledge of the universe. Additionally, no pain exists which cannot be learned from. Teach others, and learn yourself. Life is nothing but a series of painful events, leading, eventually, to death.
Abode:Retren lives in the Palace of Thorns, an enormous building of silver and bronze brambles that sits on the front line of the Paltonarch controlled area of the Iron Marches. Though he is home less often than he would wish, he knows that if the Accursed ever attack, they will be in for some very serious and painful lessons.
Clergy: The Clergy of Retren are a dark and brooding people, having suffered their lives for the enlightenment and information that they have attained. They tend to be headmasters of large schools, where they inflict tedious, monotonous study rituals and long, grueling physical tests for even the most basic of educations. These church-schools are in direct conflict many times with the schools of Farlorn, a god who’s belief in the power of study and education by itself is directly antithetical to the teachings and blessings of Retren.
Knightly Orders: The Greatest knightly order of Retren are the Lonesome Teachers. Greatly skilled warriors and weaponmasters, they travel the land seeking the best and most powerful fighters, challenging them to duels to learn, or be killed. Many of these duels are to the death, though if the challenged balk at that ending, the stakes can be lowered, though never to less than first blood.
Clerical Attire/colors: Clerics and Lonesome Teachers both where a singularly vibrant yellow color known only to the priests of Retren. While the Clerics use this color as their main palette, accenting it with black, green, blue and brown, the Lonesome Teachers trim their olive green Tabards in it, symbolizing both their attachment to, and their separation from, the Church of Retren.
Followers: The followers of Retren tend to be warriors, Teachers, humans and anyone willing to sacrifice a little of their personal comfort to learn. While they may not be popular, the priests of Retren, no matter their temperament, have always been proven to be good teachers.