An unknown artist has disappeared and left behind their enchanted workshop. Their patrons and fans were not like you and me. They were demonic, alien creatures who demanded art that truly stirred the soul and excited the senses; whether it be beautiful or horrifying. The workshop is open to adventurers and ready to be plundered with ease… or so it seems.
The door of the workshop was one of The Artists first great works. The door stands 13 foot tall by 13 foot wide. The doors are carved from an unnatural, unidentifiable stone. The surface of these gargantuan stone doors dances with a myriad of disagreeable colours; sometimes the blackening red hue of decayed flesh, or grey like rotting fruit, and sometimes a vivid colour similar to purple that stirs nausea and dizziness. There is an unsettling feeling that just beneath the cloudy, shifting surface of the stone something moves and hums, stirring quietly and biding its time deep inside the rock. Waiting. Watching.
The door of the workshop has not been designed to keep anyone out and is unlocked. But, the door it is riddled with six heavy, intricate locks. None of them are functional. Describe these first to the players and go into detail. The locks are purely aesthetic and make whirring or clunking noises. The more someone plays with the many locks, without checking if the door is actually open, the more likely it is for the creature hiding within the door to begin pressing its way out. It contorts the surface of the door into monstrous shapes, stretching the stone in front of the adventurers. It stops moving when the locks are left alone. If all the locks are undone, the creature breaks free.
Long ago The Artist grew tired of explaining the meaning behind their complicated works to curious demonic patrons and bizarre otherworldly fans. Whilst high on paint fumes and conducting dark rituals involving questionable body art, phallic plaster casts and a rattled Cephalopod (who had aspirations to be nothing more than an exotic lunch and got much more than it bargained for), The Artist stumbled upon a useful being from another dimension. Thus the gallery attendant was employed (without pay, with a contract stating “until death”, and through the persuasive power of slavery).
The gallery attendant is a tentacled mass of flesh that hangs upon the high arched ceiling. It will slowly begin to drop its hooked tendrils down, using stealth, in an attempt to bond with the players by latching its hooked barbs into their fragile spinal columns. Any player who does not notice will need to make Save Vs. Magic to avoid being “merged” with when touched.
Once the attendant has connected with a player, it will begin giving them helpful guidance on the various items in the gallery and a history of The Artist’s work. Unfortunately, the gallery attendant is not from our time, world or universe and therefore its garbled and thrumming language is maddening to all who hear it. The power of its telepathic voice has a 1 in 6 chance of causing a human head to explode. Spells to discern language may work depending on the nature of your game, otherwise, the players simply hear an otherworldly voice in their head during their stay in the gallery whilst connected to a tendril. Premature removal of a tendril before the Gallery Attendant has finished its tour will result in a one of the below effects (roll a D4);
- Removal of the tendril also removes the human spine in which it is connected. Death (unless your healer is THAT good).
- The throbbing, din of the attendants language remains in the head of the adventurer and they must make a Save Vs. Paralysis roll before they sleep. Prolonged insomnia can result in penalties to dexterity, stamina and strength and more than three days without sleep results in hallucination.
- The tendril stays attached to the Adventurer but detaches from The Attendant. The adventurer take a permanent -2 to charisma and sometimes the tendril wriggles and thrashes. It does make a stylish scarf.
- Nothing happens and the tendril is successfully removed.
The attendant is a gentle creature. It just wishes to impart knowledge and enrich the adventurers lives. It’s a shame it looks so horrifying.
“Life’s Container of Ignominious Despair”
A great vase stands in the room. It is a red clay pot with black painted humanoids on the surface. The humanoids are stretched thin and their limbs are slender, bending in odd places and out of proportion with their bony torsos. Their heads are bulbous and their mouths are agape, either mid speech or crying out in agony.
The vase is not a piece of artwork. The vase was used by the artist to dispose of works that offended him, and the subjects he painted after their necessary (“in the name of art”) deaths. The lip of the vase is enchanted with scratched runes in an unknown demonic language that keeps a great wormhole contained “safely” within the vase. The vase is large enough for a full grown man to easily climb into it. A rickety wooden ladder leads up to the lip. The vase does not reveal the wormhole. When gazed into the vase that reveals no bottom and a fathomless darkness.
Tossing anything into the vase sends it through the wormhole to the artists dump site, from which there is no return. It is a one way street and where it leads is up to you. This could be Hell, Tartarus, Carcosa or a cannibalistic old woman’s sock drawer. The possibilities are endless.
If the vase is pushed over and destroyed, the containment of the wormhole is shattered and it will spread out on the floor consuming tiles and other pieces of artwork. It is slow. If the adventurers do not close the door as they flee the wormhole will continue to grow until it consumes everything.
“Homonid Oil on Canvas – Zythyllk’rhalgruou’flengektt”
A beautiful landscape painting smothers the back wall of the workshop. The painting is massive and the adventurers could almost reach out and stand on the grass. The painting is terrifyingly life like.
If an adventurer reaches out and touches the painting they will take 1d6 damage as the painting absorbs their life force. Suddenly, grass and flowers from the painting will spill out on the floor by their feet and clouds will drift above them from the sky of the painting. If they touch the painting again they will take another 1d6 damage and so on each time the painting is touched.
If anyone looks hard at the painting, after it is touched, they will be able to see a speck on the distance. Slowly, this speck lumbers closer in the paintwork and grows ever closer. The players will be able to see a great monster, scorching the ground it walks on and bleaching the distant sky red. The painting is now on a timer. The monster gets closer, bigger, more real with each passing moment. The only way to destroy the monster is to kill it or destroy the painting.
If they try to destroy the painting this will damage all adventurers who have touched the painting. The painting repairs itself if sliced with weapons. There are paint thinners and other chemicals around that can be used to destroy the painting. This will have the same effect on the players who touched the painting as an acid attack.
See what creative ways players can come up with in an attempt to destroy the painting or change the picture with paint. Award creativity with the best prize of all… survival.
“Womb of Concupiscent Idee Fixe”
The gallery is full of artwork; erotic paintings of curved shapes, contortionist statues and vases with strange monstrous beings on the surfaces. If players look away from certain items they will move into a new pose. They are harmless but can be unnerving.
The largest piece of artwork is an enormous spherical statue lies in the middle of the room. The statue looms over the rest of the gallery. It is a globed web of fused bodies; all writhing in either licentious or anguished poses. Women and men of a variety of ages are joined by a fusing of flesh at the arms, groins, necks, lips and thighs. The statue is massive and grotesque. In the center of the statue, surrounded by these contorted forms like a nest, lies a body. It appears to have been torn beyond recognition some time ago by many hands reaching in towards the center of the ball of fused bodies. The corpse clutches a paintbrush and palette and has been turned to stone mid-evisceration.
Reaching into the center of the complicated sphere causes the statues to wake if any of the statues are touched. It is possible to get the paint brush and palette without touching the statues but this should be difficult. Any flesh that touches or passes between the statue triggers its awakening. Upon waking, all of the bodies will twist, writhe, scream and moan in agony and ecstasy. They will attempt to pull any adventurers into the stone orgy with them hoping to fuse more to their grotesque mass.
The statue then becomes a formidable combat monster.
Paint Brush and Palette
The artists prized possessions are a paintbrush crafted from bone and the hairs taken from a cantankerous witch. It occasionally whispers its terrible art ideas to the holder or comments on if it left the oven on before it became a brush, the state of “kids these days” and which orifices are best for cooling salves. The paintbrush is intricately decorated and will fetch a suitable price on any market. A collector may be willing to pay more.
The paint palette never runs dry, replenishing itself nightly, and the paints are all colors that mock the human eye with their vulgarity. They seem to dance and slide over the palette and, no matter how many times the adventurers try, they cannot describe the colors they are looking at. The green is not green but it is. The blue is black but also yellow and the red is actually fuchsia but it might even have some white within it, swirling, and some specks of a galaxy crushed inside it, possibly… or not.
The palette will fetch an huge prize by a private collector. A market place will not accept what is clearly a tool of witchcraft and presenting the palette to ordinary folk will result in very awkward questions with local authority and religious institutions. There may be a hanging.
Unfortunately, the adventurers will not have the knowledge required to paint with the palette. Attempting to paint with the palette will result in a 2 in chance of painting themselves out of existence. The other results will be an acidic mess on the surface they have painted. They may be able to find someone who can use the palette; a powerful magic user for instance.
And a side note…
For this gallery add in your own strange pieces of artwork and odd assortments of items that any good artist might need to create items of otherworldly “beauty“. I’ve not stat-ed any of the potential monsters in this encounter as it is possible to drop it into any system or level of your choice.
Artwork free from Pixabay