As the awesome, all wise and powerful, amazing, spectacular, and well-endowed Wampus King over at Wampus Country has announced; SANITCORE IS HERE!!! For details as to why it is being released on blogs and not PDF, see here.
Let’s get her started!!!
OH GREAT POWERFUL AND AMAZING SANTICORE! PLEASE GRANT ME:
A room of magical paintings that can be dropped into the lower levels of my tomb-themed megadungeon. Gonzo is good, but no instant death traps please… otherwise let your imagination run free.
Sam Greene brought out all the stops with this awesome gift:
Room ?: The Eternal Thaumaesthetic Chamber of Cressil Unthwaip.
This room, of (whatever dimensions fit in your dungeon, but not too small, alright?) contains five paintings, a mural upon its high ceiling, and at the far end, a raised dais with a covered sarcophagus. The walls are streaked from water damage that goes down far enough to have reached all of the paintings, and dwarves or others skilled in engineering and/or subterranean navigation should receive a chance to figure out that the room is below a magical pool or fountain on a higher floor (your megadungeon has those, right?). Next to the door is a (golem or whatever is suitable for your dungeon level and ruleset. Think tough but not impossible) called the Caretaker. It is dressed as a gentleman’s servant from the Golden Age [or whatever era the tomb is from], and also exhibits some sign of having been splashed by magically-active water.
The Caretaker, stiff but sweeping in movement like low-quality animatronics, greets any who enter the Chamber, identifies itself, and indicates that it can give tours: payment is taken through slots on its hands, framed in the appropriate metal: silver on its left hand and gold on its right. In addition, it makes a unsubtly veiled offer to let the guests do whatever they like, including touching the art, loitering (even for hours to regain spells or heal) or even theft, if offered a coin of greater value. The Caretaker will answer questions posed to it, but has a tendency to repeat itself as if it only has so many phrases at its disposal. Its voice, especially when saying irreverent things about Cressil, sounds wet and slightly garbled.
If the Caretaker is offered a silver or gold coin, it guides the guests through the room with the appropriate commentary; if it is given a platinum or other valuable coin (which it takes by swallowing), it laboriously winks, then looks pointedly at the entryway and becomes unresponsive, although if paid it will provide the appropriate tour and return to its corrupt non-vigil; if the guests attempt to enter without paying, attack the Caretaker, squabble overlong about payment, provide a false or low value coin, or other nonsense, the Caretaker attacks until the offender/s leave. If broken open, the Caretaker has (d6: 1-4 an anticlimactically small number of coins in it, 5 a quite healthy haul inside, 6 is more stuffed than a lucky child’s pinata).
The items of interest are numbered below in the sequence the Caretaker follows during its tour. Silver Tour commentary is careless and contradictory, and reveals Cressil’s old relations’ genuine opinion of him (but has one useful comment that the Gold Tour lacks), whereas the Gold Tour is somewhat more respectable.
Painting 1: Portrait of the Mage as an Old Man
This portrait is of poor quality, unless Cressil was uncommonly ugly. It shows Cressil through a mirror, painting, and the clutter in the room around him. Cressil seems to have tried to color things realistically, but didn’t do a particularly good job, and so the piece has an uncanny sense of unreality and sickness to it.
Magic: If the Portrait is removed from the wall, the image of the artist reflected in the mirror changes to the true form of any creature obscured by magic or shapeshifting that the painting is held in front of. Good luck finding a way to do it inconspicuously.
Silver Tour Commentary: “Cressil was a terrible relative. This painting is of him. He hated dogs, and his favorite food was cherry pie with sausage.”
Gold Tour Commentary: “A Portrait of the Mage as an Old Man. This self-portrait was the first that Former Master Mage Cressil Unthwaip decided to show after renouncing spellcraft in favor of painting. Cressil, after much study, believed that only artists could achieve any lasting and worthwhile immortality, for magic could only either turn a man undead, which Cressil believed would drive him mad and to evil, or keep a man alive for longer with spells of longevity, that would all eventually fail.”
Painting 2: Anfriela, in Repose.
This painting depicts a beautiful woman gazing out of a window., and is of far better quality than the first painting The woman appears to be doing something with her hands and pondering something, but it’s not obvious what.
Magic: If a viewer takes an interest in the woman in the painting (asking about what she is thinking of, what she is looking at in particular, what her hands are doing, etc.) or gazes at it overlong, they must make a saving throw or be cursed to find little beauty in the world aside from that woman – and as Anfriela appears here as only a painting, even it cannot soothe their melancholy. (The viewer’s sexual orientation does not matter, although for those cursed who might find themselves attracted to the woman, other potential lovers now seem particularly uninteresting to them.) As a result, the viewer is cursed, until either the effect is removed by magic or the sufferer throws him or herself into freezing water. In addition to melancholy, the curse lowers the character’s charisma (at least of sufficient value to lower the modifier by one in whatever system you use), as any can see that his or her dissatisfaction has made him or her disconnected from the world.
Silver Tour Commentary: “When Cressil went mad, he stopped doing magic and started wasting everyone’s time. But he was weird before, even when he was a powerful mage, so no wonder he never married her.”
Gold Tour Commentary: “Anfriela, in Repose. Anfriela was Cressil’s lover at a young age, though she spurned him for another man. Cressil never took another lover and found solace only by studying, or, when particularly moved, by throwing himself into freezing water, a common constitutional in some barbaric cultures.”
Painting 3: Apples on a Table
This painting is not of Apples on a Table. Due to the magic leakages that have changed all of the room’s paintings, it now depicts the wall it hangs on, but upside down (thus making it appear to be right side up in that image). See the description of the Fresco, below, for more, and where the apples and table are.
Magic: Apples on a Table, when grasped, orients the holder’s subjective gravity toward its own down; so holding it upright would feel normal, and turning it such that the top was oriented at the holder would send the holder falling into the wall in front of him or her. Taking it off of the wall would likely give the holder a strange sensation, and quickly readjusting it to be right side up should be hilarious. About four (or a number that at least contains the number of players at your session, plus a hapless torchbearer if you like) can hold the painting at one time. Any falling damage taken may result in a passenger losing his or her grip, which may result in more falling damage as real gravity reasserts itself. The painting is normal when not held, and the image does not change.
Silver Tour Commentary: “Cressil painted still life paintings when he wanted to be even more useless than usual. He hated the thought of death but everyone wanted him to die. He loved cats.”
Gold Tour Commentary: “Apples on a Table. Cressil spent time experimenting with still life, as evidenced in this painting of a table with apples. It is not one of his more well known works.”
Painting 4: The Siege.
This painting lies on the floor away from the wall where it should hang; the wall where it would sit normally has been chipped as if struck with great force. The Siege is the smallest painting in the room, about the size of a sheet of paper. It depicts soldiers holding a battering ram from the perspective of the door they’re about to charge into.
Magic: The Siege’s magic is activated when it’s placed against something such that the art can’t be observed. When it is, after three rounds the force of a battering ram comes out of the painting (this explains why it’s on the floor — someone turned it around when it was hanging on the wall, and it flew off). The Siege can be used to smash doors open but might also go off if, say, it’s placed in a backpack.
Silver Tour Commentary: “”Cressil’s favorite color was blue, and his favorite food was blood sausage and cherries! His tower at (note: insert some description here that gives just enough information to lead to his land, which could now be a ruined adventure location or filled with wealthy descendents willing to pay for some of an ancestor’s keepsakes) was drafty and always smelled of guano. Isn’t this painting terrible?”
Gold Tour Commentary: “The Siege. When he was a great wizard, Cressil was enlisted to aid at a great siege and was trapped there for the duration. After seeing the deaths of so many, Cressil became a milksop of a coward and became so fearful of capture that he came to find being in any room without multiple exits excruciating.”
The Dais at the far side of the room is the least remarkable part (unless Cressil’s Muse escapes: see Fresco, below). Cressil’s sarcophagus, conspicuously free of decoration, sits here. If opened, Cressil’s skeleton is the sole content.
Silver Tour Commentary: “Here’s Cressil’s body. We all wish he’d died sooner. Why couldn’t he have made his paintings magical? They might have been worth something, then.”
Gold Tour Commentary: “Here lies Cressil. Death claimed him at last. We now keep his name alive.”
Fresco: Mausoleum, From Above.
The fresco on the ceiling is, indeed, a small mausoleum as depicted from above, surrounded by waving grass, and thus the ceiling is mostly green aside from stones, dirt patches, and the marble of the tomb. The only unusual item is a broken table and a few apples, which lie in the painting directly above Apples on a Table (painting 3.)
Magic: The fresco can be entered as if a portal, and gravity reorients itself toward the field it depicts as the world broadens outward. The sky, however, still appears to be the Chamber, as would be seen from the ceiling. The table and apples are entirely normal. You may chose to have the world in this painting continue past the small area depicted, but no details are provided here.
The mausoleum in the fresco can be either one room or, if you like, as large as an dungeon or sublevel you place or of your own design; regardless, somewhere within is the Spectral Muse of Cressil, who appears as Cressil’ does in his self portrait (painting 1), poor anatomy, coloration and all. The Muse knows all that Cressil did, and is essentially his ghost, but animated by his bitterness over his inevitable death made real. Nevertheless, he is cowardly and meanspirited, and may be provoked into a fight (in which case, give it statistics as incorporeal undead). If a conversation is maintained, the Muse is found to be irrationally unaware of any exit from the painting despite its great desire to leave. It can be brought to the real world by active, handholding-level guidance, and if it is, it immediately merges with Cressil’s skeleton, becoming a paint-spattered, skeletal, undead mage bent on creating art and clinging to its half-alive state by any means necessary. In addition, if this new Cressil learns of what the Caretaker says about him, he’ll hunt down and kill his descendents (who at this point may not even know who he was). Assuming your players don’t destroy him quickly, this new Cressil can stir up all sorts of shit in your campaign.
Silver Tour Commentary: “Up there is his mural. Or fresco or whatever you call it. He spent weeks down here before he died! At least we can charge admission to see the room. Do you think anyone will pay to hear about him?”
Gold Tour Commentary: “If you look up, you can see this room’s largest piece of art, The Mausoleum. When Cressil came to believe his death was imminent, he ordered this chamber built, and died here painting this fresco. Although he was motivated to create art to deal with his fear of death, Cressil was a passionate painter, and despite the uncommon subject he was most passionate about this piece.”
Painting 5: The Cylinder.
This painting is of a cylinder, silvery on top and half white and half red on the body, with writing on it in an unknown script. Oddly, the paint appears wet to the touch.
Magic: If The Cylinder is touched, the touching creature changes in the following ways for the next turn and a half (fifteen minutes):
1) Gains a temporary boost of three levels, and temporarily learns new spells of any new spell levels;
2) Treats any d20 roll of 1 as a 20 instead;
3) Seems a bit more vivid, more interesting, and naturally draws the eye, and is treated as the party leader for purposes of reaction rolls and the like;
4) Becomes so supernaturally interesting that any action it takes during the time is easily remembered by any who witness it.
Only one creature can benefit from the painting at a time. As touching the painting smears it a bit, its magic only holds up for 2d4+3 uses.
Silver Tour Commentary: “Boring.”
Gold Tour Commentary: “The Cylinder. This painting was completed long after Cressil had gone mad with grief at the prospect of death, and as a result no one has found out what it is supposed to represent. Despite this, it is the favorite of most who knew of Cressil’s work.”
Lines you can add to your Dungeon Rumor Table, or that could be discovered by Diligent Research or Consultations with Sages:
It is said that within the tomb is the burial chamber of a forgotten wizard. They say he gave up magic in his old age, but what wizard could have resisted enchanting paintings he made? (T and F; the paintings were originally nonmagical, but water from another floor’s magical pool or fountain enchanted them, making this mistaken belief actually true.)
Some of the looters who have been within the tomb tell of a golem that speaks in riddles if given coins, but woe to those who try to cheat it! (T, mostly, except it’s a tour, not riddles.)
Did you hear of the great wizard who desired immortality and became a painter instead? What sort of muse could lead him so astray? (Neither T nor F: Cressil did exist, but his Muse is an animate representation of his bitterness about death, not an outside force, as this rumor seems to hold.)
Did you hear the tale of Cressil Unthwaip? He was a great and wealthy wizard, but gave up magic in his dotage to become a painter instead. He required his heirs to complete a gallery for him with his money before they could receive the remainder, and they were terribly bitter about it. (T)
I heard the tomb has a room full of magical paintings that are all portals to other worlds, and open only if you touch them. (F)