Marcus Diellus was one of the greatest artists of his time. His work was much in demand, and he became quite wealthy. That was before he ran afoul of a dark wizard. For reasons lost to history, Diellus was afflicted with a terrible curse, which ultimately drove him to madness and suicide. But the curse did not end there. It lives on, in the very canvases and paint of the last set of paintings he ever created.
The last paintings are generally said to be Diellus’s finest works, even if they seem very dark and foreboding. There are several of these paintings, of different subjects. Landscapes, portraits, vistas, still lifes, etc. All are of dark, sininster, and somewhat frightening subjects, such as a grove of dead trees, graves, a portrait of a rather evil looking family, a stormy sea, etc. And every one of them carries the curse, manifesting it in different ways. One kills veiwers outright. One brings the curse of misfortune and sickness. Another attracts ghosts and evil spirits to wherever it is located. Still another drives people mad. Other things like that. Oddly enough, many are not aware of the curse, and will pay handsomely for one of the last Diellus paintings, not knowing what evil they are. Some do know, and are willing to use the paintings for their own dark purposes.
Each painting carries a different strain of the curse, and therefore does something different. Some of the paintings are triggered by someone looking at them, some are triggered by being touched, and some are triggered merely by location. The number of paintings and the nature of the curses are left to the GM. The paintings are always in good condition, even if in an abandoned house, so as to attract victims.
Additional Ideas (4)
This sullen piece has a nearly monochromatic pallet - dark blues, greys and blacks, depicting an obviously well-used gallows in some village square. Standing on the gallows is a burly headsman and a victim with his head on the block. At a distance, the victim appears indistinct, blurry, as if someone has defaced or smudged the painting.
However, if one gets closer to the statue, the image will change and the headsman axe will come down, severing the head of the victim. At that point, the viewer will see their own visage upon the severed head and die from the shock*.
*Normal counter-magic game mechanics appy of course.
A brooding piece with a creeping sense of terror. It depicts a pale, well-dressed young man, alone in his study at a table with a lit lamp. He faces the viewer directly, eyes wide and mouth tight, but he appears ready to say something.
Those who view the item will begin to hear a frantic whispering, distantly at first, gradually closer. The voice whispers the viewer's darkest secret, whatever it may be. Eventually the whispering turns to screaming accusations, driving the viewer mad.
The curse is stronger with more viewings, and can be negated by leaving the place it is displayed for a few days. The whispers gradually die down, leaving only a creeping fear of hearing them again.
This broad panoramic landscape of a great stone city is perhaps on of the largest of the works, nearly seven feet wide and three high. The name of the city is not given, even though its distinctive architecture should by all rights provide a clear clue. No-one can recognize this city, though it holds the echo of some distinct memory. In any case, it has the same aura of malice that mark all of Marcus's works.
Careful inspection of the piece can make out shadowy, indistinct inhabitants, which never appear to be the same on different viewings.
The painting's curse is a slow growing obsession with finding this city, that will eventually cause one to either seek it out, or spend ones fortune having the city located.
Cealdish Market in Springtime
Done in somewhat surreal, jarring colors, this painting depicts a bustling marketplace. The viewpoint is of an odd angle, almost as though viewing the scene from the dirt of the street. At first the image seems otherwise ordinary, save that one of the figures - a young gypsy girl - looks directly out at the viewer with a wide smile. She appears to be stealing an apple from a vendor cart, with her other hand reaching for another market-goer's purse.
When a viewer sees the girl in the image, they may find an item from their person goes missing, often replaced with another item they don't recognize. It is said the gypsy girl trades out whatever she steals from one viewer to the next.