The Artist is very average looking, brown hair with brown eyes, all very unassuming, not to stick out in a crowd. His clothing is fine, perhaps not a freshly laundered as some, but not threadbare. Paint will invariably stain the ends of his fingers, the cuffs of his sleeves, and likey the ends of his shirt. His gaze holds a certain intensity, that of a madman, or a man driven by the passion of his art, whichtimes can often be indistinguishable.
The Artist is known, perhaps not on a scale with the great masters of the time, but certainly not an unknown in the artistic world. The, however, is likely more infamy than fame for his art is considered deviant and debased. The most jaded and callous of merchants and nobles will purchase his art, even through their emotional apathy it still strikes a primal chord, shakes them as few things do. The magi of the darkest stripe also patronise his artwork. Some find it darkly beautiful, while others see a warning in it’s twisted images.
The Artist paints portraits of pain and suffering, torment and humiliation with a clarity that belies imagination. A viewer cannot help but feel the grief, and pain of those captured in the unmoving medium of oils and tempura. Only the sadist would find pleasure in such images, the masochist in envy of such powerfully displayed emotion.
The majority of people find the art repellant, and deeply upsetting. Mothers are broken to open tears as they look upon a portrait of a young daughter being eaten by wild dogs, men are brought to their knees seeing the image of a son tortured unto death by the hands of callous and evil orc.
The Artist maintains an old house, long abandoned but recently purchased with the bounty of his patrons. He creates his works of art there, and those who are rarely invited into his lair are confronted by works in progress, or portraits and painting deemed to graphic for the gallerias or for sale. These are often held for the necromancer, and demonologist who are invited for private viewings in the decayed splendor of the old worm-eaten house.
The house itself is in deplorable condition, infested with rats and all sorts of vermin. Carpets are threadbare and stained, the walls buckle and peel, and the doors sag in badly settled doorframes. Perhaps the Artist is at home among the ghosts and whispers of the dead and the past.
He does all of the actual painting the basement, a place that no one, save himself, is allowed to go.
The Artist should be portrayed as a typical artist, a little underfed and overly intense, always looking at the world through his artistic lens. His artwork is masterful as he paints not from imagination but from observation. His victims are carried, drugged, to the basement where they are propperly restrained and tormented to reach the desired effect. This torment lasts until the piece is done, or the victim expires. The bodies are then disposed of in the catacomb beneath the basement, left to rot in the dank underground, food for worms and rats.
- A noblewoman fascinated with the Artists work has vanished, the PCs are hired to investigate the disappearance. The last person she saw was the Artist, as she wanted him to paint her portrait.
- The PCs come across his artwork in the lairs and strongholds of their darkest, and most malign foes. Soon, they find it again, the same pain, the same attention to detail. Coming home, they find another piece for sale, but one of the PCs sees a face he knows in the portrait.
- The PCs have been hired to sit as models for the Artist, who paints most of their sitting in a public place, much to the delight of morbid onlookers. The first PC is abducted a day or so before his or her painting is revealed. Might work better with an important henchman, or NPC the party deals with on a very regular basis.
- The Church has declared the artists work unholy and blasphemous. The PCs (with a cleric, obviously) are to make the Artist cease and desist with his work, or take up a much more prudent and acceptable religious subject. This could bring in the patrons of the Artist, such as the vampires, liches, necromancers, and sadistic lords, to his aid. It could also make his art all the more in demand.
Insipred by Pickman’s Model by H.P. Lovecraft