As you ride through the front gate to the Sculptress' manor house you see two of the finest statues you've ever laid eyes on. One is a depiction of a stunningly beautiful woman and the other is an equally handsome man. Both are artistic nude and are set in such a way as to welcome you into the house. As you head through the gates you are greeted by the site of a large and well maintained garden full of more statues, each one of them done gorgeously and in different poses, some of which border on the risque. Anyone with any type of artistic skills or knowledge might notice upon close inspection that these statues don't appear to be carved or chiseled out of stone but look molded to an object instead.
After a couple minute ride through the garden you finally arrive at the actual manor house and upon seeing the statues guarding the door you realize that the beautiful ones on the front lawn must have been some of the artist's early works. The ones inside promise to surpass anything you have yet seen.
You are greeted warmly by the Sculptress herself and welcomed inside. The Sculptress appears to be in her early 30's and has sun blonde hair with green eyes. She is thin and has obviously kept herself in shape, wearing a green evening gown meant to access her eyes... and all the other right features.
As she shows you to a guest room to clean up you get a decent look at the manor. The house is large and has been decorated by an expert, likely the Sculptress herself. Along with many more statues you also see masterful paintings, ceramic and glass decorations, and every other type of fine art imaginable. This is obviously a woman with some taste. You also notice you were correct in your surmise about the outside ones being some of her first work. You can tell the detail put into the statues ensconced along the walls show a much higher level of craftsmanship that can only be gained with experience. She has natural talent and has refined it with endless practice to create such beautiful pieces.
The Sculptress will not reveal much of anything about herself. If asked for her name she will simply say that who she used to be is not important. Due to having created statues for many nobles and even a couple for royalty she has a bit of political power at her grasp and an astute adventuring group probably won't press the issue.
The manor house is full of statues... each of which contains a living breathing person who has most likely lost his mind. She also has quite a bit of other fine art from artists who have sought one of her statues to decorate their homes. They have in turn provided a piece of art of their own for her.
She has several bodyguards. Two of which are guarding her at any time, another six are patrolling the inside of the manor, and roughly twelve are resting or taking leisure. The guards tend to carry clubs and staves, good weapons to knock people unconscious without killing them.
The Sculptress is a villain who, for some perverse reason, has taken a liking to encasing living people in cement. She has a collection of people encased in different positions and being sustained by magic. The victims are alive and conscious but can't move or speak. The Sculptress is very particular about her sculptures. Only the most handsome and beautiful of people are good enough for one of her masterpieces. The race typically doesn't matter though she tends to prefer humans. There are a number of elves and half-elves as well as a couple of halflings. She has spells to render you helpless and to control/dominate (paralyzation, holding, charm, etc), minions who do lots of non-lethal damage, and traps that don't do damage but will cage you or immobilize you. If caught you will be encased in stone and magically sustained for years. She will often leave the eyes and ears open for a time until the victim has gone insane. Your chances of remaining sane reduce greatly over time. The encasement is natural and does not use magic so freeing someone who is trapped is very difficult. If someone is freed they have a very small chance of regaining sanity and will end up with mental problems for the duration of their lives. Their muscles will be atrophied at first and for a few weeks they might not even realize they aren't trapped anymore.
Insanity and freedom
The typical insanity process starts out with feelings of rage for a day or two. Thoughts about how you will make her pay after you get out of this are very common. After a couple of days you start to lose hope. Desperation starts creeping in and you stop worrying about revenge and start worrying about whether or not you will ever get out of here. Eventually the sensory depravation begins to get to you and you end up enjoying hearing her teasing and torments just because it is some form of contact with the outside world. After you get to this stage she will shut off your ears, carefully putting a plug into each ear and cementing them over. Most victims' sanity won't last another week after that stage and once you are completely gone she will close and cement your eyes shut. The eyes are always the tell-tale sign of what stage the victim is in. In the anger stage the eyes are often glaring, when the desperation stage starts the eyes become more frantic, moving and darting about as if looking for an escape somehow. When you start looking forward to her visits the eyes become longing, simply wanting any human contact. When the victim has finally lost their mind the eyes become dull and will no longer look up at any sign of motion. Absolutely nothing will interest them at this point because they have given in to complete hopelessness. The time it takes each of these stages is dependant on how strong a person's will is. The rage usually last between 1 and 4 days, desperation can go up to a week, longing is typically only a couple days since the Sculptress closes off your ears after you reach this stage, and full mind loss will usually follow about a week after that. Some victims can keep their mind for a full month after the process begins but these are only the strongest of people when it comes to willpower.
Freeing a victim is very difficult due to the nature of the prison. It is not magical in any way so simply casting a dispel will not work. Since the victim is literally encased in cement this has to be broken off somehow. Chipping at it tends to cause damage to the victim but will work eventually. The victim might be rather scarred and maimed physically from having chisels used on the stone though. A possible idea is applying a light coat of acid to the stone and very carefully melting the stone off. Various spells might work better if the pc's have access to them.
If a victim is successfully freed from a stone prison the chances of regaining sanity are entirely dependant on how long he or she has been trapped. The long a person has been in there the harder it is to regain sanity. Somebody freed during the first couple of days will likely suffer no ill mental effects and will typically be hot for revenge. They will also be fairly weak physically though. Someone in the desperation stage who was freed will probably have some mental trauma for the rest of their life (such as an aversion to statues of any kind). They should recover fairly well, however it will take them a few days to regain themselves mentally. It will take even longer for them to regain physical abilities. After the desperation stage retaining sanity is an act of will. Someone in the longing stage has already gone partly insane and will have mental problems from here on out. Someone who has lost their mind will likely not even realize they have been freed for quite some time. If they ever do come to realizing they aren't trapped they will likely never be able to function in the real world again. There is a point of no return and that is usually about 6 months. If a victim isn't freed by that time they will simply live out the rest of their lives as a vegetable.
The Sculptress hires the heroes to track down a servant who fled and 'stole' a piece of art when they left. She wants the servant back alive if possible and will comment that the art piece has most likely already been sold and not to worry about it if it isn't on the servant. In reality the servant fled from terror at seeing what went on there and will gladly tell the heroes everything he knows.
One of the party members or someone the party is close to has been captured and needs to be rescued. Depending on how long the person has been encased use the freedom rules to find out if they will make it or not.
The king or someone powerful who received a piece of her art has a suspicion that people are being turned into stone and wants the players the investigate the Sculptress. The truth is much more horrible than what the king/noble suspected.
I do have rules and charts for insanity and getting people out of the traps and other stats for DnD since that is the game I play. I can post those if anyone is interested in them. I don't have anything made up for other games though.
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? Responses (14)
I almost began by falling into the 'Great for a first submission!' trap crap. But I wont say that. Doesnt matter if its your first or one hundred and first.
Its a great submission!
When I started reading I 'assumed' it would be dealing with a medusa-type, but no...this is much better!
The only thing I find confusing is the whole 'its magic, its not magic' back and forth. Or maybe I didnt understand it correctly. Either way, fascinating piece. Insanity is always a plus in my book as well!
I officially welcome you to the ranks. It doesnt take a Nostradamus to predict you'll have more treats for us soon!
Solid submission, the amount of detail given to the steady and inevitable erosion of sanity while encased is superb.
The magic/not magic thing: The encasement itself isn't magic. Its basically like a cement mixture she spreads over the victims. Magic is sustaining them, however, since you obviously wouldn't live long encased in cement without food or water... or air for that matter. She can use magic, and will to capture them and hold them for a pose but the encasement is entirely natural. It becomes very hard when dry so flexing a couple muscles won't be able to break out of it. Thanks for the comments so far.
I only have one problem with this and it's in the insanity thing, but it's moot for most adventurers. It concernes Mr. Monk, who can volentarily enter a quasi-comotose state. Would she seal him all up the first time he did that? I'm sure this would confuse her a bit, 'Wait, you don't want to listen to me? EVERYONE WANTS TO LISTEN TO ME EVENTUALLY!!!'
Anyway, good job.
A nice take on the medusa artist, with a twist and many hints how to play in a game the loss of sanity (system-independant, a big plus). Good work.
Pariah's comment is right on - there will always be people who don't behave as expected. If we go for more fantasy, I imagine a slightly disturbed type, a statue-to-be, who does seem to fall into a coma of sorts. However, because of a latent magical talent or something is his desperate state manifested like a poltergeist, that spooks in Her villa. The she will hire privately some adventurers to get rid of the host, but not find out her secret.
Also, statues are sometimes handled roughly, or fall and break... what if one of them reveals its contents in this way?
And lastly, someone could recognize the person the statue is made of - a missing brother or sister, but when did they stand model for a statue?
Hey, it provoked three plot hooks in a short time. A good sign for any submission.
One of the nasteir villians here. 5/5
Really very good.
a really good piece of work.
Gods, this girl is truly evil and too clever by half
The player will NEVER work this out well, not until it's far too late
Love it 5/5 & today's HoH vote
A wonderful bit of macabre wax-museum villany. It's got a great horror atmosphere (reminds me of Madame Tussauds crossed with the X-Files), as well as being very detailed and fleshed out. Great work!
The "evil witch/wizard who encases people in stone" is an oldie (I'm instantly reminded of both Medusa and the White Witch from Narnia), but this is well-written enough to be a classic homage rather than a cheap copy.
I have an issue with this - if you apply even half an inch of cement over someone, far too little to be stable, the proportions and features will change significantly, hence removing likeness. Also, a cement casing would not spread evenly over someone's features, but rather tend to smoothen them out.
How thick would the casing have to be to be stable anyway?
While avoiding the Medusa clichee is commendable, as written it is not feasible.
I think this is a great sub, though I think the entire handling of insanity is distracting and perhaps is fodder for another sub. Most systems have some rules regarding insanity. Simply indicating that those encased are subject to insanity over time would have been fine for me.
Regarding the physics being non-feasible, all it takes is to say the cement is indeed magic and forms a paper-thin coat that still happens to be as strong as concrete.
Or, the super-strong coating is created _by_ magic but is not in itself magic.
For all it matters, I'd have the coating be magic and be done with it.
I have never been a fan of expecting Fantasy subs to ascribe to closely to real world physics.