Dreams from the Red Room

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Origin: "Horror Stories from the Red Room", by Simon Yee

Description

Dreams from the Red Room is the series of four (or, by some accounts, five) last known paintings by Xavier Ignacio, a relatively unknown painter, musician, and member of the "Red Room Cabal" who died in poverty at the age of 27 shortly after the mysterious death of his sole patron (and, some say, lover), socialite Ellen Beaumont (the leader and founding member of the Red Room Cabal).

The paintings were rumored to have been inspired by Dreamlands hallucinations caused by an strange drug ("Nightmare Opium of Leng") taken by Xavier and other Red Room Cabal members.

Original Paintings and Recordings

Physical Description: Oil on canvas paintings after a surrealist or abstract mode; the pigments used in the paintings may contain the "essential salts" of dead members of the Red Room Cabal; the paintings are accompanied by wax cylinder recordings of music played on a celesta (an instrument resembling an upright piano) with occasional spoken-word passages ("horror stories") describing nightmarish hallucinations, dreams, and visions.

General Content: The paintings are in a garish and vague abstract style suggestive of an inexplicable mood of profound sadness; the fifth painting was described as "...a vague, garish painting of a small man and woman dancing in a field of fantastic structures...", "bizarre abstractions", and "some sort of Dadaism or something". Spine-chilling recorded music set to accompany the paintings is played by Xavier Ignacio, and reminiscent of the piping madness of some outer horror of ultimate nightmare.

Number of known copies and last known location of surviving copies: Only the original paintings are known to exist; the four known paintings are believed to have been offered at auctioned by Frank Dreyer on behalf of the Beaumont Estate to one or more California socialites (Clark Ashton Smith, Randolph Hearst, Randolph Coutts, and Henry Sherriff all seemed to have expressed interest in the paintings); these, as well as a rumored fifth painting in the series, may exist in the hands of any of these people, or their agents and investigators. The most likely current location of the paintings is the Zebulon Pharr Collection in San Francisco, managed by Randolph Coutts.

Mythos Content

  • Sanity Loss: SAN 0/1D2 to hear music or see the paintings
    • Anyone who comes in skin-contact with the original paintings or records for a prolonged period of time must roll POW x5 or start having paranoid hallucinations of nightmarish proportions for 1D4 hours (SAN Loss: 1/1d6), as a "contact high" from the Nightmare Opium of Leng used by the objects' original owners.
    • a successful Cthulhu Mythos roll will indicate that the music is reminiscent of music or chanting to an Outer God
    • a successful Cthulhu Mythos roll will indicate that the paintings depict a region of the Dreamlands that borders uncomfortably closely to the Court of Azathoth


The Artist

Xavier Ignacio’s family line stretched back to Spain and the nobility class. As a result of court politics, Xavier’s family had to relocate with the military to California (before the time it became a territory of the United States).

Xavier himself was an impoverished musician, painter and addict of the Nightmare Opium of Leng, invited by a more respectable fellow artist and writer to play accompaniment on celesta to readings of horror stories for the Red Room Cabal; Xavier's outre performance and bizarre, nightmarish Dreamlands stories instantly made him a member of the cabal, and soon after Xavier introduced most other members of the cabal to the drug, including his sole patron, wealthy socialite Ellen Beaumont. Xavier's paintings are allegedly a tribute to a secret and impossible love affair with Ellen, and her purchase of the paintings allegedly and expression of her feelings in return; whatever the truth of their relationship, Xavier seems to have been devastated by Ellen's mysterious death within a couple years of meeting Xavier, and an apparently heartbroken Xavier faded into solitary obscurity and squalor before dying in a gutter soon afterward at the age of 27.


Appearances