Trophy: Ajino the Debauched Painter

Ajino has been dead for centuries, but his paintings live on. Priceless and profane, majestic and mysterious, divine and detestable—the works of Ajino are the focus of intense academic inquiry, the subject of countless theological debates, the locus of occult activity, and the life’s quarry of merchant-kings and wicked queens the world over. In the halls of The Church of Ambaret, Ajino’s works are considered heresies, and the artist has earned the sobriquet “the Debauched Painter.” A treasure-hunter can earn themself a fine retirement indeed by locating an original Ajino and putting it in the clawing hands of the obsessed.

@jesseross and I are putting together a standalone book for the Trophy RPG (the game and its many expansions are currently featured in each new issue of Codex). One of the things we’re going to do with this book is include numerous tables that help flesh out the world Trophy takes place in. Keeping with the spirit of Trophy as a community project, we’re going to be crowdsourcing many of the elements that go into these tables. We already have 3 crowdsourcing threads underway, which you are still free to sumbit to: Fort Duhrin, The Rose District of Ambaret, and Barsul Prison



For this installment, we’re learning about Ajino the Debauched Painter, who is featured in Thirty-Six Drives That Move You by @Luiz . We’re looking for 1 type of contribution here:

Rumors and works of Ajino the Debauched Painter

NOTE: Please avoid anything that feels like sexual predation or that is misogynistic in nature. We won’t print such things.

You can submit as many entries as you wish. By submitting here, you agree to let us use your contribution in the Trophy standalone book and PDF (you will be credited as a contributor). Submissions should be fairly brief (no more than a sentence or two). Here are some examples:

“There is, in the capital city of Ambaret, an apocalyptic cult, the White Canvas, that wishes to bring Ajino’s Memory Cycle collection together in one place. They believe doing so will trigger the events that lead to the end of the world.”

“The Archduke of Naganeh is rumored to be so obsessed with Ajino’s The Austere Lady, which he managed to get his hands on after decades of searching, he has secretly married it and intends to leave his entire estate to the painting when he dies.”

“Some say the paint Ajino used to create his works is literally divine—that the minerals mixed with the pigments come from the bones of a god that fell to the earth in Ajino’s time.”

5 Likes

There are competing theories as to the meaning behind the painting usually referred to as “Portrait of an Unknown Sitter”. Perhaps it reflects the absence of self suffered by the wealthy, who have replaced their own humanity with a collection of fine objects. Some critics, in looking carefully at the depiction of an unoccupied room, believe it is the artist’s only known self portrait. They point to the writhing pattern on the carpet, the semi-human forms in the collection of meteoric rocks displayed on the inlaid wood table, the lush curtain of ivy that covers the window and casts shadows which show the sun to be in eclipse. Ajino’s grandchildren sold the painting with the stipulation that it would be turned to face the wall every 12th August, but that was years ago and many collectors have come and gone since then.

3 Likes

While several paintings by Ajino have been declared cursed at one time or another, the Grey Lady is among the most notorious. Ajino is said to have painted her after the loss of his own mother, pouring his grief and rage onto the canvas in ragged streaks of grey, apparently mixing the ashes of his mother with the paint. According to legend, each owner of the Grey Lady came to a tragic end following their acquisition of the piece, typically after a series of bizarre and inexplicable misfortunes. This has not dissuaded some from seeking the painting out, with more sinister motives. There has been at least one recorded assassination attempt when the Grey Lady was “gifted” to a Levasti nobleman. Fortunately for him, his butler opened the package and gazed upon the painting first…

1 Like

The church* is rumored to have half of the “Divine Hand” painting, using it as a sacred piece of cloth into their ceremonies. It is unknown to them that the other half shows a golden palace being crushed by the hand. A rebellious group of a foreign religion is trying to steal the church piece, as it was spoken in their dreams that the union of the two halves would bring a end to the dominant rulers

  • Sorry, I don’t have access to the magazine or the scenario. I have no idea if there’s a unique church or not. Modify as you please
2 Likes

In hushed whispers, scholars who have studied Ajino’s works still speculate on whether his most legendary and infamous work actually existed or if it was just a horrifying rumor. Some scholars believe he abducted adventurers bound for Kalduhr, slipping a sedative into their drink, because who would miss them? That set of scholars still debates whether the adventurers were alive or dead when Ajino sliced open their abdomens and used their entrails to paint La Mascara Sagrada, a painting that, so far, has only ever been documented in stray notes found after Ajino’s death.

2 Likes

The so-called Cycle of Eternity paintings have no obvious connection, some even being simple patterns, but Ajino is said to have insisted that not only were they linked, but that they were all the same painting, seeing no distinction between the works on each canvas. Some are covered in arcane symbols, some are depictions of queens and kings of the past, and some bear uncanny resemblances to heretics and scholars of the present day.

5 Likes

The historians and collectors focus on Ajino’s Oil and Canvas period but did you know that he worked his apprenticeship as a Sign Writer in the Rose District? Makes you think eh?

2 Likes

So this guy came in screaming about how he’s going to PRIME us all OUT OF THE PICTURE if we don’t quiet down, so he can get some sleep. He’s waving this little wand and everyone starts to laugh. Then he shouts NO, IT’S not a WAND, You FUCKERS. THis is AJINO’S FILBERT! Silence, we left.

3 Likes

Funny story this one, I asked my brother in law why he had to wear that silly cap all the years he was a screw at Barsul Prison. He told me on pain of death that Ajino, yes that Ajino, composed a vast ceiling fresco above the mess hall during his internment. He wouldn’t tell me what happened to the folk who looked up but his final request before we hanged him was to be buried face down.

4 Likes

Late Ajino left behind the realm of representational art. His art did not imitate nature, it dictated nature what it had to be – and nature obeyed the stroke of his brush. Do I, an old art historian with failing eyesight, really need to tell you what that means? The immense riches that he painted are only the tip of the iceberg…

4 Likes

Ajino journeyed to the tropics, and became enraptured with the many tales of serpents from local lore. Staying there for 6 weeks Ajino painted a series of images that show people and serpents-fighting, conversing and merging. Displayed in the correct order they tell a greater story of the constant reinvention of people, and the all-consuming cost.

Rumours of a twin set of paintings performed during… twisted interactions of multiple participants… using fingers and other body parts to paint the very scene they were undertaking. Since they were created other painters trying to spread their legend have attempted to match or beat the quality and bizareness of the paintings, but so far all have failed.

2 Likes

It is said that Ajino wasn’t born but rather walk fully formed out of the sea.

2 Likes

A little known fact is that Ajino lived for a time in the forest of Old Kalduhr. Some would find it odd, then, that his paintings rarely feature trees - but those which do are said to have a mesmerizing effect on the viewer, invoking an insatiable desire to travel and see the forest for themselves.

The artist’s depictions of angels invoke such a powerful presence that they have inspired a handful of minor cults, each making a more grandiose claim of the miracles their painting grants. Those who attend their rituals say the effect is amplified as more viewers pray to the beings depicted, exquisitely detailed in strokes of golden light…

Theologians insist that the later works of Ajino, the Debauched Painter, represent a series of warnings against a sinful life as the artist descended into madness; the street mystics of Ambaret will smile and tell you that they are rather signposts showing the wild path to the Divine.

Ajino’s Chrysalis series depicts either the rise of demons, the descent of angels or the birth of the first saint to walk the earth - depending on which angle you view the paintings from.

A retired gaoler from Barsul Prison once told me that, of all the unspeakable things he witnessed there, what still gives him nightmares is the chamber where the most difficult prisoners were sent - all it contained was Ajino’s monolithic painting Song of the Void.

1 Like

NO she said brusquely. You don’t GET TO CALL ME MAD. IT’s not for LOOKING AT! You can’t IMPRISON it in a frame and exile it to some wall to be SNICKERED at by the DAINTIES. You rub your yourself all over it. You have to FEEL IT. Just TOUCH it! LEt me go! … You HAVETOLISTEN!

2 Likes

With verified Ajino’s either hard to procure, or already in the hands of those wealthy enough to maintain the security of their property, a secondary market of post-Ajino artwork has sprung up to fill the need. Art students, likely under the influence of Mother’s Palm fungus, “channel” Ajino and create works such as DIGESTION, an all black canvas meant to be experienced tactilely: it is somehow warm, always moist, and burns.

2 Likes

The art merchant Guille of Ordoe has made a cottage industry of selling beautiful, often unheard of Ajino originals to lower-born nobles far across the continent, and yet he remains largely unknown in the upper crust. The secret to both his success and his obscurity lies in his apparently blank canvases that “reveal themselves” to the viewer discerning enough to appreciate their scope and refined elegance. The purchase of one of these pieces is almost certainly accompanied by a radical change in social standing, ensuring that Guille’s departure comes quickly thereafter.

1 Like

Empty Baskets, a lesser known Ajino work, is said to be hidden not in the tomb of a wealthy merchant but in the grave of an anonymous pauper, as no monied interest would dare be caught dead with it. Deemed egregious, even by the stark standards of the Age of Partition, not for the artist’s typically blasphemous themes but rather for its almost violent depiction of an upended societal order, its last public glimpse led to a three day riot reaching across social classes and threatening the very existence of the Southern Annex.

1 Like