Gender: Technically androgynous, male-ish build and personality however
Race: Intermingled Undead/Fungus colony
Age: unknown, hundreds of years old; ballpark guess: around 700-years-old or so
Alignment: Neutral (evil)
Class: Artist/master painter/scholar/philosopher
Pickman appears as gaunt humanoid with dark greyish-purple skin. His skin is withered and weathered, like a corpse left laying in the desert sun. He has long, thin, pointed ears that stick out from the sides of his head and his dark eyes are slightly sunken. Like a cat's, his eyes reflect light, appearing to shine in darkness. His face, although mostly human-like, has a feral aspect to it with a heavy brow and a wide nose. His mouth is full of nasty, sharp, pointy teeth and his fingers are tipped with short claws. He has small, goat-like hooves for feet. He is utterly hairless.
His chest, shoulders, biceps, and the top of his head are spotted with olive-colored mold. Erratic rows of orange-spotted red toadstools have sprouted from his back an peek over his shoulders.
A pair of ancient, tattered, and stained grey trousers are all that remains of his clothing. Some of the stains appear to be from blood.
Pickman speaks in DarkSlateGray.
Equipment and Abilities:
Ancient, tattered, and stained grey trousers.
Stuffed into the trouser pockets:
The Silver Key which opens portals to and from Unknown Kadath.
Several gold coins he took from the castle treasury, remembering from his human life that these are supposedly worth something.
Although somewhat stronger and more agile than most humans, Pickman doesn't possess many other supernatural powers or abilities. He has extraordinarily good senses of smell and hearing, short claws on his fingers, and fangs. His bite attack can easily crack and splinter bone. If pressed, he can disgorge a digestive enzyme, which stings and smells hideous. The enzyme seeps into skin, and most other materials, and will continue to reek for days even if washed off. If magical means are used to wash the enzyme off the smell will still linger, albeit muted, for a few hours.
Composed partially of undead and plant tissue, Pickman is resistant to many forms of attack that prove ineffective against these types of creatures. However, Pickman is more of a lover than a fighter. And, honestly, he isn't much of a lover, either, given his undead-and-partially-fungal physiology. He can stand up to a stout beating and is never-tiring, but is unlikely to pose much of a threat to an experienced combatant.
Pickman's body is little more than a bipedal colony of fungal spores, connected psychically with the rest of the colony back in the caves and castle Pickman left behind recently. If his body is destroyed, the colony back in the cavern can grow a new body for him in a few days. If injured, he can heal relatively quickly by increasing the growth rate of the fungi that composes his body. Although he does technically need to eat in order to sustain the fungi colony, his dietary needs are exceptionally simple and he can go without eating for long periods of time if given an ample meal beforehand.
The fungal colony back in the caves stretches for miles and is unlikely to be completely erradicated if an enemy should somehow find their way to the caves and attempt to cleanse them of the abominable undead/fungi symbiosis. Given his partially undead nature, as well as the regenerative capabilities offered by the colony, Pickman is effectively immortal.
Although the psychic connection between Pickman and the rest of the colony extends over any distance on the colony's plane of origin, planar travel will cut off this connection, resulting in the colony growing a new body as if Pickman had been killed.
Richard Upton Pickman was born on Earth in the late 1800's. While attending university, he gained a reputation as an extraordinarily skilled artist, especially so for his paintings.
However, while searching for inspiration one night, he happened upon a group of ghouls feeding and something about them entranced him. He quickly became obsessed with the creatures and began stalking them; searching for them at night, watching them feast on cadavers, and attempting to follow them back to their lairs before daybreak.
His studies began to suffer as he routinely sacrificed sleep and class attendance in order to pursue his nocturnal habits. It wasn't long, however, before the ghouls noticed he was watching, which could have spelled disaster for him. But, perhaps sensing a kindred spirit in him, they did not immediately slay him. Instead, they allowed him to take infrequent photographs of them which he used as references for his art. He began to paint again, this time depicting a subject matter far darker and gruesome than anything he'd done before.
It wasn't long before he was ostracized and later expelled from the univeristy. Booted from the university dormitories and having no family to return to, he found housing where he could, usually in run-down and dangerous sections of the city. His association with the ghouls grew only stronger as he used the last of his inheritance to seize ownership of a key property and welcomed them into his home, giving them easy access to a vast network of underground tunnels forgotten beneath the city.
As time went on, Pickman's association with the ghouls had more and more of an effect on his body and psyche - he began to transform into one as well.
However, a chance accident led to a large fire in the section of town where Pickman and his ghouls resided. Fleeing the flames, the ghouls brought him along as they travelled with a silver key through a portal long forgotten by men; into Unknown Kadath.
For unknown years he travelled with the pack of ghouls through Unknown Kadath, eventually becoming a ghoul himself. However, his mind remained ever-keen and his skill at artistry never diminished despite his increasingly perverse appetite for the flesh of the living and the dead. He became a great leader of ghouls as the pack continued to grow under his guidance and he fathered many ghoul-pups.
However, tragedy eventually struck. While leading a hunting party through unexplored territory, Pickman and his pack encountered a strange tomb. When they removed the large stone slab covering the sarcophagus they found, instead of a delicious corpse, an iron grate over a deep hole delving down into blackness. Perhaps foolishly, they removed the grate and attempted to better inspect the well-like pit. In the process, however, Pickman and two of his lieutenants fell inside, plunging down into darkness; their comrades meeping their funeral song sorrowfully above.
When Pickman and his fellows finally landed at the bottom, the fall fractured their hardy but withered bodies. Barely conscious and injured beyond ability to move, they rested there hoping against hope they might be somehow rescued. Against hope, it indeed was, for the floor and walls of the pit they'd fallen into was lined with a variety of insidious fungi that slowly began to spread over their putrefied bodies and consume them while they could do nothing to halt the fungi's progress.
However, perhaps by some strange alchemical miracle, utterly destroy them the fungi did not. Instead, over many months, it infested their necrotic flesh in an ever-spreading, unique colony. Though their bodies were eventually consumed, their individual minds mingled together in a newfound consciousness withthat of the fungi.
Utterly changed, yet frighfully similar, Pickman emerged from the colony with a new body, crafted of undead flesh as well as living fungus. His memories intact, though mixed about with those of the other ghouls who befell the same fate as he; though his dominant personality held the greatest sway.
Finally mobile once again, Pickman decided to explore for the first time the pit that would apparently forever be his home. To his surprise, it was not a well alone, but a mere moonlit glade amongst a near-endless sprawl of underground tunnels.
His eyes long-ago turned to the dead orbs of a ghoul, darkness impeded his vision not and so he traveled the tunnels, everywhere he went shedding spore to take root amidst the caverns in an ever-expanding colony of undead and fungal flesh intermingled. Eventually, he came to a dark and lonely castle, long ago buried and forgotten by unknown peoples to unknown purpose. Unafraid, he entered the keep and explored its passages.
To his surprise, the keep contained a vast gallery to the arts and a library unrivaled by anything he'd seen ever at the university of his human days. The keep was well stocked with all of the supplies needed for him to ply his trade as a painter once more, for the first time perhaps in centuries. And, thus, paint he did, amidst the perfect darkness.
At the same time, he would scour the various tomes of the library, ever seeking further forbidden truths and accused inspirations from the illustrations within. Though the study of language was something he had only been a dabbler while human, he quickly mastered a number of the odd and ancient languages the books were written in; almost as if the librams themselves had long waited for him to come and were anxious to share their foul knowledge with him.
Eventually, though, even the eldritch words and images in the cabalistic bibles grew tiresome to him and he longed for interaction with some creatures not of his own flesh. While walking the castle's courtyard, he chanced to spy a solitary beam of light filtering down from somewhere far above - a lone strand of moonlight. Somehow, it had penetrated the canopy of rock forming the roof of the tunnels that he had for so long believed impassable.
And so, with great strength of purpose, he scaled the castle walls, striving to bring himself closer to the light and hoping it would lead him to the surface, out of the caverns that had been his lonely home for so long.
Reaching the spire of the tower, he discovered a metal grate, like that he had fallen through so many years before. Light from a gibbous moon shone through the iron mesh onto his face for the first time since time immemorable. Though barely within reach, he took a chance at the hop up and shoved the grate aside. With a second hop, he climbed into the fresh night air in a graveyard somewhere in the lands of Acronymia. Some fool left the lid off the sarcophagus concealing the grate.
Shedding spore like dandruff, Pickman wandered off in search of someone or something interesting...
Pickman is very, very old and, though he's smart, he's not a super-genius. Memories from his human life are faded and it takes some effort for him to remember events from that life. He has been a ghoul for far longer (a number of centuries) than he lived as a human (about 23 years) and he has been trapped, alone, in the subterranean castle for centuries since he encountered, and was infested with, the fungus that he currently shares his existence with.
As such, it takes some prodding and experimenting for him to remember how some things work; from doors to the complex rules of social interaction and even language. As such, he has a child-like curiosity about things and will largely be unaware of social nuances or boundaries. He will poke and 'test the waters' where he doesn't understand or remember something.
At the same time, he tends to take the long-view of events. Objects, creatures, and even people seem fleeting and, as such, somewhat unimportant to him. If he breaks something while experimenting with it, he will be unconcerned; simply dropping the object and moving on. He is likely to treat people in much the same way and doesn't easily form attachments unless he sees something or someone that he thinks stands a chance of being around for a while; such as other undead and other immortal beings.
A fusion of undead flesh and fungus, he has no interest in romance and the concept of it is utterly alien to him. Also, his concept of beauty is as dissimilar from human sensibilities as should be expected of a creature such as himself.
Fics featuring Pickman:
Pickman is dedicated to the memory of H.P. Lovecraft and was inspired primarily by a pair of Lovecraft's works: Pickman's Model
and The Outsider