In the National Gallery, a lot of the paintings’ information panels describe their name & “probably 16–“. It doesn’t take long to stop seeing the date, and seeing a suggestion of the content instead. These encounters are taken verbatim from the NG information panels
1. Man transcribing lion-skin, probably
A sage is hard at work transcribing the spell tattooed on the back of a (thankfully, sleeping) lion. If you come back later, he will have made you a further copy he’d be happy to sell you. The sage, a slovenly chap named Jerome, doesn’t know what the spell is (it’s Flight). If the lion bites anyone, the spell is cast on the bitten.
2. Witches trying to slack off in front of their skeletal overseer, probably
A coven of witches (Nigella, Theresa, Margovia) are working at their incantations under the watchful eye of a skeletal ostrich. A perceptive viewer might spot that they have hidden the ingredients and vials required to make a strong healing draught. If the bone-ostrich is distracted, they will hurry to make another batch and slip it to one of the players.
3. Needy naked ladies, probably
A short distance away from a pile of discarded clothes, just off the path, three naked women are arguing over whose body is best. One of the players is asked to come to a final judgement. Unless skillful wordplay allows her to escape, the women will attack the players and try to eat their eyes. If a judgement is made, the other two women will curse the chooser.
4. A young child empties the ocean, probably
A young child (Minerve) is working to empty a large body of water into a hole in the ground. If the players help, the water empties with remarkable speed; Minerve takes advantage of their becoming trapped in the mud and steals an inch of skin from each of them. If the players investigate what’s in the hole, they find a simulacrum of Minerve himself.
5. The fin-de-siecle paper shortage, probably
In a large pit just off the road, a group of people are working to treat and bleach some irregularly shaped pieces of material. They are prepared to sell some finished paper (more of a vellum really) to the players; if a map is drawn on the paper that shows where the owners currently are, their rest will never be interrupted. (The paper is made from the skin of criminals.)
6. Messianic cockblock, probably
A woman on the road (Ellipse) is frantically running from person to person, begging them to show her some intimacy. Her husband believes he is the reincarnation of the messiah and as such has taken a vow of celibacy. He is accurate in his beliefs. Ellipse is a very skilled lover.