23rd Oct: It's time for the second TV Tropes Halloween Avatar Contest, theme: cute monsters! Details and voting here.
The MansionIn the wild marshes, there is a mansion. A strange place, whose owner, for reasons not freely shared, has decided to let guests stay and socialize here. The various heroes, villains, and miscellany denizens of the multiverse find their way here by many paths. Some come by invitation by the mysterious host, some stumble upon it by accident, and some just find themselves drawn here by the strings of fate.
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OutsideThe mansion is situated in a chilly coastal marsh: a large, treeless, grassy, mucky swamp gently leading out into the ocean, filled with mushrooms, insects, crabs, oysters, small birds, and the musty scent of still water, with a hint of salt. Those with an enthusiasm for nature in all its forms might find it an enjoyable place to explore, but for the rest, it is a sloggy, wet, buggy, shoe-destroying waste. The ocean itself is just as chilly as the air: the daring might find a brief dip invigorating, and the cold-resistant might enjoy a swim, but for the rest it is best appreciated at a distance.The mansion itself is built in Georgian style: square shapes and red bricks dominate. It is set upon a stone foundation, an island of stability in the soft swamps. Those who examine it will find it the foundation was not built, but rent from the very earth by some sort of geomancy.
First Floor Rooms
Entry HallThe entry hall is well-decorated, if slightly minimalist. It divides the mansion in half near-perfectly and heads from the front all the way to the back. The floor is a dark, hard wood – possibly birch or maple – and covered with a sanguine carpet. Paneling of the same wood lines the lower halves of the walls, interrupted at roughly equal intervals by a door, three to each side. The ceiling arches two stories above; coupled with both the length and breadth of the room, this provides a rather spacious feeling. There are no sculptures, paintings, or indeed any kinds of art at all in the hall; that is the domain of the art gallery.
ParlorWreathed in luxurious accoutrements the parlor is a room into which members of the house can retreat for more privacy. It was most commonly used this way when two men wish to discuss politics, or the swath of other topics not considered conventionally polite by the manners of the time. That is to say, most of them.It is also used as a place where the head of the household can entertain guests, as is considered the duty of any good host. To both of these ends, the room is tastefully furnished with a set of very expensive looking mahogany furniture. A long table took up the center of the room, almost dividing it in half in a way, with chairs pushed in around it. Off to the side was an oxblood chaise longue back against the wall, and glass cabinets to either side of it displayed a wide array of odd and in some cases arcane-looking bits and bobs. It is a diverse collection, with each group of artifacts fitting a certain theme or bearing a certain commonality. Many of them, clustered in groups, looked to be related or of the same origin.A stack of periodicals rest on a rack near the door which look to cover a wide variety of topics, and some of the titles might be familiar to those who might care to browse- though one can only guess how the Mansion’s enigmatic host managed to get his hands on some of the more recent editions.A wide fireplace dominated the southern wall, coals smoldering quietly within it. A loose ring of recliners huddled around it, rich with the warmth of the hearth. A gold-hilted sword rested on a mount atop the mantlepiece, and a pair of stuffed heads hung from plaques either side of the chimney, evidently trophies from some previous hunt or exploit. One was what appeared to be a single saucer-shaped eye gazing sightlessly out of a spheroid, meatball-esque face. This face had another feature, a massive gaping maw filled with razor-sharp teeth that split the face wide in an almost comical pac-man style grin. The other trophy appeared to be the severed head of some kind of hobgoblin creature, complete with yellowed teeth and tusks sprouting up from its gums. By the wideness of its brow and the set of its eyes, an onlooker might be struck by the feeling that it had been sentient once. Inscribed below the first head was the word Planescape, and below the second, Greyhawk.
Smoking RoomThe smoking room is cast tastefully in burgundy. Whether by accident or design, the scent of what has been smoked here has not cleared, but it isn't oppressive, either. Rich, somewhat heady smells waft through the air, lingering on the edge of perception.In the center is assortment of comfy chairs arranged around a long coffee table, on which rest several crystalline ash trays. They look somewhat out of place among the plush upholstery, being not made of glass but instead some kind of blue amethyst, roughly hewn and sanded down. The floor is carpeted, a rich green not unlike the manor grounds outside, which are visible through three windows on the room’s eastern wall. A set of velvet drapes hang pinned up around each of them, and a crystal chandelier of the same eerie blue crystal as the ash trays is suspended from the center of the roof.Cupboards to the north and south sides hold cases of exquisite cigars and other tobacco products, as well as florid decanters of some of the choicer drinks that could be found down in the basement wine cellar. Near them are a pair of visible hatches that open to a compartment that is magically refrigerated. Packed inside are innumerable cubes of ice along with a delicate assortment of saltwater taffies. The mansion’s owner seems to particularly enjoy these, as a box of them sits open and half-finished near the end of the coffee table.
Art GalleryThe art gallery is a fairly large open room the walls of which are hung with a myriad of tapestries. Its floor is set in a pattern of maroon tiles and subtly lit by lamps hanging from fittings around the room. Light seemed very important to the Mansion’s owner in this room, seeming to regard the ambient light as just as integral a part of the viewing experience as the artworks themselves.The gallery is home to not only paintings, but also various sculptures, artifacts, and other curiosities that sit in glass cases or on rectangular pedestals. Here one can find a stone tablet inscribed with a string of faintly pulsating runes, while there might be the fossilized remains of some long-dead creature with a bone structure so alien that an observer would have trouble telling it from a piece of coral. Benches are dotted about so that patrons may sit and observe some of the works, though in most cases one would need to stand to see any of the gallery’s items up-close.
Dining RoomA room large enough to hold a feast. It has a number of square tables that could, in theory, be combined into a single massive one. But in the time-honored tradition of transdimensional hotspots everywhere, they are instead scattered about the room and surrounded by chairs for people whose primary desire is to eat, talk, and have a firm sense of exactly whom they are socially expected to interact with.A number of insectoid, brass clockwork creatures float silently above, ostensibly supported by comical, dirigible-esque balloons but actually kept aloft by magic. Although utterly uninterested in the conversations below, they are swift and efficient waiters who have a way of being where they're needed right when they're needed.
KitchenThe kitchen appears very old fashioned at first glance, as if left untouched since the mid-19th century. But a chef will soon notice that this is skeuomorphic design. All the modern appliances of a modern master's kitchen are present, but shaped to not interrupt the feel of the room.A number of small, clean brass contraptions scuttle about, keeping a polite distance from people. Like the room, they are more advanced than they appear: although at first glance clockwork contraptions, when necessary they can occasionally be seen melting their mechanisms into a gray goo and reforming to a more useful shape. A nearby note explains that they will obey any cooking-related directives, whether it be outright preparing food or simply helping another chef who wishes to do so themselves.
StudyThe study is a room in dark greens, with a number of comfortable couches arranged in a circle around a coffee table, as if left that way from some meeting of a book club. There are also three desks, each containing a computer which appears to be functionally identical to a modern one, but whose clear case reveals that the insides are entirely clockwork. That each is still functionally a modern computer with a familiar operating system suggests both powerful magic and a desire to irritate engineers and scientists.
LibraryThe owner keeps a wide variety of books in this library, a place filled with the wonderful scent of old paper. Ancient tomes, powerful spellbooks, and classic novels, are present. But the owner isn't living the past, and has also seen fit to keep books more commonly associated with popular culture than higher learning. There's something strangely intuitive about the way the books are arranged as well — the patterns just seem to fall in place, meaning one will quickly find whatever book they seek. (The possibility of benign mental magic cannot be dismissed, but nor can it be detected if one looks.)The only thing the library lacks is pornography. Unless one counts owner's "erotica". (The difference between the two appears to be the length of words used, artistic aspirations, and lack of pictorial aids.)
Second Floor Rooms
BalconyThe back third of the entry hall is also home to a balcony overlooking the room. Accessible by a staircase on the back wall, the landing opens up to two more rooms on each. For those who wish to talk here, or eavesdrop on those below, a small table and several chairs are set up. The chairs are rather subdued, with small cushions on the seats and none on the arms, but always provide comfort. A window on the rear wall looks out over the grounds behind the mansion.
Master BedroomSurprisingly (or perhaps not), the master bedroom is about as subdued as the rest of the house, although a little less so. The bed is a gargantuan four-poster, with crimson hangings, fine sheets, and more than enough room for two people. Evidently, whoever had it made slept quite restlessly. However, no one else who uses it will; to sleep on it is to sleep within the gentle caress of a cirrus cloud. There is a large selection of pillows, with a wide variety in how plump they are, able to suit everyone’s needs.The closet is large enough to be a walk-in, with plenty of shelves and hangars, although it is empty at the moment. The mirror on the outside is mounted to the wall, rather than the door, and is quite large. Its frame is finely engraved with smooth, flowing designs not unlike ocean waves. The dresser, painted a uniform white all over, is a bit smaller than one would expect, but the drawers appear to be larger on the inside after a quick look-over. A lowboy vanity is positioned in one corner, made from a bright chestnut, but it gives the feeling of having rarely been used; perhaps it was an unwanted gift. A few small busts and a painting are dotted around the room to give it a bit more ambiance. The painting is of a small schooner heading into a gorgeously painted sunrise on a foggy morning. Its style is Impressionist, and brings to mind Monet’s “Impression, Sunrise” for those in the know.
BathroomThe bathroom is decorated a bit more than it might need to be. Where some would have minimized, if not utterly eschewed, decoration and made the room merely functional, here, objects are made in high quality. Marble, in particular, appears to be in abundance; the counter is topped with it, and the shower appears to be carved from a single, flowing block. The handles on the drawers, the faucets and sinks, and the showerhead are all a brighter-than-normal brass and decorated in a way that suggests whoever did so had too much time on their hands. Dark wood makes up the floor, covered by a large shag rug.In general, the bathroom is fairly large. The shower is rather spacious for one person, almost suggestively so. Two different sinks, sharing a single long mirror, allow for two people to converse as they clean. However, there’s still only one toilet; there are some things not meant to be shared. A small room connects the bathroom to the master bedroom and the balcony in the main hall.
Guest RoomsThe guest bedrooms are arranged more-or-less the same, for ease of cleaning and such. A twin bed in each, with excellent mattresses and those really soft sheets that you really wish you had but are too stingy to get because they’re just bedsheets, and who spends that much money on bedsheets? The head- and footboards of the beds are a warm, soft mahogany, carved with a remarkable amount of flourish for something that isn’t seen when it’s being used properly. However, they are not flawless; there are little chips here and there in the boards of the bed in the northern room, as well as a few places where the finish has been worn off.Each room also contains large dresser with remarkably roomy drawers. Their handles are well-shined brass; a bit of style was needed, and gold plating was too opulent. To provide maximum contrast, the dressers are painted a glossy black. For those who prefer a more organized approach, there are also closets, each with a large amount of empty metal hangars. The doors double as full-bodied mirrors, for the vain, and the particularly observant will notice that not a single speck of dust ever seems to meander within two inches of the glass.Unfortunately for the guests, neither room is connected to a bathroom. A vestibule of sorts connects the two together, and this opens on to the balcony. The vestibule is rather bare, with only an ancient vase on a small table for decoration. This room and the guest rooms share a floor design, a soft cream-colored carpet. The tint is uniform throughout, in spite of the color almost inviting dust, dirt, and grime to ruin it.
Wine CellarThe name is, in fact, something of a misnomer: wine is but one of the many forms of liquor housed in this comfortable cool den, which also includes a vast array of liquors — not all of terrestrial origin. In fact, search long enough (and ignore the pulse of energy that may or may not be magic spontaneously converting energy to surprisingly complex matter) and you'll find whatever intoxicant you seek, no matter how obscure or patently illegal it is. But the real centerpiece is the owner's own wines. As well as being a smooth, flavorful vintage, they are a miraculous mixture of science, magic, and things that manage to be neither which will intoxicate any creature in the multiverse. (Unless their creator-god has absolutely no sense of fun, of course.)The cellar also contains a fully-stocked bar, for those who want something to sit around, or a place to mix together concoctions of whatever sort they desire — as well as a number of premixed Pan-Galactic Gargle Blasters, just waiting for some poor soul to try them.An elevator can be found sitting enigmatically in the corner. It doesn’t look particularly reliable, but it’s held together by a combination of powerful magic and mundane duct tape, ensuring its safety despite appearances.
Underground GardenIt's hard to tell just how far below ground this grotto is: the elevator rapidly brings its passengers to the cave and back, but various inertial dampening spells make it far smoother than any normal elevator. The only evidence those within have that the elevator is in motion at all is the rattling of various gears — why this disconcerting cacophony is not muffled by spells is a mystery. Those who try to discern their location with magic or technology while in it will find they are very deep indeed.The air down here is filled with a subterranean chill, and glowing crystals of a blue, amethyst-like stone illuminate the garden well enough to see, although the glow is eerie to the human eye and many shadowy nooks remain. But it's enough for the strange vineyard that dominates the cavern. There are a number of fungi, most prominently a field of plump, purple, helmet-shaped mushrooms. A waterfall fills a small pond used to irrigate the grapes, but the water is just as cold as the air.
Sparring RoomA wide open room. Its floor is soft enough to cushion falls, but close examination will reveal it is made up of countless soft millimeter-wide hexagonal tiles that can be raised and lowered on request to simulate height and uneven terrain. The wall is similarly padded to ensure those hurled against it aren't too severely damaged, and a first-aid kit is nearby. On a weapon rack lie a number of staves, kendo swords, paintball guns, and other such training weapons, including some very "impractical" and obscure ones.A drone, appearing to be a clockwork gyrocopter with a comically old-fashioned camera, floats around the room, broadcasting the battle to the theater. It never seems to actively try and avoid any of the attacks, weapons, or spells the combatants fire at each other, but it nonetheless has an uncanny way of being wherever they are not, and it always manages to keep a good view of the fight
TheaterSmall by the standards of theaters, but most unquestionably a theater nonetheless, with red plush chairs, lit walkways, and of course a massive screen. The only oddity is the large empty circle in the center — for those that have abandoned two-dimensional screens in favor of three-dimensional holograms, a few button presses at the projectionist's booth can reconfigure the entire room towards the circle and its holographic display.A carnival-style popcorn machine stands at back of the room, as well as a large, old-fashioned soda fountain with the usual offerings... and a number of extra taps with plain white labels and a pencil lying nearby. A note taped beside the blank tapes helpfully explains that one has but to write their drink of choice upon a tap, enjoy, and not worry too much about logistical details.The projector is a disarmingly simple machine: the projector itself, a tray, and a switch with three options: "sparring room", "film", and "off". A note nearby explains that one merely needs to place the medium to be played in the tray, and not worry too much about how, exactly, the projector manages to automatically interpret it. Scrawled on the bottom in a different hand is the dire warning: "placing multiple films in the tray will result in terrible, procedurally generated crossover fics." Below that, yet another warning: "the unwatchable kind of terrible, not the hilarious kind."