Chauvet Cave, located in southern France, is a cave that
contatin the earliest—and best preserved cave paintings in the world. The
images are from the Upper Paleolithic period and are at least 37 000 years old,
but aside from the intricate paintings, the cave was also discovered to contain
the fossilized remains of various extinct animals and plants.
One of the larger cave painting sites, Chauvet
Cave is embedded into limestone cliffs and the sheer quantity of paintings and
artwork is in itself spectacular, nevermind the size and quality of the
pictures (which are themselves remarkable). What the images depict is also
unique compared to other finds of this nature. As opposed to specifically
painting typical herbivores (likely the quarry of prehistoric human hunters),
the cave also depicts predatory animals as well, such as cave lions, panthers,
bears, and hyenas. All told, there are at least 13 different species depicted
in the paintins, including rhinoceroses. These images do not exist outside of
context, however, and many of them depict complex scenes or interaction between
species and other artistic and more abstract depictions (such as red ochre
reliefs of hands, and other lines and dashes).
Chauvet Cave recently re-entered the public eye
just this past March when a researchers recently claimed that the cave depicts
various volcanic eruptions and that such paintings are the first time humans
recorded and depicted those eruptions in history. Splashes of red ochre and
what appears to be an impromptu dive into deeply abstract imagery (a notable
departure from some fairly realistic animals) would seem to support this
The cave is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but
unfortunately has been off limits to the public since 1994. As with the caves
in Lascaux, frequent human activity inside the cave slowly cultivated a species
of mould which could have damaged the paintings. A replica was opened to the
public in April, 2015.
Setting: 5e, we are a group of do-gooders that represent the vast and conquering Empire that took in our abstract and not-so-common-via-race peoples. We are representatives of them as well.
We are currently going into deep and twisty stone caves and labyrinths to save a group of nobles and passengers who were mysteriously abducted by a random earth cult. We have come to an end with three rows of cells that contain some of these prisoners. Down a hallway nearby is a guard room that contains two half-Orcs and an actual Orc.
Goliath fighter (me): I don’t care about that hallway, I charge into the room with the cells and start beating down the doors to free the prisoners!
DM: The guards are beginning to stir and asking what is going on outside (unaware of our presence.)
Our raccoon gunslinger (yes, a literal raccoon who walks on two feet, who is also an actual child): I roll deception to name drop (some important name we heard earlier) and tell the guards we were meant to be here and to stay inside their room.
DM: Okay roll.
Raccoon’s player: *rolls a 19*
DM: The guards begin to peek out of the door to see who said that to see a raccoon standing in the hallway.
Our characters continue to free the people, which causes the orcs to stir and start to come out of the room.
Raccoon’s player, bellowing: “Stay in your room!”
DM: Roll an intimidate check.
Raccoon’s player: *natural 20* *bellowing voice* “DID I STUTTER?!”
DM: The 7-foot-something tall orcs, still peeking out, are now confused and also terrified. The Orc takes the door and slowly closes it shut.
Me, the Goliath fighter’s player who actually has training in intimidate: “WAT”
Working with this beauty beside me today. That center stone is cave calcite. Other stones in this grid: helenite, peridot, psilomelane (Merlinite - close up in that second pic - look at that layering!), rose quartz, chlorite phantom quartz, and green calcite.