Friday, January 25, 2013


In the world’s oldest role-playing game, you could usually trust mushroom people.  Provided some telepathic plant or evil druid wasn’t controlling them, they were usually one of the Underdark’s few nonevil denizens.  But that was myconids…and myceloids are more like something out of Jeff VanderMeer’s Finch.  Myceloids are everything poisonous and dark about the fungus kingdom brought to life.  As the Bestiary 3 puts it: “To a myceloid, a living creature has three uses—first as a slave, second as a host […] and finally as a banquet.”

So, to review: A creature that will poison your character, dominate her via the spores, grow a new myceloid inside her as she dies, and then eat what’s left of her corpse, making resurrection all but impossible. 

That sucks. 

What an awesome villain!

Oh and don’t forget they’re telepathic!  And come in encounters of up to 250(!) creatures!  (Even orcs don’t get an encounter listing that big.)  And they taste feelings as they eat you (presumably with their feet)! 

And they work equally well in traditional Tolkien-esque campaigns and much more contemporary or weird settings.  You may be tired of goblins and red dragons, but there’s still plenty of room for evil mushroom slavers in your steampunk dirigible campaign.  Or your Restoration swashbuckling epic.  Or your revolver-toting space Western…

Adventurers are hired by a gourmand to play bodyguard at a hush-hush function.  The reason why is soon revealed: The heads of the thieves’ and assassins’ guilds are attending, the diners are not all human or even humanoid, and the menu involves preparations with disturbing ingredients, including the milk (and possibly the meat) of good intelligent creatures.  Moreover, the event, billed as “The Sympathetic Feast,” features a myceloid host and magical wine that allows him to transmit the emotions he tastes to the guests.  It also renders them helpless when he announces that for the last course, he will be serving the diners to his mushroom minions…

A leprechaun steals from a party of knights.  Chasing her takes them to the court of the sidhe (elves with the fey creature template who use brass weapons).  The ri tuaithe says he will return their lost item—and promises more magic besides—if they can find his pixie ambassador, who he says has become lost in his Mushroom Grotto.  He doesn’t mentioned that she has been captured by myceloids, or that he flavored their food with myceloid spores to make the effort that much harder (their humiliation and death being far more exciting that his ambassador’s rescue).

After a peasant revolt, a myceloid elder approached the aristocrats of the Three Heavenly Fires Province with an offer of aid.  The wealthy landowners were only too happy to hear him out: he promised slaves for their paddies and orchards and an end to the rebellion in one fell swoop.  Soon the mushroom caps of myceloid farmers replaced the straw dǒulì hats worn by the peasants.  The aristocrats were ecstatic…until they themselves were replaced, and now myceloids rule the Tiger Kingdom’s vital breadbasket.

Pathfinder Bestiary 3 196

When I look at the myceloid art by Kieran Yanner, with its sumo-esque body and smug, steely expression (the twig that resembles a cigarette holder is a nice touch), I read a gang boss from a martial arts film—hence the last adventure spore—er, I mean seed.

Also, on Monday, we reach a big milestone: The letter N.  Also known as…halfway.

Tell your friends.  Share/reblog/spread.  Extra points if you post somewhere awesome.  We are headed Z-ward.  And if your friends like Pathfinder or D&D, it would be fantastic if they came along for the ride.

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