The Circle of Life Organization in A Strange New World | World Anvil

The Circle of Life

Those who believe that every death is the start of new life, which too must one day die, and so on, forever

"Have you any regrets, friend?   "There should be no regrets" He said. He seemed perpetually pleased.   "A life lived in accordance with the Circle of Life is a life in which no failure or mistake is regretted. It is a life filled with the optimism that every experience leads to greater experiences, that something greater and more wonderful is occurring all around you and everything you do contributes towards it."   I looked at him again; this strange, happy man.   "Surely you've heard of the Circle of Life, friend." I wasn't sure if that was a statement or a question. "This life we live is but a small contribution towards something so amazingly wonderful, we can only glimpse at its wonder..." he seemed to search for words, "... like seeing a sunrise only through a drop of dew on a blade of grass. Here, let me show you the big picture."   And with that he placed his hands on my head and I saw more that I could comprehend. All the things in motion on the continent from ocean to ocean, the bugs, the plants, and all the things that crawl walk and slither; and in the center a driving certain hope behind it all. The absolute unbearable hope and surety that a greater existence waits for us all.   I fell to my knees and cried. All my worries seemed so small. I seemed so small. But at the same time I felt like the most important element of the whole cosmos. So... this was the Circle of Life people talked about.


A very flat organization, there is no official hierarchy, but some worshipers are closer to Armarillia than others. These people have the respect of the others and are treated with deference, if not reverence. Armillaria itself communicates with all the followers, worshipers and anyone else it chooses to, but physical contact must be made to communicate.

Public Agenda

Sometimes a bit overbearing, the followers of the Circle of Life want to let everyone know the excitement they feel in the potential that life brings and the greater purpose that comes with death, or any ending.


Serving as the predominant funeral directors of North America, they have a steady income; but they have no central coffers or treasury. On the other hand, Armillaria's ability to facilitate real time communication and foster collective thought enable funds to end up where they are needed when they are needed.

Mythology & Lore

The Great Cataclysm punished man for thinking that he had only one life to live, for pumping himself full of preservatives and sealing himself in metal boxes upon death. Armillaria thrust up the mountains and caused them to crash down on all that man had built, bringing him back in touch with the cycle of life where he was meant to be. This new paradise brought visitors from other worlds and the planet rejoiced at this renewed relationship so much that it can visibly be seen in the presence of ley lines.

Divine Origins

After the great cataclysm, the central mass of Armillaria was scattered across the globe by the eruption of the Yellowstone caldera. A couple decades later and all the dissociated parts eventually grew and rejoined with each other across North America. The immense size and near infinite complexity of the organism and its mycelial cables gives it a neural processing power rivaling that of the greatest of supernatural intelligences. The only obstacle to full sapience is the pace of its evolution. And it is doing something about that.
The coming of the rifts freed up the life energy of the planet bringing it to the surface. Armillaria was infused with it as well and over the past two centuries has evolved sentience, a form of self-awareness allowing it to learn and react to its surroundings. But true sapience has eluded it for about a hundred years.
When newly primitive man had to learn how to survive in the strange wilderness that Earth had become after the cataclysm, he was introduced to this sentient fungus that could actually communicate with him. At first, man either ate the mushrooms for nourishment or tried to remove the fungus from crops and trees. The only effective remedy for a honey fungus attack being to excavate and destroy the effected plants by burning all of the infected root and stump material. Historically the Armillaria rhizomorphs would then starve and would be unable to grow in the soil when detached from infected material. But with the coming of the rifts, the sentience of the honey fungus permitted it to recover from these methods. It even learned to counterattack, learning how to absorb not just woody materials but also flesh. This set up an antagonistic arms race between men and the fungus.
The more intelligent species it absorbed, the more intelligent it actually became, by absorbing the very life essences of its victims. Of course, this fact was unknown to man at the time.
The few arborists and mycologists remaining in that last surviving generation of humans from the golden age studied the amazingly intelligent fungus, calling it Armillaria. Its burgeoning awareness snatched on to that name and took it for itself.
In mere generations, man reached the apex of his ignorance and superstitiousness which had previously been held at bay by society and education. Out of this superstition and ignorance, cults of worship naturally sprung up when faced with this seemingly omnipresent and lethal fungus. Seeking to appease it, worshippers sacrificed animals and were rewarded by witnessing attempts by the fungus to animate and reproduce these sacrifices. It was not long before the most zealous worshippers eventually took to sacrificing themselves to the fungus in order to transcend this life and become part of its greater existence. They were not disappointed. As it grew in intelligence, Armillaria also grew in capabilities and learned to communicate with other beings on an intimate personal level. This led to more intense worship and evangelization. Eventually leading to a more unified belief system.
This is about where we find ourselves today.

Cosmological Views

According to this religion, death and endings in general are just means to reach life in another form. Death is celebrated as the glorious rejoining of a person with the cycle of life, becoming something even greater. Truly chosen ones can actually become part of Armillaria herself, all knowing and all-seeing while they still live. Although it is more like a living death, such an existence seems to be one of enlightenment and bliss.   Thus the Great Cataclysm of Earth was one such ending and the planet and all its inhabitants are transcending to higher order existence. The birth of magic, ley lines and the unprecedented diversity of intelligent lifeforms give proof to this belief. (this is actually quite accurate, despite its origins)

Tenets of Faith

  • Death shall be welcomed and celebrated as the necessary path to transcendence.
  • Life shall be celebrated and encouraged as the opportunity to contribute to the greater purpose of all living things
  • Every failure leads to a greater success. Rejoice in your failures
  • Every death leads to a greater life. Rejoice in your deaths
  • Only through union with Armillaria is transcendence achieved
  • Ethics

    • One shall not kill to beget death if begetting death is the purpose of killing. Ending life for the purpose of death cheats life of its potential and prevents a truly transcendent passing.
    • One shall not preserve life for the purpose of stopping death. Preventing death halts the cycle of life and prevents life from achieving the transcendence it deserves.
    • Killing must be done to preserve life for it to be just. Delaying death must be done to preserve death for it to be just.
    • All things serve a purpose. The only way to know this purpose is to join in unity with all things


    Worship of Armillaria is simple. Live, and die. But dying should be done in such a way as to either achieve something great or to make sure your life and body are returned wholly to nature and are thus eligible for transcending into something greater.   A life lived in accordance with the circle of life is a life in which no failure is regretted. It is a life of permeating optimism that something greater and more wonderful is occurring and everything we do contributes to it.   It is looked coolly upon to live a life in isolation from the natural world. The denizens of Chi Town, for instance, are mostly cut off from the cycle of life at the individual level. But even Armillaria sees that as just small circles within a big one, for she sees the life and death that crosses Chi Town's boundaries in the form of foods and waste products which fit nicely into the bigger picture.


    They call themselves the maintainers of the Circle of Life. While they do not eschew technology at all, they do spend so much of their time wandering the wilderness that they are often bereft of even the most commonplace technological appliances and belongings.

    If one were familiar with pop fantasy, one would liken them to druids. In fact, they have ingested so many of Armillaria's mushrooms that they have access to powers of "divine" origin, allowing them to harness ley line energy. Like other Mystics their miracles are granted only so long as they are used in keeping with the desires and methods of Armillaria and the circle of life.

    Champions of Armillaria have been known to be gifted with magically powered armor made from fungal rhizomporphs and mycelia.

    Granted Divine Powers

    • Devout worshippers can communicate mentally with Armillaria through physical contact.
    • Those chosen to speak for Armillaria have magical powers so long as they are connected to her rhizomophs.
    • Those chosen to defend Armillaria are gifted with magically powered rhizomorph armor.
    • Those whose lives have been saved by the power of servents of Armillaria must atone for their prevented death by becoming "Harbingers" of death themselves. Children in such situations become zealous warriors and assassins. Older faithful typically take on suicide missions to protect Armillaria or promote her objectives.

    Typical powers associated with disciples of Armillaria are similar to biomancy, but rather than plants and plant matter, it is associated with fungus. In opposition to biomancy, however, disciples of Armillaria also have the ability to animate the dead and simulacrums of what has died. Note this is not necromancy as the animating life energy is that of Armillaria herself, not enslaved life essences or spirits.

    The Catrinas are an exception in that their powers typically focus only on healing and fertility.

    Political Influence & Intrigue

    Nearly all human and DeeBee societies in North America have representatives of Armillaria. Typically, these serve the role of funeral directors. Every funeral service is a celebration of the dead person rejoining the everlasting circle of life.
    Another service performed by representatives of the Circle of Life is real-time long distance communication. Volunteers can willingly donate their bodies to Armillaria for the purpose of joining Armillaria and becoming an interface with the mycelial network. While some would describe the process of joining as disturbingly disgusting because of the growth of the fungus on and within the volunteer and the fact that the volunteer is forever rooted in place, eventually becoming nothing but an indistinguishable mass; it is becoming more and more an accepted practice. This enables any person to speak with such a volunteer in one location and have a different volunteer at another location relay the message in real time, at the speed of thought.
    Of course, the church takes donations for these services.


    The Minders. The followers of Armillaria who are most senior and intimate with Her are called minders. Their role is to evangelize and lead others who do not or can not hear the voice of Armillaria. Minders also take care of facilities and dependents of The Circle of Life, handle the finances and otherwise administrate the burgeoning religion. Minders are generally given clerical powers by Armillaria and are quite capable of defending themselves if necessary.

    The Catrinas. This sect is made up of women who have foregone the possibility of childbirth. They wear the guise of a stylized skeleton, made popular by pre-cataclysm Dia del Muerte costume makeup, and can often be found wearing veils or hats decorated with flowers. These women are blessed by Armillaria with the talent for preserving the life in others in return for their personal sacrifice of never being able to create life in their own bodies. They can often be found in hospitals but never for long. Their true calling is to take long walkabouts, visiting different places and spreading the word and beliefs of Armillaria through their deeds.

    Revokers. Revoker is a name given to a holy warrior of Armillaria whose job it is to end lives and return them back into the circle of life. Their presence nearly assures someone's death. Once saved from death themselves, they must balance their continued existence by begetting death. Typically, they were young children when their lives were saved, and then trained into adulthood for combat and assassination. These are among the most zealous of Armillarias followers and eagerly anticipate the time when their debt is paid and they can finally merge with the existence. Armillaria equips them with pseudo-magical armor made from rhizomorphs that gives them the ability to emit clouds of spores or inject spores into other beings. It also boosts physical capabilities, provides some sensory improvements and limited heals to the wearer. As you would expect, the armor shares the nature of a fungus. This means that it consumes the host to power itself. If the host has an arcane background in magic or psionic, then it will behave as if it was a Techno-wizard item, consuming the host's PPE or ISP to operate. If the host has no arcane background, the armor will require something akin to batteries that must recharge through direct contact with the central body of Armillaria. Once a day or after heavy use, a Revoker can spend an hour in contact with Armillaria's rhizomorphs to recharge. Revokers may use any weapons, but tend to prefer to wound rather than obliterate their targets to allow for impregnation with Armillaria's spores. Blades, bullets and cold attacks work well for creating open bleeding wounds, while lasers and plasma are usually avoided due to their cauterizing effect.

    Through death, Life

    The cover picture is the Symbol of the Circle of Life and is used as the symbol of the church of the same name.
    A typical Death Dealer in his rhyzomorphic armor A pair of Catrinas
    Religious, Druidic Circle
    Alternative Names
    The Circle Jerks, The Fungus Among Us,
    The Hopeful
    Related Professions
    Notable Members
    The holy symbol worn by members of the Church of the Circle of Life:
    Circle of Life Eternity Memorial Pendent by Hearbeingt

    Cover image: 円相 ( ensō ) by Rah-Bop


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