Myconids resemble giant fungi ranging from 2-12 feet (.6-3.6 meters) tall, with their main distinguishing feature being their limbs. Their upper half split into a pair of arms below their caps and their lower half divided into a pair of legs at the stump. Each extremity is pudgy and broad, with their hands ending in two stubby fingers and a thumb, and their feet hosting numerous vestigial toes. This number is not absolute however, with some fungus folk hosting more than the usual number of limbs and/or digits.
The bloated flesh of most myconids ranged in coloration from purple to gray. Two eyes rested on their caps, perfectly concealed against the rest of their spongy skin when shut. Some fungus ones secreted a poisonous ooze from near everywhere but their hands.
Myconids, particularly those under the protection of the ancient beasts, are averse to violent behavior.
A general distrust of outsiders was common among the myconids due to their experience with most of other entities. Despite their suspicions however, myconids are a thoughtful race willing to give shelter or allow passage through their colonies to those who approached with peaceful intentions.
The life of a myconid is strictly scheduled and split evenly between sleep, work and 'melding'. Melding is the core of myconid society, with separation from the process viewed as a frightening and pitiful fate.
Violence and disharmony was near unheard of within myconid societies as it adversely impacted the melding process and was largely unneeded. Ethical concerns and moral quandaries are subjects in which the fungus folk show a relative naivety.
Although their communal lifestyle and lack of internal conflict belied the race to some as a collective conscious, each myconid is, in fact, a distinct individual with their own hopes, dreams, insights, fears and personality traits.
Rather than dwell upon the past or fret about the future, myconids focus on present circumstances, reveling in the moment and sharing simple pleasures.
Most myconids are limited to clasping their hands and pummeling their opponents into submission. Many could apply the poisonous effects of their bodies to their fists and inflict noxious pain onto their opponents.
Rather than combat efficiency, the primary ability of the fungus folk is access to various specialized spores they are capable of spewing to achieve a wide variety of effects. As myconids grow older they gain access to a greater number of types and uses of their spores.
Distress spores are the first to develop, able to quickly spread hundreds of feet in a matter of seconds and alert other myconids of danger either by choice or in response to pain.
Once thought to only come later in life, myconids can also release rapport spores which gave them the ability to telepathically communicate with other intelligent lifeforms. This method of communication lasts up to an hour for nonmyconids but for fungus folk, functions for a full eight hours.
Reproduction spores are used to create new myconids and pose no ill effects to non-myconids.
After this stage are pacification spores used by older myconids to daze incoming threats
Hallucination spores comes next, primarily used in the melding rituals but that can also incapacitate threats.
Finally were animator spores, a type of spore usable solely by a sovereign. These spores cause a purple, bulbous fungus to grow upon intact corpses, taking over the systems are raising them as spore servants under command of the highest authority myconid present. Animation can last for several weeks, affecting even mostly skeletal corpses until so little flesh is left that the body gave out and disintegrated. So long as the target isn't too large and was originally composed of flesh and blood, any entity can be animated.
Whether through accumulated skill or natural aptitude, fungus folk have a vast array of knowledge about fungi ranging from optimal growing conditions for various types, the amount an area could yield, and what could be made using them.
Through a mysterious bond, myconids can also control a wide variety of plant and fungal monsters, including shambling mounds, phantom fungi, assassin vines and roperlike plant monsters.
This knowledge of fungi extends to the sovereign, who is capable of using various types in order to perform a special kind of alchemy. While capable of replicating the effects of normal potions, this fungal alchemy can also be used to create special effects unlike those of run of the mill alchemical concoctions. If the colony is predicted to need to fight they would create special healing potions that only worked on fungi, as well as a hallucinatory power to be stored in spider silk and used as a trap. In times when the population is too short they could also create potions that caused accelerated aging, as well as an anointment potion that immediately and painfully causes an old myconid to become a king. The rarest of these special brews to be created was a decay potion, that infected a living being with an alchemical version of animator spores, killing within 3 minutes.
Myconids grow up in six stages that occur every four years, and their lives end sometime after they reached 24 years old.
When first spawned, myconid infants are only a few inches tall and resembled giant mushrooms. They lack any method of ambulation and furthermore are not self aware at this stage.
Four year old myconids were dubbed sprouts or junior workers, and were now fully capable of movement.
At eight years old myconids gain the ability to reproduce at will via spores.
12 year olds have properly developed rapport spores and at 16 can use pacifying spores.
By the time they are 20 myconids undergo a great change in size, becoming much larger and able to prompt hallucinatory effects as circle leaders.
Those who live until the age of 24 usually became sovereigns through a special regiment process.
Befitting their fungal nature, myconids are primarily decomposers who drew nutrients from the ground. 'Eating' consisted of standing in piles of compost while their bodies absorbed the useful portions. Fungi not grown for alchemical usage are grown so that they will inevitably decay and the myconids could extract the soil nutrients.
They prefer to live in damp, dark caverns near large bodies of water, and isolated from other civilizations. The size of the caverns can range from large subterranean complexes to entire hidden underground complexes. Direct sunlight is the most dangerous thing to any myconid, with direct exposure severely impairing them, and even killing them after an hour. As such, the fungus folk are loathed to venture anywhere above ground.
Myconids have difficulty telling 'softers', the myconid term for fleshy creatures, apart but can recognize other fungus folk via their spores.
Comprising myconid society are groups known as circles, tight social cliques of twenty or so members. Circles contain four members from each of the myconid age groups, and are presided over by four circle leaders. Circle members are very intimate with one another as they melded regularly, although melding is not normally restricted between circles.
A myconid society was comprised of 1-10 circles, although normally at least 3, each with their own specific niche, and new ones that could be established if need be. Known circle duties included agriculture, exploration, construction, child rearers and hunters, although contrary to intuition hunters are more akin to scavengers who located corpses to use as fertilizer or be reanimated by the sovereign. Their schedules are strictly organized into eight hour blocks of conducting their specialized work, melding, and then sleeping before the cycle repeats the next day.
Circles are organized around mounds of rock where moss was encouraged to grow that functioned both as melding area and sleeping ground, although some are known to live in hollow, self-sealing, fungal houses. Every circle is tightly grouped in such a way that distress spores from one could reach at least one member of another, and the presence of distress spores is the only thing capable of breaking myconids from a meld.
Melding servs as a combination of all recreational activities from entertainment, social interaction, worship, and meditation. A circle leader triggers a meld through the use of their hallucinogenic spores combined with small doses of rapport spores from other myconids within the circle, allowing them to achieve a transcendental, collective hallucination.
Every myconid community was organized by age category and had its population under careful control. New tasks were given to the fungus ones as they grew older. Sprouts work as hands for their respective elders, assisting with daily chores, and responsible for releasing distress spores if hostiles approached. Normal adults, of age 8-12, do most of the basic work and will fight along side their superiors if danger approached. Unlike the fleeing of the juniors, adults only flee in order to conduct an ambush later on or to locate an elder. Elders, myconids of age 12-16, are responsible for supervising the work of other myconids and attempted to prompt conversation when faced with hostility. Typically they start from the strongest opponent and work their way down to subdue all aggressors. Fungus folk of age 16-20 serve as guards, protecting other members of the circle from harm. All older members of a circle are its leaders who administrated them and advised the myconid king, the only entity above them.
Leaders and kings preferred to lead from the back, only joining into combat if they believed their servants to be in actual danger. To be a sovereign was the most dreadful position within the myconid community, seen among others as practically a punishment. Because the myconid sovereign is tasked with being objective to the circles and administrating their duties, he cannot become part of a circle himself, and can never again meld with those of his tribe.
The duties of the king includes the creation of spore servants so that the myconids could remain pacifistic, the coordination of work schedules, vigilance against potential threats and the production of fungal brews. Most attempt to remain in frequent communication with other tribes and hold occasional meetings to discuss mutual problems, with every sovereign being familiar with the spores of most others. Normal myconids were buried in the gardens, while sovereigns are laid to rest underneath the mounds of mossy rock.
Relations and Trade
Myconids are quick to suspect that flesh and blood humanoids would attempt to use violence against them. They view most of them as brutish and insane beings who would conquer and destroy anything in their path before returning to make sure it stayed vanquished. Likewise most humanoids view the fungus ones as ugly monsters.
Outside of spores that could be used in certain potions, myconids possess no useful trading goods making it difficult to establish cooperation between most other races. Population pressure furthers their paranoia and xenophobia. Of the few races the myconids could normally get along with were the spiritually peaceful and nature loving slyth, as well as their fellow fungi the vegepygmy, whom they viewed as rustic cousins. They also co-exist well together with shriekers.
Myconid kings animate all kinds of dead creatures, including humanoids (derro, duergar, gibberlings, gnomes, goblins, hobgoblins, humans, jermlaine, kobolds, orcs), mammals (mobats), insects (fire beetles, giant ants) and monsters (trolls).