Mycopolis

I've never seen mercenaries hoard wealth like they do. What do they do with it?  
— Sodai, Kaia Explorer
  The Mycopolis is a tower of stone and fungi, home to the mercenary-cult of fungi-infected zealots known as the Madcap Berserkers. Surrounded by fields of mushrooms and mires of spore-muck, the Mycopolis dominates the cavern that houses it. Once stone, the Mycopolis has since been encased in fungi and connected to the cavernous ceiling above. Tendrils of fungi burrow into the rock and crawl across the cavern. This spore-choked realm belongs to the Berserkers, and they are bound to it.    
Ahumahi - the Fief Lands cover
   

Shroom-Stronghold

 
Did they find the tower and become what they are? Or was it the other way around?  
— Sodai, Kaia Explorer
  At once a temple and fortress, the Mycopolis house the Madcap Berserkers between campaigns and give purpose to their mercenary crusades. Mushroom-flesh cover most of the tower, while bioluminescent fungi shine like stars on the ceiling and in scattered patches along the grounds, casting a sickly greenish glow across the cavern.    

Tunnels

  Three tunnels lead into the Mycopolis cavern, connecting it to the rest of the Inner Shell. These are seeded with dangerous mushroom to deter attackers and warn the tower's defenders of any breach. The Madcap can traverse these tunnels without fear, but their prisoners and slaves must be guided to avoid triggering the fungal traps.  
The fungi-trapped tunnels don't just keep people out, but trap others within the Mycopolis. Escaping slaves or initiates with second thoughts find the way out barred by murderous mushrooms.
  The third tunnel lies to the south-west of the central chamber and is almost entirely underwater. The underground lake stretches beyond the reach of torchlight and at the lowest point, the ceiling is only a foot from the water's surface. Past the lake end, the cavern expands and connects with another complex. This route is unguarded, but the fungi-clogged waters aren't without peril.    

The Unknown cover

   

Courtyard

    The cavern around the Mycopolis are covered in fields of mushrooms and dotted with ramshackle buildings. Slaves tend the crops and bring the harvest to the tower - what is not consumed by the soldiers and slaves is moved to the center of the tower. Barracks and workshops are made from stone and treated fungi, providing little more than a modicum of functionality. Rusting metal frames make for crude pens where slaves sleep - those who are not locked in cramped caverns dug out into the ground for that purpose.  
The Madcaps are not kind taskmasters. Slaves who toil for the Mycopolis often fall prey to a variety of infections from the spore-filled air while others are brought to the tower, never to be seen again. Those who perish in the fields are left where they lie to feed the mushrooms.
  The fields and orchards are haphazardly scattered around the courtyard, with a constant haze of mildly narcotic spores drifting through the air at all times. During sporing season, these become so thick that slaves and initiates must cover their faces when they venture beyond the tower.    

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The Tower

   
While the foundation of the tower is stone, the upper floors are increasingly consisting only of the tough, fibrous flesh of the tower-fungi. The Berserkers would cut their own flesh before they trim the cancerous growth, so the Mycopolis is left to spread according to its own divine plans.
  The Mycopolis looms over the courtyard, an ungainly column of stone and mushroom. Bulbous pods and fungal branches sprout from its sides with bioluminescent pulses outlines its shape in the dark. Most of the top of the tower consists of solid mycelium, so the cultist make do with the space afforded in some of the hollow pods that have grown on the tower's exterior. No slave or initiate is ever afforded entry to the heart of the tower, other than as sacrifice.   Some of the cultists are no longer able to leave the tower's damp interior. They've become part of its structure, fused to the fungi as a final, eternal act of worship. These ancients act as advisers and prophets, guiding the cult through acts of war or chanting prayer.    

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True Purpose

  Only the cult truly knows what lies in the heart of the Mycopolis. To the rest of Araea, it is another sign of their bizarre obsession - an infested and unwholesome monument.   To the faithful, the Mycopolis is more than a structure - it is a womb where the cult grow their god to ascension. What began as a spore brought from the Far Deep grew to encompass first the chamber it was enshrined and now the entire tower. Their god is a ravenous one and the Madcaps strive with fanatical fervor to keep it sated with a steady stream of anything edible - anything at all. The tower lives and it is growing. Already its tendrils have begun to stretch out and to claim the fields around it.   The Madcaps pray, chant and sacrifice as their mushroom-godling grows and the fungi-fused elders speak with voices increasingly not their own.  

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Whatever they're doing, it can't be good. But I don't want to be the one to tell them that.  
— Sodai, Kaia Explorer

Madcap Berserkers   Famed and feared mercenaries, the Madcap Berserkers have fought wars across the caverns of Araea. They are known for the many fungi that infect their flesh and the mushrooms they consume before battle to work themselves into a deadly fury.   Few know the truth behind the mercenary-cult or the source of the fungi that nest in their bones.  
Madcap Berserkers
Military Formation | Feb 19, 2019

Fungi-fueled fury, mycelium might.

 

Shroomomancy

  Part science, part magic, the thaumaturgical art of Shroomomancy is what shepherds the mushroom-tower to grow and control the infections of the berserkers. The Shroomomancers of the cult see their mission as divine and the tainted flesh as holy communion.   Even among other Theurgs, these Shroomomancers are uniquely unpleasant to converse with even before their insanity becomes evident.   Read more about Thaumaturgy  
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Shroom of Doom

  The Mycopolis is home to an alarming variety of dangerous mushroom, used as both defense and a weapon by the cult. While some have been altered by the cult shroomomancers for a specific purpose, most have needed no change to serve their deadly purpose.     The explorer bumbles into... 1d4  
1 Shrieker-Fungi   Emitts loud "scream" when touched; in the wild, it attracts predators to prey so that the mushroom can feed on the carcass left behind.
2 Bore-Spore   Puffy, floating mushroom that hide a sharp, tendril-like root it uses to deposit spores into anyone who touches it.
3 Snoozhroom   Mobile mushroom that release a constant stream of narcotic spores that lull prey to sleep at its root so they can be drained.
4 Snaptrap-Hatter   Large mushroom with upward facing caps, edges ridge with sharp protrusions. Snaps shut if disturbed, causing highly infectious wounds.
   
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  Not all of the fungi wait for prey to come to them...    
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Beneath

  A number of cellars have been dug out of the stone underneath the tower. It is here that initiates must endure weeks alone in darkness, with nothing but the powerful hallucinogenic mushrooms for sustenance. When the mushroom begins to take root in their bodies under the careful guidance of the cult Shroomomancers, the initiate becomes part of something greater than themselves.   Below the initiation chambers lie forgotten grottoes where the cult keep the failures and cultists lost to their infection. Things no longer human slumber in the dark, worshiped as avatars their fungal gods - and feared. When the situation is dire, these abominations are roused from their darkness and brought to bear against the enemies of the cult.    
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by Maxim Verehin
   

Origins

  Only the founders of the cult know for sure where the god-spore first came from, but the story passed down since speak of a distant journey to the Far Deep: to the Harorao, the spore-lands.   To the Cult, Harorao is sacred grounds and pilgrimage of chanting, singing cultists make their way there. Not all return. Even to the Madcap, the Far Deep is a dangerous place.  
Harorao Region
Geographic Location | Apr 21, 2019


Cover image: by Richard Benning

Comments

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17 Feb, 2019 16:42

Great Article! I really enjoyed how you manage to give this complex such an erie and disgusting feeling. Especially the last part has this lovecraftian feel to it. If there are any faults its a few missing endings here and there (for example in the Shroom stronghold section) and one or two sentence beginnings that could be phrased a bit better. But really thats just nitpicks. All in all great work! Your World has definitly a new follower:

17 Feb, 2019 18:16

Exceeeeellent! Sounds like I hit the right notes then :) Don't be afraid to call out the missing ending or prose that can be improved though; I welcome all feedback!   Thank you for reading and commenting! I'm glad you liked it :D

23 Feb, 2019 16:12

I've done a pass on the grammar and stuff. :)

17 Feb, 2019 21:22

This is a phenomenal article, possibly the greatest I’ve seen in the article critique section. I have, however, two small improvements. Firstly, watch your grammar. There are a few sentences that don’t quite work. Secondly, I think it might be good to utilise the @link system a bit more, for example linking to the Inner shell.

18 Feb, 2019 11:02

Wow, that's high praise, thank you :D   I'll keep an eye on that. Feel free to call out any you see.   I would use more links... But the article currently sits at exactly 1500. I ran out of words! Doh! Once the contest is over (unless I can cut words elsewhere) I'll add some links for sure :)   Thanks for the comment!

23 Feb, 2019 16:12

I've done a pass on the grammar and stuff. :)

17 Feb, 2019 22:31

"dominates the cavern that house it"   Is it caverns or houses? Idk it read a little weird to me personally. That's all I noticed writing and grammar wise tho.     Idk about joining the cult but good god i love it. The concept is amazing and the inclusion of tables to deal with the individual kinds of fungi used is super cool. I loved reading it. The quotes work well and the orose is nice and fluid. My only wish is that I knew more about shroomomancy specifically. What kind of magic is available to them?   So my main question deals with the drive and motivatrion. this isn't an organization article so its no big deal but a light touch on how one wants to be a member would make this awesomeness even more so. Like who willingly does this....is it even willing? They have slaves....how much of this is brain washing, how much is real fanatasism. I hope its a good critique cause its a super awesome article that deserves all those likes.

18 Feb, 2019 09:04

Thanks! :D   And I am planning a shroomomancy article specifically but for now the thaumaturgy one is all I've got.   The questions are better suited for the org article, but there are hints to it in here too: the initiation is pretty much brain-washing and if the fungi they infect you with get out of control, that's it for you. It just so happens that the only ones who can cure/stop the fungi's growth are the cult shroomomancers. Handy for them, eh?   So it's a mix between desperation, brain-washing and blackmail. Like any cult, they start slow. They don't begin by tossing you into a narcotic haze for weeks on end, but you get to roam around with some of the baddest bastards this side of Araea, winning battles and earning coin. Then they slowly turn the heat up, until you have no way out.   How much of their actions are still their own after some time is debatable, as is who is pulling the strings. *dun dun dunnnn*

18 Feb, 2019 13:16

Yeah I figured it really didn't suit this particular article but there questions it raised. :)

18 Feb, 2019 13:34

It's fun to think about and questions-and-answers is one of my favorite interactive ways of world building, so thank you :D

18 Feb, 2019 14:56

no problem, sorry if it was a tad underwhelming. i was really trying to give some good feedback but your articles are hard cause they are so good.

18 Feb, 2019 15:45

You're doing awesome, don't worry about a thing <3

18 Feb, 2019 13:53

The photo collection is truly impressive, does a lot more for the article than what one would expect. I hadn't thought about living fungi before but that does seem like a very interesting and fun excursion for any unfortunate adventurers. I didn't catch any errors as I read so all good in that front. Definitely seeing the love and dedication in this one.

18 Feb, 2019 20:36

Bro. I remember reading the Madcaps article and I think that this connects them to the larger world greatly! You did do super well to create a nice atmosphere: from the color of the page, to the background, to the writing itself. Not to mention that the amount of Fungi artwork that you have found is astounding. (Unless you drew them, then that's absurdly amazing.) I know its something small, but what I would suggest is to make a map. If you do have one linked to this article (Other than the small location map) then I missed it and sorry. I'd like to know where in your world this location is, as well as Harorao.   As for my question... Does this super shroom value the cult? Does it let them not just die off inside of it out of care? Or does it plan to just off them eventually, just using them to grow slowly? What are it's eventual plans? World Domination? Destruction of the gods?   Alright. That's more than a single question, but these are the sorts of things that your article makes me want to ask.

18 Feb, 2019 22:03

Hey, thanks so much for the comment! :D   I am going to make some additional maps for the tower itself (it has two layers right now :) ), but I will consider that. Making maps for Araea is a bit of a challenge since places aren't just separated by distance but also depth.   If the shroom-god is indeed sentient (which is a big "if"), it is not actually a god as we might call them in a typical fantasy setting, but more along the lines of a lovecraftian "elder/outer god". As such, it's goals and mindset are alien, but it doesn't really have any grand plans like that. It might want to completely take over the chamber it's currently residing in - maybe the larger it grows, the smarter it becomes, like an expanding fungal neural network...   I wouldn't say it values the cultists as much as it might find them useful... But a lot of it is still up in the air. It'll be a lot of fun to brainstorm about :D

20 Feb, 2019 07:53

Great article!!
I really love the athmosphere and the dark vibes you create.
The whole Fungi-motiv is fantastic, espacially with the lovecraftian twist about the "elder fungi-god". I really enjoyed reading the article, and also all the side information (shroomancy, madcap berserkers and different fungimonster)   Only one thing that irritated me a bit (and I guess that is just my personal taste) you used three quotes without an author (tunnels, tower, courtyard), while you used two times the quote with author (Sodai)... but that is nickpicking, you earned the LIKE ! Once again: GREAT JOB!

20 Feb, 2019 09:25

Thank you! :D I'm glad you enjoy it and thank you for taking the time to read it <3 Sounds like I hit the right notes, since lovecraftian fungi-god cult was what I was definitely going for.   I use the quote blocks to have sort of in-universe aside, as well as actual spoken quotes, but perhaps I should change those for some sort of fancy container. :)   Thanks again :D

20 Feb, 2019 09:50

I would recommend to do so, it helps to differ between qoutes and other types of important in-worlds textes. (e.g. I totally restyled the "aloud" box for that purpose ^^)   Well thanks to you I am now afraid of my lunch ... champignons with tendrils... ärhm noodles...

24 Feb, 2019 16:59

What an original concept to develop. And so thoroughly developed! At times I forgot I was reading about a structure because you have the Mycopolis so thoroughly integrated with the environment and beings of your world.

24 Feb, 2019 17:17

Thank you! I am glad you enjoyed the read :D