I've never seen mercenaries hoard wealth like they do. What do they do with it?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.
by Alyn Spiller
Did they find the tower and become what they are? Or was it the other way around?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.
TunnelsThree 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.
CourtyardThe 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.
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.
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.
Whatever they're doing, it can't be good. But I don't want to be the one to tell them that.
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.
ShroomomancyPart 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
by Tom McWeeney
Shroom of DoomThe 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.|
Not all of the fungi wait for prey to come to them...